Press release -
WCU's Dr. Claudio Cerullo headed to Washington
"White House", it read in the upper left corner of the envelope.
It was a letter from the staff of First Lady Laura Bush thanking him for his correspondence a few months back describing his work and research into school violence and gang prevention. It further explained how he could become involved with USA Freedom Corps as part of a White House initiative, "Helping Americas Youth".
"I never even thought I might get a response, said Cerullo a staff member at West Chester University. "I just wanted to lend some insight."
Cerullo is the campus coordinator for the Pennsylvania/WCU GEAR UP initiative, a program that matches university students with at risk youth. The college students, many of who are education majors,work as mentors to encourage strong work ethic and positive attitudes so the children will likely continue on to higher education.
But the correspondence with the White House did not end with Bush's letter. Last week Cerullo received a letter from the White House staff asking him to take part in a panel discussion in august to lend his experience and expertise in the subject. Cerullo was not given all the details of the event, but speculation is that he will be one of a select nationwide group to convene at the first ever White House conference on Helping Americas Youth. The goal of the conference is to promote public awareness of various problems facing at-risk youth in the country, according to the White House. It will bring together policy makers,research experts, foundation, faith based and volunteer organizations educators coaches and parents to share examples of what is already working to make a difference in the lives of young Americans and to generate new ideas that can be used across the country.
Cerullo will bring a handbook he developed for teachers explaining what gangs are and how to notice if students are becoming involved in them. "You can't address gang violence and not correlate that to school violence," he said. Many at risk youth who turn to gangs come from low socioeconomic backgrounds in urban sectors. "We want to provide intervention programs to keep kids in schools and alert them to the pitfalls of society," Cerullo said.
Cerullo's efforts fall in line with what the White House is trying to achieve in its Helping Americas Youth initiative. President Bush has proposed in his 2006 budget a new three year, $150 million initiative to help youth who are at risk of gang influence and involvement through grants to faith based and community organizations that are formed to provide a positive model for children.
As part of the GEAR UP Program-an acronym for gaining early awareness and readiness for undergraduate programs- West Chester students work with about 6,000 middle-school aged children from the southwest, northwest and central regions of the school district of Philadelphia.
"The idea is to instill a strong sense of encouragement so that they can on to higher education," he said. The idea is to show them there is hope."
The state program teams with the Pennsylvania state system of higher education assistance agency, Harrisburg and Philadelphia School Districts and state systems universities including East Stroudsburg University, Cheyney University, Kutztown University, and West Chester University, along with the State System of Higher Education.
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About Dr. Claudio Cerullo
Dr. Claudio V. Cerullo possesses more than seventeen-years experience in education. With six years teaching in Social Science Education. Dr. Claudio Cerullo earned his Bachelor's of Arts Degree in Social Science Education where he was elected President of the Student Government and Education Association. Dr. Cerullo earned his Master's Degree in Professional Elementary and Secondary Education with his concentration in Educational Administration, earned his Doctorate of Philosophy in Educational Administration and has attended educational leadership training in Diversity/Multi-Cultural Education through Harvard University's Graduate School of Education.
Dr. Claudio Cerullo