June 2, 2020
BRYN MAWR, PA: Buffalo Public School District’s Harvey Austin School #97 has been designated a National School of Character by Character.org- a national advocate for character in schools, families, sports and the workplace, and headquartered in Washington, DC. They are one of only three schools in New York State to receive this honor. This recognition is the result of Harvey Austin School’s dedication over three years to implement the comprehensive character development initiative by CITRS, in partnership with CHARACTER COUNTS!. “The national winners serve as an exemplary model for all schools and districts across the nation. The educators at these schools are inspiring their students to treat all people with respect and dignity,” stated Lori Soifer, National Director at Character.org. To win its National School of Character award, Harvey Austin underwent a rigorous evaluation and site visit process, achieving critical benchmark scores on criteria demonstrating their integration of the 11 Principles of Effective Character Education. One significant change over 2017 to 2019 was a 51% decrease in office discipline referrals (ODRs). Another significant impact, from 2016 to 2018, was a 42% decrease in out-of-school suspensions. "Receiving this distinguished honor is a true testament for how far the Harvey Austin school community has come. With consistently instilling the core values of strong character into our students, we know that we are well on our way to achieve greatness in all facets of developing the whole child,” stated Principal Demario Strickland. Assistant Principal Cassandra Gasbarrini commented “Through the strong buy-in and unwavering dedication of our staff in promoting how imperative character development of our students is, we have been able to create a climate unlike one I have seen anywhere else in my experience. I look forward to going into work each morning, and more importantly, I believe the students do as well!” Harvey Austin, a receivership school which was on the verge of closing, participates in the nationally recognized CITRS/CHARACTER COUNTS! Comprehensive Character Development Initiative with 21 other Buffalo Public School District’s schools. Harvey Austin is the first school in the district to receive this designation. Since National Schools of Character have the best school climates and exceptional results for students, the goal of this initiative is that every school eventually becomes a National School of Character. About Us: CITRS is a nonprofit that stands for Character, Integrity, Trust, Relationships and Success. Its mission is to empower people to achieve success by building a strong foundation of character. CITRS works with educators, organizations and school districts to develop character-centered environments, in which students thrive ethically, socially, and academically. It is headquartered in Bryn Mawr, PA and co-founded by Clay Hamlin and Gene Miller.