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Anthony I. 'Tony' Clement:

Mourning the loss of a colleague, friend and educator

ALBANY, N.Y. (May 23, 2012) -- Family members, friends and colleagues gathered May 22 to remember Anthony I. "Tony" Clement, recalling a caring man who was larger than life and had a heart to match.


"He was looked up to and loved because of the contributions he made in every aspect of his life, and especially because of the way he touched the lives of so many young people," Superintendent Raymond Colucciello, Ed.D., told more than 500 people during services at Christ the King Church in Guilderland.


Clement, a longtime teacher, coach and administrator, succumbed to cancer May 17. He was 47.


Known as "Big Tony" by friends, the 6-foot-8 Clement worked for the City School District of Albany for 18 years as a teacher, coach and administrator. He was in his first year as principal at Philip J. Schuyler Achievement Academy. 


You can read the May 18 Times Union to learn more about Clement's life -- "He 'broke the mold'" -- and to view additional photos of him at work in Albany's public schools. You also can read his obituary in the May 21 Times Union.


A star basketball player at Clark Atlanta University from 1984-88, Clement also had a brief professional career – including tryouts with the NBA’s New York Knicks and Washington Bullets, a season in Finland’s professional league and a season with the Rapid City (N.D.) Thrillers in the former CBA.


He had a commanding presence in any setting – especially in the halls of Schuyler Achievement Academy, which serves students from prekindergarten through fifth grade. “He was just as much at home with a 4-year-old as he was a 14-year-old,” Dr. Colucciello said.


Dr. Colucciello also shared a story that he said captured the essence of a man with a "kind, gentle heart that never grew tired of giving."


"The best picture I have of Tony in my mind came from one of the early days of this school year," Dr. Colucciello said. "He was walking around the building helping people and all the while carrying a kindergartner in his arms. The child was fast asleep and seemed like no weight at all. The child never stirred as Tony went about his business."


Clement cared deeply about children -- beginning with his two sons and two daughters -- and found his greatest satisfaction as an educator in guiding and serving as a role model for African-American students.


“The passion has always been inner-city schools,” Clement told the Times Union for a 2005 feature about his role as house principal of Albany High’s former ninth-grade academy. "This is where the kids need African-American role models. This is where the kids need to see that it's OK to go to college." Click here to read the full story -- "Principal offers winning lesson."


A native of Nigeria, Clement joined the district as a physical education teacher at the elementary, middle and high-school levels in 1994. He was named assistant principal at Arbor Hill Elementary School in 1998, and moved to the house principal role at Albany High in 2002.


He became the principal at Harriet Gibbons High School in 2005. The alternative school served students in grades 9-12 through 2005-06, and then served as a ninth-grade academy until the district merged the Harriet Gibbons program back into Albany High for the 2010-11 school year.


Clement spent that school year as principal of the Alternative Learning Center, home to the district’s alternative-education programs for middle- and high-school students, and became principal at Schuyler Achievement Academy this school year. He had been on medical leave since January.


Clement was active in the Capital Region’s Nigerian community. The eldest grandson of a high chief in Nigeria, Clement came to the United States in 1984 to attend Clark Atlanta.


"Tony loved two countries, his native Nigeria and his adopted home here in America," Dr. Colucciello said. "Home was never far from Tony's heart, even as he built a new home for himself half a world away. He dedicated countless hours to the Nigerian and Afrikan communities here in the Albany area, helping to make the transition to a new life in a new country easier for so many families and children."


Clement completed his basketball career at Clark Atlanta in 1988 as the school’s rebounding leader – he was among the NCAA’s rebounding leaders in his senior season of 1987-88 – and graduated with honors after making Dean’s List each of his four years.


He earned a bachelor’s degree in physical and health education, student teaching in Atlanta’s Fulton High School before pursuing a pro basketball career and eventually settling in Albany to begin his work as an educator. Clement was enrolled in a doctoral program at The Sage Colleges and was nearing completion before his illness. He also held master's degrees in educational psychology and educational administration from The College of St. Rose.


"We miss Tony today – and will continue to in the years ahead – because he meant so much to so many people," Dr. Colucciello said. "Tony’s life was defined by service to others, and by a kind, gentle heart that never grew tired of giving.


"We know he will be irreplaceable in our school district. And for those of us who were fortunate enough to know Tony as a colleague, we extend our heartfelt sympathies to his family and friends, who knew him so deeply and loved him so dearly."


The mission of the City School District of Albany is to educate and nurture all students to be responsible citizens, critical thinkers and lifelong learners to successfully compete in the global community by providing an academically rigorous and safe environment in partnership with parents, students and the community. The district serves about 8,700 students in 15 elementary, middle and high schools. In addition to neighborhood schools, the district includes several magnet schools and programs, as well as other innovative academic opportunities for students, including four themed academies at Albany High School.

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