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Back to Communications Home

Family, colleagues and community

celebrate Tony Clement Center for Education

ALBANY, N.Y. (Sept. 18, 2017) – Beloved principal, teacher and coach Tony Clement was remembered Saturday when the school that now bears his name invited the community to a block party and ribbon-cutting ceremony.

 

Joining Principal Sophia Newell to cut the ribbon on the Tony Clement Center for Education were Clement’s widow Jennifer, his sons David and Anthony and his cousin Nneka Ezenduka.

 

Clement, who died of cancer in 2012 at the age of 47, worked for the City School District of Albany for 18 years as a teacher, coach and principal. The Tony Clement Center for Education opened this month at 395 Elk St., the former home of West Hill Middle School. That school merged into the district's new middle school at 50 North Lark St., the Edmund J. O'Neal Middle School of Excellence.

 

Also taking part in Saturday’s festivities Albany County District Attorney David Soares, state Assemblywoman Pat Fahy and state Assemblyman John McDonald, along with students and staff at the new school, community members and several of Clement’s former colleagues.

 

Known as “Big Tony” by friends, the 6-foot-8 Clement was a native of Nigeria. He began his career in the district in 1994 as a physical education teacher at the former Harriet Gibbons High School. He eventually became principal at Harriet Gibbons after being an assistant principal at Arbor Hill Elementary School and a house principal at Albany High.

 

At the time of his death, he was principal at Philip Schuyler Achievement Academy.

 

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."

 

Although he possessed bachelor’s and master’s degrees and was pursuing a doctorate when he died, it was Clement’s height and history as a pro basketball player that impressed students at first glance.

 

Later, they knew him as a teacher, coach and principal who believed in the potential of every one of his students – even if they didn’t believe it themselves. He had a commanding presence in any setting, whether working with a prekindergartener or high school senior, but he was a soft touch, too.

 

To his colleagues, Clement was a mentor, supporter and friend – a leader who inspired.

    

The Tony Clement Center for Education is located at 395 Elk Street in Albany’s West Hill neighborhood. Through a variety of programs, the school serves students in grades 7-12 who have struggled with academic or behavior issues in a traditional classroom. The school is formerly known as the Alternative Education Center.  

                     

Read more about the block party and dedication of the school in his honor in a story that appeared in Saturday’s Times Union. You also can check out a Facebook photo album of the event here. (You don't need a Facebook account to view the pictures. A window may display the text, "To see more from Albany City Schools on Facebook, log in or create an account," but you can dismiss it by clicking “not now.”

    

The mission of the City School District of Albany is to educate and prepare all students for college and career, citizenship and life, in partnership with our diverse community. The district serves nearly 9,700 students in 18 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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