CRESSON — Across the country we continue to hear about the often devastating effects of bullying. Social media can amplify the impact and, sadly, the aftermath can even be deadly. Mount Aloysius College faculty and students are partnering with local schools to stop bullying at every educational level, through the MPOWER initiative. Mount Aloysius students will become regional facilitators throughout the month of March, helping younger students understand the negative effects of bullying, and learning what they can do to help.
Executive Director of Mission Integration and Community Outreach, Christina Koren outlined the thinking behind the MPower initiative. “The mission of MPOWER is to help fellow educators teaching middle and high school students address what has become a critical need; educating students about the effects of bullying,” she said. “Through the MPower program, middle and high schoolers engage in constructive dialogue about the nature of bullying, examine what bystanders might do to mitigate these situations, and look at some creative solutions to hopefully end bullying in our schools.”
Associate Professor of Criminology, Dr. Elizabeth Mansley, the lead Mount Aloysius faculty member on the MPower project, outlined the need for the initiative. “MPOWER is aimed at promoting awareness of bullying issues for the students, their parents and the larger community,” said Dr. Mansley. “The program brings a team of trained undergraduate students, working under the guidance of trained College faculty, into local schools to work with students to reduce and prevent bullying.”
Mount Aloysius students will talk about topics like the psychological effects of bullying, cyberbullying, examine social problems and promote more civil discourse among peer students. The goal of MPOWER is to create a community of students who can identify and alleviate bullying starting at a younger age.
The program also extends to the Mount Aloysius College campus. Every Tuesday throughout the month of March, campus activities are scheduled to raise awareness and facilitate anti-bullying efforts. Students break into small discussion groups to examine their thoughts on bullying and how to create better relationships with their peers.
Koren explained that MPower is a two-phased program. “The first phase of MPower examines what is bullying? Further,” added Koren, “it educates participates about consequences of this behavior like higher rates of anxiety and depression, lower academic achievement, and adverse physical health consequences.”
It is also known the bullying often results in underage substance abuse and even peer-to-peer violence.
The second phase of MPower will be highly interactive. The programs calls for lectures and events created to raise awareness of the adverse effects of this destructive behavior.
The Mount Aloysius College MPower Team includes representatives from the College’s Psychology, Criminology, and Political Science faculty, as well as Mission Integration and Community Outreach. Members include: Dr. Elizabeth Mansley; Dr. Mary Shuttlesworth, assistant professor of Psychology; Dr. Matthew Arsenault, assistant professor of Political Science; Dr. Theresa Spanella, Mount Aloysius Learning Commons coordinator; and Ms. Christina Koren.
For more information on MPOWER, please contact Dr. Elizabeth Mansley at firstname.lastname@example.org or 814-886-6487.
UNIVERSITY PARK — Doug Hoke did not grow up on a farm. He did not participate in the 4-H program. He did not attend Penn State.
Still, the lifelong York County resident and vice president of the York County Board of Commissioners made a $125,000 outright gift to Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences to establish the Hoke 4-H Leadership Award Fund in York County. The endowment will provide educational awards to recognize the achievements of York County 4-H members, with a preference for high school seniors who plan to attend college or technical school.
“I grew up in suburbia, with no exposure at all to the rural or farming community,” said Hoke, a graduate of West York Area High School. “That all changed when I went away to college.”
Believing it was a good idea to expand his horizons, Hoke decided to leave Pennsylvania to attend Culver-Stockton College, a small, private college in rural Missouri, where he was inadvertently introduced to the agricultural community.
“I got to be good friends with a family that had a 400- to 500-acre farm near the college,” Hoke recalled. “They raised horses, cows and chickens and grew corn and other crops. I would go there on weekends and work around the farm, and I would attend Saddle Club dances on Saturday nights. It was a great experience.”
Hoke returned from college with a degree in history and political science — and a newfound appreciation for rural life and the value of agriculture. For the next 34 years, he worked as a project administrator for the Pennsylvania State Public School Building Authority, a nonprofit organization that helps school districts and community colleges finance infrastructure. He also worked for the Pennsylvania State Lottery and the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue.
He drew on his Missouri farm experience as well as his work with schools when he considered running for York County commissioner in 2007. “I realized how important agriculture is to a community, and York County is no exception. Approximately 62 percent of our county is farm and woodlands,” he said.
“When I was elected, I started going to a lot of 4-H-related functions and thought it was a great program,” Hoke said. “I served as judge for contests and attended a lot of fairs, exhibits and shows. Through these, I came to realize that 4-H members and their families are a vibrant, good group of community people. The students were always energized about what they learned through 4-H.”
Eventually, Hoke said he began receiving invitations to 4-H club animal sales at the York County 4-H Center and the York County Fair during the year. Instead of purchasing animals, Hoke would make a contribution to the 4-H member. Apparently, his reputation spread, and he began receiving 20-30 invitations each year, the majority of which resulted in his making a gift. In January 2018, Hoke was recognized at the annual 4-H Beef Buyers Sale for his commitment to the organization.
The idea of doing more for 4-H began percolating a couple of years ago, Hoke said. “I thought I’d like to set something up for 4-H members planning to further their education, either in college or technical school. I wanted to do something meaningful.”
Hoke had conversations with staff members of Penn State Extension about the 4-H program. Those conversations, coupled with the fact that he was a fan of the University, led him to reach out to the College of Agricultural Sciences to set up his 4-H leadership award endowment, which comes during Penn State’s ambitious fundraising effort, A Greater Penn State for 21st Century Excellence. The five-year, $1.6 billion campaign seeks resources to make a Penn State education more accessible.
BROOKVILLE – “Stages of Dementia” at the next Brookville Area Dementia Support Group held at 2:30 p.m., Monday, March 12, at the Penn Highlands Brookville Education Conference Center, Brookville.
This support group is free to attend. It is co-sponsored by PH Brookville, WRC Senior Services, Jefferson County Area Agency on Aging and Jefferson Manor Health Center.
For more information about upcoming meetings, visit www.phhealthcare.org/events.