EASTERN SUFFOLK BOCES SUCCESS STORIES|
Eastern Suffolk BOCES Automotive Technology program graduate
“ESBOCES gave me a tremendous foundation that let me flourish in the auto industry. ESBOCES opened doors for me.”
As a teenager, Vincent Barbato was very interested in cars. His family, professionals in the field of medicine and law, recognized his need to understand how things worked and his desire to be able to put things back together correctly. They were, therefore, supportive of his enrollment at the Edward J. Milliken Technical Center (MTC) to study Automotive Technology, which he discovered as a high school student from hallway postings in the Brentwood UFSD. The two-year program, he learned, met requirements established by the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) and is certified by the National Automotive Technicians Education Foundation (NATEF). He was confident ESBOCES was the path he was meant to travel.
“The classes were very professional,” Vinny recalled, “with career preparation provided through a combination of classroom instruction and hands-on practice. Plus, the teachers were excellent. In the end, ESBOCES gave me a tremendous foundation that let me flourish in the industry.”
Vinny learned diagnosing, troubleshooting, repairing and servicing a chassis, front-end alignment, and steering, electronics, and more. He performed routine vehicle maintenance as well as major repairs on cars donated to the school. In June of 1983, he graduated from Brentwood High School as an honor student and from MTC as an automotive technician and parts specialist. His MTC teacher contacted John Staluppi, the owner of Atlantic Auto Mall and said, “I have a terrific young man for you to hire.”
Vinny took the job as an Entry Level Technician and continued his studies by borrowing the company’s manuals and bulletins, which he read from cover to cover at home. “I wanted to be on the cutting edge,” he said, “and I wanted to be the person who could put all things back together perfectly.” Within two years, he was promoted to A-grade technician. Two years later, he became shop foreman. He also went back to MTC as a guest speaker. “There are no shortcuts to success,” he told the students. “It takes hard work, and you have to be willing to do it if you want to be the best.”
Being the best was always important to Vinny, who was presented with the Top Technician in the Country award. He became the Service Manager for the Atlantic Auto Mall franchise and was eventually promoted to service director. “ESBOCES opened doors for me,” he explained, adding that he is grateful to Mr. Staluppi, “a true visionary,” for becoming his mentor. “Atlantic Auto Mall is the best of the best,” he said, “just like Eastern Suffolk BOCES. I highly recommend them both.”
Eastern Suffolk BOCES Audio Production program graduate
“ESBOCES taught me that you can do something you truly enjoy and make a living for yourself.”
Eastern Suffolk BOCES graduate Joseph Capuano’s business is in sharp contrast with its Greenport surroundings. Located in a house built around the time of village incorporation in 1838, Joe’s full service event production company for Long Island’s East End residents and vacationers is state of the art, while outside, the view is pristine. His sound systems, custom installations, live and studio recordings, mixing and mastering of previously recorded multi-tracks, and technical services are used for concerts, large-scale festivals, and parties. Joe likes to say, “Anything you can host, I can handle.”
As a Greenport UFSD sophomore, Joe visited the H.B Ward Technical and Academic Center (WTAC) in Riverhead because he was interested in the Audio Production class. “I always knew I would be involved with entertainment as I was already doing lighting and sound for school productions,” Joe began. “Then, when Bill Sperl the ESBOCES teacher, said, ‘I’m doing this, I’m lovin’ this, I’m making money doing this, and you can too,’ I was sold.”
During his first year in the class, Joe was given advanced work because of his experience and by the end of the school year he was providing assistance to the teacher who became his mentor. During his second year in Audio Production, he was meeting with people already established in the industry. “That’s when I realized it wouldn’t be very hard to begin my own company,” he said. Three weeks after graduating with a New York State Technical Honors Award, Joe launched JC Productions in the seafaring community. He is also a Recording Engineers Institute graduate.
Articulate and passionate about his profession, Joe started his career with an outdoor Shakespearean production. The people he worked with, as well as the audience, told him they were impressed. Then fate stepped in via a phone call from the owner of a private sound system company who asked if Joe would be interested in purchasing his business. “We met and talked and I thought about it for a while. The following summer I bought him out.” That expanded Joe’s boundaries from the Village of Greenport to the five East End towns of Riverhead, Southampton, Southold, East Hampton and Shelter Island.
During that summer of 2009, Joe’s business doubled and his vision became reality. “I’m really happy,” he stated recently. “When I get up at the start of a day, I don’t feel like I’m going to work because I’m going to a concert or a play - and I have the best seat in the house.”
Asked about his two years of training at WTAC, Joe replied, “I loved it. I learned a lot and made connections. And, I know if something comes up that I’m not sure about, I can call Mr. Sperl - can I call him Bill now that I’ve graduated and set up my own business? - and he will advise me. He’s a great guy. Honestly, I don’t know where I would be today if it wasn’t for ESBOCES.”
Joe returned to WTAC several times to visit Mr. Sperl and he has spoken at graduation. “I tell the students that ESBOCES instructors are in the industry. They teach during the day and work at their profession at night, which means they’re in the thick of it. Who best to learn from?”
Eastern Suffolk BOCES Early Childhood Education Program Graduate
“Eastern Suffolk BOCES gave me the opportunity to find the best-suited career for me.”
Since the age of eight years old, Raven Eaton has lived in foster care and has had to deal with a variety of obstacles in her life. Raven moved around so often that she had a difficult time building relationships and making friends. This also adversely affected her academics. Allise Cardillo, the house director where she lives, her foster mom, Geneive Valderma; her brother, Joshua Eaton; and Bette Stark, her Early Childhood Education (ECE) teacher at Eastern Suffolk BOCES, inspired her to continue her path to finish high school and find a career. Raven said, “They never gave up on me and saw something in me that I didn’t see in myself.” Raven is presently a graduating senior from Sonderling High School in the Brentwood UFSD. She said, “I chose to attend the ESBOCES ECE program because I wanted to learn more about working with children, and to see if I would like it or not.”
“I have worked very hard to overcome my family situations in order to become a good productive person and set and achieve goals for myself,” said Raven. Working with the preschoolers in the ESBOCES program and participating in the internship program at Small Steps in Hauppauge helped guide Raven in the right career direction. The ECE program offers direct work experience with children. High school students are taught responsibility and the necessary knowledge to work with and safely supervise children.
Raven liked the way the class was structured. She said, “Ms. Stark taught us how to run a preschool and made it possible for us to participate in an internship program. When I went on an interview for a job at Kiddie Academy, Ms. Stark helped me develop my resume and prepared me on what might be discussed during the job interview.” Raven is happy to state that she landed a part-time job at Kiddie Academy under the direction of Louise Grazia and secured a full-time position in the summer of 2010.
She enjoys working at Kiddie Academy because, she said, “The staff treats me as a professional and the children adore me. Ms. Stark taught us to speak, dress, and act professionally at all times. I love being part of the staff at Kiddie Academy.”
Coming from foster homes, Raven knows all about chaos and says she learned a great deal about working together and she is grateful that Ms. Stark was very patient with her during her “trying times”. Raven said, “There’s no room for attitude. Eastern Suffolk BOCES gave me the opportunity to find the best-suited career for me. I see how I’ve matured into a good student and a person who cares about others, especially children.”
“Students in the ECE program learn to think outside the box, to be creative, be organized, and to plan good lessons, but I learned you need to have a back-up plan, just in case”, said Raven. Guest speakers from Cornell Cooperative Extension, the Department of Environmental Conservation, the Wilderness Museum and more, visit the classroom providing opportunities to learn and discover.
While at ESBOCES, Raven made many friends and built a rapport with the children. At Sonderling High School, Raven was on the pep team and played on the tennis team. At ESBOCES, she was the high school lead teacher in the ECE program.
Raven attends Suffolk County Community College in Brentwood. She said, “I found a good solid path that is right for me and I have a great job at Kiddie Academy.” Ms. Stark said, “Raven has developed skills to work with young children. Her creativity, kindness, and caring of young children will be of great value in any preschool program.”
For more information about the Eastern Suffolk BOCES Early Childhood Education program, visit http://www.esboces.org/doc/CareerTechEdCourses2009-20010.pdf.
Eastern Suffolk BOCES Special Education Program Graduate
Dean’s mom, Carol Franciotti, said, “ESBOCES set the foundation for Dean. Dean’s abilities have grown over the years. He has moved up in his level of independence.”
Dean Franciotti was born three and a half months early weighing only 1 lb. 5 oz. He was developmentally delayed and visually impaired. Everyone has strengths and weaknesses. Some people have hidden talents. Dean has all three.
Dean was born with a song in his heart and by the time he could sit up, he was playing with toy pianos. Dean’s mom brought him into a music school in New York City where it was indicated he might have perfect pitch. His strengths and weaknesses have shaped his life, along with a myriad of individuals who have provided services to help him along his path to success.
Dean began his learning experiences and vision services at Adults and Children with Learning & Developmental Disabilities, Inc. (ACLD). They have individualized programs and strive to meet the distinct needs of each child. When Dean turned five, he attended the Eastern Suffolk BOCES Forest Brook Learning Center. His mom said, “There was a very special teacher of the visually impaired, Marti McMahon. She was instrumental in Dean’s development. Marti taught Dean to read and write in Braille.” She added, “ESBOCES set the foundation for Dean. He attended Forest Brook until the age of 12 and when he left there he was on the right track.”
Dr. Thomas Rosati, ESBOCES speech teacher, recommended Dean as an ESBOCES success story because, although Dean is blind, “He has been very successful at memorizing stories and reciting them. Each year on St. Patrick’s Day, Dean would get dressed in a costume and recite Dr. Seuss’ Green Eggs and Ham.”
Since the age of five, Dean has received Orientation and Mobility (O&M) services. O&M specialists teach visually impaired individuals to navigate in space, to orient their bodies to landmarks, and formulate mental maps to negotiate frequently visited spaces. ESBOCES O&M Teacher Mike Cavallaro has been working with Dean for 15 years now. He said, “Dean has learned how to use a cane indoors and outdoors. I’ve seen Dean’s abilities grow over the years. He has moved up in his level of independence.”
Between the ages of 13 and 16, Dean transitioned through several programs. The mission of the school district and his mom was to find a program that best suited Dean’s needs. At age 16, Dean went back into the East Islip UFSD, his home district, where he continues to climb the mountain of success. Like his favorite singer, Diana Ross sings, “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough”. Dean keeps striving every day and succeeding.
The East Islip UFSD brought in Dr. Darlene McLaughlin from the firm, Positive Behavior Support Consulting and Psychological Resources, P.C. (PBS) to evaluate Dean to find his strengths and develop a plan. PBS believes that all people, regardless of the nature or severity of their disability, have a right to access the community. Their belief statement goes on to say that a careful examination of each person’s life plan will bring about quality of life changes that enhance physical well-being, emotional well-being, social well-being, and access to community activities.
PBS tapped into Dean’s love of music and musical abilities. On Mondays, Dean travels to either WBAB or WBLI accompanied by a job coach. There he assists the staff by placing stickers on CD’s or stuffing envelopes.
On Wednesdays, the East Islip UFSD transports Dean to Tutor Time in Islandia where he plays children’s songs for the toddlers. On Fridays he is transported over to the Arbors in Hauppauge where he entertains the senior residents with music from the 40’s, 50’s, and 60’s. Dean said, “I like to play Motown and Diana Ross is my favorite singer.” He’s on the go, traveling from his home district to his gigs and when he’s not playing music he is enrolled in Joseph Sicuranza’s culinary arts class at the Eastern Suffolk BOCES Transitional Services Program (TSP) at the Brookhaven Learning Center (BLC) in Bellport. Mr. Sicuranza said, “Dean is very good at sorting the silverware, drying dishes, and mixing ingredients. He can walk to his locker by himself and facilitate his way around the classroom. He has become more independent.”
Tina Retenski, Dean’s individual aide, said, “Dean was tactile defensive, especially pertaining to food.” Carol Cary, ESBOCES teacher assistant said, “Dean did not like to taste or touch food. In the culinary arts class we tried to incorporate different kinds of food into his diet. We used music as a behavior modifier.”
ESBOCES teacher of the visually impaired, Laura Geelan-Lomanto said, “Dean types his playlist for Tutor Time and the Arbors on a Braille writer and also uses a talking calculator, talking watch, and JAWS screen reading software on his laptop and computer. “
Dean said, “I have a special job here at ESBOCES. Every morning I say the Pledge of Allegiance.” Mr. Sicuranza said, “Dean is very good in front of people.”
Dean’s mom said, “He has a full schedule attending school part-time at the East Islip UFSD and Eastern Suffolk BOCES and his music gigs. He’s out in the community and he is so fulfilled because he’s doing something that he likes and he’s good at. Dean is successful because of the many people from different agencies and organizations who have touched his life for the past 20 years.”
Next year, Dean will be attending the East Islip UFSD full time but will continue to receive itinerant services from Eastern Suffolk BOCES for vision and O&M services. He looks forward to playing keyboard five days a week at Tutor Time and The Arbors.
*ESBOCES no longer operates the program at the Forest Brook Learning Center. Students receiving services at that program were transferred to the Premm Learning Center in Oakdale an elementary program facility that serves students ranging in age from 5 - 21 years. The students in attendance have been classified by their CSE as mentally retarded, physically handicapped, and/or multiply disabled.
Eastern Suffolk BOCES Culinary Arts Program Graduate
“I hold ESBOCES among the best of my accomplishments, right up there with achieving Eagle Scout status.”
A West Islip child who was home-schooled, Andrew Greene knew at a very young age that cooking was going to be his profession. So it was no surprise to his family that he wanted to visit the Eastern Suffolk BOCES Culinary Arts program. The hard part, he said, was waiting until he reached his junior year to begin. While at the sophomore level, he went to the Edward J. Milliken Technology Center (MTC) in Oakdale to meet the Culinary Arts staff and view the equipment. “I was blown away,” he said. I was totally amazed by what I saw.”
Now in his twenties, Chef Greene refers to ESBOCES Chef/Instructor Rich Simon as “the Yoda of cooking,” referring to the popular Jedi Master in the Star Wars universe respected for his artful teachings. While studying under Chef Simon, he was featured on Channel 12 TV News as the “ESBOCES Culinary Arts student getting ready for competition in Denver, Colorado.”
After graduating from both the West Islip UFSD and ESBOCES, Chef Greene attended Johnson & Wales University’s College of Culinary Arts in Rhode Island - a school that has repeatedly won first place honors in culinary nutrition competitions – where he graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Science degree in Food Service Management. While in the midst of palatial Newport mansions, Chef Greene founded Culinary Crew 136 (representing the letters ACF – American Culinary Federation of which he is a member). It’s mission is to provide professional support for non-profit, charitable, and scouting organizations, including military personnel. Chef Greene is committed to ending hunger and is currently looking to establish his second Culinary Crew, hopefully on Long Island. He is a certified National Food Safety professional.
As the Executive Chef of Chartwells at SUNY College at Old Westbury, Chef Greene is responsible for menu development and execution in three centers with annual revenues of $5 million. He has been credited with designing and implementing cost-saving standards for purchasing and usage of food and equipment, and he is currently responsible for 65 professionals working under him. “I feel very blessed with my success,” he told a visitor. “I love going to work every day – and some weeks are 70 to 80 hours long. I will never forget the role ESBOCES has played in my life.” Eventually, he will open his own restaurant, “gourmet food, and a good, clean fun kind of place,” he said.
As the ever-wise Yoda stated in Star Wars Episode V, “Do, or do not; there is no try.”
Eastern Suffolk BOCES Cosmetology Program Graduate
“I knew what I wanted to do, but was unsure of how to achieve it. ESBOCES helped me.”
While attending the Longwood CSD, Ted Katsoulis noticed several young people in the hallway holding mannequin heads. As someone who occasionally assisted his Aunt Laura in her Coram hair salon, he was intrigued and asked the students what they were doing. They said they were attending Eastern Suffolk BOCES Cosmetology courses for half of the school day. So he paid a visit to Brookhaven Technical Center (BTC) and met with then Cosmetology Teacher Kitty Matera and Assistant Donna Singer. With his family agreeing that the course was a good option for him, Ted embarked on becoming a third generation hair stylist.
During the two-year course at BTC, Ms. Matera retired and Ms. Singer became his instructor. Now a Senior Cosmetology Instructor and Vocational Lead Teacher, Ms. Singer is described by Ted as “someone who brings the profession to a higher level.”
After graduating from the Longwood CSD and BTC, Ted drove into New York City determined to get a job. He was offered positions from “three high-end salons,” and ultimately chose Vidal Sassoon where he learned the culture behind the industry. He attended the Sassoon Academy and achieved Master Colorist certification. Referring to the six-month course, he said, “We all have a gift in life; it’s just a matter of perfecting it.” He stayed with Sassoon for two years and in 2003 returned to Long Island and opened a hair salon for both men and women in East Yaphank. He called it Salon Nevaeh (heaven spelled backwards). Now, seven years later, he’s preparing to expand into a vacated store next to the salon to better accommodate his clientele of 6,000.
Ted attributes his success to his mom (whom he calls his voice of reason), the experience he gained at his aunt’s salon (where he did shampoos, etc.), the lessons he learned at ESBOCES, and his mentor-like friendship with Ms. Singer. He also credits his strong friendship with his work team, most of whom are also ESBOCES graduates. “I wouldn’t be where I am today,” he said recently, “if it weren’t for them.” Currently he has nine employees, but will be looking to hire additional stylists when he opens the new addition, creating a 3,000 square-foot hair and makeup salon.
As Senior Stylist, Master Colorist and Creative Director, Ted strives to exceed his clients’ expectations, while delivering the highest level of exceptional customer service. The salon’s website states, “We are committed to keeping abreast of the latest trends in hair and makeup.” He commented to a visitor, “When a stylist thinks he knows everything, it’s time to put the scissors down.” He also offered this advice to those interested in the profession: “Go for it. Stylists are artists and we need to express ourselves. I love what I do, which is important because when you love what you do, it’s not work.”
Eastern Suffolk BOCES Television Video & Digital Film Production Program Graduate
“One of the best things about ESBOCES is that you graduate a well-rounded person with an understanding of your chosen profession from beginning to end.”
Professional video production, or videography, is the art and service of videotaping, editing, and distributing a finished video product. This includes TV production, commercial, corporate and event videos. This is the field Alyssa Koncelik was interested in as a sophomore at the Connetquot CSD. Her mom agreed that she should take a course offered by Eastern Suffolk BOCES to see if she really liked the work. Two years later she was a 2005 Brookhaven Technical Center (BTC) graduate of Television Video & Digital Film Production where she was guided by teacher, Dan Brennan. The course work included all phases of television production, including planning, shooting, and editing. Alyssa worked in a studio using professional field cameras and sound and lighting equipment to create her own news stories, public service announcements, and short documentaries. The hands-on experience provided her with advanced college placement and enough experience for an entry-level job position. Her teacher told her to reach higher. She enrolled at Wilkes University where she studied Telecommunications and Integrative Media.
After getting her Bachelor of Arts degree, she returned to New York where she assisted and registered industry leaders and executives at the large entertainment, marketing, and design conference, the Promax BDA Conference. She was later hired as a camera operator and editor at My LITV, the local television network of FIOS 1.
This past April, Alyssa accepted a position with the Manhattan media company Driver Digital, whose logo is “Equal parts art, science, and instinct.” She is now an editor and multi-media designer. “I’m excited,” she said, “because I love having the freedom to be creative.” She added, “ESBOCES set me apart from others. I wouldn’t be where I am today if I hadn’t enrolled at ESBOCES.”
Alyssa credits ESBOCES with helping her achieve her goals. She has also maintained friendships developed in class. To continue the connection, she is an evening Adult Education teacher at BTC. “One of the greatest things about ESBOCES,” she tells students, “is that you graduate a well-rounded person with an understanding of your chosen profession from beginning to end.”
Eastern Suffolk BOCES MEDucation Program Graduate
“I’m very thankful to the ESBOCES teachers. They did a great job. Throughout my educational career, everyone treated me with respect and kindness. The ESBOCES teachers showed me that I could be successful if I had the right tools.”
On April 19, 1984, Amanda Makson came into this world premature at 25 weeks of age weighing 1 lb. 12 oz. She spent 136 days in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Stony Brook University Hospital. She endured several surgical procedures for her heart and eyes. It was determined that due to retinal separation, she would be visually impaired. Before her release, when she reached about 5 lbs, one of the nurses said to her dad, Bob Makson, “You should contact Eastern Suffolk BOCES (ESBOCES) and enroll Amanda in the MEDucation program”. As it turned out, Mr. Makson worked for ESBOCES and investigated the program that was just down the hall from his office to help his daughter.
Amanda entered the ESBOCES MEDucation program when she was six months old. (MEDucation was a program that combined medicine and education in an infant stimulation program that served babies from birth to 3 years old.) A team of ESBOCES professionals met to determine Amanda’s needs. The team included a teacher of the visually impaired, an occupational therapist, a physical therapist, a special education teacher, an administrator, and a social worker. Mr. Makson said, “They came to our house and taught us how to play with Amanda and to keep her flexible through play. They taught her how to reach because she didn’t know how.”
Barbara Curtis, ESBOCES social worker worked with Amanda and her family 26 years ago. She said, “Those of us in the field feel that infant stimulation is the basis for later success. Without that stimulation, without teaching parents specific ways to help their child, they may not reach their full potential. Amanda received these services and she’s on her way to reaching her full potential.”
At the age of three, Amanda transitioned from the MEDucation program into the ESBOCES preschool program in Westhampton Beach. During these formative years, Amanda learned to use adaptive devices like large print books and Braille and received OT and PT services. Amanda said, “I was in the Riverhead CSD and throughout my elementary, middle, and high school years, ESBOCES provided me with itinerant teachers. Throughout my educational career, everyone treated me with respect and kindness. My itinerant/vision teachers were essential to me. They helped me advocate for myself and adapt to my being in mainstreamed classes.”
Amanda remembers being a little stubborn and afraid to ask for help. She didn’t want to stand out. She said, “My pride got in the way sometimes but the ESBOCES teachers showed me that I could be successful if I had the right tools and I would have to ask for them and use them.”
After graduating from Riverhead High School, Amanda attended Dowling College receiving her degree in Social Sciences with a minor in Special Education. While at Dowling, she was a member of the crew team. In order for her to do that, she had to dorm at Dowling because they practiced at 5:00 a.m. Her dad said, “We lived in Riverhead, so the commute to crew practice was just not an option, but dorming in Oakdale was.” Amanda said, “This was a great experience for me and allowed me to work on being independent for the first time.” She chose the crew team because it was something that was not dependent on her visual abilities but rather on strength, endurance, and the mechanics of rowing. She said, “The coach and my teammates were very patient and helpful.”
After graduating from Dowling, Amanda returned home to Riverhead and proceeded to get cabin fever. “I became very dependent on people to drive me where I needed and wanted to go. I knew I could function as a full-fledged adult and I didn’t want to just sit and wait for things to happen. I wanted to be proactive and make things happen for myself.” During this time, Amanda contemplated what she wanted to do next. “For a long time I didn’t know what I wanted to be,” she said, “I remember it varied, from one thing to another, but over the summer I realized that becoming a teacher of the visually impaired (TVI) was something I could do and (hopefully) be good at.”
Now a graduate student living in Manhattan and attending Hunter College, Amanda looks back at how her life has evolved. “I’m very thankful to the ESBOCES teachers. They did a great job. I’m grateful for the love, support, and inspiration I received from my mom, who just recently passed away, and my dad. I feel that I am moving toward being in a position to give back. I want to teach people who are like me. I have the compassion to know how hard it is, emotionally, psychologically and physically but I can say to students, “Look at me, if I can make it, you can too.”
Recently, Amanda applied for a scholarship from the National Federation for the Blind. She didn’t receive it but a representative contacted her and asked if she would come down to the National Convention in Texas because they are recommending her as a candidate for their college leadership program. This July, Amanda begins student teaching.
* ESBOCES no longer operates the MEDucation program. Families in need of in-home services for their children with disabilities, birth to 2.5 – 3 years of age can contact the Suffolk County Department of Health Services / Bureau for Services for Children with Disabilities. After the age of three, parents are referred to their local school district and the Committee on Pre-School Special Education (CPSE)
Evjeniy “Zhenya” Pulver
Eastern Suffolk BOCES Aviation/Airframe Mechanics Program Graduate
“There are so many opportunities in New York, especially at ESBOCES. I’ve learned so much and that makes me very happy.”
“There are so many opportunities in New York, especially at ESBOCES. I’ve learned so much and that makes me very happy.”
Studying to be an airframe mechanic/aircraft maintenance specialist and a pilot are no easy endeavors. Imagine doing that while learning English at the same time. Such is the case of Evgeniy (Zhenya) Pulver, a Russian born teenager who was adopted in 2005 by a Long Island family, and has exceeded every teacher’s expectation.
Zhenya was happy to be adopted by Mr. and Mrs. Charles Pulver because it meant that he and his siblings would stay together. “I couldn’t imagine not seeing my older sister and younger brother again,” he commented recently regarding the blessing of joining this American family. To show his appreciation, he focused on learning the language well and working hard at everything he did. He set his sights on becoming an airplane mechanic and eventually a pilot, so the Pulvers introduced him to Aviation/Airframe Mechanics at the ESBOCES Aviation Center at Calabro Airport in Shirley. “That was very exciting,” he said.
An honor student and popular member of the Center Moriches UFSD class of 2010 and studying under ESBOCES Aviation Instructor Gregg Karp, Zhenya was inducted into the National Technical Honor Society. His successful completion of the aviation course qualified, him for the written, oral, and practical FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) exams. Adoptive mom Vita Pulver wrote a letter in which she stated, “I am grateful to Mr. (Joseph) Delgado (ESBOCES Career and Technical Program Administrator) and the instructors in the Aviation Program. Zhenya often speaks of their support and encouragement. The ‘hands on’ nature of the program proved to be very motivating from day one and he often comes home excited about what he was doing in class. As the year progressed, we saw an increase in both confidence and determination in Zhenya. It is truly wonderful that he is surrounded by people who encourage him to shoot for the stars.”
A modest young man, Zhenya has said there isn’t anything particularly special about him, but Mr. Delgado quickly disagrees, pointing out that among his many accomplishments, “he is speaking English fluently, when just a few years ago he didn’t know the language at all. That,” he said with extra emphasis, “is indicative of Zhenya.”
Mr. Karp added, “Zhenya’s appreciation of what he has and what he’s earned makes him special.” As his mentor, Mr. Karp introduced him to the Bayport Aerodrome and the Civil Air Patrol, both of which he enjoys. Although Zhenya considers himself to be “just one of the students,” he earned an award of honor in ESL (English as a Second Language) from Center Moriches High School and enjoys participating on both the varsity soccer and wrestling teams. His future plans include taking the military test for the National Guard where he hopes to be a helicopter pilot and para-rescuer, and eventually joining the United States Air Force and becoming an officer. “Everyone in this country is so nice,” he said, “that I want to help rescue those in trouble.”
Mr. Karp commented, “Zhenya has a whole world of doors open to him now, and his successes will continue.” Mrs. Pulver added that technical programs like the one her son attended at ESBOCES provide an opportunity to learn valuable skills that can be taken along many different career paths. “We are truly grateful for such wonderful programs,” she concluded.
Eastern Suffolk BOCES Custodial Service Program Graduate
“ESBOCES prepared me to be a good custodian and to act professionally and appropriately. I’m polite and do what I’m supposed to do everyday. I like my job.”
By the time Matthew Real entered his senior year of high school at the Bay Shore UFSD he had participated in three different Special Career Education programs at Eastern Suffolk BOCES. He tried his hand at Computer Technology, Foods R Us, and Culinary Arts. After talking with one of his friends, Matthew decided to try Custodial Services* with Instructor Arthur Pagano. He said, “Mr. Pagano made learning fun. He knew that school wasn’t much fun for me. He made things interesting.”
The Custodial Services* program at the Islip Career Center (ICC) in Oakdale prepares students to handle routine custodial tasks. Students participate in segments of real or simulated work tasks in the school building in order to develop specific job skills. They learn about general cleaning, care of floors and carpets, and the use of related hand tools, cleaning aids, chemicals and solutions.
Never having had a real father figure, Matthew said his grandfather was very supportive of him and inspired him to ‘get good grades and get a good job’. Matthew said, “At school, Mr. Pagano would tell us ‘if you see something you want, go out and pursue it.” He taught me everything I needed to know to prepare for a custodial job. He even prepped us for interviews. Each of us had to create a portfolio before we graduated.”
Mr. Pagano said, “I held mock interviews in the classroom and asked the students hard questions so they would be prepared when they went out on an actual interview. Students in my class had moderate behavioral concerns.” Matthew spent half his day at ICC and half his day at the Islip Academic Center (IAC), which follows the New York State Regents curriculum.
Tina Zimmerman, a special education teacher at IAC said of Matthew, “He had a very good heart and was very enthusiastic when taking on different projects. He jumped in with both feet. One word that comes to mind about Matthew is perseverance. He liked coming to ESBOCES, having almost perfect attendance, and he worked very hard to finish his requirements so he could graduate from high school.” His ESBOCES Guidance Counselor Keith Flynn said, “He was very generous and wanted to be liked by other students. Sometimes his behavior was a challenge but with our behavior modification system coupled with his resolve to do better, he began to shine. He was a member of the Student Council, participated in Poetry Slam, and maintained a part-time job at Party City.”
Over at ICC, Mr. Pagano said, “Matthew was very bright, but he had to work on his behavior. I think that ESBOCES gave him the tools. When Matthew came back for the second semester of Custodial Services, I gave him the status of veteran or leader.” Students in the Custodial Services* program venture out into the building and clean the hallways and windows. They are expected to act in a professional manner. Mr. Pagano said, “Allowing Matthew to supervise the other students gave him a sense of independence and accomplishment.”
Every day when the students entered his classroom, Mr. Pagano reminded them of the importance of being independent, what it takes to start a good life, and that they should get their driver’s license while in school. ESBOCES offers driver’s education to its students. Matthew said, “If you have your license, Mr. Pagano said you can show that you are mobile to a potential employer.”
Matthew graduated in June 2009 and secured employment at the Touro Law Center in Central Islip in October of 2009. His interview portfolio consisted of a letter of introduction, which included his career objectives, work experience, and references. He included his certificate of completion from the Custodial program and his Student of the Month certificates. After the interview, Matthew prepared a thank you letter, following the advice of his teacher, Mr. Pagano.
Monday through Friday, Matthew arrives at work half an hour early. He has a set schedule, cleaning the third and fourth floors of the Touro Law Center. After he clocks in, he gets his supplies and begins his routine. Matthew said, “ESBOCES prepared me to be a good custodian and to act professionally and appropriately. I’m polite and do what I’m supposed to do everyday. I like my job.”
*In 2010, the Custodial Services program was renamed Facilities Maintenance providing additional practical experiences in entry-level skills in the areas of landscaping, carpentry, electrical, custodial, plumbing, painting, and general maintenance.
Eastern Suffolk BOCES Carpentry Program Graduate
“ESBOCES gave me the tools I needed, academically and professionally. The hands-on training is great and as students you’re treated as if you’re a member of a crew working on a job.”
As a Connetquot middle school student, Nick Semprini knew that he would eventually make his living in carpentry. At the age of 12, he was busy building skateboard ramps for his friends to enjoy. As a high school student, he registered at Brookhaven Technical Center (BTC) in Bellport for a carpentry class, “Which my family thought was a great idea,” he said, referring to the many career opportunities the course would provide him. With his uncle and stepfather as owners of Complete Landscape Design in Greenlawn, he was gaining confidence about building things inside and out. Then he met Carpentry Teacher Francis Nilsen, who opened additional avenues for him to explore. From that point on, it was full steam ahead.
Certain he was receiving a top-notch education in carpentry, he enrolled for a second year with Mr. Nilsen. Upon his graduation from both the Connetquot CSD and ESBOCES in 2007, he opened his own business, Top Quality Contracting, advertising “Everything residential from bottom to top.” He also applied for a job with Alure Home Improvements, one of the most successful home remodeling companies in the country. “ESBOCES taught me the technology, the lingo, and everything else I needed to know,” Nick explained, “so I was feeling confident in applying at Alure.”
Nick tells high school students, “ESBOCES prepares you professionally. The hands-on training is great and as students you’re treated as if you’re a member of a crew working on a job, which basically you are because part of the course is to construct a house on campus, outside the classroom.”
“When I applied for my current position, Alure pointed out that my ESBOCES education in carpentry carried a lot of weight on my job application. That’s when I knew that what I heard – ‘ESBOCES opens up doors for its graduates’ – was true.”
“ESBOCES gave me the tools I needed, academically and professionally, as well as literally – they gave me tools on a belt during the course,” Nick added, with a big smile. “I can’t say enough about my experience at BTC with Mr. Nilsen.”
Earlier this year, Nick was featured on Channel 5 Fox News as part of a feature piece on vocational schools. You can view his TV interview on the Alure Home Improvements website, alure.com. Click on “blog” and scroll down to “Getting a Leg Up in a Down Job Market.”
The carpentry course content contains framing and sheathing, roofing, exterior and interior finishing, and more, with the proper use and care of hand, portable, and machine tools. “The carpentry course was everything I wanted and needed, and I don’t know if I would be where I am today if I hadn’t enrolled at ESBOCES.”
Eastern Suffolk BOCES Marine and Outdoor Power Equipment Program Graduate
“Eastern Suffolk BOCES provided me with a solid foundation and prepared me to be a technician. We worked on wave runners, motorcycles, or outboard engines that people brought in.”
There are three types of learning styles: auditory, visual, and kinesthetic (learning through experience). People have their own personal learning style. Eric Vohrer is a visual and hands-on learner. He was bored and restless in high school. He began to fail academically so he and his parents sought the advice of his high school guidance counselor. During his sophomore year at the Three Village CSD, Eric visited the Eastern Suffolk BOCES Brookhaven Technical Center (BTC) in Bellport. He said, “I originally thought about the Culinary Arts program but as I toured the facility I was impressed with the Marine and Motorcycle Repair program and decided that was the one for me.” Eric grew up on the water and had his first boat at age 16. This program was a perfect fit for him.
In Mike Wagner’s class, Eric learned basic knowledge and skills to repair and service motorcycles, mopeds, ATV’s and marine engines. He also learned how to troubleshoot, diagnosis, repair engines and transmissions, along with machine shop operations and performance modifications. Eric said, “Mr. Wagner was a teacher and a friend. He guided me, helped me to set goals, and find the right direction for my future. He would spend time listening and helping me with life situations.”
Eric’s parents saw a difference in him immediately. He said, “I could get through my morning classes because I knew I would be getting on a bus to go to ESBOCES every afternoon.” The Marine and Motorcycle Repair program offered real world experiences for Eric. “I felt it prepared me to be a technician. We would work on wave runners, motorcycles, or outboard engines that people brought in. It was exciting being able to fix them.”
During Eric’s junior year, he participated in Vocational Industrial Clubs of America (VICA) now referred to as SkillsUSA. He placed second in the New York State competition. In his senior year, he competed again and came in first place. This win would springboard Eric onto bigger and better opportunities. Eric secured a full scholarship to Universal Technical Institute (UTI) in Texas. After completing his internship during the summer of his senior high school year at Steve’s Marina in Patchogue, Eric started his post high school technical training. He said, “At 18 years old I was on my own in Texas. I began UTI in September 1994 and finished a year and a half later. I buckled down and took courses over the summer to finish up.”
When he came back to Long Island, Eric interviewed for a job at Ocean Outboard Marine in Merrick. It was December and his chances of landing a job in the marine field were slim to none and yet Tony at Ocean Outboard hired Eric. Eric said, “I believe it was because of all the schooling and experience I received from ESBOCES and UTI.”
After a few years, Eric moved on to Al Grover’s High & Dry Marina in Freeport where he was the only outboard-certified technician. He worked on high performance boats. In 2002, at 26 years of age, Eric hooked up with Tom Lynch, owner of Morgan’s Swan River Marina. Tom offered Eric an opportunity to rent space and start his own business. Eric’s company Midcoast Performance Marine has been at 363 Grove Avenue in Patchogue now for eight years. He said, “I wanted to be a Mercury dealer and sell and service Mercury outboard, Mercury Racing, and MerCruiser engines and I am!”
“I am so flattered and proud to be asked to be an ESBOCES success story. I am very grateful to Mr. Wagner. He was a great teacher. I am in a position to pass on knowledge to the technicians who work for me. I remember how Mr. Wagner was patient and how he said the best way to learn is to do it, just do it yourself, and learn first-hand. I try to do that with my guys.” Eric continues to learn and so do his technicians. They are required to be re-certified each year with Mercury Marine in order to maintain his dealership status.
At 34 years old, and 16 years out of high school, Eric owns three businesses: MidCoast Performance Marine, Inc., Strictly Business (a racing team) and Great South Bay Racing, Inc. Eric said, “Eastern Suffolk BOCES provided me with a solid foundation. I had opportunities to earn scholarships and a teacher, Mr. Wagner, who really took an interest in me. He not only taught me the skills to be a technician, he taught me people skills and about customer relations. I’m so grateful that my parents advocated for me to attend Eastern Suffolk BOCES.”