Photo and information from Genesee Valley Educational Partnership.
Step inside Doug Russo’s classroom at the Batavia Career and Technical Education Center and you will see a plethora of computers, all outfitted with the latest graphic design software.
It is a point of pride for him after spending the last six years at his alma mater (Class of '88) revamping the Graphic Arts curriculum and upgrading the equipment.
Prior to that, his career path after high school graduation took him many places -- as owner of a printing company, and also a partner in a pizzeria where he was responsible for the marketing and advertising.
Russo also served on the Advisory Board for the Graphic Arts Program. When a colleague told with him that longtime Batavia CTE Center Graphic Arts instructor Joe Burnett was set to retire, Russo decided teaching was the next step to further his professional goals.
After he successfully went through the hiring process and landed the job, he got busy making improvements so juniors and seniors can learn cutting-edge skills for an ever-evolving workforce.
The two-year Graphic Arts Program, like the majority of those at CTE, is project-based.
“The framework of the Graphic Arts curriculum is designed to provide students with the knowledge and foundational skills to continue their journey into higher education and explore, as well as, pursue career opportunities," Russo said.
Students also learn marketing and business principles in the class.
“My goals are for students to enter a safe environment, not only to obtain graphic art skills but also have the ability to gain self-confidence, problem-solve, be creative and innovative, and learn to collaborate with others,” Russo said.
“Ultimately, I want to guide students towards building a foundation for higher-order thinking, and my curriculum strives to promote lifelong learning of highly transferrable skills.”
Inspiring students is one of Russo’s strengths. Recently, two of his students were recognized as winners of logo contests.
“Chloe Schnitter won a logo contest for GLOW Woman Rise organization and Fanny Venegas's cover design was selected for the Rochester International Auto Show publication that will be held in Rochester...in March of this year,” Russo said.
Russo is proud of his students’ successes; one student's success is particularly extraordinary.
“A few years back we had a student who had limited eyesight and was legally visually impaired," Russo said. "His name was Thomas Buboltz and he attended the New York State School for the Blind. Thomas came to class every day, worked hard, and did not let his disability defeat him.
"Due to his hard work and his accomplishments, Thomas was inducted into the National Technical Honor Society. A great day for Thomas occurred when he was interviewed by Doug Emblidge, news anchor from WHAM TV13, about his successes in the Graphic Arts Program.”
Russo’s commitment to helping his students succeed is evident not just in the awards and recognition they receive, but in his promise to them.
“The most important thing I want students to learn, regardless of their background, is that education is an investment in their future and learning never stops,” he said. “Learning and hard work will pay dividends. It's a way to overcome those challenges they face and a way to accomplish their goals.”
In January, Russo was recognized at the Genesee Valley School Boards Association’s (GVSBA) annual Legislative Breakfast for his dedication and commitment to his students.
“This award was designed to highlight programs that are unique and beneficial for students that go above and beyond what is required and provide a service that is needed,” said Patrick Burk, GVSBA executive director.
Photo: Doug Russo, Batavia CTE Center Graphic Arts instructor (center) surrounded by his afternoon class.
About the Batavia Career and Technical Education Center
It is a program of the Genesee Valley Educational Partnership. The Partnership operates as a Board of Cooperative Educational Services offering shared programs and services to 22 component school districts located in Genesee, Wyoming, Livingston and Steuben counties in New York State.