Local Matters

Community Sponsors


October 12, 2017 - 9:55am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Foodie Challenge, freshLAB, batavia, business, BOCES.


Press release:

Officials from the Batavia Development Corporation, the Genesee County Chamber of Commerce and the Batavia Business Improvement District, collaborators on the Foodie Challenge, recently presented the proceeds from the People’s Choice Tasting Event to Chef Burgio and Culinary Arts students. Chef Tracy Burgio noted how this $750 donation would support student activities.

“This contribution to the Culinary Arts Club will help to enrich our students’ culinary education by helping to fund field trips, projects and student competitions,” Chef Burgio said.

“We appreciate the opportunity to collaborate with the Batavia Development Corporation and the freshLAB project. It is our hope that this partnership sparks more involvement with our community partners,” said Jon Sanfratello, executive principal of the Batavia CTE Center and Campus.

Photo: Barb Shine, front, left, and Pierluigi Cipollone from the Batavia Development Corporation; Mary Vandenbosch, student; Steve Pies, Batavia Development Corporation; Chef Tracy Burgio, Culinary Arts instructor, Batavia CTE Center; Danny Pernesky, Debra Moore, students. Back left: Austin Deck, student; Jon Sanfratello, executive principal, GVEP Batavia Campus; Julie Pacatte, Batavia Development Corporation; Tom Turnbull, Genesee County Chamber of Commerce.

More after the jump:


May 23, 2017 - 2:52pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in BOCES, schools, education, Mental Health Association, news.


A pet therapy dog, flying doves, a butterfly, a tree with a swing, a meditation bench, a lilac bush and a drum, these are just some of the metal sculptures that were handcrafted by area career and technical education students. More than 100 students from four career and technical education centers located across Western New York have created more than 70 metal sculptures that will be auctioned to benefit The Mental Health Association.

Welding for Wellness is a collaborative project that includes students from 65 school districts, which span 10 counties in Upstate New York. Students in the Metal Trades Programs at Wayne-Finger Lakes BOCES, Monroe 2- Orleans BOCES, Monroe #1 BOCES, the Genesee Valley Educational Partnership (GV BOCES) have worked since December to craft this artwork.

In June, these sculptures will be auctioned to benefit The Mental Health Association. The auction will be held from 6 to 9 p.m. on Friday, June 2, from at Village Gate on the 2nd floor Atrium, 274 N. Goodman St., Rochester.

Auction tickets may be purchased online at Weldingforwellness.com or by contacting the Mental Health Association at (585) 325-3145.

The American Welding Society – Rochester section is a sponsor of this project.




May 10, 2017 - 12:30pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in BOCES, NASA, schools, education, news, batavia.

Getting to work on parts that NASA will actually use on the International Space Station is definitely something to brag about, said Dominick Brown, a senior at Batavia High School (at right, in photo above) and a student in BOCES precision machinery program.

Brown and about a dozen other students are part of a program begun this year at BOCES by teacher Tim Gleba, who persisted in his pursuit last year to get Batavia's machine shop course accepted into NASA's HUNCH program. HUNCH is a nationwide program started in 2003 that gives high school students the chance to design and manufacture hardware for NASA. The program has since expanded to include culinary arts as well so that students can come up with ready-to-eat meals for astronauts.

Students have made single-purpose storage lockers to hold experiments being taken up to the space station and one of the next projects is new handrails.

Brown's reaction was like a lot of students in a video presented by NASA scientist Florance Gold, Ph.D, yesterday at a press conference about the program in Batavia. The students all said the program inspired them to think about engineering, science and aerospace careers and gave them the confidence to think it might be something they could pursue.

"It’s really awesome that we actually get to work for NASA and it’s something I can put on my resume," Brown said. "I’m always bragging to my friends, ‘OK, I work for NASA now.’ It’s kind of cool. I’m definitely very grateful for everything my teachers and NASA have presented to me to be part of this amazing program. I’m crazy grateful. Unlike test hardware, we’re making actual hardware that is going into the space station, so it’s something that I can say, ‘I made parts that are in the space station.’ ”


Tim Gleba with the first part his precision machine students made for NASA.



NASA scientist Flo Gold


Nancy Hall, an aerospace engineer with NASA, who works at the Glenn Research Center in Ohio.

A couple of weeks ago, BOCES students were able to visit the facility. Hall said it's special getting to work for NASA.

“One thing I want to pass onto the students is think about the opportunity you have in front of you," Hall said. "You’re going to be making parts for NASA, which is just neat in itself. Even myself, working for NASA, I still pinch myself."


Amanda Phelps, a HUNCH support machinist with one of the storage lockers designed and made by high school students.


May 3, 2017 - 6:49pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in BOCES, careers, jobs, batavia, schools, education, news, business.


Automotive techs are in demand and the demand is growing, according to Peter DeLacy, owner of DeLacy Ford in East Aurora, which is why the WNY Ford Dealers started a program three years ago to donate cars with "real world" experience to local high schools.

The goal is to help and encourage high school students with an interest in auto repair to stick with it as a career choice and gain valuable experience working on cars with some of the last technological advancements.

"They're often working on 15-year-old cars and there isn't much interest in working on cars that don't have the latest technology," DeLacy said.

Yesterday, the dealers donated at 2014 Ford Fusion to the automotive shop at BOCES.

"We rely on donations like this in order for our kids to get the best training possible so that when they leave school, they can go right out to the workforce and do the best they can," said BOCES in Batavia Principal Jon Sanfratello (speaking at the podium in the photo above).

The dealers pool their resources to acquire cars from Ford Credit that have come out of the lease program. Delacy said auto teachers want cars with some mileage on them and in need of some maintenance, not brand-new cars, for their students to work on. Once the dealers have ensured all auto shop programs in the region have cars, they will start a three- or four-year rotation process of providing newer slightly used vehicles to the schools so students always have close to the latest technology at their fingertips.

There isn't much about a Ford or a GM or a Toyota that is so proprietary that a student can't learn a broad range of applicable skills, regardless of which car it is, Delacy said. Many car components, and the technology today that enables and manages them, are built to government-mandated specifications, so when a tech hooks up a diagnostic computer to a car, the readout is the same regardless of the make or model.

"The diagnostic codes, how you access the primary powertrain control module, how you do all of these things is pretty much the same for all manufacturers," Delacy said.

The goal for the Ford dealers, of course, is to ensure as many young techs come out of high school and two years of college with an interest in working at Ford dealerships, but as long as there are more techs in the market, it's better for everybody.

"The technicians we have now, they’ve put their time in and they want to retire," Delacy said. "There’s not a big pool of talent to choose from, so knowing that the Ford dealers of Western New York, including myself, decided to ask, ‘where do we get technicians? How do we get them interested?’ Because a lot of people don’t want to get into that. They want to be other things and this is a very good pay program when you get into the dealership level."

It's a good career choice, Delacy said, because it's stable, it pays well and dealership jobs are good jobs, and since the only college required is couple of years at a community college, so the career makes sense financially.

"The great part is it's not a huge investment," Delacy said. "They don't have student loans to pay for five or 10 years. They’re out in the real world, earning real money, keeping their money and investing it, so we’re on the ground floor of great opportunity, allowing students to get a good education and they’re ready to go when they get out of college and they don’t have a huge debt load, so it’s a win-win-win for everybody."

February 22, 2017 - 9:51am
posted by Howard B. Owens in BOCES, news, schools, education.


Press release:

The Genesee Valley Educational Partnership recently celebrated the graduation of 28 students from its School of Nursing program.

This class graduated 22 students with high honors – a 90-percent or above average.  Students took part in this 12-month, 1,200-clock hour Licensed Practical Nursing program that is certified by the New York State Education Department.

The program is designed to prepare graduates for the NCLEX-PN Examination for licensure as a Licensed Practical Nurse. It is offered at three different site locations: Batavia, Greece and Leicester. 

For more information about this program, contact the Adult Education/School of Practical Nursing at (585) 344-7788.​


November 2, 2016 - 7:05am
posted by Howard B. Owens in BOCES, Culinary Arts, batavia, news, schools, education, cooking.


Paulie Guglieamo, owner of Guglieamo's Pasta Sauce and a radio personality in Rochester, was the celebrity chef at the Culinary Arts Program at BOCES yesterday.

Guglieamo shared with students how he started his business and talked about some of the challenges and pleasures of starting and owning your own business. He then took the students into the kitchen and showed him how he makes his pasta sauces, which are based on recipes developed by his grandmother during the Great Depression and use garden-fresh ingredients.

He encouraged students to follow their passions as they set themselves on a path toward their eventual careers.

"If you have passion and you truly love it, you can do it," Guglieamo said.

Guglieamo's sauce is now sold in Wegmans, Tops and other retail outlets throughout the northeast. He said he's succeeded because of the passion he has for his product.

"When you actually have something that is an extension of you -- that's my brand, that's me, that's my actual phone number, I put my cell phone number on every jar we sell -- you can't possibly fail," Guglieamo said. "I cannot not sell this jar of sauce. I can't walk into a store and not sell it."

When Guglieamo was first starting his radio career, he was in sales.

"I was very, very, very bad (at sales)," he said.

If a customer offered an objection, he didn't have an answer, but now, selling his own product, he has all the answers.

"I have the answers to everything because this is my life, this is my baby right here," he said.


October 20, 2016 - 9:55am

Press release:

Genesee Valley Educational Partnership Drag Race Club will be hosting a car wash from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. this Saturday, Oct. 22. The profits from the car wash will benefit the Drag Race Club.

The car wash will take place at the BOCES Genesee Valley campus, located at 8250 State Street Road in Batavia. Upon arrival, follow the signs through the campus.

Students from the Conservation, Metal Trades, Health Dimensions, Automotive Technology and Collision, Custom and Repair are working together to build a drag car.  The students have been working on disassembling a Ford Ranchero. 

For any question please contact Bob Yates, Automotive Technology Instructor [email protected]
February 25, 2016 - 1:47pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Z&M Ag and Turf, John Deere, agriculture, BOCES, news.


Representatives of Z&M Ag and Turf presented a donation of tools to the conservation program at BOCES yesterday as part of a two-day seminar by Z&M and John Deere on some of the latest farming technology.

The first day was focused on dealers from throughout New York and yesterday the farms and shop techs came in to learn about technology advances from John Deere and the new precision GPS planting system.

John Duyssen is one of the conservation instructors -- concentrating on diesel and hydraulics repair and maintenance -- and he said the job of being a farmer is getting a lot more sophisticated as technology becomes more embedded in the process of planting and harvesting. The conservation program provides that instruction along with instruction on soil and water conversation.

Top photo: Carson Decarlo, left, Tom Klaeper, Tarra Shuknecht, John Tyx, Keith Conwa, Branden Cerefin, John Duyssen, and Ed Swain.





January 20, 2016 - 3:00pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in BOCES, schools, education.


Press release:

Four students from the Batavia Career and Technical Education (CTE) Center recently competed in the Niagara Frontier Automobile Dealers Association (NFADA) Ron Smith Memorial AutoTech Competition. This event was held on Jan. 16 at Erie Community College.

Santiago Deluna, from Batavia CS, and Tyler Weaver, from Pavilion CS, both juniors, competed in the tire rodeo. This timed event tested the students’ speed and accuracy as they demonstrated their expertise on the Hunter TC3700 tire changer. Both students were required to take an exam about tire theory. This team placed second. Tyler took first place for the highest test score and won a Best Buy gift card.

Seniors Dylan Binnert, from Caledonia-Mumford CS, and Dan Cone, from Pavilion CS, participated in a three-part competition. The first section of the competition was comprised of workstations that included front-end alignment, wheel balance, brake systems, electrical repair, precision measurement, and noise and vibration diagnosis. The second phase of the competition included debugging a 2016 Ford F150 Truck. The competition concluded with a mock employment interview.

Dylan and Dan, the senior team, earned first place and will advance to the national competition in New York City at the end of March. This trip is an all expenses paid trip funded by the Niagara Frontier Automotive Dealer Association. Dunn Tire, LLC, sponsored the competition.

All four young men are students in the Auto Technology Program at the Batavia CTE. Bob Yates is the instructor.

Photo: Scott Bieler, president of West Herr Ford; Dylan Binnert; Dan Cone; and Bob Yates, celebrate the team’s first-place win in the Niagara Frontier Automobile Dealers Association (NFADA) Ron Smith Memorial AutoTech Competition.

August 20, 2015 - 5:03pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in agriculture, BOCES, Le Roy, Pavilion, education.


Press release: 

Sarah Noble-Moag’s roots are deeply immersed in the business of agriculture. Her family tree spans across generations of farmers and thousands of acres of land. Although she is deeply immersed in her family business called Noblehurst Farms, she truly knows the value of giving back to the community.

Noble-Moag was recently honored with the Genesee Valley School Board Association’s Albert Hawk Award. This award is presented annually to a current or former school board member for outstanding contributions to public education and children in his or her own community.

Noble-Moag is modest about her accomplishments but the list of her contributions is long and noteworthy.

“I come from a family of educators. Becoming a board member was a natural extension of the stewardship that my family has supported for generations,” she said.

Noble-Moag serves on a number of local, regional and state boards including the Agricultural Affiliates Board of Directors, and the New York State Agricultural Society. In 2014, she was appointed to the Genesee Gateway Local Development Corporation Board of Directors.

She served for 11 years on the Pavilion School Board and held positions as trustee, vice president and president of the board of education. Her efforts for continued improvement resulted in the district being honored as a “Reward School” by New York state in 2007 and again in 2014. Noble-Moag was instrumental in the development of a new career and technical education program offered by the Genesee Valley Educational Partnership and Genesee Community College.

The Agri-Business Academy gives high school seniors the opportunity to explore careers in the agricultural field as they earn college credit. During her time as trustee, the Pavilion School Board was faced with difficult decisions especially when the district faced drastic budget cuts due to the Gap Elimination Adjustment. But some of her best moments were when she was able to witness students’ successes.

“After a capital improvement project was completed, I was at school for an event," Noble-Moag said. "I looked up and saw students on stage in the new auditorium. As I glanced around, I saw the."

Making those complicated decisions during challenging times can be difficult, said Ken Ellison, superintendent of Pavilion Central Schools. According to Ellison, Noble-Moag always kept the students’ best interests as the top priority.

He said: “During her board tenure, Sarah’s leadership contributed in so many powerful ways. Sarah was a valued partner during the merger/annexation study with Wyoming CS. A merger process can be an emotionally charged event and very divisive in the school communities involved.

"Sarah brought wisdom and perspective to a very challenging process. Sarah also served on the PCS Board during one of the most challenging fiscal periods ever faced by our school. At one point our Gap Elimination Adjustment was $1.6 million dollars. Sarah was a vital partner in developing strategies, and in some cases sacrifices, to keep the district on firm financial footing."

Education has always been a valued priority in her family hence the reason for her dedication to the Pavilion Central School District. Many generations of both the Noble and Moag families have graced the halls and walked the graduation stage at Pavilion Central. Noble-Moag’s mother was a home economics teacher and her mother-in-law worked in the library.

But what resounds deeply with Noble-Moag are words from her grandmother’s senior thesis from Cortland written in 1926.

“Just now there is fraud in business, humbug in politics, back biting, slander and deceit in social intercourse. Do you want your children to repair to such practices as a standard of conduct? We must give them an education, which will lift them infinitely above the moral and intellectual level of life outside the school, today. We must teach them to aspire to be all they can.” -- Written by Rella Smith in 1926.

“These words resonate with me; my grandmother was a wise woman. It’s vital that we provide our children with the best education possible," Noble-Moag said. “By becoming involved with their school districts, parents can make a difference and have a voice in making decisions for their children and students."

Noble-Moag is a graduate of Cornell University. She resides in Pavilion with her husband, Timothy Moag. They are the parents of three grown children, Griffin, Rella (named for Noble-Moag’s grandmother) and Austin.

June 3, 2015 - 2:19pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in BOCES, schools, education, Le Roy.


Press release:

The Genesee Valley Educational Partnership is pleased to announce that Brian Mayer was named a Library Journal Mover & Shaker for 2015. This recognition honors his work, both locally and nationally, for the development of gaming programs to support libraries and classrooms.

“Brian's recognition as one of 50 Library Journal Movers & Shakers this year is greatly deserved, said Christopher Harris, director, School Library System at the Partnership. “He exemplifies the goal of the School Library System to deliver local support and services at a national level. Brian’s work with game-based learning in our districts and his dedication to service within the Games and Gaming Round Table of the American Library Association are great success stories.”

Locally, Mayer is a regular visitor to many of the Partnership’s component-district schools where he co-teaches in libraries and classrooms using games from our curriculum-aligned board game library. As a game developer himself, Mayer has also helped lead local classes in exploring game design as a way to promote critical thinking and creative expression of student understanding.

Nationally, Mayer has been a huge force within the Games and Gaming Round Table of the American Library Association. For the past few years, he has led the move to reinvigorate the ALAPlay gaming event at the ALA Annual Conference. Last year, more than 400 people came to the event to play board games, interact with cosplayers, and learn more about running game programs in libraries. Mayer was also able to bring game companies back to the ALA exhibit floor through creative partnerships with the GameRT booth.

This summer, things will continue to grow with the addition of a pre-published game review event at ALAPlay and the inclusion of a board gaming space for attendees and families on the ALA exhibit floor.

Mayer joins fellow Partnership employees, Christopher Harris, director, School Library System and Andy Austin, library technology specialist, who were previously recognized as Movers & Shakers. The Partnership is now the only School Library Services organization in the country that is fully staffed by Library Journal Movers & Shakers.

Caption: Brian Mayer. Photo credit: JMS Studio and Gallery.

May 2, 2015 - 12:13am
posted by Howard B. Owens in BOCES, Culinary Arts.

Press release:

Culinary Arts students from the Batavia Career and Technical Education Center brought home the Culinary Cup for the fourth consecutive year! These students took first place in the ninth Annual Taste of Culinary Competition hosted by the American Culinary Federation of Greater Buffalo. This event was held at Niagara Falls Culinary Institute, Niagara Falls.

Chef Nathan Koscielski's culinary team of 17 students consisted of morning and afternoon juniors and seniors. The team competed against student teams from other colleges, high schools and BOCES. During the event, this team prepared and presented their menu to more than 300 attendees in a three-hour time period. Each student needed to be familiar with each dish and be able to answer questions. Mystery judges adjudicated the teams and their menus.

Jonathon Quinn is a first-year Culinary Arts student from Batavia City Schools.

“Chef K. is passionate about our work and he builds our confidence. We were well prepared for this competition because of what he taught us. This was a real-world work experience,” Jonathon said.

Adrian Lambert, a second-year Culinary Arts student from Byron-Bergen, was thrilled to be part of this team for the second year.

“This was a huge accomplishment to win first place for the fourth year in a row. We worked together as a team to learn the skills necessary to be ready for this contest,” Adrian said.

Chef Koscielski is proud of his team not just because this group of students won, but because of the professionalism and enthusiasm these students showed while in the kitchen and at the serving tables at this competition.

“This team is made up of students who have a good attitude, excellent attendance and a work ethic that shows a passion for the culinary arts. This year we won the People’s Choice Award. We were chosen by over 300 people who attended this event as the best overall culinary team,” he said.

The team began their presentation with a roasted poblano gazpacho garnished with farm fresh, hard-boiled duck eggs. The main entrée was guinea hog carnitas served with fresh-made flour tortillas topped with an avocado-lime crème and mango cheese. The meal was served with freshly made iced hibiscus tea.

This menu was prepared with products that were raised by the Animal Science Program at the Batavia CTE. These students raised the guinea hog used in the main dish along with the duck eggs that were used to garnish the gazpacho.

“Culinary Arts students learn to prepare a wide variety of foods throughout the school year, including production animals raised by the Animal Science program. The collaboration between Culinary Arts and Animal Science results in a unique experience for these students as they begin to understand the farm-to-table concept and, thereby, gain respect for mankind's food sources. The end result of this process is better food production, more knowledgeable chefs and food processors, and ultimately, a more healthy choice for the consumer,” said Holly Partridge, Batavia CTE Animal Science instructor.

Jon Sanfratello, principal of the Batavia CTE, noted how this cross-curriculum has provided students with the opportunity to cut through traditional subject matter lines and explore relationships of subjects to one another.

“The collaboration between the Culinary Arts and Animal Science programs has brought the farm-to-table concept into the classroom and kitchen. This partnership has played a major role in the success of our students in making them career and college ready. We are so proud of our students and instructors on their winning streak of four first-place finishes!” Sanfratello said.

Photo: The Batavia CTE Culinary Cup Champions.
First row, from left: Adrian Lambert, Byron-Bergen; Olivia Majors, Batavia; Elisabeth Skillman, Le Roy; Hannah Baumgart, Le Roy; Noah Garcia, Batavia; Maylee Zipfel, Pavilion.

Second row, from left: Alyssa Wilson, Caledonia-Mumford; Emily McVicker, Le Roy.

Third row, from left: Nicholas Shepard, Le Roy; Cameron Kleist, Le Roy; Steven Horn, Caledonia-Mumford; Nicholas Amico, Batavia; Chef Koscielski.

Back row, from left: Jonathon Quinn, Batavia; Jamall O'Neil, Batavia; Conner Gricius, Le Roy; Clinton Nickens, Le Roy; Brandon Jones, Caledonia-Mumford.


December 1, 2014 - 9:39pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Attica, BOCES, Culinary Arts.

The 18-year-old resident of Attica, Dominic Maksymik, who died Sunday night after his vehicle crossed the center line on Route 98 in Bennington, was a student in Batavia, part of the BOCES Culinary Arts Program.

From the 13WHAM story:

Ask anyone who knew him, Maksymik was a driven young man who had a passion for cooking.

"Like many students who come to BOCES, it gave him a way to express himself," explained Chef Nathan Koscielski, Maksymik's culinary teacher at the Genesee Valley Educational Partnership in Batavia. "Dom just loved cooking that was one of the great things about him. It didn't matter what we were cooking, he was going to be passionate about it. If we were making mashed potatoes, it was going to be the best mashed potatoes he could make."

Maksymik's ambition to be the best chef showed in his work. Koscielski credits Maksymik's abilities to helping their culinary school win the American Culinary Federation Culinary Cup for the last two years. They beat out other BOCES programs and area colleges.

13WHAM is an official news partner of The Batavian.


May 13, 2014 - 2:35pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in BOCES, schools, education, Culinary Arts, Chef Nathan Koscielski.

Even without the profanity, celebrity Chef Gordon Ramsay is profane. He’s mean even when his soliloquies aren’t bleepin’ tirades.

Some of the students in the Culinary Arts Program at BOCES compare Chef Chef Nathan Koscielski to Gordon Ramsay. Even "Chef K" himself makes the comparison.

“I do yell in the kitchen sometimes,” Koscielski said.

Of course, Chef K never drops f-bombs. No teacher would. But neither is he mean. There are no insults tossed around like pizza dough in Chef K’s kitchen. If he raises his voice, it’s more like a stern version of Hugh Beaumont than a a vein-popping drill sergeant.

Chef Nathan Koscielski's favorite cooking shows

Ramsay — star of such shows as "Hell’s Kitchen" and "Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares" — has high standards and high expectations, which seems to be the fuse that ignites his expletive-deleted critiques of other chefs and restaurant owners.

Driving home those same points about quality and consistency is also the growl in Chef K’s bark.

“There have got to be standards,” Koscielski said. “Everything has to got be uniform and everything has got to be high quality. It’s got to be done the right way, the perfect way, or it’s wrong. If it’s wrong, we’re not going to sell it to a customer.”

The emphasis on the right way over the wrong way is one of the reasons Koscielski has been able to guide his students to three consecutive wins in an annual culinary competition in Buffalo.

The wins in the Taste of Culinary Competition hosted by the American Culinary Federation of Greater Buffalo are impressive. Koscielski high school students have notched their consecutive victories competing against college students who come backed by three, four and even five instructors, while for the BOCES students it’s just them and Chef K. This year, the Batavia contingent even outscored all of the pros from Erie County’s top restaurants and country clubs.

“I’m a member of the American Culinary Federation, I know all the chef instructors at the local colleges; we kind of grew up in the food services industry together, and the fact that I’m there by myself with 15 high school students and we’re beating the faculty and staff of colleges, it’s a great honor,” Koscielski said. “To do it three years in a row means it wasn’t beginner's luck.”

It’s more than just fate that has brought Koscielski to Batavia. It’s a bit more like destiny.

Growing up in Derby, Koscielski said by high school he was well down the path to nowhere, just another ne'er do well in a small rural town.

“My Culinary Arts teacher in high school saved my life,” Koscielski said. “If it wasn’t for that man, his name was Leroy Good — and, again, I was a very troubled student in high school — if it wasn’t for Leroy Good and Culinary Arts I would be living in my parents' basement, be thrown out of my parents' house and in jail or dead. BOCES saved my life, honest to God.”

Or perhaps it wasn’t destiny. Growing up, there was no cooking in Koscielski’s home. At dinner time, his parents would pull out the menus from local restaurants and everybody would decide what to order and dad would go pick it up. After he started taking culinary classes, he was eager to cook for his mom and dad, but found there weren’t even any pots and pans in the kitchen.

“My parents oven is still picture-perfect clean to this day,” Koscielski said. “It’s about 40 years old, but they never use it.”

Despite this handicap, or perhaps because of it, Koscielski became passionate about cooking.

Koscielski holds a degree in Culinary Arts from the the Pennsylvania Culinary Institute/Le Cordon Bleu and a bachelor’s in Career and Tech Education from SUNY Buffalo. He’s been a sous chef at the Niagara Club and Templeton Landing. He was also a banquet chef at the Buffalo Club.

He started teaching at BOCES 1 in Erie County, but as the low man on the totem pole, when spending cuts came, his was the first job lopped off.

When a long-term substitute teaching position opened in Batavia, Koscielski accepted the job offer.

He was immediately impressed with the school. The kitchen, he said, with its professional stoves and industrial-grade mixers and wide assortment of pots and pans and utensils, is one of the best equipped he’s come across in an educational setting. He’s also been treated very well by the administration, he said.

“One thing that really hit home for me was in my first week of substitute teaching here, I got a knock on my door and it was Dr. Glover, our former superintendent, and he was just introducing himself and said if I ever needed anything let him know,” Koscielski said. “That hit home with me because I worked at Erie 1 BOCES for two years and for two full years of working at Erie 1 BOCES I never met the superintendent once.”

Five years ago, Koscielski was promoted to the full-time, permanent instructor position in Culinary Arts and quickly became a student favorite.

“Chef K is the smartest person I’ve ever known,” said second-year culinary student Bob Zien. “He’s literally a teacher of not only culinary arts, but life skills. The guy is a genius. He’s a genius. It makes me proud to be able to say I was in his class. It’s not often you have a teacher who is as smart and as caring about his students as Chef K is.”

Gina Muroff, also a second-year student and this year’s class president, said she was both surprised and impressed her first day of class with Koscielski.

“That first day of class you come in and you think, ‘ok, I’m going to learn about culinary, but on that first day, everything he taught was about life,” Muroff said. “He said nothing about culinary. He talked about, what do you want to do when you get out of here, how are you going to succeed? He showed us that you need to have motivation to pursue your own dreams, whether it’s going to be in culinary or not.”

Chef K talks a lot with his students about passion — passion for cooking, but more, passion for doing your best in every aspect of life, and by all accounts Koscielski is a zealous mentor.

“Any program starts with the teacher,” said Batavia BOCES Principal Jon Sanfratello. “He’s passionate about what he does. What attracts kids to his program is his passion and his drive.”

Chef K’s passion is one of the great lessons former student Peter Boylan said he got from his two years in BOCES Culinary Arts Program. Boylan is now at the American Culinary Federation.

“I learned you don’t get into this industry for the money,” Boylan said. “You really have to care about what you’re doing. I may have to start off as a dishwasher and work my way up to a line cook or a sous chef and so on before I become a chef, but I think it’s worth it.”

“I’ve wanted to be a chef since kindergarten,” Boylan added. “I never did anything about it until Chef K introduced me to all the aspects of cooking. That’s when I definitely fell in love with the industry. He showed me it’s not always going to be fun, but it’s worth it. I would say I found a much larger passion for the industry because of him.”

From life lessons, Chef K’s class moves to safety and sanitation. That’s four weeks of intense lessons on foodborne pathogens, food storage, cooking temperatures, cuts, burns and slips and falls. Next, students learn how to make breads and pastries, which overlaps with instruction on overall culinary skills.

The fun kicks up a notch with the lessons on knife skills as students learn how to chop, slice and dice. Knife skills segues nicely into soups, broths and stews.

“Soups are a good way to learn about culinary arts because you have knife skills with cutting vegetables, and you have to understand the cooking of the stock or the broth of the soup,” Koscielski said. “If you’re making cream soups, then you go into the realm of thickening agents, white rue, cornstarch slurry and stuff like that. So soups are a really good devise to squeeze in a lot of culinary education into one unit.”

After soups, students move into grilling, roasting and frying, and, of course, desserts.

As the lessons coalesce, Chef K opens the annual teacher’s cafe. For 25 weeks, teachers need not pack their own lunches or take a quick run to the deli during their afternoon break. They can saunter into the department’s dinning room for a buffet of brimming with culinary variety.

As winter melts into spring, it’s time for the entire student body of BOCES to get a chance to sample the cooking of their peers. The student dining experience moves beyond self-serve dishing at a buffet, as students learn about food service — taking orders, delivering dishes and ringing up sales.

In the kitchen, the aspiring chefs flip burgers, fry fries and drop pancakes — or whatever else is on the menu that day — and to get all the hot food plated up at the right time takes teamwork. The cooks must coordinate and communicate. There might be some Chef K yelling involved.

“The more this team works together, just like a basketball team, the better they’re able to understand where each other is going to be on the kitchen floor or the court,” Koscielski said. “Once they understand not only how they work themselves but how each other works, then you have a kitchen that is a well-oiled machine. “

It’s all about establishing good habits, Koscielski said.

“There’s a famous line by a famous teacher, Harry Wong, that procedures will become routine, and I base my teaching philosophy of that,” Koscielski said. “You set up a lot of procedures at the beginning of the school year or the beginning of the lesson and after a while those procedures become routine for the students. Once those become routine you have a good educational environment for the students.”

During one cafe day, when a student brought over an ice cream sundae intended for a customer, Chef K told him flat out he got it wrong. There was chocolate on the edge of the plate. The cherry juice was dripping down the whipped cream. The brownie wasn’t in the center of the plate. It wasn’t made right, so it was wrong.

But Chef K didn’t yell. He sent the student back to the dessert table and made him do it over. The yelling commenced when the student returned.

“That’s a thousand times better,” Koscielski bellowed, his voice ringing off the stainless steal hoods. “It’s a thousand times better. A thousand times better.”

Talking about the incident later, Koscielski said it’s important to emphasize standards with each and every dish that might leave the kitchen.

“Once the student understood how to properly plate the item up, it was thousand times better,” Koscielski said.

Lesson learned.

Muroff said the fact that Chef K has such high standards shows that he cares about the future of his students. He knows what real life is like and he wants them to be ready for the what the work world is like.

“He’s definately the best teacher I’ve ever met because as I said, he cares about our future,” said the Oakfield-Alabama student who plans to pursue two years of study as a pastry chef before enrolling in a four-year culinary college. “He knows that if he doesn’t show the kids how to succeed in their future, then they don’t know what they’ll be doing when they graduate. He teaches us everything that we’ll need in our future.”

Boylan thinks Chef K is harder on the students who are serious about culinary as a career. Once Chef K learns you aspire to double-breasted jackets, jaunty scarves and toques, he’s going to lean on you, call on you to learn every day and do your best to be the best.

That challenge to mastery has proven a big advantage, Boylan said, as he’s advanced in his studies.

“I’m on the hot food team in college now,” Boylan said. “I think without him pushing me the way he did in class I wouldn’t have the opportunity to be where I am now.”

Culinary arts isn’t just about cooking. Students can also earn math and science credits, and next year they can also earn English credits. One way or another cooking involves math, science, reading and writing, and Koscielski said students will often take a lot more interest in those subjects when they’re tied to a topic they care about.

“They’re more willing to do the homework,” Koscielski said. “They’re not necessarily interested in their English class at their home school, but when we take that English credit and we make them read cookbooks and do homework assignments off of cookbooks they’re more engaged.”

Television also plays a part in Koscielski’s lesson plans. Chef Ramsay, or his shows, is a frequent topic of discussion during class time. Students will be instructed to watch a particular show — one of Koscielski’s favorites for teaching is Iron Chef — and then dissect the show the next day.

“One of the greatest tools I have right now is the Food Network,” Koscielski said. “Students turn on the TV and they have an entire channel dedicated to cooking. The sounds, the lights, it gets them interested, it gets them going. I find the Food Network has helped my enrollment dramatically throughout the years.”

When it comes time to pick the students who will be on the culinary competition team, Koscielski has put his class through months of intense training, held them to high standards and instilled in them a pride for their work. These high school students come into the competition with the respect of the college kids they hope to beat, said Boylan, who has been both on Chef K’s teams and competed against him as a college student.

The college kids don’t feel shown up when they get beaten by Batavia BOCES students.

“We all understand that chef is giving those high school students a different level of learning,” Boylan said. “He really does give a college-level education. It really doesn’t make too much difference that they’re BOCES students. The material he gives them is what you would be learning in your first year of college.”

Sometimes, though, even college students never learn the biggest life lesson of all, the one Chef K will pound on a stainless steel table to emphasize if he must. The lesson is perhaps the most common thread between Chef K and Chef Ramsay and anyone who aspires to master a craft: You’ve got to care.

“It’s not about grade-point average,” Koscielski said. “It’s about passion. It’s about having heart. It’s having good attendance. It’s being professional. That’s what makes a good student.”

And a good chef.

Facts about BOCES Culinary Arts

A career in a kitchen is a good choice, said Chef Nathan Koscielski, because “everybody loves to eat.”

Until scientists learn how to create Star Trek-like food replicators, the world will need cooks.

It’s also a career a young person can enter without necessarily taking on a lot of student debt.

Jobs that could be available to BOCES graduates right out of high school include:

  • Baker’s Assistant
  • Breakfast Cook
  • Chef’s Assistant
  • Dietary Aide
  • Health-care Cook
  • Pantry Worker
  • Line Cook
  • Waiter/Waitress

The BOCES brochure lists the following jobs and potential salaries in the culinary profession:

  • Pastry Chef: $35,000 and up
  • Banquet Chef: $40,000 and up
  • Sous Chef: $40,000 and up
  • Banquet Manager: $50,000 and up
  • Maitre d’: $50,000 and up
  • Executive Chef: $70,000 and up
  • Food and Beverage Director: $75,000 and up
  • General Manager: $80,000 and up

Some of these jobs, at least to reach the upper levels of the pay scale, will require post-secondary education. Culinary schools in the region that have accepted BOCES students include:

  • Johnson and Wales
  • Culinary Institute of America
  • Paul Smith’s College
  • Niagara Community College
  • Erie Community College
  • Le Cordon Bleu

Notable local graduates of the Culinary Arts Program at BOCES:

  • Bill Cultrara, head chef at the Genesee County Jail, former owner of Delavan’s; education included Sullivan County Community College in Catskills and apprenticeships at the Greenbrier Restor in West Virginia and the Palace Hotel, Gstaad, Switzerland.
  • Hassan Silmi, executive chef at Alex’s Place; education includes GCC and Alfred State.

So far, none of Chef K’s students have become an executive chef or restaurant owner, but he said, “I’m sure someday there will be.”

May 13, 2014 - 2:35pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, BOCES, agriculture, schools, education, Culinary Arts.

In Chef K's kitchen, if it's not right, it's wrong

Even without the profanity, celebrity Chef Gordon Ramsay is profane. He’s mean even when his soliloquies aren’t bleepin’ tirades.

Some of the students in the Culinary Arts program at BOCES compare Chef Nathan Koscielski to Gordon Ramsay. Even "Chef K" himself makes the comparison.

“I do yell in the kitchen sometimes,” Koscielski said.

Of course, Chef K never drops f-bombs. No teacher would. But neither is he mean. There are no insults tossed around like pizza dough in Chef K’s kitchen. If he raises his voice, it’s more like a stern version of Hugh Beaumont than a vein-popping drill sergeant.

Ramsay — star of such shows as "Hell’s Kitchen" and "Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares" — has high standards and high expectations, which seems to be the fuse that ignites his expletive-deleted critiques of other chefs and restaurant owners.

Driving home those same points about quality and consistency is also the growl in Chef K’s bark.

“There have got to be standards,” Koscielski said. “Everything has got to be uniform and everything has got to be high quality. It’s got to be done the right way, the perfect way, or it’s wrong. If it’s wrong, we’re not going to sell it to a customer.”

Click here for the full story.

Oh, that smell. That whiff of manure spread on a farmfield. The odor of animal waste in a barn filled with holsteins or jerseys. The stench of a pigsty.

The first time Chef Nathan Koscielski brought a group of his Culinary Arts students into the animal science department at BOCES, their instant response was to pinch noses firmly between thumbs and forefingers. "Oh, that smell."

Animal Science instructor Holly Partridge remembers it well.

“They walked in and said, ‘oh, this is gross. What a disgusting stink,’ ” Partridge said. “Chef turned to them and said, ‘that is the smell of money, because without that smell, you don’t have anything to sell. You don’t have anything to cook. You don’t have a restaurant.’ ”

That visit came near the start of what has turned into a fertile partnership between Koscielski and Partridge, one that is perhaps unique in culinary education circles.

“We had a documentary film producer come in to show us his film ‘American Meat’ and he said visited 150 FFA (Future Farmers of America) programs and he saw what we were doing and said he had seen nothing like it,” Partridge said.

For the past three years, the animal science program has been producing the meat used in the meals prepared by the Culinary Arts students — chicken, eggs, lamb, pork and guinea hens. The partnership has helped the BOCES culinary program produce a three-peat in the Taste of Culinary Competition hosted by the American Culinary Federation of Greater Buffalo, but it’s also produced a new recipe for educating high school students about the source of their meals.

“If you ask my students at the beginning of the year where food comes from, they say it comes from the grocery store,” Partridge said. “Where’s your eggs come from? It comes from the grocery store? Where’s your milk come from? It comes from the grocery store. That’s the mindset that Americans tend to have now because we’re so far removed from production.”

Both Partridge and Koscielski said that by bringing the two programs closer together, they’re teaching future cooks to respect the ingredients that go into their recipes and teaching future farmers about quality ingredients. The farmers learn about how to raise animals properly and the cooks learn to reuse waste in a way that is better for the planet.

“I make every student hold a little chick that was just hatched in their hands and tell them that in 16 weeks, that chicken is going to be on your cutting board,” Kosciekski said. “I don’t do that to be mean. I do that to teach them respect for the ingredients. When you’re holding a living animal and you know in 16 weeks, that’s going to be on your cutting board and you’re going to cook it, well, I can’t teach that through a textbook. There’s no better way to teach them to respect the animals.”

Carrot tops, loose cabbage leafs, potato skins and the other scraps of cooking that come out of Chef K’s kitchen go into a red bucket and are rolled down to the animal science department to feed pigs, lamb and chickens.

“When they wheel it down, they wheel it down knowing it will feed animals that they will eventually use in their class,” Partridge said.

It’s a long walk down hallways with tile on the walls and past many, many classrooms to get from the cooking class to the animal class. There’s a right turn, a left, a right and a left again. A walker might be tempted to leave breadcrumbs the first time on the trail, but it is a two-way path. Students from both classes will visit each other during the course of a school year as eggs hatch, grow into chickens, are sent off to a meat processing house and finally return to Chef K’s kitchen so they can fulfill their culinary destiny.

When chicks grow into chickens, the culinary students weave through those hallways to pay a final visit to the birds that will soon provide broth for their noodle soups or thighs for their cacciatores.

“They get to feel what a live bird feels like; to feel what the breast of a live bird feels like; to feel the weight of a live bird; to feel its breathing and its warmth,” Partridge said.

Poultry is slaughtered off campus by professionals. The plucked and dressed birds are returned to BOCES frozen and ready for whatever recipe Chef K might be cooking up for his students to learn. The Animal Science students are then invited into the kitchen to see how a bird is broken down for meal preparation.

“I don’t know of a college that is doing what we’re doing here with the integration of the farm,” Koscielski said. “That’s one of the reasons I work here, because I can’t get this anywhere else. Being able to work with my farmer on a daily basis, I don’t get that anywhere else.”

Two years ago, BOCES hosted members from throughout WNY of the American Culinary Federation. The main course: chicken. The cooks: students. The guest speaker: Holly Partridge. The federation members learned about the breed of bird and how it was raised and then got a taste of what Partridge preached.

“They were blown away,” Partridge said. “I showed them the difference between a commercial chicken, which is a very different breed of bird, and the chickens we produced. They were amazed at the difference in flavor because of how they were raised and the breed of the animal.”

The animals raised by Animal Science are farm fresh, which makes for a better meal, but they’re also organic, which Koscielski said not only means a richer flavor, but also a farming process that is healthier for the environment.

Books such as "The Omnivore's Dilemma," "Food Inc." and "King Corn" are required reading in Koscielski’s class, he said.

“We want students to learn about organic, healthy food that leaves a small footprint on the environment,” Koscielski said. “It’s something I’m very passionate about.”

The partnership is only going to expand in the coming years, both Koscielski and Partridge said.

By next year, Animal Science will have an expanded hen house, producing more eggs — enough eggs to stock Koscielski kitchen for the entire school year. With 100 percent of the culinary program’s eggs grown on campus, BOCES will save money on egg purchases.

Partridge and Koscielski are also hatching a plan to sell duck eggs along with breads and pastries at a local farmers market this fall.

Partridge said duck eggs have a leavening agent that consumers will crave once they taste and see better breads and pastries. Dough rises better with duck eggs and the flavor is richer. When Partridge asked Koscielski if he would make some sample products to give away to help sell the eggs, Koscielski said he would go a step better, baking bread and rolling pastries to sell along with the eggs.

“The goal is to not only promote the Animal Science Program, but also give kids an opportunity to run a business venture,” Partridge said.

The plan will need approval of the BOCES board.

Animal Science students spend a lot of time with the pigs, lambs, ducks and chickens they raise. They hold them, feed them, shepherd them and learn their traits and personalities. Learning to read an animal is an important skill to develop, Partridge said. They’re easier to herd when you can predict their next move and you can avoid trouble if you understand their moods.

Students also help care for the dogs of BOCES faculty and students. There are lessons, too, in canine socialization, grooming, feeding and walking.

Rather than a contradiction between mixing household pets with animals raised purely to provide sustenance, Partridge said students learn valuable lessons about farming and the humane treatment of livestock.

“They understand that if you want to eat meat, you’re going to raise the animal humanely, but you’re not going to raise them like your dogs,” Partridge said. “You’re going to raise them in an environment that is economical and humane for that animal. The needs of a pig are different than the needs of your dog. The needs of a chicken are different than the needs of your canary. They understand that food comes from an agriculture process. It comes from driving down the road and watching that manure spread on the field and understanding it’s not just there to make your life miserable because it smells. It’s a byproduct of what we’re doing so you can eat.”

It’s a lesson that doesn’t take long for students to learn, Partridge said.

“The kids have really gotten over that, ‘oh, I don’t want to eat that pig, it’s so cute,’ to ‘we are raising a quality product for a reason,’ ” Partridge said. “I’m not getting kids coming in crying that that little pig is going to get killed for somebody to eat. I’m getting kids with the understanding that production animals that we raise, we handle different than the companion animals that we raise.”

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April 9, 2014 - 7:15am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, BOCES, food.

Press release:

Culinary Arts students from the Batavia Career and Technical Education Center brought home the Culinary Cup for the third consecutive year! 

These students took first place in the eighth Annual Taste of Culinary Competition hosted by the American Culinary Federation of Greater Buffalo, New York. This event was held at Erie Community College’s City Campus. 

Chef Nathan Koscielski's culinary team of 14 students consisted of morning and afternoon juniors and seniors. The team competed against other student teams from other colleges, high schools and BOCES. 

Last year, the team brought home the Culinary Cup; two years ago, the team tied for second place; and three years ago, the team took third place.

Jarrod Wall is a first year Culinary Arts student from Notre Dame Academy.

“This was an awesome experience and it’s the third year in a row that our school has won first place.  We got to work as a team and see firsthand how professional chefs work, ” Jarrod said.

Chef Koscielski described his students as talented and skilled.

“Our score was only two points away from being a perfect score and was higher than scores earned by teams that entered the professional division including restaurants and country clubs. The competition was a tremendous educational experience for our students.  It was exciting for our team to compete and win for the third time,” he said.

The team served guinea hen confit with Parisienne gnocchi, roasted red and yellow pepper coulis and pignoli gremolata served with a punch made of black currant and pineapple juices, coconut milk, and fresh mint.

May 6, 2009 - 4:00pm
posted by Cameron Coles in BOCES, digital media arts festival.

Hey guys. My name is Cameron Coles, and I just thought I'd post a blog about what happened to me today. I am in a Studio Arts class at Pembroke Jr/Sr High School (I am a sophmore) and I was told that the stop motion animation video -which I put a large amount of effort into making- was almost disqualified from the Digital Media Arts Festival because they said it was "disturbing". The reason they gave for this was that the screen goes red during parts of it and they interpreted it as blood. I think that the judges at the Digital Media Arts Festival are a little over-sevsitive about things when they look at videos for the Festival. My reason for thinking that is they actually did disquaulify another video for "questionable material" which turned out to be bareley questionable at all. I think this needs to be looked into.

May 6, 2009 - 2:24pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime, BOCES.

Police officers appeared at BOCES on Monday after a man was seen carrying a backpack with an apparent gun handle sticking from it into the adjoining woods.

Upon investigation, police found the backpack unattended in the woods. Inside was a disassembled 12-gauge shotgun and the ID of Kirk A. Frye, 20, of Batavia.

No ammo was found with the gun.

Apparently, Frye, who doesn't attended BOCES but knows people who do, dropped the backpack in the woods before entering to the campus to find a ride home. He was carrying the gun with the intention of selling it at a local gun shop and stated he knew it was illegal to bring the gun onto campus, which is why he left it where he did.

Police kept the gun and charged Frye with disorderly conduct.  He is scheduled to appear in court on the charge May 12 at 1 p.m.

January 20, 2009 - 1:19pm
posted by Philip Anselmo in BOCES, fire, emergency.

City and town fire crews responded to a fire this morning at Genesee Valley BOCES on State Street Road in Batavia. A call went out shortly after 11 o'clock, after some employees and students at the school pulled the manual fire alarms, according to Nate Fix, town of Batavia fire lieutenant.

Fix explained that a washer in the laundry room of the school malfunctioned and burned out, which caused a small fire within the washer. Everyone had evacuated by the time crews arrived, and no damage was caused to anything other than the washer, which was a total loss.

City fire crews provided mutual aid. No injuries were reported.

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