Mathematics and hard science have always been my passion. One of the key opportunities in my life occurred when hIe was in 4th grade in a parochial school.
There were not enough students to populate both the 4th and 5th grade, so the classes were combined. I think being able to listen in and then do the 5th grade work afforded me an opportunity to be a bit more challenged. And, I loved it!
My high school curriculum at Cleveland St. Joseph was challenging. The teachers were exemplary. I completed most of his calculus while still in high school. Being passionate about self improvement, I also embarked on a “path of challenge and passion” when I moved from Latin to Russian. I continues to speak Russian to this day.
I was also in a very challenging honors Physics program and am indebted to the efforts of Mr. Yirka, Mr. Robertson and Father Reich as my teachers in these subjects. In fact, I am still in touch with a number of my high school mathematics peers. One commented to me concerning his working with students now in Calculus…
“Joe, Mr. Robertson (now deceased) is really proud of you.” Hearing these words meant a lot to me.
I went to the University of Dayton and Cleveland State University for my undergrad work. I struggled in my junior year at Dayton. I was placed in the Sophomore Honors program as a not-yet-18 year old freshman. Not being in my natural peer group became extraordinarily challenging.
This is a reason why I am able to relate to strong students who struggle. I have been there.
While at University of Dayton, I also worked with emotionally challenged young people in a residential treatment center—first as a volunteer, then later in full-time employment. Working with youth is in my blood. I still offer tutoring scholarships when I feel there is a need for a special student in special circumstances.
In my undergrad program, I excelled in calculus, differential equations, advanced calculus and related topics. This interest in higher mathematics spurred my interest in his graduate curriculum (at USC), including electromagnetics, wave theory, optics, and antenna design. I tutors in these subjects as well. In fact, I had the opportunity to choose Computer Engineering as my grad field, but was bored with a college graduate degree that doubled up as to what I was doing in my profession at that time.
I decided on a master’s degree in electrical engineering, specializing in optics and electromagnetics, without having had any undergrad work in electricity. I spent a 1-1/2 years working on those prerequisites before entering my graduate program.
Early on in my professional career, I worked as a software engineer and technical lead on numerous defense and avionics programs, including the Boeing 777 for Honeywell, the Joint Stars program, numerous other commercial aircraft and Air Traffic Control and other classified programs in Southern California.
Above and beyond the educational leadership and academic guidance I provide, my priorities are instilling confidence emanating from self-earned mastery of topics. I teach students how to research and how to learn and study and feels that in many ways, the priority of academic excellence and mastery has fallen by the wayside. Too many students have capabilities that are not nurtured or developed, so I help students help themselves by teaching, training, communicating expectations and demanding consistent effort and practice.
Modes of education are changing at break-neck speed. An increasing number of students in secondary and post-secondary education programs use “online” forms of education. Most of these classes do not have face-to-face teaching experiences. Many do not have books or adequate “learning materials.” This migration appears to be a contributor (along with other causes) to a decrease in performance, as well as decreases in overall mastery of subject material.
Tutoring, training and other forms of “additional education support” must reach far beyond topical reinforcement. I am well-respected, not only for my academic credentials and ability to break through learning barriers that students have, but for teaching students how to function in this changing world of education, which is now primarily dependent on students owning their own outcomes based on mastery while concurrently functioning in schools where the educational bar is often being lowered.
Successful students still must acquire mastery, but they are going to have to do more on their own than students, in general, have had to do in the past.
Here are my life-long mentors:
Dr. Kenneth Schraut was my freshman year advisor in Mathematics at the University of Dayton. He was a true mentor, who believed in me even when things were darkest. My only regret is that he wasn’t around long enough for him to see his impacts on me. He taught me how to believe in my students.
Mr. Robertson taught me to think. I owe him everything for that and also for believing in me.
Sister Joseph Marie (Margaret Petcavage) was my Principal and 8th grade teacher at Our Lady of Perpetual Help grade school in Cleveland, Ohio. I graduated in 1968.
I always admired her for many reasons. She had high standards and high expectations of us. She treated me well and took a true liking and interest in my academic development and development as an individual.
She challenged me resulting in my advancement into challenging subject matter in high school and beyond.
I remember that she was fair and treated us all with respect. Perhaps what I now am so appreciative for is the amount of work she put in. Every subject was prepared for us and researched. She set the standard for what quality education was, without sacrificing anything in terms of time or relationships with the students and the parents. #grateful #thankful