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Career Chronicles: Abbatiello still having fun at Cayuga-Onondaga BOCES

Thanks to a family-like work environment and the desire to challenge himself each day, Cayuga-Onondaga BOCES Director of Instructional Support Services Tony Abbatiello is still having fun after nearly 30 years with the organization.

Starting his tenure in 1995 as a Computer and Electronic Technology Instructor in Career and Technical Education, Abbatiello has seen his role change throughout the years. After four years teaching CTE, he took over as Distance Learning Coordinator, and then accepted a role as Technology Coordinator.

A few years later, Abbatiello transitioned into his current role as Director of ISS, which he said is a position that allows him to positively impact more students than ever.

“The job is so different and new every day,” he said. “Plus, I now have an influence on every student in the region, not just students in one specific class.”

When asked what he loves most about working at Cayuga-Onondaga BOCES, Abbatiello said the family atmosphere and the support staff provide for each other is truly one of a kind.

“We’re a small BOCES, and I think that helps me make the decision to drive one hour to work each way,” he said. “Everyone supports one another, and because of that, no one will let you fail. And we make it fun. It’s a learning experience, but we make it fun. And that makes you want to learn and work more. It’s just an environment that I’ve never experienced anywhere else.”

As part of his current role, Abbatiello oversees both the ISS and IT departments. Abbatiello said the key to success for each department is to hire and empower the right staff members.

“In any organization, you need to hire the right people. There is no way I can be an expert in everything. So, you need to make sure you hire the right people that are the experts. And that’s what has helped us grow to where we are today,” he said.

One key feature that Abbatiello helps to oversee is the organization’s Makerspace, which Abbatiello refers to as a “mindset.” According to Abbatiello, the Makerspace provides students and staff throughout the region with an opportunity to apply what they’ve learned in a practical way.

“We teach students math, English, science, and all the other curricula that we think students need to know,” he said. “But we don’t go to English class to only become writers. And we don’t go to math class just to become mathematicians. Most students that take those classes are going to use that knowledge for something else. The makerspace is a way for students to apply those skills.

“And it’s not always about the machines. It’s about the thought process, the design, and the skills needed to operate those machines.”

When asked what advice he would give to a new BOCES staff member, Abbatiello said to simply be confident in your abilities and surround yourself with like-minded individuals.

“There are so many aspects to BOCES, so surround yourself with a good team and you’ll be successful. And make sure to give credit where credit is due, so everyone knows they’re a part of that team as well,” he said.

In his free time, Abbatiello enjoys traveling and spending time with his family (which includes five daughters and nine grandchildren). He also enjoys watching old movies with his wife, working in his woodshop, and repairing things around the house.

“Just like at work, I have to keep moving around!” he said.