News from the Ossining Union Free School District on County Executive Rob Astorino’s visit to Ossining High School Tuesday:
Westchester County Executive Robert P. Astorino came to Ossining High School Tuesday to recognize its outstanding business program and to meet the students who study in it.
“The practical things, the real life stuff you are learning, puts you so far ahead of your competition,” Astorino told the approximately 100 business students gathered in the library. “I was really impressed.”
The business program, taught by Debra Jacoby, has been honored by the New York State Department of Education and Business Teachers Association as “an outstanding model for other school districts to follow.” In 2011, a team of Jacoby’s students won first place at the African American Men of Westchester’s Business Olympics for evaluating a Harvard Business School case study. This year, students provide tax counseling to members of the community through the Internal Revenue Service’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance group.
From the start, Astorino captured the students’ attention by sharing some of his own life experiences. As a high school student, he said, he contracted mononucleosis, which sidelined him from playing sports for several weeks. At the time, he said, a friend suggested that he do commentary on the football games as a way to stay involved, and another friend suggested that he consider running for student council. He took both suggestions.
And the rest, as they say, is history.
Astorino, who worked in broadcasting for years prior to winning election to the county’s top post in 2009, shared his story and answered questions such as: “How can you tell when it is worth it to take a risk in business?”
“You have to take calculated risks,” he said. “You know inside whether something is right or wrong. You have to go with your intuition.”
But he added you are not always going to succeed. Case in point: his failed run for county executive in 2005. He also told the students not to expect things to come easily.
“You are never going to get a free ride,” he said. “Look at professional athletes. Nothing is handed to them; they have worked for it and worked hard.”
By the end of the talk, it was clear Astorino had struck a chord.
“He was very relatable. A lot of people play sports here and we understand what it is like to be out. What I took from it, was whatever happens, look for new opportunities. When one door closes, another opens,” said junior James Ferris.
Ray Matos, another junior, said he “enjoyed hearing about his struggles. He wasn’t handed anything. His mentality, his character, really applies to us in Ossining because we’re not being handed anything either.”
Before leaving, Astorino told the students “You should be proud of this school. I think it is amazing what Ossining has done in the last 10 or more years in science, in business and even on the field. We’re proud of you.”