For some people, the calling to become a teacher is loud and clear early in life. For Nicholas Mascola, however, the choice to pursue this occupation took him by surprise in the middle of a long and successful career in the automotive industry. Mascola, who attended the Western Suffolk BOCES Automotive Technology Program when in high school, had accumulated more than 20 years’ experience as a professional working for Long Island-based dealerships such as Chrysler, Honda, and Mercedes Benz before he reinvented himself as a teacher of CTE.
He did so at the recommendation of his friend and former coworker, Mike O'Hara, who left the industry to teach CTE at Ward Technical Center. They kept in touch and one day O'Hara suggested that Mascola try his hand at teaching an Automotive Technology Adult Education class in the evening. Mascola gave it a shot and never looked back.
He realized as soon as he started teaching that he wanted to pursue it as a second career and returned to school part-time to earn the credits and certifications to become a CTE instructor. Said Mascola, “I liked it because it was a nice change of pace. I liked working on the line at dealerships and I was good at it, but it can beat you up physically after enough time. This was a nice opportunity to be involved with cars – because I still think they are the coolest thing – work with my hands and provide others with the ability to do something that they want to do.”
Since joining ESBOCES at Ward Technical Center, Mascola has taught Adult Education, Career and Technical Education, and Special Career Education. According to him, Special Career Education is his favorite. “I love that class,” he said. “It’s awesome. The students are amazing.”
The curriculum covers a broad range of material, which allows Mascola to introduce his students to the technology of cars, ATVs, dirt bikes, and as he puts it, “anything with an engine,” in addition to welding and metal bending.
Mascola relies on all his experiences to benefit his students. “That is the beauty of CTE,” he said. “You can bring so much that you’ve learned about customers, coworkers, the many nuances of the business and soft skills to the classroom.”