News & Announcements

  • Students Create Eye-Catching Signage

    Walk through Building B at our Center for Career Services and you'll see the incredible work of our Commercial Art students, whose creativity can be seen in the form of vinyl wraps currently on display in various areas of the building.

    News Feed - Center for Career Services
  • Join our Cisco Academy Networking Program information sessions!

    Learn about our Cisco Academy Networking Program on Monday, Feb. 26, at 6 p.m., in Building B on our Career Services campus, 65 Grasslands Road, Valhalla. Register here! 

    News Feed - Center for Adult and Community Services
  • Students at Tappan Hill School "Lend a Helping Hand"

    Tappan Hill students learned the value of lending a hand around their school during the month of January, a reflection on the teachings of Martin Luther King Jr.

    News Feed - Center for Special Services
  • Southern Westchester BOCES Congratulates Region's Reward Schools

    Southern Westchester BOCES congratulates region's newly identified Reward Schools.  

    News Feed - Southern Westchester BOCES
  • Mother of 2 thanks SWBOCES for helping her set example for kids

    Lisa Wilson-Patrick, a 40-year-old mother of two, is thankful to SWBOCES for allowing her to set a positive example for her children, ages 6 and 15.

    News Feed - Center for Adult and Community Services
  • Second Quarter Breakfast Celebrates Students' Achievements

    At the Center for Career Services' second-quarter breakfast, several students received awards for their high academic performance. 

    News Feed - Center for Career Services
  • Students Get Ready for SkillsUSA Competition

    Students in Christine Ireland's Architecture/Interior Design/3D Art class were practicing the steps necessary to compete successfully in the upcoming SkillsUSA competition, to take place in March. The activity was being done in conjunction with SkillsUSA Day 2018. 

    News Feed - Center for Career Services
  • Students Avail of Work-Based Learning Hours Through Collaboration with YWCA

    Students in our Cosmetology Program at the Center for Career Services are getting valuable work-based learning hours through a special collaboration with the YWCA in White Plains. 

    News Feed - Center for Career Services
  • Students Learn from Visit to Automotive Technology Center

    A class visit to the Herbert Kurz Automotive Technology Center at Rockland Community Center gave BOCES auto students a peek into the school's well-respected associate's degree program in automotive technology. 

    News Feed - Center for Career Services
  • Sound Production Students Will Learn from New Digital Drum Set

    Students in the BOCES Sound Production Program at the Center for Career Services will benefit from a digital drum set that was purchased recently. 

    News Feed - Center for Career Services
  • Auto Students Bring Back Coveted Prizes

    Two teams of automotive technology students did their teachers proud after they competed and won a fifth and sixth place at the Westchester/Rockland Regional Automotive Technology Competition in early January. 

    News Feed - Center for Career Services
  • Auto Students Work Toward Careers in the Industry

    Making a career for themselves in the auto industry is on the minds of our students as they sit for the ASE exam. 

    News Feed - Center for Career Services
  • Drum Performance Helps Students Get Creative

    Architectural students had some help getting creative, thanks to a drum performance held in their class Jan. 29. 

    News Feed - Center for Career Services
  • SWBOCES, Questar collaborate on future assessments

    Southern Westchester BOCES was chosen to host educators from throughout the region to collaborate with Questar Assessment on a three-day item-writing workshop.

    News Feed - Center for Professional Development & Curriculum Support
  • Sharing and Caring the Theme of Special Assembly

    Students at the Tappan Hill School enjoyed a special assembly at their school Jan. 22 to honor Martin Luther King Jr., Day and to reinforce the importance of sharing and caring. 

    News Feed - Center for Special Services

Animal Science Teacher Brings Much to the Veterinary Science Program

On a recent afternoon after the class bell had rung at 2:30, animal science teacher Michael D’Abruzzo was calmly assessing his classroom. There was a lot to clean up that day. His students had given Bella, the cute Maltese Shih Tzu, a shampoo, cut and blow dry and her hairs were all over the floor.  There were other items, too, that needed to be put away, including the microscopes that students had been using at their desks, as well as an assortment of paperwork that required his attention.  

To Mr. D’Abruzzo, who was hired last spring to teach the Animal Science Program, it wasn’t a big deal. He’s in his classroom most days until 4:30. He says it’s really all in a day’s work.

The friendly former Iraq vet and licensed veterinary technician believes his students must get as much hands-on experience as possible in the handling of animals.

The Garrison resident is a certified animal trainer, behaviorist, and a skilled dog whisperer. He is particularly adept at handling aggressive dogs. His business, K9-1 Specialized Dog Training, provides training for dog owners as well as rehabilitation for over-aggressive and fearful dogs.

He regularly works with law enforcement agencies and various security companies, and he also runs an online program for student dog trainers.

“I want there to be at least one dog here that the students can practice on,” said Mr. D’Abruzzo, the father of two. “My goal is to produce graduates who really know how to handle themselves around difficult animals,” he added.

Prior to bringing real dogs into the classroom, Mr. D’Abruzzo uses a stuffed animal with a muzzle on its mouth so the students can practice the proper restraining techniques.

“It’s like a chess game,” he explained, referring to the steps that handlers must take around certain animals. “First, you put a muzzle on, then you must use the proper restraints. These are the two steps that must be taken before a bite could happen.”

Learning the proper handling and care of animals is an important part of the two-year Veterinary Science program.

“I really want the students to live the curriculum,” Mr. D’Abruzzo said.

Other skills they acquire include measuring heart rate and temperature, collecting and analyzing samples, using a microscope and other veterinary tools, performing dissections, and learning the science behind the various animals.

Students are given specific tasks to perform each day on a variety of animals, including cats, dogs, ferrets, fancy rats, guinea pigs, rabbits, a hamster and a chinchilla. Some of it includes feeding them and husbandry, but Mr. D’Abruzzo routinely encourages the students to pick up the animals so that they are familiar with each other.

Toward the end of a recent class, a cute ferret was nestled on a student’s nap and about to fall asleep. Mr. D’Abruzzo said it’s important that mutual trust is established between the students and the animals as proper humane handling is important.

Beyond those basic skills, Mr. D’Abruzzo integrates other, equally important, elements into his classroom instruction. Becoming familiar with an animal’s body language and having empathy toward that animal is also important, he said, if students are serious about working in the field of veterinary science.

“It’s not technically in the curriculum or on the NOCTI test, but I put it in there because I think it’s important,” he said, referring to the exam that tests students’ proficiency in career and technical education subjects and that all of them are expected to take before graduation.

Since the beginning of the year, he has been asking students to write in journals posing as the class rat. The journal entries are essentially a conversation with the journal itself, describing what it might feel like to be a rat in one of the classroom cages. The exercise, he explained, is intended to raise awareness of the animals and to understand what life is like from a rat’s perspective.

Mr. D’Abruzzo has extensive experience in animal research, having worked on primate research at New York University’s former LEMSIP (Laboratory for Experimental Medicine and Surgery in Primates) facility in Tuxedo, N.Y. He particularly enjoyed his study of HIV and chimpanzees.

“I actually found it kind of sad, but it was a good experience seeing firsthand the importance of the caretaker in making the most of these chimpanzees’ less than ideal life,” he said.   

Perhaps it’s due to his military training, but Mr. D’Abruzzo is adamant about maintaining a fair, yet disciplined classroom.

Each student is expected to live up to his daily expectations and they are graded daily on their performance. If for example, they walk out of the classroom before the bell goes off, they get an instant zero. If they take out their cellphones without being asked to, such action also warrants a zero.

However, students are given the chance to redeem themselves. Mr. D’Abruzzo explained that if they earn three leadership points, they can cancel out the zero.

If a student fails a test, he or she is expected to retake it. “I don’t accept failure,” he added.

Mr. D’Abruzzo said there are a lot of life lessons that students can learn from working with animals. As a teacher, he hopes he can instill those.

Graduates of the program can further their studies in animal science at two- or four-year colleges or work as assistants at veterinary clinics.