Asked what were his favorite times spanning a 35 year teaching career, "They were all the way through," said Dave Izzo, reflecting on the students about whom he said, "They were stars in the sky and they were all bright...and they come from year one through year 35."
Having retired from Canfield Village Middle School at the end of the 2012-2013 school year, Izzo said, "We always wanted to teach the technology before it arrived," said Izzo.
He shared that address with the Canfield Board of Education at its recent meeting where he thanked the school board and gifted the school with a 3-D printer.
Photo by Kathleen Palumbo, Town Crier
Retiring at the end of Canfield Village Middle School’s 2012-2013 school year following a more than three decades-long career teaching, Dave Izzo is pictured with the myriad of handwritten messages left by students on the last day of school.
Izzo's professional story began with his education at California University of Pennsylvania, after which he was hired by Youngstown City Schools, teaching Woodshop within the district for five years. Following a two-year hiatus from teaching during which he found a change of pace working for Burroughs Corp., he found that he really missed teaching school.
Hired in 1983 by James Watkins, Canfield Local Schools Superintendent at the time, Izzo began his tenure at Canfield Village Middle School teaching the Industrial Arts, which he said was comprised of drafting, woodshop, and metal shop.
Sharing that the students of wood shop primarily made clocks and in metal shop, an old style tool box, Izzo delights in that "A lot of that stuff is still out in the community." He made the point evident at a recent year-end function at which one of those very tool boxes surfaced, having been made by the daughter of a staff member in one of Izzo's classes.
The departure of a teacher in the mid 80's brought the opportunity for Izzo to teach computers and the rest as they say is history. From a Macintosh system with a dial-up modem on which students were connected to St. Elizabeth's Hospital and able to ask questions of the staff, to later, when a dot matrix printer and a print shop program enabled them to make valentines and Christmas cards, aware of the component of fun for the students Izzo noted, "But they learned how to use computers."
Eventually finding himself once again teaching Industrial Arts, Izzo recalled conventions at which, accompanied by Watkins, they shared an enthusiasm for both Modular Technology Education, with workstations that included surveying, aeronautics and plastics, to a worldwide Macintosh convention. At the convention Izzo was impressed by what he saw.
"I thoughtthere's our robotics program," he said. "Acquiring it on the first week of August, by September we had our program and we never looked back."
"Nobody was doing this," said Izzo of the program, adding that CVMS was visited by people as far away as New York who came to see it in action in the classroom.
Fast forward to just a few years ago, when the time had come acquire the next generation of robots, a grant was acquired and Izzo was looking at the cost of less than a dollar per student.
"You get a lot of bang for your buck," he said.
With drafting replaced by computers, robotics in place of wood shop, and modular technology in place of metal shop, Izzo noted that while STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) is seen as the way of the future, with modular technology Canfield was already involved in it.
Having combined the worlds of Industrial Arts and Computers, Izzo reflected on his more than three- decade long teaching career during which he served as advisor to a myriad of clubs including a Computer Club, Industrial Arts Club, and Robotics Club. The robotics club did well right out of the starting gate by participating at a Youngstown State University robotics program. The club members walked away with 11 of 14 issued trophies.
"These are the storiesthe kids I had," said Izzo, reflecting on some of whom didn't necessarily shine in academia, and still others who did, who came into their own in his classes.
Izzo, who lives in Poland and whose daughter Simone Izzo attends Holy Family School said of his retirement plans, "My parents are in their 80's, my daughter is in seventh grade, and there are fish in the lake."
Little does he know, that while he tends to his family and the fish, Izzo's gift to education lies not just in the printer he generously donated to Canfield Village Middle School for those who will never know him as a teacher, but in the difference he made in the lives of so many who did.