New Car for deserving teacher

'Hero' Teacher Surprised with new car

Animal Science instructor Mike D’Abruzzo got a big surprise when his workweek wound down at Southern Westchester BOCES’ Center for Career Services—a brand new car.

On Friday, Nov. 19, 2021, Mr. D’Abruzzo was presented with a fully loaded 2021 Mazda CX-5, an award he won through Palisades Mazda’s “Heroes in Education Award.” The contest set out to award its Grand Prize to an educator who has gone above and beyond for their school or community. His wife, Twilight D’Abruzzo, believes he has done just that.

Mrs. D’Abruzzo submitted an essay explaining the amazing work her husband does with his students and the incredible father he is to their two children, one who has disabilities. The honor was a surprise for Mr. D’Abbruzzo who has been teaching at the Careers Center since 2017.

At the end of the school day Friday, Careers Center Principal Evangelo Michas led Mr. D’Abruzzo from the classroom building where he works outside to a waiting crowd of well-wishing co-workers. A camera crew captured the scene as the pair turned a corner to see the sporty, metallic gray hatchback waiting in the nearest spot.

After a few moments the surprise set in, and he got in the car and turned the key to cheers from the faculty and staff looking on.

“I was in shock,” Mr. D’Abruzzo said once he caught his breath. “It was so unbelievable.”

Mr. D’Abruzzo said he knew his wife had entered the contest but had been told he must not have won since she had not heard any news.

The vehicle comes at a good time for the D’Abruzzo family whose vehicle has broken down and caught on fire in recent months. “It’s been one thing after another.”

“We felt it was a good thing to do,” Palisades Mazda of Nyack General Manager Rich Barry said of the fully paid three-year lease that was awarded. “With everything teachers have been through, we thought what could we do. I am very happy for the family. I hope they enjoy the vehicle.”

“I’d say every one of our teachers is a hero in education, but this is a truly deserving honor for Mr. D’Abruzzo,” Director of Career Services Dahlia Jackson said. “This recognition of his commitment to our students is an honor that our entire staff celebrates and embraces. We’re just so happy for him and his family.”

“This couldn’t happen to a nicer or more worthy guy,” Principal Michas said. “Mr. D’Abruzzo represents the SWBOCES mission and its values, and quite honestly he’s just a great guy who’s so well liked by his students and colleagues. That’s what makes this so great.” 

The Animal Science program Mr. D’Abruzzo teaches is one of 20 Career and Technical Education programs for high school students offered at the SWBOCES campus in Valhalla. Students in Mr. D’Abruzzo’s class have the opportunity to learn how to care for animals, both at their homes and in veterinary medicine. Students learn the importance of various veterinary procedures and the care and health of animals. This foundational course in veterinary terminology prepares them for entry-level positions in the veterinary field or any other animal-related career.

A special celebration including the car delivery will take place on the Center for Career Services campus, 65 Grasslands Rd, Valhalla, NY beginning at 2:45 p.m.