Employee Spotlight Features Swanson’s Jim DeMarino

Swanson's Jim DeMarino
Swanson’s Jim DeMarino (right) and Abingdon’s Cassidy Nolen (left).

The APS Employee Spotlight is a monthly feature that highlights teachers, school and central office staff as well as support staff at every level, who contribute so much to make APS successful and enrich the education of our students. This month, we feature Swanson Middle School technology teacher Jim DeMarino who has been in education for 19 years and has been with APS since 2001. While with APS, Jim has also served as a photography teacher, yearbook adviser, and morning announcements producer.

“My interests in kids and education came from growing up in a small town where people took care of each other. Everybody was close and taught each other from traditions.” Mr. Rosa, Jim’s high school shop teacher, helped to shape hiss career path. “Mr. Rosa was the first person who approached me career wise and suggested I may be good in the teaching field. If it were not for him, I would not have gone to college.”

The Director of Career, Technical, and Adult Education, Kris Martini, makes APS special to Jim. “He provides the greatest support at a professional level, which allows me to feel valid in my goal to teach students two main concepts to all technology education students. The first, to define technology as any product or process that meets the needs and wants of humans. The second, how to apply a design process to any problem. I can apply any technological tool within my class if the outcome for students is to meet their state competencies. Students have opportunities in the woodshop and computer lab of the technology education classes at Swanson for application to technological problems that they solve – software, power tools, 3D printers, robotics, and a laser cutter. Many students do not have such opportunities at a public school or in educational settings.”

Jim DeMarino's studentsWhen asked about the joys and challenges of his job, Jim replied, “The biggest joy and challenge are the same, providing students access to the latest and greatest technology tools. Whether it is 3D printing, robotics, wood tools, or laser cutting, it is awesome to introduce young people to cutting edge technology in the design world and see genuine happiness, once they create products with it. The biggest challenge is learning it myself and figuring out how to apply it in the teaching environment so that students can have successes and learn the design process.”
Jim would give the follow advice to those aspiring to a similar leadership role. “Chill out. Being a leader is not the same as being a boss. For real though, let the students try and when they fail, keep it positive and encourage them to try again. It is all about their experiences that create the lessons. Do not do it (whatever it is) for them as much as you want to jump in. In the engineered world it is the many iterations of design that create great technology and the same goes for leadership, building knowledge and skills through many tries.”

Jim DeMarino's studentsOn the personal side, Jim is a true blood Steeler’s fan that will never change. He loves to chase deer, sitting 25 feet up in a tree for a couple of months come October. “My grandfather, a great man and marine, taught me how to make venison sausage and grow a killer garden to fill the freezer. I have since passed down the family traditions to my family of how to grow veggies and make the sausage. At the age of 12, I became a junior volunteer fireman in the small town where I grew up in Western Pennsylvania and continued to assist until 2001, where mostly car accidents and an occasional fire were the calls. The community thrived on Italian culture and family traditions.”

Jim is currently reading The Berenstain Bears Come Clean for School. “I’d have to say the best book that I’ve read over the past year is The Very Hungry Caterpillar. It’s great downtime with my daughters, after a virtual teaching day.”

If there is someone you want to see featured in the Employee Spotlight, contact School and Community Relations at apsnews@apsva.us.