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Technically Speaking with Jack Donato

The world of technology is ever-changing. Just as we finally figure out how to fumble through a new update on our cell phones, something new has come out. Keeping up with all the latest is no easy feat, but for Associate Professor of Computer Science, Jack Donato, keeping up is a must.

Also chair of the computer science/energy department at JCC, Jack is responsible for all things technology and has a true passion for teaching. He began his education at Jefferson Community College before moving on to the Institute of Technology at Utica/Rome, where he earned his bachelor’s degree. He came to Jefferson fresh out of college in 1990 as a part time employee teaching a summer class. Becoming an educator was the last career path he thought he would choose. In fact, he already had a job lined up and was teaching the summer course as a way to make a little extra money before he embarked on his career. “That summer I worked harder than I ever have in my life,” he says, “but by the end of it I couldn’t see myself doing anything else.”

In the 27 years since Jack began his teaching career, you can imagine the technological advances have been prolific! “I remember when having access to a computer meant that you were a professional, now computers are a consumer electronic.” Computer science changes quickly and in order to teach it to his students, he has to be in the know. “Teaching in this discipline is like having the ground move under your feet. The material is ever changing.” Today more than ever Jack’s students have been exposed to higher levels of technology, but that doesn’t always mean that they are better prepared. In his classroom, Jack strives to give his students the best and most complete education possible. He values a hands-on learning approach and does his best to provide every kind of learner with opportunities to succeed. Not only is he teaching the latest and most important skills in the computer science field, but he stresses the importance of the basics. “There are things students learn that are every bit as important as the course material.  For instance, they learn how they learn, how to be organized, how to make good academic decisions, etc.  If these are not important, I do not know what is.”

It is not only his love of Computer Science and teaching that has kept Jack here at Jefferson for so many years, but his love of Jefferson itself. “I like that we are a community college. As a community college, we are supposed to help folks who might not otherwise have the opportunity to start college.  That does not mean we lower the bar for students, but it should mean that we also put forth the effort to help the student recognize the bar, help them learn to self-assess where they are, and help them to learn to form a plan and path to the bar.  I just believe we have the added responsibility to ensure that all of our students have those additional skills.”