Mr. Russo, Mr. Burgess to bid goodbye to VHS

2014 has been a year of change for VHS, with the referendum passing, two staff members retiring and several others choosing to leave VHS to pursue other professional opportunities. Two such people are math teacher Mark Russo and science teacher Jon-Eric Burgess.

While for many of their students it is hard to think about school life without these two teachers being here, they are moving on to the next chapter in their careers.

As Mr. Russo finishes up his fourth year here, he will also be graduating on May 23 from MSU with his doctorate.  Discrete Math was the main focus point on his dissertation for his doctorate. Discrete Math consisted of co-constructing a year’s worth of curriculum with his students. Mr. Russo says that it is hard to teach a senior elective, but despite the struggle he learned some valuable lessons from his students along the way. Mr. Russo also learned how to teach “real life math” in a more appealing way to students, especially seniors In the fall.

Mr. Russo will become the mathematics supervisor for the Pascack school district in Bergen County.  He says the experience of teaching the Discrete Math course and the student contributions to real life math will follow him to the Pascack school district.

“The move [from Verona to Pascack] will be a little bittersweet, but I’ll miss being in the classroom teaching, the students and Verona.” He expressed appreciation for the opportunities that he has been given and said he hopes that people will continue to reach out to him if they ever need his  help.

Mr. Burgess will be leaving for a different reason.  He will be accompanying his wife to Arizona where she has been offered a new job.

Finishing his seventh year at VHS, Mr. Burgess says “VHS is a great place to be a teacher AND a student.  VHS, as many people know, is Mr. Burgess’s alma mater.  He graduated here in 1995.  He previously taught in Delaware, after attending the University of Delaware, and at Bloomfield High School. Mr. Burgess has helped create the CP and AP courses for physics at VHS, which is ideal for different learning styles. He says he is “unhappy that I am is leaving but happy about the time I have spent here,” and that he is excited for the new experiences and challenges yet to come. The first  set of challenges Mr. Burgess will take on is that all before next school year he has to sell his current house, buy a house in Arizona, get a job and “figure out how to get my dog across the country and my cars.”

He says there are positives and negatives to the move – he says his wife’s job opportunity is definitely a positive, as will be the cheaper cost of living, but also that he expects to be paid about 40 percent less than he is in New Jersey.  As to what he leaves behind, he says he hopes that the chess club will continue to exist and thrive, but wonders if his infamous test corrections will continue to exist once he leaves?

Mr. Russo and Mr. Burgess will be missed by students and faculty; the Fairviewer wishes them the best of luck in the future.