Caston Binger is an educator hailing from Niagara Falls, New York. He attended LaSalle Senior High School where he played on the varsity basketball team and the team went on to win the New York State Class A Championship in 1995 and 1996. After high school, Caston enrolled at SUNY Cortland the State University of New York at Cortland, and played on the men’s basketball team there as well. In 2000, the team won the State University of New York Athletic Conference (SUNYAC) championship and made a ‘Sweet 16’ Division lll appearance. These along with a number of other meaningful experiences throughout his university and athletics journey prompted Caston Binger to choose Education as his primary field of study and eventual career. He went on to earn a BA in Elementary Education and then a MA in Educational Supervision and Administration.
For the past decade and a half, Caston Binger has been an elementary classroom teacher for the Rochester City School District. Recently, he has shifted gears into a leadership position as a Teacher on Special Assignment for his elementary school. While he is no longer in the classroom, his new role allows him to support all students in the school. Beyond that, being a Teacher on Special Assignment involves working collaboratively with his principal and teaching staff to foster a safe, supportive, and inclusive learning community that contributes to the academic achievement of each student.
Recently, Caston decided to go back to school and in May of 2021 graduated from Niagara University earning a second MA with a special focus on School Leadership. He takes great pride in the lifelong relationships he has established throughout his years in education. Presently, Caston Binger is being mentored by a school district superintendent, and he is grateful to be able to have someone at this level of leadership to provide guidance, and give advice as he moves forward in his career.
Why did you decide to create your own business?
Outside of my teaching career, I decided to start renovating homes and flipping properties because I have a true passion for working on home improvement projects. It started years ago with small projects here and there on my personal property. Then it transitioned into completing renovations for family and friends. Before I knew it, my brother and I were working on multiple renovation projects on various properties.
What do you love most about the industry you are in?
In education, I really enjoy working with young learners. I believe that 99% of the students I work with genuinely love being in school. They also enjoy the learning process. Most students love to spend time with their classmates and friends. It’s always enjoyable for me to see students have this excitement about being in a learning environment and it makes me satisfied as a professional.
What does a typical day consist of for you?
There is no typical day for me as a Teacher on Special Assignment because I am there to support others in a leadership role. I do not work in the classroom, but rather I am involved in projects that support students and teachers within the entire school. This can include observing teachers in the classroom and providing valuable feedback on classroom management, staying up to date on instructional matters, and looking for ways to improve the school. I was recently involved in setting up a virtual science fair. I was able to use some of our technological resources, such as pictures, video, and Google slides, to display the students’ science fair projects in a virtual way so they could feel involved in the science fair and learn from each other’s projects virtually. It was a group effort, but it was my responsibility to gather all of that information and organize and create a presentation for our school community.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
My school leadership mentor, Anibal Soler, Jr., has been very inspirational to me. Currently, he is the Superintendent of Schools for the Batavia City School District. He is the first Latino to serve as the Superintendent in that district. I think he is doing a remarkable job leading the Batavia school community. Mr. Soler is a strategic thinker, and he is very skilled at bringing the absolute best out of others. It’s inspiring for me to see the hard work and effort he brings to the job every day.
How do you maintain a solid work life balance?
In order to maintain balance in my work life, I make it a top priority to take time out of each day to do things I enjoy doing outside of work. That might include visiting family members, going shopping, playing golf, or going to the gym to lift weights.
What traits do you possess that make a successful leader?
I’m always working in a collaborative manner to support my colleagues, the students in my building, and their families. These experiences and interactions have allowed me to develop strong communication, interpersonal, organizational, and leadership skills that are essential to performing my job well. I believe they are critical skills to master in terms of leadership, as well.
What suggestions do you have for someone starting in your industry?
Teacher burnout is a very common reason why teachers leave the education field. It could happen for a variety of reasons but most of the time teachers feel overwhelmed and exhausted from the work. In an effort to prevent or reduce burnout, I would make the following three suggestions to anyone starting out in teaching:
- Create time for self-care and your personal health.
- Avoid taking on more responsibilities than you can handle.
- Ensure you have a mentor to help guide you on your journey.
What is one piece of advice that you have never forgotten?
There are so many, but I’ll focus on a simple one. Years ago, my father explained the importance of the “Five P’s” when approaching a challenging task. The “Five P’s” are “Proper Preparation Prevents Poor Performance.” I have not forgotten this and keep it in mind every time I take on a demanding task. This mindset allows me to stay focused, develop a plan, and revisit the plan to ensure that I am in the best position to succeed at the task.
What trends in your industry excite you?
I don’t consider this to be a trend, but I am excited to see more schools and school districts focus on cultural responsiveness in the classroom. I also appreciate the discussions that are taking place around inclusivity, social injustices, and the economic inequalities our students and their families face on a day-to-day basis.