VALHALLA, N. Y. - Damian Powers, a commercial arts teacher at the Center for Career Services in Valhalla, empowers his students with stories about his marathon races.
“I promised myself five New York City marathons in a row and I achieved my goal,” he said. “I put my money where my mouth is.”
Powers said this last one was the most challenging since he now has an arthritic hip. Known for completing his marathons in a bit over four hours, this year Powers took more than five because of the pain level.
“My hip was killing me,” he said. “I wanted to show the students you never give up.”
Powers said his students need to develop a “thick skin” as artists. “They need to grow from criticism as opposed to letting it get them down.”
Powers says he never thought he would be a teacher but now finds he loves the classroom. A graduate of Syracuse University with an illustration major, Powers went into the advertising field. He continues to work in the industry and brings his work experience into the classroom to share with his students.
His advertising design/marketing class is computer-based, but continues to incorporate traditional art work as well. Powers said his goal is to prepare students to be career and college ready.
“They get the basics and are able to go out into the field,” he said, calling the gaming industry “almost the new Hollywood.” Powers also takes his students into New York City to tour agencies and see how the field works.
He brings real projects into the classroom for students to develop. They recently worked on a headphone project for Turtle Beach.
Powers said his main goal in the classroom is to give his students confidence and help them recognize their talent.
“I want them to see that they can always build upon their skills in the classroom,” he said.