A Discussion with Caston Binger About Leadership, Collaboration, and Having a Positive Effect on Young Minds

Image Commercially Licensed from: Depositphotos
Image Commercially Licensed from: Depositphotos

Caston Binger has been in education for more than 15 years. As a  native of Niagara Falls, New York, Caston attended LaSalle Senior High School where he represented his school playing basketball, helping his team to win the New York State Class A Championship in both 1995 and 1996. After high school, he enrolled in SUNY Cortland, the State University of New York, also playing for that institution’s varsity basketball team. They won the State University of New York Athletic Conference (SUNYAC) championship in 2000, as well as making a ‘Sweet 16’ Division lll appearance. Caston Binger graduated with a BA in Elementary Education, and then proceeded to earn an MA in Educational Supervision and Administration.

Upon entering the field of education, Caston worked in the city of Rochester, where he spent 15 years as a classroom teacher. Recently, however, he made the transition into a leadership position as an assistant principal. While he is no longer directly teaching children in the classroom, his new role enables him to support all students in the school. In May 2021, Caston Binger made the decision to further his education even more, earning a second master’s degree, this time with a special focus on School Leadership, from Niagara University. Caston takes great pride in his work, and especially enjoys networking with community leaders, local businesses, and other school administrators.

What do you love most about the industry you are in?

The thing I love most about being an educator is having a positive effect on young minds on a daily basis. Though saying so may be a bit of a cliché inherent to the teaching profession, the children are the future and ensuring that they’re not only educated adequately, but educated exceptionally well is an enterprise that will ultimately benefit everyone. On another more visceral level, I also just love interacting with the kids as they learn and discover new things.

What would you tell others looking to get into your industry?

An issue with teaching that isn’t often spoken about is teacher burnout. It’s a real thing, and affects more in the profession than people might imagine. In fact, I’m hard pressed to think of more than a handful of people that haven’t told me about a period of time where they’ve felt overwhelmed with their teaching duties. So, I would counsel anyone who’s thinking about pursuing a career as an educator to take steps to guard against burnout. Make sure you take time for self care, find yourself a solid mentor, and above all else, don’t take on more responsibilities than you can handle. It’s just not worth it.

Who has been a role model to you and why?

I learn, grow and get inspiration from so many individuals that my role model(s) come from all aspects of life. I have a mentor in the field who serves as a role model, but I also have colleagues, friends, and family members who I truly admire and look to for guidance and support.

How do you maintain a work life balance?

During my downtime, I enjoy renovating homes and flipping investment properties with my twin brother. I know that to others it may sound like a bit of a stressful way to spend my off days, but oddly enough, I find it to be quite satisfying. Something about fixing up an old house just makes me feel fulfilled.

What traits do you possess that make you a successful leader?

I’ve worked very hard to cultivate my skills as a collaborator, both creatively and administratively. I think maintaining a collaborative spirit is an important and highly desirable quality in a leader. I also possess strong communicative and organizational skills, which are crucial in this line of work.

What trends in your industry excite you?

I find it very exciting that so many schools right now are putting a major focus on cultural responsiveness in the classroom. I love that discussions revolving around inclusivity, social justice, and economic equality are working their way into the classroom. It’s not exactly a trend, though. I would describe it more as a long due overall course correction.

What is one piece of advice that you have never forgotten?

From an early age, I was always told “never give up on anyone.” I have never forgotten that, and I do my best to observe and apply that advice with everyone, but especially with students.

What’s one piece of advice you would give to others?

I would repeat and emphasize “never give up on anyone.” It’s that important.

What is the biggest life lesson you have learned?

That a single, individual human being can indeed make a difference in shaping a brighter future. This often takes the form of a student or a group of students experiencing a ‘eureka!’ moment due to the thoughtful and patient instruction of a teacher. I have watched it happen with my own eyes many, many times across many subjects; arithmetic, history, art, and everything in between.

Where do you see yourself and your career in five years?

My short-term goal is to achieve a higher leadership role at my school, perhaps vice-principal or principal. My long-term goal is to assume a leadership role at the district level. I believe these goals are eminently achievable, and I’ve just recently upgraded my credentials in order to better help me attain them. I believe that by the time five years have elapsed, I’ll be working out of the district office.

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