As a student at Fayetteville-Manlius High School, CJ Roche, MST ‘25 counted David Brown, Ed.D., among his favorite teachers. Brown was a music educator at Fayetteville-Manlius, teaching Roche and his classmates to sing and directing them in the school’s musicals. He modeled the patience, adaptability and passion for learning that characterize so many great teachers. Today, more than a decade later, their paths have crossed again.

Roche is pursuing a Master of Science in Teaching at Le Moyne, where Brown serves as the director of graduate studies. Roche grew up in Central New York. After graduating from high school, he went on to earn a dual-degree in communication and musical theater at SUNY Geneseo in 2015. He went on to pursue a number of professional opportunities in entertainment, including working for a time as an actor at Disney and Universal Orlando Resort, performing throughout the theme parks. However, when the COVID-19 pandemic broke out in early 2020, Roche was called home – and to teaching.

Making this career shift required a great deal of careful reflection and conversation with family and friends who know Roche best. However, he has never once doubted his decision. Roche believes that great educators teach their students about much more than algebra, grammar and the scientific method – although those are certainly fundamental. They model for their students what it means to be a curious person and a good citizen. And as technological advancements such as artificial intelligence play a growing role in nearly every aspect of human life, including education, it is a fascinating time to be entering this field. Roche has already had the opportunity to spend time observing in classrooms in the Chittenango and East Syracuse Minoa school districts. He also works as a substitute in the Fayetteville-Manlius and Jamesville-DeWitt school districts, and as a graduate assistant in the Office of the Class Dean at Le Moyne.

Roche is moved in particular by his professors at Le Moyne, all of whom exhibit a passion for education. He is eager to build his own relationship with his future students, one that is based on trust and respect.

“I want to support my students, and to be the kind of teacher they remember fondly,” he says.