Meet Mr. Russo

About the Program
Small Business Entrepreneurship is a one-year program in which students learn to conceptualize, vet, and implement their entrepreneurial ideas. For more information, click on the "Small Business Ownership Program Page" link in the blue box to the right.
About the Instructor
  • Instructor at ROC since 2006.
  • California teaching credential in CTE Marketing, Sales, and Services.
  • BS, Human Resource Management with minor in Political Science, CSU Bakersfield.
  • MBA, CSU Bakersfield.
  • ROC Teacher of the Year, 2012; ROC Spirit Award, 2022.
  • ROC’s Jim Burke Education Foundation Teacher of the Year nominee, 2011.
  • Co-owner, Russo’s Books, 1989 – Present.
  • Adjunct faculty, Bakersfield Adult School & KHSD Career Resource Dept., 2006 – 2020.
  • Adjunct faculty, Bakersfield College & Kern Community College District, 2001 – 2015.
  • KHSD job training instructor / Support Services Technician, 1989 1996.
  • Previously co-owned Career Concepts (job search consulting firm) and Market Concepts (marketing consulting firm).
  • Retail / Shipping & Receiving experience at The Broadway, Gottschalks, and Montgomery Ward, 1981 – 1990.
  • 41 years of retail experience; 28 years in education & job search assistance (simultaneously, I’m not that old!).
  • Served on and presided over multiple community boards and associations.
  • Married with 3 children, all four of whom took ROC/CTEC classes while in high school should you!


Never give in. Never never never!

This isn't a junior high track meet. This is the finals of the 1972 Olympics competing against the fastest people in the world.

Fail Better.

Don't wait until they tell you you are ready.
Ever failed? No matter. Try again. Fail better.

Junior High 1-Week Summer Camp

Students learn about entrepreneurial traits and mindset on Monday and Tuesday. They also read the book Lawn Boy, the Gary Paulsen book of an enterprising 12-year old (which happens to be their age). By Wednesday (seen here and clearly oblivious to the teacher) they are getting ready for their Thursday/Friday microbusiness by marketing with posters, ads, and sales pitches in neighboring classrooms. All proceeds benefit a charity of their choosing.

ROC Small Biz Students ROCk Startup Weekend

Competing in a small business startup competition is exciting, exhausting, and invigorating for anyone, but all the more so for ROC students who were competing against college students and business professionals, some 30+ years their senior.

Still, our high school students were up for the challenge. Big time! ROC students, for the first time ever, were members the winning team in the Bakersfield Startup Weekend competition. And it gets even better. Our students were also part of the second and third place teams as well.

Techstar’s Startup Weekend first came to Bakersfield in 2017. The third local incarnation of this international event was held in November 2018 on the campus of CSU Bakersfield. Local entrepreneurs and entrepreneurial-minded people from all walks of life were invited to spend 54-hours – Friday night through Sunday night – to pitch their business idea, form teams with before unknown team members, and vet and validate their business idea in preparation for a final presentation to judges at the close of the weekend.

For the proactive, business-minded students of ROC this was a challenge that was gladly accepted. Students from Mobile AppsSmall Business EntrepreneurshipRobotics, and Sports Medicine – 16 in total – entered the competition. These young teenagers teamed up with and competed against businesspeople two and three times older than themselves.

Through the course of the weekend students learned about developing business models including finance and marketing, conducting SWOT analysis, Lean Startup Canvases, surveying and interviewing customers and industry leaders, determining break-even point, and, importantly, developing a prototype of their good or service (oftentimes a working website or mobile app).

A special shout-out to those students from the ROC Small Business Entrepreneurship and Economics program who gave up their weekend so they could expand their entrepreneurial mindset and experiences:

  • Angel A (Independence High)
  • Max A (Liberty High)
  • Nolan B (Stockdale High)
  • Jesus Q (Arvin High)
  • Jorge R (Mira Monte High)
  • Abby R (Mira Monte High)
  • Steven R (Highland High)
  • Dalia V (Liberty High)

ROC wishes to thank the local Startup Weekend organizers as well as CSU Bakersfield and Bank of America for sponsoring the event.

Our first sale of the year, 9/7/2018

Morning class takes the new sno-cone machine out for a ride.
Great news! Students enrolled in this class will now receive senior-level college prep Economics credit. That means you are not required to take Econ at your home campus.
David Castillo, BHS (bronze); Kat Maroney, Frontier (silver); Temia Williams, BHS (gold). For this and more photos, click the PHOTO ALBUM link to the right.

ROC Olympics Impresses

ROC Small Business Entrepreneurship students had the special opportunity to meet with one-on-one with nine local business people as part of the 21st Annual ROC Olympics competition. Each student has launched his or her own business and this was the day they were able to gain real-world insight into their efforts.
The schoolwide event allows students within each of ROC's 27 program areas to compete with their classmates. For the Small Business students that meant presenting their business plan to the coaches.
In a "speed dating" format, students had 6 minutes to share their business model, marketing, income and expenses, and plans for growing their business with each coach prior to rotating to the next coach.
In that short time period the coaches were able to ask probing questions of and give meaningful business insights to the students on how to improve upon their business. Students will be tasked with implementing these improvements over the final 8 weeks of the semester.
The nine community business volunteers, after meeting with 16 different business teams, were asked to select the three with whom they were most impressed. After 20 minutes of deliberating, they selected:
GOLD  Temia William's Teens Helping Teens
SILVER   David Castillo's Castillo's Granite and Marble
BRONZE  Kat Maroney's Kathryn's Face Painting
Program manager Michael Russo commented on how appreciative he was of our local business coaches taking time to participate in this activity as well as praising his students for the preparation and care they put into their business presentations and their efforts to-date.

Peter Diamandis on Entrepreneurial Persistence

Julian Guthrie, author of How to Make a Spaceship, along with the protagonist of her story, Peter Diamandis. LA Yuri Night; April 2017. Over 150 "no's" from some of the largest corporations and most famous titans of business to get to a "yes" ... the embodiment of being Rejection Proof.

13 Things To Give Up if You Want to Be Successful

To my teenage students: Here is some good advice to learn and follow from an early age.