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Interview with Michael Troeger, Educational Consultant



Michael Troeger is a veteran educator, educational consultant, and researcher who has spent his entire career pursuing meaningful reform in the academic system. Michael is well-known for his comprehensive and multifaceted approach to education, which incorporates elements of research and data analysis, leadership skills, program and curriculum development, student advocacy, administrative streamlining, as well as counseling and psychology. Within educational circles, he is highly regarded for combining a diverse breadth of knowledge with compassionate and ethical leadership.

After earning a Bachelor of Arts degree and a Bachelor of Science degree from the State University of New York, Michael went on to complete a Master of Science in counseling psychology from West Point, obtaining the corresponding counseling certification in the process. He then proceeded to earn a master’s degree in educational leadership, followed by a doctoral degree in transformational leadership. Michael has earned five teaching certifications in New York state.

Upon entering the professional world, Michael Troeger’s early work caught the attention of some senior administrators and politicians, and he was asked to help coordinate a unified ‘single point’ educational program for the New York State public school systems. Remarkably, this program was the first of its kind in New York, and as such, received considerable attention. In his role as coordinator of the project, Michael was responsible for creating a template for overseeing the placement of at-risk children in order to achieve optimal educational outcomes. In the process, he had to consider the concerns of all stakeholders, including students, teachers, parents, school administrators, governmental agents, and community members. The methods and processes Michael Troeger developed in executing this program are now in widespread use and are viewed as a blueprint for educational and mental health initiatives statewide.

Inspired by the successes of some of the disenfranchised students that he served as coordinator of the ‘single point’ educational program, Michael made a conscious decision to use his career to positively impact students’ smooth transition from public school to post-secondary education and the workforce. He joined the Ulster County Transition Coordination Council and the Ulster County School to Work Partnership committees in order to act as a voice speaking on behalf of the best interests of public school students, grades P-16. In this role, Michael also dedicated himself to helping students with behavioral and mental health challenges. By ensuring that the committees retained IEP and 504 compliance within the school district, properly supervising students on probation, and coordinating the college and career efforts of these students with special needs, he earned accolades and recognition from both Ulster County and the New York State Legislature.

Currently, Michael Troeger is the CEO of his own educational consulting firm. In the domain of New York State education, he is known as a staunch advocate for underrepresented groups, and considered an expert on issues pertaining to student support services, special education, program development, and social and emotional learning. Throughout his career, he has published several well-received research papers on teacher job satisfaction and positive workplace relationships. Michael resides in Shokan, New York.

Where did the idea for your career come from?

Early in my career, I was a project coordinator for Senator Cook. He was a man who was deeply concerned about the state of public education in New York. It was my role to take a detailed look at the overall system, evaluate its strengths and flaws, and make actionable recommendations backed up by extensive research. From the start, I gleaned insights into a broken educational system, one composed of throwaway students. I was moved by compassion, and began to advocate for these students, and did so through a lens of systemic change. I saw my students actually stuck in a cycle of crime. Prisons were literally built in close proximity to the schools they attended, which was a metaphor for our low expectations of them. Needless to say, great changes were needed. I helped to implement those changes. Subsequently, I was named one of the first transition coordinators in New York State, and I began working with students with disabilities, helping them plan for a life beyond their schooling—essentially instilling hope. My efforts in this area were recognized by the New York State Education Department. After that, I transitioned into an educational consulting position. I created a business that works directly with the New York State Education Department, which I eventually incorporated and still run to this day as the chief executive.

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

A typical day? That idea is actually laughable to me. There is no typical day. I’ve done some crazy things during the course of my career in education. I’ve been on a roof, trying to calm down a suicidal student—and I am afraid of heights. I’ve been swimming in a river in the same sort of scenario—and I don’t swim. I’ve advocated for students in court; the very same who assaulted me. I’ve also attended countless funerals for students, and for the parents who succumbed to suicide, a sad capitulation to toxic systems. I have run the entire emotional gamut of what can happen to an educator. So, a typical workday doesn’t really exist in my life. My days are all about being able to respond in real time to the needs of both my students and my staff, and to be able to do so compassionately and with integrity.

How do you bring ideas to life?

From my point of view, it’s not about bringing the idea to life, but rather bringing life to my people. I make a great effort to establish an environment that encourages creativity, respect, trust, and a free exchange of ideas among my staff. Relationships are the number one variable for educators— especially as they relate to their supervisors. Knowing this, both from my published research and my real-world experience, I endeavor to create a positive culture where people know they are valued and know that their ideas will be heard and considered, the antithesis of toxic workplaces.

What’s one trend that excites you?

I’m excited about the return to in-person learning. That being said, I’m grateful for the technology that has sustained us during the COVID era. However, students and educators need to have face-to-face relationships. For example, there are some students with disabilities who dislike and, in some cases, truly oppose hybrid learning models. Many have found that they really need human contact in order to learn effectively. Students—particularly those with disabilities—really need that sort of interaction. Education via digital platforms served as a fine band-aid solution during the height of the pandemic, but it has some glaring flaws, and it’s now time to leave it behind. I’m grateful that the technology existed when we needed it most, but I don’t believe it’s an appropriate replacement for human connection in the classroom.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

The most important habit that I employ is to develop and nurture appropriate relationships with staff and students. The nurturing of such relationships leads to a positive culture, and to both student and staff engagement. Engagement is positively correlated with student achievement and well being, as well as teacher job satisfaction—all of which are in line with my recent research. This is not an easy thing to accomplish by any stretch of the imagination. Building a positive culture is an intentional act, one requiring nurturing via effective leadership.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Earlier in my career, I was overwrought by the unfortunate situations of some of my students. When I first began, I had some students who were receiving shock treatment in institutions. I was particularly overwhelmed by the plight of my special needs students, and the dysfunction of some of the school systems they attended. So, my advice to my younger self would be this: “Always do the right thing, the moral thing, the legal thing… even when no one is watching, when it is unpopular, and especially when threatened to the contrary.” However, “Pick your battles. Some systems are simply not going to change. You need to have the wisdom to know the difference.”

Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.

No child is a lost cause. There are no exceptions.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

Treat ALL people with compassion, even when you disagree. I think that goes a long way.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?

As a relational leader, I believe in putting people first. With that philosophy firmly in mind, I take good care of my staff, who are then empowered to take care of our students. Initially, I approach every situation I encounter with empathy. Oftentimes, that manifests by being a good listener. I listen intently to how people perceive what’s going on around them and try to understand what their true needs are before planning redress.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

I always thought I had to have all of the answers before I engaged in a worthwhile act. That is not always the case; sometimes you simply have to step out with whatever knowledge, wisdom, and passion you possess in that moment. I overcame that initial mentality by not hesitating to step out even when I didn’t have all the answers. Sometimes you just simply have to walk by faith.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

While I don’t have a specific idea for a new company, I will say that any business that aims to better serve people, including persons with special needs, would be a very worthwhile enterprise.

What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?

Professionally speaking, I like to concentrate almost all my efforts on people and relationships. However, I realize how important technology is, and I don’t want to be bogged down in the maintenance of it. My time is better spent on other matters. As a solution, I employ people who maintain my tech for me. They ensure the integrity of my backups and work as a sort of help desk for me. I would rather employ a person than have precious time taken from the relationships that are so important to me.

What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?

As I alluded to in my previous answer, the service that most helps me to be productive is definitely my IT department. I couldn’t do my job properly without the support they provide for the various technological devices and digital services I use each day.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

I would recommend that everyone read The Bible. It contains incredible value, regardless of whether or not the reader believes in its divine inspiration. Besides being the best-selling book in history, it contains wisdom and truths that can be applied to many common, present-day situations.

What is your favorite quote?

“The task of the modern educator is not to cut down jungles but to irrigate deserts.” C. S. Lewis

Key Learnings:

  • Always approach people with empathy and grace; you do not know where they have been.
  • Educators should boldly do the right thing; even when, no… especially when it is unpopular.
  • Compassion, integrity, and eventually courage… are the rudimentary qualities of an educational leader.
Originally published on IdeaMensch.


Exclusive Interview with The NET ZERO ENERGY Buildings Expert Anastasia Makarska: Shaping a Greener Future



Anastasia Makarska

Welcome to an exclusive interview with Anastasia Makarska, a renowned figure in the world of commercial real estate development. Anastasia’s resolute commitment to sustainability and her unique background in physics and engineering have revolutionized the real estate landscape, transforming spaces into sustainable and coveted marvels. 

In this interview, we delve into the concept of Net Zero Energy Buildings (NZEB) and the challenges associated with building codes for NZEB. Join us as we explore the visionary force behind Anastasia’s remarkable projects and her dedication to shaping a greener future.

Anastasia, thank you for joining us today. Let’s start by discussing the concept of Net Zero Energy Buildings. Could you explain to our audience what exactly is meant by a Net Zero Energy Building (NZEB)?

Anastasia: Certainly. A Net Zero Energy Building, or NZEB, is an approach to construction that focuses on creating energy-efficient buildings that are connected to the power grid while also generating renewable energy to offset their energy consumption. The aim is to achieve a balance where the amount of renewable energy produced either on-site or nearby matches or exceeds the building’s annual energy needs, resulting in virtually no net energy consumption.

That’s fascinating. It’s clear that NZEBs hold tremendous potential in terms of sustainability. How are developers and building owners embracing this concept, and what are some innovative features we can find in NZEBs?

Anastasia: Developers and building owners are increasingly interested in constructing zero energy buildings, driven by corporate objectives and regulatory requirements. The building and design community is actively embracing this challenge and leading the way with innovative and forward-thinking projects.

NZEBs incorporate a wide range of energy-efficient strategies, from simple to highly intricate. These include maximizing the utilization of passive solar heat gain and shading, integrating high-efficiency heating and cooling systems, appliances, windows, and doors, enhancing insulation, natural ventilation, air sealing, and incorporating advanced renewable energy solutions like solar photovoltaics and geothermal energy systems. 

The goal is to create buildings that regulate temperature fluctuations, minimize energy consumption, and reduce environmental impact.

It’s impressive how NZEBs combine various technologies and strategies to achieve sustainability. Now, let’s delve into building codes. What role do building codes play in the construction of NZEBs, and what codes and standards exist for this purpose?

Anastasia: Building codes play a crucial role in guiding the construction of net zero energy buildings. Currently, there are codes and standards in place to assist designers, architects, builders, and contractors in creating more energy-efficient and sustainable structures compared to previous years.

In the United States, professionals in the building industry can refer to the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC), which has been adopted in approximately 44 states and territories. Across North America, ASHRAE 90.1 provides significant guidance, and the International Green Construction Code (IgCC) serves as another valuable resource. In Canada, there are the National Energy Code of Canada (NECC) and the National Energy Code for Buildings (NECB).

That’s helpful to know. Given the increasing need for more rigorous energy and building codes, what are some of the challenges faced in developing codes specifically tailored for NZEBs?

Anastasia: The development of codes specifically tailored for NZEBs faces several challenges. As industry professionals and officials work on designing new codes to facilitate the transition to net zero energy, there is still no consensus on the structure of the code, its comprehensive scope, and ensuring that buildings achieve net zero energy status throughout their lifecycle.

To ensure buildings perform as intended, it is essential to establish post-construction reporting, analysis, and a framework for oversight and enforcement. 

Current codes and standards often rely on energy proxies without a requirement for actual quantification of energy usage. There are also gaps in the inclusion of certain types of energy usage in calculations. 

To achieve the goal of net zero energy buildings, methodologies need to evolve, modeling capabilities should be enhanced, and real-world outcomes must be measured.

Overcoming those challenges will be crucial for the success of NZEBs. Could you tell us about the advantages that net zero energy buildings offer to building owners, occupants, and the environment?

Anastasia: Absolutely. Net zero energy buildings provide several advantages. Buildings account for a significant portion of fossil fuel energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. By increasing the number of net zero energy buildings, we can reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and effectively lower carbon emissions.

Some key advantages of NZEBs include protection for building owners against future energy price hikes, enhanced occupant comfort, health, well-being, and productivity, reduction in energy consumption and associated costs, improved reliability of energy supply, increased resale value due to high demand for net zero buildings, contribution towards achieving zero energy targets, and minimized environmental impact. These advantages create value for building owners, occupants, and the planet.

Those advantages make a compelling case for embracing net zero energy buildings. As a visionary force in real estate development, how do you see the future of NZEBs and their potential impact on communities and the environment?

Anastasia: I believe the future of net zero energy buildings is incredibly promising. As awareness of the need for sustainability grows, NZEBs will become the norm rather than the exception. They have the potential to reshape communities and serve as catalysts for positive change.

Net zero energy buildings can create vibrant, sustainable communities that prioritize the well-being of both residents and businesses. By reducing energy consumption, minimizing environmental impact, and offering enhanced comfort and productivity, NZEBs have a transformative effect on the communities they serve. They not only contribute to the preservation of our planet but also provide value for investors, businesses, and communities alike.

Thank you for sharing your insights, Anastasia. Before we conclude, could you tell our audience about any upcoming projects or initiatives that you’re particularly excited about in the realm of net zero energy buildings?

Anastasia: Certainly. I’m thrilled to be working on a groundbreaking project that aims to create a net zero energy residential community. This community will embody the principles of sustainable living and showcase the potential of NZEBs on a larger scale. It will integrate cutting-edge technologies, energy-efficient systems, and sustainable materials to provide residents with an exceptional living experience while minimizing the community’s environmental footprint. I believe this project will serve as a blueprint for future developments and inspire others to embrace the vision of net zero energy living.


As we conclude this insightful interview with Anastasia Makarska, it is evident that she is a visionary force transforming the real estate industry through sustainable development. Anastasia’s dedication to creating sustainable and desirable spaces, her commitment to excellence, and her unwavering belief in the power of net zero energy buildings have positioned her as a leading authority in commercial real estate.

Through her innovative projects and expertise, Anastasia is shaping the world we live in, one groundbreaking project at a time. Her visionary approach, fueled by her unique background in physics and engineering, has redefined the boundaries of commercial real estate development and paved the way for a greener and more sustainable future.

Witness the remarkable journey of Anastasia Makarska as she continues to revolutionize the real estate landscape and leave an indelible mark on the communities she transforms into sustainable and coveted marvels.

If you would like to get in touch with Anastasia Makarska you can contact here

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From a Small AC Repair Company to a Household Name in Austin TX



AC Repair Austin

The Success Story of Grande Air Solutions

What makes a successful company?

Well, while there is no one secret alone that can make you a success in the business world, the story of determined employees and aspiring entrepreneurs shed light on what makes a business thrive. Grande Air Solutions was established in 2011 by young, honest entrepreneurs Isael Garcia and Petra Lugo. They are both described as honest entrepreneurs ready to take on any challenge, which is what drove them to make this company a success. You’ll be able to find Isael and Petra engaging regularly with their customers and employees. As both will tell you, honesty is the first and foremost important feature to have in a company. Customers look for honesty in an AC repair Austin team when they’re looking to spend their money on a service. Whether the customer needs a new HVAC system or AC repair, they want to make sure that they’re getting their money’s worth.

Grande Air Solutions | Best Austin Heating And Air Company

Reliable and Affordability Make a Difference

Another key aspect that can take an HVAC company from a small-sized business to a household name is reliability. It can be a distressing situation when the AC breaks down in the middle of a hot summer day. The homeowner does not want to wait for hours on end waiting for the technician to arrive at their home. An HVAC company like Grande Air Solutions that is known for reliability will always be there for their customers, especially if it’s an HVAC emergency. Along with reliability, affordable prices are other factors that can make any company a success if it’s done right. This is where Grande Air Solutions shines as well. They offer their services along with affordable prices for all customers.

Building a Solid Reputation

How do you stand out from the rest of the competition?

It can be difficult to achieve a level of uniqueness among your competitors. However, this is where this company has also succeeded when it comes to Austin heating and air services. Building a solid reputation for years has propelled Grande Air Solutions from a small AC repair company to the well-known, trusted name it is today within the Austin area. The company has been able to deliver high-quality service to its customers, which has resulted in returning customers. This is also known as customer loyalty. The business has many five-star reviews, which potential customers look for in an HVAC company. Isael and Petra envisioned a company that carries the type of professionalism and friendly service that has exceeded the expectations of many of the company’s customers. In a nutshell, the entire team of employees are the ones who have helped build a respectable reputation for Grande Air Solutions.

Trusted and Trained Technicians

A company is only as good as its members. Another reason why this HVAC company has excelled in every aspect of the business is the team. The company’s technicians are well-trained and experienced in the HVAC field. When the technician arrives to fix or install the HVAC system, the customer knows exactly what they’ll be getting. The homeowner will always get quality service because it’s the results that speak volumes. Grande Air Solutions hires technicians who are experienced in the field and properly trained. Having the proper credentials also essential for any successful HVAC company to have, such as certifications and proper licensing. 

Connecting With the Community

Starting from a small, humble HVAC company, Grande Air Solutions has been able to grow significantly thanks to the help of people. As a family-owned business, the company also knows the importance of closeness in the community. The company has been able to give back as much as they’ve received from their local communities. In fact, the company strives to give much more. By collaborating with local charitable organizations, they are able to offer the basic necessities of life, much-needed monetary donations, help for nonprofit organizations, and other support. Being a household name among the people holds a responsibility to provide a role model as a reliable HVAC company in all aspects, including helping the community. 

Expanding Service Areas

Although it may be difficult to expand services in the beginning as a smaller business, one of the reasons the company has been able to grow is because of its determination to expand. Now, Grande Air Solutions is proud to offer Austin heating and air services throughout more of the areas. The company has been able to offer services in Buda, Cedar Park, Georgetown, Kyle, and more, just to mention a few. All of these cities are located in Texas. Investing time and money in their employees is one reason why the company has become a household name in Austin. As the team grows, more service areas are sure to open in the future.  

Offering a Wide Range of HVAC Services

Knowing about the HVAC basics is important. However, this company has been able to expand and grow because its technicians are always learning something new in the field. As technology advances, the area of HVAC also continues to improve. This can include learning about smart thermostats, the new A2L refrigerants, and the new UV light purifiers. Whatever the case may be, the company has continued its success by offering new and improved HVAC services. The wide range of alternatives gives customers the power to choose what they want for their home.

Continuing the Success Without Letup

It can be discouraging and even disheartening when the challenge of a business gets you down. However, the key is to keep on going. Just like this company has shown continuous effort to succeed, it is vital for a business to keep on going without letup. Any business is likely to face ups and downs as they continue to expand. The important thing to keep in mind is that you are doing everything for the customer. Grande Air Solutions is an excellent example of a company that has put its customers first. It is their top priority to deliver quality AC repair, installations, and other HVAC services. Rest assured that the future looks bright for the company as it holds a special place for the residents of Austin, Texas, and nearby communities. 

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An Inside Look at One & Only Electrical Service Inc. with CEO Moshe Sabag



An Inside Look at One & Only Electrical Service Inc. with CEO Moshe Sabag

With thousands of electrical problems solved and many years of experience, they’ve become a reliable and experienced choice for those in need of electrical solutions. In this interview, we’ll be speaking with Moshe Sabag, the CEO of One & Only Electrical Service Inc. We’ll explore the ins and outs of the electrical industry, the company’s commitment to quality service, and their approach to customer satisfaction. So, let’s dive into the world of electrical services with Moshe Sabag.

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your role in One & Only Electrical Service Inc.?

Moshe Sabag: My name is Moshe Sabag and I am the CEO of One & Only Electrical Service Inc. I have been in the electrical business for over a decade and have gained extensive experience and knowledge in the field. As the CEO, my role is to oversee the company’s operations and ensure that we provide top-notch service to our clients.

What inspired you to start One & Only Electrical Service Inc.?

Moshe Sabag: My passion for the electrical industry inspired me to start One & Only Electrical Service Inc. I saw a need for a reliable and affordable electrical contractor company in the Tri-Valley area and wanted to provide that service to the community.

What sets One & Only Electrical Service Inc. apart from other electrical contractors in the area?

Moshe Sabag: One & Only Electrical Service Inc. stands out from other electrical contractors in the area because of our commitment to providing exceptional service to our clients. We take pride in being the best local electrician for our clients.  We are licensed and insured, and our electricians are highly trained and experienced. We also offer a wide range of services, including EV charging station installation, smart switches ( Lutron, Brilliant, Leviton, Noon) installation, and all house rewire.

Can you tell us more about the EV charging station installation service you offer?

Moshe Sabag: We specialize in EV charging station installation and can install a charging station for any electric vehicle, including Tesla (car charger tesla ) and BMW. We also offer a range of electrical services, including recessed light installation,led light, electrical panel upgrades, and wiring repairs. We will assess your home or business and recommend the best charging station for your needs. Our electricians will install the charging station safely and efficiently, ensuring that it is up to code and functioning properly.

What is your approach to customer service?

Moshe Sabag: At One & Only Electrical Service Inc., we prioritize customer satisfaction above all else. We offer same-day service and are available 24/7 for emergencies. Our friendly and dedicated customer service representatives are always ready to answer any questions or concerns you may have.

Can you share a success story from One & Only Electrical Service Inc.?

Moshe Sabag: We recently installed an EV charging station for a client who had just purchased a Tesla. They were thrilled with our service and professionalism, and have since recommended us to several of their friends and colleagues. It’s always rewarding to know that we’ve provided a valuable service to our clients and exceeded their expectations.

What kind of training and certifications do your electricians have?

Moshe Sabag: Our electricians are highly trained and experienced, and we make sure they are up-to-date with the latest technology and techniques in the industry. They are all licensed and insured, and have undergone extensive training and certification programs to ensure they are able to provide the highest quality service to our clients.

As a Bay Area electrician, what are some of the unique challenges you face when providing electrical services to your clients?

Moshe Sabag: “Being a Bay Area electrician, we face a range of challenges when providing electrical services to our clients. One of the biggest challenges is keeping up with the latest technological advancements in the field, as the Bay Area is known for its innovative and tech-driven culture.

What do you see as the future of the electrical industry?

Moshe Sabag: The electrical industry is constantly evolving, with new technology and advancements in renewable energy. As the demand for renewable energy sources increases, we will likely see a shift towards more sustainable and environmentally-friendly solutions. We also expect to see continued growth in the EV charging station industry, as more people switch to electric vehicles.

What are some of the biggest challenges facing the electrical industry today?

Moshe Sabag: One of the biggest challenges facing the electrical industry today is the shortage of skilled labor. As the demand for electrical services continues to grow, there is a need for more qualified electricians to meet that demand. Another challenge is keeping up with the latest technology and advancements in the industry, which requires ongoing education and training.

What advice would you give to someone looking for a reliable electrician?

Moshe Sabag: When looking for a reliable electrician, it’s important to do your research and choose a licensed and insured electrical company. Look for reviews and testimonials from previous clients, and ask for references. It’s also important to choose a company that offers a wide range of services, so that they can address all of your electrical needs.

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