Eric Boso is a small town guy with a big heart. And, he’s been a dad or in the role of a dad — a great role model — to so very many.
He was born and raised just outside of Columbus, Ohio., and never traveled far from home, he says. He would see the “same people every day” and “they were good people.”
“But in the last 15 years,” Boso says, with the encouragement of his wife, Pedreia, “I really started living.” He tells several “crazy” stories about his life between 1997 when they married and 2008 when they decided to come to Sarasota.
At his first fulltime job in Columbus, Ohio, he worked with ARC Industries and special needs adults, teaching them jobs “and even how to ride the bus,” he says.
Working there and inspiring others, he says, helped him decide to go back to school to be a teacher.
“I bled University of Michigan,” says the Columbus-area native.
But his wife knew his dream. “Without me knowing it,” Boso says, she filled out a University of Michigan application, sent it in and “it came back accepted.”
After they had their son, “that’s when I started back,” he adds.
But wait a minute, they lived in Columbus. He still had his job at ARC.
A little matter of distance wasn’t going to stop Boso.
He started his first semester at UM, commuting some 190 miles to the Ann Arbor campus.
It wasn’t long after he started the trek to college that he began having trouble with his statistics class. After he sat down with his professor and told him about his commute, his life took on another radical change.
“Wait a minute,” Boso recalls the professor saying, “you want to come to U of M so badly you’re commuting that far. He told me, ‘You remind me a lot of me when I was a kid.’”
His professor gave him a name and phone number written on a little piece of paper, Boso says, and he made contact with the person for a job. He was hired as a University of Michigan strength and conditioning trainer, working with all teams — “but football, mostly.”
He and his family put everything they owned in a truck and moved to Ann Arbor, where they lived in family housing, and met people from around the world.
In 2006, Boso received his bachelor’s degree from UM, and he maintained his “cool job” at the university for about a year and a half longer.
He recalls seeing the importance of role modeling at this job. There, he says, children with life-threatening diseases came from an area hospital to visit the athletes. He remembers how special the children felt when the “big man on campus” recognized them, and the humble feeling expressed by the players.
“It changes you as a person,” he says, adding that he’s teaching his children and AME students about the need to give back.
As cool as that job was, he says, he saw himself without time for his family. “What can I say, they’re my life,” Boso says.
So it was time for a change — especially because his oldest son needed him. Son Erick has Asperger syndrome — a mild form of autism.
While Erick had therapists, and Boso could have had other professionals help him, he believed he could do it “better than anyone.”
So Boso worked to improve Erick’s physical condition by playing with his son — especially basketball, which Erick loves — leading to his improvement today. He has no remaining signs of Asperger, Boso says.
Exercise is so important for everyone, he adds. And for Erick, it “opened up the world for him. He has friends. He feels confident. He has something to look forward to.”
Next for Boso, with his bachelor’s degree in hand, he says, was another job. “I just knew I wanted to teach kids.”
Boso’s career jumped to Florida after he and his wife heard about Siesta Key being among the “America’s Top 10 Beaches” — another crazy story, he says.
Boso says he and his wife thought, “why stay up north when we could work and live” in the beautiful setting near Siesta Key.
So he tried to land a job by flying in for the “Great Florida teach-in” but didn’t get an interview. He was disappointed, but he reasoned it wasn’t meant to be.
Soon enough, his wife, who was a personal banker at J.P. Morgan Chase in Ann Arbor, put in for a transfer and a Sarasota position was offered.
So in 2008, the Bosos moved to Sarasota. Once in Florida, he reached his goal of teaching kids, first at Gulf Gate Elementary in Sarasota, and at PAL Charter School in Bradenton, before arriving at Anna Maria Elementary School.
Now going into his third school year at AME, he says, “I love it. I’ve gotten such positive feedback.”
He brings his younger son, Jarrett, 9, along with him to work every day. Next year, Jarrett, who wants to be a policeman someday, will be a fifth-grader.
“I want to help people,” says Jarrett, adding other family members are policemen and firemen.
“I love all these kids like they were my own kid,” Boso says. “I know every kid’s name. I always look them in the eye and say ‘hi’ to each of them.”
And his excellent role modeling ability is recognized by others.
School counselor Cindi Harrison says, “He’s a great example of a dad. It’s neat to see him as a real dad, and as a dad to all the students. He sets a good example. He’s responsible, respectable, and he cares.
“He exemplifies the values we teach at AME,” she says.
The end of Boso’s crazy story — for now anyway — is Boso loves his job, and says he wants to bring even “more to the table, to make it exciting — to keep the kids loving it.”