Celebrating A Visionary Leader in Career Connected Learning 2022

Published On: July 12th, 2022|Categories: News|
Celebrating A Visionary Leader in Career Connected Learning 2022

The North Central Career Connect Washington Network was launched in 2019 to empower our local communities with the resources, tools and connections needed to close skill gaps for employers and help young people connect their education and training to promising future careers.

The kinds of career-connected learning experiences the Network is looking to expand are rigorous, relevant, and relationship-based, and are designed to prepare youth to be competitive candidates for the industries growing all around us. This is powerful and intentional work and the regional network has grown to include representatives from across the region in education, industry, and community-based organizations.

This network of dedicated local leaders doesn’t always get the recognition that it deserves for the ways these leaders are investing in our communities – that’s part of what makes this time of year so special. Each spring, at the close of an academic year, the regional network takes a moment to recognize a selected few whose leadership is planting seeds and whose time is spent investing in the next generation of community leaders.

In this blog series, we celebrate three individuals whose contributions are changing the shape of the future workforce in North Central Washington. Each of these leaders have accomplished a great deal to ensure youth in the region connect with successful career paths. These award recipients stand out for the ways they commit to this work with integrity, generosity, grit and persistence.

The regional network wishes to recognize Quincy High School teacher, Ross Kondo, with the 2022 Visionary Award.

Ross Kondo, Quincy High School teacher

As a Career and Technical Education teacher in Business Education, Mr. Kondo brought the first Computer Science TEALS course to the region four years ago. Mr. Kondo hadn’t taught computer science before, but he recognized the importance of that skill set and wanted to make sure that Quincy students had the opportunity to explore careers in computing and technology that exponentially grow across the region every year. The Microsoft TEALS program paired Mr. Kondo with professional software developers and engineers to bring industry-standard skills to the classroom. His students have embraced the program and their mentors.

In the years that followed, Mr. Kondo expanded the pathway for students to include an AP CS course, which established a CS specific graduation pathway option for high school students in Quincy. Two years ago, Mr. Kondo added a third TEALS course in response to student requests, a Project Management in Technology course, and students from Quincy High School began competitively earning national internships in computer science programs.

Then, last fall, Mr. Kondo was approached to help build the first Career Launch program for data centers in Quincy. Career Launch programs are endorsed by Career Connect Washington and the State Board of Community and Technical Colleges and they must include Career Connected Learning, a path with significant progress towards an industry recognized credential, and paid work experiences for youth. Without hesitation, Mr. Kondo jumped in to help build the new program once again.

“Each school year Ross Kondo has consistently been a teacher who strives to provide his students with the most up-to-date industry knowledge that he can provide. The learning for students has taken many forms. It may be through virtual or in-person guest speaking appearances by industry professionals, trips to industry locations where all students can shadow a professional for the day, pushing his students to present their work to the public for viewing and judging, and connecting his IT females with professional IT females so they can see someone like them doing what they love. I could go on and on. But the bottom line is that Ross is passionate about introducing all of his students to the possibilities of many different future career options. He will do whatever he needs to do to ensure that they “see” themselves in that career. Ross is their champion.”

 – Nicole Monroe, Quincy High School Career and Technical Education Director

With the support of Seattle-based nonprofit Computing for All, Big Bend Community College, and the Grant County Industrial Alliance, Mr. Kondo has been working for the last year to establish the courses, write the frameworks, organize curriculum, and recruit the inaugural class for this very special program. The Data Center Prep Program will allow students to complete their first year of a two-year certificate program while at Quincy High School. Students will then transfer to courses at Big Bend Community College and have the opportunity to complete a paid internship program with one of the data centers in Grant County. This new program creates a way for local youth to earn a credential and become competitive candidates for in-demand Data Center Technician roles with excellent wages and benefits, just one year after high school graduation.

The way Mr. Kondo keeps bringing this kind of opportunity to students year after year is truly remarkable. He is truly a visionary with a heart for education and a willingness to work and collaborate to find ways to make dreams come true for students in Quincy. He’s making an impact that is changing the future for so many youth in North Central Washington. Thank you, Mr. Kondo!

Virtual STEM Showcase: Mr. Kondo with CS Students

More 2022 Career Connected Learning Awards

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Celebrating A Visionary Leader in Career Connected Learning 2022