Sergio Figueroa was nominated by a colleague, Stephanie Baer.
Anyone familiar with the IT discipline knows how fast-paced it is, but it will always be relevant for all students who hope to pursue careers in the future. Mr. Figueroa understands the need to bring industry relevance to his instruction, and that the IT industry needs diversity in its workplace. To that end, he was the first instructor to revamp his entire program to create a legitimate pathway for students and put industry credential testing in place for his program. To date, he has 50 students who have already demonstrated their professional competence by passing a CompTIA certification exam.
One of these students, a young minority woman in his class, was ready to drop out of high school as a junior. She did not have a career aspiration and was working as a cashier at a local fast food restaurant. In her senior year, Mr. Figueroa asked her to enroll in his course. Not only did she complete his course and earn an industry credential, but she was also the first in her family to graduate from high school. She articulated IT and Cyber Security as her career pathway, enrolled in the local community college, and responded to an anonymous ad for a technical support, help desk technician. The job was offered to her, and afterwards, she finally learned that it was with Nintendo.
Her story is only one of many. By empowering his students with an industry credential, Mr. Figueroa is not only preparing them for viable and lucrative careers, but also giving them the internal confidence they need to take that first giant step from high school student to entry level professional.
“Earning my certification gave me the confidence I needed to make a solid decision concerning my career choice after high school,” said Berny, a former student.
“It is an amazing feeling to know that I was able to demonstrate my competence in the IT field successfully through a platform that is recognized world-wide,” said Gustavo, another former student.
In each of his students, Mr. Figueroa pours all of his passion into creating an instructional environment with high expectations, high creativity, professional access and untiring support. He routinely attends industry meetings to gather new resources for his classroom and model professionals to inspire his students. He partnered with the local community college to establish a course articulation sequence of instruction that ensures all of his students will receive full college credit for the professional work completed in his course. His support for the professional development of others does not stop at students. He embraces new teachers into the CTE fold and mentors them on how to make the most of the competency-based method of instruction employed at his school. He also shows them how to transition their courses and programs into additional certification opportunities for students across other career pathways.