We at Microsoft have been on a journey to develop IT Academy into a strong school partner that provides students with the future-ready technology skills they need to be successful in college and a career.
I have been fortunate enough to be a part of the journey for the past two years, and as the Director for the Microsoft IT Academy, I witness incredible success stories from around the world. From educators being successful in the classroom, to students getting to participate in a worldwide competition, the impact educators have on student’s lives is amazing. What follows are examples of the influence IT Academy educators have on students.
I wanted to take an opportunity to start sharing some of those stories with you as a way of acknowledging the great work educators are doing across the globe. I am especially thrilled to be able to share these two stories as they come from my home state of Washington.
Director of Microsoft IT Academy
Patricia Eckelman, Business Instructor at Auburn, Washington’s Mountainview High School; providing a teacher’s perspective on how IT Academy enriches students’ lives and prepares them for the future.
At Auburn Mountainview High School, the partnership between Microsoft and OSPI has enabled support that makes the difference for students and me as an instructor. Being a part of the Microsoft IT Academy has created a name for Auburn Mountainview High School - we had six out of fourteen high school students in Washington State obtain Master level Office certifications last year. That is quite an achievement! Our school has maintained the third highest passing rate in the State on certification exams.
I'm proud that my students have performed very well. My students make real-world connections to technology by taking fieldtrips, hosted by Microsoft employees, to visit the Redmond Campus each semester. It's truly a dream job as a teacher to help students gain confidence through certifications and be recognized with a certificate that proves their technical skills. Jarrod is an example of a former Auburn Moutainview High School student who is a lifelong learner and values the rewards of hard work through education. Jarrod is an outstanding and dynamic student who challenges himself to set and achieve his goals.
Jarrod Stout, was one of Patricia Eckleman’s students and has a personal take on how IT Academy has readied him for the next stage of his education and career.
My name is Jarrod Antonio Stout. I went to Auburn Mountainview High School and graduated in June 2012. I want to tell my story because a lot of people take things for granted in high school. Sometimes, they don't know how crucial high school is in preparing them for things like getting jobs or getting into higher education.
Taking my Microsoft Office Specialist class was essential in getting me to the next phase of my life. I want to encourage other people, not just students, to take advantage of these types of opportunities and be successful in life.
I learned about the Microsoft IT Academy from my Microsoft Office Specialist (MOS) teacher Patricia Eckelman. I had always wanted to be involved with computers but I had thought that it might be out of my reach. The first thing Mrs. Eckelman taught us about was Microsoft Certifications. When I started my first Microsoft Office Specialist (MOS) class, I was excited to learn more about computers, programs, software, etc.
Mrs. Eckelman pushed all of her students to reach certain goals each week, to prepare them to take the final exam and receive certifications. I obtained my certifications in Word, PowerPoint, and Excel.
In the class, we also took field trips to the Microsoft headquarters in Redmond, WA. During the last field trip, I was able to meet a Microsoft employee who I stayed in touch throughout this past summer. He assisted me in getting my job at Microsoft as a Microsoft Student Partner (MSP). As a Microsoft Student Partner, I serve as a campus representative for Microsoft at the University of Washington. When new Microsoft products come out, I organize and launch at least one party a month to get other students involved. I get feedback on the products and report back to Microsoft. I love this job because I get to enlighten my fellow students about the joys of new Microsoft products and I also receive Microsoft hardware to use and play with as a part of the MSP program.
My certifications have definitely helped me in getting into the University of Washington. Attending the University of Washington is a lot of work and the atmosphere is much different from high school, however, some of the basics are still the same. I still have to write essays, create presentations, and make tables. With my Microsoft Certifications in Office, I am much more efficient in using the Office tools to create and deliver professional documents.
In the future, I hope to further my knowledge in both the computer science and business fields and, hopefully, end up working for Microsoft, Boeing, Deloitte or owning my own business. Eventually, I do plan to achieve more technical certifications.
I am not going to give up on my dreams. I don't believe anyone ever should! Follow your gut instinct and don't ever let someone tell you that you can't do something or that you aren't good enough.
Keith Loeber is the Director of the IT Academy Program for Microsoft Learning. He and his team oversee the strategy, benefits, operations, and policies for the program. An 18 year Microsoft veteran Keith has spent the last several years in academic with the majority of his career focusing on training and certification.