BY JESSICA STEELEY
Clarkston News Staff Writer
Computer Information Systems may not sound interesting to the average high school student, but Clarkston Computer Science Teacher Ron Conwell says demand for the program is growing at Clarkston High School, especially with coding classes and clubs in the younger grades.
Conwell, who is also the Career Technical Education Coordinator, teaches all classes in the pathway, which is split up into Programming, Digital Multimedia, and Computer Networking.
“I’ve taken every information technology class he’s offered, beyond it, because I’ve done independent studies for it, too,” senior Devin Radzwion said. He’s currently enrolled in two classes in the pathway, AP Computer Science and Networking III.
Radzwion was originally intrigued by the pathway because he wanted to understand how computers worked and found an interest in technology through his studies.
“It’s probably the most in-depth course they offer here because it’s really useful. You get certified and it’s stuff that can actually be used in the real world. It’s almost like a degree,” Radzwion said.
Since 2001, Conwell has been the primary teacher for computer information classes. He has a degree in computer science and previously worked in the technology field, even running the high school network before becoming a teacher.
“All career tech teachers have some experience as a professional in the area they teach. It gives what they teach a little bit more relevance to the students and confidence with the students that this is something that not only happens in the educational capacity, but it translates over to the work force more directly,” Conwell said.
Career Tech Ed tends to focus on giving students a skillset to make them successful after they leave school, Conwell explained.
The program aims to give students a focus on career and getting a job, figuring out what they want to be before graduating high school and then determining what they need to do to get there after graduation, whether it involves furthering their education or pursuing a certificate or apprenticeship.
“The main focus is you’re working towards a career, you’re working towards an outcome that’s going to make you someone that can support yourself and be a positive contributing member of society,” Conwell said.
Senior Reilly Parent said the classes are great at teaching problem solving, especially in regards to technology.
“These classes are definitely a lot more hands-on. We’re actually applying the stuff we learn. In math, you learn how to take the derivative of something – you’re not going to really apply that as much as you could apply programming,” Parent said.
The main goal of the Career Tech Ed Program, Conwell said, is to offer classes to prepare students for the top 10 wage earning jobs and top 10 in-demand occupations.
“Too many students are only going through high school and thinking, ‘I want to become a high school graduate,’ but that is not what our outcome should be, our outcome should be. I want it to become something focused towards a career pathway, so I can be excited about the next step,” Conwell said.
Many of his students have gone on to become successful programmers and others have been able to get technical jobs out of high school, either long-term or to support continuing their education.
“It’s an interesting area of information technology that sometimes the skillset you have, if you match up to the company in the right way, they can decide they want to push you in directions that goes beyond what the traditional educational level you have at that time would dictate,” Conwell said.
Radzwion hopes to get an Information Technology (IT) job right out of high school with his experience, then eventually take classes through a technology university or local tech college so he can move up in the IT world.
Parent plans to study computer science next year at Kettering University.
“My first class downstairs with computers was A+ certification, so I got my certification in PC hardware and that really sparked my interest in other computer classes.”
BY JESSICA STEELEY