June 30, 2017 Leadership

A Goode Principal and Graduation to Celebrate

Principal Armando Rodriguez has always been a teacher. As a child growing up in Mexico, he used the bulletin board in his home as a blackboard for instructing his friends. He graduated in Mexico as an electrical engineer and worked for Motorola, where Armando most enjoyed teaching sessions for his colleagues. Driven by his desire to support and inspire kids, Armando transitioned to a career in the classroom.

He started as a bilingual teacher – quickly taking notice of his school’s computer lab and the opportunity to use it as a place to teach students relevant, job-ready skills – and then served as an instructional coach before becoming principal at Washington Elementary. At Washington, Armando made a big push for STEM curriculum and under his leadership, the school was designated three times as an Illinois Spotlight School and as a winner of the 2014 National Excellence in Urban Education Award. He was also a member of the Fund’s Educator Advisory Committee and a Chicago Principal Fellow.

Today, Armando is Principal at Sarah E. Goode STEM Academy. His intrinsic passion for helping students coupled with his understanding of the importance of STEM for today’s students is the perfect combination to lead this school – which is one of just five P-TECH schools in Illinois. The P-TECH school model was started in New York City as a way to provide students with a clear pathway from high school to college and career – schools partner with a corporation as well as a local community college, and in six years or less, graduate with a high school diploma at the same time as a two-year associate degree.

In Goode’s case, a school with a population that is nearly 90 percent low income, students have the opportunity to take dual credit and dual enrollment courses through Richard J. Daley College beginning second semester their sophomore year, and benefit from a partnership with IBM that provides internships and mentorships for the students.

Earlier this month, seniors at Goode walked across the graduation stage with more than just their high school diploma. For the first time, seven students – some of whom are first-generation high school and college graduates – also completed their associate degrees in four years, simultaneously with their high school work. By the end of the summer, another six 2017 graduates will also finish their associate degrees, all in STEM-related and in-demand fields such as web development, networking systems and technology, computer science and more.

In Armando’s eyes, this is the start of an exciting upward trend for his school, as nearly 200 students (sophomores, juniors and seniors) are currently participating in this unique and influential program.