PUTTING THE INNOVATIVE IN AOIT by Jonathan Cordero

 

Mr. Donohue is a CTE department leader at the Academy of innovative technology high school. He started out working in a newsroom, publishing a website for a radio station, fifteen years ago.

 

Ever since he was younger Mr.Donohue took an interest in helping kids.  Even while employed in other fields he always worked with kids, for example he worked as a camp counselor; Boys’ and Girls’ club tutor; and coached and mentored kids.  Part of his inspiration for this might have been the fact that he also grew up with a large family actively engaged in the DOE. His mom was a teacher; grandfather a professor,one of his uncles was a teacher and eventually a principal, and the other was a professor.  It seems that for Mr. Donohue, becoming a teacher was inevitable. Even though he studied and got a degree at pace university, he taught himself things like html, css, javascript, and java. He learned all of these coding skills via online learning platforms, Flatiron School- which advertises a 3 month coding boot camp, and from other coders. To this day he is still learning new things from colleagues at the Flatiron school and people from ScriptEd- an organization that according to its website “equips students in under-resourced schools with the fundamental coding skills and professional experiences that together create access to careers in technology.” He is constantly engaged in expanding his knowledge in CTE and web development.

 

He started his teaching career in a different school than AoIT.  It was a zone school and the kids who attended did so, mostly, because they had to, not because they wanted to.  It wasn’t an active  choice and usually, when a child is not given a voice in decisions which affect him or her, it shows in the work they do and in their engagement, or more precisely, their lack of it.   

 

As Mr. Donohue pitched ideas on how to get kids in the school that wanted to be there and truly benefit from what he could teach, the school ignored his proposals and turned the other way. He saw that the school wasn’t really looking for change, so he began a search for a school that was.  In 2011 he went to a hiring fair for teachers and encountered the principle of The Academy of Innovative Technology, or AoIT- Ms. Cynthia Fowlkes. She loved what he was offering, and wanted for her school, exactly what Mr. Donohue was trying to accomplish. Since then he has worked very hard to bring in kids that want to come to AOIT, rather than kids who have to come here. Now he is very happy to says kids are choosing to come to our school for all the right reasons, because they want to learn what is being taught here.  Many of the students currently attending selected AoIT based on  their participation at one of the city’s high school fairs, where they got a chance to see everything that AOIT has to offer; programs such as: web design, computer repair, game design, graphic design, and robotics.  

 

Mr. Donohue is very happy on how the school has progressed over the past six years. When he first started here there were only two Computer labs,  his room looked really broken down and had out of date computers. In addition, coding wasn’t being taught at the time.  Initially the main focus of his classes was advanced design view. However, when he took over as head of the CTE department, he brought coding in and now more than half of the classes we have to offer deal with acquiring coding skills that are in high demand in the world of technology. He also helped to build a robotics program which previously hadn’t existed at AoIT at all.  

 

Over the years Mr. Donohue has worked on expanding the school's corporate connections and technology partnerships so kids can have summer internships at tech related companies such as Verizon.  He has also committed himself to ensuring that AoIT’s tech program reaches a level rigorous enough that colleges would actually acknowledge and accept the credits students receive from AoIT computer classes. One such college that has already agreed to this is St. Joseph’s college.

 

As much as he has accomplished, Mr. Donohue’s work is far from done.  The next step in his vision for our school is to build a program where the credits received here can carry on to every New York State CTE college.  This would be a great benefit to the school, helping to attract even more talented students, and continue AoIT on its trailblazing path.