Meet the Geeks: How Failure Helped Jose Almonte

Jose Almonte knows his way around New Classrooms, inside and out of the office. Jose’s tenure began on one end of office with the unit that handles thousands of personalized Teach to One schedules and lessons every day. Splitting his time in schools, where he worked directly with teachers and students, Jose saw first hand the impact of his work in the office.

Recently, he transitioned to a new role on the other end of the office with our production engineering team. Known throughout the organization for his passion for learning new technologies, we met with Jose to learn more about his work life at New Classrooms.

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What would people be surprised to find out about you?

JA: I am the oldest of three. People assume, because I’m goofy and laid back, that I’m the youngest. I’m also the first person in my family to go to college.

Tell us about a time you failed.

JA: There were a few times when my university tried to kick me out because I couldn’t pay my tuition bills on time. I didn’t have a lot of people to help me figure out the college application process or how to apply for financial aid. But that made me really resourceful in college so that when I needed help I was able to get it.

I was really active on campus, getting involved in student government and was elected SGA president in my sophomore year. I made a lot of connections and that’s how I got to know Dr. Curtiss Porter, who was the university’s chancellor. He ended up helping me out a lot, allowing me to continue going to class and helped me get another grant. The faculty let me take every single class so that I could earn credits once I was eligible to re-enroll.

Why are you working in education?

JA: Education is so important to me because it has empowered me and made me more confident. I believe the world would be a better place if every student had access to a great education. I taught high school math and science before I joined New Classrooms and saw that there were so many ways to improve the education system and work toward that goal.

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How does your work help schools meet students where they are?

JA: I’m part of the production engineering team that makes sure our technology is running smoothly. As a production engineer, I’m responsible for upholding preventative maintenance of our database to make sure we can fix issues quickly and recover everything. I am also responsible for helping maintain the environments that our quality assurance team uses to test new features before they go live to our partner schools.

In general, everything we do is toward ensuring students and teacher can access and use their Teach to One portals every day. Our work to preserve data and student historical records is essential to be able to determine which skill is best for each student every day.

What was it like changing roles at New Classrooms?

JA: I had some foundation in coding and I was really transparent about my goals and what I wanted to do at New Classrooms. I had managers who listened and gave me opportunities to do different things here. Little by little, I was able to show people what I could do.

What do you do during your spare time?

JA: I do a crazy amount of things. I usually find something and become obsessed with it for awhile. Right now, it’s going to art galleries and seeing street art. I went to the Whitney recently and it was so inspiring to me. I’m also really into food. I went to a few new places for New York’s Restaurant Week. Seafood restaurants are my favorite. I also love video games - I like to tweak and modify the games most of all.

What advice would you give to a first-generation college student or someone who’s considering changing careers or jobs within an organization?

JA: It may sound cheesy, but the most important thing is believing in yourself. Expect to fail a lot, but believe that you can eventually get there.

Talent at New Classrooms