When Ronna Kawsky began teaching in Warsaw, most people in the community had very little knowledge about Warsaw Area Career Center (WACC). After becoming the director and principal in 2010, Kawsky developed many initiatives and forged strong community partnerships. As she retires this spring, the community is in agreement that under Kawsky’s leadership, WACC has become a valuable educational resource for area students.
When Kawsky began her career, she had no idea she would ever become an administrator. A native of North Vernon, she attended Indiana State University where she earned a bachelor’s degree in family and consumer science. She later received a master’s degree in educational leadership from Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne.
For three years, before having her two children, she taught for Indianapolis Public Schools. Since she and her husband Richard wanted to raise their family in a small town, they moved to Goshen and she enjoyed being a stay-at-home mom for 10 years. After restarting her career as a teacher at Warsaw Community High School, the Kawskys moved to Warsaw. It was then that the idea of becoming a principal started to take shape.
“I had zero plans of becoming an administrator,” she says. “However, one of my supervisors encouraged me to consider the possibilities of the difference I could make. He told me that I was currently only affecting approximately 120 students per year, but as an administrator I could impact thousands. That intrigued me enough to begin thinking about the next steps in my education.”
Regarding what made her take on the challenge of becoming director and principal of WACC, Kawsky says she loves all aspects of teaching and learning.
“I’m 100% sure I am a lifelong learner,” she says. “Never in our world has learning been more important or changing so quickly than it is now. I try to bring the excitement and the love of learning to everyone I am around. Knowledge is powerful and education is the tool that allows a person to make life-altering decisions about their future. That is something I love being part of.”
Kawsky feels that since Warsaw is a community that values education, companies are usually willing to partner with WACC to help students get work experience in their career pathways. Typically the organization sends almost 100 students out into the community each year. Examples of businesses where students are placed are Inspire College of Cosmetology and Global Auto. In addition, Kawsky was instrumental in developing partnerships with Ivy Tech Warsaw and Grace College. Students are able to get a head start towards post-secondary education and certifications.
Another program Kawsky had a large role in developing is the Warsaw Community Schools employee day care. Overseen by Kawsky as administrator, the day care provides a needed service. It also affords the opportunity for students to gain early-childhood education experience.
Kawsky says she is most proud of her staff.
“They have continued to grow and change at the pace of our local industry and state,” she says. “They continue to restructure and relearn as needed, to assist our students in learning whatever they need to be successful at work or in whatever post-secondary education they need.”
WACC has 43 pathways available for students in the Warsaw community as well as Tippecanoe Valley schools. Areas of study include automotive, aerospace, culinary, cosmetology and fire rescue. Also included are criminal justice, human and social services, medical assistance and more.
“I love people, helping them grow and making them laugh and feel special,” Kawsky says. “Over the years my staff and I have created an identity that hopefully will last a lifetime. Warsaw Area Career Center is thriving and growing.”
Warsaw Area Career Center is located at 1 Tiger Lane in Warsaw. For more info, call 574-371-5074 or visit warsaw.k12.in.us/o/wacc.