DES MOINES – Andrew Gross, a former Catholic elementary school principal who was most recently an achievement coach and recruiter with the WTA-Connect program at Des Moines Area Community College, was named director of the Tom Varilek Education Center today.
“Andrew brings a unique and extraordinary skill set to the Des Moines Council of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul,” said board president Jim Wachuta. “With a focus and commitment to walk with the center’s students on their journey out of poverty, we recognized that Andrew’s ability in the classroom combined with his strong administrative abilities and practical knowledge and extensive knowledge in the workforce arena made him the perfect candidate for this critical leadership position.”
The Tom Varilek Education Center provides classes in basic computers skills classes (English and Spanish), Hi-SET, financial literacy and English as a Second Language. All classes and services are free and open to the public.
Gross, who earned his bachelor’s degree in education at the University of Iowa, was an upper-elementary classroom teacher in urban and rural schools from 1975 to 1983. From 1983 to 1988, he was the director of religious education at St. Therese of the Child Jesus in Des Moines and earned his master’s degree in education from Drake University in 1985. He served as the principal of Holy Family School from 1988 to 1996, earning his specialist degree in education in 1994 at Drake University.
Gross was superintendent of the Interstate Community School District in Truro and Sentral Community School District in Fenton between 1996 and 2000. From 2000 to 2010, he was a drug prevention/school safety lead coordinator, career advisor and teacher with the Des Moines Public Schools system. He was employed by DMACC from 2010 through the present.
“DMACC was one of 10 sites across the country to be selected for a research study on the effects of wrap-around services to long-term employment and self-sufficiency,” Gross said. “The study, entitled WTA-Connect, gave me a firsthand opportunity in workforce skills assessment and development. We’re certainly not going to duplicate services or reinvent the wheel, but those are areas where the Tom Varilek Education Center can strengthen its special niche in the community to help people out of poverty and into better lives.”