Anna: What do you do and what does your job involve?
Zac: I teach full time at a high school in the states (Silver Spring, MD). This involves two web design courses (design and development) and two internships (the school site and work for paying clients). I also adjunct teach at a few local colleges and universities
Anna: What sorts of things do you teach to students on your courses?
Zac: I take a very web standards approach from the beginning: semantic markup, unobtrusive scripting, mvc programming. Since the classes range quite a bit we cover everything from HTML to WordPress theme development.
Anna: What makes a good web designer/developer?
Zac: A good eye, patience, ambition to improve one’s skills and widen one’s perspective. Some sick nasty Photoshop skills don’t hurt either ;) Oh, and networking. It can’t hurt to go to conferences or meetups and get to know folks out there in the industry.
Anna: Tell us a bit about “dabrook“
Zac: Ha! The high school I teach at is Springbrook, affectionately called “Da Brook.” So that’s the name. I use the site to pass information on to my students and any other folks interested in the content my courses cover. I’m all about creative commons licensing so go to town with dissemination!
Anna: Why do you teach and work at the same time?
Zac: Cause I’m crazy! I teach full time, part time, and run a web design business. Not a very sustaining practice. But I LOVE everything I’m doing and seem to very quickly fill up my time in different arenas regarding webucation and business. Working in the industry gives me a lot of experience interacting with clients and building different types of sites on different platforms and in different environment. So I bring that to the students. That’s tough stuff to learn in school. Teaching forces me to really know my stuff inside and out, on a technical level–reading lots of tutorials and the W3C specs, stuff like that.
Anna: What’s it like teaching web design in the States?
Zac: Webucation in the states is very promising. Connecting with WaSP and the Interact curriculum has given me a really good framework for talking to institutions, writing curriculum, etc. What’s happening now in the education system is what was happening a decade ago to the professional world in terms of advocating for web standards.
Anna: What’s your favourite part of the job?
Zac: My students!!!!! You all rock! Want to warm a teacher’s heart? Stay in touch… drop a line… something small really means a lot to teachers who put their heart and souls into their work.
Anna: Is there anything you would encourage other teachers in your field to do differently?
Zac: Yeah, email me! I’d love to be in touch with other webucators out there ;) It’s hard to say without knowing their specific situation.
Anna: What would you recommend to young people wanting to start a career in the web?
Zac: You gotta do what you gotta do. I am still taking classes for certification because of No Child Left Behind policies regarding the requirements of high school teachers, so I empathize with those out there in a similar situation. That said, I would never recommend taking a course if its outdated. You’re better off with a book and some time to focus and learn on your own.
Anna: What’s your favorite quote?
Zac: “My duty is to my heart” – Mulan (from Disney’s Mulan 2)