OST is growing fast. We are enrolling new students and adding new courses to our catalog at an unprecedented pace. In order to keep up with the rapid influx of new students and courses, while maintaining the level of personal instructor interaction that is so valuable to our students’ experience, it became clear that we needed to find another exceptional instructor to add to our staff.
We were intent on finding an instructor who shared our vision for OST, had a love of programming, and an honest desire to connect with students and facilitate the Useractive methodology for learning.
Due to the growing popularity of our Perl series, we knew it was imperative to hire an instructor dedicated solely to that series of courses. We turned to the author of the OST Perl series of courses, Peter Scott, for his advice on where to advertise for the position. He suggested the job boards at cpan. We listed the opening there and were overwhelmed by the response. In a matter of a few days, we received over 60 resumes from some really well qualified applicants.
I spent several days with Lorri Coey (the lead instructor here at OST) poring over the submissions. After narrowing the field down to the candidates we thought could best fulfill the needs of our students and our school, we began the interviewing process. Serendipity intervened next; two of the candidates stood out to each of us immediately, and independently, before we’d ever had a chance to talk to each other about our impressions.
This in itself was a minor miracle. Instructors at OST possess a rare combination of skills and attributes. They are individuals with technical expertise, a passion for learning, and the ability to encourage and mentor students so that they can ultimately learn independently. These instructors are hard to find. But with specific intention and some extremely good luck, we found not one, but two great new instructors for our team. We’d like to take this opportunity to welcome David Romano and Ben Hengst to the OST faculty.
David Romano is our new Perl guru. He comes to us from the field of education, where he implemented a mentoring style of his own invention. Fortunately, his invention and experience embrace the very same principles that serve as the foundation of OST. In his previous position as an educator, he supported his students’ efforts to learn by doing. This is the cornerstone of OST’s philosophy for learning as well. David had experience teaching in an OST style before we had ever even met him.
After an encouraging phone interview with David, Lorri went to Tucson to meet him. Her visit was during what the locals refer to as “the monsoon season,” which we now know refers to the standard infamous scorching and dry Arizona heat, but with the exciting added potential for severe thunderstorms and flash floods. Fortunately, David and Lorri met during two storm-free mornings. They talked a lot about our educational philosophy, the particulars of the OST system, and how the surface of the sun might resemble Arizona if the sun also had cacti.
David is one of those people who seems averse to being idle. When we brought him on board, he jumped right in, going through the first two Perl courses really quickly; he was ready to start instructing students almost before Lorri could schedule her trip to Tucson.
He’s got a deep understanding of the particulars of the Perl language, and a clean, readable programming style. He is keenly interested in his students and their individual motivations, and his enthusiasm is sincere and infectious.
We found Ben Hengst during that same search, and while Ben is a qualified Perl developer in his own right, we noticed that he also possessed a multitude of additional programming skills. He has joined our PHP/SQL team, bringing with him extensive experience and expertise in web framework development.
After meeting Ben on paper and then during an interview on the phone, we finally had a chance to meet him in person. Part of the OST attended the recent Open Source Conference (OSCON) in Portland, which conveniently happens to be Ben’s hometown.
Ben is an active participant within Portland’s vibrant open source community, often organizing presentations and events for like-minded folks. He invited us to the PDX hack-a-thon that he hosts every week at the Lucky Labrador Lounge and a grand time was had by all! It was illuminating and fun to see Ben in his natural habitat and it helped affirm for us that we’d found the right person for OST.
The following day I was able to spend more time with Ben at one of Portland’s ubiquitous and eclectic coffee houses. I showed him the ropes of our learning management systems and learned more about his passion for programming, as well as his interests in open source programming. Ben will be a great asset to the OST team and to the students he instructs. In addition, I’m confident that he will make major contributions to OST’s ongoing quest to become the most highly-caffeinated faculty on the planet.
We are excited and fortunate to have these two outstanding instructors become part of our crew. Please join me in welcoming Ben and David to OST!