In the summer of 2006, Jeremiah Spoon was between jobs and looking for something in the tech field. Following a lead from his landlady Stefany Lewis, then a Hamilton employee, he applied for a position in the Audiovisual Services Department. Jeremiah met with Tim Hicks, the director of A/V, and several others during his day-long interview but didn’t land the job. However, he did leave a good impression. Tim gave Jeremiah another lead: the Language Center had an opening for a coordinator/technologist. Good news followed after interviewing there, and Jeremiah’s been on the third floor of Christian Johnson ever since.
Eleven languages currently are taught at Hamilton, and the Language Center, which features 18 computer workstations and a video-editing system, supports the teachers and students associated with all of them. “The students here at Hamilton are diverse with all sorts of projects in their laps,” Jeremiah says. “If it’s a language-related project, then we usually see them here in the Language Center.”
The variety Jeremiah sees is stunning. Recently he “helped students record audio for a PowerPoint project, helped them edit video in iMovie, exported a large project out of Final Cut Pro, scanned 30 documents and converted them into PDF files, converted VHS to DVDs, and scanned a large poster and stitched it together in Photoshop” — and that was just one day! In addition, turn-around time can be very short. “I was used to long lead times,” Jeremiah explains, referring to his previous work in the media industry. “Now, teachers come in and need something to show in class in the afternoon.”
Each term Jeremiah supervises approximately six student assistants who work alongside him during the day and keep the center open in the evening. Jeremiah’s phone number is posted on their computers, so he can always be available if they get stumped. “We run the full gamut of technology here; sometimes things don’t play well with other things,” Jeremiah says with a smile, “In that case, troubleshooting is entertaining.”
During the past two summers, Hamilton has hosted the STARTALK Summer Development Workshop, a two-week program for teachers of Chinese. In week two, young students of Chinese join them. Both groups use the Language Center’s computers. “I do a lot of teaching,” Jeremiah says of his interactions with the adults. “But in the second week, when the kids come in, they do it all themselves!” He’s even learned from them: when one boy brought up the Preferences Box using key commands, Jeremiah said, “Show me what you did — I’ve got to learn that!”
Not only does Jeremiah have a strong technical background, he’s also creative. “I’m a trained graphic designer,” he says. “At night, I build websites and media projects for local companies. It’s a chance for me to make things and be creative.” In fact, Jeremiah guesses that if he weren’t at Hamilton, we could probably find him “hunkered down at a local print shop or web company building things.”
Jeremiah has an unusual trait for a designer: he can’t see the color purple. “I didn’t know I was colorblind until I was in college,” Jeremiah recalls. “In color theory class, the teacher asked me to create purple paint and I made gray — that’s what it looked like to me.” Jeremiah is married, and his wife Cassie vets any purple that he specs while designing. It’s easy for her to judge —purple is her favorite color!
I encourage you to drop by and meet Jeremiah. He’s worked hard over the past five years to transform the Language Center into an inviting and up-to-date facility. As he says, “I enjoy finding new ways for students to use technology to improve their learning experience.” Just one look around the sleek and sophisticated center, and you know that’s true.
(Submitted photo: Jeremiah and Cassie Spoon)