By the members and director of Rockettech
By Jared McCullough
Many say a leader is born, but I say leaders are made. A leader is made by the decisions he or she has made in their life that has made them the person they are today. More importantly they must use these life choices and learn that not everything is going to go their way in life. When life throws a wrench into your plan you must overcome and adapt. Whether that be a total breakdown of supply or simply an uncooperative team member. A true leader is defined by 5 things.
RESPECT-A true leader has a common respect for his colleagues. Respect is a highly valued commodity and is very important in any environment. The leader will give respect to gain some from the people they are overseeing. This allows a more comfortable environment and tends to be more productive. The most important thing in terms of respect is that a leader chooses the general direction of the situation but doesn’t micromanage his fellow workers.
ABILITY TO LEAD-When a group of people encounter a problem with no means of overcoming it, the leaders are revealed. Leaders will step up to the plate and guide the group through the challenge. However it isn’t just stepping up when needed, but being able to see a problem and take action to fix it. A leader must have the ability to communicate what needs done in an easy to understand and comprehensive way. This eliminates confusion and frustration in the group. It can also inspire people to do better or drive them to keep going.
LEAD BY EXAMPLE-Many leaders tend to just stand above others and tell them what to do. This not only can cause a negative reaction to the leader but will lead to confusion and cause a lack of efficiency. True leaders will show what needs to be done without having to be asked. In some situations the leader will start the work and finish with the people they are leading. The best example is that of military officers. There are multiple times in history where a military unit is pinned down under fire and the officers leads the charge into certain death or defeat but end up achieving a win after his soldiers followed him to take the fight to the enemy.
VISION- The final thing a true leader has is a vision. A vision that blazes the path and innovates to improve the current situation. This brings about new ideas that can potentially lead to great things. A leader isn’t afraid to fail because he will have the audacity to persevere, overcome, and learn from that failure. To take his idea to the next level and if that fails, so be it. He will keep trying till he is out of options. At that point he knows when to quit.
So a true leader respects those he leads and leads with confidence. He leads by example and use his vision to advance his ideas to new levels. He fails hard with a risk only to succeed later and inspires others with perseverance. Leaders aren’t born, they’re made.
Why?Rockettech exists to prepare students for a future they cannot predict by providing opportunities to develop communication, collaboration, and real world ambiguous problem solving. Amidst an education system that prepares students to simply follow directions rather than create and innovate, Rockettech aims to inspire students, administrators, and policy makers to change the way they do things.
Students are taught a foundation of tech skills in multimedia and programming in a just-in-time format to prepare them for real world clients and projects in the community.Through a series of fast-paced simulations of professional scenarios, students are equipped with intangible skills that prepare them to interact with real clients. Initially, students are given the option of having Mr. Suter “stand-by” and sit-in on a face to face client meeting or phone call while the student does their best to direct the show. Subsequent meetings are entirely scheduled and executed by the student, with only distant observations by Mr. Suter.
Rockettech provides web and video production services for businesses and organizations in exchange for donations to the club. With the income, Rockettech is also able to support student-driven service projects, purchase equipment upgrades, take students to conferences, and otherwise reward student efforts.
Web design services have ranged from $250 - $3000 per project and include the setup of web hosting, content management system site design, and the training of the client to administer the website. Once the client is comfortable upkeeping the site, responsibility is then completely transferred to the client. Sites also include 3 months of “custom video tutorials” for the client to resolve any recurring difficulties for the client.
Video production has ranged from $250-$1200, and include storyboarding, onsite filming, and professional editing in Adobe Premiere and After Effects. Videos are delivered as files and include posting to YouTube for distribution over social media.
Rockettech was founded by Mr. Mark Suter and 5 burgeoning students in June of 2013. For 2 years, Rockettech activities took place during Mr. Suter’s conference period as “independent study” for students. In 2015, Rockettech became a for-credit class. All high school students are welcomed even if they can’t take the class, by attending bi-weekly meetings, attending functions, and participating in the ongoing “company Google Hangout Chat”. Students discover early in any of Mr. Suter’s classes that failure is encouraged and expected. Rockettech’s motto of “Fail Harder. Fail Faster, Fail Often” is referenced nearly daily by both students and Mr. Suter when either hesitate to take a risk, iterate quickly, or persevere through difficulty.
Mr. Suter can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
This week my job has been to make phone calls to past clients to get feedback from them. This doesn’t seem to be a difficult task to most people. However, I am very self-conscious in situations especially when they require communication in a formal setting. Where some teachers may have asked for a volunteer to do this type of assignment, Mr. Suter asked me specifically knowing my discomfort with things such as talking on the telephone
Earlier this year, I actually had to take a phone call because I was the only one available at that moment in time, and I felt overwhelmed and very anxious about it. During the conversation on the phone, I had felt that I hadn’t come across as professional, and I tore myself up for it.That is my fear every time I talk to anyone. I feel insecure and every flaw is amplified in my head. It is a social anxiety that I face on a daily basis. Don’t get me wrong, if I know you and am comfortable with you, I can talk to you easily and all is well. It’s when I don’t know the person or it's a more formal setting that I become this anxious person that doesn’t effectively communicate. After the conversation on the phone, I completely changed my demeanor. I normally come across as a pretty happy, upbeat person, but the rest of the day, I just kind of downshifted and became a very blah kind of person. It was this experience that Mr. Suter realized that I needed a push out of my comfort zone. So what does he do? He recruits me for a project requiring conversating over the phone. As uncomfortable as I was doing this, I accepted the challenge, and sitting here today, I am glad that I did.
This week, my first phone call, Mr. Suter talked to the client first, and once they had the necessary information, he handed the call to me. I then asked them the feedback questions we had pre-written as a team. My last phone call, Mr. Suter didn’t interject or even sit and listen because he knew that I could now do it on my own. From this experience, I have grown as an individual. I have learned that I don’t have to stay in my comfort zone. In fact, I need to get out of my comfort zone in order to expand my comfort zone. This is just a stepping stone to becoming the person that I want to be. I want to be a bold person who is comfortable with herself. I want to be the type of person that is not defined by insecurities and can overcome limitations simply because I have the confidence to do so. If someone asked me to make a phone call earlier in the year, I would have said no, but if you asked me today, I would probably hesitate, but my answer would be a yes. That is a step in the right direction… even if it a baby step.
We need help clarifying Rockettech’s identity. Before we spend another dime advertising, we need to establish who we are at the core, and communicate this clearly to the customer through all channels.
As a student ran company providing web design and video production, Rockettech still has an identity crisis.This is the most important part of what we learned in a recent video call with marketing professional Kathryn Landa from the Russ Reid marketing company in Altadena, CA. The irony is that we have an "Identity" poster hanging behind us in the call. The call was arranged through Nepris, a website that helps schools connect with professionals for mentoring.
In September, 2 Employees of foundry10.org flew out from Seattle, WA to bring an HTC Vive virtual reality system to Mr. Suter's classroom. We are one of six schools in the world that will experience the unreleased VR system. The members of Rockettech and other students are giving feedback and helping to create a transferable set of classroom exercises and curriculum.
Last week, myself Mr. Suter and Tyler Boes traveled to Columbus for the annual Ohio Education Technology Conference. On Feburary 12th, we had our own session and presented Rockettech to educators around the state. Immediately after our presentation we were approached by various amount of businesses throughout Ohio that wanted to partner with us or even simply ask for our advice. But before we got all professional-like, we stood in front of some 1,500 people to have a first-time-rap-battle on the OETC Keynote stage.
In partnership with researchers at foundry10 in Seattle, we've been trying to identify certain elements that without them, the whole Rockettech program would fall apart. We've had the pleasure of hosting them for a visit in October, 2014.
We've refined the list to four elements critical to our success:
Employees take less risk and try to just protect their own jobs when they don't feel safe (see Simon Sinek's Ted Talk). My employees are students whom I encourage to take chances. They dive into projects fearless because they know I
On this blog, students and the director of Rockettech will share their experiences involving all things Rockettech. This includes:
Here's an example of one such development for this school year. We started advertising 30-sec spots on NBC-Lima. Here's our commercial:
Through this blog we hope to gain better understanding of what it means to be in Rockettech, and if another school district wanted to to create a similar club, how they might go about doing that. Comments are welcome!
For those WRITING for this blog, be sure to check out:
- Mark Suter
On October 22 students of both Mr. Suter and Mrs. Klass' classes attended a tour of BGSU to learn more about jobs in the technology field. We talked to several different people about positions that the campus itself hired, and about courses they offered that could better prepare you for a job in that field. First we toured the room that houses the entire school's network. It had rows and rows of hard drives and other equipment, as well as three giant cooling systems. They had organized the equipment into "hot" and "cold" aisles, so as to better control the temperature of the hardware and keep it from overheating. We talked to one of the people in charge of managing all this equipment, and he told us that the network they use is constantly expanding and increasing in size in order to keep up with the digital age. He also mentioned that for a job like his, the best kinds of skills to have are mostly logic and problem-solving based, and that English and documentation skills can also be very useful.
We thrive on "donations" that are earned through professional quality work. Our entrepreneurial spirit drives our activities during class times, not tests.