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Team Spotlight: Zach Ripley

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Team Spotlight: Zach Ripley

What’s your role at Communications by Design?

Professional Learning Consultant

I support teachers in instructional practices and technology integration through facilitating group events, 1:1 coaching, and the development of resources.

What do you like about working at Communications by Design?

What I enjoy most is our shared mission to support schools in their efforts to better the teaching and learning landscape. Ultimately, we want students to be successful. Whatever the myriad routes to get there, we’re all fully invested in that goal.

How long have you worked here? 
I joined Communications by Design in August 2016.

What was your first job?

My first job, at 10 years of age, was delivering newspapers to my neighborhood. Within 2 years, my younger brother and I had scooped up every paper route within biking distance of our apartment and were delivering papers 7 days/week, rain, sleet, or snow!

What kind of work did you do previously?

I taught high school English and history at the West Michigan Aviation Academy for 5 years, taking on additional roles and responsibilities such as National Honor Society advisor, cross country coach, and online learning director.

What work experience are you most proud of? 

In supporting a 1st grade teacher during the unique challenges of teaching during fall, 2020, I had the rare privilege to hear from one of her colleagues how amazed they were at her progress in adopting new practices and ultimately sharing such ideas with the rest of the grade level team.

Tell us about your family:

I live with my wife, Andi, and two sons, Miles and DJ. Andi and I married in July of 2009. Miles was born in 2016, only months before I began my tenure with Communications by Design, and DJ was born in 2018.

What do you enjoy doing when you’re not working?

Outside of work, I’m spending time with my family (wife Andi, sons Miles and DJ) or running (and talking to others about running and reading and writing about running… lots to do with running!). I also enjoy reading and writing fiction of myriad sorts, although most of that is on hold while the kids are young.

Where would we find you on the weekend?

We spend most of our time with family. Much of that involves outdoor activities of the seasonal variety (pools, beaches, and bike rides in the summer and snowmen, sledding, and hot cocoa in the winter). Whatever the activities, though, we gather Sunday mornings at church and usually enjoy a big family lunch after.

What’s a book you’ve read recently that you’d recommend to others?

If you enjoy fantasy, I recommend anything by Brandon Sanderson (one of my present favorites). If you enjoy science fiction, I recommend READING The Expanse series by James S. A. Corey (don’t watch the show; read the books). For realistic fiction, Jack London’s The Sea Wolf is a ferocious work of naturalism. Historical fiction? C. S. Forester’s Hornblower series is a wannabe sailor’s dream. Those interested in theology and philosophy, Abdu H. Murray’s Saving Truth is deep and weighty. But if there’s one recent read I recommend for everyone, especially while we’re on the topic of teaching and learning, it is The Science of Self-Learning by Peter Hollins. A great reminder to any asking the question, “How can we learn better?”

What’s a fact about you that not a lot of people know?

Even as an adult, I enjoy building Legos. Hours are known to pass while I and my sons are shut up in our Lego room (yes, it is sometimes referred to as a guest bedroom, but the dominating features are the Lego castles, ships, cars, robots, boats, planes, and all other manner of recognizably constructible artifacts).

What’s your most embarrassing childhood memory?

I once tried to poke a girl’s hand in the 6th grade only to have her stand abruptly before the entire class and shout, “I don’t like you!”

What’s something you’re really bad at?

According to my friends, small talk. According to my sons, being patient. According to my wife, putting away my dishes. I tried my hand at fixing a toilet once. Good thing it was only once.

What are your favorite sports and teams?

My favorite sport is track and field/running. Teams aren’t always clear with running, but there’s a star-studded training group out of Oregon called Bowerman Track Club that is always fun to watch compete!

What would you eat for your last meal? 

Something spicy. Very spicy.

What’s the best ice cream flavor?

First, it must be Moomer’s ice cream. Of the plethora of delectable choices therein, the triple chocolate fudge brownie is king. With hot fudge on top.

What’s your favorite movie (or TV show, or book)?

How about a combo? I find few narratives more compelling than The Lord of the Rings, but those are most precisely best enjoyed by first reading the series, then watching all three movies in a single sitting.




Like these ideas? To learn classroom engagement strategies that make the most immediate impact, we recommend checking out our program, "Fostering Student Engagement."

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Amy Jimenez

Author Since: May 8, 2018

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