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Team Spotlight: Amy Jimenez

 

What’s your role/title at Communications by Design?

Professional Learning Consultant–I work directly with teachers, helping them tackle challenges and try new things. Ultimately, I try to make their lives a little better each day.

What do you like best about working at Communications by Design?

I’m proud to be a part of such a hard-working, smart, professional team!

How long have you worked here?

Almost 4 years–I started in August 2017.

What’s the first job you ever had?

I scooped ice cream and made shake-up lemonade. It was hot, exhausting, and fun.

What kind of work did you do before working here?

I taught high school English for 12 years in Los Angeles, CA and then took on the role of Director of Innovative Learning.

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

I love being outside and am trying my best to embrace hiking in all of Michigan’s seasons! I also love traveling, food, and the arts.

Tell us about your family:

My husband José and I have a house full of animals: a puppy, a cat, and a bunny!

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

Greenwood by Michael Christie is one of the best novels I’ve read in a long time.  And if you own a smartphone, you should check out Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport.

What’s your favorite show to binge watch?

Schitt’s Creek

What’s something you’re really bad at?

Making toast! I think I’m a decent cook, but I burn toast every. single. time.

Who is your favorite team:

The Fighting Irish!

What’s the best ice cream flavor?

Salted caramel gelato

What’s your favorite movie or book?

This is very “English teacher” of me, but East of Eden and The Grapes of Wrath are two of my favorite novels.

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.

 

 

 

Team Spotlight: Dr. Pete Grostic

Get to know our Director of Professional Learning: Pete!

 

 

What’s your role at Communications by Design?

Director of Professional Learning

I try to help teachers and administrators find answers to challenging problems. Hopefully, we all have some fun along the way.

What do you like about working at Communications by Design?

I feel like I can grow professionally and personally here. I can take some risks, pose a new idea, challenge someone else’s idea, and honestly, these things I just mentioned are fun and fulfilling.

How long have you worked here? 
8 years

What was your first job?

I mowed lawns as a young teenager… eventually, that turned into mowing greens and fairways for 4 summers at Muskegon Country Club.

What kind of work did you do previously?

I was a mathematics teacher, middle and high school, in a PBL community.

What work experience are you most proud of? 

I’m most proud of playing my part on a kick-ass team that works hard and respects each other.

Tell us about your family:

Determined, no-nonsense, compassionate wife, Katie. Kind, artistic daughter Avery. Sweet, competitive son Max. Homebody, yippy dog Cosmo.

Where can we find you on the weekend? 

Coaching Avery or Max on a ball field, at a brewery or at the movies with Katie.  I read a lot, watch movies, and play games with my family.

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

Waking Up by Sam Harris

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

I ran 3 full marathons in 15 days to raise money for suicide prevention.

What’s your favorite show to binge watch?

Seinfeld

What’s your most embarrassing childhood memory?

When I was 5, I got stuck in a porta potty.

Who is your favorite team:

University of Michigan Wolverines

Which TV character would you most like to switch lives with? Why?

I’ve always wanted to be like Daniel Tiger, Sr. from Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood. That dude is so calm when his kids are acting up… I don’t know how he keeps it together.

What’s your favorite movie?

Groundhog Day

 

 

Team Spotlight: Rebecca Szilagy

Get to know the glue that holds everything together at Communications by Design–Rebecca!

 

 

What’s your role at Communications by Design?

Internal Project Manager, Human Resources

We went from 3 employees to 10 very quickly so I feel like I have a lot of roles, which I do love. I assist all our project managers by drafting bid specifications and drawings, facilitate the bidding and bid review processes. After a project is awarded, I am also actively involved in tracking project progress and its accounting. I really enjoy having the opportunity to see a project from beginning to end, especially when it involves the design of new buildings. I also am our human resources point person which I enjoy because company culture is a huge part of CBD. We all really do have a passion for teaching and learning and love to have an impact across as many classrooms as possible. Aside from those two main responsibilities, I take care of coordinating training logistics, client invoicing, and most importantly making sure we have a fully stocked fridge for our employees and guests.

What do you like about working at Communications by Design?

We “tie it in a bow”. From meeting new clients to fostering existing relationships and taking care of our teachers, this is our motto. We are “all in”. Each and every one of my co-workers is 100% committed and willing to go above and beyond to help our clients and help one another. We are a team and work very hard to operate as one.

How long have you worked here? 

13 years

What kind of work did you do before this?

5th grade teacher

What work experience or project are you most proud of? 

We have so many wonderful clients but I have a special place in my heart for Ludington. The people and community are like no other. They are a district that has never been afraid to take risks and are continuously motivated to innovate their classrooms and challenge their thinking. We are on our second bond project and currently working to build a new elementary school to replace their four existing, very well-loved elementary buildings. I am excited to see the walls go up but even more excited to see how their teachers utilize the new and dynamic space.

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

Being outside preferably near water, spending time with family and friends and cooking.

Tell us about your family:

I’ve been married for 13 years (Nick) with an almost 7 y/o son (Henry) and a 10 y/o schnauzer (Louie).

Who inspires you?

Teachers! They undoubtedly have the most important job in our society. Developing kids into lifelong learners to be able to positively contribute to our society. What a job! I am awed by the people in this profession that show up every day, work hard to make learning fun and make kids truly feel part of something.

What’s your favorite show to binge-watch?

Currently watching The Crown on Netflix but also love true crime shows.

What’s something you’re really bad at?

Baking

Favorite team:

University of Michigan Football & Basketball

What’s the best ice cream flavor?

Hudsonville Toasted Coconut

 

Team Spotlight: Erik Cliff

 

 

What’s your role at Communications by Design?

Strategic Project Coordinator

 

So what does that mean? 

I work with school district administrative teams and teacher groups to develop their instructional technology vision and plan which could involve instructional practices, skills for students, end-user devices, classroom technology, and district-wide online programs.

 

What do you like about working at Communications by Design?

Because I have the chance to work with so many educators, I learn so many great practices and can share them with other districts and teachers to help them improve their craft.

 

How long have you worked here? 

Almost 10 years

 

What kind of work did you do before this?

I was a 6th grade teacher in Forest Hills Public Schools, teaching math and science.

 

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

I enjoy being outdoors, camping with my family all year rounds. We even camp in the winter for Boy Scout activities.

 

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

Powerful Teaching: Unleash the Science of Learning has some strong research and practical strategies for educators to implement and affect learning for the better.

 

Which cartoon/TV/movie character would you most like to switch lives with?

Ironman/Tony Stark. He has a cool suit that allows him to fly and shoot and he’s got the coolest tech.

 

What would you eat for your last meal?

A ribeye steak at Ruth Chris with sweet potato casserole

 

Team Spotlight: Aram Sparks

Have you met our newest team member, Aram?  He’s been a rockstar design engineer and project manager with us for over a year now!

What’s your role/title at Communications by Design?

Design Engineer / Project Manager

On the Design Engineer side, I design technology systems for our clients. With every project, I listen to each need and want of our client so that I can thoughtfully create a design that everyone is going be excited about. While managing a project, I establish active, ongoing communication with clients. I want them to feel like they are in good hands and that their needs are being taken care of, the budget is being adhered to, and deadlines are being met.

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

I love art of all kinds: film, music, literature, paintings, you name it. Outside of work you’ll probably catch me reading, painting, playing guitar (or trying anyhow!)

Tell us about your family:

My wife, Jessica and I have been married for 15 years. We have 3 boys so life can be a little crazy at times, as you can imagine. Adlai is 14, Jonah will be 12 this summer, and Charlie is 9. To add to the craziness, we also have our dog Bates, cats Winston and Chester, and a green tree frog named Ivy!