Digital Dragon says Farewell to Fan Favorite!


So Long, Farewell – auf Widershen, Goodbye! Just like Ted Lasso, our manager is leaving the team.


I recently got to chat with Jack, Digital Dragon’s (DD) Lead Teacher and Curriculum Manager, who after 7 years with DD, will be taking flight towards his next big adventure. In our conversation, we reflected on our experiences at DD — so this month we’ll focus on Jack’s journey as a Digital Dragon and what it means for him as well as for the Dragon family.


We found our way to the Dragon den at different times in our lives, but what led us there seemed to be of a similar tale. There was the concept of “something cool” happening. While for me, the initial opportunity to create something from the ground up was alluring. Jack and a few of his friends, through word of mouth, heard that DD was an environment that valued their educators and let them share their passions as well as put their own spin on the curriculum. 


Soon thereafter Jack experienced the DD difference. DD created a playground for not only the students that take part in lessons, workshops, and camps, but also for the educators to pioneer content and culture. When asked for an example, Jack shared that owners, Seth and Laurie, opened the space up for Jack and his crew to run D&D campaigns after hours. That group of friends still play to this day. The welcoming environment was the biggest thing that surprised Jack. The Finn family established DD as a safe space to hang out, mess around, and geek out for everyone involved.  


Jack recounted that an “aha moment,” which happened on his first day. After interviewing, Seth invited Jack to step in as a sub for a Minecraft lesson. Instead of following the prescribed plan, Jack was able to remix the lesson to explore something new. This is a testament to Seth and Laurie’s skill for identifying passionate educators who are ready to adapt and explore. Seth recalls, “So much of what we’re doing at DD has been a continuation of what Laurie and I learned from our son’s early elementary school experiences. We found that school environments that allowed kids to explore their passions, were often fueled by teachers who did the same. It was clear early on with Jack that he just loved the content, and was incredibly adept at passing his passion for creating with technology along to students of all ages, and abilities.”


While he sets off on the next adventure to apply his skills and passion in a new capacity — in software development. Jack will miss his co-workers the most and is grateful for the opportunity to share his passions with youth. “It’s super cool to have a job where you can share what you’re interested in learning with kids.“


Towards the end of our chat, I asked Jack what his favorite DD moment was. It ended up as a simple exchange of a profound glance between coworkers during a camp. A glance that confirmed he found the right place to be, and could truly impact the DD Community. In an exchange with a younger student during a Minecraft workshop, Jack exclaimed “Sorry, I don’t make the rules!” The glance, piercing across the room from his colleague, replied: “I got you, but I caught you, you DO make the rules.” 


That moment, for me, encapsulates Jack’s role and approach during his leadership at DD. That mentality for a growth mindset, always exploring and pushing and bending rules transfers to the students promoting near to peer learning moments and creating genuinely relevant and engaging experiences. 


Laurie’s final thoughts, “We will really miss Jack and all his amazing trades — and we know the students will miss him just as much, but one thing I think Jack won’t miss is being picked as the favorite teacher to be pied on Summer Camp Fridays!”


TL;DR Jack, not only did you make the rules, you rule! We wish you all the best in your future endeavors and thank you for your 7 year journey with us as a DD.  


About the Author:

John Balash was instrumental in Digital Dragon’s launch in 2013 as its first Curriculum Director and is now back in the fold as a consultant on all the latest and greatest in tech education.This is John’s latest contribution to a monthly blog series we’ve launched, Tech News from the Frontier. John is the Director of Educational Engagement at Carnegie Mellon University’s Entertainment Technology Center. John has worked on educationally-focused initiatives with clients ranging from D.A.R.P.A. to Disney. Working from both sides of the desk, you can find John in classrooms and conferences around the world exploring new uses for technologies in learning environments.