My life has been greatly shaped by educational experiences in and out of the classroom. Indeed, life is such a journey of so many cooperating experiences that I find it difficult to decide those that played the largest roles in my life. After thinking for a while though, I eventually come to these: My classes with home school author Debra Bell and my involvement in the Design Harbor website.
I began my high school classes with Mrs. Bell fearfully. I had not studied in a classroom for many years. Furthermore, I hated writing. I suffered my first year, but with her encouragement, I worked hard and improved. In fact, I was the top scoring student in the second class I took from her, American Literature. During my final year studying with Mrs. Bell, another student and I taught a class period when she was absent. I thoroughly enjoyed that final year studying British Literature; my years with Mrs. Bell turned me around from a person who could not stand writing to a person who cannot stand to not write.
I never would have begun my most influential school project if I had not taken classes with Mrs. Bell. (note from 2003 -- I'm not sure this is the case. Cynthia_Lang was probably an even bigger influence in my life than Mrs_Bell. She was certainly a bigger influence in this case. She suggested it) In late 1999, while recovering from wisdom teeth surgery, I started a project with a friend from my AP Computer Science class. Our goal was to create a website for the ThinkQuest Internet Challenge, a competition that paid well in cash and in publicity. We decided to design a site about web design and programming, and we planned and worked and planned. He was unable to continue after a few months, so I solicited the help of two people I knew very little at the time, Sarah Pride and Jonathan Brownell. Together, we were able to create a database backed website that provided tutorials and online courses on web design and programming topics. Though the competition fizzled for unknown reasons only to re-appear suddenly with announced winners months after the final announcements were to take place, we were semifinalists for the final round of site selections. After the competition, Jonathan and I kept the site up, finding corporate sponsorship and continuing to write regular articles. While the site currently is not being maintained, it still contains a wealth of information on web design topics.
I learned many things from Design Harbor,, gaining experience in business, teamwork, and negotiating skills. I also learned how to program and write well under high pressure. These are things that I could only have learned through experience, and I am indeed thankful for the opportunity Design Harbor was for me. You can see it at http://www.designharbor.com