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The City Journals

Pettit sees brilliance in students’ web creations

Feb 27, 2017 03:32PM ● By Aspen Perry

William Pettit assists students during web design lesson. (Allie Nannini/City Journals).

By Aspen Perry | [email protected]
After 10 years of teaching technology to teens at Granite Park Junior High, William Pettit still loves watching the pride of his students when they see what they are capable of creating.
“I like helping kids create things they can be proud of. I like when the parents come in and are genuinely astounded by the accomplishments of their child,” said Pettit.
One of the courses taught as part of the college and career awareness class is web design, which Pettit has taught for eight years. This puts him ahead of the curve considering Utah has yet to create a plan for K-12 computer science curriculum, according to the Utah state fact sheet.
During Pettit’s Thursday morning class in February, students sit in front of Macs to learn the fundamentals of web design, including HTML coding, photo selection and typography.
Impressive skills many students are not exposed to until high school or college, and an aspect of teaching this subject that Pettit enjoys.
“I like teaching kids things they would have never known otherwise, and then listen to them talk about those things together. I like being surprised by their brilliance,” Pettit said.
Pettit always knew he wanted to teach and help kids reach their potential. He recognizes students need tools and resources to succeed, and he reflected on one of his former teachers once telling his parents with the right tools he too would be able to do anything.
It is no secret the education budget in Utah can make it difficult for teachers to obtain those proper tools and resources, but for Pettit being able to play the role of the one who provides the tools is a way for him to help students accomplish anything. The same way his parents and former teachers helped him.
In addition to teaching web design, Pettit has run the Granite Park film and announcement class for seven years, and oversees the daily production of the GranitePark YouTube channel.
The Granite Park YouTube channel is produced by a film group called A-Staff, students who wish to be involved with A-Staff are required to have straight A’s.
“This is a great incentive that helps them master their other classes as well,” said Pettit.
Many students and faculty agree the video productions have an incredibly professional look and feel, while providing important school information for students, as well as highlighting school happenings.
The students that participate in the Granite Park YouTube Channel participate in a film class, taught by Pettit, which involves self-critique and a commitment to excellence, as well as experience in collaborative skills.
“Students learn to manage schedules, check details, think outside the box, and work with a lot of different kinds of kids. They learn leadership. They are expected to be great, and they rise to the challenge,” Pettit said.
When asked the biggest challenge Pettit faces, time and meeting the demand of individual student needs are the things that come to mind. Pettit attributes planning as a key element in meeting the challenge of time. This includes ensuring lessons are well planned out, given how much his students have to learn in a short amount of time.
In addition to well thought-out lesson plans, last year Granite Park was able to hire four students to stay after school and work on the videos. This helps Pettit with time, while also providing the students with a fantastic first job and a unique skill for their resumes.
The other key to managing time for Pettit means long days spent at school. As Pettit said, “I go early and I stay late. But that’s just being a teacher. I’m certainly not the only one that does that.”
All this allows for students at Granite Park the ability to excel, and their efforts do not go unnoticed.
This brings a sense of pride and appreciation for both the students and Pettit, as he stated, “Our school’s administration, and even our district, have noticed our efforts and provided us fabulous resources to use. I’m grateful for the support we have received.”