Faculty Member of the Year: Innovative Educator John Hall

Geraldine Smith, Reporter

Somewhere in the ACC Art and Design building on Prince street, exists a mild-mannered teacher who assesses academic needs faster than a speeding bullet, advances innovative ideas more powerful than a locomotive, and navigates the intricacies of design software in a single bound. This super hero of graphic design is ACC teacher John Hall.

He was chosen Faculty Member of the Year in recognition of his accomplishments in program innovations, connectivity between departments and myriad other areas where he shares his talents and time.

Hall brought his experience as a graphic artist and mentoring internships in the real world to ACC and was able to point out the difficulty interns faced. The program he designed and implemented was both innovative and encouraged connectivity between departments

While working in a design studio and mentoring interns, he observed that whatever an intern’s academic background, the challenging issue was lack of real world experience.

Hall says, “Their classroom work had not prepared them for the pace, nor the compromises of real-world workflow.” This was a hardship for the students, and the employer was forced to devote the energies of a full-time employee to the mentorship of a struggling intern.

“The benefit to all is less than zero.” Hall observed.

Hall’s remedy for this glaring omission in students’ education was to create an in-house internship under the guidance of a faculty member to prepare the student for the transition. The ACC Studio program filled the void for students.

Hall said, “The idea was to have the student work on real projects for real clients with real deadlines.”

Beyond the campus, ACC Studio is involved in projects for local start-ups and varied events through the office in the City of Littleton, Colorado Educational services and Development Student Guide (outreach program to provide information and resources for college) to high school students.

Hall states, “Students are involved in the initial pitch and estimates, the client meeting, the revisions and the final implementation.”

As an example of an in-house client, Hall’s ACC Studio has been involved with the production ACC’s Arts and Literary Journal, the Progenitor, for 4 or 5 years.  Each spring, Hall’s students works with Kathryn Winograd’s class on the art direction for the award winning journal.

The Progenitor becomes a client of the design department and the client relationship develops as in any normal business. Both classes learn about deadlines and real client relationships. Hall sees his job as an observer whose main purpose is to be sure everything remains on track and to reign things in if concepts go too far or the process become unproductive.

Before teaching at ACC, Hall was a graphic arts designer for many years.  In fact, he remembers the day when graphic design was labor intensive because it was necessary to paste up by hand, guess on the type, send the product to the printer and redo with an exacto knife if the design was returned.

Tactile graphic design has gone the way of the availability of phone booths to change in.  Today, graphic design is computer driven, and Hall feels it is wonderful to have the speed of digital.  Yet, he also thinks as a person’s skills develop they may be drawn to the tactile in some form.

Hall was that student in school who always volunteered to make the poster, and when his efforts were well received he found himself drawn to graphic design.

As a graphic designer, he enjoyed mentoring in the workplace by working with interns.  He was devoted to graphic arts, but mentoring also intrigued him.

After some reflection, he called ACC about teaching a night class or two.  At ACC, he found an outlet for his desire to teach coupled with graphic arts and was soon teaching full time.

It has been 12 years since Hall became a faculty member at ACC, and he has never looked back.
He has no regrets and is happy to be a part of the Community College System. Hall believes in the community college because it meets a need for those who might lack alternative avenues to an education.

Just as Hall brought his expertise to ACC, he finds the community college attracts students who have achieved success in other areas and bring that breadth of knowledge to their classmates as mentors and role models.

Hall enjoys graphic design but is drawn to the opportunity to physically create something.  He feeds this need by doing woodworking, screen printing, fabric work, and hand lettering.

He loves what he does and says, “I will teach until someone tells me to stop.”