Interface Web School is welcoming Kent Smotherman as the school’s first full-time instructor. But when he joined Interface on a part-time basis three years ago, teaching coding wasn’t necessarily on his radar.
Smotherman met Interface founder Shonna Dorsey after responding to an ad she had placed looking for a developer. He emailed her to say that he thought there was a technical flaw in the language she used in the ad, and she wasn’t likely to find the right candidate.
So Dorsey asked Smotherman for a meeting.
“I was impressed by his attention to detail, and wanted to meet him to learn more about him,” she recalls.
“We met and she wanted me to teach, but I was only kind of interested in teaching at that point,” Smotherman said.
Their unique meeting was enough for Dorsey to bring Smotherman on to teach full stack web development courses.
“She claims to this day that she’s never looked at my resume,” Smotherman says.
“This is true,” Dorsey says. “I have never reviewed Kent’s resume. But following our initial meeting, I introduced Kent to our lead instructor at the time, and he agreed that Kent would be a good fit for our school based on his experience and approach to training.”
‘Light bulb moments’
Smotherman has taught a variety of classes over the years. He has a Java class coming up in the new year, and is looking forward to potentially teaching a front-end development course.
He says his biggest thrill is when a student finally grasps a difficult topic.
“I love the light bulb moments, especially when a student is struggling with a particular concept,” said Smotherman. “I love those moments when you know you’ve helped someone understand something they found particularly hard.”
He said those rewards in the classroom come from paying attention to how other people learn.
“If you have a class of 10-12 people, most of them don’t want to learn the same way,” said Smotherman. “As learners and as teachers, there are things that help you learn. Know your strengths and weaknesses.”
Smotherman brings more than 34 years of development experience to Interface. He’s worked for some of Omaha’s biggest companies, including Mutual of Omaha, First Data, and CSG.
He credits being a continuous learner for his professional success.
“Everything I learned in college from a strictly tech viewpoint is not really applicable today,” said Smotherman. “Having such a long career really helps weed through the things that aren’t important in development, and I can identify why those things were successful or why those tools weren’t successful.”