“I loved being in classes at the Flywheel offices,” said Spencer Putnam. “There is something to be said for being in a class hosted by a company that does the work.”
This Fall, Spencer graduated from the Interface Foundations + WordPress course and is currently supporting Foundations course students as a Course Experience Manager. The WordPress class was hosted by Flywheel, an Omaha based company that provides managed WordPress hosting. According to Putnam it’s a partnership that contributes to the real-world web development experience that students receive at Interface.
Before enrolling in the WordPress course, Spencer studied electronic production and design at the Berklee School of Music in Boston. He eventually moved home to Omaha in 2014 after living in Los Angeles. Spencer was already was consulting as a web designer, but felt that there were gaps in his skillset and he liked the quick pace and practical learning offered by Interface.
Spencer’s class was tasked with building a new WordPress site for Tunette Powell, a nationally recognized motivational speaker, educator and nonprofit founder.
“It was great. It was an amazing experience because I got to go speak to the class before they even started,” said Tunette. “I think having a class (design a website) gives you so many perspectives.”
“I think everyone was very proud of the site,” said Spencer, who was among the more experienced technologists in the class, “I think also it allowed for people that had less experience to have a birdseye view of the (development) process.”
Tunette arrived in Omaha in 2010 when her husband, Jason was transferred by the Air Force. She says she had a tough time adjusting to life away from her family and friends in Texas. The mother of a young son with another boy on the way, Tunette wasn’t sure about her future career path. She eventually found a home as a UNO student where she considered education and journalism as possible majors, but her professors saw potential in her speaking skills.
“You need to change your major to speech,” she was told.
She eventually won a national oratory title, appeared on cable news, wrote books, and worked as a consultant with partner, Tulane Holder. She also founded Truth Heals, a nonprofit that helps fatherless girls. There was so much going on Tunette’s life that she needed a website that could be easily updated. It was around this time that Tunette ran into Interface co-founder and managing director, Shonna Dorsey. They were Facebook friends, but had never met in person. It led to a mutually beneficial collaboration, which continues to this day.
Led by instructor, Josh Collinsworth, the Interface class worked closely with Tunette to build a WorPpress site that would be easy for her to update on her own.
“They went above and beyond,” said Tunette. “I just felt like the entire class embraced me.”
Spencer stated that he and his teammates learned more than just core development skills. Project management, branding and client collaboration were a big part of the learning experience.
The students built a brand identity kit for Tunette and suggested that the site include a video. The business cards they created included the tagline, “From a pipeline to a passport.” She thinks those elements were a differentiator when she applied to the Ph.D. program at UCLA.
“Everybody was like, ‘Once UCLA sees this website they’re going to want you,’” explains Tunette.
Indeed, UCLA did want Tunette as a Ph.D. candidate in education. She’s relocated to Los Angeles with Jason and their three boys, but her heart is still very much in Omaha. She continues to be active in her Omaha-based nonprofit.
“Omaha has a very dear place in my heart,” says Tunette.
Spencer also continues to help her when she needs a little extra help with her site.
“It’s really, really great to meet with someone and work with someone who believes in what you do,” said Tunette.
Spencer agrees, “Personally, Tunette is just an awesome, awesome person.”