Jack hits the road: instructor retires after 28 years

Jack Schommer and President Debbie Derr. Photo by Carole Riggs


After 28 years at Mt. Hood, the head of the video portion of Mt. Hood’s Integrated Media program, which he helped create, is retiring.

Jack Schommer will finish out the term and will take advantage of early retirement PERS benefits, he said.

Schommer started teaching at Mt. Hood in 1988. He was hired to run a grant-funded program in community media, he said. “When I first came, the public access station was housed on the campus itself, over where Information Technology department is now,” he explained.

Schommer came to Mt. Hood after teaching at the University of Montana. He took over Mt. Hood’s community television program and was instrumental in combining the disciplines of video, broadcasting, graphic design, and photography to create the IM program.

Originally, he wanted to be a journalist, but didn’t pursue the career. “I’m a lousy speller, and I’ve always been interested in news and current events and that kind of stuff,” he said. “I write okay, I just spell badly. I’ve liked photography and film-making and it kind of jelled, so I had a degree in motion picture production. I learned how to make movies the old-fashioned way.”

Putting together the Integrated Media program was an idea that Schommer came up with over a decade ago.

“We’re all using computers, we’re all using the same basic tools, and yet we’re sitting here building things – and the industry was asking that broadcasters know how to put webpages together and journalists need to know how to shoot video and photographers needed to know how to shoot video,” etc., he said.

“We’re still going through that change. That whole new media change is still happening. As you’re well aware, people say ‘Newspapers are dead.’ Well, newspapers aren’t dead, it’s just the distribution system has shifted.”

To keep informed, Schommer said that it’s important to get information from as many sources as possible.

Regarding the IM program, Schommer hopes all of his current responsibilities will shift to a new instructor by Fall Term. “If they don’t hire somebody, there may be some opportunities for me (to pitch in),” he said. “I’m not going to say that I’m not interested what happens with the program, but I think it’s important that the people who have control of the courses and the curriculum take over control of the courses and the curriculum.”

He hopes the IM program will get even more integrated. “I’d like to see them become less and less individual programs and more and more one great big unit that is shared, and there is a lot of cross-pollination and lots of talking back and forth,” he said. “The world is headed that way. I think we’re going to see a convergence.”

As an instructor, the biggest personal lesson Schommer learned was patience. “I learned to be patient. A lot of times, it’s not the second or third, it’s the fourth, or fifth, or sixth time you tell somebody something and it finally dawns on them and if it’s important you need to be able to take the time to do that,” he said.

Schommer also figured out how to synthesize a plan to give students the tools they will need when they finish their education. “If you have a curriculum that kind of gets people tracked in that way (in a mindset of ‘lifelong learning’), then when they go out, they’re very successful,” he said.

“I give them tools to use – lots of forms and formats and formulas. Basically, when they get out in the real world, they’re going to find out I was right,” he said. “There’s a solace in knowing that this isn’t me trying to invent some kind of horrible reality for them.”

As an example, Schommer used proper cable-wrapping techniques. “If (a student) knows how to wrap a cable, then there are probably other things they know. They have respect for the cable, they probably have respect for what it plugs into.”

In his retirement, Schommer plans to blog, continue shooting videos, fishing, skiing and writing.

“I’ve enjoyed my time here. It’s been good. I’m glad to have done it,” he said. “I’m glad to have had the opportunity to meet all these great people.”

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.