Throw Back Thursday

Throwback Thursday: My Community Service

Have  I mentioned that I’ve been maintaining the boys’ middle school and high school websites for the past 10 plus years??

It all started back in college. I was working toward my technical writing degree and one of the classes I had to take was designing a website class. This was back in the days of Microsoft FrontPage and Adobe Dreamweaver. I learned how to use these programs and just enough HTML to get myself into trouble. I learned about Color scheme, design tricks and where to put content.

In short, I LOVED this class. We built a website for my father-in-law’s business, Good Feet. He had an arch support business for people with chronic back pain. I have a screen shot of that early website somewhere but I can’t find it right now.

I worked with two or three people and we all worked together to build our very first website. I was so proud of that website! And I thought it looked pretty professional, if I say so myself.

Somehow, I saw a tiny ad in the boys’ elementary school newsletter asking for anyone with HTML knowledge if they would be interested in volunteering to maintain the school website. I was a stay-at-home mom at that time and since the boys were in school, I had some time on my hands. So I contacted the school principal, who in turn contacted the district IT guy and he gave me permission to access the website. The school principal gave me carte blanche over the site.

I had SO MUCH FUN posting cheesy graphics and various content that the school gave me to post. After a while, word got out about our awesome website and pretty soon, parents got annoyed if it wasn’t updated on a regular basis. I was hooked, in more ways than one.

About a year of doing this, the boys’ middle school principal contacted me about redoing their website and again, I said yes. I redesigned their site from scratch, (this was back before they had ready-made, consistent templates that all of the schools use now) and began to update it on a regular basis.

Again, word spread and before long, I ended up maintaining nine school websites. It became of “business of sorts.” However, after the boys’ elementary and middle school websites, I started charging for my services. I charged the school district a fee to redesign the sites and then a monthly fee to maintenance it. I didn’t feel right charging very much, one, because I was still new to all of this and didn’t feel very confident in my skills and two, the district didn’t have a lot of money so I felt guilty asking for very much. Besides, I justified it as my way of giving back to the community. I felt, hoped, what I was doing was benefiting other parents.

About … three years (?) ago, the school district purchased package templates from a school website company. Now, all of the schools had the same template but were allowed to design them with their school colors/mascots and individual personalities. I thought finally, this would be the end of my services to the district. (And I say finally because by this time, the boys had graduated from high school and I sort of felt like my duty was done, in a sense).

Most of the school fell off and started asking one of their staff to maintain the sites, save for the boys’ middle and high schools. They wanted to me to stay on and continue maintaining the sites. It was a little frustrating at first because I no longer had control over the code, I could only do what the template allowed me to do, but I soon got the hang of it and I still maintain the sites to this day.

I maintain them from August to May, they are in “summer mode” right now. I stay quite busy at the beginning of the year and the end of the year – the middle of the year sort of flattens out into a routine.

All of the graphics, structure and content is me. Though I don’t come up with the content, the school provides that, I decide on where and how it’s going to be displayed. Again, the schools trust me and give me free reign over their sites.

I’ve been doing Cherokee’s website for 13 years and Kickapoo’s website for nine years. Kevin asks me all the time when I’m going to stop doing the websites but honestly, I have fun doing them, I earn a little extra money every month and I’m still giving back to the community.

I guess I’ll continue maintaining them until they ask me to stop.