Instructor Spotlight: Jenny Richards

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Visualize Your World

We're generating more data than we can even begin to parse through, and learning to turn that data into meaningful stories is both an art and a science.

Jenny Richards has been guiding people on how to use Tableau to create visualizations that are engaging and interactive. She works with Tableau Public to help promote using Tableau for a variety of non-profit applications and has been teaching her Data Visualization with Tableau class at Seattle Central since Fall 2017.

We asked her to share more about her background and experiences with us.

What classes do you teach for Seattle Central?

I teach Data Visualization for Tableau. I've been a professional trainer since 1997.

What's your educational & professional background?

I have a liberal arts degree, but I've worked in tech for a while now.

I started my career doing technical support, became a trainer, a program and project manager -- pretty much everything except for programming.

I grew up in my grandparents' restaurant, which taught me everything I know about customer service.

I learned to pay close attention to non-verbal communication (in order to anticipate customer needs), and in so many ways that informed how I interact in the classroom.

I want students to feel engaged and empowered, not frustrated.

It's that restaurant gig in the back of my head saying, 'the customer's always right.'

What do you enjoy the most about teaching your classes at Seattle Central?

I love that moment when the lightbulb comes on when a student realizes she knows more than she thought she did.

My biggest reward is when I've worked myself out of the job and a student feels confident enough to rely on her own judgment.

What is your most inspirational teaching or learning moment?

Sometimes the best lessons aren't the ones you think you're teaching.

I had taught a student something sort of trivial, and when I saw her hesitate, I told her that I believed in her, I would never judge her, and I would always have her back.

She looked at me in complete shock, said nobody had ever said anything like that to her before, and she'd never felt she'd been allowed to make her own decisions until that moment.

I don't really care if she remembered the little task I taught her -- because she carried herself differently after that conversation, and still does.

Would you rather have a tiger tail or tiger stripes?

Tail. It's good for balance and non-verbal communication.

Jenny's Favorites

Books

  • David Mitchell and Stephen King are masterful storytellers. Don't make me pick!

Movie

  • Blade Runner (Ridley Scott, based on Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, by Philip K. Dick)

Travel

  • There are too many places to pick a favorite, but one of my most wonderful moments came at the morning call to prayer in Jogjakarta, Indonesia. It's a little city in the middle of the island of Java, the haunting call to prayer before sunrise was one of the most beautiful things I'd ever heard. The jungle was misty, the song echoed all around, and I could hear the beginnings of the day.
Instructor Spotlight: Jenny Richards | Seattle Central College - Continuing Education
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