In the Spotlight: Jamye Sagan

Tricia Spayer and Jamye Sagan with mascots Monte and Pepper (can you believe this?)

Jamye Sagan made an impressive presentation at our January, 2020, meeting. Her presentation was based on a previous Summit session. About this Summit session, Tricia Spayer said it was “one of the most memorable, most helpful topics of the Summit” noting that Jamye’s January spin-off presentation did not disappoint.

I recently was lucky enough to interview Jamye. Here are her answers to my questions.

Where did you get the idea for your presentation on Harry Potter and Instructional Design?

The idea sparked when I was watching one of the Harry Potter movies for the umpteenth time. I started thinking about all the teachers that Harry and his friends have had over the years, especially the Defense Against the Dark Arts ones. Some of those instructors, like Lupin and “Moody”, really knew their material while others, like Lockhart, were total frauds. Comparing all these teachers and reading about/viewing them in action made me think about what makes an effective instructor (and conversely, what makes a poor one).

Whenever I share information, I like to frame it within something I enjoy. The Harry Potter books and movies seemed like the perfect vehicle to highlight instructional behaviors. To me, that makes the information more memorable.

What is your educational and professional background plus involvement with STC?

Education/Professional Background

I have a BA in English and Communication arts from the University of the Incarnate Word in San Antonio, TX. I had never heard of technical communication until I was looking for a job after graduation. The position sounded like fun, and I met the qualifications. Although I ultimately did not get to do too much tech comm at my first job post-graduation (I ended up doing more marketing duties), I did meet a colleague who told me about STC.

A couple of years later, I took a small break to pursue my emergency teaching certification. For one year, I taught 7thgrade English. Although I lasted only one year as a public school teacher, that experience sparked an interest in the behind-the-scenes aspect of education.

When I returned to technical communication, I worked for TEKsystems as a contractor. That’s where I first began working at H-E-B, the largest retail grocery chain in Texas. I began my contract by working on documentation for a centralized prescription-filling facility. My clients liked my work, so they extended my contract and put me on other projects, including a proprietary prescription-dispensing software. What originally began as a three- to six-month long contract expanded to two years as a contractor, followed by 16 years of full-time employment.

Although I have never formally studied instructional design, I have learned much over the years, primarily through my involvement with STC and the IDL SIG. I’ve attended numerous webinars and live presentations and have read many articles. Plus, if I have any questions, I have a network of STC colleagues to turn to.


As I’ve mentioned earlier, I first learned of STC through a work colleague at my first job after college. She invited me to a chapter meeting, which I attended. Despite enjoying my experience, I didn’t join STC until several years later. When I did finally join, I was at the point of my career where I wanted to expand my professional growth. I ended up joining the IDL SIG so I could learn more about instructional design. When I attended my first STC Summit in 2008, I didn’t know ANYONE in the organization!! I went to the IDL SIG business meeting to make some connections. That opened so many doors for me. In the SIG, I volunteered to help with the scholarship committee. Within a few years, I became a SIG co-manager! I currently serve the SIG as Treasurer, as well as surveys and social media.

As I got to know more people within STC, I began getting involved at the Society level – serving on the Community Affairs Committee in SIG Outreach. I also served for a few years on the CAA/Pacesetter Awards committee. In fact, I began when Tricia Spayer was the committee chair. I even served as chair in 2017-18. Currently, I’m running for Director in the 2020 STC Board elections.

My presentation experience began 10 years ago, when I took part in the progression series during the STC Summit in Dallas. I presented on blended learning approaches for a work project. Taking part in progression series, where you present your topic numerous times to small groups of people around the table, helped me get used to speaking to groups of people. My first full-length solo presentation was at the 2018 STC Summit, with the first installment of “Lessons Learned – What Harry Potter Professors Can Teach Us About Instructional Design”.

What else about you could we share with our readers?

I’m so grateful for all the opportunities STC has given me with professional development, from volunteer positions that helped me develop leadership skills to educational presentations that expanded my toolset. I’m still amazed to think that when I first joined STC, I did not know a single soul. Today, I’ve had the privilege to meet so many wonderful people who have become dear friends and colleagues over the years.

By Jeanette Evans