Our Beginnings – Rooted in Education
The Design Mission was first known as “It’s Really Simple Software”. It was founded in 1993 by Andrew Story, who was then a full-time secondary history teacher. It’s original core business goal was to provide a means of disseminating lesson plans and curriculum for other secondary teachers using Apple’s “HyperCard” program. (Our original “logo” was from a photo taken by Drew in Abiquiu, New Mexico of a giant window in a very old adobe church.) Our educational experience includes being classroom teachers, featured speakers at the Stanford Institute for Educational Leadership Through Technology, the Computer Using Educator’s Conference, Colorado’s Nuts and Bolts Middle School Consortium, and the California League of Middle Schools Conference. Much has changed since we started our work back in 1993, including our daily work, the company name, and its focus.
As a company created by teachers, we continue to have strong ties to education and non-profit groups. The Design Mission donates over 100 hours a year to community oriented organizations and donates a minimum of one percent of our gross sales to environmentally oriented groups each year. (Check out 1% For The Planet .)
Shift to Web Development and Open Source Projects
With the rise of the World Wide Web and growth of the Internet, the work focus for the company shifted to web development and web consulting services. In 1997, with the assistance of Drew’s wife Jennifer Thompson, a graduate of the highly regarded Women’s Economic Ventures of Santa Barbara, the company got serious about making itself a going concern. We changed our name to “The Design Mission” and began advertising and investing in our own infrastructure. While still teaching, we worked in our off hours and weekends and soon created many websites. Some of these sites included ones for Ventura based businesses, a website and staff intranet for the Ghost Ranch Conference Center in New Mexico, and another for an award winning high school class in San Clemente about promoting tolerance. It was during this time that we also began our involvement with several open source projects, including osCommerce, phpCollab, Joomla! and a bit later WordPress.
After having developed and piloted Ventura County’s first web design program at Ventura High School, Drew left his teaching career to pursued being a web developer full-time. He worked for a ‘dot-bomb’ aptly named GoProfit.com in the spring of 1999. After the inevitable failure of GoProfit, Drew worked with the remains of the creative group to help found interFUEL, LLC. A few years later, Drew left to pursue a long-term contract under The Design Mission with eDistrict (now CPI Solutions), another web development firm in Thousand Oaks.
Availability as Freelance Workers
Jennifer left teaching in 2000 to assist with managing The Design Mission. Jennifer continues to help manage the company in her spare time but there’s little of that. In September of 2006, Jennifer returned to teaching math at Oak Grove School, teaching all of the high school math offerings, and more, at this unique inquiry based school.
In 2004, Drew ended his contract work with eDistrict and went to work as a web developer and technical project manager for Patagonia in the Ventura corporate headquarters. Working for an environmentally responsible corporation that places values above profit is a perfect fit.
Since we are both fully employed elsewhere, The Design Mission’s time is now spent only on personal projects — we are no longer taking on new clients.
Shifting Back to Curriculum Development
As of August 2017, we have also begun shifting our focus back to curriculum development and education. While we still do work on websites and work on open source projects, returning to our roots in curriculum development is what we see as our focus in the coming years. Check out our new project at Inquiry-Teaching.com