Grand Rapids: Meet our New Instructors!

Grand Cirucs workshop

Grand Rapids first Front-End After-Hours in 2019 will be taught by two amazing and talented developers; Lisa Lemons and B.J. Clark. Working together, Lisa and B.J. will each teach different sections of the After-Hours bootcamp, which includes 24 weeks on in-class instruction plus two weeks of at-home Unit 1.

Not only will students benefit from learning front-end development from two different perspectives of  working professionals, they will also have two mentors to help guide, motivate, inspire and support after graduation.

Welcome to the family Lisa and B.J.!  Get to know them better with this Q & A: 

Please share a little about your professional journey.


Lisa: I’m a front-end developer for KPMG. I became a developer professionally 6 years ago, but I had started coding back when making themes for your MySpace was still a thing.


B.J.: I went to college for computer science because I knew that I really loved programming. I love the idea of building things that you can quickly see results for. I worked at Western Michigan University doing small web development tasks and content editing. Then I started interning at Our Daily Bread Ministries, where I really started to learn about modern development techniques and could utilize my formal training in CS. Since graduation, I’ve continued with Our Daily Bread, and get to solve really cool problems every day!

What excites you about teaching for Grand Circus?

Lisa: This is an opportunity for me to impact my community in the most powerful way I am capable of.

B.J.: I really enjoy helping others learn and grow in their skills, and so I’m really excited to help new developers learn something that I find so fun and personally rewarding.

What is your favorite evening snack or drink?

Lisa: If I don’t have to sleep that night, I love coffee in the evening. Digiorno’s microwavable single-serve cheese pizza is my favorite thing for dinner and I will be stocking the freezers with them. My actual favorite snack is Ruffle’s Cheddar and Sour Cream chips.

B.J.: Probably pizza and root beer.

Do you listen to music at work? Have a favorite playlist you want to share?

Lisa: Yes! I either listen to lofi/chillhop or synthwave. Neither have words so I can concentrate. Synthwave is really great for heads-down code sessions.

B.J.: Anything with quality. I’m pretty open-minded when it comes to music. I’ll go from blues to Jack Johnson to classic rock in a day. I’m a sucker for a good electric guitar solo.

How do you relax outside of work?

Lisa: I cuddle with my cats, draw, and hang out with my awesome fiance and/or our equally awesome friends.

B.J.: I really like running. I like to throw on some music or a podcast and just get some fresh air. I’m also a fan of an evening of Netflix with my wife.

What are your favorite podcasts, blogs or meetup groups you follow to keep up to date on tech? 

Staff Group photoLisa: Grand Rapids Freelance group is my favorite meetup group. Ladies that UX has some great events. Code for Good is my favorite, and Weekend for Good is my MOST favorite event.  Frontend Focus is a weekly newsletter with summaries and links to all that’s going on in the Frontend world.

B.J.: I really like Smashing Magazine and freeCodeCamp as web development tools. I highly recommend looking through the dev blogs for major tech companies, as well as their GitHub accounts. Some I follow are Spotify, Google, Facebook, and Airbnb. Also, read lot of books, blogs, etc of things not related to programming, because a lot of times you connect the dots in unexpected places

What advice would you give to new developers?

Lisa: You will do better by doing more things than you ever will by trying to perfect one thing.

B.J.: Think of yourself as an engineer from day one. The definition of engineer is “a person who carries through an enterprise by skillful or artful contrivance”—what a cool job title. Always go into a project with the mentality that with enough time and effort, you can accomplish anything.

What’s something you have learned about the tech industry since joining it?

Lisa: The industry is always changing; even the latest and greatest is behind.

B.J.: The greatest thing that I have learned about tech is that communication is one of the most important tools. Being able to communicate effectively is what really separates a great developer from a lame one. That is communicating with project managers, clients, and marketers, but also with documenting code, following best practices, and writing comments when necessary.