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Mark Ellison: a story in design

Reminiscent of a modern-day Pied Piper, ACG School Jakarta design technology teacher, Mark Ellison, not only plays the tunes that students want to follow, but fosters their confidence and self-belief. He encourages them to challenge themselves, choose the path less travelled and take creative risks as they develop and grow.


It’s fair to say that Mark lives and breathes design, and his infectious passion for the subject inspires and motivates students to always produce their best. Combining positivity, a ‘can-do’ attitude and a creatively innovative approach to teaching, the multi-talented educator empowers his classes to pursue their interests, putting their heart and soul into everything that they do.

“I believe that to inspire a generation of students to become entrepreneurs, we have to become pioneers within our disciplines,” he explains. “Pushing boundaries and front-loading students with the necessary twenty first century skills will allow them to provide solutions for unseen problems that they may encounter in the future.”

He orchestrates interactive project-based tasks (such as those below) to help students acquire relevant skills for living in our increasingly knowledge-based and highly technological society.

  • Black tie charity event – Working alongside an educational construction initiative, students helped create and build the stage set for a prestigious themed charity event, demonstrating real world opportunities while serving a specific need.
  • Architectural unit – Universal Entertainment District
    Students were working alongside Universal Studios to create a specified area for a target market.
  • Race car CO2 unit – Students worked in teams to produce the design, form, and function of a race vehicle (enhancing their understanding of why form is critical to the speed of an object).
  • Enterprise units – Focussing on the entire process, from beginning to end, students design and create products for sale, raising monies for local charities whilst fulfilling a need for a specified user.
  • Film festival award ceremony – In a collaborative effort, students became stage set designers, visual animators, photographers, editors, graphic artists etc. to produce a prestigious theme-based event.
  • Jewellery design unit – Students worked alongside a local designer to support a women’s shelter charity. They created products for sale whilst raising much-needed awareness on this global issue.

This visual guru’s positive influence also extends well beyond the design technology arena to encompass the entire school. From demonstrating his DJ skills at the ACG Family Picnic (where he stole the show), to employing his graphic design abilities to coordinate energetic, entertaining and high-quality assemblies, Mark promotes creativity and excellence across the board. His advice to students is simple, “Make the most of every opportunity that arises, both inside and outside of the classroom.”

Additionally, Mark works as a Year 9 Advisor, helping students to navigate the academic, social and emotional changes that moving into the Senior School may bring. And if that wasn’t enough, he is currently in the midst of introducing a schoolwide project for students to help re-design aspects of their school environment, including both the uniform and the cafeteria.

“In every aspect of my practice, I always try to incorporate design. Whether that is the environment in which we teach, inspired by contemporary spaces and visual aesthetics, to submission of work and presentations. It is important for students to recognise design communication in its entirety, fuelling inspiration, creativity and professionalism for students and their peers to produce their best at all times.”