Disco Jason

Disco is a Latin verb that means to learn, or to know, as in discover. This website is a hobby and a work in progress, full of mistakes and run on sentences with irreverant facts about things like Latin verbs. Please see my LinkedIn Page for a more traditional curriculum vitae, or scroll down to disco more.

I’m Jason Ian Partin, a semi-retired magician, mountaineering guide, consultant, and what most people call “teacher,” though I prefer facilitator, co-learner, lead-learner, or coach.  You can see me performing sleight-of-hand magic around town or at Hollywood’s Magic Castle, or climbing mountains all over the world for the past thirty or so years, and hopefully many more.

Previously, I had invented a handfull of medical devices and cofounded a few biotech companies that were acquired; and I led courses in engineering and entrepreneurship at a couple of universities and a public high school. As a volunteer, I worked with national nonprofits fascilitating equitable education through entrepreneurship and project-based learning. My classes are more like hands-on workshops trying to solve real-world challenges than traditional, pre-internet lectures many kids still, unfortunately, are forced to sit through.

Obviously, I have thoughts on education reform, and I work with a few colleagues trying to help all kids, everywhere, have access to equitable education that empowers them as individuals and develops skills to work in diverse teams.

Before I became involved in medical devices and education reform, I served in the first Gulf war and then a few years on two president’s quick reaction forces as part of the 82nd Airborne Division’s 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment, and in 1993 I was granted a diplomatic passport to serve as a peacekeeper in a multinational force stationed in the Middle East. By looking at current news, it’s obious we didn’t succeed. I was honorably discharged and used the college fund to attend college graduated with several latin words attached to my engineering degrees, and I was co-captain of LSU’s wrestling team and a performer at local casinos.

Before that, I was co-captain of my high school wresting team and an absolute terror in classrooms, where I was tired of sitting and listening to teachers ramble on while I silently practiced card tricks and thought about more fun things I could be doing.

I probably haven’t changed much.

As volunteer service, I was a CASA, a Court Appointed Special Advocate, for kids in the foster system for 14 years and a volunteer with Big Brother/Sister for a few other years, probably because I could empathize with kids in the foster system. I was in the system as a young kid and was emancipated in 1989, at age 16, when I was allowed to join the army as a legal adult and go to war in 1990. I’m still unsure if I’m a mature adult, but I’ve been a legal one for a long time, and in that time I’ve learned that kids in the foster system are, statistically speaking, screwed.

Something like 80% of emancipated kids will eventually go to prison, which has a staggering recitivism rate and is unjust for many people, regardless of their childhood, and more than 30%  will serve jail time before they are 21 years old; the recitivism rate means most of them will return within a few years. Fewer than 14% have graduated college, and only 3% go on to graduate school. There are about 400,000 foster youths in America today, and the disadvantage is, statistically speaking, greater than any group according to race or socioeconomic status. In other words, almost half a million kids in America alone are at a disadvantage with no discernable physical or economic features, they just have been abandoned by a social system that seems to spend more on missles and today’s wars than on our future leaders and preventing tomorrow’s wars. America is a democracy, and that means every one of us is linked and our choices, actions, and lack of action affects ourselves and everyone else. A part of my bio that’s somewhat remarkable is that I’m in that 3% that went on to grad school. I haven’t been to prison yet, but I’m still young and there’s time to try learning new skills, especially in retirement.

Most people who know me for a while say the most remarkable thing that pops up about me is my family history. My grandfather was Edward Grady Partin Senior, the Teamster leader who sent Jimmy Hoffa to prison and is considered one of the people involved in President Kennedy’s assassination, and he’s portrayed in most Hoffa films and discussed in almost all Hoffa books. Part of the reason I was in the foster system was that Hoffa’s men and several mafia bosses were trying to kidnap, threaten, or intimidate us so that my grandfather would change his testimony. It’s a long story. That’s why I’m working on a memoir about my family history a little bit at a time, using this web site to learn-by-doing, because writing is challenging for me. I write, post, and then iterate based on real-world feedback, a process of continuous improvement that will continue until I finish or I’ve learned enough to quit without regrets and move on to a new project. That’s the basis of project-based education, incidentally, and can be applied to almost anything, from improving in sports to developing a solution to a medical problem to writing a book. In short: access what you know, brainstorm, prototype, test, learn, repeat, and hopefully improve in a continuous cycle.

Mostly, though, my recent bio is not much more than practicing magic and rock climbing and other fun things, especially after the Covid pandemic. It’s kinda nice to not do much any more.


Jason Ian Partin