I’m excited to share that I’m coming back to the ed-tech space to help schools build amazing shared cultural systems.
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From 2011 to 2018, I had the pleasure of being a co-founding member of GoNoodle — first as the founding product manager, then later as VP of Product. On that 7-year journey, my team and I created and launched a product idea, grew a monthly audience of 14M students and 700K teachers, and engaged kids in millions of minutes of movement + learning.
GoNoodle was the outcome of an intentional career move. In 2009 it dawned on me that my career calling was in the education space. I assumed that my path was to go into the classroom as a teacher, but in doing my research on how to get there, I realized I was way more interested the technology of education than the teaching. Fast forward a few years of education and hustling: at GoNoodle I found the opportunity work closely with educators and solve real challenges in the classroom — at scale — with technology, content, and creative thinking. And after 7 years in that world, I was ready to go in new directions, to try new spaces, solve new problems, serve new audiences.
I followed GoNoodle with a two-year run outside ed-tech. I explored fintech, healthcare, product mentorship, and more — but there was a nagging absence. Over that period, I re-learned a truth about myself — I like building products, but I love building products for educators.
That’s why I’m excited to say I’m joining LiveSchool as Chief Product Officer in 2021. My goal: help build a world-class product team that lives to deliver exception experiences for schools. Our mission: help schools use technology to build amazing shared cultural systems.
LiveSchool helps schools build transformative school-wide cultural systems that involve everyone — teachers, students, administrators, and parents. The outcome is a clear set of expectations, and meaningful feedback loops that reinforce them. LiveSchool helps students stay motivated by making the culture tangible. It gives educators and parents data that they can use to support, encourage, recognize, and reward students for excellence. LiveSchool helps schools create a school culture that everyone believes in.
My history with LiveSchool actually started years ago: LiveSchool launched around the same time as GoNoodle, and as the only two ed-tech startups in Nashville, we stayed in touch. I regularly met Matt Rubinstein, LiveSchool’s CEO and founder, for sandwiches and brainstorming sessions about the ed-tech space. Over time, I began to see Matt’s vision for what LiveSchool could be and became a contributor to that vision as an official advisor. In that role, I had the opportunity to talk regularly with LiveSchool-powered schools and see firsthand the amazing work these schools are doing with this product.
I’m joining because school culture is so central to student achievement. In their classic guide to school leadership, “Shaping School Culture” authors Terrence Deal and Kent Peterson lay out a 300-page argument for how deeply tied a school’s culture is to meaningful student achievement. They write, “If a school does not stand for something more profound than raising achievement levels, then it probably does not make a memorable difference to teachers, students, or parents.”
For something so crucial, culture is notoriously hard to manage. It takes effort to define it, reinforce it, make it tangible. It’s even harder to measure, iterate, and improve on culture. But LiveSchool makes that possible.
Allow me to get big picture for a moment: culture is heavy on my mind right now because I am first and foremost a parent. Like many parents, I’ve watched my two kids navigate school virtually for the last few months in the midst of a pandemic. I’ve also watched this happen in parallel with cultural divisions in our country that sometimes seem too wide to span. That division fills me with concern for the generation I’m trying to raise.
I want a better culture for our kids. I want them to have strong connections with their peers, to share values with their community, to trust each other, to expect accountability from each other, to see collaboration as rewarding and enriching. And I believe that if they experience these intangibles when they’re young — if they see culture that works — they’ll carry those ideas into adulthood.
And that’s a perfect encapsulation of why I love the school space: because schools are unique, powerful, community-centered institutions where we can make meaningful long-term impact on this world. Every year, a new set of school-age kids enter our education system and develop the habits, mindsets, and knowledge they’ll take with them into life. The responsibility — and the opportunity — in that space is staggering. It’s humbling. It’s exciting.
I believe this, with all of my being: if you want to build a better world, build better schools. And I want to do both of those things.
I’m excited to take up a new mission as a leader on the LiveSchool team. I believe we can make positive change.
Can we help schools give kids the best cultural systems possible? Yes, we can.
Can we help students feel safe and supported and seen at school by their educators? Oh heck yeah.
Can we encourage educators to give kids more positive feedback than negative? Without a doubt.
Can we help students feel invested in the communities they live in, and supportive of one another? 💯
We’re building something at LiveSchool that can accomplish those goals. But, we can’t do it alone. If you’re a passionate leader, educator, parent, or human who just cares about our future — reach out. We need all the support we can get. If you want to partner with us, support our efforts, or generally just let us know your thoughts about the school space, you can find me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d love to hear from you.
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