Top Education, Tech Leaders Join AltSchool to Accelerate R&D on its Personalized Learning Platform
District superintendent, administrators tasked with getting platform ready for public, charter, and private schools by 2020.
SAN FRANCISCO, Calif – Apr 6, 2017 – AltSchool today announced that five senior leaders in education and technology have joined its executive team to bring its personalized learning platform to schools nationwide. For the past four years, AltSchool’s team of educators, engineers, and researchers has been building and testing the platform in its network of lab schools. Now, AltSchool is bringing in key public and charter school veterans, including one of California’s most lauded superintendents, to accelerate R&D and begin offering the platform to the broader education community. Joining the team are:
- Chief Impact Officer (CIO): Devin Vodicka, Superintendent of Vista Unified
- VP of Schools: Sam Franklin, Pittsburgh Public Schools district leader
- VP of Growth: Ben Kornell, Envision Charter Schools COO
- VP of Learning: Colleen Broderick, ReSchool Colorado Chief Learning Designer
- VP of Operations and Services: Laura Modi, AirBnB Director
“Every educator and school administrator dreams of being able to inspire and empower as many children as possible; however, there are very few opportunities to shape the future of education on a national scale,” said Devin Vodicka, former Vista Unified Superintendent and incoming CIO of AltSchool. “While it is difficult to leave the incredible Vista community I’ve been fortunate to serve these past five years, I am hopeful my work at AltSchool can be part of that ambitious ‘moonshot’ effort, to make a high-quality and whole-child education accessible for all.”
AltSchool’s team began building the platform in 2013, based on the growing body of research on how to drive high-quality student outcomes and foster agency in each child. Within its lab schools in California and New York, educators and technologists work in partnership, continually testing and improving the tools and services. This fall, the first partner schools will pilot the platform. AltSchool will continue this co-development with partner schools, increasing the type and number of schools each year. Together, the new executives will spearhead an initial period of deep R&D and collaboration within the growing network of lab and partner schools, before ultimately offering the platform to private, charter, and public schools nationwide.
“The caliber of talent this group represents is a huge milestone for AltSchool; it signals that public and charter leaders, who have spent decades working to improve school quality for tens of thousands of students, believe we have the potential to support meaningful change to education broadly,” said Max Ventilla, CEO and founder of AltSchool. “We are thrilled to have them join our team and invite schools around the country to join our effort to make the best education the one that the most children can experience.”
AltSchool’s first cohort of 2017 pilot partner schools includes Berthold Academy in Reston, Virginia; The Greene School in West Palm Beach, Florida; Temple Beth Sholom Day School in Miami Beach, Florida; and Kohelet Yeshiva in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. AltSchool is now accepting applicants for its 2018/2019 cohort. The priority application deadline is May 1, 2017, and the application can be found at: https://www.altschool.com/partner-schools.
Introducing AltSchool’s new executive hires
Devin Vodicka, CIO (Chief Impact Officer)
Over the past 20 years, Devin’s vision for how to drive high-quality student outcomes enabled him to quickly ascend the roles of educator, school principal, district administrator, and now superintendent. During his tenure serving Vista Unified’s more than 25,000 students, Devin has earned some of the education industry’s most prestigious awards. Last year, he was named AASA’s “California Superintendent of the Year.” In 2015, he was named ACSA’s “California Superintendent of the Year,” as well as Pepperdine University’s "California Superintendent of the Year.” In 2014, he received Classroom of the Future Foundation's "Innovative Superintendent of the Year" award. Since joining Vista in 2012, he has been invited to the White House nine times, both in recognition for district-wide achievements and to partner on national efforts with the U.S. Department of Education Office of Educational Technology and the Digital Promise League of Innovative Schools. As AltSchool’s Chief Impact Officer, Devin will guide the design and strategy of the company’s personalized learning platform, as it prepares the platform for expansion into a growing community of private, charter, and public schools.
Sam Franklin, VP of Schools
In Pittsburgh Public School District, Sam led one of the nation’s largest efforts to improve teacher quality from 2010-15, managing an $80M program across more than 50 city schools, supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the U.S. Department of Education. He previously designed and opened the Pittsburgh Science & Technology Academy, a public magnet school serving grades 6-12, which is now the most innovative, integrated, and highest performing public high school in the city. Most recently, Sam was awarded an 18-month executive residency at Heinz College at Carnegie Mellon University, where he taught master’s level courses on education policy and leadership, managing change in challenging environments, and the future of learning and school. As AltSchool’s VP of Schools, Sam will continue to improve the quality of its lab school network, and help define the ongoing work of co-development between educators and engineers.
Ben Kornell, VP of Growth
Ben brings a combination of experience in hands-on teaching roles in public education, plus executive leadership across industries including education, healthcare, and nonprofits. He began his career as a Teach for America corps member in 2003, where he taught middle school for many years. Driven by the inequities he experienced in public education, Ben went to Stanford Business School to cultivate the skills needed to impact the system more broadly. In 2013, he returned to education as COO of Envision Charter Schools, and later as Executive Director of Envision Learning Partners, where his team spread Envision Schools’ Performance Assessment system to over 70 partner schools and 35,000 students across the country. In his role of VP of Growth for AltSchool, Ben will build partnerships with schools nationwide and collaborate closely with AltSchool’s product team to understand how the platform can best support all schools.
Colleen Broderick, VP of Learning
Colleen brings a deep understanding of how to create and scale progressive learning environments in a wide variety of schools, whether public, private, charter or international. In addition to many years as a classroom educator and school founder—opening and supporting operations of four schools—Colleen pioneered roles as a learning designer for edtech organizations. At EL Education (formerly Expeditionary Learning), Colleen held numerous key leadership positions, working to raise student achievement for the non-profit’s 45,000 students in 150 public and charter schools. Most recently, she served as Chief Learning Designer for ReSchool, a foundation tasked with designing a new public education system for the state of Colorado. As VP of Learning, Colleen will drive AltSchool’s learner-centric pedagogical strategy and align that pedagogy to ongoing product development for its core platform.
Laura Hughes Modi, VP of Operations and Services
Laura will open and lead a new department for AltSchool as the company prepares to support private, charter, and public schools who will utilize the platform. As Airbnb’s Director of Hospitality for the past six years, she was responsible for creating a world-class operations support structure for its 1.5 million “host partners” around the world. At Airbnb, she helped to define a new customer service model for the travel and hospitality industry, as it underwent a systemic transformation. In her role as VP of Operations and Services at AltSchool, Laura will apply those same learnings to education. She will oversee the design and implementation of a customer support model that equips partner schools for success as they onboard the platform.
If you are interested in learning more about AltSchool’s partner school program, visit: https://www.altschool.com/partner-schools.
As a public benefit corporation and a Certified B Corporation, AltSchool’s mission is to enable all children to reach their full potential. Its world-class educators work in partnership with engineers and designers to build and test an education technology platform within AltSchool’s network of lab schools. The goal is to enable every teacher to more easily offer each child a personalized, whole child education that fosters student agency. Headquartered in San Francisco, AltSchool operates schools in California and New York. It’s backed by Founders Fund, Andreessen Horowitz, Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan’s donor-advised fund at the Silicon Valley Community Foundation, and many other key investors. More information at www.altschool.com.