Guardian of learning Jessie Woolley-Wilson is willing to lead more than her company.

INTERVIEW | by Victor Rivero

Throughout her life and career, Jessie Woolley-Wilson has been driven by a singular belief that all children need and deserve high-quality learning opportunities, regardless of who they are or where they live.

She believes that by supporting great teaching and learning, everyone wins:

Kids, families, communities—and the world.

Jessie has worked in edtech for nearly 20 years. She has continually pushed for school and district leaders to improve learning and life outcomes for K-12 students.

“You know, I think sometimes people make this more complicated than it should be.

I’m very clear about this:

Technology’s role is to support great teachings and learning by helping both learners and learning guardians be more successful.”

Jessie joined DreamBox Learning in 2010 as Chair, President and CEO.

The startup software firm had pioneered “intelligent adaptive learning” in 2006 and began partnering with schools soon after she joined.

They currently serve nearly 2.2 million K-8 students, approximately 80,000 teachers and provided over 255 million math lessons (2015-2016 school year) across the U.S. and Canada.  

Previously, Jessie served as president of Blackboard’s K-12 Group and president of LeapFrog SchoolHouse, the K-12 division of LeapFrog Enterprises.

Jessie also served in leadership positions at collegeboard.com, the interactive division of the College Board, and at Kaplan, the leading test preparation company in the U.S.

Jessie supports the broader K-12 industry by serving on the boards of several educational organizations including Rosetta Stone, Newsela, International Association for K12 Online Learning (iNACOL), the Woodrow Wilson Foundation, Western Governors University Board of Trustees and Islandwood.

She has been a featured speaker at international events including TEDx Rainier, SXSWedu, and DENT.

Jessie is a two-time recipient of EdTech Digest’s EdTech Leadership Award for her work in transformative innovation in education. Seattle Business Magazine awarded Jessie the 2015 Executive Excellence Award in the CEO of the Year category and Forbes placed her on its “Impact 15” list for being a disruptor in education. The Puget Sound Business Journal honored Jessie as a “Woman of Influence” and 425 Magazine named her as one of eight “Unstoppable Eastside Women” for having a clear focus on the greater good.

Additionally, The New York Times has profiled Jessie and her leadership style in their Corner Office column.

Jessie holds an MBA from Harvard Business School and a BA from the University of Virginia. She is also a 2007 Henry Crown Fellow and moderator for the Aspen Institute.

Victor: It’s my pleasure to speak with Jessie Woolley-Wilson today. What is your perspective on technology’s role in education?

Jessie: You know, I think sometimes people make this more complicated than it should be. I’m very clear about this:

Technology’s role is to support great teachings and learning by helping both learners and learning guardians be more successful.

Wow—very concise.

You know, I just think sometimes people think about technology and the whizbangs and what you can do.

And I like to shift the discussion to what you should do.

And so we’re going to be challenged in the coming years with the role of emerging technologies, AI, machine learning.

And there are a lot of things we could do in learning with the technologies.

The real question and what we need good leadership around is: what should we do?

And if our goal is to support great teaching and learning, and to make sure that every kid— regardless of who they are or what circumstance they were born in—has a great opportunity to have a rich and effective learning experience, then I think we’ll make better decisions about what technology should do.

And perhaps what it shouldn’t do in education.

And when I say, “should do”—I have in mind our philosophy here at DreamBox: technology will never be designed to replace the role of the teacher.

Technology can help free up time for teachers so they can have more time to do what teachers can uniquely do, that in my mind, technology can’t ever do.

Along those same lines, a broader question: what is the state of education today?

I think it’s in tumult, I think we’re seeing big change coming.

There was a time when large publishers really controlled curriculum decisions and curriculum approaches in K through 12 education.

And despite that, our PISA scores aren’t going up, and other state test results are not going up.

And so now I think there’s more openness to exploring new models.

And that means there’s tumult.

So what is a curriculum versus a core curriculum versus a supplemental curriculum? I don’t think people are going to be thinking as much about that as they are about impact.

And it’s our hope that the work that we do here at DreamBox as well as other entities—we will move from what’s available to what works.

And the best solution over time is what should work. Not the solution that has the biggest sales force.

But the solution that serves kids and teachers best effectively.

So the state of education today is in tumult, but I’m very hopeful about what the emerging new models can do for kids and for teachers.

DreamBox certainly has a pretty good size sales force though, is that right?

We don’t have the biggest. We might not have the smallest, but we have about, I don’t know, 40 people.

Okay. Okay.

But that’s compared to 200 people in some large companies.

Sure. The point’s taken. What do you see as some of the biggest trends in edtech that will possibly shape the next few years?

I think for a long time when people said, “ed technology”—they talked about what I’ll call productivity enhancement:

Automating a grade book.

Implementing a learning management system.

Things that helped education.

But they were on the periphery of learning.

I think the most exciting things that are happening now that will have big impact on the future of learning are going to be education technologies. I’ll call them instructional technologies that impact learning at the point of instruction.

So it’s not on the periphery of learning, it’s core to learning, it’s central to learning; it’s complementary to live instruction.

And I think that’s where the great personalization will happen.

That’s where we can make sure kids get unstuck quickly.

That’s where we can make sure we meet children where they are, so that if a child is in second grade and they’re ready for some third grade content, they get it.

If a child is in second grade and they’re still struggling with some second grade content, they can get that as well.

And oh by the way, that could be the same child.

We have learning technologies now like DreamBox that learn the learner as the learner learns to make sure that the learning experience meets the child where they are in terms of difficulty and readiness.

That’s what excites me the most about the future.

I think it’s just exciting to try to repeat that: to learn the learner as the learner learns.

That’s right.

Well that’s good. But it’s very understandable as well even thought it’s catchy and it could be a tongue twister; there’s some merit to that, in that—that’s precisely personalized, or even “adaptive.” 

Now, those are two terms right there.

Do you want to start? To pull those apart a little bit for the layperson?

So yeah. I think this is hard for people to understand.

So there’s a spectrum of personalization. So some technologies will allow a learning to— they call themselves “personalized” because they allow a learner to maybe pick an avatar, change the background, change the music, change the voice. It’s “personalized.”

And that’s true.

Some technologies say they are “adaptive” because they are adapting pace and place.

So your math skills are better than mine Victor, you go through lesson one in half the time that I do.

You progress to lesson two.

I take twice as long on lesson one, I have a lot of problems, I ask for help a lot of times, I don’t fully understand it, I finally get a quote, “passing grade”.

And then I progress to lesson two.

And my lesson two is the same as your lesson two—even though you had no problems with lesson one.

That would never happen in DreamBox.

And the best “adaptive technologies” — are those that we call intelligently adaptive.

And those are technologies that adapt to pedagogy as well as pace and place.

And so, in the DreamBox example:

If you were able to get to demonstrate fluency in a mathematical concept, let’s say grouping numbers effectively—and maybe there were 30 lessons on grouping numbers.

But if you could demonstrate fluency with seven lessons, then why should you have to do all 30?

I, on the other hand might struggle with that concept.

Maybe I have to do all 30 before I get the fluency.

That should be okay.

That shouldn’t suggest that I’m “slow” or I “can’t learn.”

It just means that, that’s what I need.

And there’s no way that a teacher with 30 kids in a classroom can deliver that level of individualized pedagogical adaptivity, at scale.

There’s just no way.

That’s how technologies can support great teaching and learning.

So, if the technology can direct Jessie to have more grouping lessons—because I need it because I have not yet become fluent—and the technology can notify the teacher that I need and that’s what the technology’s going to ask me to do.

Then that teacher can modify her live instruction for you Victor, in what she does to support your learning—and she can modify her live instruction with me.

Maybe even do small groups of people like me, that need more attention on grouping.

And she can modify and do a live class with that small group on grouping methodologies.

Whereas, maybe you Victor, will be in a different group. And she can—you know, in the same kind of math class, maybe 10 minutes later when she rotates and goes to your group, maybe she does something that’s more advanced.

So that’s what I mean by being in service to both the student and the learning guardian.

Alright. Well, speaking of personalized, I wanted to get a little bit more personal with you: you went to the University of Virginia, earned a bachelor’s in English, you also – Harvard Business School, you have your MBA.

Why edtech?

A little bit more background, too: Leapfrog, you were there for several years as well as very well known Blackboard for many years.

And now you’re head of DreamBox.

A lot of people probably didn’t even realize that you were at Blackboard and Leapfrog, but those are very reputable, big-time edtech companies.

Blackboard, I mean that’s a higher education edtech pioneer.

Now you’re at DreamBox.

What prompted you to get involved in edtech, way back when?

And tell me some of the details surrounding that.

And your thought process for jumping in: was it serendipitous?

Or, how did it happen?

You know I wish I could tell you that I had a grand vision when I was in school so many years ago.

But I ended up in edtech through what I call “planned happenstance.”

I was in banking and doing pretty well, but didn’t really feel like I was doing something that I felt was meaningful.

And so I began to a tutor less advantaged kids in New York City.

And when I had the opportunity to follow my passion and bring my business acumen to an emerging industry, one that was just starting to get it’s arms around how technology could be leverage to scale learning more efficiently—I jumped at.

And so I started at Kaplan when Kaplan was digitizing their test preparation.

And I thought:

If we could figure out a way to scale this with more efficiencies—then maybe we can have more affordable options for students who felt that test prep was beyond their reach.

Because it was quite expensive.

Especially for first-generation students.

And I felt like if we could get more first-generation students into higher education, then that could have a generational impact.

You know, they get betters jobs.

They earn a little more money.

They can do more for their kids.

And then, a virtuous circle can begin for more people.

Especially immigrants.

My father came here in 1956 from Haiti and he says he came equipped with his education, his faith, and with his family.

And even though it was pre civil rights legislation, he felt very hopeful about what was possible in America.

And that was because he was very confident about the excellent education he was able to receive when he was in Haiti.

And so, all my life I’ve just felt that the thing that really has separated me from others who had less experience and less opportunity was some great shepherding with my parents— and access to an excellent education.

So I’m passionate about that.

I’m passionate about unlocking learning potential.

Regardless of who you are and where you live.

And I feel like there’s a role—a special role—that technology can play to democratize learning opportunity.

So your father played a big role in your life—possibly both of your parents—any more on that? Others? People, mentors, teachers, books, or leaders that you looked up to?

Yes. I have a little quote on my desk that says, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”

Nelson Mandela said that.

And when you study his life and all of the years that were really taken from him—and maybe arguably some of the most productive years of his life—and to have him emerge still so hopeful and so convinced that education was a path for changing the world—for making it more tolerant, more inclusive, and more just a better world: that inspires me.

I would add my mother, my father—and Mr. Mandela.

And we still miss [him] today.

Yes, it’s interesting; I saw a clip of Mandela: he was very old, being honored; there was some music playing, a little bit of dancing. But he got up and he danced. Nobody seemed to—

Oh yeah. He loves [to dance].

Yes, and nobody seemed to be dancing along. He actually had the music end off and he encouraged people, “Let’s try that again.” And I just thought, “Wow, what a wonderful way to—

Joyful.

Yes.

Yes.

Okay. Well let’s see here. What else can we talk about? How about this ‘closing the achievement gap’—it’s like some of these things are almost cliché.

And you’ve been to so many panels, and meetings, and conferences—that you know how it goes from a leadership position where it’s almost ‘beating a dead horse’ [especially] for the leader who has to hear it.

But for the people who haven’t heard it yet, it’s not beating a dead horse at all—it’s actually not even familiar to their ears.

So I’m going to ask this question, with such a cliché—but maybe you can give me some more insight:

How does DreamBox help to ‘close the achievement gap’?

So this is a very important question in my mind.

And this goes to DreamBox being part of a learning community.

Goes beyond our technology.

Goes beyond our business model to what can DreamBox do to help education leaders make better decisions that will help more students be successful.

And so, there’s a community obligation frankly, in my mind.

As an example of that, we recently published a handbook, which we call The EdTech Efficacy Handbook.

It really is a guide—doesn’t really have anything to do with DreamBox—but it’s a guide for education buyers to help them make smarter decisions about what they can do to impact student achievement in terms of buying learning technologies.

And so we talk about—we start with beliefs.

You know, students need more.

Well that’s okay because that’s how you get better and that’s how you serve students and teachers better.

In this guide, we basically delineate what should you look for real-world proof of positive impact—in multiple settings.

Just because it works for kids who went through 15 hours on it, what would happen if the average school could only find five hours?

We need to figure out what works—regardless of what’s in a typical setting, not in a special setting.

And so, this guide walks education leaders through how to easily evaluate efficacy, how do you evaluate what methodology was used, how do you compare scores.

All the things that honestly, they need to know, to understand:

What works.

In what context.

And why.

We didn’t have to do that.

We weren’t saying:

Buy DreamBox!

But we were saying:

Even if you don’t buy DreamBox—whatever you buy, make sure you ask these questions of your partner, to make sure you’re getting something that works.

DreamBox Math was recently honored as part of The EdTech Awards from EdTech Digest for Best Math Solution.

In the past you’ve been honored with a Leadership Award from The EdTech Awards from EdTech Digest.

Your reaction to all that?

We are honored that people see that we can have a positive impact on learning communities.

We are fueled by passion to do that.

I don’t think we set out to get awards or accolades.

The thing that inspires us—and the thing that fuels our passion—is knowing that we are helping to cultivate kids that are competent, but that are confident learners.

Because, ultimately—it’s really not about math, or reading, or science.

Our mission should be to teach kids to learn how to learn because this world is changing and it’s changing faster than ever.

We actually don’t know what jobs, let alone what industries, are going to be facing kids now in kindergarten when they grow up.

So the best thing we can do is not teach them how to do specific things.

Five years ago, the rage was coding, right?

Maybe in some sectors, it still is.

Robots are going to be doing coding.

They already are.

So is our goal to be to teach kids to code?

No.

Our goal should be:

To have kids understand what coding is.

Understand algorithms.

Understand how algorithms can have implicit bias in them.

Understand how technology can serve humanity instead of shape humanity.

So, our task here is to teach kids to learn how to learn.

That they know, that even if they make a little mistake—that they can learn from that mistake.

And they can iterate. And adapt. And get stronger and better over time.

That’s what we’re trying to do here:

Prepare them for an uncertain future.

So that they don’t [merely] survive the next generation.

Even thinking that they will only thrive in the next generation is not enough:

We want students to be so confident, that they can drive the change that they want and need—to better this world and society.

Because they’re confident learners.

You’ve said you’ve dedicated your life to increasing access to students regardless of their zip code. You touched upon this with your inspiring words here, but why is this mission so critical to you? And then we can talk about equity in education.

I think they’re related.

There are two questions.

Kids are smart and people underestimate how smart they are.

When we put kids in a blue group vs. a green group—they know that the blue group is slow.

What are we telling kids about what we believe they can do?

We want every kid to know that we see their spark.

Because we believe every kid has a spark.

And if kids get negative feedback day after day, week after week, year after year because they are poor or because they don’t have external evidence of wealth in terms of how they dress or because they’re homeless, [then] I don’t think that’s good for—I know that’s not good for kids and their families—but I don’t think that’s good for larger society.

It’s really important for kids to know that we see them.

That we see their spark.

And their potential.

Because when people believe in us, we work harder.

When people believe in us, we stay hopeful.

When people believe in us, we work through impediments towards success.

And society is changing.

There’s a demographic imperative.

There was a time when you could have a high school degree and still have your slice of the American dream—and those days are gone.

And if we want our democracy to stay healthy and vibrant, if we want a peaceful world and a tolerant world globally, then we have to make sure that we unlock the learning potential of every child.

Because, in my mind:

If you unlock the learning potential of every child, you will unlock human potential in every child.

It’s good for kids.

It’s good for families.

It’s good for communities.

It’s good for democracy.

It’s good for global peace and tolerance.

I believe all this and it sounds inspiring.

But I can’t help but think there’s—forgive me if I’m being cynical here—but I feel like the delivery is so smooth.

This is excellent.

This is something to believe in.

But then, when there are other issues—  

Data privacy.

There’s globalism vs. nationalism.

There are a lot of different forces at play in this world today.

—And it just makes me wonder:

Well, I’m trying to come up with a question.

But it just makes me wonder.

This is smooth.  

But there’s a [dark] sci-fi undertone to all of this, where there are some pretty scary things happening.

Do you have any reaction to that sort of sentiment?  

Or would you rather not go there?

Well, no; I didn’t say it was easy.

I just said there’s nothing more important.

I didn’t say we were going to succeed immediately.

I’m just suggesting we can never give up.

I didn’t say that we were going to be successful in five years.

I’m just saying that if we’re not successful, I just add a word. We’re not successful yet.

I’ve been somebody whose been told for a long time that there are many things I would never do:

I would never get into the University of Virginia.

I would never do this; I would never do that:

‘Somebody with a liberal arts degree could never be a Chief Executive Officer of a technology company.’

There are more people out there who have long lists of things that can never be.

And I’m just here to say that:

If something doesn’t exist now—it doesn’t mean it won’t exist one day.

It would take a lot for me to believe otherwise.

There was a time when people were very fearful about automation in the auto industry.

There was an inflection point when horse and buggies moved to whatever Model-T’s, whatever it was—wherever you were.

It is true that, in that inflection point, probably more people died because there were injuries with automation as safety standards hadn’t yet caught up with technology.

Maybe there were more accidents.

Maybe there were more paraplegics as a result.

Maybe there were a lot of risks that would never have happened—or not at the pace if they had stayed with horse and buggy.

But I don’t think you can stop advancement.

And there’re a lot of things that are dangerous about technology.

You mentioned data privacy, but I think the opportunity and the challenge is to figure out a way to evolve over time and get better.

We have a lot more safety things: we have seat belts.

We have a lot more safety standards in the automotive industry that maybe were never even conceived when the first car came out.

We’re going to get better at the technology thing.

We’re going to get better at the data thing.

And as long as we have values-based leaders who are thinking about what technology can do to serve the interest of human kind—then, I think, the good will outweigh the bad.

I don’t have any delusions that there’s bad.

There’s bad now.

But when I go into a school where there’s been failure—year after year, after year—and there are people, including kids, who believe that this group of kids can’t do as well as those group of kids because of how they look.

And then I come back in a year after they’ve been on DreamBox, and I have little brown and black kids raising their arms in the air saying, “I’m going to be an engineer” and their summative assessment results are better than the average in the city—it’s hard not to be hopeful.

I’m not saying it’s going to happen soon.

I’m not saying it’s easy.

It’s hard.

The most important things in this life are hard to achieve.

This is where we should put our marginal effort and our time: investing in human potential.

Alright, well!

I do have a few more questions for you.

But this has been a real pleasure, actually.

I’m really enjoying this.

And listening to you.

And talking with you on these sorts of issues here.

But I will ask: what do schools and districts need to focus on to create greater educational equity?

And maybe you can even break “equity” down.

That’s another phrase there.

We’re struggling with this.

As a society we’re struggling with this.

I think sometimes, at first glance, people think success is defined by making sure that everybody has the same opportunity.

And that sounds good.

And it sounds reasonable.

But when you consider some structural impediments to success that impact—that disproportionately impact individuals, or groups of individuals—opportunity is required but it’s insufficient.

I went to a diversity inclusion talk a couple months ago.

And the speaker put up an image.

It’s going to be hard to describe, but there’s a fence.

And beyond the fence you can see a lot of people in a stadium.

And on the near side of the fence, there were two children.

And one child was about four feet tall.

And another child was three feet tall.

And right at the base of the fence was a stool.

And the stool was about a foot tall.

And when both students stepped up on their stool (each of them had a stool that was a foot tall)—the student who was four feet could see above the fence and see all that existed beyond the fence.

The student who was a foot shorter stepped up on the stool and just saw the fence.

And the speaker said:

“If we say to ourselves, equality of opportunity is all we have to do—then we should all feel satisfied because we gave both of those students an equally high stool.

“But if we look beyond opportunity to impact and at least share responsibility for impact— then we’ll see that giving the second child a foot stool that was a foot high was important, but it was insufficient.

“That child is going to need something else and deserves to have something else that we give that child, that we don’t give the other child necessarily, so that that child could also see above the fence.”

That’s equality. That’s equity.

And that stuck with me.

I didn’t describe it to you as well, as eloquently as the speaker did.

But that captured for me the difference between equality of opportunity—and equity.

And when we know that:

There are kids today that are in hyper-segregated schools.

There are kids today who leave school dressed the same way they were for the previous five days.

And when they leave school, they go and climb into a car because they don’t have a home.

Well, we know that there are kids that go to school hungry every day.

And dread a snow day because they know they’re not going to get two meals.

We have to think about impact.

And we have to know that equality of opportunity—

They all have the same book.

They all have the same teacher.

They all have the same technology.

—is required—but insufficient.

There are more things that we need to do.

And if we think that these are just favors that we’re doing for these children, then we’re missing the point—because then, it’s going to feel like a burden.

If we see that, in helping every child reach their potential, we’re helping ourselves because we’re helping communities; we’re building a stronger fabric in this country—then we’re not going to see it as a sacrifice.

We won’t even see it as a duty, necessarily.

We’ll see it as an investment:

An investment in something that’s going to benefit us as citizens.

So, I’m not looking for people to do favors for kids.

I’m looking for people to behave in their own best interest.

Because they’re looking beyond opportunity, to impact.

And we all have accountability for impact.

You’ve done a lot of work with efficacy. You were talking about that manual earlier. And that shows leadership beyond just your company.

So, you’re not just leading your company. You’re helping to lead the whole “edtech industry”—if I could even call it that word.

And beyond just edtech: education.

And then:

Society.  

So that’s really a testament to your leadership.

How can edtech better partner with teachers and administrators to ensure greater equity?

You already touched upon that quite a bit.

But I did want to open the door to let you comment further on that if you wanted to.

Well, there’s one other thing I would add to that.

And we’ve evolved our thinking here, too.

We were so razor sharp focused on delivering an engaging, personalized, and efficacious learning opportunity for the child—that I don’t think in the beginning we put the proper emphasis on making sure we explore the possibilities of intelligent, adaptive technology for the adult learner, for the teacher.

We always wanted to serve teachers.

But we didn’t understand the importance of seeing teachers as learners who could get better at their craft.

Who could get closer to the content.

Who could become more expert in their understanding of the content.

If we got them more proximate to the content, [then it] made it easier for them.

A few years ago, we changed our developmental priorities and intentionally focused on improving the educator experience.

We still have some work to do there.

But one of the things that we provide now that we didn’t and maybe didn’t even envision when I first got here seven years ago, one of the things the teachers complained about a lot is that professional development isn’t helpful to them:

You get together for two straight days in August.

And then you have to remember what you learned in October.

It wasn’t a good learning model.

We also know that’s not how learning happened.

So we launched MyFlexPD, which is a job-embedded teacher learning capability in the system.

So, why do we do that?

We did that because, if we can demystify why their students were struggling—help teachers see the lessons the students were working on in the software where they were getting stuck.

And then give teachers an opportunity to themselves get closer to the mathematics, then we thought they could be better ambassadors for learning.

There’s a lot of people saying, “Why are you doing that? That’s really going to drop your profitability, it’s going to distract you from what you can do.”

But we see this as a delicate balance, really.

This is an ecosystem of learning that has learners, and learning guardians, and tools.

We need to make sure that those tools, while they deliver an engaging and personalized and efficacious learning experience for the learner, we need to make sure teachers feel respected by the technology.

And they feel partnered to the technology in ways that [won’t] make the technology overwhelm them.

They are a lot of edtech companies that try to go around teachers.

We think that, if we can lift teachers and help them improve over time and support them with actionable insights about what’s happening in their learner’s life—that’s good for kids, that’s good for teachers, that’s good for outcome.

We’re really focused on outcome.

Wow, there’s so much that we’ve already talked about.

And so much we could talk about.

And I would love to follow up in a few months.

It seems like there’s probably going to be a lot of water under the bridge by the time we catch up in 3-6 months down the road, that I wouldn’t even wait a year.

It’s been a real pleasure talking to you today.

Jessie:  Thank you, Victor.

Well thank you. I wanted to ask you one more thing:

And this is just because we are after all, EdTech Digest.  

So, what should school and district leaders consider when evaluating edtech?

Yes, so we talked about this a little bit earlier.

But, in general, there are a couple things I’d say:

One is, I think they should all demand evidence of efficacy.

And it should be independent study.

And that isn’t common practice now.

A lot of companies do their own studies and they can kind of even out biases and et cetera to control population.

It’s really important that third-party efficacy [studies] are demanded by education leaders.

The second is:

They need to understand that, whatever they’re considering, is going to work in their context.

Every learning community is different, with different strengths and different weaknesses, teacher readiness, open positions, professional development—many, many things.

They need to know that they’re [not just] experimenting, they need to know that it will work in their learning community.

So they should look for real-world proof of positive impact in diverse settings.

The third thing I would say is that:

What we do now at DreamBox looks so different than what we did when I first came here in 2010.

And I’m so honored that people that we consider our partners in schools and in districts stuck with us.

And helped us to learn from their experience with the software.

And grow with them.

So that we could actually deliver something that was more meaningful, with higher impact for them.

And that took some trust, right?

Because they saw some holes in the beginning.

Maybe they still see holes.

But they are very comfortable telling us what we can do better.

And we do it.

And so, I think that I would say education leaders should look not for vendors, they should look for partners.

Partners who understand their pain, understand what their strategies are, understand where they’ve fallen short and what’s working well.

And partners who can help them get better at what they want to do—and that means growth and change.

It’s almost like an agile methodology for partnership.

Assume that you’re imperfect.

Experiment.

Learn.

Adapt.

Evolve.

And that is why we have over 150,000 teachers and almost 3 million kids on the system:

Because our partners have been our compass for innovation at DreamBox.

So I think that educational leaders should look for partners.

Partners with whom they can grow and get stronger on both sides: the learning community, and the partner.

Awesome! Thank you very much, Jessie. It was a real pleasure.

Jessie:  Thank you, Victor.

Victor Rivero is the Editor-in-Chief of EdTech Digest. Write to: victor@edtechdigest.com