Although I have spent my career in engineering and business, my immediate family has been dedicated to education for more than a half century. My grandmother enrolled in college in 1946 to become a teacher. Since that time, teaching has been a passion for many other members of my family. Both of my parents and more than 10 of my aunts, uncles, and cousins have chosen education as a career path.
The value of a strong education was instilled in me from my family at a very young age. During high school I can recall visiting grandparents over the holidays and hearing one of my cousins proudly recount recently winning an individual Division I College National Championship. My grandfather, who was a sports fanatic, replied that a national championship was a nice accomplishment, but he was more interested in hearing about my cousin’s grades during the recent semester. Getting our education meant everything to him.
My father retired over a decade ago after more than 30 years of teaching in an urban, public school district. Before my parents retired, I would help out in their classrooms and learned firsthand about some of the struggles and opportunities facing school districts. The issues I observed were complex and my experiences hanging around schools as a kid gave me a unique perspective on our educational system.
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... and practical partnership with existing players to address successfully on a larger scale. Measuring teacher effectiveness, assuming it is done properly, and doing a better job holding teachers accountable is necessary, but it is not enough. Great schools need engaged parents, students, teachers, and politicians; many raindrops create a flood. Engagement of all parties requires disciplined management of and long-term commitment to both a continuous improvement culture and results.
My career so far has been spent on shaping cultures and improving processes to ensure that critical, technology-driven products – aircraft engines, computer chips, drugs that prevent blindness, etc. – do not fail. The skills and experiences I have acquired generating results have prepared me to help make a step-change impact in education, where we cannot afford to let students fail.
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