Over the past couple of weeks, I have had the opportunity to travel around New York State as a part of the EngageNY Portal rollout. It has been a great time to reflect on the past 16 years.
Since I founded the eScholar company in 1997 working with one school district in Western New York, I spent a lot of time driving across and around the state. It’s pretty amazing to see the variation in the landscape from the Great Lakes to the Atlantic Ocean and from very rural areas to The City. Many things have changed over the years, but the varied landscapes are still just as beautiful. I noticed the same when it comes to the New York education system. The landscape may have shifted, but the commitment with which educators focus on the success of their students remains as strong as ever.
Sixteen years ago, we blazed our trail and focused on integrating data so that it would be as useful and as applicable to educators as possible. Over the years we have been innovating – often based on feedback from our educator customers – for ways to manage and apply those useful data in a responsible way, and always with sensitivity to privacy and maintaining security. It’s been an exciting transition for me to see our work directly helping teachers and students.
One of the perks of our ability to have a long-term relationship with customers is that I get to see a lot of familiar faces that I have worked with for years. It’s a joy to know that we are all continuing to make progress in helping students. There is a lot of talk about accountability in education. I am fully aware and am reminded that the real stakeholders in education to whom I am accountable are ultimately our students, teachers, and parents. Thankfully, I don’t have to worry about pleasing public shareholders, or even more challenging, venture capitalists, or foundations. Being a private company, I have gotten to put together a great team of educators and technologists that only have to focus on our role in improving education through the use of data. We only have to worry about doing valuable work for educators, whose hard work and commitment help our students to be successful. The journey is not easy, in fact it’s often stressful, but it helps to know that we are all working towards the same goal and feeling the same challenges. Sharing our similar agenda and goals makes it possible to march forward and stay on track, even if it is hard.
This road trip has been a pleasant way to reminisce about the work we have done together and build energy for the work we have in front of us. The momentum is here and now. Hats off to my friends in New York. Thank you for these weeks and for the past sixteen years. We will surely have more fun and success ahead of us!