Kevin Celisca: Innovating the Education Process
Ladderworks is a publishing platform of diverse picture books and online curriculum with the mission to empower over a million kids to become social entrepreneurs. Our current series features interviews by our interplanetary journalist Spiffy with inspiring Social Entrepreneurs and Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Builders, who are advancing the UN SDGs.
Welcome back! Spiffy here, your interplanetary journalist reporting from Planet Earth with an eye on entrepreneurs working to make education in this world more equitable. Today, I’m super excited to speak with Kevin Celisca, the co-founder of Integrate School. Are you ready to be inspired?
Spiffy: Howdy, Kevin! Tell me, what challenge is Integrate School addressing?
Kevin: Hello, Spiffy! The challenge we are addressing is instructional inequity. Did you know that systemic inequity in instructional programs prevents students from receiving a comparable education from class to class or school to school? This inequity is most clearly evident in the quality of a school’s lesson plans, which may be misaligned, inconsistent, and riddled with instructional bias. A contributing factor is the fact that most schools use email and Google Docs to manage this process. The result often is overworked teachers and underserved students.
Spiffy: You’ve certainly got my attention. What motivated you to tackle this issue?
Kevin: Growing up, I struggled greatly in school in part because I lived in an underprivileged community with limited resources. If it wasn't for my fourth grade teacher who insisted on helping me every day after school for free, and personalized my lessons, I likely would’ve been held back. Thanks to her, I was able to excel academically, which paved my path to success. That teacher motivated me to give all teachers the tools they need to help kids who struggle reach their full potential.
Spiffy: How is Integrate School working towards a more equitable world?
Kevin: We directly impact instructional inequity by providing actionable administrative oversight leading to greater consistency of content delivery from classroom to classroom and school to school. Higher-quality lessons being delivered to our students means that we can ensure our teachers are providing the best quality content. This leads to improved student outcomes as well as even greater teacher work-life balance due to time savings. Integrate School was built to help bridge gaps in learning and in the quality of lessons taught from school to school.
Spiffy: Tell me about a recent milestone or initiative by Integrate School. What impact does that make?
Kevin: We are currently working with Learn Platform to obtain our federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) Level IV program logic model. This will provide clear visibility and guidance regarding how Integrate School should improve learner outcomes and how these assumptions will be evaluated in an ESSA Level I, II, or III study.
Spiffy: Please share an experience when you faced failure and didn't give up. What did you learn from that experience?
Kevin: Originally, our software was meant to be a learning management system (LMS). Our goal was to be the best, most user-friendly, and most integrated LMS on the market (which is where our name Integrate School comes from). We had an incredibly difficult time selling our LMS to schools because of the cost associated with replacing existing school software, the headache caused by migration of data, the compliance and security concerns of sensitive data, and logistical concerns related to onboarding training and support from a small startup. Fortunately, all of the schools that we spoke to also said they were interested in the lesson planning feature we built. So, instead of giving up we took this as an opportunity to pivot our software.
Spiffy: Is there anything else you would love to tell our audience?
Kevin: Life is short, do something that is truly meaningful in your life so everyday feels like a grand adventure!
Spiffy: Thanks for speaking with me today, Kevin—it’s been a pleasure!
Kevin Celisca is the co-founder of Integrate School and has a passion for innovating the education process.(First published on the Ladderworks website on May 24, 2022.)
© 2022 Ladderworks LLC. Edited by George Romar. Spiffy’s illustration by Shreyas Navare. For the Ladderworks digital curriculum to help K-3 kids advance the UN SDGs, visit Spiffy's Corner here.
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