Stacey and Ryan, the co-founders of eAdvance, have begun asking staff members to present at our weekly meetings about the eAdvance story and our roles in it. The following is my presentation from this morning.
I met Stacey and Ryan on January 19, 2012. They were two South Africans on a research trip to the United States in an attempt to find an educational model that combined academic excellence with a sustainable financial plan. When we met, I was a primary grades math teacher and emerging leader at Rocketship Education, a charter network that had, in many ways, achieved the vision Ryan and Stacey had set. Rocketship’s students had surpassed California academic standards, not only for low-income students, but for all California students. And, Rocketship had developed a financial model that would allow sustainable scaling across the United States.
eAdvance, as yet a non-existent company, was a product of Stacey’s studies, where she had written her Masters thesis on an innovative educational business model, and Ryan’s passion for integrated technology. More importantly, however, Stacey and Ryan sought to develop a new educational model for South Africa that validated the vast potential of South Africa’s children and acknowledged that without a stable educational foundation, South Africa would fail.
In April, I signed on with eAdvance as the Director of Development and Leadership. In August, I moved to South Africa.
eAdvance has evolved substantially since January. We are a full-time staff of four in Johannesburg supporting the opening of Spark Ferndale Primary School, the first in the Spark Schools network. Spark Schools are a set of low-fee private primary schools that will provide equitable, affordable access to high quality education in South Africa. eAdvance group, which currently manages Spark Schools, allows educators to do what they do best: educate. eAdvance removes administrative, logistical, and operational concerns from the shoulders of school leaders and teachers, providing facilities, materials, curriculum, training, and more. In this way, eAdvance ensures that Spark Schools teachers teach and school leaders lead. What a revelation! In the future, eAdvance is set to broaden its focus from school management to educational consulting and collaboration with South African educators in the public and private sectors. The idea that we can share best practices to the benefit of children without regard to the pride of adults is fairly revolutionary in South Africa.
I joined eAdvance not because of rigorous academic standards or an efficient business model, although I value both. I joined eAdvance because Ryan and Stacey have designed and birthed a company that puts the dignity of human beings above all else. They are invested in doing better than has been done before because they understand that the desire of students and their families is to have better than has been had before. I’m proud to serve on the founding team of a company whose mission mirrors the mission of South African families.