A People-First Commitment Drives Growth

self-care for educators

By Jessica Slusser

Behind the powerful educational materials and tools (like Ready and i-Ready) that Curriculum Associates (CA) designs to help students succeed is a deep-rooted commitment to valuing its employees. Recognized by Entrepreneur Magazine for its “Top Company Culture” and by Tech in Motion as a “Top Tech Work Culture,” for the last 3 years CA has also been honored as a “Best Place to Work” by the Boston Globe and, most recently, by the Boston Business Journal. In this highly competitive program, the journal selects companies who “go the extra mile to create great workplaces.”

How does Curriculum Associates go the extra mile? People-first leadership and a culture of learning and growth. Hear more from CEO Rob Waldron in this podcast:

CA’s Secret Sauce: People-First Leadership + A Culture of Learning

People-First Leadership.

Rob Waldron repeatedly credits CA’s success to its mission-focused team with a shared commitment to improve classrooms. As a leader, he works tirelessly to ensure every individual working behind the company name is world-class. In our podcast, he shares the priorities that have helped shape their company culture:

  1. Promote long-term thinking, focusing not on short-term gains but on supporting meaningful future learning outcomes
  2. Make hiring top talent a true priority (50% of Rob’s time is spent recruiting!)
  3. Recognize that excellent employees likely have excellent contacts. Leverage staff connections to find stellar candidates.
  4. Interview all final candidates personally.
  5. Most importantly, remember you are hiring people, not simply filling positions.

A Culture of Learning.

Over the years, CA has worked hard to nurture a culture of caring for employees, offering innovative benefits like a free wifi-equipped shuttle for Boston commuters, free on-site group exercise classes, flexibility for remote workers, engaging community events like their recent bake-off fundraiser, and extensive opportunities for professional development.

Recently, the company launched new programming initiatives focused on retaining young professionals, a population who makes up a quarter of its staff. To support this growing population, CA created a 10-person, inter-departmental Early Career Professionals task force to determine what professional development is needed by answering the following:

  • What do young professionals want?
  • What do managers of young professionals want their reporting employees to have?
  • What are other companies doing in this regard?

After several months of internal and external research, the task force proposed initiatives to senior management in three categories: mentorship, hard skills and soft skills. Thanks to this initiative, CA is now implementing several pilot programs including a networking event, career panel, peer mentorship program, half-day shadowing program, communication workshop and an online space for professional development resources.

As a company, Curriculum Associates attracts top talent by its alignment to job seekers’ search for purpose. A mission-driven company since its founding nearly 50 years ago, CA continues to evolve and improve the ways in which it supports and fosters employee growth and development. They “walk the walk” as a people-first company, living out their values through tangible actions and earning “best place to work” distinctions year after year.

For more on building an EdTech company, see:

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Jessica Slusser

Jessica is the Senior Director of Impact at Getting Smart. She leads business development and growth of advocacy campaigns, advisory services, product development, marketing, and Getting Smart's blog. As part of her role, Jessica also oversees team events, conferences, and speaking engagements.

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