This week, the Getting Smart team is bringing you an episode with Nick Donohue, the CEO and President of Nellie Mae Education Foundation.

Nick went from teacher to trainer to Deputy Commissioner, then to Commissioner in New Hampshire. A dozen years ago, Nick took over the Nellie Mae Education Foundation where he developed a strategy focused on student-centered learning. The team’s focus on personalized learning, student agency, progress on mastery, and anywhere-anytime learning was about 10 years ahead of the sector. And now, the foundation is leading again. In January they announced a new strategy that recognizes that racism in many forms — personal, institutional, and structural — is a big part of the education problem.

Listen in to hear Tom and Nick’s conversation about the implications for New England schools and communities of a renewed focus on race equity. And read more about our conversation here: Leading Education Foundation Promotes Race Equity, Vows to Fight Racism.

Key Takeaways:
[1:10] Nick starts off the podcast by recalling his youth where he was familiar with wealth but living in poverty.
[3:58] When and how Nick decided to work in education and how he came to be Deputy Commissioner in NH.
[7:00] Fast forward to the Nellie Mae Education Foundation; Nick speaks about the influences that led to his strategic plan in 2010 around student-centered learning.
[12:04] Tom summarizes Nick’s definition of student-centered learning.
[13:48] How Nick’s national strategy has had an international impact.
[14:51] Tom praises Nick’s approach to student-centered learning.
[16:32] Nick gives a summary about what he has learned about demand development activity — both public demand and educator demand.
[19:03] Why New England seems to be an anomaly in that they don’t join school networks at the same rates seen in other parts of the country.
[21:00] Nick talks about his new strategy as well as his personal and organizational journey over the last 24 months
[24:00] Nick speaks about his new focus on racial inequities will mean for his support of student-centered learning
[34:28] Tom and Nick close out the podcast by summarizing and speaking about the new mission for Nellie Mae Education Foundation.

Mentioned in This Episode:
Nellie Mae Education Foundation
No Child Left Behind Act
New England Secondary School Consortium
Great Schools Partnership
Better Together: How to Leverage School Networks For Smarter Personalized and Project Based Learning, by Tom Vander Ark and Lydia Dobyns

For more, see:


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