John J-H Kim is a Senior Lecturer and William Henry Bloomberg Fellow in the Social Enterprise Initiative of the General Management Group of the Harvard Business School. Mr. Kim teaches the second year elective course Entrepreneurship in Education Reform.
Mr. Kim also serves as the Co-Chair and a core faculty member of the Public Education Leadership Project (PELP), a joint project of HBS and HGSE. The goal of this joint initiative is to make a substantial difference in public education by improving the management and leadership competencies and practices of public education leaders.
Mr. Kim continues to serve as the founder and CEO of The District Management Council (DMC), an organization that helps school districts achieve higher performance by helping them with management practices to improve student outcomes, operational efficiency and financial effectiveness. Mr. Kim has advised numerous school districts around the country with efforts related to strategic planning, human capital, and stakeholder engagement. He is also the founding editor of The District Management Journal, a publication which provides actionable insights related to leading and managing public school districts.
Previously, Mr. Kim founded and led several firms in the education sector including a school management company that served more than 20,000 students in ten states. Additionally, he was a management consultant with McKinsey & Company and also served as an Executive Vice President of Rakuten, Inc (JASDAQ: 4755), a global Internet services company.
Mr. Kim currently serves on several non-profit and corporate boards including the National Governing Board of BELL, a non-profit organization dedicated to improving the lives of disadvantaged youths, the Board of Advisors of the Institute for Recruitment of Teachers (IRT) at Phillips Academy, Andover, and was also on the founding board of the Boston Collegiate Charter School.
Mr. Kim received an A.B. from Harvard College and an M.B.A. from the Harvard Business School.
AltSchool: School Reimagined
Max Ventilla and his team launches in 2013 AltSchool, a new network of tech-savvy independent K-8 “micro-schools.” AltSchool is born out of Ventilla’s frustration with the education options available for his young daughter. During his search, Ventilla comes to the conclusion that American schools are not adequately preparing students for the future.
Ventilla leverages his network and his expertise in personalization developed during his time as a serial entrepreneur and a founding team member of Google+; he sets about recruiting engineers, educators, VC investors, and families to set in motion his mission to provide high-quality personalized education that will change the way parents, students, and educators experience the school day. Ventilla focuses on three aspects: 1) using technology to reduce operational costs of the traditional school, 2) intense focus on customer service and reframing school as a service for parents, teachers, and students, and 3) using technology and data in the classroom to create a continuous improvement cycle. As Max and the AltSchool team wrap up their first year in operation, they reflect on lessons learned from their iterative process; they reflect on the best ways for the team to grow their network of schools, to demonstrate success to their investors, and to have an impact on changing education in America. The case gives students the opportunity to explore how an education technology company can build new education technology tools, and alter school structures and funding models to set the stage for a new model for the education sector.
talent development and retention;
social impact investment;
Kim, John J-H, Kyla Wilkes, and Christine S. An. "AltSchool: School Reimagined." Harvard Business School Case 315-054, February 2015. (Revised February 2015.) View Details
Curriculum Associates: Turning the Page from Tradition to Innovation
Set in Fall 2014, the traditional textbook publishing industry is being transformed by technological innovations and new student achievement standards. This case chronicles how Rob Waldron, CEO, and his team bring Curriculum Associates (CA), a traditional supplemental publishing company, up to date amidst the changing publishing landscape.
Founded in 1969, CA established a reputation as a pioneering workbook company specializing in helping teachers deliver targeted intervention for students in the classroom. As Waldron stepped into his role as CEO in 2008, he set about leveraging CA's existing educational expertise and relationships with school districts to take it from a traditional supplemental publishing company to a competitive player in the educational technology space. Waldron and the CA team—through innovations in curricular design, investments in technology, and a rigorous understanding of the Common Core State Standards—landed on a hit modular digital assessment and print-based workbook series called Ready®, Ready® Common Core, and i-Ready® Diagnostic and Instruction.
In 2014, as sales are booming, Waldron and his team wonder how CA can stay competitive in the rapidly evolving publishing and education technology landscape while growing sustainably and building on its existing competitive advantage. The case gives students the opportunity to explore how a small or medium-sized privately-owned company can leverage its strengths and innovate while grappling with the challenges of providing software-as-a-service in the education sector, a leap for a company used to selling directly to schools and school districts.
Keywords: education technology;
product development strategy;
Zeal: Launching Personalized and Social Learning
Set in 2014, this case follows John Danner and his team at Zeal as they consider their product development strategy. In February 2013, serial entrepreneurs John Danner and Sanjay Noronha co-found Zeal, an education technology start up providing a web-based, mobile learning platform that helps students from Kindergarten to 8th grade build math and literacy skills based on Common Core State Standards through personalized learning plans.
Having been a teacher and founder of a successful network of charter schools, Danner believes learning does not have to be limited to the classroom and wants to create a product that can connect students, parents, and teachers to facilitate individual student learning. Furthermore, he believes that offering a social, personalized learning tool can offer a fun way for students to learn and can also save time for teachers who want to provide differentiated instruction.
Based out of the offices of the NewSchools Venture Fund in Palo Alto, Danner and Noronha work to rapidly develop the product with their founding team and their teacher partners at Rocketship Education, a K-5 charter school organization providing blended instruction combining technology and traditional methods. After several iterations, the Zeal team launches the latest version of Zeal in Fall 2014. While reflecting on their process to find product-market fit, Danner and his team wonder where to pivot next and seek an appropriate business model that considers their customer and user base. The case describes the student, parent, and teacher features offered by the evolving Zeal product, and how the team begins with a focus on personalized, peer-to-peer learning and, based on feedback, refines the product to add in-class features and create a teacher product. Students will have the opportunity to explore how an early SaaS start-up in the educational technology space can approach early product development, pilot in classrooms, and connect with different stakeholders.
product market fit;
SaaS business models;
Entrepreneurship and Technology Innovations in Education
DaVita HealthCare Partners and the Denver Public Schools: Creating Connections
In 2011, DaVita HealthCare Partners (DaVita)—a Fortune 500 healthcare services company specializing in kidney dialysis services—and the Denver Public Schools (DPS)—the largest school district in Colorado—forged a plan to incorporate greater intentional focus on culture and leadership within the district. A few months into the 2013-2014 school year, DaVita "Mayor" Kent Thiry, DPS Superintendent Tom Boasberg, and members of their teams gather to review and assess the overall progress, impact, and challenges of their unique corporate-community partnership focused on leadership development and culture over the past two years. With the partnership showing great promise, Thiry and his team wonder how they might create new partnerships and grow their social impact as a company without detracting from DaVita's own growth and expansion and the needs of its own "teammates." The case gives students the opportunity to explore how a mission-driven Fortune 500 company can leverage its own resources and HR expertise to partner with non-corporate entities to create social value and support success in American public education.
Keywords: corporate-community partnerships;
Denver Public Schools;
Partners and Partnerships;
Business and Community Relations;
School of One: Reimagining How Students Learn (B)
This supplements the "A" case. Joel Rose and Chris Rush decide to spin-off from School of One to found New Classrooms Innovation Partners. Rose and Rush navigate the strategic complexities of the spin-off process to make their mission-driven product a reality. The case explores the co-founders' decision to pursue either a for-profit or nonprofit structure and their strategy for scaling their product, Teach to One.
Keywords: education technology;
scaling ed tech products;
Technology Innovations in K-12 Education
This background note on technology innovations in education offers a market overview of the edtech sector and discusses trends, common challenges, and criticisms encountered in exploring edtech ventures. The note introduces the promise of educational technology as it directly affects classroom instruction and discusses the common growth drivers (e.g., school accountability, 21st century skills, and advanced technological innovations) and theories of change (e.g., personalization, access, and productivity) for edtech products and services. Furthermore, the note defines the conditions necessary for the success of innovations in educational technology in the classroom including adequate teacher training, funding, and technology infrastructure. The note also highlights several challenges, risks, and criticisms common to the edtech sector, such as the evolving role of teachers, issues of student privacy and data security, implementation challenges, and the limits of education technology's impact in the classroom.
In 2011, a group of passionate social entrepreneurs in Rio de Janeiro, with the support and encouragement of several prominent philanthropists and members of government, launch Ensina!, seizing Brazil's unprecedented economic growth and national commitment to education. The new independent educational non-profit is to be part of Teach For All, a global network of organizations inspired by Teach For America. While Ensina! is quickly able to raise the initial capital, recruit graduates from top colleges, garner positive press, and demonstrate early success in increasing student performance, the organization runs into a number of operational challenges in implementing its programs in schools. After pursuing various avenues to address obstacles for Ensina!'s execution found in navigating national education policy and funding, forging partnerships with municipal and state governments, confronting widespread cultural perspectives on teaching as a profession, and managing relationships with local school administrators and staff, Ensina!'s staff and board, despite some success and demonstrated impact, decide to suspend the program in January. Following this decision, Fabio Campos, the most recent CEO of Ensina!, contemplates the possibility of relauching a restructured Ensina! to help bring about enduring, transformative reform to Brazil's public education system, which he believes to be crucial to the future success of Brazil as a nation. The case presents students the opportunity to explore conditions necessary for successful collaborations between non-profit organizations and the government, grapple with the challenges of long-term large-scale performance improvement in public education, and examine Ensina!'s goals in public education reform and different operational strategies for organizations like Ensina! to consider implementing in the future.
Keywords: Social Entrepreneurship;
Problems and Challenges;
Business and Government Relations;
Kim, John J-H, Alejandra Meraz Velasco, and Christine An. "Ensina!"
Harvard Business School Case 413-121, June 2013. View Details
Career Pathways, Performance Pay, and Peer-review Promotion in Baltimore City Public Schools
In the fall of 2012, Dr. Andres Alonso had much to celebrate about in his five-year tenure as CEO of Baltimore City Public Schools, including the approval and implementation of an innovative teachers' contract with a jointly-governed four-tier career pathway that tied teacher pay and promotion to performance and peer review. Nonetheless, Alonso was concerned about the future of the contract and the reforms it introduced. It took two votes before the teachers ratified the contract in November 2010. Since then, implementation had been laborious, complicated, and uncertain. Many questions would have to be answered in the coming months. Was the district making the transition to a contract that rewarded "engagement" in a career pathway rather than passive reliance on steps and lanes? Were the processes for earning Achievement Units and progressing through the pathways rigorous enough so that the contract wouldn't default to the past practice where everyone moves up and earns more money? Were the joint governance structures established to direct and manage the career pathways, pay system, and peer-review process working effectively? How did the new system support the district's underlying theory of change? This is a Public Education Leadership Project (PELP) case study.
Keywords: labor management;
Public Education Leadership Project;
Note on Charter Schools