4 episodes

How can we better support students who struggle? We know that addressing the needs of struggling students strengthens our schools, creates stronger communities, brighter futures and a more equitable world. The average student who starts below grade level has just a 1 in 4 chance of catching up. This means a tremendous number of students are struggling nationwide. Through interviews with students, teachers, administrators, technologists and education influencers, we want to understand what’s working in our schools today, what’s not and how we can impact positive, lasting change.

Opportunity Thrives Sarah Williamson

    • Education

How can we better support students who struggle? We know that addressing the needs of struggling students strengthens our schools, creates stronger communities, brighter futures and a more equitable world. The average student who starts below grade level has just a 1 in 4 chance of catching up. This means a tremendous number of students are struggling nationwide. Through interviews with students, teachers, administrators, technologists and education influencers, we want to understand what’s working in our schools today, what’s not and how we can impact positive, lasting change.

    Technology and the Gender Gap: Strategies to Inspire Young Women to Explore STEM

    Technology and the Gender Gap: Strategies to Inspire Young Women to Explore STEM

    On the fourth episode of Opportunity Thrives, we take a closer look at technology and the gender gap. We discuss the challenges of  engaging more females in computer science and some of the strategies that can be implemented to inspire these young learners to explore computer science and technology courses and pursue careers in these fields.  


    Nine out of ten parents want their child to study computer science, but only 45% of schools teach computer programming.
    Computing makes up two-thirds of projected new jobs in STEM.
    Computing occupations are among the highest-paying jobs for new graduates. Yet fewer than 3% of college students graduate with a degree in computer science, and only 10% of STEM graduates are in computer science. A computer science major can earn 40 percent more than the college average.
    Schools are not required to offer computer science in 32 states.
    Only 29 percent of AP Computer Science students are women. Only 22% are Black/African American or Latinx.
    Women who try AP Computer Science in high school are ten times more likely to major in it, and Black and Latinx students are seven times more likely.

    Sabine Thomas, the Northwest regional manager for Code.org, a nonprofit dedicated to expanding access to computer science in schools and increasing participation by women and underrepresented minorities shares her insights on the show. The vision of Code.org is to provide every student in every school with the opportunity to learn computer science, just as easily as they have the chance to learn biology, chemistry or algebra. Sabine is passionate about Computer Science and Software Development and supports the organization by establishing organizational partnerships throughout the Northwest. 

    Misty Christensen, a business education and AP computer science instructor at Dunwoody High School in the Dekalb County School System in Dunwoody, Georgia also joined us for the episode. After pursuing her teaching degree, she was so inspired by the computing classes she was teaching that she went back to school to get her degree in business education. Within her district, she supports Girls Who Code, the Robotics club, First Robotics Competition, and the Technology Student Association to help inspire both young men and women to pursue careers in computing. 

    • 26 min
    What about the teachers: How are administrators supporting teachers with digital curriculum adoption?

    What about the teachers: How are administrators supporting teachers with digital curriculum adoption?

    Online learning has given rise to a spectrum of instructional models that redefine teaching and learning in the classroom. At one end, teachers use digital content to enhance teacher-led instruction and provide remediation. At the other, the digital curriculum is leveraged to transform primary instruction and support initial credit and credit recovery programs. However, for teachers who are adding one more thing to their day job, new technology can feel overwhelming. In this episode of Opportunity Thrives, we discuss what educators need most when it comes to adopting new digital curriculum programs and some of the strategies administrators can implement to make adopting the new technology a more seamless process for teachers.

    Our first guest, Laura Lee, is an editor and writer for Edutopia. Prior to her role at Edutopia, she worked as an educator with a civic education organization and then as a program administrator for two Fulbright grant programs. She has a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Maryland where she was an Eleanor Merrill Fellow. She has also worked at NPR producing content for the Washington desk, All Things Considered and Talk of the Nation. 

    Shanise Goldsby, an assistant principal at Broadview Middle School in Burlington, North Carolina also joined us for the conversation. Shanise has been an educator for 17 years; 14 years as a seventh grade ELA and reading teacher and she is going on three years as an administrator. She is passionate about empowering her teachers to excel with digital curriculum and she shares specific strategies to help teachers get the resources they need to be successful. 

    • 19 min
    Cheating isn’t new: Managing an age-old problem with 21st century tools

    Cheating isn’t new: Managing an age-old problem with 21st century tools

    In this episode of Opportunity Thrives, we discuss a topic that certainly isn’t new, but has evolved with the digital age: cheating, and how to maintain digital integrity when implementing an online curriculum program for today’s middle and high school students. For as long as students have sat in a desk, they have found creative ways to cheat in order to pass a test. All of the same student motivations still apply in a digital setting, but the strategies are slightly different. Two guests on this episode, Kecia Ray and John Watson, participated in a discussion on how districts can implement safeguards and best practices to reduce the incidences of cheating and discuss where many might fall short when it comes to digital integrity.

    John Watson is the Evergreen Education Group founder and primary researcher. He has two decades of experience in online learning and education technology conducting, writing, and presenting research as well as providing testimony on digital learning matters to state boards of education, legislatures, and charter school commissions. 

    Dr. Kecia Ray has devoted her career to education technology and is the former executive director for the Center for Digital Education, Ray has worked as an administrator for the Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools and for the Tennessee Commissioner of Education. She was also named one of the top 10 EdTech Leaders by Tech and Learning magazine and a top 100 EdTech Influencer by EdTech Digest. She now leads K20 Connect, a network of education and technology leaders focused on building effective practices in K20 education.

    • 41 min
    Blending Teachers and Technology to help Struggling Students Thrive

    Blending Teachers and Technology to help Struggling Students Thrive

    In first episode of Opportunity Thrives, Kim Loomis, the former Director of Digital Learning at Nevada’s Clark County School District, the 5th largest district in the nation, shares her strategies for how, when and where to support struggling students and make the biggest impact using digital curriculum. Today, Kim is the CEO of i3DigitalPD, helping educators across the nation to grow high quality digital learning programs. She recently authored, Think Outside the Box, a book that highlights hundreds of schools and thousands of classroom teachers in Nevada’s Clark County School District and their unique approaches to implementing digital curriculum to support struggling learners. 

    • 43 min

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