Re: Johnny, George, and the Power of Education

A couple years ago, Billy Baker of the Boston Globe published a story on two brothers who leveraged their education to rise above a life defined by poverty, suicide, and mental illness. With the guidance of a man named Emmitt Folgert and charitable donations from the community, the two boys ended up getting into college. Johnny, the older, started UMass Amherst this fall; George, the younger brother, was just accepted to Yale.

The transformative property of education illustrated by this story is why each member of the Gradeable team has dedicated themselves to education. It’s stories like this that remind us why we’re doing the ed-tech startup thing in the first place. The way Folgert helped these boys on the path to success (rides, clothes, money for food) is something that many teachers do everyday.

More often than not, a teacher’s role extends above and beyond the classroom. Folgert’s organization is dedicated to provide for kids like George and Johnny, while some teachers can manage that role on top of their dedication to teaching. After ensuring that “at risk” children have the essentials, teachers are still expected to plan lessons, teach classes, and grade that stack of papers. Gradeable was invented to ease the grading process and save teachers time when crunching the numbers.

Teachers are responsible for a lot, and we want to make sure they have the resources to make their lives a little easier. Just like Folgert sees a better way for the kids of Dorchester, we see a better way for teachers. We don’t want you slaving over Excel spreadsheets like Folgert didn’t want Johnny and George subsisting on rice and noodles.

To us, education isn’t just a thing; it’s the thing. What these two students illustrated is that education is the golden ticket, no matter where you come from. Johnny and George proved to all of us that their zip code doesn’t define where you go in life if you take your education seriously. They remind us that it’s possible to do more with much less than what we take for granted.

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