Teacher of the Year Evan Stoudt and Schoolrunner: Growing Together
Sci Academy in New Orleans has positioned itself as a hub of innovation within the city’s charter school community. Teachers and staff constantly seek out new ways to better their scholars’ educational experience, driving technological advancements and determinedly pushing for change.
Evan Stoudt, Teacher of the Year for Orleans Parish in 2015, began teaching Math at Sci Academy in 2011, shortly after a two-year stint with Teach for America. During his first year at Sci Academy, Evan was able to witness the inception and adoption of the newly minted Schoolrunner platform within his school. Throughout the following years, he and his fellow teachers have grown alongside Schoolrunner, gaining and offering invaluable insights as to “what works” in education.
A Passion Ignited
Growing up in New Orleans, Evan saw himself starting a small business or pursuing a career in marketing out of college. Starting his first year at Loyola University a day before Katrina evacuations, Evan knew the city would need serious help coming back to life. After a few internships failed to ignite any passion, he came to realize that his interests lay in the field of education. At that point, his career goals shifted toward contributing to the overhaul of the school system in his home town. After college, Evan joined Teach for America in order to hone his pedagogical skills, furthering the zeal he felt for the classroom and his students.
“I felt really compelled to give back to my community, feeling grateful for the great teachers and great supports I had growing up in New Orleans.” Evan Stoudt, Sci Academy
In 2011 Evan began his first year with Sci Academy, a charter school in New Orleans’ Recovery School District, and the soon-to-be birthplace of Schoolrunner. Evan’s freshman scholars come into his classroom with widely varying math skills, many of them testing far below their grade level. Despite these challenging headwinds, Sci Academy scholars show incredible grit, taking ownership of their education and advocating for themselves in order to catch up to and exceed standard levels.
“I think kids needs a space where they are safe, they’re challenged, and they get the support they need to be their best self.” Evan Stoudt, Sci Academy
Sci Academy is able to support this grit by offering its scholars two math periods a day and keeping these classes small, thereby maximizing academic support. Each morning in their Advisory period, scholars are given “Scholar Slips” that update them on their grades, attendance, behaviors, and communications, providing teachers with the knowledge and opportunity to facilitate daily goal-oriented conversations with their students. Evan has seen how this information empowers students to take ownership of factors affecting their performance, such as completing missing assignments, while holding themselves and their teachers to a higher degree of accountability.
Evan has also witnessed how data transparency can transform the way students view their own scholastic achievement. Sci Academy provides its scholars with login credentials for Schoolrunner along with time for them to quickly and easily access updates on their entire academic progress.
“Having the credentials to log in themselves has transformed the way that kids are engaged in their own education. Prior to having Schoolrunner, grades were kind of a nebulous thing … kids weren’t sure exactly what they were graded on, how to make up their grades, or what their grades even were. Once we started routinely using progress reports, Scholar Slips with grades on them, and scholar credentials, kids became aware of their performance and now take action to get the highest grades that they can.” Evan Stoudt, Sci Academy
Before the implementation (read: invention) of Schoolrunner at Sci Academy, student data for teachers lived mostly in spreadsheets, gradebooks, and the student information system. Starting out as a new teacher, Evan was excited to enter his students’ progress into his spreadsheets, using pivot tables and conditional formatting to tease out trends and spot gaps in instruction. The only problem he faced was time. Data entry became so cumbersome that Evan wasn’t able to gather enough actionable information by the time the next quiz or assessment was already in front of his scholars.
“If [data entry] is super complicated or overly cumbersome, even if it’s really important, it might not get done.” Evan Stoudt, Sci Academy
Evan’s dilemma confirmed an issue that Schoolrunner had already identified: For many new teachers, significant barriers to swift data entry and analysis can easily get them started down a road to frustration. Schoolrunner’s quick and easy grade and assessment entry with GradeCam has allowed Evan and his fellow teachers to move away from data entry and spend time on what’s going right, what’s going wrong, and what their next moves need to be. Reflecting on the three years spent growing alongside Schoolrunner, Evan marvels at how some of the features he now uses on a daily basis simply did not exist a few short years ago.
“There are features that I use on a daily basis that I don’t even think about how awesome they are. Like the advisory page, the dashboards … Attendance is really easy and the Course Page is a really nifty feature. Type in your name, click on your course page, and out pop all your scholars’ grades. You hover over their names and there are their assessments.” Evan Stoudt, Sci Academy
Although Evan’s journey in education, much like Schoolrunner’s, is only now beginning, new and exciting things are on his horizon. Next school year, Sci Academy’s charter organization, Collegiate Academies, is opening a new high school and has chosen Evan to be its founding principal. While extremely excited and honored for this great opportunity, Evan maintains that he won’t give up his place in front of the classroom too quickly: “They’re having to kind of pry me out of my classroom,” Evan stated, as he mentioned his plan to continue teaching a few periods of Math in his new position.
Schoolrunner appreciates its special connection with Evan and Sci Academy, as their growth and continual learning influence and are mirrored by one another. We at Schoolrunner are honored to be a part of their successes, and constantly seek to improve our school management system so that we may support teachers like Evan and their never-ending goal: instilling a love of learning in those they serve.