It’s hard to believe another year has passed since our last update, but what a year it was!
You’re reading a recent edition of The Playbook, a BenchK12 newsletter. Subscribe to receive updates and stay in touch with our team at benchk12.com/subscribe.
We’re excited to share with you what we’ve been up to and what’s ahead in 2022.
The challenges of COVID-19 continue to be felt worldwide. It’s no secret that K12 education has been hit especially hard. Over the past two years, educators and families have gone to great lengths to ensure learning continues and students feel supported. Administrators are balancing constantly changing public health recommendations (or a complete lack thereof) with the desire to provide in-person instruction and attention. The strain of the pandemic on an already strained K12 workforce has resulted in a nationwide teacher shortage that has reached a crisis level.
In this time of great challenge and change, we believe that there has never been a stronger case for BenchK12. As a team comprised of educators, administrators, and parents, we personally understand and have experienced the K12 hiring process and challenges. We deeply feel (and are motivated by) the urgency of this problem. It’s time to modernize K12 credentialing using the best technology has to offer. That is BenchK12’s mission and we’re so grateful to have you on this journey with us.
-Brooke Barrett, Founder and President
Momentum & Progress
- 🏆 Winning. BenchK12 was awarded a competitive Innovation Grant from Launch Minnesota, with just 12 other MN-based companies. You can read the full details here.
- 💪 Getting Stronger. We’ve added new members to the BenchK12 team!
Sandy Maynard joins us as Vice President of Experience. She will be leading our pilots starting this summer working directly with our school partners. She’s an experienced and empathetic former Chief Technology Officer who has experienced “all the frustrations and joys of edtech!”
Jen MacDonald is our Director of Voice & Brand. Jen has spent nearly a decade helping education and technology leaders tell their stories using as little jargon as possible.
Elizabeth Gossens Eide rounds out our communications efforts as Vice President of Strategic Marketing. Liz thinks it’s about time we apply the best of technology to some of education’s most outdated systems!
Expertise & Asks
- 🚀 Invest in BenchK12’s Community Round. Venture capital invested only 2% of its funding into female-founded companies last year, despite female-founded companies outperforming markets in 2021. So we’re looking to our community, who understands this problem and knows and believes in us, to create momentum and invest in us through our community funding round. We’re using Wefunder to professionally manage the round and make our case to you and other potential investors in BenchK12. We have some exciting incentives and low-dollar entry points, as well as lots of resources on how to make smart “angel” investments. More to come!
- 📣 Spread the Word. If you can’t invest right now, please help get the word out about BenchK12. You can start by forwarding this message to anyone in your network who might be eager to help solve the hiring crisis in K12 education. Sharing this with just three folks and your endorsement would be a tremendous start!
- ✈️ Pilot partners. We’re finalizing our pilot partners for Summer 2022 now (SEAs, Regional Collaboratives, and LEAs are welcome!). We have two pathways they can choose from equity (paid model) and non-equity (free model). Interested in learning more? Let’s talk!
- 💬 Get Social with Us (virtually) Twitter | Instagram | Medium
- 💡 Our founder, Brooke, went to her first ASU+GSV Summit. She shares her tips for getting back into your conference groove and her takeaways from this year’s 13th(!!) summit.
- 👂 The Substitute Teacher Crisis is getting worse. Listen to this NPR news story on how a school service center in Illinois is confronting the challenge. [Surprise: Teacher credentialing is the long-term solution.]
- 📊 Employee Retention is a Top Priority for District Leaders. A new report from EducationElements and XanEdu finds employee retention beating out learning loss, mask mandates, and COVID-19.
- 💪 Substitutes in Camouflage? In New Mexico, members of the state’s National Guard have been called into the classroom to fill shortages. The result has been transformative for both students and their new teachers.
- 💰 It’s More Than the Money. Substitute teachers in DC recently got a small raise, but the district is realizing that’s not enough to recruit and retain top talent.
- 🧠 Get to know our brain trust. Our Advisory Board represents decades of experience in education and technology. The entire BenchK12 team gathered recently at our first all-team retreat, “Benchella”. We’ll be featuring some articles and videos featuring our advisory board members so you can learn more about each of them, why they are excited about BenchK12, and how they have been vital to our success.
- 🙏 Thank You, Shawn. We remain grateful for the contributions of our now former founding team member, Shawn, and wish her well in her future endeavors.
BenchK12 is building the future of work for educators, starting with substitute teachers. Why substitute teachers? We know that there is an immediate shortage and need for great substitute teachers and technology that helps schools and subs manage their entire career lifecycle. What’s out there today isn’t solving this problem.
So what does this actually look like in practice?
For our school partners, it means not just finding someone to fill a vacancy, but the *right* sub for your school, your classroom, and your students for 50% less than it costs today with a more streamlined vetting and onboarding process, AND smart analytics about how your subs are doing. For subs, it means one place to get quickly licensed/certified to substitute teach, a more personalized sub experience where you get to show who you are, what you are great at teaching, find all of the details for your sub role before you arrive in the classroom, and the opportunity for higher pay, advancement, and recognition for the important role you play in K12 education.
You can find a lot more information on our website or by watching this quick promo video.
You’re receiving The Playbook because at some point you made an impression on one or all of our team members. You are a great partner, colleague, friend, co-conspirator, inspiration, champion, or future collaborator and in order to build the best company — that truly empowers and serves the K12 educators and leaders who help our students realize their genius — we need a deep bench, with you on our team. We promise to keep these communications brief, but rich. You’ll hear from not only us but from our partners; firsthand insights into what we’re working on; milestones we’re reaching; asks for expertise; and shoutouts of gratitude.