Kelly Smith, Prenda CEO, on Microschooling & the Future of K-12 Learning

Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter
Share on
LinkedIn
+

This week on “The Learning Curve,” Cara and Gerard are joined by Kelly Smith, founder and CEO of Prenda, a company that helps create flexible learning environments known as microschools. Often described as the “reinvention of the one-room school house,” microschools combine homeschooling, online education, smaller class sizes, mixed age-level groupings, flipped classrooms, and personalized learning. Kelly shares what inspired him to launch Prenda in 2018, and how the COVID-19 pandemic has catapulted microschools to fame. They discuss how Prenda ensures teacher preparation in core academic areas, holds teachers accountable for student outcomes, and works to bridge achievement gaps.

Stories of the Week: A new report from Eric Hanushek and Ludger Woessmann projects that school closures could cost the U.S. economy over $14.2 trillion by the end of the century. Idaho Gov. Brad Little announced $150 million in funding to public schools and parents for COVID-19 relief, including direct payments to families for educational materials, devices, and services. In The Atlantic, scholars discuss the pros and cons of families’ increasing propensity to consider alternatives to public schools, as a result of COVID.

Interview Guest

Kelly Smith is the Founder and CEO of Prenda (prendaschool.com), an education company that helps people run microschools out of their homes. He has been obsessed with learning and building since childhood – from a neighborhood baseball card business to a rap album to a line of cleaning products to high energy laser physics. After earning a master’s degree in nuclear fusion from MIT, Kelly served in engineering and marketing roles at various technology companies, before selling a small software business in clean energy. He started volunteering with an after-school code club at the local public library, helping kids learn computer programming, and he was so excited about the power of self-learning that he started a micro-school around his kitchen table in January 2018. Kelly lives in Mesa, Arizona, with his wife and four children.

*NEW DAY, NEW TIME!*
Season Two of “The Learning Curve” airs on Wednesdays at 12 pm ET each week.
The next episode will air on Wednesday, September 23nd, 2020 at 12 pm ET with guest Jung Chang, author of the best-selling books Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China and Mao: The Unknown Story.

Tweet of the Week:

News Links:

New Report Estimates School Closures’ Long-Term Impact on the U.S. Economy at More Than $14 Trillion

https://www.the74million.org/new-report-estimates-school-closures-long-term-impact-on-the-u-s-economy-at-more-than-14-trillion/

Gov. Little announces nearly $150 million to be directed to Idaho schools, students and families

https://www.ktvb.com/article/news/education/gov-little-discusses-education-funding-with-idaho-educators-parents/277-1118b5e6-c7d3-4db7-a94c-b0b0cd215d84

The Atlantic: The Pandemic Has Parents Fleeing From Schools—Maybe Forever

https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2020/09/homschooling-boom-pandemic/616303/

Get Updates on Our Education Research

Related Posts

Francine Klagsbrun on Golda Meir’s Leadership and the State of Israel

This week on The Learning Curve, Francine Klagsbrun, author of "Lioness: Golda Meir and the Nation of Israel," discusses the remarkable life and legacy of the woman who left Kiev as a child, grew up in Milwaukee, emigrated to Mandatory Palestine, was a signatory to the declaration of independence for the state of Israel, and rose to become that nation's fourth prime minister.

Hillsdale’s Dr. Kathleen O’Toole on K-12 Classical Education

Dr. O'Toole explores Hillsdale's mission and its impact on K-12 education, delving into classical education, Greco-Roman ideals, Enlightenment principles, and the college’s efforts to enhance education. She discusses the challenges faced in exporting Hillsdale's model to K-12 public schooling, critiques of American education, and the role of the liberal arts in fostering academic unity amidst societal divisions.

National Alliance’s Nina Rees on Charter Public Schools in America

Prof. Albert Cheng and Charlie Chieppo interview Nina Rees from the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools on policy gains, charter school growth, challenges, debates, federal spending, and academic recommendations.

Harvard Prof. Leo Damrosch on Jonathan Swift & Gulliver’s Travels

Harvard Prof. Leo Damrosch discusses Jonathan Swift's satirical genius, political critiques, and literary legacy. He emphasizes Swift's wit, insights, and commitment to liberty, and closes the interview with a reading from his book, Jonathan Swift: His Life and His World.

Vanderbilt’s Dr. Carol Swain on U.S. History, Race, & 1776 Unites

Dr. Carol Swain, a political scientist, discusses her background, experiences with discrimination, faith's role in justice, and her work with 1776 Unites and public intellectuals on The Learning Curve podcast.

Leslie Klinger on Sherlock Holmes, Horror Stories, & Halloween

Mr. Klinger discusses Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes, Edgar Allan Poe's influence on the detective genre, and the significance of 19th-century horror stories such as Dracula, Frankenstein, and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde in popular culture.

Pioneer’s U.S. History & Civics Book with Chris Sinacola

Chris Sinacola discusses Pioneer's new book "Restoring the City on a Hill: U.S. History & Civics in America's Schools" based on U.S. K-12 history and civics education, highlighting declining standards, leadership importance, crisis, primary sources, and state profiles, underscoring academic content's value.

Prof. Jeff Broadwater on George Mason, Federalism, & the Bill of Rights

Prof. Broadwater delves into Mason's views on constitutionalism, federalism, leadership among Anti-Federalists, and concerns regarding emerging commercial interests. He emphasizes Mason's belief in civic virtue as the bedrock of American self-governance and even provides a reading from his biography on George Mason.

Former D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty on School Reform

Former D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty discusses his education reforms with Michelle Rhee, addressing DCPS challenges, politics, leadership transitions, and teacher unions in urban education reform.

UCLA’s Prof. James Stigler on Teaching & Learning Math

Professor Stigler discusses the enduring teaching and learning challenges in U.S. STEM education, international student achievement, math pedagogy debates, and international standardized tests. He explains possible strategies for mitigating COVID-19-related learning loss.

UK’s Laura Thompson on Agatha Christie, Queen of Crime Mystery

In this week's episode of The Learning Curve, guest co-hosts Mariam Memarsadeghi and Mary Connaughton interview Laura Thompson, author of "Agatha Christie: A Mysterious Life." Ms. Thompson discusses into Agatha Christie's life, her iconic characters, and her impact on the mystery genre, including adaptations of her works in film and theater, as well as her mysterious 1926 disappearance. The interview concludes with a reading from Thompson's biography of Agatha Christie.

John Steele Gordon on America’s Economic Rise

This week on The Learning Curve, guest co-hosts Charlie Chieppo and Derrell Bradford interview John Steele Gordon, the author of 10 books on business, economic, and technology history. They discuss the keys to America’s transformation into the world’s foremost economic power and its economic prospects for competitiveness in the twenty-first century.

Dr. Ramachandra Guha on Gandhi’s Enduring Legacy

This week on The Learning Curve, guest co-hosts Charlie Chieppo and Mariam Memarsadeghi interview writer and biographer Dr. Ramachandra Guha. The author of the definitive two-volume biography of Mohandas K. Gandhi, Guha discusses Gandhi’s formative educational experiences, spirituality, political leadership, and philosophy of nonviolent resistance.

Paul Vallas on Chicago, School Reform, and Teachers’ Unions

This week on The Learning Curve, guest co-hosts Charlie Chieppo and Mary Tamer, executive director of Democrats for Education Reform, Massachusetts, speak with Paul Vallas, former CEO of the Chicago Public Schools and a candidate for mayor of that city earlier this year.

U-Ark. Prof. Albert Cheng on Classical Education & School Choice

This week on The Learning Curve, guest co-hosts Charlie Chieppo and Alisha Searcy speak with Albert Cheng, an Assistant Professor at the Department of Education Reform in the College of Education and Health Professions at the University of Arkansas. Professor Cheng talks about the importance of classical education for guiding educational philosophy and practice and shaping the character of students.