Tell us about yourself.
I think I’d have to describe myself as something of a dilettante — or maybe jack-of-all-trades is the kinder term. I studied writing, theatre, and music in college, and have a graduate degree in film scoring.
I’ve spent most of my professional career as a screenwriter (with some mild and fleeting success) and as a designer and front-end web developer. I just really enjoy making things, and that passion seems to bubble through in a lot of different areas — I’m not really content if I’m not spending my time hand-crafting something, but once I am, the medium almost doesn’t matter.
I joined Higher Ground as a founding member and have loved being able to have a voice in crafting our brands from their inception. I’ve had the privilege to come up with the initial logos and brand concepts for all of our brands so far — at least those we didn’t acquire! — and it’s been quite a ride. I’ve learned a ton along the way — about graphic design, about marketing, about social media and branding and web design — and hope to continue to learn as much as I can.
Within our growing design and marketing teams, I’m finding more and more of a need and a niche on the web development side, and concurrently I’m becoming more passionate about that particular type of work. I really love breathing life into designs and making them fully interactive, and that’s becoming more and more of my M.O.
What inspires you about education?
I’m inspired by education’s ability to really shape souls, for lack of a better term. It’s not exactly novel to say, but I think it’s something we (as a society) routinely underemphasize. I personally had a pretty decent education growing up, at least in terms of current educational standards — I went to Montessori schools as a youngster, and a high-quality IB program in high school, then a college that really emphasized individualization — but I still look back with regret at the things I didn’t get out of my education.
For instance, I was a total failure at math in high school, and abhorred it from then on — I even chose my college, in part, because I’d never have to take a math course there! But I sometimes wonder: if I had just had a really inspiring math teacher, would it have turned out differently? Or if I’d been able to take a coding class and seen first-hand how math might help me make things, how might that have changed my relationship to the subject?
How did you discover Montessori?
While I was a Montessori student in my kindergarten years, and have always had a good association with it, I hadn’t really encountered it first-hand in my adult life until I started to work with the founding members of Higher Ground at our previous endeavor, LePort Schools.
My wife was also a teacher at LePort, and while she taught older students in their junior high program, she would report to me about how wonderful the children who came out of LePort's Montessori classrooms were.
I think, more than anything, these were students who had amazing character — it wasn’t that they had a deeper skill in any one area, though that was often true. It was that they nearly all had a deeply first-hand sense of themselves — something I don’t think I had until my late 20s! I knew there must be something right about this Montessori thing.
How does Montessori inspire your daily life?
These days, I’m immersed in Montessori! I now have a son who is nearly two and is attending a Guidepost school, and as such I’ve been given a whole new perspective on the value of a good education. Being able to see first-hand how Montessori is already shaping my son’s soul for the better is an incredible and inspiring thing to see, and definitely the thing that gives me the energy to put my all into our efforts here at Higher Ground.
Do you have a favorite Montessori quote?
The best one I’ve read recently, and have on the mind, is: “Progress is not linear,” which is something she apparently said during a conference in London in 1946. It’s sort of a precursor to the later Steve Jobs observation that you can only really connect the dots in your life looking backward — that you should just run toward doing what you love, and the narrative of your life will sort itself out.
I’ve found there are no straight lines in life, and I loved that Montessori herself could observe that in her own field.
What have you learned working at Higher Ground thus far?
Beyond the specifics of any one area of my work, I’ve learned the absolute value of having an iterative mindset and approach to design. We move fast here, and it’s easy to be a perfectionist about everything. I’ve found that it’s far healthier — and ultimately, better for the company’s products — to put one's work out into the world as quickly as one can, and then constantly work to improve It in real time, with real data and a real feedback loop at your disposal.
What do you enjoy most working with your teammates?
The sheer idealism of everyone! I’m constantly inspired by those around me.
What are your passions, interests, and hobbies?
In terms of my work at Higher Ground, I love applying modern design and technology to the field of Montessori, which has traditionally been a bit fusty about its use of tech (and a bit mom-and-pop about its design aesthetic). I think, applied in the right way, well-designed software can bring a bespoke, elevated, highly customized experience to our customers — and perhaps even, one day, to our students.
In my off time, I love watching film and TV, and consuming narrative arts of all sorts. Holy smokes, we live in such a golden age for television — I can’t get enough! In the last year or so, I’ve also gotten really into cooking and making craft cocktails at home. While I wouldn’t pretend to be the best at it, it's a great way to be creative without many stakes, which can be a nice way to blow off steam after a week in the design/development world.