the Learning Collective

The Learning Collective provides strategic planning and evaluation – including school quality reviews and assessments of new school applications – for charter schools, charter management organizations, charter authorizers, traditional public schools and school districts.

About Us

Launched in 2003 and working in over 10 states, The Learning Collective’s clients past and present include Academy of the City, Charter Schools Institute of the State University of New York, Chicago Public Schools’ Office of Innovation, Citizens of the World Charter Schools, Class Measures, College Board, Education Achievement Authority of Michigan, E.L. Haynes Public Charter School, Indiana Charter School Board, Inglewood Unified School District, Jefferson Parrish Public School System, Ketchum, Kingsmead College, LA’s Promise, Nevada Public Charter School Authority, New Jersey Department of Education, New York State Education Department, Parent Revolution, Pomona Unified School District, PUC Schools, SchoolWorks, Tiger Woods Learning Center, UCLA, Voices Academies, Washington State Charter School Commission, WISH Secondary and others.

Our Team

Adam Aberman

Adam Aberman

Founder, CEO

Adam is the CEO and Founder of The Learning Collective with 20+ years experience in education. Over the past 14 years, Adam has reviewed over 100 proposals for new charter schools in California, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Nevada, New Jersey, New York and Washington. Adam has led teams a team of reviewers on over 50 of those charter school applications, submitting the finalized application reviewers to boards of education. Adam has also evaluated over 150 current, K-12 charter schools nationally - in California, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Washington, and Washington DC - including lead for charter renewal inspection visits, charged with evaluating the school and writing the report that is submitted to authorizers. Previously, Adam was the Director of Global Digital Strategy for Ashoka’s Youth Venture, which helps teams of youth internationally launch socially responsible businesses and organizations. Prior to Ashoka, Adam was the Executive Director and Founder (and currently Board Member Emeritus) of icouldbe.org, the non-profit Internet-based career mentoring program that has served over 25,000 teens and e-mentors nationwide. Before establishing icouldbe.org, Adam was a Regional Coordinator for the New York City Department of Education. Adam began his career in education as a Spanish bilingual public school teacher in Los Angeles. Adam received a B.A. from Vassar College and a Master in Public Policy from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government. A frequent speaker at conferences, Adam has also won numerous awards including Cause Marketing Silver Halo Award for Best Use of Social Media (2009) and International Computerworld Magazine Honors Finalist Award (2002). Adam and his family are based in Los Angeles.

Nathaniel Calhoun

Nathaniel Calhoun

Nathaniel Calhoun helps guide Singularity University’s approach to changemaking and impact as a founding member of its Global Grand Challenge Faculty. He moderates Executive Programs for SU and is the Director of Global Grand Challenges for SU’s 10-week Global Solutions Program. Nathaniel closely tracks innovations in governance technologies, emerging decentralized and cooperative business models as well as the highly disruptive trend of platform cooperatives. He specializes in helping businesses and governments to understand how to leverage and prepare for the growth of these and related trends. Nathaniel is actively creating and implementing digital technologies at a global scale to help alleviate poverty and to drive business literacy and digital and financial services in Sub-Saharan Africa and South East Asia. He does this work through CODE Innovation, a consulting company he founded in 2007 to help development work organizations like UNICEF and DfID to use web and mobile technologies more effectively in their education programming. Code Innovation has received a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to further develop their Self Help Group digital platform. Nathaniel has two decades of experience in the field of education, training, facilitation, moderation and teaching. Nathaniel is based in Bali.

Jo Cheadle

Jo Cheadle

Jo Cheadle leads improvement and change processes in schools and districts across the U.S. Her work includes: senior leadership coaching and mentoring; the development of effective learning and teaching; partnerships with parents and the community; the development of professional learning communities; creation and implementation of teacher evaluation processes; curriculum design and implementation; and support for English learners. Jo’s School Quality Review (SQR) work in the U.S. has included the creation and development of authority-wide systems in Chicago, Detroit, Minneapolis, Montgomery (AL), New York City, Pomona and Sacramento. Jo has led SQRs in Alabama, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Michigan, Missouri, Nevada, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Texas, Virginia and Washington. In the U.K., where Jo was born and raised and began her career as teacher then principal, she participated as lead or team reviewer in over 100 reviews for the U.K. Office for Standards in Education. Jo currently resides in California and Michigan.

Joshua Cook

Joshua Cook

Joshua is a Data Scientist specializing in Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence, Big Data, and Data Pipelines and Infrastructure. Joshua taught high school mathematics in South Los Angeles for the better part of a decade. As Department Chair of Green Dot Public Schools' Animo Justice, Joshua built an Algebra I program targeted at English Language Learners. Following this, he taught graduate students earning their Masters of Education at UCLA. In 2012, Joshua returned to school to study computational mathematics and computer science. Since completing his second course of study, Joshua has developed geo-spatial predictive models for Inrix, written Deep Learning Image Recognition curriculum for Udacity, and designed infrastructure for Udacity's Self-Driving Car Nanodegree. In 2017, he returned to the classroom as the Data Science Immersive instructor at General Assembly in Los Angeles. At General Assembly, he is currently part of an online-inclass hybrid program, teaching graduate-level Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence curriculum simultaneously to students on multiple campuses across the West Coast. In 2017, Apress published his first book, Docker for Data Science, on using the open-source technology Docker to build scalable data pipelines. He is a highly-skilled Python programmer and SQL Database Administrator, but is also able to explain the complex work of the data scientist to the layperson and to train stakeholders in the use of complex systems. Joshua is based in Santa Monica, California.

Natasha Howard, PhD

Natasha Howard, PhD

Dr. Natasha Howard most recently served as the Managing Director of Program at the SUNY Charter Schools Institute, the largest university-based authorizer in the U.S. Responsible for both the programmatic and strategic work related to the ongoing evaluation of SUNY’s 150+ authorized charter schools, Natasha led the development of Institute practices and protocols for school evaluations and high stakes renewal decision-making. Prior to joining the Institute team, Natasha launched a capacity-building initiative for nonprofit organizations while serving as the senior director for partner relations in the New York City Department of Education’s portfolio office where she also reviewed applications for new district and charter schools. Her research background includes studies of anti-bullying programs as well as teacher efficacy and expectation. Having completed undergraduate studies at the University of North Carolina, Natasha remains a loyal Tar Heel. She earned her doctorate (Ph.D., Counseling Psychology) from the University of Georgia before completing a fellowship in Clinical-Community Psychology at Yale University. Natasha also holds a Masters of Arts from Boston College. Natasha is based in New Jersey.

Hillary Johnson, EdD

Hillary Johnson, EdD

Dr. Hillary Johnson is a committed educator who began her career in education over 20 years ago via Teach For America as a Spanish-bilingual and Reading Recovery teacher. Most recently, Hillary served as the Chief Academic Officer/Chief Learning Officer for Citizens of the World Charter Schools, a national network of intentionally diverse charter schools. As the founding CAO, she crafted a compelling and inspiring academic vision while strengthening the network’s capacity for organizational learning. Following the start-up phase, she founded the Chief Learning Officer role, with a focus on teaching for understanding, social emotional learning and cultivation of a learning organization. Hillary has assessed over 65 current and proposed schools nationally (in California, Louisiana, New York, Ohio and Pennsylvania), including participating on many SUNY school visit renewal teams. She has evaluated the effectiveness of schools on issues including schools’ use of assessment data, curricular development and alignment, instructional leadership, classroom instruction, professional development, governance and parental involvement. Hillary earned her doctorate at the Harvard Graduate School of Education as a member of its Urban Superintendents Program. Hillary is based in Los Angeles.

Amber Leage

Amber Leage

Amber Leage, M.Ed,. provides strategic planning, program development, and writing services to schools throughout the United States and abroad. She has been an educator for 14 years, serving in various roles including consultant, school leader, IB coordinator, school evaluator, literacy specialist, and teacher. She has served as an educator and instructional leader in inner-city public, charter, bilingual, private, and international schools. Her work includes leading professional development, school reviews, and facilitating school improvement in South America, Central America, and the Middle East. As a school leader her work led to three schools adopting the International Baccalaureate model, establishing a university partnership, and consulted schools in creating school improvement plans, adopting of a new mission, establishing data-informed instructional programs, project-based learning, Reader and Writer’s workshops and the Common Core. She graduated from Santa Clara University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English Literature. She has earned a Masters in Educational Leadership from Concordia University, and holds both a teaching credential and administrative credential. Amber is based in Oakland, CA.

"Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away."

ANTOINE DE SAINT-EXUPÉRY

Our Work

From the Blog

Report from 1st Independent Charter School Symposium

 

TLC attended the nation’s first conference exclusively for independently run (i.e. not managed by a Charter Management Organization or Education Management Organization) charter schools – the 2017 Independent Charter School Symposium. It was also a pleasure to moderate the “Charter Authorization: Road to Greatness or Mediocrity?” on the role of authorizers in the charter school sector and whether authorizers are stifling innovation.

Here are some lessons learned, and ideas generated by, the thoughtful conversations and attendees:

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Half-Day Strategic Planning Most Valuable

Through the California Department of Education’s Public Charter Schools Grant Program, The Learning Collective has conducted external reviews of 27 charter schools with another 5 reviews planned for Fall 2017. Going beyond the requirements by the California Department of Education, we have added a half-day strategic planning session which has proven to be invaluable to the schools. Watch these video testimonials from principals.

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Strategic Planning with AoC

The Learning Collective has partnered with Academy of the City on a number of projects over the past four years from charter renewal application assistance to school quality reviews. It is the strategic planning process we developed and facilitated, as well as the final product, of which we are the most proud.

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Lessons Learned from the Midwest

From inner-city Detroit to rural Minnesota, The Learning Collective has been hard at work over the past several years evaluating the efficacy of charter and traditional public schools in the Midwest. There are a few things we’ve learned in the process.

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Technology Crash Landing

logo-singularityhub-blue31  Singularity University was started by some of Silicon Valley’s top companies – Google, Cisco and others – to teach individuals, businesses, institutions, investors, NGOs and governments how to leverage the newest technologies to benefit mankind.  Singularity published this article, written by Nathaniel Calhoun and based on an interview with Adam Aberman (both Members of The Learning Collective), on the failure of technology in public schools to build students’ critical thinking skills.

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Rethinking Mentoring

mentoring-useBefore Adam Aberman founded The Learning Collective, he launched and ran ICouldBe.org, an e-mentoring, career development, and college guidance system for low-income teens.  Teens select their e-mentors, from around the country, with whom to work on 100% web-based projects over the course of an academic year.  ICouldBe.org has served about 20,000 teens with about 10,000 online volunteers.

Learn more in a Vassar Quarterly article featuring Adam and his work.

Writing & Discourse Not Happening at Blended Schools

Detroit   The Learning Collective was recently in Detroit working with four of the city’s traditional public and charter schools.  Several of those schools rely heavily on digital learning programs.

The Learning Collective has noticed that in these and other blended learning schools there are two areas that tend to get left behind: writing and discourse.

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Data Management & Analysis

The Learning Collective recently worked with Citizen of the World Charter Schools to improve its data management systems.  Citizen of the Worlds Charter Schools (CWC) is a network of charter schools growing from two schools in California to five schools in New York.  CWC needed to enhance its approach to data storage and use of data to better inform instruction and school practices.  So CWC turned to The Learning Collective (TLC) to determine the right student assessment system and student information system.  This was TLC’s second engagement with CWC and we look forward to continuing to work together. 

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