Education Entrepreneurs: Eric Westendorf and Alix Guerrier

August 28, 2012

Having played sports for most of my life I’d consider myself a master of the “high-fives” – there wasn’t one I hadn’t tried. That is, until I met LearnZillion co-founders Eric Westendorf and Alix Guerrier who introduced me to their aptly named “aggressive high-five.” My first encounter with the aggressive high-five came this past June when I was lucky enough to snag an invite to LearnZillion’s TeachFest. For this event Eric and Alix, formed a Dream Team of 123 phenomenal teachers from all over the country, and brought them together to celebrate great teaching, learn from one another, and develop outstanding Common Core-aligned material for LearnZillion’s free online library. Today, LearnZillion launched more than 1400 free video lessons and professional development resources created by these outstanding teachers.   

Each member of the Dream Team was enthusiastically committed to scaling their impact, and spent three days (and some late nights!) learning, creating, and collaborating. This community of teachers was brimming with passion, excitement and an irrepressible hunger to learn, explore and share – a true embodiment of Eric and Alix’s work through LearnZillion. It was during a session at TeachFest that Eric demonstrated one of his favorite moves: the aggressive high-five. Had Noah Webster seen this, his dictionary entry might have read something like this:

Aggressive high-five: /ah-gres-iv hahy-fahyv/ n. an exuberant transfer of passion, shared camaraderie and excitement characterized by hard-hitting hand slaps and accompanied by loud whooping noises and extremely animated facial expressions

The aggressive high-five quickly went viral, and it was only a short amount of time before I started seeing Dream Team members aggressively high-fiving each other in group meetings, during late night working sessions, and even in the midst of meals. It didn’t matter if they were new teachers or veterans, taught at district or charter schools – the aggressive high-five simply celebrated their shared passion for excellent teaching and their commitment to this work.

Through LearnZillion’s Dream Team, Alix and Eric have begun to harness the skill and ability of great teachers to build a community where collective expertise can be pooled and freely shared with one another and with other teachers, parents and students across the country. And by leveraging LearnZillion’s learning platform of video lessons, assessments and progress reporting, great teachers are extending their reach beyond the classroom, multiplying the number of students they impact each year.

In May alone, LearnZillion’s site received 18,000 total visits from people accessing the 400+ Common Core-aligned math lessons available. Of these visits more than 40% came from repeat visitors, suggesting that people find the site very valuable and are coming back to learn more. These same visitors hail from 90 countries and all 50 U.S. states, and DC. Domestically, organizations such as, The Achievement Network, and over 50 different school districts have linked directly to the site, evidence that LearnZillion is a valuable resource to schools and districts across the country.

LearnZillion has made great strides towards ensuring every student has the opportunity to learn from a quality teacher and continues to do so on a daily basis. This summer LearnZillion and the Dream Team have been diligently working to create 2,000 new math and ELA video lessons, and today the first batch of new lessons goes live! You can explore this amazing library of lessons here.

By working with education entrepreneurs like Eric and Alix, NewSchools aims to transform public education for low-income children regardless of where they live. As these entrepreneurs continue to innovate and create you can count on us to be there providing support, encouragement and an endless supply of aggressive high-fives. Check out the video below for more on what makes Eric and Alix education entrepreneurs.