People on the Flocabulary team have diverse backgrounds, but share a common goal. We are committed to not only increasing academic achievement, but to fostering a love of learning in every student.
Since co-founding Flocabulary in 2004, Alex has been responsible for defining the company's strategic vision and building the business from the ground up. A musician by training, Alex has bootstrapped Flocabulary into a rapidly-growing, mission-driven edtech company that now reaches millions of students.
A regular author and speaker on education and entrepreneurship, Alex has written for The Hill, Pop Sugar, Entrepreneur and EdSurge, and has spoken at conferences and events including Smart Cities, Creative Mornings, TedX and Learn Launch. Alex is a member of the Nationswell Council and has served as a mentor for 4.0 Schools and the StartEd Accelerator. He is also the creator of Big Idea Week, a community-driven learning program for elementary and middle schools. Alex graduated from Tufts University and lives in Brooklyn, NY.
Blake co-founded Flocabulary in 2004, having dreamt up the idea as a high school student who loved music and disliked flashcards. As the Chief Product Officer, he sets the product and creative vision of Flocabulary. Having originally written many Flocabulary songs himself, Blake now oversees a 40+ member team of in-house and freelance artists, researchers, writers and product managers. He and his team work to ensure that everything Flocabulary produces improves learning outcomes and makes students and teachers smile.
Blake has given keynote addresses at education conferences and high school graduations, and has worked with students across the country as a tutor, workshop leader, counselor and coach. He received his B.A. in English from the University of Pennsylvania. He lives with his fiancee in Brooklyn.
Francis makes moving images. Since joining our roster of freelance artists in 2011, Francis has produced over 120 videos with Flocabulary. He studied illustration, animation and photography at the Savannah College of Art and Design and has over eight years of experience teaching extra curricular art, language and computer classes to children K'-5.
Francis works remotely from his personal studio and considers his work a satisfying and surreal form of professional penpalhood.
Ike Ramos is both a K12 Partnerships Manager and Artist at Flocabulary. Ike attended the University of Texas at Austin, where he received his bachelor's and honed his skills as a DJ, producer and MC. While in Austin, he released several projects and shared stages with many hip hop legends including Method Man, Guru, Buckshot, Lil Wayne, Rakim and others. After graduating from UT, Ike began teaching and coaching at the high school level. Soon after, he received his master's in educational leadership from Texas State University, and transitioned into school administration. He has served as both an assistant principal and principal at both the elementary and secondary level. Ike currently resides in Los Angeles, CA, where he loves creating new music, playing basketball, going to the beach, and spending time with family and friends.
Greg helps develop the Flocabulary website and derives great satisfaction connecting students to innovative content and building tools to improve learning. Hacker School brought him to New York City, but Greg hails from Southern California, has a BA in History from Boston University and even lived in Managua for some time. His last business card read "Espresso Preparation Specialist" and though he still roasts his own coffee beans, brew quality now comes second to writing clean, maintainable code. When not coding or brewing, you might find him cooking elaborate meals or adding to his list of places visited.
Lila started working at Flocab as an intern, and is now returning as a full-time employee, as both the youngest and oldest member of Flocabulary’s tech team. She is a native Brooklynite, born less than 2 miles from flocabulary’s office, and has not since been able to escape the city. Any time she is not coding she spends playing guitar and singing in various hip-hop and rock bands. She hopes to form a band as an old woman and release an album that brings her ultimate fame and success.
Rachel comes to Flocabulary from the world of nonprofit theater, where she spent years reading new plays and developing tie-in materials for schools. She is delighted to bring her passions for research, writing, and art to the creative department at Flocab. Before moving to Brooklyn she earned a BA in English from Wesleyan University and an MFA in Dramaturgy and Dramatic Criticism from the Yale School of Drama. In her spare time she does freelance dramaturgy, compulsively buys books, makes wedding cakes for her friends, and attempts the New York Times crossword puzzle.
Kenéz Vetési-Szabados was born and raised in a small town called Gyergyószentmiklós, on the eastern side of Transylvania. Twelve years ago, he found his passion for editing and animation when he accidentally landed a job at a local TV station. Working on Flocabulary's educational videos for children gives him joy and an extra boost with each new project. Besides his work, he spends his time with his fiancée, trimming his bonsai trees and playing with his two cats.
Kirby oversees Flocabulary’s Sales, Marketing, and Customer Success teams. He launched Flocabulary’s strategic sales strategy, building on the company’s success in engaging tens of thousands of teachers and schools across the country.
Prior to joining Flocabulary, Kirby built and ran the sales organization for TenMarks, acquired by Amazon in 2013 and integrated into Amazon’s K12 education business. Kirby’s teams at TenMarks and Amazon grew revenue at a 200% clip year or year. In addition to running the sales organizations for early stage ed-tech companies, Kirby has advised several ed-tech ventures, including the first class of companies in LearnLaunchX, Boston's education startup incubator.
Kirby actively volunteers in his hometown of Needham, MA having served as a board member of the Needham Education Foundation and a founding board member of TEC Connections Academy, a Commonwealth Virtual School. Kirby graduated from Middlebury College with degrees in Political Science and Spanish.
After spending much of her adult life going up and down I-95, from Washington DC to Boston, Stephanie has finally returned to her hometown of NYC. Post-college, Stephanie taught in Baltimore City and received her Masters in Early Childhood Education from Johns Hopkins University. Her classroom was a very diverse environment, with students with a wide range of needs, including many English Language Learners. Stephanie herself is an 'ELL' (Swedish being her first language - Hej!) so she tapped into what worked for her as a child and used music in her classroom every day to overcome language barriers, meaningfully engage her students, and create a fun and loving environment. Now, she gets to help teachers all over I-95 (and beyond!) implement music in their classrooms and instruction as well.
Noah Souder-Russo aka NSR is a native New Yorker, DJ, rapper, producer and performer. As a DJ, he has toured around the world including a North American tour with Icona Pop and a three month residency in Tokyo. As a rapper he has released two studio albums and shared the stage with Kid Cudi, The LOX and T.O.K, to name a few. He currently lives and works in Brooklyn, NY.
Justin is a born and raised New Yorker from The Bronx. After graduating with a Masters in Multicultural Education from SUNY New Paltz, he decided to return to his (and Hip-Hop’s) birthplace in the Bronx to work in the startup world. Following his journey as a recruiter for a few years, he decided to return to his true passion in Education here at Flocabulary. Outside of work, Justin loves: dirty-water hot dogs, complaining about the Knicks, video games, and writing petitions to the MTA to re-activate the 9-train.
Secretly, Chris wants to write comedy. Why? After being raised in New York City, he has experienced wonders. From a young age, he found himself deep in the hip hop culture. That included making beats, writing rhymes, and shooting music videos. Though he earned a baseball scholarship in high school, he took the clear and natural next step by not taking it and pursuing a degree in audio. This landed him an engineer position at a popular music studio working with the likes of Pharaohe Monch, Pete Rock, and Anthony Hamilton. He then transitioned to making audiobooks for Random House, Penguin, Scholastic, Audible, and many others. Along the way he spent many hours working with Woody Allen, Kate Winslet, Paul Giamatti, and Al Franken. In his free time, he is passionate about cinematography and explaining what that is. Flocabulary is the perfect junction for all of these experiences. He is a die-hard soccer fan, and an audiophile who is passionate about motion and education.
Rachel studied English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University and began searching for a way to apply her passions for writing, education and subtly jamming out to music at her desk. She has found her niche in the creative department at Flocabulary, where she researches topics from poetry to geography and helps bring videos and accompanying curricular materials to life. Before coming on board at Flocabulary, Rachel worked as an instructional designer, planning and writing interactive online and mobile training simulations about behavioral health topics. She's excited to be working with the talented Flocab team to create a student experience that's as engaging as it is educational. When she's not in the office, you can find Rachel curled up with book, in the audience at a play or jogging slowly through parks.
Before moving to New York in 2013, Rebekah taught 6th grade English Language Arts as a Teach for America Rhode Island Corps Member. She holds a BA from Brown University and recently completed an MFA in creative writing at The New School. Rebekah is thrilled to be a part of the creative department at Flocabulary, where she can combine her passions for writing and education.
Alex graduated from Barnard College in New York City, (and she remains a huge fan of her alma mater!) After college, she taught at a charter school in the South Bronx with Teach For America and then transitioned into the education technology world at Schoology. Alex is thrilled to be at Flocabulary in a role where she gets to support districts in adopting and making the most out of their subscription. Outside of work, Alex likes to explore restaurants, mentor a 10th grader, and spend time with family and friends.
Liat holds a BFA in graphic Design from RISD. Before moving to New York, Liat worked at a Cambridge startup, called Wistia where she picked up the basics of coding and learned to apply her traditional graphic design background to web and UX. With her time away from design, Liat enjoys rock climbing, doodling, and playing mafia.
Connecticut born, University of Richmond educated, and Brooklyn living, Katherine arrived on the education scene thanks to higher ed publishing. After starting in editorial up to her elbows in textbook manuscripts, she transitioned into the field and spent several years working directly with instructors and students selling digital learning resources. That experience delivered her to Flocab's doorstep eager and inspired to affect change even earlier in students' academic careers, and she's been in love ever since. When she's not championing customer success, Katherine can be found dangling from a trapeze bar deepening her affection for all things circus.
After earning a M.S. in Advertising from UIUC, Renee worked as a digital designer and part-time photographer in Chicago area. But her love of problem solving eventually led her to dedicate her career to web development and programming. Before joining Flocabulary, Renee worked for two years as a front-end developer at Urban Outfitters, Inc. When not working or learning how to write elegant code, she enjoys building fun programming projects, exploring museums, cooking spicy Szechuan food and running with her cat-like dog.
Chris was born on the Southside of Chicago, where music, art and culture nurtured his curiosity and motivated him to pick up the trumpet at an early age. After middle school in Chicago, he joined the A Better Chance program of Wilton, an organization that recruits inner city youths and provides the necessary resources for them to live in Wilton, Connecticut and attend Wilton High School.
After high school, Chris enrolled at Amherst College in Amherst, Massachusetts, where he continued to perform and study music as well as play Rugby. He was a member of The Amherst College Big Band Ensemble as well as a small jazz combo named Emanon. He also served as President of Jazz operations. During this time at Amherst, Chris also began experimenting with music production as well as sound design.
After graduating, he returned to Chicago and started off working as a high school english teacher. Shortly after, Chris took a job in operations at the Kellogg School of Management's Executive Education department. He additionally interned at night at a recording studio called Classick Studios. At Classick, Chris worked and trained with the studio's in house audio engineers, eventually leading to work with artists from all over Chicago.
Now that Chris has returned back to the East Coast, he is excited for the opportunity to work for Flocabulary. He truly believes in the power of hip hop and is ecstatic to promote such a phenomenal learning tool.
Emily has worked in the field of education for more than 15 years as an education director, classroom teacher, curriculum writer, and teaching artist. She has used theater and improvisation to help kids write about their own lives with Streetside Stories in San Francisco, worked with new teachers who returned from teaching abroad and wanted to be NYC public school teachers with the Peace Corps Fellows Program, and written curricula for artist residencies used nationwide with Literature to Life. In her most recent work on the PBSKids shows The Electric Company and Odd Squad (premiering November 2014!) Emily got to spend lots of time thinking about ways to make learning things like punctuation, subtraction, reading for context clues, and beginning fractions fun-- and she is thrilled to be continuing that journey with the incredibly talented and creative folks at Flocabulary. Emily also recently completed building the Lego Death Star (over 3,800 pieces) and she loves Ira Sleeps Over by Bernard Waber more than pretty much any other picture book though that is a really hard thing to for her to choose so please don't make her do that.
Jince helps drive the vision and evolution of Flocabulary by leveraging his breadth of experience in User Experience, Design Strategy, and Product Management. He studied Industrial Design at the University of Cincinnati, where he honed his skill set towards Innovation Strategy and Social Impact Design. He’s hell-bent on helping build a platform that empowers students from all backgrounds, races, and classes alike - especially through the means of Hip-Hop.
Jince up in the Queens/Long Island area and currently lives on a tree-lined brownstone street in Crown Heights, where he hangs on his stoop and imagines that he’s an extra from Do The Right Thing. When he’s not at Flocab, you can catch him biking around Brooklyn in search of the borough’s best Jerk Chicken -OR- tucked away in his apartment, obsessively compiling his weekly Soundcloud mixes.
He made a video when he applied to Flocabulary he’s obsessed with fat dogs, and his parents still have no idea what he does for a living.
Petar had made animations for Flocabulary since 2014. He studied printing technology at the University of Zagreb, Croatia. Computer graphics has been a passion and hobby since childhood when he first tried to make a computer game with a friend. That game wasn't a big hit, but it fostered a love for graphics and animation that has flourished these past 15 years.
Sarah's passion for education started in grad school, when she taught a required writing course to Penn State freshmen. After graduating with an MA in English, she worked in media while secretly yearning to get back into education. She believes in the power of engagement and fun in the classroom, which is why she believes in Flocabulary. Outside of work, Sarah loves dogs, reading and writing, and learning (or spouting) fun historical facts.
Aviv studied Comparative Literature at Berkeley and wrote his thesis on Rap as Literature. He's tutored and taught a bit, and has been coding since middle school. He likes avocados and active outdoorsy things.
King David Tolen lll is an African-American rapper, singer, songwriter and aspiring actor. King Goldie was born in Brooklyn, NY, but raised in the Bronx, NY (the birthplace of hip-hop). Early on, King released of series of freestyle videos, including videos that gained up to 150,00 views on YouTube, and now he's making music and taking it more seriously than ever. King's unique style, sound and versatility separates him from the rest, and the future for this young artist is super bright.
Jess is a Colorado native who moved to NYC to complete the Teach for America program after graduating from CU Boulder. She earned her M.Ed. in Special Education from Hunter College and taught second grade in Harlem for three years. She then worked in an administrative role supporting upper grade teachers at her school, where she realized that a lack of engaging curriculum is a major issue currently facing the public education system. Experiencing the power and efficacy of Flocabulary first-hand in a school environment gave her the inspiration to leave the classroom and join the Customer Success team at Flocab.
Jess wants to help as many teachers and students as possible gain access to Flocabulary, because she believes it will help close the achievement gap and change the educational climate in the US for the better. When Jess is not thinking about educational policy and her favorite Flocab videos, she is probably spending time outdoors, cooking, petting dogs on the sidewalk, or seeing a concert somewhere in the city.
Molly's love of education began when she landed her first job at age 17 as a preschool teacher's aide, where she changed countless diapers and led groups of toddlers in many a nursery rhyme. She studied communications, marketing, and education at Cornell University, where she wrote articles for university publications, co-hosted a radio show and led PR for a children's advocacy organization. After a stint in the crazy world of agency PR, she now blends her background in communications and her passion for education in her sales and partnership work at Flocabulary. When she's off Flocab duty, she can be found scouring food blogs and old cookbooks or traipsing around Alphabet City.
Drew has a bachelor's in English Lit from Queen's University, and a master's in Online Journalism from Syracuse University's Newhouse School. Before Flocab he worked as Digital Editor for a music magazine in Syracuse, NY, and taught English in Prague, Czech Republic. At some point he got into stop motion animation, and spent many late nights in a stuffy studio in upstate New York honing this tedious craft. At Flocab he gets to combine his love of music with animation and education. He's pretty stoked.
After studying philosophy at Harvard, Bryan spent two years in the snowy north of Japan where he taught high school English and recorded classroom CDs for Aomori Prefecture. When he came back to the states, he worked in advertising for clients ranging from Bacardi to Nerf. Now, as Marketing Director, Bryan gets to spread the word about Flocabulary to classrooms far and wide. Outside of the office, he strums a mandolin, cooks a mean pork shoulder, and has never met a dog he didn't like.
After studying Economics at the University of Maryland, Keisha was mostly drawn to her technology entrepreneurship classes. Prior to joining Flocabulary, Keisha was a part of two tech companies taking roles on both the sales and support sides. Being new to the New York City area she is excited to be a part of the Flocabulary team, and looking forward to exploring the area. In her spare time she enjoys making beats and collaborating with other artists.
Lizzie is a Customer Success Specialist at Flocabulary, and helps teachers get the most out of their Flocabulary subscriptions. Prior to joining the Flocab fam, Lizzie taught 4th and 5th grades in Denver, Colorado. She earned her BA in Sociology from Colorado College.
Casey first discovered her love of programming when she took a Numerical Analysis class in college. She continued to feed her curiosity by working on different projects, like designing and building her first MySQL database, and eventually attending The Recurse Center, where she built a website for users to stream music and track listening habits.
Outside of web development, Casey loves working with students and has always been passionate about education and the importance of supporting diverse learning styles. Her drive to grow as a web developer, belief in accessible, effective education and love of music led her to Flocabulary, where she gets to work on tools to help keep students engaged and excited about learning
Cody joined Flocabulary in January of 2016 after completing an Events & Marketing Fellowship at the Dumbo Business Improvement District. He can often be seen running in New York City streets on any given day and also enjoys photography. Cody was born and raised in Brooklyn, NY where he volunteers for New York Cares and the Parks Dept. He is an alumnus of the State University of New York at Fredonia; at which he received a BS in Media Management.
Careyanne Deyo joined Flocabulary from Kindermusik International, where she managed a customer loyalty team. Raised in Virginia, Careyanne is happy to be a token Southerner in Brooklyn. A lifelong musician, Careyanne played in ensembles at James Madison University, where she studied International Business. She has a great respect for the impact that music brings to education, and is proud to be on the Flocabulary team.
Ingrid Spielman is a microbiologist-engineer hybrid turned data scientist. After receiving her masters in materials engineering she moved to NYC and began working in a microbiology research lab -- to study the mechanics of bacteria movement. While working in the research group she volunteered on the Biobus and helped organize the 2015 Startup Weekend Edu event in NYC. Realizing she loved coding, she attended a Data Science Bootcamp in the sprint of 2016 to build her data skillz. Flocabulary is like doing what she loves for the people she loves. She's also a triathlete and likes drawing when she can.
After wearing many hats in the nonprofit sector, Rachel decided to revamp her wardrobe and pick up the mic at Flocabulary. Having come from working for a social enterprise, Rachel was excited to continue working for a mission driven organization that combines her passion for education and music with her background in sales and business development. Rachel has always been socially conscious and graduated with a specialized degree in Multicultural Studies and Social Justice. Rachel worked her way through college as a preschool teacher, afterschool counselor and nanny (and in her spare time busted out in song and dance.) Rachel is proud to be a part of Flocabulary and hopes to help bring educational hip hop into schools across America.
As CTO, Teddy leads Flocabulary's technical infrastructure, architecture and product development efforts. Teddy launched the company’s SaaS application in 2011, and since then has focused on scaling it from a technology, people and process perspective.
Before joining Alex and Blake at Flocabulary, Teddy learned the ropes of the software industry at an expansion-stage venture capital fund called OpenView Venture Partners. At OpenView, he worked closely with portfolio companies to help set up their product and engineering processes, in addition to sourcing and analyzing software company investment prospects. His previous work also includes The Princeton Review, Liberty Science Center, and Harvard's Berkman Center for Internet and Society.
Teddy is an international-level athlete in the sport of fencing, and has been a member of the USA’s national team since 2003. He has a degree in Social Studies from Harvard and lives in New York City with his fiancee.
Now an assistant professor of music at Florida A&M University, Kawachi founded the Hip-Hop Initiative at North Carolina Central University. His research focuses on the interrelationship of artistic agency (problem-posing and problem-solving in the arts) and culturally responsive teaching.
A Grammy-winning producer with a soulful sound, 9th Wonder has produced for Jay-Z, Destiny's Child, Mary J. Blige, Ludacris and as part of the group Little Brother. 9th Wonder is now an artist in residence with North Carolina Central University's Hip-Hop Initiative.
As a Product Manager, Deirdre aims to make it ridiculously easy for teachers, administrators, and students to use Flocabulary. Prior to joining the Flocab team, she did everything from Community Support to Product at Meetup.
She earned a BA in Art History and Gender Studies from New College of Florida before making her way to New York, where she now gets her sun and surf fix at home in Red Hook.
Tavi is an independent hip-hop artist. Her performances range from poetry readings at La Mama to hip-hop shows at Time Square's Nokia Theater. She is also an educator and trainer of the art form, and has led international hip-hop/spoken word workshops for youth and adults. Although self-contained as an emcee, composer and audio engineer, Tavi enjoys the rewards of collaboration and collectivism. She can currently be seen performing around the New York City area with her bands mamarazzi and Illegalize.
A founding member of the innovative hip-hop group Tanya Morgan, Donwill has been making music for over a decade. Originally from Cincinnati and now residing in Brooklyn, he has toured the world making music, sharing the stage and collaborating with Drake, 88 Keys, Ghostface and others. A regular contributor to The Week in Rap, Donwill has also visited schools throughout the country as part of the Flocab crew.
Lor describes herself as a giant hobbit, average human. She studied Media Communications and Creative Writing at Northeastern University. She writes short stories when she's not looking for continuity issues in her favorite films. She likes the idea of yoga, but doesn't quite have the patience for the commitment. Though born and raised in New York City, one of her favorite places in the world in her grandfather's farm in Italy. Still, she's loving the view from the cheerful Flocab office.
As a kid growing up in Los Angeles, Seneca listened to rock and roll multiplication songs to learn her times tables, and still sings those same tunes when doing any sort of multiplication. She began her work in education as an Americorps service member after college, and then moved on to teach elementary school in both LA and NYC. She truly believes in the power of music to inspire learning and ignite change. Needless to say, Flocabulary is the best place for her to be! You can find her at a concert, watching soccer, writing in a coffee shop, or running through the streets of New York City.
Doug was born in Cleveland, Ohio, but grew up in London. He studied French at King's College London and after graduating decided to continue to pursue his interest in languages by moving to China. Doug then spent two years in China's Yunnan Province, learning Mandarin and teaching english to kids as young as 4. He also memorably rode a bike to Vietnam.
After 6 months at an ed-tech start up in London, Doug decided it was time to finally take up his US citizenship and move to New York. He's now happily settled in Brooklyn and loved his first summer here (spent mainly at the beach).
Devon is both an artist and an educator. Having studied mathematics at Ithaca College, he now now he raps Shakespeare through Hip-Hop as the Sonnet Man.
The protege of Marlon Saunders and a Howard University graduate, this talented jazz and R&B singer has performed at the Blue Note, the Cutting Room, Warm Daddy's and numerous clubs in New York and Philly.
Emily grew up in New York and attended college at Binghamton University. She graduated with a BA in Mathematics. Prior to Flocabulary, she worked in Corporate Finance at PepsiCo Inc. on the Capital Markets team. She loves to travel, and spent five months living in Sydney, Australia, as an exchange student at the University of Sydney.
Brendan Huddy, originally from Massachusetts, has survived being a Boston sports fan while living in the NYC area for the past 8 years. He graduated from Marist College with a Bachelors in Business Marketing and is currently working on his MBA.
He now resides in Hoboken, NJ and spends his summer enjoying the beach down the Jersey Shore. Prior to joining the team at Flocabulary, he worked in EdTech sales for over three years at EasyBib. When not at work he can be found exploring NYC, traveling, and spending time outdoors. An avid fan of all music genres, Brendan might have the most random assortment of artists assembled on his top played list on Spotify.
Alex leads the Customer Success Team at Flocabulary. They help teachers, administrators, and parents get the most out Flocabulary -- engaging and inspiring students of all backgrounds.
Prior to joining the team at Flocabulary, Alex developed alternative education centers for the NYC Department of Education to help youth return to high school or earn their high school equivalency diploma. He also helped build online tools for teachers to share resources and sharpened methodologies to evaluate school quality. He's had fun teaching middle school English in El Salvador, tutoring high school Spanish in California, and instructing graduate level statistics in New York. Alex studied Spanish and Political Science at Santa Clara University and earned his Masters of International Affairs from Columbia University.
Almost every weekend, Alex visits the Prospect Park Zoo with his son Jack, while his wife Gabrielle gets in a little mommy time. They enjoy living in Brooklyn.
Emily leads up Flocabulary's content marketing and community efforts. Prior to joining the Flocab team, Emily spent four years at EasyBib, where she worked as a community manager, content marketer, and in-house librarian. In a past life, she worked with freshmen students as an academic web services librarian in the deep South (where her love for fried green tomatoes began). Outside of the Flocab office, she can be found listening to podcasts, watching Scrubs for the nth time in a row, blogging, traveling, tweeting, or belting out karaoke. She is fluent in memes and gifs.
Michael joins the Flocabulary sales team after time with President Obama's reelection campaign, the Hurricane Sandy recovery process, and a marketing software startup.
Born in Chicago to three mothers - two of whom are sisters ten years his senior - in a household littered with books, Michael is obsessed with Scrabble and Text Twist. He may or may not be embroiled in several word games at this very moment. Challenge him if you dare. He hopes to bring the same love of wordsmithery to schools across the states.
Danny's love of music began at a young age, and it is that love that led him to make the trek from Cleveland to New York City in order to pursue music as a full-time career. It started with scratching records and making beats in his parent's attic and has led to cool things like collaborating with Illogic and Vast Aire, playing shows alongside The Beatnuts, Raekwon and Major Lazer, and having his mixes played on world famous radio shows such as Ninja Tune's "Solid Steel Radio" and "Diplo & Friends" on BBC Radio 1. And of course we can't forget, making beats for educational songs about ice-skating elephants and Middle Eastern history.
Mervin is both an emcee and a former middle school principal. As an artist, he's recorded albums with Big Daddy Kane and 9th Wonder. As an educator, he has been a principal and an assistant principal in North and South Carolina. He now lives in Atlanta and works with AVID.
Lynas began making amateur recordings and beats while at Stuyvesant High School. He soon realized that he had little choice but to make music for a living. After receiving a BFA in Music from the Sonic Arts Center at CCNY, he founded Wonderful Recording Studio in SoHo. Two years later, he moved his operation to ishlab, where his power continues to grow. He has worked with a wide variety of hip-hop artists, including A$AP Rocky, Das Racist, Fat Tony, Group Home, members of Wu-Tang, and many more.
Will is a freelance writer/musician, born in Massachusetts and currently residing in Burlington, VT. He has a love for words, particularly those that rhyme, and sometimes dabbles in performance under the stage name "Godwilla." He studied English at St. Lawrence University and in the past has worked as a counselor at a theater camp, a trivia host and an educator at a children's museum.
Christopher "Play" Martin is a rapper and actor who achieved fame as half of the late 1980s/early 1990s duo Kid 'n Play. Martin, whose songs have reached #1 on the Billboard Hot Rap Singles charts, has also starred in numerous feature films including House Party and Class Act. Recently Martin has worked as a teacher at North Carolina Central University and started Brand Newz, a web-based news show with an urban focus.
D-Stroy, born and raised in Bushwick, Brooklyn, has been making music since 1996. A member of The Arsonists, D-Stroy has since toured with a variety of artists, from Kanye West, Eminem and Ludacris to The Roots, L.L. Cool J and Busta Rhymes. He's performed on B.E.T.'s 106 & Park and at Shaquille O'Neal's birthday party. D has been working with Flocabulary since 2008.
Emilio "Reason" Montilla was born and raised in the borough of the Bronx. Having released his first LP, In-Tune, in 2009, he's gone on to perform on stages throughout New York including the Apollo Theatre. He attended Borough of Manhattan Community College and has worked with special education students as an assistant teacher in the Bronx.
This Chicago-born, Brooklyn-raised Puerto Rican and Chinese emcee has made a name for himself as a performance artist and battle rapper. He's appeared in Fight Club, RIX Magazine, and in videos with 50 Cent and Mobb Deep. Grey has also opened for an array of artists including Camron, Obie Trice, and Clipse. He's been contributing to Flocabulary since 2005.
Miss Netty, born and raised in Harlem, is a versatile female emcee with a unique east coast style. Having worked with Flocabulary since 2007, Miss Netty has appeared on numerous albums and performed at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC.
Trajik was born in Queens, New York. A mixtape artist who has gone beyond the confines of that label, Trajik infuses the music he works on with hope, pain, anger and joy. Trajik has released numerous albums and now resides in St. Louis, Missouri.
Dillon V is an Atlanta-based emcee and producer who tutors students in all subjects when he isn't making Dilla-inspired beats and writing rhymes. As a performer, he has toured all over the U.S. and Europe and shared the stage with KRS-One, Talib Kweli, Pete Rock, The Pharcyde, and many more. He has also cooked dinner for Chuck D of Public Enemy.
Valerie was born to multicultural parents who lived in five different countries before settling into their home in Wilmington, Delaware. She found her way to college in Washington, DC and eventually landed in New York through the NYC Teaching Fellows program.
Prior to joining the Flocab team, Valerie was a classroom and ESL teacher, a special education and student support director, and a literacy consultant. She has worked in public and charter schools in the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, and even Spain! All of this contributed to a funny-sounding Spanish accent and a desire to learn about other cultures.
Valerie enjoys traveling, watching telenovelas, and trying to balance her love of good food with athletic activities. One of her fondest memories is playing keyboard in a psychedelic funk rock band and finally living her middle school dream of being a rock star. Valerie couldn't think of a more fitting place to be than Flocabulary!
Before joining Flocabulary, Julia taught 7th grade math in Brooklyn. She wishes she had a subscription to Flocabulary when she was teaching, and now she really enjoys helping teachers get Flocab into their classrooms. She hails from Ohio originally and is one of those people who likes to put chili on spaghetti. She juggles and unicycles around sometimes, and enjoys exploring New York and cooking good food.
Before arriving at Flocabulary, Tierney managed the gut renovation of a Westchester chateau. Odd jobs aside, her position at Flocab is the happy confluence of years spent with one foot in education, another in writing and two hands in the Arts & Culture section. Now she's all in for hip-hop in the classroom. Tierney studied literature in the Blue Mountains of North Carolina and earned a master's degree in popular culture on the plains of Ohio.
Maddy oversees Flocabulary's finance, HR and operations functions.
The daughter of a linguist and a librarian, she lived on four continents before graduating high school. She visited the Acropolis while learning about Ancient Greece, watched her allowance fluctuate with hyper-inflation in Brazil, and practiced her choppy Mandarin in the night markets of Taipei. As an undergrad, she studied Economics and English at Claremont McKenna College and then got her MBA from the University of Southern California.
Her career has been just as exciting, touching on many sectors (private, non profit, government) and functions (product management, finance, strategy, talent management)...but she is happy to have landed at Flocabulary where she enjoys collaborating with a like-minded, mission-driven team to tackle interesting projects.
In her off hours, Maddy makes her own furniture, runs religiously, globe-trots the world with her family and spends an inordinate amount of time building things out of legos and cardboard boxes with her five-year-old son who is a budding engineer. She happily lives in Brooklyn with her family.
Anthony’s mission at Flocabulary is to sift through our reams and reams of data to help make the site better.
Before joining Flocabulary, Anthony’s career has spanned wind turbines, hybrid cars & trucks, radars, computer vision systems, project finance, real estate and construction and led to exotic places like Hawaii, Spain, California and Michigan (hey, Michigan is cool!). The one glaring omission from that list - and a goal Anthony has had since he was a kid - is to get involved with education, so he was very excited to join the Flocabulary team.
Anthony got his BS from MIT and MS from Stanford in Mechanical Engineering. A born and raised New Yorker who has lived over a decade in Boston makes Anthony a bit of an anomaly, just don’t ask which team he roots for! He’s been a staple at the Boston Marathon for the last few years, and you can see a bit of his teaching prowess at The Rise - an early morning workout group he co-founded. See you at 6:30am!
Matthew was born in Brooklyn, NY, but spent most of his childhood growing up in Staten Island. He is a linguist and a geographer. He is a native Spanish speaker, fluent in Japanese, and is endeavoring to add German, Korean, and Hindi to the list. Having studied Geography and International Trade, a big dream of his is to spend some time traveling to various countries and using his language skills to gain deeper understanding of the world's many cultures. Before Flocabulary, Matthew's language skills led him to the textile industry, where he was responsible for fostering relationships with vendors from China, India, Pakistan, and South America.
Soon after graduating college, Matthew married his high school sweet-heart and they now have a beautiful baby girl named Luna.
Brett graduated from Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches, the oldest town in Texas. He then spent four years in Austin, and mostly occupied his time with concerts, vinyl records, BBQ and breakfast tacos. Brett eventually made his way to NYC and is now a resident of Ditmas Park, Brooklyn. You may receive a call from Brett "'Flobabulary's version of Jim Halpert" if your school is lucky enough to have Flocabulary or is curious to learn more about us. In his free time, Brett can usually be found enjoying his neighborhood with his wife, Sommer, and their three cats. No, that's not a typo, they really have three cats.
Landon loves to solve complex puzzles, which is one of the reasons he wanted to become a coder. Raised in upstate New York, his childhood interest in technology led him to study computer science at Carnegie Mellon University. He later moved to Houston, Texas, where he most recently worked as a web developer for a Fortune 500 company in the oil and gas industry. Now living in New York City, Landon has found his dream job with Flocabulary, where he can combine his engineering skills with his passion for music, education, and storytelling.
Helen hails from a small town in upstate New York, where she was raised by an amazing family, many of whom are dedicated educators. At a young age she knew that she would grow up to work with institutions of learning. She earned her BA in Political Theory from the University at Albany and her MS in Nonprofit Management from The New School. Since moving to New York City, Helen has taught human rights in an art class, helped a nonprofit loan fund measure impact and supported a software company that assesses institutions of higher education. Her goal is to bring Flocabulary to all teachers who feel it will help their students learn, and every student that feels like learning should be fun.
The idea for Flocabulary first came to co-founder Blake Harrison in high school. A good student who still struggled to memorize facts for tests, he wondered why it was so easy to remember lines to his favorite rap songs but so difficult to memorize the definitions of new vocabulary words. Blake realized that if a rapper released an album that defined SAT vocab words, students would have a fun and effective way to prepare for the SAT.
After studying English at the University of Pennsylvania and rapping at gatherings around Philadelphia, Blake moved out West to San Francisco. In 2003, he met Alex Rappaport, a musician and producer. Alex had studied music at Tufts University and was writing tracks for indie films and producing ringtones for cell phones. Both he and Blake found jobs at a local Italian restaurant to help pay the bills.
During a game of basketball before work one day, Blake mentioned his idea of vocabulary rap to Alex. Alex gave the typical response: "That's a great idea." But he also added something new: "Let's do it."
A month later the duo had a demo recorded. A demo led to a full-length album and corresponding SAT test prep book. That album led to a line of 15 books and CDs, which covered topics ranging from vocabulary to math to science for grades K-12. In 2011, Flocabulary launched a web application to deliver a new library of videos, activities and assessments to teachers, schools and districts. Today, Flocabulary’s online program reaches millions of students in more than 20,000 schools around the world. Wondering what happened in between? See our timeline.
The TimelineThe Early Years - 2004 to 2007
In 2004, Blake Harrison and Alex Rappaport create a demo SAT rap song while working as waiters in the same restaurant in San Francisco. Soon, they produce two more songs for Sparknotes.com and decide to launch their own site. The name Flocabulary is born. By Spring 2005, they’ve created their first album with talented artists on both coasts. A year later, the album and an accompanying book is in bookstores worldwide thanks to a deal with Sterling Publishing. Blake and Alex, having relocated to New York, spend their time performing in schools and working on their follow-up project, Hip-Hop U.S. History, which is praised by Cornel West and Howard Zinn as "extraordinary" and "necessary."
In 2006, Flocabulary wins Columbia Business School's Outrageous Business Plan competition in the social value category and then raises a round of capital from friends, family and angel investors. ABC News reports that Flocabulary helped to raise average SAT scores at one Virginia high school by nearly 60 points. Soon after, Flocabulary is featured on CNN, Fox News, and Geraldo at Large. Geraldo himself exclaims, "I don't care if it's hip-hop or opera, as long as it works!"
In 2007, Flocabulary works with Grammy-winning artist 9th Wonder on Shakespeare is Hip-Hop. Later that year, Flocabulary releases The Word Up Project, a groundbreaking, multileveled vocabulary program. Word Up is an instant hit and is adopted by the Jersey City Board of Education as well as schools throughout the country.An Educational Publishing Company - 2008 to 2011
In 2008, Dr. Roger Farr, former president of the International Reading Association, conducts an independent study to test the efficacy of Flocabulary’s flagship vocabulary program, The Word Up Project. His study finds that program significantly increases vocabulary proficiency among students of diverse backgrounds and that students using the program had higher scores on state reading tests than their academic peers.
Flocabulary launches the Week in Rap, a weekly wrap-up of major current events, and soon partners with Channel One News to distribute the Week in Rap to over 5 million students each week.
In 2009, Flocabulary signs a distribution agreement for The Word Up Project with Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, which lasts 3 years. Flocabulary continues to publish new content in math, science and social studies and the programs reach students in more than 15,000 schools.An EdTech Startup - 2011 to Infinity
Flocabulary pivots from producing books and CDs to offering a subscription-based online learning program. The company begins producing videos and interactive features to support all of its songs and lessons. All the while, Flocabulary is creating new content for grammar, civics, life skills, financial literacy, as well as ELA and math units aligned to the Common Core.
By 2013, Flocabulary.com has debuted a Common Core search tool, a deeper lesson sequence and a school trial that lets educators around the world take Flocab for a spin.
By summer 2015, new student assessment and reporting tools are debuted to help teachers, schools and districts use Flocabulary to assess knowledge, plan instruction and diagnose needs for differentiation and intervention. Flocabulary also rolls out the Week in Rap Junior, a weekly resource that uses stories from the news to teach elementary students, and launches the Flocabulary Impact Fund to provide free subscriptions to teachers and schools in need.
In 2016, Flocabulary collaborates on two videos with Bill and Melinda Gates and on another with the UN, which leads to a chance to perform in the General Assembly in a ceremony that includes Sec. General Ban Ki-Moon, Jane Goodall and Stevie Wonder. 2016 also brings two grants from the New Schools Venture Fund and an investment from Rethink Education.
The fall of 2016 brought the release of Read and Respond and Lyric Lab, new features that deepen Flocabulary's instructional sequence and help build core academic skills. Lyric Lab lays the foundation for Flocabx, a new writing initiative in partnership with school districts and their surrounding communities.
By 2017, Flocabulary has hired its 50th employee and launched a mobile app. The team is now focused on expanding the reach of the product, adding innovative features and functionality, and realizing Flocabulary's mission of making learning more engaging, accessible and relevant for students of all backgrounds.