People on the Flocabulary team have diverse backgrounds, but share a common goal. We are not only committed to engaging students and increasing student achievement, but also to fostering a love of learning in every child.
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. With a focus on sales, marketing and strategic partnerships, Alex has bootstrapped Flocabulary into a rapidly-growing, sustainable edtech company with a mission of making learning engaging, relevant and accessible for students of all backgrounds.
A regular author and speaker on education and entrepreneurship, Alex has written for Entrepreneur, EdSurge and Language Magazine, and has spoken at TEDx, Creative Mornings and many education conferences. Alex is a member of the Nationswell Council and recently became an Entrepreneur-in-Residence with 4.0 Schools. He is also the creator of Big Idea Week, a community-driven entrepreneurship program for elementary and middle schools. Alex has a degree in music from Tufts University and lives in Brooklyn with his wife and daughter.
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 District Sales 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.
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.
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.
Originally from Boston, Kaitlyn has worked as a historical interpreter, oral historian and at one point, a park ranger. More recently, she was a managing curriculum developer, specializing in middle school vocabulary acquisition. She has led creative writing workshops to teenagers and grade schoolers in a variety of settings in Brooklyn and Boston. In addition to her work at Flocabulary, Kaitlyn is a novelist and essayist: her first novel, "We Love You, Charlie Freeman", was published by Algonquin in 2016.
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.
Valin never imagined herself in the education field, this all kind of happened by accident. In 2008, upon graduating from the University of Miami with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and a minor in Marketing she was accepted into cohort 15 of the New York City Teaching Fellows. She earned two Master's of Science degrees in Special Education and Elementary Education from Hunter College. After teaching 3rd and 4th grade special education for 4 years in East Harlem, Valin returned to school for a third time in 2012 (she just can't get enough of school) to pursue a doctoral degree in Curriculum and Instruction at The George Washington University. Valin will be done with her doctorate in a few months and has decided this is her last stint in school. Being part of Flocabulary is such an exciting endeavor for her because all of her degree focuses finally have an opportunity to come together!
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.
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.
After graduating from The College of Wooster with a B.A. in Philosophy, Ben completed a year of AmeriCorps service in Minneapolis, MN where he still plans to retire with 7 gluten-free dogs. He then worked for the Relay Graduate School of Education in Manhattan until leaving for Carnegie Mellon's Heinz School, where he completed a Masters of Information Systems Management degree. Now, Ben lives in Brooklyn where he eats tacos and reads books when he's not writing code for Flocabulary.
Aviv studied Comparative Literature at Berkeley and wrote his thesis on Rap as Literature. He's tutored and taught in a variety of places (city college, prison, high school), and has been coding since middle school. He likes avocados and active outdoorsy things.
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.
Anita Daswani was born and raised in Fayetteville, NC. Since childhood she dreamt of living and working in New York City. She took her education very seriously in order to make this dream a reality. She studied Marketing at the University of North Carolina in Greensboro and spent a semester in Sydney, Australia, participating in a competitive internship at a non-profit organization known as Cancer Council Australia. Here she first discovered how gratifying it was to contribute to a substantial cause within the workplace. After graduating, she gained professional experience in marketing, sales, and sales support. Anita takes great pride in being a part of a team that has revolutionized the classroom. Outside of Flocabulary, she enjoys writing and exploring the city's boroughs with her hubby.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 divides his time between working at an after-school program in Brooklyn and lighting up stages around New York City.
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.
Adam Aronson is a socially minded educational technologist and entrepreneur. He’s a former co-organizer with the NYEdTech community and currently advising several startups. Past roles include myriad technical responsibilities and strategic consulting services. He has designed and overseen development of platforms, applications and features and enhanced enterprise systems for several non-profit organizations.
For the past decade Adam has specialized in educational technology; his activities often revolve around macro trends for example personalized learning and in particular adaptive learning. His roles range from implementing enterprise applications within K12 districts to designing educational software products to conducting strategic analysis. Past client districts include Virginia Beach, VA, McKinney, TX, and Jefferson County, KY. In addition to his work in education technology, Adam also earned his MBA with an emphasis on Social Innovation and Impact at New York University.
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 as Data Engineer 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 35,000 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 2015, New student assessment and reporting tools are debuted to help teachers, schools and districts use Flocabulary to assess student knowledge, plan instruction and diagnose needs for differentiation and intervention. Flocabulary hires its 25th employee (and continues growing!) and launches the Flocabulary Impact Fund to provide free subscriptions to schools in need. Flocabulary also rolls out the Week in Rap Junior, a weekly resource that uses stories from the news to teach elementary students core academic skills.
...And beyond: Flocabulary’s team is hard at work on new content and product features to engage students and increase achievement across the curriculum.