Members of the Flocabulary team have diverse backgrounds but a common goal of engaging students and increasing achievement across the curriculum.
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 strategic partnerships and social impact, Alex is committed to fulfilling Flocabulary's promise of making education more engaging and accessible for students of all backgrounds.
Alex is a regular speaker on K-12 education and entrepreneurship, and has appeared on MTV, NPR and CNN. He is a curriculum consultant for New York City's STEM Magnet Schools and is working with other business leaders and government organizations to make Brooklyn an even better place to work. Alex is also the creator of Big Idea Week, an entrepreneurship program for elementary schools.
Blake Harrison co-founded Flocabulary in 2004 after dreaming up the idea in high school. Having worked with kids in many contexts, he now leads the creative team at Flocabulary to produce new songs, videos and website features that will impact students and teachers. He has also written many of the Flocabulary songs, including "Call Me Shakespeare," one of his favorites. Blake has been the keynote speaker at teacher conferences and high school graduations. He graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with a degree in English.
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.
Andrew works on making the website look and feel good. He comes from a family of teachers and enjoys baseball and beer.
Ike Ramos is both a Sales Executive 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.
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.
Norman Basch has a 20-year successful track record in business development, operations &, finance within the edtech and media industries. For the past couple of years, Norman has been consulting for Common Sense Media, Amplify, A&E, and more recently Flocabulary on a series of new business and partnership initiatives. Previously Norman was VP of Business Development at BrainPOP where he spearheaded GameUp, a leading destination for education games, and negotiated distribution deals with Amazon, Samsung & Verizon. Norman has an MBA from the University of Chicago and an MA in Media Studies from the New School.
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.
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.
As a kid, Aliza Aufrichtig noticed that supermarket doors always open outwards so you can exit easily with bags in your hand. She wanted to be the person who thought of "that" when she grew up. After studying literature at Harvard University, writing the Let's Go guide to France, teaching high school English in San Francisco, and joining Flocabulary in 2010 as the Editorial Director, Aliza now does "that" as Product Director, obsessed with creating a delightful and seamless digital experience for the Flocabulary community.
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.
Given how much Drew enjoys typography (the design of letters), you'd expect him to have better handwriting?but nope. 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 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.
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.
Nathaniel Soria is a goofy dude. Why? Ask his mother, and she'll tell you that 'his brain is in a cartoon world.' His journey from illustrating online comics to directing viral music videos has been filled with projects that have pushed and expanded the boundaries of his imaginary universe. Now as Flocabulary's Art Director, he's excited to draw upon his 'cartoon world' to help kids get excited about education and learning. With much goofiness, of course.
As CTO, Teddy leads Flocabulary's technical infrastructure, architecture, and product development efforts.
Before joining Flocabulary, Teddy worked as Director of Product Development at Big Think and as a Product Technology Analyst at OpenView Venture Partners. His previous work also includes The Princeton Review, Liberty Science Center, and Harvard's Berkman Center for Internet and Society.
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.
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.
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.
As Product Director, Katy spends her time thinking about how to get other people to love Flocabulary as much as she does. She's always enjoyed working in the education space, from the time she taught "science" to her babysitting charges by making baking soda and vinegar rockets, to her work researching the effectiveness of school programs. Katy studied History at Harvard, and earned a joint master's degree in business and public policy at Georgetown.
Caila came to Flocabulary as a refugee from a San Francisco startup. Her breadth of work experience includes: barista, debate coach, medical assistant and Disney princess impersonator. A proud California Golden Bear, Caila was a student teacher for "June Jordan's Poetry for the People" at UC Berkeley and frequently thinks totally in rhyme. When she's not supporting the amazing teachers and schools who use Flocabulary, Caila is boldly going where no Flocabularian has gone before...as their resident Trekkie.
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.
After leaving her position at a commercial real estate company and retiring from Spoken Word due to stage fright, Cairo was at a loss for how to use her Sarah Lawrence poetry degree. Thankfully she found a home at Flocabulary, where she can simultaneously enjoy her passion for rhyme, education and people. As the Customer Support Specialist she is happy to answer your call! Cairo is an aspiring Sci-Fi/Fantasy author, and when she's not assisting Flocabulary subscribers, she is working on her book--a literary endeavor that doesn't give her performance anxiety.
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.
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.
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.