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Trendsetters in Education

Andrea Kilpatrick
“From when I was a child, I was very aware of the power of education to transform lives.” -- Andrea Kilpatrick, President of "Cool Kids Learn" in Miami
[Photo: Daniel Portnoy]

Andrea Kilpatrick certainly has the stellar academic and career resume — Princeton, Harvard law and Oxford and McKinsey & Co. consulting. And, if you know how to read it, she says, it pointed all along to where she is now, president of a $5-million non-profit that serves 4,000 kids through tutoring and after-school and summer enrichment programs.

Growing up in Cherry Hill, N.J., Kilpatrick says she recognized that she was receiving a far better education from the one she would have had if her parents had stayed in their Philadelphia neighborhood. Ever after, she longed to open a school or play some role in improving education. At Oxford, she notes, she took a master’s in education, studying policy and systems.

For McKinsey, she consulted for pharmaceutical and medical device companies and financial institutions. While consulting for Jamaica’s finance ministry, she talked to a teacher friend in Broward about the problems of disadvantaged students. They devised an academic-enrichment program designed to do far more than warehouse kids. Cool Kids Learn started at a single Pembroke Pines middle school in the summer of 2002. It now serves students in summer and after-school programs in 15 schools and community centers in south Florida; some 750 teachers working as independent contractors tutor kids in 20 Florida counties and four other states. It’s funded by businesses, charities and President Bush’s No Child Left Behind.

In 2005, Kilpatrick left McKinsey, where she had moved into the non-profit practice, to head Cool Kids Learn full time. Kilpatrick, 38, wants to expand to other regions and add programs on decision-making and for the gifted. “I’m definitely invested, and it’s great to see kids light up and really get it.”

Teaching Standouts

» Moving from a live training company to one with online offerings is a logical leap that’s proved successful for the three founders of SIM. The Tampa company gets 40% of its revenue now from The Sub-Hub (thesub-hub.com), its exclusively online, on-demand professional standards training program for substitute teachers, new teachers and aides. It’s used by Miami-Dade and 11 other Florida school districts and districts in other states. SIM gets paid $8 to $20 per learner, either by school districts or individuals who want the training. Co-founders, husband and wife Brent Fisher, 36, CEO, and Rachel Fisher, 32, COO, and Chief Information Officer Boe Quisenberry, 33, developed the program with professional educators and administrators. “We’ve had tens of thousands of subs in two full school years,” Rachel Fisher says.

» Science teacher David Makepeace’s marine science program at Coral Shores High School in Tavernier in the Keys has drawn national attention for its students’ work on restoring coral reefs, but students also have worked on seagrass restoration, water quality testing, fish counts and other environmentally beneficial work with community partners. “I firmly believe engaged students learn,” says Makepeace, 58, himself a Coral Shores grad.

» Susan Leeds, who teaches gifted and honors science at Howard Middle School in Orlando, and Martha Adams, who teaches anatomy and environmental ethics and heads the science department at St. Brendan High School in Miami, were both honored last fall by the U.S. Department of Education with its American Stars of Teaching award.