My name is Clara Drimmer and I have been working with The Graide Network for a few weeks now. As school begins and my work here ultimately comes to a close, I’m taking some time to reflect on my experiences.
As a teenager at a pretty typical urban high school, I’ve witnessed overstressed, overworked and underappreciated teachers. I’ve waited weeks and months for assignments to be returned to me. I’ve received papers with little to no feedback. While these experiences were always frustrating for both the teachers and the students, I never imagined a simple solution. That’s why when I met Liz, Becca, Zach and Karl of The Graide Network, I immediately thought, “what a simple solution to such an obvious problem!” As I began to work at The Graide Network, I found this to be a statement often in the back of my mind.
Seated in a small office in the Merchandise Mart, I had a few everyday duties. I managed The Graide Network’s social media (I became an expert in abbreviating words to fit in 140 characters), created simple web pages, and tested out the new website. In addition, I sat in on product meetings, provided suggestions, and researched competing brands. The more time I spent watching the team reach out to teachers and students alike, the more I understood that The Graide Network really is a network. It’s about connecting people in a very real way. Simply matching teachers and Graiders leads to more interactive experiences: more personalized feedback for students, more time for those overworked teachers to connect with their students, and much needed experience for those aspiring teachers. A win-win-win situation. What a simple solution, right?
Maybe in theory! In reality, I watched The Graide Network work incredibly hard to present this solution simply to teachers, Graiders, and students alike. This is what made my experience here so valuable - seeing the man behind the machine. This included hours of phone calls, emails, and school visits day after day. My first day, I noticed that for an ed tech company, the majority of their work is concerned with connecting, meeting, and talking to people.
In an age where we hear so much about the power of machines, I’ve experienced companies trying to impact the classroom environment with technology - from Edmodo to Turnitin - and to be completely honest, I’m not a huge fan. I’m more of a handwritten-red-pen type of girl. So why did I have so much fun working at an ed tech company? My theory: because the Graide Network isn’t about Artificial Intelligence or making learning more isolated. It’s about the very human connections that can be made through technology. To me, that’s what makes The Graide Network stand out.
Clara Drimmer is a junior at Walter Peyton College Prep in Chicago, IL.