My Journey To Becoming a Teacher: KDP and The Graide Network


My name is Nicole Huttner, and I’m a recent graduate from New York University and a future childhood and special education teacher. For as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to impart knowledge onto others. Growing up, my favorite game was “school” where my friends would act as students while I was the teacher. At my actual school, I quickly developed strong relationships with my teachers, wanting to learn as much as I could from them. I didn’t know it then, but this would lead me to pursue a career in teaching. As a teacher, I will demonstrate my passion for education by encouraging students to become lifelong learners. I will also serve as a mentor to young minds and provide students with a better future through education.  

Throughout high school and college, I had the opportunity to be a student teacher at several NYC public schools in different grades and with students of varying abilities. I’m always seeking more ways to contribute, so my interest was piqued when I received an email about The Graide Network through Kappa Delta Pi (KDP), an international honor society for future educators.

I was beyond excited after researching The Graide Network and learning about their commitment to effective feedback and student learning. The opportunity to become a Graider directly aligned with my goal of becoming a teacher. In addition to practicing my grading and feedback skills, I received individual coaching from The Graide Network staff to hone those skills. They always provided feedback in a friendly and actionable manner, so I knew both what my strongest skills were and how to improve in other areas. The feedback never criticized me but rather built me up to be the best Graider that I could be. The constant exposure to effective feedback allowed me to complete my teacher certification tasks with ease and confidence. I look forward to implementing this method of structured and supportive feedback in my own classroom this fall.

As I continued to provide feedback on assignments with The Graide Network, I engaged with student work across diverse subjects, grade levels, and regions, which showed me the diversity that exists in our education system. After 6 months of working with The Graide Network, I was promoted to a Senior Graider position. In this new role, I coached Graiders on how to provide effective feedback while still receiving ongoing coaching in order to support my growth. This role allowed me to be a “teacher” to my fellow Graiders by guiding them on how to deliver effective feedback and provide the best outcomes for students.

Although the invaluable connection to The Graide Network was the most influential opportunity that KDP provided me, KDP also offers many other phenomenal resources. I was connected with professional development classes, online forums, and articles to continue my learning as a teacher. The most meaningful and practical professional development class that I took through KDP was Classroom Management Basics. In this class, I explored research-based methods in class management and developed a classroom management plan with my peers and KDP associates.  

Some other resources within KDP include:

  • Online forums: Forums provide opportunities to talk with other students and teachers about real life successes and problems within the teaching world.

  • Articles: As an educator, it is important to be aware of new research, ideas, and resources! KDP’s articles have the latest news from the education world and plenty of information on how teaching skills can be improved.

Overall, my experience with Kappa Delta Pi has given me outstanding opportunities within the field of education. The decision to become a teacher is a commitment to being a lifelong learner, and KDP facilitates that process. Without KDP, I would not have received the opportunity to connect with The Graide Network and develop the grading and feedback expertise that I now have.

Here are some tips for future teachers:

  • Put in your best effort in all of your coursework and fieldwork! Wouldn’t you want your students to do the same in your future classes?

  • Take initiative and be a leader! You want your passion for education to stand out in your classes and student teaching. Don’t be afraid to share your opinions in class, ask for more responsibility, and try out new ideas in the classroom. Standing out as a leader is an important characteristic for the classroom.

  • Join KPD and read their emails! They regularly have job postings, articles, and webinars to expand your knowledge about education and life in the classroom.

Want to meet more passionate Graiders and team members?

Introducing Hollie Lambert, Software Engineer at The Graide Network


Hollie Lambert joined The Graide Network as a full time software engineer in January, 2019. You can read more about Hollie’s first month at The Graide Network on her blog, or keep reading to learn more about her.

Where are you from and how long have you lived in Chicago?

I’m originally from the Big Island of Hawaii, the largest island in the Hawaiian chain. I grew up in the jungles of Puna which was one of the main areas covered in lava during the 2018 Kilauea eruption. I attended the University of Hawaii at Mānoa and majored in Women’s Studies, focusing my studies on gay, lesbian and trans-identity issues, sexual assault prevention and reproductive justice.

I moved to Chicago in the summer of 2018 to attend Fullstack Academy. After graduation I was selected for a fellowship and remained with the software engineering program for three additional months as a teaching assistant. I’m currently experiencing my first polar vortex (also known as Chicago winter) and missing the sunshine.

What drew you to join The Graide Network?

I was homeschooled as a child and attended a public high school in Hawaii with over a thousand students. I spent most of my childhood reading as many books as I could check out from our local library and entering writing contests for short stories and poetry. I participated in a young writers club and posted my creative writing online where others could review it.

As a high school and college student it was often difficult to get that detailed, actionable feedback on my writing because I was in such large classrooms with so many other students. When I learned what The Graide Network’s mission is I immediately recognized the problem, and the company itself was exactly what I was looking for - a startup that is having a positive impact on the world.

What unique skills or perspective do you bring to the team?

I grew up in several different countries and had the fairly unique experience of being homeschool which gives me a different perspective on education. I spent five years working for the Hard Rock Cafe interacting with dozens of people every day which taught me excellent communication skills and how to remain calm in high pressure situations.

As a software engineer, I’m at the very beginning of my career which means technically I have an infinite amount still left to learn. I was also briefly in a circus as a child so if our team is ever in need of unicycle riding abilities or aerial fabric acrobatics I’m here to save the day.

What are you most excited/interested to work on?

The best part about being early in your career as a software engineer is that currently everything is interesting and exciting! In my first few weeks I’ve been focusing on getting familiar with the tech stack that we use because it’s different than what I’ve worked with before. I’ve written unit tests, updated linting issues, fixed bugs and constructed SQL database queries for our internal Metabase dashboards. I’m currently mostly working on behind the scenes stuff and I am looking forward to building features that our Graiders and teachers will use. I enjoy observing and participating in the real world product development of something that provides value to others.

What do you hope to learn in the next 6 months?

In the next 6 months, I hope to get a solid foundation in the front and backend technologies we use. In my first week I felt like I wanted and needed to learn everything at once which was unrealistic. I currently feel comfortable figuring things out independently and then asking for help when I need it but hopefully I’ll continue to get better and better at debugging issues on my own. I’d also like to understand our product and company more holistically and be able to contribute more during our meetings.

What do you like to do for fun?

On the weekends I’m usually hanging out in a coffee shop or in a thrift store. I can spend an entire afternoon listening to podcasts while hunting for hidden treasures in thrift stores. I try to read at least fifty books a year, mainly nonfiction. I like going to yoga classes in the morning and attending interesting talks after work, usually focused on tech or feminist issues.

Meet Our Newest Team Member

Meet Eileen Dominic, the newest addition to The Graide Network family. She'll be taking over as Member Success Manager this summer. You can learn more about her journey as an AmeriCorps Teaching Fellow and her work at Citizen Schools Illinois. We're so excited to have her onboard and hope you'll join us in giving her a warm welcome!

The National Writing Project Radio Show

The National Writing Project Radio Show

Listen as The National Writing Project hosts a wide-ranging discussion of the power of The Graide Network as an instructional tool, the importance of effective feedback, and the value of experiential learning for pre-service teachers. Featuring Brophy College Prep English department chair John Damaso and all-star Graider from University of Illinois-Chicago Sumaiya Qazi.

Modernizing Legacy Code at The Graide Network

Modernizing Legacy Code at The Graide Network

"While this process is still in progress, we’ve made considerable headway in the past couple months. In the rest of this post, I’ll outline what we’ve done to modernize our legacy codebase at The Graide Network, and hopefully this will help other developers who have inherited outdated or untested code."

Our Week at Camelback

Our Week at Camelback

Camelback Ventures is a fellowship program and seed fund that supports local entrepreneurs who are creating social impact, specifically entrepreneurs of color and women. Diversity is a criterion. In the venture capital world, just 2% of funding goes to black and Hispanic entrepreneurs and 8% to female entrepreneurs. There is a tremendous amount of work to be done to close this gap, and Camelback is leading the charge. Learn more about their amazing work!