What career path can lead to vice president of Compass Learning?

Posted by Ronald | October 10, 2012  |  No Comment

With the U.S. goal to have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world by 2020, The Holmes Education Post continues its segment on career paths to provide students information of professionals in different fields to enhance their knowledge, skills and understanding for successful employment. Our distinguished interviewee is Ms. Ann Henson, vice president of curriculum and instruction, customer support and services for Compass Learning, Inc.

Compass Learning provides K-12 educational software that empowers teachers to unlock every student’s potential for academic success and personal growth. Serving more than 7,800 schools across the U.S., Compass Learning takes a student-centered approach by providing comprehensive solutions that address the needs of every student and student-type to create personalized learning and differentiation programs that reach, engage and inspire students to succeed. An excerpt from the interview with Henson follows:

Q. What career path led to your profession?

A. I started out as a math teacher. I wanted to work with the students who had been unsuccessful in math and consequently hated math class. Along the way, I became very interested in educational technology and personalized instruction. This, subsequently, led to a role as director of Instructional Technology for my school district, where I was responsible for selecting and implementing a district-wide instructional technology solution. It was in this role as a customer that I was introduced to the company where I now work. I have held a variety of positions from professional development to sales and sales operations that ultimately landed me in my current role as vice president of Curriculum & Instruction and Customer Service.

Q. What educational background and/or professional training are essential for your profession?

A. As vice president of Curriculum & Instruction, an education degree and experience in a classroom is essential in order to really understand the challenges students face, as well as to develop effective content. Content knowledge or expertise simply isn’t enough. Hands-on experience is critical.

In my role as an executive, I have had to learn to put on a business hat as well. Educators that come from the nonprofit world of public education often have difficulty making the transition. You have to combine your desire to build excellent content with an understanding of the economic side of school budgets. Finding the necessary balance between building robust, feature-rich content that schools can afford to buy and simple enough for teachers to use effectively is crucial.

I believe the factor that has had the most impact on my ability to excel in my current role as a company executive is the wide variety of roles I have played here at Compass Learning. Having professional development, sales, marketing, curriculum, and customer service experience gives me the ability to see across departments and support the big picture. Having been a customer has been instrumental as well.

Q. What influenced you to pursue a career in your profession?

A. When I first became a teacher, I was young and idealistic and felt like with enough hard work I would be able to effectively meet the unique needs of the students in my class. I soon discovered that the needs were so diverse that I, as one teacher, couldn’t handle all of the personalization required. It became obvious to me that without technology to help manage the instruction, it was nearly impossible. I started to realize that I could have more impact on more students by becoming involved in the instructional technology world.

Q. What advice do you give to students who desire to pursue a career in your profession?

A. Outside of getting your education degree and classroom experience, just keep yourself informed and up to date on all the exciting advances being made in the instructional technology world. Follow bloggers, join professional forums and attend technology conferences. Once you start your career, look for ways to expand your skill set. Look at the benefit of lateral moves to different departments as well as those that take you up the career ladder.

Q. What is your job description and/or typical work day?

A. I wear two hats at Compass Learning: vice president of Curriculum & Instruction and vice president of Customer Service. As vice president of Curriculum & Instruction, I am responsible for the team that writes our instructional content, correlates all that content to Common Core and state standards, and provides sales support to our marketing and sales teams.

As vice president of Customer Service, I manage a team who is responsible for initial installation/setup and update of our customers’ software as well as any needed technical support. A typical workday is primarily comprised of meetings with the managers of the teams I oversee, as well as cross-functional team meetings to establish or improve processes. Because I have a varied background and sales experience, I am often brought in to work on strategic sales opportunities as well. While meetings take up a majority of my day, research to stay up on the latest trends and advances is a close second.

Research indicates that educational technology improves student achievement in the classroom. We sincerely thank Ms. Ann Henson for sharing her stellar experience and expertise as vice president with Compass Learning. We encourage other professionals to share their experiences to help improve students’ knowledge and understanding of careers. For consideration, contact us at [email protected]

Dr. Ronald Holmes is the author of two books, “Education Questions to be Answered” and “Current Issues and Answers in Education.” He is president of “The Holmes Education Post,” an education focused Internet newspaper. Holmes is the national superintendent of education for the National Save the Family Now Movement, Inc., a former teacher, school administrator and district superintendent. He can be reached at [email protected]

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