Friday, June 28, 2013

Employee Spotlight: Georgina

There's a new Educational Media Writer in town, and she means business. Georgina joined the Reasoning Mind team this Monday. She'll be helping the Knowledge Engineers make our lessons engaging and age-appropriate for our students. 

In addition to running marathons, Georgina also fishes like a boss. 
Today, you get to learn more about Georgina!
  1. I grew up in Houston but spent the last decade going to college and working in Washington, DC.
  2. I have an adorable and opinionated cat named Veda.
  3. I am 33 minutes older than my identical twin sister.
  4. I love to run and have finished a couple of marathons.
  5. I have a (not-so-secret) love of YA novels and the Harry Potter series.
  6. I spent some time post-college working as a theater stagehand and child wrangler.
  7. Most recently, I worked at a nonprofit in DC as a grant writer.
  8. I recently bought my very first car and named it Fluffy for reasons unclear to me.
  9. I could eat tacos every day for the rest of my life.
  10. On that topic, I am immensely relieved that Goode Company Taqueria is still around, seemingly unchanged from my childhood.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

General Update: 3 Year RM-versary

Last week, eleven of my coworkers and I celebrated three years of working at Reasoning Mind! In June 2010, the twelve of us started as Program Coordinators and spent two weeks training together in Houston before going off to our respective regions. The three years since then have encompassed more changes than I can name, but in honor of our 3-Year RM-versary, I thought I'd name five:

1. Newbie vs. "Senior"
I can't believe how much I know now compared to what I knew in June 2010! I remember feeling overwhelmed by information at our training, as we had two weeks to learn the ins and outs of the organization, teacher support, and the system itself in order to help train teachers later that summer. Now, I feel almost the opposite: after three school years of working with teachers, I have much more knowledge and insight into teacher support and no longer feel apprehensive about tough questions from teachers.

2. Location
Three years ago I was a Program Coordinator in Houston, where I worked for the 2010-2011 year. I shared an office with three other people in our midtown space. Now I'm in San Francisco, where I've supported our Bay Area schools for the last two years (and where my office is just me in my apartment!). Not only was becoming a remote employee a huge adjustment, but there were many differences between Texas and California public schools that I had to learn as well.

3. Makin' Moves
One of the most notable changes from three years ago is the way our 2010 training group has spread out within the company. Several of us are still working in the Implementation department as Senior Program Coordinators or Implementation Managers, but others have stepped into Communications, Enrollment, Finance and Administration, Individual Enrollment, and Professional Development! There have been plenty of physical moves, too: 75% of our group has changed offices (by choice) since beginning three years ago, including four of us who moved out of Texas altogether to support the pioneer regions!

4. Departmental Growth
The Implementation Department has grown in numbers; every summer we have gained more Program Coordinators, and we have a few more managers now, too! Beyond employee numbers, the department has also evolved in terms of our processes and our support of teachers. Like Jill said in her post, Program Coordinators work on projects over the summer, and many of our projects are dedicated to analyzing our current systems and teacher resources and deciding how we can improve them for the following school year.

5. Organizational Growth
That midtown Houston office I mentioned above? We outgrew it later that year, and moved to a larger office in Houston. The Houston crew has been in an even larger space for the last year, and we now have official Reasoning Mind offices in Dallas and San Antonio as well. The organization has also increased in terms of employees--some departments that used to be represented by 1-2 people have grown to 5 or more. A couple of our departments weren't even in existence three years ago! 

 PC Team 2011 in the old Houston office

(Almost all of the) PC Team 2012 in our Dallas office

In August, the whole team will meet together again for our annual department summit--we'll see what our photo looks like then!

Monday, June 24, 2013

General Update: Adventures in Dallas!

In Texas, school has been out for two weeks now and that means that our summer projects are well underway! Since only a handful of our school implementations use Reasoning Mind in the summer, Program Coordinators use working time in the summer to participate in small team projects to improve processes, materials, or functionality within our department or in partnership with other departments.

Dallas QC!
One of the projects I joined is our team of presenters for teacher trainings, known officially as the "Qualification Course Cohort", or "QC Cohort" for short. Our Professional Development team recently finished a complete overhaul of the Qualification Course, and this week we all came together to observe the PD team presenting the first workshop in its new format.

I love that my job gives me opportunities to travel quite a bit within Texas, not only for the chance to experience different cities, but also because I have made some great friendships in our other offices. Multi-region gatherings are always a blast, and we spend plenty of time hanging out outside of work as well as during the day.

On Tuesday night, I joined AJ (one of our superstar PD specialists) and Bianca (one of our superstar summer interns) on a fun trip (seriously) to Sam's Club to purchase snacks for the Qualification Course and then had dinner with two of the Houston Program Coordinators. On Wednesday, we were up bright and early to help prepare and observe the first day of training. We went to dinner at a superb Thai restaurant with some of the other lovely people from the Dallas office.

On Thursday, we watched the second and final day of the QC, and I left feeling super impressed all around. The previous version of the training was all right, but this one is outstanding--there are lots of classroom simulations built in designed to help teachers get a realistic feel for how an RM class should operate. We had a small, highly engaged and entertaining group of teachers who internalized their roles as "students" very well and gave us a few good laughs.

I'm looking forward to graduating more teachers from this awesome new training, and for more adventures throughout the summer!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Favorite Five: Summertime and the livin' is cool and delicious

Cooking: I hadn’t realized how little home-cooked food we have had in the last few months due to a family health crisis. I have really enjoyed cooking some old favorites recently: farfalle pasta in a white-bean, prosciutto, and parsley sauce; penne cardinale (a white sauce and a red sauce, combined with a little brandy); chicken marsala; chickpea and couscous salad with a lemon dressing.

Swimming: We had an abnormally cool (for Houston) May, so I didn’t make it into the pool until the last two weeks. My parents’ apartment building has a pool that is not only very nice and usually empty, but is also just on the other side of a wall from Miller Outdoor Theatre! A signature Houston summer evening experience for me is a lazy time at the pool with my kids, staring up into the trees and listening to whatever happens to be on stage that night. Motown? Accordians? You never know!

The non-burnt, early summer of Houston: It hasn’t been too hot or too dry (yet), so everything is pretty, fresh, and greena great time of year in Houston.

This: Graffiti you can get behind!

Fifth, but not least: this.  I can't tell which I like more, the song or the video.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Employee Spotlight: Monique

Reasoning Mind has a new Director of Finance and Administration! Monique joined us last week and has already rolled her sleeves up to tackle some of our financial and administrative projects. (Talent Development sidenote: It has been really fun to introduce Monique during the Grand Tour of the Houston Office, as her office was previously (and prominently!) unoccupied.)

Talk about Texas pride! 
  1. My husband also works for Reasoning Mind.
  2. I have two beautiful children (4 and 9), who are always entertaining.
  3. I am new to Texas. I lived in Florida most of my life, but I was born in Hawaii.
  4.  I graduated from the University of Florida and I am a huge Gator Fan. I usually hang a very large Gator flag in my office, but I haven’t broken it out yet…
  5.  I love the beach, but my favorite sport to participate in is snow skiing.
  6. My favorite places I have visited are Paris, Neuschwanstein Castle in Germany, and the North Shore in Hawaii.
  7. I am an Army brat: my dad spent 20 years in the military and retired as a Lt. Colonel.
  8. I am currently pursuing my certification as a Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR).
  9. I hate working in silence. I always want some sort of background noise, preferably instrumental music.
  10. I was an elementary Math teacher last year at a private school. I taught 3rd – 6th grade Arithmetic as well as Spelling, Penmanship, Bible, and Reading classes. 

Friday, June 7, 2013

Employee Spotlight: Katy

Katy is the newest member of the Professional Development team! She joined Reasoning Mind on Monday, coming to us from Scholastic, Inc., where she was an Implementation Consultant. We're excited to see the workshops Katy creates for Reasoning Mind! 

Hello from Central Park!
Today, we have the chance to learn a few fun facts about Katy:
  1. I have one dog (Maya, black lab) and two cats (Josephine’s a Calico and Oscar’s a Siamese).
  2. I am married (Bucky, human).
  3. I was born on Christmas Eve.
  4. I am left-handed.
  5. I majored in Painting and Spanish at Austin College.
  6. The Food Network is my favorite channel.
  7. Costa Rica is my favorite place. I studied there in college and have been back about five times since.
  8. I am a Daughter of the Republic of Texas. My family has been here since before the fall of the Alamo, y’all.
  9. I am a Rangers baseball fanatic and am in love with David Murphy. (Bucky accepts it. He is also a fanatic.)
  10. If I had to choose one thing to eat for the rest of my life, it would be tacos.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Employee Spotlight: Leigh

We have a newly minted Education Research Scientist! Leigh joined the team on Monday, coming to Reasoning Mind from the Houston Independent School District, where she was a research specialist. We're excited to read Leigh's reports on Reasoning Mind. 

Leigh and Todd, hanging out in some wildflowers this past April.
Today, Leigh shares ten things about herself: 
  1. I have a dog named Todd.  He was named after the fox in The Fox and the Hound because he looks like a little fox.
  2. I double majored in Psychology and Mathematics as an undergrad
  3. I love to travel and if things go according to plan, I’ll have visited all seven continents by the end of 2015
  4. I love hiking!
  5. I know an embarrassingly large amount of Disney trivia.
  6. I’m obsessed with dinosaurs (my favorite is the Plesiosaur)
  7. I once dove off a 40 foot cliff into the Mediterranean (yes, it was very scary)
  8. I have eaten fried tarantula legs
  9. I am still in touch with my first grade teacher, and she still sends me birthday cards every year
  10.  I have caught and relocated several alligators from the lake in my parents backyard to the marsh down the road. 

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

General Update: The Team is Growing!

2, 1, 5: the number of new team members who started last Tuesday, Friday, and this Monday, respectively. 

Whew! The Reasoning Mind community is certainly growing, and it will only continue to do so as the summer unfolds. As a faithful reader, you'll recognize the signs: a constant stream of Employee Spotlight posts, lots of activity on social media, perhaps new Employee Blog bloggers! 

It has been incredibly rewarding to be involved in this year's recruitment campaign: sourcing candidates back in the fall, actively recruiting them through the various application cycles, welcoming them now that they've started to arrive. I've had a tremendous amount of fun, likely because of the steep learning curve. 

One new initiative I'm particularly excited about is our Passport for new team members. 

Front cover, complete with "Street View" of RM City.
Identification pages. This comes from the Passport of one of our Summer Fellows, Bianca. For full-time employees, the identification pages look slightly different (no expiration date, for example!). 

Some of the inside pages of the passport, which introduce employees to some of our acronyms (like BPWs) and some of our lingo (like Genie 3)!
The goal of the Passport is to help new folks learn some of our jargon (hello, acronyms!), get to know the functions of other departments, and meet people who have varying interests, e.g., "Meet someone who leads BPWs," and "Meet someone who likes coffee."

I also try to organize a "New Employee Lunch" whenever we have new faces to welcome. At these lunches, similar to interview lunches, we typically go around the table introducing ourselves: our title, what we do at Reasoning Mind, where we were before Reasoning Mind, etc. A coworker, Nathaniel, suggested that we liven up these lunches by implementing an "introduce the person to your left" policy. This policy leads to lots of lunchtime laughter (I apologize for the alliteration, really, I do), especially when new team members innocently sit next to current employees they haven't met yet (which happens frequently).

Summer may be the start of a slightly calmer season for some folks at Reasoning Mind, but for the Talent Development department, it's go time!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Employee Spotlight: Paulette

Paulette is our newest Knowledge Engineer! She joined the team last Friday, coming to Reasoning Mind after finishing a post-doctoral fellowship (sponsored by the National Science Foundation!) at the University of Houston. Paulette knocked our socks off on her first day: she brought a cauldron full of candy to share! 

Paulette had the opportunity to speak at a math conference near the Grand Canyon, so she (smartly) took advantage of her proximity to this incredible site and snapped this photo.
Today, she'll have a chance to knock your socks off, too. Here are some need-to-know facts about Paulette:

1.  I was a dance major at the University of Florida.
2.  I spent my 5th year of graduate school doing research in Wollongong, Australia.
3.  I'm adopted.
4.  My favorite color is purple (this should be obvious) and my favorite holiday is my birthday (December 7)—commit it to memory now. :)
5.  I have two dogs—an 11-year-old toy poodle named Jay and a 7-year-old mini dachshund named Jane.
6.  I'm a huge horror and sci-fi fanatic.
7.  My car's name is Kal-El.  Do you know where that name comes from?
8.  My favorite game is Plants vs. Zombies and PvZ 2 comes out as a free download on July 18 (only on Apple products :)) so if you don't see me on that day you know why.
9.  When President Obama spoke at the University of Iowa in 2010 I got to be in the VIP section.
10. When I was young I wanted to grow up to be the first black female Supreme Court Justice or Janet Jackson's choreographer.