Greg White, CEO, LEARN Charter School Network, on Making a Difference on the Front Lines
Greg White is the President & CEO of LEARN, a network of high-performing, tuition-free public charter schools with 11 schools that serve over 4,400 Pre-K to 8th grade students in Chicago and Washington D.C.
Listen in as Greg shares his career journey, with a particular focus on his transition from the investment world to philanthropy to eventually becoming the CEO of a charter school network. He then dives deep into his philosophy and approach to ensuring the success of students in some of the most challenged communities in Chicago.
Amanda Setili (00:02):
Today, my guest is Greg white, Greg and I first got to know each other as section mates at Harvard business school. And after leaving there, he worked in investments first for Solomon brothers and eventually founding his own venture capital firm. He also taught at the Kellogg school of management, one of the nation’s premier business schools. I’m really interested to hear about Greg’s transitions in, in life and in career because after that he served for the Chicago community trust, which is a completely different kind of investment it’s philanthropic investment. So people investing in solving and addressing the greatest and most critical needs facing the Chicago area. And then now he’s the CEO of learn charter school network, which has 11 schools in Chicago and DC, and serves more than 4,400 students. So Greg, I really first of all, welcome. And second of all, I really want to explore this transition that you made from kind of the business and you know, investment world to philanthropy, and eventually becoming the CEO of a charter school network. Why did you do that?
Greg White (01:17):
Thank you, Amanda. So mad understand this was not sort of when it wasn’t it took many years of text to do this, but it happened, it happened in one decision. Well, I mean by that is I’ve always been involved in the community. Even when I worked in finance, I had another, I had a pad, a dual life. So when I worked at, in banking console bank in a solid brothers, you might know this. I was actually commissioner of a baseball league in a very low income community called Cabrini green. So by day I was a banker at night, I was a volunteer baseball coach. And I became commissioner even in business school, man. And while we’re in business school, did you know, I had a boy scout troop at the Roxbury boys and girls club.
Greg White (02:01):
I’ve always had this call to as a volunteer basis to stay deeply involved in the community. And the last one gave me leadership experience more important than it had me. It was just so fulfilling. When I was in, in addition to baseball, I was also board president of a group called lakefront SRO with the largest developers of single remark and see housing for the homeless. The point I’m making is it wasn’t overnight decision. I’ve always been deeply involved in how to make the community a better place. And I knew, I know the need to when you get involved and you’re on the front lines, you know, the need. And I always said, you know what, let me one day. And I was a volunteer by the way at the last one, I wasn’t, I was actually a volunteer on the board of learn charter school. And I was board president of a couple years. And when the opportunity came to grow the network from one of those schools to multiple schools I was hired as a CEO.
Amanda Setili (03:08):
Fantastic. So was that a hard decision?
Greg White (03:15):
It was very easy decision for me, but it was a difficult sell to my family and friends occasionally. Okay. Here’s my point. So no I’ve always had I feel, I believe have the right to live with passion and purpose that I want to be excited about what I do. And I’ve always had a passion for education and a passion for entrepreneurship. This was a very entrepreneur venture to grow, to really grow from 20 employees and now 550 employees to grow from 2 million in revenue. When I joined into now it’s 70 million, so is it entrepreneur venture? And also the time I was working downtown with a nice office and I really wanted to be in the community on the front lines. I was well aware of the problems with education. It just wasn’t working for many students who looked just like me. And I said, well, what can I, what can I do? How can I get involved? Not just theoretically talk about policies, raise a little money. No. How do I get involved on the front lines, working directly with students and I wasn’t qualified to be a teacher. So I also, wasn’t my highest and best use of my skills. How do I leverage my business expertise, my passion kids and education, and my relationships and contacts and finance to help help
Amanda Setili (04:49):
Tell me a little bit about a typical day or a typical week, a CEO of learn charter school network. What do, what do you do?
Greg White (04:58):
Great question. So I’m laser focus on talent. I realized the, today it’s not about curriculum. It’s about talent. So I’m obsessed with how do I achieve results through my principals and my other direct reports. So I’m crystal clear, which is, you know, how the principals do it. We have great principals, you have great schools. Would you agree? It’s simple, great principals of great schools. So I’m always checking in, how can I be helpful? What resources do you need? So I, I do a lot of work with so first and foremost, all about focusing on talent. But two, I I’m externally focused. Also. I need to work with the politicians, everything from a local alderman to a mayor, or you must always, you know, we’re, we’re a public school. So therefore we’re impacted by things that occur in the public sector. And so just going to develop relationships with politicians or the business leaders, I’ll do a lot of fundraising. We fundraise about four and a half to $5 million a year. So it’s, it’s telling a story, compelling story to philanthropic people who care passionately about education. And did I ask, you said it’s putting out fires any given day. This is fun about this shot any given day, you have no idea what shows up, correct.
Greg White (06:16):
COVID taking light of COVID and then more importantly, am I the right person to work on it? So my job of course, is to hire great people, motivate them and then make sure that that to make sure that they have your autonomy and authority and in the judgment to know, to make good decisions.
Amanda Setili (06:36):
Do you find that because you have you’re a charter school and you operate under a little bit different rules than the other schools in Chicago that you see that you can attract way more fantastic principals, teachers, et cetera, than our typical school.
Greg White (06:55):
So that’s a good question. I, I think I, I’m not sure about, I won’t, maybe I’ll say it’s a different profile. How’s that? I’m not sure if I’m good or better. I think it’s definitely a different profile because because with the autonomy that a principal has, it’s also a lot of responsibility, correct? It’s each of this, a guide book you have to follow, it’s much more difficult if you can make decisions. If it’s not, if the rules are clearly written, if you have to make judgements about people about, about the curriculum about, about the rules.
Amanda Setili (07:32):
So you’re saying that in a charter school, there’s just more variables that have to be decided. And some people are less comfortable with that. And other people relish it.
Greg White (07:43):
Yes. There’s also hard. I think high level of accountability too, but your results are public. And every five years we must renew all charter. If we deliver poor results, we didn’t, our charter is not renewed. So all principals are clear, which is we have to deliver strong results to students who are not assigned to our school. We have to be a better option for parents, but they’ll go somewhere else. Unlike your traditional school, where kids are aside, some sense, they have a monopoly from the neighborhood. We do not. We have to convince every family, family we’re the best option for them to attend. So, so therefore the principals must be highly confident. They can do a great job.
Amanda Setili (08:27):
What do you hold them accountable for? And what, what are the results that you can point to that, that, that show to prospective families and to prospective employees that you’re really doing something different than a regular school?
Greg White (08:41):
Sure. So what they’re accountable to, I can be really simple. I say, it’s principles, you got to do three things. One, you must live out values. You must drive strong academic achievement. You have to play well with others to be a good team player. And under, I guess, under the strong academic results we measure a couple of things. One where our kids go to high school in a college. So we track, although we’re, pre-K through eight, we track students all the way through high school and through completion of college. And by that measure, we have, we have a very, very strong college completion even after, although we only have them through the eighth grade. We also strong academic outcomes. If you measure it by the state standards, the Illinois assessment of readiness, which is, which is a very rigorous test. And it’s nasty norm.
Greg White (09:27):
We dramatically outperform all, all the schools that in the neighborhood that kids would have attended. I mean, by, by, by a multiple. So we’re very proud of those accurate results, but more important than that, actually I’ll tell you living the values is actually much more difficult and much more important to us. A leader is just has to also embrace who we are, how we treat each other values are how you treat each other and how you make important decisions. So we have five core values, high expectations, safe, and nurturing environments, really important, respect, really important family involvement. All right. And these are the things people are judged on. Like, are you living our values in terms of how you treat people? And the final one is the whole child, not just academics, are you meeting the social, emotional, psychological, and physical needs of students because you can drive great academic outcomes, but if you’re not safe and nurturing, we don’t want you here.
Amanda Setili (10:26):
So tell me about with all your great results and probably good teachers and everything. I would think that families would be clamoring to get in. Is that the case, do you have way more applicants than you can take? And if so, or even if not, so what are the criteria for getting, for becoming, you know, a student at, at learn charter schools?
Greg White (10:50):
So the great news is there’s no criteria. If you live in the city that you have, right. A right to a role in our school, there’s the application is just enrollment form, right? There are no tests, there’s no fee, it’s a free open enrollment public school.
Amanda Setili (11:05):
So can anybody, I mean, do you have plenty of capacity for every single person who enrolls
Greg White (11:11):
In general? Yes. if not, then we’ll have a, we’ll have a lottery, but in general, we have space, essentially. You asked the question why and understand this though, is that when people, the most families decide where to send their kids to elementary school, it’s really the proximity to dropping the kid off and not able to have our kids come from a, not a mile radius of our school. And we’re located in some of the most challenged communities in the city of Chicago. So we purposely located and communities where we know there’s great need for a stronger level of education. And so, so most kids come from the neighborhood
Amanda Setili (11:57):
And would there be another school that they could have gone to? That would be almost as close?
Greg White (12:02):
Oh sure. Chicago, Chicago has a demographic problem, as a result there is actually more space than there are students. There’s plenty of choice. Parents, parents have a lot of choice and we have to be the best option for them that, and that’s by delivering it, by having the best treatment, how we treat our families and how well our students are performing academic.
Amanda Setili (12:30):
Do you think that you get different types of kids than the, than the non-charter schools get? Or do you think you just kind of get a random selection of families and kids?
Greg White (12:42):
So I think that we have is it tends to reflect if it tends to reflect the community because parents, again, proximity is a huge factor where kids attendance up to parents are less informed than you imagine. Most, most parents do not know the test scores for the school down the street, they just don’t. And it also may not be most important criteria. I’ll say this. I think that the we also, we discover also that there are really, I think a couple types of parents. There’s some parents who come to us because they have struggled. Their child has been failing in a traditional neighborhood school. So they seek us out because their child is struggling in and they may need a different approach. There also, we have a longer school day and a longer school year. There’s some families that want that, and others that don�t.
Greg White (13:27):
If you’re, if you’re a mom and you’re a single mom, you work, you, you, you have seven, o’clock drop off at a 5:00 PM pickup, but we’re a great place for you, right? We also start typically the first week of August. So if it’s helpful to have, if you want your child to get a jumpstart on the academic year. We’re a great place for you because a charter, we have the autonomy to set our own calendar, to set our hours of operation and to offer the school programs that are necessary.
Amanda Setili (13:59):
Are there people or political forces that disagree with the charter school approach? And if they do, why do they disagree?
Greg White (14:09):
You have to ask them. I’m not sure. I think, I think this is much my opinion as much misinformation, just things it’s just people, he, things are true. So I think that when we have an opportunity to really tell our story and clear up the misinformation and the myths in general, we, we get, we get, we get very positive support, but there’s a lot of misinformation. The last piece is we get paid per student. So the money follows the student. So if a student, parent, Alexis and their child to our school versus school demonstrate, well, the funding for that student goes to his funds are redirected from that other school to ours
Amanda Setili (14:54):
And people see that as a problem because it’s robbing the non-charter schools of funds?
Greg White (15:01):
Oh, sure. I think potentially I think if you lose that, you know, more than some size, if you lose your enrollment because of poor performance, most cases, what guess what, how, how do you get recruited to get better when you lose your resources? It’s that sort of very negative spiral, correct?
Amanda Setili (15:19):
Right. And I’ve, I’ve read I just did a little bit of research before talking to you that enrollment is down because of the pandemic, I guess that, especially with three and four year olds, they’re not, they’re not signing up to come to the other schools as readily, but I believe your school is still getting it. Hasn’t had as much of a drop in enrollment. So you, your funding is probably doing better than some of those other schools
Greg White (15:46):
We’ve been fortunate. I think that you’re right at the kindergarten level, parents are parents to just defer until COVID is over. We’ve been fortunate to maintain our, our, our high level enrollment, but in large part is to retention. So if parents are satisfied and the students are happy and making and making academic progress, guess what parents want their kids returned to life. And we’ve had that that’s been a positive experience.
Amanda Setili (16:14):
What, what, what can you tell us about the disparity, if any, between the funding that schools in poor, you know, lower income neighborhoods have versus the schools that are in higher income neighborhoods, how does that, how does, is that, is there a disparity on, how does it affect things? If there is
Greg White (16:34):
Absolutely answers absolutely positive, it’s a huge disparity and not within the city, typically there’s within the city of Chicago or Waukegan, it’s, it doesn’t vary by neighborhood. It does vary. It does vary by jurisdiction, right? So for example, how is how public school works funding is typically the state gives so much per kid, right? And then typically that’s augmented by the local real estate tax base, right? The problem is what rich communities have a lot more real estate taxes, more expensive homes, and therefore they can actually invest substantially more in education. So in a poor community, they rely heavily on state funding on do not be able to, to augment what a couple of thousand dollars. So it could be wide disparities. So for example, in Chicago, I think we spend about 12,000 per student, 11 to 12,000 per student. There’s some, some much wealthier communities that maybe spend 25 to 30,000 per student. And it’s because their local property tax base is much higher. More expensive homes, more, much more proportioned enterprises like shopping malls, others, commercial buildings. And so the problem is where you have the greatest need. You have a lot fewer resources,
Amanda Setili (17:55):
Right? That’s so sad. So backwards kind of
Greg White (18:02):
Well, but then argue by the way. But, but wealthier community say, Hey, listen, we’re paying more in taxes. We want to invest, but why shouldn’t we? So their argument is why can’t I invest more in my community?
Amanda Setili (18:13):
The other thing that I’m not, I’m not sure what to think about is in some parts of Georgia, they will say if you’re you don’t, you know, if you’re too old to have school aged kids, you don’t have to pay as much property tax. But in my mind, I mean, I guess I’m just too Pollyanna. Pollyanna is it seems like it’s to everyone’s benefit to have well-educated young people coming into the workforce, contributing to society, you know, it’s just, it’s, it’s a public good. It’s not a good just for the families that are actually have school-aged children.
Greg White (18:52):
I agree. Amanda, the other pieces later is do you view education, public education as an investment or an expense if you view it as an expense, right? And you don’t believe these kids will contribute, but of course you want to minimize, minimize it. If you can view public education as an investment and which society over the longterm, there’ll be a substantial return. Of course you want to do more.
Amanda Setili (19:17):
Right. Right. I believe it’s definitely investment and investment in our entire culture and society and, and everything. So I’m so happy with what, what you do and how you contribute so much, Greg. One of the things that I found absolutely wonderful about your literature online about learn charter schools is that you do a blend of academic rigor and social, emotional support. And you even teach things like breathing exercises and meditation, and you do character building. I noticed that you had the kids recite every day. I will try my best. I will not quit. I will not rest. So can you tell us a little bit about, about all of that? Like what, what does social and emotional support mean? And is it different by teacher quite a bit, or are there certain principles and practices that, that every learn charter school puts in place?
Greg White (20:15):
Sure. So a good question, by the way, w I know it’s really the hot topic now, SEL social-emotional learning, but really we’ve been doing this for the last 20 plus years is, is core to our value system and it’s core to our success. So a couple of real private. So for example, we’ve had, we have, so we’ve always had social workers at every school, and now we have more than one particular line of COVID. Correct. So it’s just you and, and, and the key is who work directly with the students and in some social work. So it’s not just about compliance, but also it’s not a question. It’s all kids have access, right. That’s really important. Second piece is how do we then train our teachers or provide really retrain so they can actually meet the social emotional needs is not to saying the kid down the hall, but what if every adult is empowered and trained to really help meet the social emotional needs?
Greg White (21:11):
Look, let’s be honest. In the communities we operate in, there are a lot of complex needs. There’s a lot of trauma and not a complex needs, a lot of violence. And you know, if you’re a third grade and your, your dad got shot last night, max is up first, not the top of your list. Right. Right. Is that your focus right now? So a soft, we believe it before we can help. You must sometimes feel you. So it’s really working with students and families, not just soon, but also the families to help them deal with some of the complex needs of your homelessness, death. Imprisonment, if your, if your mothers is, this has been unfortunately locked up, that does impact your your psychology and your ability to do well academically, the challenges faced by our families and try to bring solutions.
Amanda Setili (22:05):
Wow. That sounds like so many tough issues to deal with. And now the pandemic has making it even more difficult. How has the pandemic impacted kids’ ability to deal with the trauma that they’re experiencing, but also to get along in the classroom, get along on the playground and learn social skills.
Greg White (22:28):
Great question, Amanda. So a couple of things, one, I think kids are like adults. Everyone’s on edge. I call it. I think they’re just, people seem to have a shorter fuse, just a little bit more quick triggers now. Right. I think, I think this is built up anxiety or stress and people aren’t quite sure where it’s from and how do I express it? How do I, how do I get relief to that? So therefore it has been tough to disciplines sense of isolation to me for the last year, correct people weren’t connecting. And even now, because of all the social distancing in the basket is not the same level of just personal connection. That’s a, that’s a a genuine human need. I think about it, you know, there are students who will be receiving social work and psych and psychologist report support.
Greg White (23:21):
It was, oh, it was zoom. It’s not the same thing as doing in-person. No however it’s flip side is kids are amazingly resilient. So they’re back, they’re thrilled to be back. I mean, they are very, very happy back in person and making those connections again receiving the direct academic support they need. So, you know, we’re our very best. The last thing I’ll tell you, which is when kids returned last April, we said is our number one priority is joy. How do you bring joy? Yes, we need to work on the academics without question. But first and foremost, let’s how do we bring back joy? That’s I think the big part of was missing during this. Unfortunately students can not be in the door.
Amanda Setili (24:09):
I love that in one of your videos, one of the teachers said we just, we let kids be kids. I think that’s so important to let kids play and pursue topics that they’re interested in when they’re in school and learn how to get along with other kids and learn, you know, if somebody’s father did get shot, how do, how do you empathize with that as another child, or w you know, those are such important life lessons that I would say would be almost impossible to convey via zoom. What, what did you, did you find any things that did bring back joy the most? I mean, like, were there, were there things that you all try to make sure every teacher did so that kids were really engaged with their work and were feeling joyful?
Greg White (25:07):
So good questions. Why, you know, she does want to be outside as much as possible. Correct. So whatever possible is have kids outside and don’t forget the communities we serve, a lot of kids do not do not go outside a lot because of the, the law is enforced because of the violence. Parents don’t feel safe. The kids don’t feel safe. You don’t, you did not see kids, bikes, bike riding outside. You don’t see little league baseball teams or the boy Scouts. So we try to offer those here. So for example, a lot, lot more sports programming, our volleyball team, cross country, and soccer. So let’s really do very specific programs. So kids can get outside. The comradery of sports is really important. Let’s see just allowing to some unstructured time because they naturally want to socialize. We have some enrichment classes, so it’s really just like, what are you passionate about and how do we connect their, our teacher’s passion with our students’ passion and giving them a chance just to enjoy some wonderful experiences.
Amanda Setili (26:08):
That’s, that’s great. I think I agree being outside where you can run around and just get your, just use your physical body, your physical body, if you can, if you can feel like you’ve run a long way, or you’ve gone on the jungle gym or whatever, you just, you’re so much more ready to learn. If you kind of gotten your wiggles out, if you, at least that’s how I am. Yeah. So one of the criteria that you mentioned when we were talking about results was high school placement and college placement. And I guess I’m just behind the times, I didn’t really realize that schools that just go through eighth grade public schools at least would have like placement offices to get you into high school. So what high schools are these kids going to, did they go onto a charter public school? Do they go occasionally to private schools or do they go back into the regular school system? And if they do what happens then?
Greg White (27:08):
Great question. So one of the unique aspects of learn is in every school we have eighth graders, we have full time assistants called high school placement. So their job is to work with our families, work with our students to find the best high school placement that really we call a college prep high school. So high schools where high percentage go to college. It’s really important. So again, examples in Chicago that go some of the best private schools in Chicago, the scholarships they go to boarding schools or with the kids and over, and it wasn’t the most prestigious high school boarding schools in the nation. We also, since high school, as well as some of the selective enrollment high schools in Chicago, where they have to test it. So the vast majority of our students go to great high schools that will then send them to college.
Amanda Setili (28:09):
And how did they fare there? Do they, do they sometimes have a culture shock of, wow. I suddenly landed here with a bunch of private school kids or even more so boarding school kids. I don’t fit in how, how do you prepare them for that?
Greg White (28:28):
That’s a great question. So I think the know kids, again, as soon as a far more resilient than adults realize, right? I mean, they’re with other kids, which is huge today. They like the research, which environments when they go to visit the boarding school. So some of these private schools they’re like, wow. And they quickly realize, I mean, the amount of resources in the nice facilities, computers, all the wonderful things these schools have, they also like being around other highly motivated, talented students. There is, there are some adjustments but our job is to make sure they’re ready academically. And we should, we do a very good job and they make, they tend to make the, make the social justice at that age is so flexible. And they’ll have all the baggage that adults have.
Amanda Setili (29:26):
And you find, even if you send them to an extremely competitive school, like Andover, where probably the kids that come there have been Penn to the best K through eighth grade programs, there are, and, and also have gone through a selective admission process. You know, if they’re paying students, I’m sure they had to compete to even, and get into Andover. I would, I would just be afraid to send a kid from your school there that they just go like, ah, I don’t, I’m not as prepared as everyone else, but it sounds like you just do such a good job preparing them that they’re fine.
Greg White (30:03):
Well, the key is, is the right placement. Now very few kids will go to boarding school, some but not right because the right placement, there’s some students once you know, the family, once, you know, what’s important to them their ability to adjust you pick the right place. The key is though someone’s guiding you. It’s not a random process, right? And we, we do all do don’ts. There are some schools which, which embrace our students houses have a wonderful experience and we help them go there. There are some schools which are less welcoming. And so we steer, we steer our kids away from those schools
Amanda Setili (30:40):
That is so valuable. Oh my gosh. To have that kind of advice and guidance as a 12 or 13 year old is just amazing. That’s fabulous. Well, Greg, what did, we’re nearing the end of our time? So what did I not ask you that I should have asked you? Or what other points do you feel like our audience really needs to know about you and your work at the learn charter schools? If anything?
Greg White (31:05):
Sure. I bet. I do think that I think this, this con, this notion of, I encourage people shine your passion. I had the courage to do something that’s meaningful to you, whatever that looks like when I, when I was making the transition of, to learn my friends who didn’t quite understand what I was doing, I said, guys, I’m just trying to live with passionate purpose. I want to be all in. I want, and I want to create something that would not have existed because of the work I did. I will look back and realize, look, 11 grade schools, and tens of thousands of kids have got a high quality education because of the work of the, my colleagues working alongside me. Right. So something good got done. And and, and it’s been a joy. It’s been hard. But it’s been a joy because when you’re all in, it’s not exhausting work is actually quite exhilarating.
Amanda Setili (32:01):
It’s so inspirational. Greg, what can people do if they want to support your cause and help learn charter schools, do what they need to do, or, or even if someone wants to work there.
Greg White (32:17):
Well, please, we, we all, all we have, we’re always looking for talent. I promise you every level of the organization, every job. So w www.learncharter.org. That’s our website. You’ll find them. If you’re a potential parent, you’ll find out how to enroll. If you’re a potential employee, you’ll find out all our job openings. If you’re a potential, it also makes it clear how you can support us financially. The last piece is I would just, I just hope for the more people who are aware of charter schools, the better, it’s not a misinformation, get the facts. What exactly is a charter school? Again, we’re a public school. Open enrollment is free. All kids, there’s no test to get in. But they, autonomy allows us to make really wonderful decisions on behalf of kids.
Amanda Setili (33:06):
I love that, Greg, thank you so much for being on our podcast. And it’s been wonderful to reconnect with you. You and I have talked several times over the last couple of years, but I don’t think we’ve gone. This in-depth into what really makes you tick and, and the value that you’re creating in the world. And I really appreciate all that you’re doing. And thank you for being a guest,
Greg White (33:29):
Amanda, thanks for the opportunity.
Amanda Setili (33:32):
Greg White is the President & CEO of LEARN, a network of 11 high-performing public charter schools that serve more than 4,400 students in Chicago and Washington D.C.
After graduating from Harvard Business School, Greg worked at Salomon Brothers before eventually founding his own venture capital firm. He also taught at the Kellogg School of Management and served at the Chicago Community Trust before becoming CEO of the LEARN Charter School Network.
Asked why he chose the unique career path that he did, Greg replies that “I’ve always had a passion for education and a passion for entrepreneurship. This was a very entrepreneurial venture. We grew from 20 employees and 2 million in revenue to 550 employees and 70 million in revenue.”
Before joining LEARN, Greg says, he worked in a nice office with a beautiful view, and met with nice people all day long. But what he really wanted was to be in the community, on the front lines. “I was well aware of the problems with education. It just wasn’t working for many students who looked like me. And I said, What can I do? How can I get involved, not just to set policy or raise money, but to work directly with students?”
Leading the LEARN organization has been hard, Greg says, but “It’s been a joy because when you’re all in, it’s not exhausting work. It’s actually quite exhilarating.”
As to his approach to leadership, Greg brings up his “laser focus on talent”. He believes in hiring great people and encouraging them to embrace their autonomy when it comes time to make decisions for the organization.
Speaking on his current role, Greg says that LEARN ensures its students’ success by focusing on the whole child, and not just on their academic prowess. It is all about meeting the social, emotional, psychological, and physical needs of students. He expects LEARN staff to live the organizations values and create a safe and nurturing environment, not just drive great academic outcomes.
This focus on values, behavior, and social-emotional learning (SEL) is motivated by the fact that LEARN is located in some of the most challenged communities in Chicago. Greg says that the network purposely located in neighborhoods that have a great need for stronger education.
“If you can view public education as an investment which benefits society over the long term, there will be a substantial return.”
WHAT IS FEARLESS GROWTH WITH AMANDA SETILI?
We all want to do work we love, and as leaders, entrepreneurs and employees, wouldn’t it be great to create workplaces where work feels like play?
Where people are tuned in to changes going on in the world around them? Where they’re constantly learning, spotting new opportunities, and taking action to go after them? These traits are essential to an organization’s agility and success.
In the Fearless Growth podcast, Amanda Setili and her guests explore the mindsets and choices that lead individuals, leaders and their organizations to outstanding performance.
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