10 education entrepreneurs give advice to new founders in 2024


As parents continue to search for more personalized educational options for their children, and education choice policies expand in many states to enable funding for pursuing students, 2024 may be an ideal time to launch a new school or educational model.

In my bi-weekly Edit podcast, interviewed everyday entrepreneurs who are creating innovative, affordable schools and learning spaces across the US, and reached out to 10 entrepreneurs who recently appeared on the show to find out what encouragement or advice they would offer to aspiring founders. Each of their programs is distinct, representing a variety of educational models and styles; But they share a common commitment to building individualized, low-cost educational solutions that provide an increasingly accessible alternative to traditional education.

If you’re feeling drawn to education entrepreneurship, the following ideas from these 10 founders might be just the boost you need to take your adventurous leap this year:

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1. Listen to families: “Connect and learn from families within your community. Build your model in a way that meets needs while also maintaining your vision. Finally, you can benefit from others who have successfully broken down educational barriers. We are here to support you and watch you thrive!” (Mercedes Grant is a former public school teacher and founder Life learning path, a small K-8 school in Yorktown, Virginia. She launched her program this fall with more than 30 learners and a long waiting list)

2. Look beyond the current system: “If you’ve spent any time working in the traditional school system, you’ve seen that it fails students simply because they don’t meet the requirements. Think about your values, be bold, separate yourself from that system, and build a new fund for some of these young people. (Josh Bickle is a former public school teacher and founder Canton Cooperative Learninga full-time self-directed learning center for teens in Canton, Illinois)

3. Don’t ignore your instincts: “If you hear a voice inside asking you to open a school, whether it’s a whisper or a scream, please listen to it! That voice is the sound of little humans begging for something different; that makes more sense; that prepares them for life (and lets them enjoy it) )! They need you – now more than ever. It may not be easy, but it’s worth it! So get it. I’ll cheer you on.” (Heather DiNino is a former public school teacher and founder Elements Academya learner-directed microschool for pre-K through 12th grade in Braintree, Massachusetts)

Students create creativity at Elmercito Academy in Los Angeles (Kerry McDonald)

Students create creativity at Elmercito Academy in Los Angeles (Kerry McDonald)

4. Break the mold – It may be scary but it will be more satisfying: “There will be days when this feels like an experiment and the temptation to return to the status quo is real. This previous place may not have been as satisfying, but at the very least, it was more predictable. On days like these, don’t give up. The work you are about to embark on is to break Generational courses, and you are a pioneer in your own right. You will guide, mentor, inspire, learn and unlearn what you have learned, venture out, discover and change the way you experience education. You will reach out and transcend your fears, inspiring the next generation of world changers to dream big and take action. You will not accept uniform ways of being and you will not Never “fit the mold.” You were never meant to, and that’s what makes what you do worth it! You have a vision that our kids need. You have a vision that our world needs. Run with it! I’m rooting for you and so many other founders who wake up every day with They know that this community belongs to all who are bold enough to dive into it! (Lisette Valles is a former teacher and librarian of the school that founded Elmercito Academy (In Los Angeles, California in 2021. It is a learner-centered, experimental small school that embraces trauma-informed and inclusive educational practices)

5. Be part of the change you want to see: “Traditional education may be mainstream but our children deserve innovative options. Hear the call for education reform! Your unique vision and mission to meet the educational needs of all children will have great rewards. (Sharon Masinelli is a co-founder and co-founder St. John the Baptist Hybrid Schoola hybrid K-12 homeschool program in Kennesaw, Georgia with 120 students attending full-day classes with charter teachers two to three days a week)

6. Seize this innovative moment in time: “I believe now is an invigorating moment for visionary education entrepreneurs to push toward new frontiers in education. The seeds of new ideas in education have been planted for years by powerful, hard-line school choice advocates in states like Arizona. As a founder of a dedicated small school “For boys only. I am grateful for the waves of support from parents and others in Arizona. The future is here.” (Jack Johnson Pannell founded a public charter school in Baltimore, Maryland before launching a small private school, Trinity Arch Preparatory School for BoysThis fall in Phoenix, Arizona)


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7. Know your limits:“Know your strengths, know your passions, but most importantly, know your limits. When I finally realized that by trying to serve everyone, I would only recreate the system we are all trying to leave – a system in which the top priority is efficiency, not… Quality or teacher authenticity – it freed me to create something I knew I could continue based on my unique talents, passions, and limitations. (Devan Dillenbach is a former public school teacher and founder Re*Wild Family Academya small K-12 home school in rural Abbeville, Kansas that launched earlier this year and continues to expand to meet local demand)

8. Keep experimenting:“The world is ready for new education models. We know that things have to change, and that our young people deserve change. Keep experimenting, keep pushing things forward, and keep listening to our young champions. (Founded by Danielle Falls Smith Acton Academy Venice Beach (In Venice, California in 2013. Her K-12 school is part of Acton Academy’s rapidly growing learner-led network of small schools that began with a single school in Austin, Texas in 2009 and now includes more than 300 schools serving thousands of learners) .

9. Maintain your confidence while swimming against the current: “A big part of this is really just the process of coming out of school from a lifetime spent in the traditional school system. Then there’s also the uncomfortable feelings you get when you step out of line and go against the grain and go against the system… and that’s exactly what you’re doing. I’m in the middle of my year Second, even though I’m much better at it all now, I still regularly turn to all the wonderful literature on self-directed learning for reassurance! You’re not alone, and this is good, needed, and meaningful work! (Troy Salazar is a former public school teacher and founder Liberty Center for Self-Directed Learninga full-time K-12 learning center for homeschoolers in Des Moines, Iowa)

10. Always remember that you are helping to change the world: “Small progress toward building alternative education ultimately changes the world.” (Tara Cassidy is a former public school teacher who was fired Crossroad Trails Education Center in the Kansas City area as a small, full-time K-12 school providing maximum curriculum choice and customization within a collaborative, project-based learning environment. Cassidy launched her program in August 2022 and now has a capacity of over 30 students and a long waiting list)

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