//

Edgenuity CEO Sari Factor: “I would want to increase awareness that every person learns differently, and that as a society, we should be more sensitive and accommodating to this reality”

I would want to increase awareness that every person learns differently, and that as a society, we should be more sensitive and accommodating to this reality. Education is our greatest tool for building a strong, equitable, and thriving nation, and it is unfortunate how learning differences can get overlooked and ignored, or seen as deficiencies […]


I would want to increase awareness that every person learns differently, and that as a society, we should be more sensitive and accommodating to this reality. Education is our greatest tool for building a strong, equitable, and thriving nation, and it is unfortunate how learning differences can get overlooked and ignored, or seen as deficiencies instead of opportunities.


I had the pleasure of interviewing Sari Factor, the CEO of Edgenuity, a leading provider of online curriculum and instructional services for the K–12 market. Throughout her career, Sari has been committed to advancing the education and education technology fields and driving the use of personalized learning. She has played a major role in bringing the latest technology to classrooms around the United States, challenging the status quo of when, where, and how students are learning and educators are teaching.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

Education has always been a passion for me. I loved everything about school — from classes to clubs, sports, orchestra, and student government. My positive experience as a learner combined with leadership opportunities I had early on brought me to where I am today, leading a company that provides access and opportunity for students.

I’ve always believed in the power of technology to enhance people’s lives. Over a long career in education and publishing, I observed that schools weren’t taking advantage of computers to help teachers teach and students learn, while other industries were transforming through the use of technology. At Edgenuity I have the opportunity to fulfill my vision to enhance the teaching and learning experience by putting the power of technology in the hands of teachers and kids. Today we are making a real impact on millions of students each year.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?

I learn so much from our school partners — just talking with students and teachers who use our software. Not long after I joined Edgenuity, I visited a school that was using our Courseware solution to help students who had failed a class and needed to recover credits.

One student, who was performing significantly better in his class after he began using our software, asked me, “Why did I have to fail to be able to learn this way?” That moment really stuck with me, and from that point, I was even more driven to provide opportunities for all students to have access to the right educational resources for them.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

Two months after starting my first job, my boss decided to expand the team and asked me to hire two people to help me. It was my first supervisory role! I’m a fast mover, so of course I rushed off to recruit my new employees and began training them. I ended up having to fire the first person I hired because she couldn’t even make it through the training. From that experience (and a few other hiring mistakes I’ve made over the years), I’ve learned that clearly defining what is needed in a role and interviewing to determine both job fit and cultural fit are critical. Not funny, but memorable.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

Our people are our most important differentiator. They consistently go above-and-beyond for our customers and their students to ensure success.

I remember one time when one of our employees — a success coach — wasn’t able to reach one of her students, only to learn that the student had been arrested. When she called the young man’s mom to find out when he would be back online, she said that she wasn’t planning to bail him out so he would learn his lesson. Over the ensuing 24 hours, our instructor convinced her student’s parents that he would learn more by being back in school than being in jail. That is the type of extraordinary commitment that our employees have to our students’ success.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

As is typical with disruptive innovation, Edgenuity products were initially adopted for students who weren’t well served by textbooks or traditional teaching methods. Early use cases were for students performing below grade level or those who need to recover credits. As we improved our products over the years, our customers began to use them in new ways with larger groups of students to personalize learning for every child, not just those who are behind.

We continue to innovate, adding features and engaging content to serve the needs of wider range of students. I’m excited by the opportunity to help educators as they transform their learning environments with technology — enabling teachers to become more efficient and effective by surfacing data to manage their classrooms better and giving more students greater opportunity to learn online.

What advice would you give to other female leaders to help their team to thrive?

The culture you create as a leader is crucial to the success of any team. My advice for female leaders is to work hard to create an environment where all people feel valued and are encouraged to take risks, speak up, and ask questions.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

I have worked with so many incredible people over the years who have taught me a lot, so it’s difficult to choose just one person or example. I had one boss who kept a little slip of paper in his pocket and he’d write down little ideas he had for how to improve our business as he walked around and talked with people across our department. From him I learned that there is rarely one big thing that you can do to improve your business; that success comes from continuous improvement — making lots of little things better every day.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

I’m privileged to have a career that allows me to help students find the same passion for learning that I have. Everyone deserves a chance to learn and thrive in school. Today, Edgenuity solutions are used by more than 20,000 schools, including 20 of the 25 largest school districts in the United States. During my time leading Edgenuity, we have helped thousands of schools improve the academic outcomes for millions of students. Helping more kids graduate high school, go on to college or the careers of their choice, and become productive citizens is our goal.

What are your “5 Leadership Lessons I Learned From My Experience” and why. (Please share a story or example for each.)

I often get asked to speak at women’s events. Here’s what I tell aspiring women leaders:

  1. Be Competent
  • Set goals and execute on them
  • Don’t be a control freak — delegate!
  • Listen well
  • Communicate up and down

2. Be Courageous

  • It’s okay to take risks (men are generally better at this)
  • Speak up and ask questions
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help; surround yourself with people who will tell you the truth
  • Advocate for what’s right

3. Be Curious

  • Ask questions
  • Learn about your business — even the parts you’re not involved with
  • READ!
  • Advance your knowledge, skills, and expertise
  • Network and build relationships

4. Be Authentic

  • Play to your strengths
  • Develop and supplement your weaknesses
  • Admit mistakes and learn from them
  • Believe in yourself

5. Be Healthy

  • Take care of yourself
  • eat right, exercise,
  • and have a life outside of work

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I would want to increase awareness that every person learns differently, and that as a society, we should be more sensitive and accommodating to this reality. Education is our greatest tool for building a strong, equitable, and thriving nation, and it is unfortunate how learning differences can get overlooked and ignored, or seen as deficiencies instead of opportunities.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

Light a torch for others. Your light will perpetuate and shine brightly for years to come.

This comes from my belief that we all have something to teach and we all have something to learn — and that we must be willing to continue learning throughout life. No one has all the answers, but our world will be better through a diversity of thought and a deeper understanding of others.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

Follow Edgenuity on Twitter @EdgenuityInc.

Share your comments below. Please read our commenting guidelines before posting. If you have a concern about a comment, report it here.

You might also like...

Human Revolution//

Bill Gates and Oprah Both Follow the 5-Hour Rule

by Michael Simmons
Community//

Meet The Female Leaders Of Finance: “Business thinking is a method. You can learn it literally everywhere, first, by using it.” with Olga Duka and Tyler Gallagher

by Tyler Gallagher

Sign up for the Thrive Global newsletter

Will be used in accordance with our privacy policy.

Thrive Global
People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.

- MARCUS AURELIUS

We use cookies on our site to give you the best experience possible. By continuing to browse the site, you agree to this use. For more information on how we use cookies, see our Privacy Policy.