Tag: The Whole Teacher

Meet the Entrepreneur

Meet the Entrepreneur: Jenna Shaw Aiding Teachers Through Wellness…

Meet the Entrepreneur: Jenna Shaw Aiding Teachers Through Wellness Programming

At 35 percent, Baltimore’s teacher turnover rate doubles the national average, and Jenna Shaw wasn’t immune to this. A Baltimore educator with nearly a decade of experience, Shaw found it became harder and harder to have the energy she needed to be a really good teacher. Instead of accepting or even perpetuating this reality, the Baltimore resident founded The Whole Teacher.

The Whole Teacher is designed to address teacher wellness, thereby increasing the retention rates of educators in city schools. This includes listening to educators’ unmet needs, providing on-site health and wellness programming, guiding schools to rethink how they can create healthier environments and conducting exit interviews with teachers to better understand why they are leaving.

Jenna Shaw

A member of the Social Innovation Lab’s 2016-2017 cohort, The Whole Teacher launched its pilot program in fall 2016, and is currently building its School Health Platform that connects teacher health data with programming to streamline health solutions within schools.

Below, Shaw answers questions about The Whole Teacher, her goals and the benefits of Baltimore.

In 5 words, what does your company do?
We help keep teachers healthy.

What are your goals, and how will you get there?
The Whole Teacher looks to expand our scope and impact over the next year by offering programming that reaches teachers in Maryland, D.C. and Pennsylvania.

By building school wellness programs that help both predict and prevent teacher burn-out, as well as tend to current teacher health needs, we will move to work with districts across the East Coast to bring in solutions to teacher satisfaction and development that move the needle on changing how the teaching profession feels and treats our educators.

Why have you chosen Baltimore as your startup’s home?
Baltimore is the home of everything I love. I grew up here and my life is here. I couldn’t imagine starting anything meaningful anywhere else.

What opportunities make it a good place for growing a business?
Baltimore is leading the nation in opportunities for edtech and health startups. Baltimore is at a pivotal point both in a social content, but also in education reform.

The issue of teacher retention is huge for our city and we believe we can have an enormous impact on students, schools and community by building the foundation of our company here in Baltimore.

In terms of startups and innovation, what’s one thing that separates Baltimore from other tech hotbeds?
Baltimore offers a diversity and social energy that I believe sets it apart from other startup centers around the country.

If you could give your past self one piece of advice for creating a startup, what would it be?
Start sooner. I wish I would have started a company 10 years ago while I was in college.

What book are you currently reading?
Radical Candor by Kim Scott

What innovator do you look up to? Why?
I am a huge fan of the arts. I think that Banksy is one of the most innovative artists of our time. The way he is able to spread social messages and comment on society is worth paying attention to and fascinating.

It’s after a long day of work, and you don’t feel like cooking. What is your go-to Baltimore restaurant?
Bar Clavel

What’s your favorite non-work-related thing to do in Baltimore?
I love art. I spend a lot of time watching, listening and participating in art in all forms. Our theaters are amazing and I often walk over the Baltimore Museum of Art from my house to unwind.

Click here to learn more about the Social Innovation Lab!


Social Ventures

Impact Hub Event Showcases Social Innovation Lab and Ventures

Impact Hub Event Showcases Social Innovation Lab and Ventures

The energy flowing through Impact Hub at 7:30 a.m. on February 22 had nothing to do with coffee-fueled caffeine rushes and everything to do with passion for social entrepreneurship.

That morning, dozens and dozens of people packed the Station North-based innovation lab for SocEnt Breakfast #29, a re-occurring morning meeting filled with brainstorming and networking to support emerging social ventures.

This iteration featured three Social Innovation Lab (SIL) teams (The Whole Teacher, Touching Young Lives and B-360), and began with SIL Director Darius Graham providing an overview of the program’s mission to develop nonprofits and mission-driven for-profits to better communities in Baltimore and around the world.

After Jenna Shaw of The Whole Teacher, Shantell Roberts of Touching Young Lives and Brittany Young of B-360 explained the issues their ventures intended to solve, each met with a focus group of 15-20 attendees to identify ways to strengthen their organizations.

“The questions were really great, and I felt that people were engaged and interested in what we were working on and very quick to offer community resources,” says Shaw, who established The Whole Teacher to increase the health, happiness and retention of Baltimore teachers.

The focus groups exposed the social entrepreneurs to diverse perspectives presented through a lens shaped by a variety of professional and life experiences.

“My group had so many people interested in Touching Young Lives,” says Roberts, who founded her nonprofit that provides education and tools to reduce the occurrence of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) after her 1-year-old daughter died. “One mother in my group lost her baby to SIDS, and she was able to extend her thoughts in any capacity I needed.”

In the case of B-360, a group dedicated to changing the perceptions of engineers and dirt bike riders and using dirt bikes to teach Baltimore children STEM, it not only received feedback but used the time to educate the group.

“We talked a lot about my students who by the age of 5 either ride dirt bikes or want to become dirt bike riders,” Young says. “The group was valuable because they had raw opinions, but they left viewing riders differently.”

Though the event officially lasted only about 90 minutes, many members of the focus groups lingered to meet and exchange business cards with the other SIL entrepreneurs.

“I left with a lot of business cards, and I have a lot of upcoming meetings because of that day,” Roberts says, noting specifically an opportunity to work with the International Rescue Committee to discuss how a relationship between their two organizations might look like.

Shaw and Young echoed that sentiment. Less than a week after the event she had reached out to about a dozen people she had met and had several more reach out to her.

“I made a lot of connections just from that morning,” Shaw says. “People have been offering to make introductions on behalf of The Whole Teacher and others have discussed how they approached similar challenges.”

“We made a lot of great connections, including mechanics, business interests, motorcycle riders, and STEM experts,” Young says. “The best part was that the event was unscripted but had a great flow, so everyone left feeling empowered. B-360 left having more concrete validations on the importance of our work and the need in the community.”

The advice, inspiration and connections derived from this event, which included past SIL cohort members, may turn out to be indispensable. At least one of the entrepreneurs looks forward to paying the support she has received forward.

“(SIL alumni) have all been really inviting and willing to help in whatever they can,” Roberts says. “I always joke with (Graham), ‘How great do I have to be so that I can come back and help future teams?’ I’m always willing to lend assistance.”

Want to learn more about the Social Innovation Lab? Click here.

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