In 2011, as I was putting my then 2nd grade daughter to bed, I noticed she was crying. She learned that her teacher would get fired if she failed the NECAP test the next year. This TERRIFIED her and it saddened me, deeply.


It threw me back to my own SAT days – the night sweats, panic attacks, throwing up in the bathroom minutes before the standardized tests began. My test results were well below average, and YET I graduated with honors, 1st in my class. 


I did not want my test-fearing trend to be passed down to my daughter, AND I couldn’t help but wonder… is there a more encouraging and accurate way to gauge learning? 


This is what keeps me up at night: nearly one in four RI students does not graduate high school with their peers, most dropping out during freshman and sophomore years.  Many blame chronic absenteeism, kids feeling disengaged and leaving.  One dropout will cost taxpayers roughly $292,000 over a lifetime, earning a third less than a high school graduate, two-fifths that of a college graduate, and carry significantly higher chances of living a life in poverty and/or incarceration.


But here’s the GOOD news: graduation rates are on the rise locally and nationally. Studies credit increased ENGAGEMENT for this. Students grow AND stay in school when they feel CONNECTED to someone or something that INTERESTS them.


We ALL know what it feels like to be interested and engaged in learning something new. You are each a treasure trove of stories – learning experiences that shape who you are, what you’re good at, what you believe and why. 


Stitched together, our stories paint an illustrative picture of what powerful learning is and can be – in ways that a test score cannot. Key word here: STORIES. Learning401 was created to harness the power of stories to shift the current education debate and change the face of local learning.  


Our journey started in my home state of Rhode Island, and has the capacity to be replicated in any city or area code. 


Please join me in being the change we all want (and need) to see in education,




Learning401 Founder and Curator