Dr. Reshan Richards has joined New Canaan Country School this fall in the newly created role of Director of Studies. Dr. Richards, a long-time educator, is also a successful educational technology entrepreneur, having co-founded Explain Everything, Inc., as one of the fastest-growing whiteboard platforms on the market. In addition, he is the co-author of Make Yourself Clear, How to Use a Teaching Mindset to Listen, Understand, Explain Everything and Be Understood and Blending Leadership.
“Reshan brings a unique combination of teaching, research and leadership skills to this role,” said Head of School Aaron Cooper. “We are thrilled to have him on board to continue to evolve our curriculum to best meet the needs of our students today and tomorrow.”
As Director of Studies, Dr. Richards is charged with ensuring the alignment and articulation of current and future programs for the Pre-K through Grade 9 independent day school. His scope of responsibilities include managing and leading the professional development program for all faculty, developing and overseeing the school’s academic schedule, steering faculty evaluation processes, and generally serving Country School’s program clarity, strength and innovation.
“I am excited about being Director of Studies at Country School,” said Dr. Richards, “because of how teaching, learning and curriculum are threads that tie together all areas of school life. I look forward to supporting existing approaches and creating new generative channels in order to best serve the students while creating opportunities for impact beyond the school.”
Dr. Richards has taught for the past 19 years, including currently serving as a Lecturer at the Columbia University School of Professional Studies in the Human Capital Management program and as an Adjunct Assistant Professor at Teachers College, Columbia University in the Math, Science and Technology department. Previously, he had served as Director of Educational Technology at Montclair Kimberley Academy in Montclair, NJ, and as Assistant Director of Technology and taught fifth through eighth-grade math and technology courses for The Town School in New York, NY.
In his first months at school, Dr. Richards has spent time learning from colleagues, students and parents across all areas of the institution.
“My background as a qualitative researcher has served me well as I get acquainted with the norms, practices, and beliefs here. Improvement depends on understanding, and I have been doing my best to effectively and efficiently understand Country School before even suggesting any improvements.”
One area where he has made an immediately visible impact is the school’s Faculty Professional Development, first by centralizing and clarifying the processes, offerings and resources and second by introducing a series of faculty-run workshops entitled, “Talents, Techniques & Tools” in the service of building collective understanding across divisions, departments and roles.
Dr. Richards’ experience as an educational entrepreneur has also uniquely prepared him for the task. In 2011, while a doctoral student working in independent schools, he and his team created and launched Explain Everything from an interest in how emerging technologies, such as mobile and tablet devices, might give students more ways to demonstrate their understanding. This interest stemmed from his research on formative assessment.
“I was originally looking to build a research instrument, but through pure luck, I connected with my eventual co-founders and created a somewhat successful business,” he said.
Dr. Richards holds an Ed.D. in Instruction Technology and Media from Teachers College, Columbia University, an M.Ed. in Learning and Teaching from Harvard University Graduate School of Education and a B.A. in Music from Columbia University. Dr. Richards is also an Apple Distinguished Educator, a distinction awarded to those educators who are using Apple technology to transform teaching and learning, and delivers keynotes at a variety of industry conferences. He co-writes a leadership column on EdSurge (www.edsurge.com/ writers/reshan-richards) and can be found on Twitter (@reshanrichards) and via the Make Yourself Clear website (www.makeyourselfclear.xyz).