Meet Sheri Smith, CEO & Founder of Indigo Education Company. Indigo improves engagement, retention, and career readiness for K-12 and Higher Education with an actionable Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) dashboard of personal skills, traits, and motivators for use by teachers, staff, students and parents. Indigo delivers human capital insights to K12 and Higher Ed customers via a technology platform equipped with data analytics, curriculum, online courses, and career pathway opportunities.
Sheri will take part in the LearnLaunch Breakthrough Accelerator, a 5-week intensive program at the LearnLaunch Campus in Boston. Read on to learn about Indigo’s journey, where they’re headed, and why they chose LearnLaunch.
Indigo Education Company is honored to be one of 60 organizations selected for the 2019 Colorado Impact Days, taking place next week from March 11th to March 14th. Colorado Impact Days was founded as a way to connect social enterprises and nonprofits with individuals and foundations looking to increase their impact on their communities. On Tuesday, March 12th, CEO and founder of Indigo, Sheri Smith, will present Indigo Education Company and its vision to change the education system starting with the individual.
This marks the fourth year of CO Impact Days, a venture that has helped invest over $201 million in social enterprises and nonprofits since 2016. The event will take place at the Curtis Hotel in Denver and includes the National Opportunity Zone Summit, the Social Venture Marketplace, and speaking engagements from foundation leaders and investors.
Indigo’s Theory of Change Explained
May 5th, 2016, written by Nathan Robertson
How do you change schools when educators are at their breaking points, students feel disconnected with the school, and administrators feel like their Masters in Education Leadership did nothing to prepare them for operating a school well?
Some schools seem to change with ease. They bob and weave with the trends and are always launching new programs with forward-looking agendas. The parent community always rallies behind them with support. Students are writing their own publications, starting businesses, and spend off periods pursuing passion projects.
Some schools are like that. Some.
Some schools are struggling to make it through each day. They can’t bob and weave – they get hit hard by each changing trend and policy. New ideas and initiatives get lost in subcommittees and inner-school politics. Parents are sullen, unhelpful, and often are only a source of complaints. It’s a struggle to get students in desks, yet alone see them learn anything they will apply to their lives.
Many schools, I fear, are more like that.
There is a bevy of big ideas in education – and a countless number of school models – trying to make schools nimble, quick, and agile when it comes to change. But which ones do you pick? How do you prioritize what resources to use when changing a school? How do you make teaching kids social emotional learning or training teachers in lean launch techniques relevant? How do you deal with financial limitations?
Where do you begin?
Often times, it is unclear. Schools don’t know where to begin, and the resources do nothing but overwhelm them even more.
At Indigo, we have developed a working hypothesis based on our work with dozens of schools. We are getting a clearer sense of what is needed to equip a school to change its culture and self-sustain transformation towards a safe, positive environment focused on personalized learning.
How do you change a school? First, you change the people in your school.
The Three Pillars in a School
Change begins with aligning the three main constituents of education: students, leadership and teachers. Successful change only happens when these three groups are aligned. If students aren’t onboard, no new ideas stick. If leadership isn’t onboard, the best ideas are stifled. If teachers aren’t onboard, then the classroom experience won’t change – no matter what ideas students and leadership push forward.
Abraham Lincoln once said, “A house divided against itself will not stand.” If a house divided against itself cannot stand, what makes anyone think schools will fare any better when divided?
That’s why it is so important to engage these three pillars. It’s the key to successful change.
Students – Bottom-up, “The Groundswell”
Students are the reason why the education industry exists. If society ever reverted back to parents teaching their children, then teachers, principals, policy makers, and think tank education researchers are all out of jobs. We are employed out of an obligation to develop this nation’s youth.
However, it is not uncommon for students’ voices to go unheard. This does not just happen at struggling, financially strapped schools. I have been at successful college-prep academies where students feel they have no choice in their education path.
Students need to be met not only “where they are”, but also as “who they are.” By meeting students where they are and as who they are, schools pave the way for student-centered and personalized learning.
It’s easy to write off the ideas of a 15-year-old high school student. But the best innovations come from people on the ground level. Factory workers can identify better improvements than an engineer who has never stepped in the plant. Servers see better ways to please customers than a manager who sits in the back office.
Just think about what sort of insights educators could get if they really took time to understand who students are, what they are passionate about, and then change the way they teach.
Leadership – Top-down, “The Gatekeepers”
Principals, headmasters, and CMO directors are shaping the landscape of education. They choose school models, handle hiring, start initiatives, and control the direction of schools. Sometimes it is a leadership team – sometimes it is an individual who rules carte blanche through force of personality. Regardless of structure, leadership choices cascade down to affect our teachers and students.
Some leaders struggle with the idea that their school needs to change – to admit the need is to admit failure. They close off to new ideas from their faculty and students. Other leaders are under pressure from their board or community and feel they can’t change – even if they want to change.
Principals and high-level administrators must understand what needs to be done and “buy in” to innovation.
Different leaders have different motivations. Some will be convinced through data. Some will be convinced by arguing with them that change will do good for the students. Strategies vary. Once leadership is onboard, however, resources can begin to move to gain momentum for change.
Teachers – Pivot Point, “The Go-Getters”
Teachers are the true change makers in schools. They run the classrooms. They have meaningful relationships with students. They are training, coaching, and evaluating every young person that comes into their rooms. The modern teacher is part content master, part assessment expert, and part personal Sherpa.
Teachers stand as the intermediary between students and leadership. Without them, neither side would be heard by the other. If a school’s teachers simply stayed in the classroom and didn’t mind the rest of the school environment, then schools would fall apart into pieces. Culture cannot be built without the support of teachers.
Teachers must be the pivot point in bridging communication, idea generation, and implementation for students and leadership.
Many administrators I speak with groan about “the one time the school tried to do such-and-such professional development program, but the teachers didn’t respond well to it.” Imagine if you could get teachers excited for a shift that is part of the long-term vision. What would your school look like?
It’s Not Easy, but Easy Work is Boring
All of Indigo’s work centers around bringing these three pillars together. We are the catalyst that aligns these key stakeholders and drives them towards culture change and personalized learning. We have seen that when schools begin to get all three groups on the same page, change occurs organically and is sustained from within the school without support from Indigo.
Schools thrive when students are engaged, leadership is motivated, and educators construct the bridges for change. Our vision is to create a world where those schools exist in every county, city, and state in the country. At Indigo, we work everyday to make that a reality.
Indigo Moves to Niwot
April 29h 2015, Written by Marie Campbell
Niwot, CO – The Indigo Education Company moves today from their current office on Pearl Street (Boulder) to Niwot Road. At their new location, Indigo plans to offer student workshops and community events geared toward college and career preparedness.
Indigo’s relocation to Niwot fits with the company’s goal to positively impact local communities. Niwot’s small-town feel makes it the ideal location, as do the personal company connections – Indigo’s current President, David Kalish, is a Niwot resident, and Indigo’s office manager grew up in the town.
Indigo’s new office will take on the title “Indigo Advising” and will focus on supporting the local community, while the Indigo Education Company will continue to offer support to schools and educators. Starting in June, Indigo Advising will conduct free workshops covering topics such as:
- How to select a good college fit,
- How to choose a major, and
- How to channel your child’s unique strengths.
Additional upcoming events include an Artwalk Open House, a Free Cupcake Day, and a Mother’s Day Tea.
Indigo’s mission is to teach students the skills they need to succeed in all of life: at school, at home, among friends, and one day in the workplace. Through personalized, non-academic data analysis and advising, Indigo equips students to uncover their unique passions, motivators, and behavioral styles. Indigo then helps students apply this knowledge to major life decisions, such as college and career choice.
“We need to look at education from a different perspective,” CEO Sheri Smith wrote in a recentblog post. “What matters in the real world generally has little to do with book knowledge. Creativity, resourcefulness, grit, kindness, and passion … they constitute true brilliance,” Smith says. Indigo’s Niwot workshops are just one manifestation of this vision, as students learn to harness and apply their individual genius.
Indigo anticipates an official opening date of May 26th. Their new address will be:7960 Niwot Road Suite B-9, Niwot, CO, 80503. To view upcoming events, visit the events page for Indigo Advising.
About the Indigo Assessment
The Indigo Assessment is a 45-minute online questionnaire providing students, parents, and educators with non-academic data often missing from traditional education. The assessment was originally developed by Indigo’s technology partner Target Training International and has been used by CEO’s of Fortune 500 companies for over 30 years. In 2013, Indigo adapted the assessment to apply to students 9th grade and above. Thanks to the Indigo Assessment, students are equipped to understand their unique strengths, motivators, and learning styles.
TTI Success Insights Wins Prestigious Leadership 500 Award by HR.com
April 21st 2015, Written by Marie Campbell
TTI Success Insights (TTI SI) was awarded first place in the small business category during the Leadership 500 Excellence Awards Program, which salutes the world’s top companies for outstanding achievement in leadership development practices.
Scottsdale, Ariz., April 03, 2015 — TTI Success Insights (TTI SI) was awarded first place in the small business category during the Leadership 500 Excellence Awards Program, which salutes the world’s top companies for outstanding achievement in leadership development practices.
TTI SI’s top honor celebrated how the company has positively impacted businesses and employees’ lives through its suite of assessments, along with enabling its worldwide network of 7,000 Value Added Associates to meet and exceed their clients’ expectations.
“Our company has developed and shaped rising leaders for over 30 years, and we feel honored to be a spoke on the wheel in helping small businesses grow and better serve their clients,” said Bill J. Bonnstetter, chairman and founder of TTI SI. “As the workplace shifts with new generations entering the job market, leaders will thrive when they better understand how the fives sciences that make up the Science of Self™ impact their productivity and profits.”
Leadership 500 Excellence Award winners were announced March 31 at LEAD500, a three-day conference in Dallas keynoted by former President Bill Clinton. This year’s awards recipients were judged by an expert panel and selected based on both an application and nomination process, as well as feedback from each nominated company’s stakeholders
The top 500 leadership organizations receive recognition in HR.com’s annual ranking, and the winners in each category are featured in this month’s Leadership Excellence magazine.
“I think the Leadership 500 Awards, in combination with LEAD 2015, demonstrates top organizations that not only value leadership, but also have innovative programs,” said Debbie McGrath, CEO of HR.com. “This year’s list of winners reflect the importance of reinventing leadership development and the need to bring leadership to a wider audience.”
Established in 1984 by Bill J. Bonnstetter and his son, Dave Bonnstetter, TTI SI has helped businesses increase employee engagement, increase leaders’ self-awareness, improve team efficiencies, and provide clarity in purpose and communication.
Indigo CEO Sheri Smith Honored with Research Partner Award
February 23rd 2015, Written by Marie Campbell
Indigo Project Recognized for Efforts to Revolutionize Education System
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – Jan. 16, 2015 – TTI Success Insights (TTI SI) is pleased to award Sheri Smith of the Indigo Education Company with its 2014 Research Partner of the Year Award for demonstrated excellence in research during the past year into human behavior and motivation amongst college-bound students for future career planning.
Smith, whose social enterprise is based in Boulder, Colo., received the top honor Jan. 10 duringTTISICon 2015, TTI SI’s annual conference at the We-Ko-Pa Resort & Conference Center inScottsdale. More than 400 TTI SI network members gathered Jan. 9-12 to honor top performers and celebrate successes and innovation in business.
TTI SI Chairman and Founder Bill J. Bonnstetter and TTI SI Senior Vice President of Research and Development Ron Bonnstetter, Ph.D., presented the top honor to Smith. The Research Partner of the Year Award recognizes a leader within the Value Added Associate (VAA) network who has enriched lives, institutions and/or organizations with their collaboration and partnership with TTI SI to uncover new insights and discoveries into the human condition.
In 2014, Smith collaborated with TTI SI to launch the Indigo Project, a venture designed to empower young people to make the learning process more personalized and better aligned with future career planning.
One goal of the continuing Indigo Project is to create a searchable database of at least 100 alternative higher education options from across the nation, categorized by an individual’s motivational style, where students can best excel based on their top inherent skills. Both traditional and non-traditional institutions will be included.
“Sheri’s dynamism to bring about change in the 21st century education model has been nothing short of spectacular,” Ron Bonnstetter said. “I’ve been thrilled to work with Sheri during the past year through an assessment-based approach and appreciate her willingness to include TTI SI in this venture. I see nothing but great things ahead for a sharp-minded leader like Sheri.”
“Working directly with Dr. Ron Bonnstetter and the TTI SI team has been wonderful. The Indigo Project wouldn’t be what it is without TTI SI’s steadfast support and investment,” Smith said. “I’m honored to receive this award and feel truly honored to partner with a category leader in the field of assessments and talent management.”
TTISICon 2015 marked TTI SI’s 26th annual conference – and it’s the largest gathering yet. Next year’s conference will take place Jan. 8-10, 2016, at The Scottsdale Plaza Resort.
About TTI Success Insights
TTI Success Insights believes all people are unique and have talents and skills of which they are often unaware. We exist to reveal and harness these talents, using the Science of Self™. For over 30 years, we have researched and applied social and brain science, creating assessment solutions consultants in 90 countries and 40 languages used to hire, develop and retain the best talent in the world. With a tenacious, innovative culture, we transform potential to productivity, performance and profits. Every 27 seconds, someone is taking a TTI SI assessment to increase their self-awareness and grow their career. For more information, visit www.ttisi.com and @TTI_SI.