Vicki’s Scoops for January 12

Whew! It has been one cold week in the United States. I could not believe the East Coast had temps colder than Mars! I hope everyone is thawing out and staying warm. As usual, I have the week’s scoops for you. Check out the news from this week….


Dr. Warren Simmons has a new role as Senior Fellow at the National Education Policy Center, School of Education, University of Colorado, Boulder. He has previously served as executive director of the Annenberg Institute for School Reform and executive director of the Philadelphia Education Fund, a nonprofit organization that helped the School District of Philadelphia to fund, develop, and implement new academic standards, content-based professional development, standards-based curriculum resources, and comprehensive school reform, as part of the Children Achieving reform agenda.

At the Annie E. Casey Foundation he developed and funded initiatives on community development and urban school reform. He also served as director of equity initiatives for the New Standards Project and as a special assistant to the superintendent of schools in Prince George’s County, Maryland, where he planned and/or implemented district-wide initiatives on improving the achievement of disadvantages students.

Warren serves on the boards and advisory groups of numerous education reform organizations including the Public Education Network, the Merck Institute, the National Center on Education and the Economy, PLATO Learning, Inc. the College Crusade of Rhode Island, and the Cowen Institute’s National Advisory Council. He received a B.A. in psychology from Macalester College and a Ph.D. in psychology from

Warm congratulations to Warren on his new role and for all of his impressive work!

And, Robert Grover is the new President at BluSol Global, a U.S.-Egyptian joint venture that brings U.S. alternative energy innovations to the Middle East solar energy market. Robert was most recently Executive Vice President at PCS Edventures, Inc. Robert reports that though he has moved on, his heart and soul have been with PCS Edventures! and STEM education solutions for 30 years (come May).

In that time at PCS, Robert says that he has served as a STEM instructor, product developer, trainer, sales person, CEO, project manager, and occasionally janitor and travel agent! The products that come from PCS have always been about making education an enriching and exciting experience for students.

Although Robert’s new primary role is with a new company bringing solar solutions to the Middle East, he will still be involved with STEM education, delivering programs developed at PCS Edventures! into countries hungry for educational change, such as Saudi Arabia. He is leaving for Saudi Arabia Thursday to finish up two STEM contracts and looks forward to continuing this work.

Roberts wants to wish all he has met and worked with in the industry the very best and looks forward to seeing what the future will bring to education in the coming years.

I first met Robert decades ago and have followed the growth of PCS. Join me in now wishing him every continued success in his new role at


The Smithsonian Magazine has announced Nine Innovators to Watch in 2018. They represent an amazing group of trailblazers in medicine, education, art, transportation, artificial intelligence, and more.

I was thrilled to see one of the nine listed is Matthew Gross, Founder and CEO, Newsela. Many of you got to hear Matt speak at EdNET a couple of years ago, and his work is so impressive. When he launched Newsela four years ago, Matt had a mission of promoting literacy and getting students more engaged in reading by providing curated news articles to teachers. The company now has more than 12 million registered users throughout the country and has more recently sharpened its focus on one of the more vexing issues in media today—so-called “fake news.”

Check out the nice write-up about Matt’s innovative work and that of the others recognized!

Kudos, Matt!

In the news….

From the Orange County Register, in the article, “Wise — and unwise — words from people who inspired us this year,” an annual celebration of of wise—and unwise—words from local people who move this California community, one of those recognized is our friend, Rachelle Cracchiolo, founder and CEO of multi-million-dollar Huntington Beach company Teacher Created Materials Publishing. Her quote: “I had no business plan. I didn’t even know the difference between retail and wholesale. All of a sudden we’re a big company.” Love it!

Be sure to check out picture #10 of Rachelle and her daughters, Deanne Mendoza, vice president, and Corinne Burton, president. Rachelle started out as a teacher and in the ’70s realized instructors didn’t have much variety in teaching materials. She started the business in her garage while raising two babies by herself and teaching. TCM has grown into a $50 million a year plus international business, one of the most respected in our industry.

And, Rachelle and her daughters continue their amazing work! It is fun to see the light shine on the talented Rachelle, who most surely has followed her passion!

One now famous (and adorable!) dog….

As I shared in my December 22 column, John Bailey, Visiting Fellow at AEI, and Fellow at the Chan-Zuckerberg Initiative (CZI), entered his super adorable dog Bentley into the Washingtonian‘s dog contest. As he said, “Yeah, I’ve become that guy. But it benefits the Wolf Trap Animal Rescue (I do it for the puppies!)” Voting ended that day, but I bet a number of you put your vote in for Bentley. If you have some time, check out all of the stiff competition.

But…Bentley won!

He won the “People’s Choice,” which means it was your votes that helped him beat Pancake, Flossy, Minnow, and a hundred other pups. John says there is no indication of Russian interference, although several Siberian Huskies were polling quite strong (looking at you, Scarlet).

Bentley will be featured in the March edition of the Washingtonian. In the meantime, he’s celebrating with some champagne bubbles and claiming he now has rights to the couch. I say definitely to both!

Congratulations to John and especially to the most adorable and now famous Bentley!

And sad news to share….

I am really sorry to bring sad news for one of my dearest friends, Pat Walkington. Pat lost her mother, who had just turned 95 in December, this week. Pat’s mom was a Navy nurse and a veteran of World War II. She later became a school nurse and was also active in politics and in her church.

Pat lived near her mother and spent time with her each week. Her mother recently caught pneumonia, became ill, and passed very quickly. There is no easy way to say goodbye to someone you love.

I know you join me in keeping Pat in our hearts and prayers during this difficult time for her and her family.

Have a great week, friends, and check back next Friday when I will bring you my final scoops column, but never fear! The scoops will continue—because keeping this community connected is important to MDR and all of us.

[For now, please send your scoops to Kristina James,]