Last night at Startup Tech Valley, there were a number of presentations – notably the openers, Dumbstruck, a new media sharing app developed by a pair of Philosophy (!) professors at Albany that met with much interest at South by Southwest this year.
The presentation that really stuck with me was that by Mr. Robert Horan – he’s the superintendent of the Schodack Central School District, south of Albany, NY. There isn’t much media out there about him and what he’s doing with his schools, but here’s a little article from the schools themselves.
The short version is this: as his district’s population is falling, the number of students are shrinking, leaving school space underutilized or unused altogether. Rather than letting this space go stagnant or start demolishing buildings, Bob has opened this space up to local startups. The idea is that cross-pollinating the growing tech scene with educators and educational communities will benefit both. It’s an exciting idea, and one that might help many startups take the leap from garage or basement into a proper office setup. Bob’s goal is to exceed 8000 sq feet of available space by this time next year – which is ambitious!
I approached him after the talks, and he was gregarious and excited to discuss it – his district has some really interesting progressive policies, such as ensuring that every graduate is familiar with and able to use the full Google suite of tools, from Gmail to Google Drive, as well as requiring that every graduating senior have taken at least one class online. When I asked if he thought WordPress.com might have a place in the classroom, Bob was very excited – I hope to make the trip down to discuss a partnership soon!
Also, best of all, Bob agreed to come on the podcast. Awesome.