Hannah, what drew you to Allovue?
I am deeply invested in equity in public education, and so much of that work is about equitable resource allocation. My experiences prior to joining Allovue were grounded in K-12 mathematics education and teacher and leader evaluation within districts and states to ensure that students are getting the best classroom experience from their teachers. I’m excited to dive into the financial side of ensuring that students who are marginalized in our education system are receiving more resources and support.
Given your background as a math teacher, how do you think Balance can benefit public schools and districts?
I was really fortunate during my time as a teacher to be at a Title I school that had won a large federal School Improvement Grant. As a result, during my first year of teaching, our administration approved funding for unlimited copy paper for the entire staff. When I returned for my second year of teaching, we were told that we had blown through most of our copy paper budget for the three years of the grant, so we were restricted to just one case per semester. Had we been able to better track our spending throughout the year on this particular supply using a tool like Balance, our administration could have course corrected earlier during the year and avoided having to ration out paper for years 2 and 3.
Unfortunately, experiences like mine are not unique, especially in public schools. School and district level administrators may not realize how much unintentional harm that could arise when resources are not properly accounted for and allocated. It not only frustrates the teachers and educators like myself, endeavoring to teach to the best of our ability with limited supplies and resources, but it really puts the students at a serious disadvantage. Despite their best efforts, administrators can’t do it all, and tools like Balance exist to help alleviate much of the stress and ensure that schools and districts are spending money wisely. This is why I’m so excited to be on this side of the table during my discussions with districts.
So besides discussing Balance with districts, what do you enjoy most about your new role?
The best part of my job so far has been by far the people. I’ve especially enjoyed meeting and interacting with our district customers who are extremely sharp, and eager to push not only themselves, but us too as a company, to constantly refine our products, tools, and expertise to help their districts better serve their students and families.
In your role as an District Partner, you often have honest conversations about the challenges and pains most educators and administrators encounter. How would you sum up the biggest challenge facing educators today?
There are so many! At a very high level, philosophically and politically, I think there are multiple (and often competing) ideas around what the purpose of education should be, and for whom.
From a financial perspective, I think there is a huge resource gap that drives the opportunity gaps that are so often publicized and used to drive problematic narratives regarding students, teachers, and school systems.
Within the teaching profession specifically, I think it’s two-fold:
Externally, a deep lack of respect for the teaching profession (poor teacher pay, lack of autonomy within classrooms, imposition of too-rigid standards in curricula, over-emphasis on standardized testing outcomes in teacher and leader evaluation); and
Internally within the profession, a refusal to acknowledge the deeply racist underpinnings of American education and educators, and a lack of training around unpacking what anti-racist praxis looks like in the classroom.
Teaching requires critical thought and deft execution, coupled with heart and stamina. We can and should absolutely hold our teachers to higher standards because our students, families, and communities deserve that, but we should be careful not to put the burden of solving systemic problems onto the backs of individual teachers.
As you work to champion better opportunities for students and educators alike, whose example motivates you to continue aspiring towards change?
Mariame Kaba. She’s an organizer and educator dedicated to prison abolition, transformative justice, and youth leadership development. She is an inspiration to think globally (and critically!), but act locally. She advocates for finding and staying in your lane, treating hope as a practice, embracing the struggle of this lifelong work, and savoring the moments of joy along the way. Though the work I do is not nearly on the same scale as hers, I let her journey and accomplishments, despite hardships motivate me to stay the course, regardless of the hurdles and seemingly mountain-like obstacles I sometimes face.
Do you have a hidden talent?
I am pretty good at word games (e.g. Boggle, Scrabble, Text Twist). I can do the Monday New York Times crossword in about 4-5 minutes, and it takes me an average of 20-30 minutes to do the Sunday New York Times crossword.
If your life was a sitcom, what would it be called?
My life is better suited for a Lifetime movie rather than a sitcom, but it would be titled, “I Can’t Find My Phone: The Hannah Kang Story.”
Hannah’s passionate knowledge of the intricacies and challenges facing many of our districts has already made her a fave amongst our customers, and we couldn’t agree more. Chat with her about what’s going on in your district at firstname.lastname@example.org.