At Kaplan K12 Learning
Services, Sari Factor '85 follows her belief that businesses
can "do good and do well."
Factor, named president
of the K12 division of global educational services provider
Kaplan Inc. earlier this year, has combined her Kellogg School
MBA with a bachelor's degree in education to create a string
of successes in educational publishing for more than 25 years.
Now applying those skills at Kaplan, she helps the company
partner with schools to provide instructional programs for
both students and teachers.
"We work with districts
to create solutions based on their needs," Factor says. If
a district needs curricula written, as the Chicago Public
Schools did for its High School Transformation initiative,
Kaplan helps develop the product, which it did for language
arts in 2006. While she finds the business side of the role
exciting, Factor says she finds pleasure in leading an industry
that is "helping people and making a difference in the world."
"We're working with the
largest school districts with the most challenged students
on a day-to-day basis, providing materials and services,"
she says. "For me, that is a mission worth pursuing. I can
impact many more students and teachers as a result of the
kind of work that I've been doing."
Factor's career in publishing began soon after her
first teaching experience post-college. Instructing a six-week
summer course to a group of seventh graders who had failed
math, she says she lacked the materials or assessment data
from the previous year to help students advance. She realized
there had to be a better way.
"I decided that being
in the classroom without the proper tools wasn't the right
thing for me, but I hoped that I could affect kids by creating
those tools and help teachers by providing them with the resources
they need," Factor says. "What turned out to be a very short
teaching career launched a great career in educational publishing."
in this career, she found herself managing many people, but
she lacked formal training. That's when she turned to the
Kellogg School's Part-Time
MBA Program to earn a degree while continuing to work.
"[Being a part-time student] was ideal because I
was able to apply the things I was learning through the program
to my work every day," she says. She pursued concentrations
in marketing and operations management. She believes the combination
has served her well.
"I can swear by a Kellogg education," Factor
says. "Here's this teacher who didn't have any business background
... but through the coursework and team meetings, I learned
a lot." She credits the school's marketing expertise and its
team-oriented approach for her success, which is evidenced
in the marketing roles she has held at Scott Foresman and
McDougal Littell, and as a general manager at Everyday Learning
Company and president of Macmillan/McGraw-Hill.
Factor says that she intends
to help Kaplan continue to focus on the populations that need
its services most, which includes at-risk students and new
teachers as they help students improve academic achievement.
"Today, you have a diverse student population in the schools,
not just ethnic diversity, but language diversity, socioeconomic
diversity and diversity of learning styles," she says, adding
that there is an increasing recognition that an educated workforce
is good for the economy. She has seen an emphasis by state
and local governments to help all students achieve success.
"School districts are struggling to come up
with the best practices and research-based techniques for
helping those kids," Factor states. "Our goal is to help propel
student achievement by showing what we've been able to do
in other districts."