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Bullis Alum Wins Vanderbilt Award
Posted 02/02/2018 10:04AM

Entrepreneur student's business recognized for positive impact


Rob Trone '14 and a team of students he works with recently won the "Do Good" award at the Vanderbilt University's Center for Teaching's Celebration of Learning. Their company, Vana Learning won the award for being most likely to make a positive impact in the world.

Here's Rob's story about the organization he and his teammates are building, and its roots in Rob's Entrepreneurship Capstone class at Bullis during his senior year.

Evidence suggest that nearly 20 percent of middle school students have difficulty in school due to diagnosed learning disabilities, although only 10 percent receive a formal diagnosis. These disabilities correlate to poorer reading and math test scores, as well as reduced college attendance rates. But what if these statistics could be reversed, and learning disabilities did not have to be linked to poorer academic outcomes? That is exactly what I and the team at Vana Learning have set out to do: improve academic performance and classroom behavior for students with learning disabilities in grades 3-12.

Vana Learning achieves improved performance and behavior via a proprietary behavior management software that tracks and analyzes daily activities, prompting actionable recommendations and early interventions. Vana Learning's technology is based on the proven daily report card intervention strategy.

Vana Learning's Story

Vana Learning's beginnings can be traced back to Mr. Steren's entrepreneurship course during my senior year at Bullis. When my group was tasked with coming up with a product, I reflected on my own academic career and recognized there were a number of opportunities where technology, like Vana Learning, could have better facilitated my academic successes. My group agreed that there was an opportunity to create a better solution for education technology, and so we pursued with the project.

Even though my original project group disbanded after high school, I continued to devote time to developing a technology that could improve the lives of students and teachers alike. From my research and work, I recognized a systematic problem in K-12 education: students are not provided with consistent feedback that targets the behaviors that underlay their academic performance. Academic feedback is huddled around tests or graded projects, at which time it is already too late to intervene and give students a chance to improve their scores.

Vana Learning is the solution. Our technology tracks and analyzes behavior on a daily basis, allowing students, their teachers, and their parents, to facilitate highly targeted, ongoing corrections and early interventions. This gives students the chance to improve before their grades are impacted - ultimately strengthening their academic performance.

Vana Learning's success to date has been in large part due to our founding team: myself (CEO + co-founder), Josh Stafford (Head of Product + co-founder), and Rachel Sanders (Strategic Advisor + co-founder). Additional key team members include Robert Loftus (Sales and Marketing) and Gabriella Badmus (Social Media Marketing and Operations). Josh and I met while rooming together over the summer and connected with Rachel at a networking event. Once our product was built, Robert and Gabby came on board to help propel growth. Our team came together via a shared interest in creating technology that makes a difference in students' lives.

Our team has also benefitted immensely from the mentorship of Bullis teachers Marc Steren, Jason Eist, and Lele Horich.

Vana Learning is excited to continue rolling out our software to schools across the country, expanding our ability to help students improve academic performance and classroom behavior.

Learn more about Vana Learning via social media:

https://www.instagram.com/vanalearning/?hl=en

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