Episode 182: Jon Hanover, Founder of Roots Elementary


Jon Hanover led the successful application of Roots Elementary to the Denver Public School Board where it received unanimous approval. He has led the organization through its early development and is the Executive Director and Principal of the school. Before launching Roots, Jon was a Founding Kindergarten Teacher, Grade Level Chair and member of the school leadership team at Rocky Mountain Prep (RMP).

As a teacher, his students demonstrated over 2 years of growth in both math and reading on the nationally-normed NWEA MAP. Prior to joining the faculty at RMP, Jon worked on the investment team at the Charter School Growth Fund where he worked closely with the leaders of the most successful and innovative charter school networks in the county. Over 90% of students at these schools matriculate directly to colleges and universities, and most are the first generation in their family to do so. Jon was responsible for advising the founders and CEOs of these organizations on a wide array of strategic issues. He also evaluated new school models, recommended investments and managed a portion of the Fund’s portfolio of schools.

Jon began his career at Bain & Company where he advised clients on strategy, management and operations. While at Bain he worked pro bono with the founder of Rowe Elementary during her planning year, managing financial forecasts, aligning the curriculum with state standards, designing the assessment and data-driven instruction cycle for the school, creating an onboarding plan for staff and contributing heavily to the successful launch of a high-performing K-8 charter school on Chicago’s west side. Jon graduated with honors from Harvard University.

(source: http://rootselementary.org/meet-the-team-old/meet-the-team/)


Some questions we ask: 

When he hears the word successful, who is the person who comes to mind and why?

What led Jon to founding Roots?

Why did Jon leave his well-paying job to start something from the ground up?

How do you leverage data to impact the current model and continue to innovate?

What will it take to make this style of education more mainstream?

What is Jon’s relationship with failure?


What you’ll learn in this episode: 

How Jon grew up knowing how important education can be.

How racial injustices play a role in education flaws.

“I’m not going to be happy unless I’m doing work that I feel is meaningful.”

Jon explains a day in the life of a Roots student, which is very non-traditional.

“It’s very flexible and dynamic based on where kids are in their progression.”

The importance of data in being able to understand students and what they need.

“Academics are one part of a much bigger picture of how we’re going to set our kids up for success.”

Jon talks about trying not to take each success and failure personally.

“There’s been no shortage of failures along the way.”






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