Case Study: Matchbook Learning

When I grow up...


As strategic lead for the FiveStone team, I had the privilege to partner with Matchbook Learning, a nonprofit charter management organization that targets underperforming public schools with a competency-based, technology-enabled turnaround model.

Matchbook is turning around the bottom 5% of troubled schools in some of the toughest neighborhoods in the country. This model blends together the best of traditional teaching and technology to create a personalized learning experience for each student. I used organizational storytelling, strategy, and design thinking to elevate and position a pioneering charter school framework as a strong contender in the future of education.


What is your dream?

The primary storytelling device for Matchbook is centered around a question to each student: “What do I want to be when I grow up?” Motivated by a deep hope for something greater, this question proclaims that all students can dream and create paths toward achievement, regardless of what zipcode you grow up in. And it's not just a tagline on stationery: nearly 100% of parents at Matchbook schools wanted their children to go to college.

This theme wove itself into every touchpoint of Matchbook that I helped guide: classroom design, professional development, marketing, social media, and the digital ecosystem. I even produced a series of annual photoshoots to imagine the future careers of dreamers at every school, from doctors, engineers, and chefs to mayors, artists, and entrepreneurs.


Learning how to fly.

I helped develop the next generation of classroom web apps that guide students through a personalized learning path to support their content mastery (building confidence and growing competence), give them more agency over their learning (short-term decision making and long-term planning), and strengthen accountability with their teachers.

I conducted extensive user research, prototyped new classroom models, and designed interfaces to improve the classroom experience for everyone from non-readers in kindergarten through seniors in high school.


Transforming education for the next generation.

I collaborated with the Matchbook executive team rethink their approach to professional development and how to care for and grow their students — socially, emotionally, and academically — especially in the context of a disruptive methodology and new learning models.

I led the effort to create an innovative badging system for employees to earn microcredentials, complete with a graphic design taxonomy to clearly demonstrate growth in a variety of professional areas. These new toolkits gave employees and their coaches the same style of personalized learning experiences that were happening in their classrooms everyday.

We believe Matchbook Learning’s proof points can become tipping points, that reverse the trajectory of under-performing schools across the nation... and design a future of education that we can all be part of.
— SAJAN GEORGE, Matchbook Learning

Success beyond the classroom.

Not only did FiveStone ask students to dream about their future, I took the same question to heart and re-imagined the school of tomorrow. I led the introduction of a new set of design principles that mapped to existing goals to improve student success; ultimately elevating the entire education model for the Matchbook community.

This proposal included a digital ecosystem that felt like a surprising, effortless, and intuitive mirror of the classroom experience and would weave its way into every day behaviors, in and out of the classroom, filling the learning cycle with inspiration, curiosity, and joy. Because every child should have the freedom to dream!