FableVision Learning, FableVision Studios’ sister company, is an educational publishing company with a BIG mission. “To put it simply, we’re a K-12 educational media publisher providing creative learning tools, resources, and support for the classroom,” explains Andrea Calvin, Vice President of FableVision Learning.
Looking bigger, FableVision Learning is a mighty team of creativity champions, educational professionals, software designers, and strategists who truly understand the challenging needs of the 21st century classroom. They have a relationship with over 42,000 classroom teachers and school administrators across the U.S. and around the world. This network includes many of the most innovative educators around who are early-adopters of new products and technologies.
“Our team works every day to ensure all learners reach their full potential,” says Andrea. “We also have a lot of fun along the way.”
From technical support and project management to marketing and sales, Andrea wears many hats at FableVision Learning. We sat down with her this month to chat about innovative programs in the classroom she’s working on – and some exciting new ventures coming up this year.
Before venturing over to FableVision, you were pretty involved in Boston's journalism world. How did you transition from working in the newsroom to FableVision?
After graduate school, I landed a job at the MetroWest Daily News in Framingham (at that point the paper was owned by Community Newspaper Company). For a few months I worked the night desk as a copy editor and inside page designer. Eventually I became a night news editor and front page designer for the Daily News Tribune.
The big turning point of my journalism career was when the company decided to launch the Dedham Transcript, a weekly community paper and daily news site covering the Massachusetts town of Dedham. It was an amazing ride. During those years, I met Dedham residents Paul and Peter H. Reynolds and heard all about FableVision. When I made the decision to leave the newspaper world, FableVision was there – ready to become the next phase of my journey. It has been quite an adventure.
Are there any skills that transferred from your journalism job to your job at FableVision Learning?
Journalism is communication and deadlines, two skills that are critical for any job. But any good reporter has the ability to learn new skills fast, weed out the facts, and roll with the punches. There were days in the newsroom that would start with covering a Girl Scout ceremony and end with chasing a massive brush fire. I have to be ready for anything. I’ve also learned to rely on my team. I work with fantastic people, Bill Norris, The Dot Connector, and Patrick Condon, Digital Media Engineer, the newest member of the FableVision Learning team.
You work closely with FableVision co-founders Paul and Peter H. Reynolds. How do you take their creative spirit and channel it into FableVision Learning?
Many would argue that that’s the secret to a long and creatively fruitful life. I find ways to listen to the big ideas and chunk them out into digestible nuggets for others to become inspired by. It is the spaghetti trick. I toss a lot of things out there and I see what sticks.
So—what’s coming up in June? We hear there’s a trip to Denver booked?
Yes, in June I will be traveling to Denver to finally meet the amazing Denine Jimmerson – our creative captain of Professional Development at FableVision Learning. Wait, you mean ISTE? Oh, yes, that’s happening too!
On June 27-29, FableVision will have a hands-on booth that will be set up like a Maker Space and will feature our Creative Maker Suite of products – Animation-Ish and Fab@School Maker Studio. Our friends at Steelcase have donated an amazing line of classroom furniture. Technology will be provided by Dell, Silhouette, and Canon printers. Each day, there will be focused sessions on using the software tools in the classroom and time for folks to really get to understand how the programs work. In addition to all of this, we’re going to have meet-up times for FableVision Ambassadors and the Early Childhood Fab Lab partners. It should be a blast. I highly recommend folks visit Booth #3704 while at ISTE.
You’re part of a small, nimble team doing big things. How do you keep track of it all?
Post-it notes. I have walls of Post-it notes.
FableVision Learning celebrated the release of Fab@School Maker Studio this year! How are you seeing it have an impact in classrooms?
The Maker Studio project has been one wild rollercoaster. After six years of research and development through The Reynolds Center for Teaching, Learning, and Creativity, Fab@School Maker Studio hit the online store in January. The early adopters were quick to get the program into their classrooms and the response has been stupendous. There is one school that is using Maker Studio as part of their colonial America curriculum. Fifth graders are assigned a colony to research, and then in Maker Studio they’re creating an object or a house or a plant unique to that specific location. Another afterschool program is creating projects in Maker Studio to sell in the school store as a fundraiser. And yet another teacher is using Maker Studio and digital fabrication to teach volume and shape. It is exciting to hear the reports from sites across the country on how the program is being used.
What’s coming up at FableVision Learning that you’re excited about?
It is going to be a busy summer and fall for the FableVision Learning team. On June 15, we were invited to participate at the Abbot School’s Publishing Day Extravaganza. It’s a day to celebrate the work our 392 third, fourth and fifth graders have done in writing and illustrating a children’s picture book about Boston Marathon Race Director, Dave McGillivray. Paul Reynolds will open the day’s event and then there are the mini-marathon stations. Then there’s ISTE at the end of June. And then, on July 23, the team will be demonstrating Maker Studio at the Boston Mini-Maker Faire. I know there are more things happening, but that is what the next few months look like!
What’s a FableVision Ambassador?
If you think of FableVision Learning as a tree, FableVision Ambassadors are the branches. There are roughly 200 ambassadors across the country and they help us maintain a direct link to the classroom as we continue on the core mission to help all learners discover their true potential. Terry Shay is our Lead Ambassador and he works to nurture the program and the teachers. Fun fact, he is also my long-lost brother but I only discovered this last year at ISTE. I am joking, but in all seriousness, he is an amazing educator, creativity champion, and friend.
What’s your favorite project you’ve worked on from start to finish?
That is a fun one. When I worked at FableVision Studios, I had the opportunity to help on a branding project for National Braille Press called Great Expectations. It was a program designed to teach parents and caregivers of blind children how to read picture books. My role was small, creating a postcard to explain Great Expectations, but I simply love the whole mission. It was an honor to work on that project.
Not client related, I had a ton of fun creating the marketing videos for Zoombinis, launching the redesign of the Studio website, and bringing the entire Fab@School Maker Studio product to market. I try to find the fun in all I do; if I can’t there is always a 3:30 p.m. dance party.
How are you making your mark on Dot Day in 2016?
That is the big question! More to come in July, I promise. ;-)
You're a big camper. Do you have any especially adventurous camping stories?
The story my mom likes to share is… when I was 2 ½ I went camping for the first time with my grandparents. I loved it and have gone every summer since. A few years back, my husband Mike and I started hammock camping because it’s easier on a motorcycle. Basically, during the summer we pack up the bike with all the gear and head to the Berkshires. Our go-to places are along Route 2 or in North Adams. It isn’t horribly adventurous, but a few years back we were caught in a flash flood and only had our hammocks for protection and we couldn’t run for cover in a car, because we only had a bike. Luckily the hammocks come with a sturdy rainfly and we kept pretty much dry. Then there was a time we went “stealth camping” on logging trails in Maine and I think a deer or a bear or some wild animal was near the hammock. That wasn’t a fun night. But we went out for pancakes in the morning, so it was all good.
You’ve also got a pretty good green thumb. What’s growing in your garden this summer?
That is the big question. Last year it was all cucumbers all the time. The funny thing is, I didn’t even buy the plants, my mother-in-law did! I did make some sweet refrigerator pickles, you can check out the recipe here. This year, I am going in a different direction. I’ve planted red cabbage, arugula, beans, and lettuce so far. I hope to also grow broccoli, tomatoes, and peppers. I have a pretty big network of gardener-friends so we try to each grow a different vegetable to share.
What is quilling?
The easiest way to describe quilling is the art of rolling paper and bending it into a shape to create a larger image. You can create really beautiful designs like flowers, birds, and animals. I find the whole process very relaxing.
More about Andrea!
Favorite book: In Watermelon Sugar by Richard Brautigan
Favorite movie: The Matrix
Best vacation spot: The deck of a cruise ship
Guilty pleasure TV show: I watch anything and everything, right now I’ve been rewatching Party of Five
Favorite kind of pickle: garlic dill
Best place to go hammock camping: Mohawk Trail State Forest
Favorite podcast: Welcome to Night Vale and Totally Beverages and Sometimes Hot Sauce
Podcast you’re most likely to recommend: Gosh, if I want to sound smart, I say RadioLab. But, I simply love Totally Beverages and Sometimes Hot Sauce