Originally from Brooklyn, NY, Yolanda Newton, owner and founder of Education Revolution, started her teaching career by taking the more traditional route. After graduating from The University of South Florida with a Degree in Sociology, she worked for the Hillsborough and Osceola County public school systems. She taught all grade levels from elementary to high school and worked with a wide range of students, from gifted to those that required more attention. She grew to love teaching and preparing kids for tomorrow, but wasn't happy with the traditional education system. When the time came for her oldest son to go to school, she had a choice to make.
"I knew the traditional formula wasn't something I wanted him to be a part of," she said. "I had to decide if I really wanted to put him in a system I was personally fighting to change. I decided no. This was also around the time when my mom fell ill. In fact, my experience with that is what really did it for me. I was on campus doing unnecessary paperwork when she passed away. After that, I said never again. I was ignoring my journey as a human to devote everything I had to something I didn't believe in. From that point on, I wanted every moment I spent working with kids to matter and to make a difference."
In April of 2016, Newton launched Education Revolution. After 11 years of teaching in the traditional school system, she found something she could truly get behind and something she was proud of. As Newton shared, Education Revolution goes well beyond standard education.
"Education Revolution was born out of the belief that families and students can take charge of their own education," she said. "Focusing primarily on the homeschooling sector, my business delivers lessons, creates content, and designs and runs programs, with a healthy dose of technology and research-back methods. The primary goal of Education Revolution is to provide students with high-quality academic experiences and exposure to potential career paths in order to spark a lifelong passion for personal growth."
In short, Newton caters to the needs of home-school families. She incorporates technology, something she's extremely fond of, to build curriculum that offers a true alternative to the classical home-school approach. Traditional routes may follow grade level books or conduct classes exclusively online. Newton's approach is a hybrid of sorts that better prepares students for the fields of tomorrow.
"I'm very technologically oriented," she said. "I'm always looking for inventive ways to use it, but I'm also aware of the need for hands on activities. For example, science can't be learned by sitting behind a computer screen all day. You have to do things to see science in real life. My kids and moving, active and actually doing things. I also organizing them by groups, not by grades. For example, I have one girl in first grade, but she's doing 3rd grade math."
When it comes to running the business, Newton candidly admitted that she's had to learn a few things on the go. She's great at teaching and incorporating technology, but setting up the business, dealing with taxes, marketing strategies and insurance were all new to her. Nevertheless, her love of teaching and her strong belief in the non-traditional approach to education is what keeps her focused and motivated.
Looking ahead, Newton is focused on having at least one day per week when students come to her and are taught problem based learning. She also wants to expose her students to people in careers they find interesting. For example, she wants to bring in a coder to talk about why paying attention to math is key to becoming a great developer and to share what their workday looks like. She eventually wants a small team who's as passionate as she is and would like to develop even more technology-based curriculum.
What advice does Newton have for aspiring entrepreneurs? "You're always going to have the problems or the doubts that are stopping you until you actually take the leap," she said. "When you do decide to take that leap, plan your exit carefully. Not everyone can just quit their job. The day I decided to leave, I had a plan. I didn't have all the answers, but I believed in myself and I did the research. That gave me confidence. If you sit around and wait for the perfect moment, you'll never do it. I wish I would have started my business sooner. My mom would have been so proud. Lastly, find your tribe. By that I mean find a group of people that will support you. Reach out to other entrepreneurs and business coaches and utilize resources such as incubators. That's another thing I wish I would have done sooner."