We asked Dave Bailis, STEM Content Director for Westchester K-12 to share some insights with us about his career, from his experience as a middle-school math and science teacher to developing content programs for basal publishers, and then working for an educational development publishing house prior to joining Westchester K-12. Read on to understand why Dave and his team of highly skilled resources should be working on your math and science product development projects.
You began your career as an educator. What drew you to the field, and what did you most enjoy about being a teacher?
From the time I was very young, I always knew that I was meant to be a teacher. Educating people is a calling, not a career. I always enjoyed learning new things, and I always enjoyed sharing that new knowledge with others. Being a part of each and every student’s life, whether it be their academic, musical, or athletic education, was an endlessly rewarding experience. The decade I spent as a middle school math and science teacher was among the happiest and most fulfilling in my life, and I draw on those experiences each and every day in both my personal and professional life. To that end, I still tutor high school mathematics so that I can both keep my “head in the game” as well as get all of the joy that sharing new learning still gives me!
You worked at major educational publishers, as well as development houses for about a decade. What roles did you have, and how did your background as a teacher help you in those positions?
Over my decade working in the educational publishing industry, I have fulfilled many different roles and gained an inordinate amount of applicable experiences to my role as STEM Content Director at Westchester K-12.
My career began as an editor on a major basal elementary mathematics program at Pearson Education. Being “thrown into the fire” right away taught me that creating on-time, high-quality content was paramount to building a successful program. From there, I moved over to Pearson’s science department to head up the creation of the new GK-2 science program for Florida. Exposure to science content creation, in addition to my teaching experiences, has given me keen insight into building new curriculum in this area.
From Pearson, I moved on to National Geographic to help create their new G3-5 Florida science program. Learning from the amazing editors and photographers (and explorers) at National Geographic reaffirmed my passionate interest in creating great science curriculum. Being part of that world-famous company and process, you learn a lot about what true quality means. Being a former teacher, I used my experiences to help see the new product that we were creating from the end-user’s eyes, the teacher.
I then spent the next 5 years or so on the vendor side, at outsourcing houses for the educational publishing industry. Working in an educational development publishing house, because of the wide variety of grade levels, curricular areas, and content types, crafts you into a well-oiled creativity machine. I have done work in all of the major disciplines and at all grade levels from K-12. These experiences are crucial to creating high-quality, on-time product at Westchester K-12 because it gives you the proper understanding of what it takes to simply get the job done. My experiences as a teacher have always helped me have a better understanding of our goal–a goal of helping teachers teach and students learn.
How does your experience working for an educational publisher help inform the work you do now?
Working at some of the educational publishers has given me a good understanding of what their needs might be when developing content. I often can anticipate and determine their needs before the publishers do it themselves. I view my work with publishers as an extension of their team, not only as additional resources. Our role is to get involved with and really understand their needs, dive deep into their content, and help them produce the best quality materials available for the betterment of everyone.
What was it about Westchester K-12 that made you interested in joining the company?
The content development team at Westchester K-12 is an industry dream team. Led by long-time veteran Kevin J. Gray, we can produce exactly the content you need, in the format you need, at the grade-level you need, with high-quality content control, close attention to timing, and a feeling of teamwork that simply is not present at other developers. I have been at a few of the educational publishing development houses in my time, and Westchester K-12 is simply the best.
Why should an educational publisher choose Westchester K-12 as their services vendor for their next project?
Westchester K-12 is the ideal educational publishing house for any publisher to use for their next content development project, whether the project be large or small or the publisher is a large basal or small supplementary one. We have a great team, with experts in every discipline and at every step of the process. We work with the best resources in the business – resources that are constantly vetted and checked. There really is no reason to look elsewhere.
What do you think are the most exciting developments right now in the areas of math and science education?
As is the case in most curricular areas, the most exciting developments in math and science are the integration of technology into the continuing process of individualizing and personalizing educational experiences for students. More than ever before, students are able to learn from content specifically tailored to their learning style, with just the right balance of teaching presentation and individual practice. Students may have more to learn than ever before, but this new approach (and cutting-edge technologies) to making education a personal, rather than a group experience can only mean good things for students, teachers, and society.
Is there anything else you’d like to share?
DO NOT miss the opportunity to work with the Westchester K-12 team. If you can imagine it, we can do it!