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Journal Profile Dallas, TX Learning to Adapt, Adapting to Learn Adventure at the Arboretum As a child, Jessie Woolley-Wilson, tired of hand-me-down learning, the Dallas Arboretum will open the clothes, put a hole in her already patched no-name jeans, “most extensive and interactive garden for hoping for a new pair. She was rewarded for her efforts by children in the world” on September 21. With the goals of emphasizing fun and The Rory Meyers Children’s Adventure having a second patch added by her mother. Garden will boast an 8-acre laboratory, and “My parents were generous, however,” Woolley-Wilson 17 indoor and outdoor galleries with various says, “in paying for a quality education for their children science-oriented activities and attractions. through grad school.” The fourth of seven children born to a Haitian-immigrant father and an American mother, Woolley-Wilson took an important lesson from the emphasis her parents placed on school, learning that the Indoor features will include a 5-foot-tall Jessie Woolley-Wilson, president and CEO of DreamBox Learning Inc., in Bellevue, Washington. OmniGlobe that projects streaming NASA weather images on a spherical screen. Outdoors, a 16-foot-tall plant model will right educational options can provide a child with tremendous opportunities. demonstrate nutrient uptake and plant life Today, Woolley-Wilson is the president and CEO of DreamBox Learning Inc., an adaptive- technology company in Bellevue, Washington, whose software responds in real time to cycles. Visitors can also enjoy a Texas students’ strengths and limitations in elementary math and teaches them what they need to Skywalk through a canopy of trees. The know most—through engaging activities and instruction. As students play math games with garden was designed and reviewed by their choice of colorful animated characters, DreamBox collects and uses 50,000 data points experts to meet state and national stan- per student per hour to personalize the students’ experiences. When students answer problems dards for science education. Also this fall, the arboretum will host its correctly, the program introduces them to more-complex problems. When they miss problems, annual “Autumn at the Arboretum” festival the software offers customized instruction in a supportive environment. (September 21–November 27), with food, One of the aims of DreamBox is to provide customized learning opportunities to students who may otherwise receive limited help. This aligns with a professional focus that Woolley- flora and concerts, as well as displays of Wilson developed through her own education and career. Though she majored in English at the more than 50,000 pumpkins, gourds and University of Virginia, she did not shy away from math and made sure to get a strong grounding squashes. For more information, call 214-515-6500 in economics. Later, while working at Chase Manhattan Bank, Woolley-Wilson volunteered to tutor underprivileged kids. “Eventually I appreciated that there were a lot of talented kids who or visit www.dallasarboretum.org. didn’t have access to great educational opportunities,” she says. program. She says the manager asked her to “make a path for those who will come after you”— to help blaze a trail for the country’s least-served students. After graduate school, Woolley-Wilson became even more intent on leveling the playing field. She worked at American Express until another acquaintance called on her to meld her business acumen with her love of education as a regional director at Kaplan Test Prep. While at Kaplan, Woolley-Wilson realized that first-generation children of immigrants had problems not —Madison Dahlstrom Courtesy: Dallas Arboretum A manager at Chase encouraged Woolley-Wilson to enter Harvard Business School’s MBA only with college preparation but with everything from applications to financial aid. In 2000, she joined the executive leadership of California start-up MyRoad.com, which was designed to help students connect the education they needed with the careers they wanted. Following her time at MyRoad, Woolley-Wilson ran LeapFrog Enterprises’ SchoolHouse division, working to make sure all children had access to its elementary-level instructional reading software. When she became president of the K–12 group at Blackboard Inc., another Internet-learning platform, Woolley-Wilson further realized the power of digital content. Soon afterward, Netflix co-founder and DreamBox investor Reed Hastings tapped her to head DreamBox, whose technology is now used in the Bellevue and Seattle school districts, and in districts nationwide. “Margaret Mead once said that if children do not learn the way we teach, we must teach the way they learn,” says Woolley-Wilson. “Personalized learning through adaptive technology that emulates great teachers is education’s future; it’s how today’s children learn best.” —DeAnn Rossetti Alaska Airlines Magazine September 2013 Giant plant and animal models will appear in the Rory Meyers Children’s Adventure Garden. 21