SchoolSims Overview

SchoolSims provides a risk-free environment through software simulations where participants have an opportunity to fail as they face difficult situations. Our simulations, which allow you to choose your own “adventure,” essentially accelerate time, allowing participants to decide on a course of action, implement it, and experience its consequences, all within the same exercise.

SchoolSims began as a concept back in 2008 when Ken Spero became an outside faculty member for the Chief Learning Officer (CLO) doctoral program offered by the Graduate School of Education (GSE) at the University of Pennsylvania in association with Wharton. Ken was later introduced to Michael Johanek, the Director of the Mid-Career Program within GSE. Mike worked with principals and superintendents who were increasingly forced to make difficult decisions with little time and resources. Ken’s background in simulations led him to believe that we could capture some of the best practices from the alumni to provide field leaders with purposeful practice on actually making decisions, regardless of the issues. (Read More)

Our simulations all start with an idea, from the scripting through the filming to the final cuts. We use real-life experiences from people who have gone through them firsthand to teach others. All of our team members put in time and effort during the writing process. Filming must be done flawlessly, which might take up to a day. The editing procedure is carried out to guarantee that what we captured is exactly as we intended. Finally, the construction of a sim is critical. Here is where we bring the story to life. Learn More about the Experience Design Process.

Aspiring Leaders need experience as leaders, and SchoolSims provides aspiring leaders relevant experiences that help them grasp the complexity of these leadership roles. Novice Leaders need experience in the intricacies of school leadership, and SchoolSims can provide these experiences in a safe environment. Many district-level leaders find it challenging to provide relevant and engaging professional learning for their Experienced Leaders. Many Teachers have a natural curiosity for what happens when the principal’s door is closed. Teachers who experience SchoolSims tend to come away with a broader perspective of what happens at the building-level, promoting a more positive culture and climate. (Learn More)

Leadership

Ken Spero
Founder & Chief Executive Officer

Ken is an avid believer in the adage that Experience is the Best Teacher and for over 30 years has been utilizing computer-based simulations to allow professionals to safely learn from decision-making mistakes around some of the most challenging Problems of Practice. For the past six years, Ken has been focused on the challenge of the “Silent Crisis of Leadership in K-12” working to enhance leadership capacity and improve critical thinking amongst school administrators.

Ken is originally from Cleveland, OH but has spent his sims career in the Philadelphia area, specifically in Bala Cynwyd. He earned his MBA from Columbia Business School.

Brian Biddulph-Krentar
Chief Strategy Officer

Brian is a proven executive and respected leader. He has founded three companies based on product ideas he felt he could bring to market. Brian has been involved in education technology for the past 10 years.

Before joining SchoolSims, Brian was the CEO of Magnus Health, which was acquired in April 2019. As a 4-time CEO and former Chief Strategy Officer and Vice President of Product, Brian has significant experience in business core competencies.

When not working, Brian likes to play soccer and coach his two children. He also enjoys mentoring other entrepreneurs.

Mary Pat Fralick
Chief Operating Officer

Mary Pat is an admired, capable leader with over 35 years of experience in roles that include CEO, CFO and COO. Mary Pat co-founded two successful professional companies, and for the past 17 years has served as a Trustee for Upland Country Day School and was Board President for five years. Mary Pat has managed every aspect of a business with the goal of creating a great place to work.

Mary Pat has an MBA from St. Joseph’s University and an Economics degree from Rutgers University, where she is a member of the 1982 Women’s National Championship Basketball team. She has been married for 30 years and has three children. She loves the beach and cooking for friends and family.

James Allen
Lead Simulation Developer

James has been designing and implementing simulations as part of a blended learning solution for over 20 years. James works with a very creative group that partners with educational practitioners to create high-impact, leadership simulations.

Originally from Allentown PA, James now lives downstream in the Philadelphia area where he earned a BA at Temple U prior to an MS in Instructional Technology upstate at Bloomsburg U. A proud dad of two teenagers, he enjoys spending time with his kids engaging in Philadelphia’s rich cultural offerings, as well as hiking and biking on local trails.

Dr. David De Jong
Advisor

David De Jong, Ed.D., is an Associate Professor and Chair of the Division of Educational Leadership in the School of Education at the University of South Dakota. He teaches graduate online and hybrid courses and chairs doctoral dissertation committees. In the past few years, he was awarded the University of South Dakota School of Education Teaching in Excellence Award and the Research in Excellence Award. His research agenda includes 25 published peer-reviewed journal articles about educational leadership, innovations in PreK-12 education, mentoring, and innovations in technology for teaching in PreK-20 education. He is currently the President of the International Council of Professors of Educational Leadership (ICPEL). His previous experience includes serving as a teacher, coach, principal, and superintendent.

David believes that simulations from School Sims are the best best tool available for current and aspiring school leaders. He has led hundreds of simulations for thousands of school leaders throughout the United States. He also believes that Schools Sims provide a safe learning environment where participants can gain a leadership experience without any real-world consequences. Experience is the best teacher!

Dr. Patrese A. Mason
Partner

Known to her educational clients as the Superintendents’ Chief ConsultantTM, Dr. Mason went from aging out of foster care and being homeless to being a successful principal and consulting superintendents.

With twenty years of proven experience in public education, she was selected as an administrator for elementary, middle, high schools within rural, suburban and urban settings. Today, as an international speaker, educational consultant, coach and full time CEO of the Dr. Patrese A. Mason, LLC, she supports departments of education, and districts in preparing principals and educators for equity and excellence. She utilizes a five-prong proprietary model known for results in decreasing staff turn-over, increasing student achievement, and building leaders’ endurance.

Dr. Mason packs a phenomenological and inquiry-based approach when building the capacity of educational leaders. She develops others starting with her personal lived experiences as a child and practitioner through the lens of an equity-based model. She knows that experience is the best teacher and has found that SchoolSims allows for leaders to gain rich experience risk-free. Her services and those of SchoolSims can work in alignment to provide districts and universities the full-solution to create a powerhouse preparation program – the result: Qualified, equity-based, student-focused, excellent educational leaders ready to serve.

Dr. Michael C. Johanek
Co-Founder, & Advisor

Dr. Johanek is a Senior Fellow at the Graduate School of Education (GSE), University of Pennsylvania, where he is also Director of the Mid-Career Doctoral Program in Educational Leadership; Co-Director of the Inter-American Educational Leadership Network; founding Director of the Penn Educational Leadership Simulations (PELS) Program; and affiliated faculty for the International Educational Development Program, and Education, Culture and Society Division. He teaches as Profesor Invitado Internacional at the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile.

Before coming to Penn in the spring of 2007, he served as Vice President of Professional Services for Teachscape, a for-profit blended technology services company, where he managed all service engagements nationally. He is the former Executive Director for K-12 Professional Development, The College Board, where he managed programs supporting over 500,000 middle and high school teachers, college faculty, coordinators, and administrators, including those involved in the Advanced Placement Program. He founded, developed, and managed a program development and operations department with responsibilities including new product development, in-person training, web services, electronic and print publications, regional office operational support, marketing, and research. A former high school teacher in Cleveland, New York, and Lima, Peru, he taught in and managed the Fellows in Teaching Program and Urban Fellow Program at Teachers College, Columbia University prior to joining the College Board.

There is much more to Dr. Johanek’s journey, which you can read here.