Meet Ryan McKenzie, Math Content Manager at Goalbook
What was your experience prior to Goalbook?
Before starting with Goalbook — initially as a part-time content developer — I spent time in a variety of educational positions. I was a middle school and high school math teacher outside of Philadelphia, a field instructor and seminar facilitator for secondary math student teachers at the University of Michigan, and a data and assessment coach at a K-8 public school in Detroit.
What gravitated you towards Goalbook’s mission?
Two phrases from our mission statement have always resonated strongly with me. The first is empower educators. Our aim is not to simply provide resources or prescribe strategies; we are growth-oriented and strive to instill in educators the confidence and competence necessary to cultivate student success. The second phrase is ALL students, and the use of capitalization is certainly non-trivial. When we talk about ALL students succeeding, we truly mean every single student. That’s something that was always core for me as a teacher, so it means a lot to me that it is also the core of our mission at Goalbook.
What is your role, and what are your favorite parts of it?
I am the Content Manager for High School Math and a Designer on our Content Team. One of my favorite parts of this role is the fact that I am constantly challenged to push my own thinking and grow my skill set. I am also in complete awe of how brilliant, hard-working, and passionate everyone on the team is. We are perpetually learning together, as well as individually from each other’s unique strengths and experiences.
Outside of the role, what are one or two things you love here?
I’ve never had a job in which I’ve felt as valued and trusted as I do here at Goalbook. That is far and away the number one thing that I love here. I also appreciate how deeply everyone in the company cares about the impact we have on ALL students, making sure to keep student success at the forefront of our thinking and decision-making.
Our aim is not to simply provide resources or prescribe strategies; we are growth-oriented and strive to instill in educators the confidence and competence necessary to cultivate student success.
How do you work and communicate with your manager?
Even though I work remotely (outside of Philadelphia), I am in constant contact with my manager, Kristina, over video calls, messaging, and email. I love the relationship that we’ve built. I know I can always turn to her for support, critique, advocacy, and even the occasional therapy. Of course, we always make room to talk about both our new lives as parents, too.
What have you learned in your role so far?
When I first started with Goalbook, I had no idea I’d be doing the kind of work that I’m doing today. I’m learning to employ design thinking, conduct user research, and apply elements of visual design, among countless other new skills and experiences. On a sappier note, I’ve also learned the importance and impact of being cared for not just as an employee, but as a person. Everyone at Goalbook truly means it when they say that our personal growth is just as important as our professional growth.
What are some areas you’d like to continue growing professionally?
I still have quite a mountain to climb when it comes to growing my design thinking skills. I’d like to work on better understanding and defining the user need, as well as becoming more proficient in rapid prototyping. From a team manager perspective, I want to sharpen my ability to build capacity within my own team.
What personal goals have you set outside of work?
While I can’t say that I have officially set this as a goal, I’ve been saying for years that I’d like to one day have a stand at a farmers’ market or maybe even a weekend food truck. I should probably first figure out what I want to sell, though, as I can’t seem to settle on that. One day it’s pickles. The next day it’s breakfast sandwiches. I also want to design my own board game and continue to improve as a runner.
Everyone at Goalbook truly means it when they say that our personal growth is just as important as our professional growth.
What are some of your favorite spots in Philadelphia and San Mateo?
Some of my favorite food spots in Philadelphia are Zahav, El Vez, DiNic’s Roast Pork, and Federal Donuts. I also love spending time with my family at Spruce Street Harbor Park and the Schuylkill River Trail. Every time I visit the Goalbook office in San Mateo, I seem to find myself at Ramen Dojo. On my last trip, I enjoyed a nice run along the Bay Trail, and I look forward to doing that again. Oh, and Philz.
What’s your favorite memory during your time at Goalbook?
My favorite memory has to be meeting everyone at the office for the first time and immediately feeling connected and welcomed. I was amazed by how quickly it felt as if many of us had been friends for a long time.
Which team activity has been your favorite?
My favorite team activity has to be what has now become a staple of any visit to headquarters: Game Night at the Office (also known as Codenames Night). There’s a lot you can learn about your colleagues over a round or two of Codenames. Also, the boxes and boxes of Blue Line Pizza tend to add to my enjoyment of the night.