Christine Drew is the President and Chief Creative Officer of Syfr. Like her Syfr partner, Richard Erdmann, Christine has always been interested in business as well as education. After teaching middle and high school geography, history, language arts, and creative writing, and starting a family, Christine started a tutoring service from her home while her children grew from babies to school age. It was this home-based business (started with a 48K Apple IIE and a 128K IBM PC) that inspired her to ponder how teachers might use computers in their classrooms.
While tutoring, Christine learned that children who fall two or more years behind their grade level before entering high school have a 100% chance of dropping out. Since two of her tutoring students were in that category, Christine asked their school systems to let them re-enter at grade level if they could prove that their achievement was at that level. Christine then created a rudimentary computerized testing and tracking system for the children she tutored, and developed formative assessments to inform private instruction. At the end of seven months of assessment followed by targeted instruction, both students were back on grade level based on the administration of standardized tests. They went back to school as freshmen instead of 7th graders, and both graduated, on time, four years later.
Thinking about going back to the challenge of teaching middle and high school, Christine realized that instruction tended to move forward independent of any information about student performance. She began to work on an idea for a student management system to tie objectives and formative assessment to instruction in a classroom. With her own children now in school, Christine started a consulting company to help schools integrate software with instruction. Organizing a school's software collections by objectives on the local test, in a simple database, the company created catalogues of software by objectives for all the teachers in the buildings.
As the company grew, Christine began to work with software publishers, as well as schools and school districts, and met Richard Erdmann, her partner at Syfr. He asked Christine to create a proposal for an instructional management system that teachers could use to manage instruction at the desktop. Richard and Christine co-founded the first company with a standards-based report card, data-driven lesson planning, and formative assessment tools. The company was sold in 2000. After selling this company, Christine worked as Chief Academic Officer for an online assessment company, creating an item bank to map to state standards. As editor for a private courseware company, Christine and her team created mirror tests for high stakes assessment programs.
Christine and her team also worked with IBM’s EduQuest division to create the Curriculum Connections product line, aligning all of IBM’s educational courseware to the standards of twenty states. A trainer for multiple vendors of software and hardware solutions, Christine also developed products for Scholastic (The State and Local History Kit) and presented internationally for WorldClassroom, the first web-based, curriculum-based student discussion forum.
Ready to return to entrepreneurship, Christine approached Syfr with an idea to convert the intersections approach of the seminars and retreats into a professional development philosophy for schools and school districts. She joined Syfr in 2008 to build a product and service around the intersections concept—the idea of using ideas from outside education to intersect with educational expertise to frame new questions and find new answers. She became the president and COO in 2009 and CCO with the publication of the digital book.
Christine's hobbies include a love of gardening (mostly organic vegetables) learned from her grandparents in Illinois, a love of children and watching them learn and grow (she has two godchildren and two grandboys), and a love of cooking with herbs and fresh ingredients. As a result, she occasionally teaches cooking classes and caters dinners. Her home is Blackberry Pines Farm in Alabama, and she would love to serve you there anytime you are in town. She will entertain you with stories of the origin of herbs and spices, what we owe to Lewis and Clark, and the story of women's suffrage while the dogs and cats mill around your feet at the family table.