Ep. 360: What’s Up with The Cottage – With Marissa Hess

March 2, 2023

Mike McShane talks with Marissa Hess of Urban Cottage Educational Collaborative to discuss how innovative educational programs can sit at the intersection of homeschooling, collaborative schooling, and microschooling.

Mike McShane: Hello and welcome back to another edition of EdChoice Chats. This is Mike McShane, Director of National Research at EdChoice. And this is part of my series, What’s Up with Mike McShane. Today on the podcast I have the opportunity to chat with Marissa Hess to answer the question, what’s up with the cottage? And the cottage that we’re talking about today is the Urban Cottage Educational Collaborative in Tampa, Florida. It’s a really interesting organization that does a few different things. I think one of its primary offerings are these three-hour core academic sessions that they offer to homeschooling families. So families who are traditionally homeschooling as we’ll hear from Marissa, have an opportunity to enroll, I think, in as few as one, as many as five of these classes throughout the week. And we’ll actually hear from her that some folks that are choosing to participate in these sessions actually go to a traditional school. They sort of create some time in the day or week to attend one of these sessions. 

So offered in the cottage are these three-hour sessions that people can kind of cycle in and out of. Marissa and Urban Cottage also does some homeschool consulting. They do afterschool tutoring; they offer summer camps. But they’re basically this really interesting organization that sort of sits at the intersection of homeschooling, collaborative schooling, microschooling, all of these things that defy easy categorization or easy definition. But just are ways where families that are trying to do something new or different in education have a place to go, have really talented, interesting educators that their children can learn from, a community that they can be a part of, just a really interesting spot. So we have a wonderful opportunity to talk in the micro and the macro. So we’ll have a chance to talk about the things that they are doing, but also back out a bit. 

Marissa has been at this, as I think I say on the podcast, since before it was cool. This was an organization founded back in 2015, so she’s been able to see the really wide sweep of educational innovation and the changes that have happened since long before the pandemic, but during the pandemic, after it, et cetera. So she has a really wonderful perspective to talk about educational innovation in general, about the changes in the landscape, and also we’ll kind of wrap up by talking about public policy. Obviously as I said, it’s located in Tampa, Florida. Florida is such a hotbed for educational choice. And she has a lot of really interesting reflections as someone trying to work in this space. And not necessarily falling in easy categories, but obviously doing really important educational work, and how the system can better fit to support and accommodate the work that she’s doing. 

Hopefully that was enough of a trailer to get you to stick around because it’s a really interesting conversation. So without further ado, here’s my chat with Marissa Hess of the Urban Cottage Educational Collaborative. So Marissa, I see on the website the name of your enterprise, the Urban Cottage Educational Collaborative. And what I think is really interesting is sort of each of those words in that has meaning, and people might sort of ask questions about each one. I mean, I assume most people understand urban and would hope that they understand educational. But maybe we could start at the beginning. So what is the Urban Cottage Educational Collaborative? 

Marissa Hess: Sure. So we actually started in 2015. So it was kind of at this point, as far as educational innovations go, a pretty long time ago. We’re really old. There’s been a big change in so many innovations, which has been so exciting to see. But we started in 2015. When I left, I had been part of the public school system and traditional education that I’d also been part of two different private schools and Montessori school. And I loved different aspects of those things. But when I decided that I needed to innovate something on my own. We are in Tampa and Tampa has a really, really, really strong educational culture. So, we have a really strong educational culture where homeschooling was not always looked upon well. 

I grew up as a homeschooler and then shifted to private school when I got out of middle school. And so I knew what it was like to grow up and tell people I was a homeschooler in Tampa. And then we moved around the world, and did all kinds of things, and then came back. And so when I was going to take my kids home, and I wanted to do something different. So I didn’t want them to feel like they were a traditional homeschooler because I had this idea that I wanted to kind of sort out. So we live in an urban context, so obviously, urban was just an easy name. And then even in 2015, we started out in a cottage. It was a very small 600 square foot. We have now upgraded to a very large cottage, but it’s always been in a small home. So the first one was in my personal. I had a rental property and instead of renting it out to anybody, I just had it as our cottage. 

And so I wanted to give it a name. And so then when we moved to this commercial cottage, which is still in the same neighborhood. But I kept saying no every year starting in 2015 to groups of kids because as soon as I started doing this weird concept that I was just… I didn’t know anybody was doing it, I was just making it up based off of my experiences. And I just was in this little hole where I was like, “I’m just going to innovate this and see what I’m going to do.” And I literally knew nobody and I had never heard of anybody doing anything like this. And so I was just every day trying to figure it out to make a product for my kids and for my friends’ kids when they found out about it. And so I brought a couple kids in and started. 

Thankfully they allowed me to professionally experiment on their children, and figure out what we were going to do based off of my years of teaching. I had been teaching for 10 years and had some ideas. And I was always disruptive wherever I was. So, I was taking those ideas and trying to implement them into ways that I would’ve wanted them to be fixed. And so, I went ahead and started this thing and I kept saying no to dozens of children every year as I kept going year, after year, after year. 

And I thought, “Well, it seems like more people want this, but I just don’t have capacity. I don’t even know what to do.” I want every kid to have a good education and so I just stopped saying no. I said, “Okay, well, what would it look like to say yes?” So after five years, I said, “Okay, well, I’ve been practicing and experimenting for five years. What if I do this differently?” So I got a commercial cottage on a main street. We live in the urban corridor of Tampa and so I thought, “Well, what if we do this?” So I got this cottage and took over the lease. It was effective March 1st, 2020. So here I was- 

Mike McShane: Heck of a time to decide to start something new. 

Marissa Hess: It was really stunning. It was stunning timing. So sure enough, I take over as of my lease March 1st, I had had this new name. I’m like, I had always called it the Urban Cottage for my kids. And so, when I went to go register and make it this thing, I was like, “Well, let me do it, Urban Cottage Educational.” And I have this idea to be a collaborative because I want to take professional educators and I want to be able to hire professional educators. I feel like there’s so many professional educators out there that are just disenchanted. And what if they could just have their dream jobs? What if I could just employ them to have their dream jobs? So then I sit with them and say, “Okay, what’s your expertise? What is the thing that just lights your soul to teach? And what if I could give you a job doing that?” 

And so what if my first priority was to pick innovative teachers? My ratio of hiring and interviewing is about 14 interviews to one hire. And what if I could sit and say, “Okay, tell me what do you want to innovate? What is the thing that in your head you’ve never been allowed to do and experiment with and try? And what are the things, based off of these scientific research studies and things that you just feel like you’re stuck in a cog, where nobody’s allowing you to be the artist that you know inside would benefit students?” And so as we talk through those things and I say, “How could you do that? If you were given that dream job, what would that look like?” And so as we talk through all of those things, how do we hire teachers like that? And then what if they could do that part-time? 

A lot of teachers that are unfortunately in a position where they’ll have to work 70 hours a week, but they have to have the benefits, they have to have this. And there’s a lot of reasons why they need a traditional setting. And I completely empathize with that, and I wish that that were different. But there’s also some teachers that are like, “I could work 20 hours a week. I could do that. And if I was paid really well for that, because I am an outside the box thinker, and I am someone who’s innovative, and I could actually be rewarded for the hard work that I do.” There’s so many times where I interview teachers and they’re like, “I am innovating at my school all the time.” I just had an interview like this week. “I am innovating. I’m creating curriculum for them. They’re either not paying me anything additional to do so, or I got paid $500 to create an entire school-wide curriculum and put on an event for my entire school.” 

And so, unfortunately, these systems are just kind of rewarding mediocrity and teachers are sitting there going, “Then why am I going to work harder than anybody else? Why am I going to put on an entire poetry event school-wide where kids are doing amazingly beautiful language arts projects and present this to families, and then nothing?” There’s no, “Hey, this was meaningful to us. You’re incredible. And here’s a tangible way that I can give you a token of our sincere appreciation for your dedication, hard work, and innovative spirit.” And teachers aren’t getting that. And so that was my goal, was to put a collaborative of teachers together that just said, “How can you have your dream job? And how can I pay you an actual living wage, heaven forbid, a living wage, to be able to do that job?” So I wanted it to be a collaborative of professional educators, and really be a bridge between traditional homeschoolers, and traditional private schools. I wanted us to be something different. 

Mike McShane: So what does a typical day look like at the cottage? 

Marissa Hess: So in having professional educators, my goal was always to have those teachers come in and teach a particular subject area. Not that they’re incapable of teaching anything else or speaking to anything else. But to be able to really have that time where they have someone who’s an expert in that field speaking to them in that subject area. So as such, this gives a really high caliber of educational access to children whose parents might just say, “I just want to enroll my kids for language arts. I am not feeling this reading thing. I’m feeling something’s off, and it’s just not working for me and my child, and I don’t want to use relational capita to teach that.” Or there might be a family who says, “The kingdom of math is not for me to teach.” And that’s okay because we have math teachers that the kingdom of math is their jam. 

And so, how the family chooses to enroll their child is based off of what subject areas they want teachers to speak into. And so, they can choose anywhere from one, we have a three-hour session and we run those three-hour sessions a minimum of two times a day. And then we expand that every single day, so five days a week. And then we also do all kinds of things like speech therapy. We have a school psychologist that comes in. We do individual psychological assessments either because parents ask for them, or is just a part of an academic survey of how are the kids doing? And so we do a lot of different kind of side things to be able to help families to curate an education that genuinely is something that they’re looking for. Families can choose to have their children in just one three-hour session a week, or as many as up to five if that’s what they choose. 

Mike McShane: Now, I have some kind of big picture questions for you, because I think you mentioned at the beginning that you all have been at this since 2015, since before all of this stuff was cool. And I would love just your perspective on how this world has evolved and changed over that time period. 

Marissa Hess: Yeah, that’s a solid question because I’ve watched it change and it was a really interesting thing as 2020 hit. And here I am naively thinking in January, I’m getting this property in March, we’ll start doing some camps. We’ll do some things, and we’ll do some tutoring over the summer. And then in the fall of 2020, we’ll kind of launch some more of our… And that was not by April of 2020. All of a sudden it was like, “Oh my gosh, can you help us? Can you help us?” And on the one hand, professionally, it was a huge blessing, and help, and support because I had been doing it a long time. So many families were just all of a sudden finding themselves in this desperate place of survival, and they were looking for resources. So on the one hand, COVID itself, I think really uncovered, I don’t know, just a lot of things that helped families to see that prior to COVID, public schools and a one size fits all, which let’s be honest, there’s a lot of traditional private schools that fit that as well. 

That model was not working, it wasn’t working. But for a lot of reasons, parents just didn’t really see that there was another option. Generations before kind of didn’t really see their role as an educational contractor for my kids. And that maybe different kids need different things even within my own family. So I think times have really changed as far as what the parents see their role as. I think parents are doing that now. I think they were already starting to see that because millennial parents were kind of coming of age of having children in preschool and then elementary school. And then COVID just put that in a pressure cooker, because they began to see, “Wait a second, COVID now showed me the extent to which this was not working. It wasn’t working at all.” And so they began to see, “Oh my gosh, and not only is it not working, I’m now responsible to implement what isn’t working. What in the world has happened to us?” 

And so I think there’s a lot of pieces that COVID really accelerated that process. And because we’ve been doing this a long time, we could stand there and say, “It’s okay. We can help you. We can help you. It’s okay. We’re not worried. We’re not worried. We can help you.” And so I think that was a really exciting place for me to be because I felt like it’s all right. We have answers and we can help you curate something for your families. And I also do educational consulting. So the amount of parents that I was sitting down on a daily, weekly basis from all over the country, it’s like, “What do I do? What do I do?” I think one of the downsides that happened with COVID that did accelerate a little bit was there became a lot of content. 

All of a sudden within days, God forbid, weeks, all of a sudden everybody was a talking head of how you should be running your life. And it was like, okay, how much content can we actually create, which seemed to be limitless? And how much can we, as families, actually absorb in a meaningful replication? How can we do this? And so I actually began to do a YouTube channel because I was getting so many things. And I think I did four episodes and I was like, “Yo, I’m out.” Because there’s so much content, I’m not going to be another person that’s a talking head telling a family who’s just trying to go day to day, just surviving. How in the world am I supposed to implement this virtual education, and work, and figure out how to get toilet paper for my family? What in the world was this life we were leading? 

And so, I just kind of stopped and was like, “No, no, no, no, I can’t fix everything. I can’t help everybody. I’m just going to do the thing that I’ve been doing since 2015. I’m going to stay in my lane, and I’m going to help the families that are here that come to me and say, ‘What can we do?'” Because that’s sure. This is innovative. This is very innovative. But this was an innovation I have been practicing for five years. So now, is go time. And I think that really empowered families. I think the idea even worldwide, but specifically within the United States, really empowered families to see themselves, as the American lifestyle was changing and continues to change with people moving back more into an urban context. Millennials are beginning to see their role more as really a contractor of their child’s education. And so this child needs this, and so we’re going to do this, and I’m going to find an expert to be able to help them in that area. 

I mean, millennials have been very expert-oriented. We want an expert to speak into things in a way that I don’t really feel like has necessarily been a marker of other generations. We want to go to the expert in the field, and not just take people’s word on a large scale. We want to hear what does that expert have to say about this. And so, I think all of those things have really changed and it’s really helped families to see their role as parents. I need to take an active role in hunting for something that’s different for each child. And then you just look at the lifestyle of Americans now in their jobs. Millennials, again, these are broad generalizations, but millennials, they have school-aged kids now. A lot of them are on remote work, at least now hybridly. They have non-traditional jobs. Many of them are entrepreneurs and innovators. 

And so now, surprisingly a traditional education where their kids just do the same thing, in the same place every day, that their parents, and their grandparents, and everybody has just always done it this way and it’s how we do it. They began to see that maybe tradition is good, but tradition is good only if it’s functioning. And I’m going to ask questions if it is functioning. And I think they’ve done that in a different way. So, it’s not surprising to me that education became one of those things that millennials began to ask questions about. Because they began to question a lot of things. And so I think that helps them to see these traditional models have not been shown to be adaptable. And if anything, millennials are adaptable. And so they’ve been changing things. And so they want their education for each of their children to reflect that adaptability of their own spirits and their own values. 

Mike McShane: I’m interested in your thoughts on innovation in education kind of writ large. I think for a long time, people who had some comfort with innovation, I think of a lot of some of the early charter schools and others, there’s this idea of, “Well, what we’re going to do is we’ll create some space in this big system to have some innovation. And then maybe we can learn lessons from that and then apply it back to the big system.” But a lot of those innovations, and even I think some people think about around school choice or others, is like, well, we’re going to have a lot of people experiment to find the one right way to educate kids. 

And we haven’t figured it out yet, but if we have a few people try it, and then eventually there’s a winnowing process. I don’t know if it’s a funnel or something, where people will try a bunch of different things, and eventually, we’ll figure out that kind of this is how you got to teach kids math, or this is what the school day should look like, or others. I have a sneaking suspicion that you are not in that camp. So what I would be interested in your work doing this in the way that you see the field, how you think about innovation in education, what its purpose is, what it serves, what you’re trying to do. 

Marissa Hess: Yeah. I do not think there’s any one way, any one structure for every single child, for every family across the board. I have said it a thousand times, children are not computers and teachers are not programmers. And so there are many, many innovators out there that see a problem in the system and they want to do something different. And I think education has not been a free market. It’s not been. And more than that, not only has it not been a free market, can we even venture to say that the people who have had the most, “Freedom,” in the market have been the elite? The elite have had freedom. That’s about it. And I think the most exciting thing to me about the innovation within education is that when families and parents get to be clients and they are empowered and ESAs are doing this across the nation. 

And to be able to free the market to say, “Mom and dad, do you see something with your child that is not working where they’re at and your child is struggling. Guess what? Why don’t you go find a better option for them? And here, that tax money that you’ve been paying, however your state does it on property taxes or whatever, we’re actually going to give it to your child. Oh my goodness, what a novel concept and we’re going to give you that money. And then that money gets to follow your child to the source that you feel like can help your child.” And I think we need a marketplace of educational innovations. 

And some of them will function for some kids better than others. Some of those will look like a school. Some of them will not look like a school. They will look like a curated group of experts that speak into specific subjects for families like my collaborative is. There are many options. Some might look like it’s more outdoors. Some might look like it’s more tech-based if that’s what the family feels fits their child. But we need a plethora of options for families, because when families and children become clients of innovation, then what that does is, it empowers families who never had options before. 

It says to families, unfortunately, the urban context when everybody left, the reason they were moving into suburbs was better schools. And then it turns out all of a sudden on gentrification happened. And there’s a whole lot of depth to that conversation, which I’m sure you can hire and talk to lots of experts about what that’s all about. But whatever those ideas are, the reality is millennials have moved back to the city. And what I think it’s empowered families to see is, these neighborhood schools are terrible. And we have been telling kids in the urban context, “Sorry, your schools are terrible. We have the money to move out and so we are going somewhere better. And we’re going to take the better with us.” 

And what these ESAs are able to do is to take every single child and say to that parent, “You’ve never been a client of education before, ever. We’ve told you go to your neighborhood school. And even if it’s horrific, even if it’s not working for your child, even if… Name, all of the things. Sorry, it’s what you have.” So talk about an empowering place for families to say, “Guess what? I’ve never been a client of education and now I have X amount of dollars to say what education fits my child. And now I get to pick that.” It’s so empowering for families and allows them to be able to see what that option is for their family and for specifically even each child in that family. And I think it’s an exciting time to be alive in education. And I don’t think there is the real simple answer. I don’t think there will ever be and should never be. And I think we should actually be afraid of any, “Innovation,” that says we are the way if we just could get more, and more, and more, we are the way to teach math. 

This curriculum. I see this a lot in a lot of boards and discussion boards, if you will, is families are always looking for, especially homeschool families, the curriculum. What’s the curriculum? And I think we need to be afraid of that. So is what we’re saying is that what innovation is that we’re going to create something new, and then now it’s just the new box that we put everybody in? Is that what we’re looking for? Is that what all this innovation is about is for us to say, “Turns out we just needed a new small box?” No, that’s insanity. Innovation is about being able to find new ways they’re working and the more innovations we can do, the better children’s education will be. 

And I think I’m not the person that’s going to be able to help every child in the US, let alone in Tampa, let alone in our neighborhood. I can’t be the only source of good education for children. I need as many people as possible with me so that families can say this was a great option for that child. And this other option was great for that child. And this curriculum worked for that child. And so families can see their need to be able to fit an education to their child. And then ESAs around the country and states are saying, “We’re going to back that up with the money and we’ve not been giving it to your child. We’ve been giving it to a system into a box.” Instead of, that’s fine, you don’t have to use the box, but your money gets to stay in the box. So good luck. I mean- 

Mike McShane: Right. Yeah. 

Marissa Hess: And then now it’s like this is a revelatory concept that maybe we would say maybe the money was supposed to be for the child. And so I’m excited because I’m in the state of Florida. In the state of Florida this week, that’s on the docket. 

Mike McShane: Yeah. This is what I was going to ask you about is like you’re located in Florida, which is I think is seen as very much a kind of hotbed for this. You’ve mentioned the ESAs, Florida has an ESA program. I would be interested like the degree to which you already participate in these programs, what you think the strengths of them are, how could they maybe be improved? Yeah, just that kind of public policy context in which you operate? 

Marissa Hess: Yeah, there’s a lot of public policy that’s in flux right now in the state of Florida, and it’s extremely exciting to me. It’s something… One of the bills came out, it’s 50 pages. I’d like to hope that’s not true, but you can believe in the first 24 hours, I’d read through it twice, all 50 pages. And then I’m sitting here looking at these notes on it, 16 pages and I’ve read it three times in the next 24 hours. I want to see what this is and how it affects businesses like mine, because we’re not a school. And so I would say Florida has been a hotbed. And Florida was an early adapter in kind of the ESA type program with charter schools at least that was early in the state of Florida. But then on top of that though, we have a wonderful scholarship program, a family empowerment scholarship. 

But if you look at for instance, for homeschoolers, that’s really the bulk of my clientele or families who are homeschooling. Although I will say, we have now a niche market that’s come to us of people pulling their kids out of public school and some private schools at the end of the day or a little bit early. And they’re bringing them multiple times a week to us to get that last part of our core session that goes until 3:30 in the afternoon. And so the kids will get out at 2:00 from the public school, and their parents twice a week are bringing them at the end of the day to do another hour of literacy support. And so we do have a clientele that’s growing, that’s a trend that I’m seeing, which is a whole other subject. So I’ll stick on the ESAs. But we’re seeing that a lot. 

And so the bulk of my clients are all homeschoolers. And so where the state of Florida, so far, our empowerment scholarship has been difficult for my families and my clients has been the children that are able to receive the empowerment scholarship while they’re homeschooling is actually if they have some sort of learning difference. So it’s called the FES-UA, the Unique Abilities Empowerment Scholarship. And so homeschoolers have been able to get that if they fit a diagnosis that’s on a list of diagnoses. So they’re able to use that to curate an education for their child with learning differences, which is amazing. Where the empowerment scholarships have been really difficult, and I have these requests come in on a weekly basis, is there are several in the state of Florida that are empowerment scholarships. There’s a bullying scholarship, there’s a reading scholarship, there’s first responders, police-military type of thing, they can get additional support. 

Florida’s been very innovative in those empowerment scholarships. Where there’s a big crux has been in those families, they use them at a school, a registered school. So I’ll give you an example. There’s some families that are in the military, and one of the things that military families that some of them decide is they want to homeschool because they’re moving so much. They want their kid’s social interaction in an unstructured setting, not sitting at a desk next to another kid. They wanted a social setting to actually be free play and to be able to have play dates and to be able to do those things. And they want their academics to be able to stay consistent regardless of they’re in the states, out of the states, whatever their assignment is. And so there’s a lot of military families at homeschool. Those military families can get a scholarship with our Florida Empowerment Scholarship, but they can only use it to go to a registered school. 

So when a military family has chosen to homeschool, what our scholarship has said to them is, “Oh, you can have this money. We want to help you, but you definitely can’t find an education that you feel fits your family. You can only do it if it’s a traditional school.” And so that’s been the problem is yes, there’s innovations, but the stipulations have in it. I’ll tell you what a kicker was in the last two years, is we had another empowerment scholarship for children with unique abilities. And so this scholarship, they can be homeschooled, we can do that. We’re a direct provider for that scholarship because we have so many teachers here who have ESE degrees, and have a lot of experience with dyslexia, and with children on the spectrum, and OCD, and all kinds of things. And so we have a lot of anxiety disorder that’s come out of COVID. 

And so we have a lot of people, we have a specialist that works with kids with anxiety disorders, and so we’ve had a lot of that. So here we have these children who had some sort of learning difference, or like neuro-atypical or something like that. So they started giving siblings of children on the FES-UA, the Unique Ability Scholarship, the ESA, they’ve given them a scholarship. The siblings can get a scholarship to go to a school. So here you have a family who’s now sitting there going, “So you can be a direct provider for my child who’s homeschooled that has some learning differences. But if I want to take the 5,000, 7,000, 8,000 dollars. And let’s be real, that’s not an amount of money that can actually pay for a private school, but if I can get that money, the only place I can use it is a private school. So then what? Do I have my kids one’s homeschooled and doing this?” 

Which is possible, I mean if that’s what the parents choose. But it also puts them in a place to say, “We want to curate an education for all of our children. And so what if homeschooling we feel like is the right thing for that child?” Or, “Why do we have to use that at a school?” And so it’s put parents in a situation that says what if they live in an area that doesn’t have a school that they think reflects their values or what their goals are educationally? And so the problem has been in Florida, the vast majority of those scholarships, the vast majority of them. I get requests for financial scholarships. We have a Florida Empowerment Financial Scholarship to be able to help them, but they have to go to a school, they can’t come to us. And that’s been a real problem. 

We currently have a child with a bullying scholarship, and the parents kind of rejected the bullying scholarship because they said, “We just don’t want them in an environment… Our environment has a five to one student to teach a ratio.” And so they’re like, “Well, we’re comfortable with that ratio. Every school we’re going to has a 18, 20, 23, 25 student teacher ratio, and we’re just not comfortable with that. There’s a lot of anxiety around being in a large group academic setting.” And so they’re rejecting to use some of this because they just don’t see that the curation for their kids is a structured, registered seven hours a day school, five days a week. And so, that’s where I’m excited for the Empowerment Scholarship that Florida is working through in our legislature right now. Because it acknowledges the fact that maybe not everybody, the best option is to be in a structured five day a week, seven hour a day school. And it empowers companies like mine and innovators like myself, to be able to support those families with whatever it is that they feel is the best option for each child. 

Mike McShane: So now, if people want to find out more about what you are doing, where can they find more information? 

Marissa Hess: So we have a website, urbancottage.us. They can find our website, I like to say Instagram for businesses’ like the new catalog. So it’s all these pictures, this visual catalog of what we do. So feel free. And actually the best way to understand how we function, and who we are is on our reels, and on our hosts on Instagram. And so you can find us @urbancottageeducational on Instagram. So we’re also on Facebook, but most of our people tend to find us through Instagram and our website. 

Mike McShane: Well, Marissa Hess, thank you so much for taking the time to be on the podcast today. 

Marissa Hess: Absolutely. Thank you for having me. I’m so excited about education and I feel like the future is genuinely extremely bright in education, and I’m excited to see how kids gets a win with those innovations. 

Mike McShane: Well, I hope you enjoyed that conversation as much as I did. I think it’s really cool to talk to folks who have been at this for some time now. That have learned lessons, that have invariably sort of made mistakes and had to learn from them, have gone down some paths and realized that they weren’t as fruitful as they thought, and then chose to go down other ones. Someone who can also take a step back and have that kind of big picture sweep. Look at how school choice policies have changed over time. How attitudes towards educational innovation have changed over time. How just parent attitudes in general and teacher attitudes have changed over time. Marissa has really had the opportunity to see a lot of stuff in this area, and I really appreciate that she took the time to chat on the podcast today. 

As always, I’d like to thank our producer, Jacob Vinson, and to put out the call to everyone. Actually, I got Marissa’s name from a previous podcast interviewee who heard this sort of call to action at the end where I say, “Hey, if you know people who are doing cool and innovative things, please send them my way.” They did exactly that and sent me Marissa’s name and I’m so glad. I don’t know if it’s something I probably would have given that the circles, even though they’re definitely getting bigger, are still small enough that you can kind of find out people who are doing cool and interesting things. But this one cut right to the chase. I got a wonderful email that says, “Hey, the Urban Cottage Educational Collaborative is really interesting. Marissa, who runs it, is really interesting.” You two should talk and it worked out. 

So that’s a long-winded way of saying if you, dear listener, know of someone who is doing something cool and interesting in education, and it can be in this sort of all these new spaces that are developing micro schooling, hybrid homeschooling, pods, whatever you want to call it, homeschool co-ops, but also traditional public schools that are doing cool stuff, or traditional private schools that are doing cool stuff, or policy makers, or philanthropists. Really kind of anybody in the broad sweep of education at home or abroad that you think are doing cool stuff, please send them my way. I’d really appreciate the opportunity to talk to them, and I think people would really benefit from it. And so, I’ll just close by saying thank you. Thank you to Marissa for taking the time. And thank you to all of you for listening. And I look forward to joining you another time when I answer the question, what’s up with something interesting in education or another edition of EdChoice Chats, take care.