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Meet LaTasha McMurry, Jennifer Stelly and Jeffery Herron of The Modern Scholars in North

Today we’d like to introduce you to LaTasha McMurry, Jennifer Stelly and Jeffery Herron.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
What are the odds of a correctional officer, a casino card dealer, and a substitute teacher, all meeting at a middle school in Houston’s Trinity Gardens? Being from all walks of life? All loving to teach and wanting to make a change in their students’ lives? Then discovering that relationships and encouragement plays a huge role in our students’ success. After noticing these issues, with student behavior and motivation, we created an app to build the capacity of students, socially and emotionally.

Being new teachers at an inner-city school, we needed a tool that would improve behaviors while motivating our scholars. We used token systems such as behavior clips, marble jars, and conduct cards. All systems were good systems but missed the mark with student buy-in.

In 2017, LaTasha introduced “STAAR” bucks in her 6th grade math class. She would reward students based on behavior and academic achievement and the students loved it! Students could then use the paper money at the Incentive store and receive “goodies” for their bucks. We wanted to make this concept a school-wide incentive system but faced many obstacles such as managing the paper money (i.e. copying, student’s losing money, etc.), time consuming preparation for teachers, and the ability to be consistent and fair with everyone.

After pondering for an easier way, we came up with the idea of a “digital token” instead of points, we used “Kash”, hence the name Kash-In. The Kash-In app is a mobile classroom economy and behavior management tool that has a 21st century twist.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
No, the road has not been smooth. We have experienced two main challenges throughout this process, the first being funding. Like any other new small business, we’re learning the business aspects of a “good idea” as we go. We are currently exploring different funding options such as venture capital and crowdfunding. Funding would help add employees, marketing, and project expansion.

The second challenge is our continued efforts dealing with an app development company that has wasted and prolonged the prototype phase of Kash-In. It has been a true learning experience, always do your research to obtain background information about the companies that you plan on working with and ensure they are capable of getting the job done.

Please tell us about Modern Scholars.
The Modern Scholars are three educators that plan to update learning and teaching methods through technology, classroom needs, and instructional games for the modern teacher. Kash-In is the first project under the Modern Scholars umbrella. Kash-In is an app created by teachers for teachers. It is a classroom management tool that updates the “physical” paper money economy and tracks student’s achievement and behaviors while rewarding the students with digital “kash.” Teachers can monetize different actions/behaviors and assignments. “Kash” is then deposited for the positive actions/behaviors or correct response; withdraws can be made for negative actions/behaviors or incorrect responses on assignments. Students have online checking accounts where they can track “kash” in real-time. Students can then use “kash” to make purchases from online incentive stores.

As a new company, we anticipate that our app will be known for its versatility. It can be used in every classroom regardless of subject or grade level. It’s similar to ClassDojo but for all ages. Schools and Districts with a unified behavior and reward system will drastically change student behavior and their academic enthusiasm. As opposed to having different reward systems in each classroom which lacks consistency and holds a higher risk of student misbehavior.

We’re proud of our apps ability to teach students financial literacy. Although, the money is not real, it is functional and allows students to practice and develop the skills necessary to manage their own money. Our app is student-centered, technology based, and a real world learning systems, that will change how students learn and teachers teach.

What sets Kash-In apart from others, is our ‘kash’ token versus points. The Kash rewards system is something the student can relate to and ‘kash’ being a valued token. Students understand everything has a cost, but often don’t understand the amount of work that is associated with that cost. The app does a great job of bridging the gap between the two. Even adults have a hard time understanding that spending $100 while out on the town with friends, can sometimes be equivalent to a full 8 hours worth of work. Another thing that sets Kash-In apart from other apps, is its ability to provide both rewards/consequences in one. Most classroom management tools lack response cost, which is removing tokens for negative actions, thus decreasing the likelihood of the negative action occurring again.

If you had to go back in time and start over, would you have done anything differently?
If The Modern Scholars had to start over, we would definitely network more before jumping into a “good idea.” It’s important to have good people in your corner that want you to succeed. As The Modern Scholars, we strongly believe just like anything you want in life, you have to work hard! You’re going to endure obstacles, but you still have to prevail through it all. The development of Kash-In has not been an easy one, but one filled of growth and determination. The obstacles make us fight harder for our purpose and mission. Our mission is to build a social and emotional wellness in our students while developing long term academic and behavioral success. Our students drive our purpose!

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Clarence Washington

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4 Comments

  1. Erika Carter

    July 30, 2019 at 10:42 pm

    I see YALL!!!!!!

  2. Quentin

    July 30, 2019 at 10:58 pm

    Awesome!! You guys are passionate gifted educators!!

  3. Erica Jones

    July 31, 2019 at 12:30 am

    Black Educators ROCK!!!

  4. Lulu

    July 31, 2019 at 11:18 am

    OMG! You guys did it!!!
    Felicidades Amigos!!

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