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Venture 121

Meet the Venture Team

Venture Academy is being designed and developed by an experienced team of entrepreneurs and educators committed to bringing the best education to Minneapolis students.

Chief Entrepreneurship Officer and Founder

Jon Bacal.  Bacal was the lead founder and start-up director (2005-09) of Hiawatha Leadership Academy in south Minneapolis and co-founder/co-start-up lead (1996-99) of Twin Cities Academy in St. Paul.  He also served as the founding executive director (2000-05) of SchoolStart, a nonprofit which catalyzed the launch and coordinated Walton Family Foundation support for over 20 Minnesota charter schools, and recently was the founding executive director (2009-11) of the Minneapolis Public Schools’ Office of New Schools—the state’s first approved school district charter authorizer and founding co-coordinator of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation-initiated Minneapolis District-Charter Compact (2011-12).  Bacal previously served as education advisor for the City of St. Paul (1996-2001) and a board member of Twin Cities Academy and Charter School Partners.  He is a graduate of Georgetown University and the Humphrey Policy Fellows program at the University of Minnesota.

Chief Learning Officer and Head of School

Kerry Muse.  As an innovative math teacher leader at KIPP Bridge charter school in Oakland, Kerry Muse helped propel KIPP Bridge to become one of California’s highest performing, high-poverty urban middle schools. In 2011, the 70% African-American, 24% Hispanic KIPP Bridge was the only school in California to receive the prestigious Hart Vision award. After hearing Salman Khan present at a conference, Muse initiated a pilot partnership with Khan Academy for the 2011-12 year to implement the personalized online math program for all KIPP Bridge 6th-graders. Working with Khan engineers, he helped Khan redesign and improve its number line and fractions instruction.  90% of Muse’s 73 6th-grade math students attained proficiency on the state test, including 89% of his low-income black students and 100% of his low-income Hispanic students.  Overall, his non-self-contained students made average annual math gains of 200%–two years’ academic progress each year during each of their two years (5th in 2010-11 and 6th in 2011-12) with Muse.  His 2012 6th-grade math proficiency results are well above the results attained by any Minnesota school that year with a similar student profile.

In 2010-11, Muse was responsible for KIPP Bridge’s highest ever 5th-grade math results, achieving 86% student proficiency on the 2011 state test. During his six years of teaching at Bridge, he served as the school’s 7th/8th-grade team leader, 6th-grade team leader, 5th-grade team leader and school-wide special education/504 leader, responsible for coaching teachers, school culture, discipline, parent meetings and special education compliance. Muse also designed and led a self-contained classroom for KIPP Bridge’s lowest performing (in academics) 6th-graders, who made an average of three year’s (300%) academic progress over a single year, most starting out at a fourth-grade level and finishing ready for seventh-grade.  He is an alumnus of KIPP’s training program for teacher leaders.

A violinist who performed at Carnegie Hall in high school, Muse taught video game design at the Galileo Summer Quest science camp in Silicon Valley and visual arts at KIPP Bridge.  A Texas native, he began his teaching career in 2003 as a special education teacher in Texas district high schools.  Muse is a graduate of the College of Fine Arts at the University of Texas-Austin, majoring in studio arts.  He worked as a student academic advisor for three years and in retail sales for six years.

Learn more about Venture Academy’s Board of Directors and the Design Team Members.

Venture Academy Shadow