Helping Students & Families Navigate the Path to Educational Success: Timothy Daly & Ariela Rozman's Story

How many people look forward to going to work every day, knowing that they are making a difference in another person’s life? For 2012 McGraw Prize winners Ariela Rozman and Timothy Daly, co-founders of EdNavigator, this is an experience that they have on a daily basis. Located in New Orleans, EdNavigator is a nonprofit organization that first opened its doors in 2015.

What sets EdNavigator apart from other organizations is its ultimate mission to be a consistent resource for families by helping them find a path to educational success for their children. Providing hands-on assistance for children from pre-K to college, EdNavigator is available for support through every step of the educational process.


The Beginning of it all

Prior to starting EdNavigator, Rozman and Daly worked together as the Chief Executive Officer and President at TNTP, an education nonprofit organization that helps get and keep great teachers in classrooms across the country. Through this experience, they began to realize that there were not enough resources available for parents of school-aged children.

“We wanted to continue working in the education sector, but we wanted to work where there were not many resources. There is a lot of advocacy for teachers and schools, but not a lot of support for the families and children directly.” Daly said.

In many instances, Rozman and Daly had to witness the frustration that countless families felt after learning that their children were underperforming, and no one from the school had reached out to let them know. Other times, schools had been desperately trying to tell parents that a student was off track, but the language they used just didn’t make sense to the parents, and they never heard the alarm bells. In all these situations, parents and schools are both left feeling frustrated, wondering why the other one is not doing its part.

“Like all parents, the parents we support work hard every day to give their children great opportunities. If a parent doesn’t truly know how their child is performing, it is difficult to put a plan into place to get them back on the right track,” Rozman explains.

For the families who experience this type of frustration, EdNavigator is there to offer a helping hand. In the eyes of Rozman and Daly, schools are complicated, and the family shouldn’t have to maneuver the education navigation process alone.


What does EdNavigator do exactly?

EdNavigator works to help families by providing honest advice and hands-on support for their children. It focuses on providing this support through local employers, who contribute to the costs of the service and give families and EdNavigator’s staff time and space to meet at the workplace.

After connecting to EdNavigator, parents are teamed up with an experienced navigator, who range from former teachers to school administrators and counselors, giving them the necessary knowledge to help a child succeed in their educational process. Navigators will advocate for the parents and child with virtually any problems, ranging from improving communication with teachers to working to find the best school. This helps families become more confident navigating the process. Daly explains, “It can be very frustrating for families to navigate the education process, so for many of the parents who reach out to us, they are comforted to know that we are by their side.”

In addition to the navigators, all families can take advantage of the blog and resources page on the organization’s website for free. With quick and easy access, both the blog and resources page provide tips and important information on how to help make the education process as successful as possible for the child.

Providing these written resources, along with the navigators, have proven to be crucial components to the ultimate success of the child in their education process. For families who are trying to manage their professional, personal, and family life, the assistance from EdNavigator can make an incredible difference.


The Future of EdNavigator

For now, both Rozman and Daly are excited with the success of the young organization, which opened in August 2015. Currently, 675 families in New Orleans have access to personalized support from EdNavigator through their employer or another sponsor. Additionally, another 210 registered families get resources through EdNavigator’s community partnerships and outreach efforts, for a total of 885 families in the organization’s support network.

Equipped with their incredible and experienced team of 10 people, EdNavigator will continue to help in the hopes of providing every family across the nation with access to high-quality, on-demand support. Whether they join parents in school meetings, or talk to the teachers directly, the navigators remain an advocate for the child and parents. Maintaining communication with both the school and the parents allow both parties to land on the same page, increasing the likelihood of the child’s short- and long-term success.

In the eyes of Rozman and Daly, this type of support is critical to ensuring students succeed.

“We believe all families deserve to have help navigating schools. If you wouldn’t sell a house without a realtor, why should you have to negotiate the complexities of school without a navigator?” asked Rozman. “Providing supports like this for families is a way to make the whole system work better for students and parents.”