Mark Yabut joined CollegeSpring this summer as an Instructional Coach. Mark launched his professional journey with a B.S. from the University of Colorado Boulder in Business Administration. He also holds an M.A. in Urban Education with a concentration in Administration and Policy from Loyola Marymount University, and he is currently enrolled in the University of Pennsylvania’s M.S. program in Education Entrepreneurship. After college, Mark joined Teach for America as a corps member, teaching high school math in Los Angeles.
Despite his graduate work, Mark’s own path to higher education and CollegeSpring was not an immediately obvious one. According to Mark, “I didn’t have a good SAT score. I didn’t have any test prep.” As a child of immigrants and a first-generation American college student, the SAT wasn’t particularly on his radar: “I didn’t really understand what it meant when I was in high school because my parents never went to college here in America . . . That’s how I see my personal story in the work that I do at CollegeSpring.”
The conversation below has been edited for brevity and clarity.
What are your main duties at CollegeSpring?
My main duties are really about building partnerships with schools. It all starts with them setting the tone for the year. Those are my main duties: coaching teachers, meeting with principals, making sure that CollegeSpring can be launched successfully.
Do you have a normal day yet? Is there a routine that you follow?
I do not! All the schools are starting, so it’s been crazy. Sometimes I’m in the office, sometimes I’m all over the school sites. So I don’t have a routine yet. The only routine I have is that, if I’m in the office, as soon as I get in, I put on my work slippers.
What is your proudest accomplishment at CollegeSpring? What do you hope to achieve this school year?
In terms of goals for the year, I really want to see some motivated teachers! Looking at my portfolio, there’s a lot of new teachers in comparison to returning teachers. Next year, I want to see more returning than new so that trainings are less focused on acclimating teachers and more [on] strategies and data.
Tell us about your master’s work.
I’m combining my passion for business and education, and when I found this program, it was the perfect fit. I’m doing that program and hoping to bring back a lot of it, and being able to innovate in the work that I’m doing.
It’s like you’re trying to take a drink from a fire hose.
It was crazy! When I got back, I’m like, “How am I going to balance this work, and then I have homework due.” I’m like, “uhhhh.” But it’s been doable.
It hasn’t been crazy enough. [Laughs.]
What do you like to do when you’re not at CollegeSpring?
I like to go out on random adventures with friends. I like to sing a lot. I also like to do a lot of activist work outside of CollegeSpring, so I’m always trying to be in community organizations. So that’s what I do outside CollegeSpring. It’s more towards equity.
What do you like to sing?
I like to sing everything! All kinds of songs! It’s just fun to me.
Is there anything else you think people should know about you? About CollegeSpring?
[The SAT] doesn’t show who they are. I think that’s critical to what we do. We’re not trying to get kids up to that 1600 mark. We’re trying to get them to their full potential. I think [once they] get to a four-year university, then they’re able to showcase their skills and knowledge and ability outside of the classroom. I think that’s important for students to know.