Scholastic Education Revamps Its Executive Leadership Team

Associate Editor

Scholastic, the global children’s publishing, education, and media company, has appointed three education industry leaders to senior positions within its Scholastic Education division, after a recent downturn in quarterly revenues.

The new executives named at Scholastic Education are Victoria Burwell, who will serve as the senior vice president for strategic marketing; Carol Chanter, the new senior vice president for professional learning services, and Janelle Cherrington, the new senior vice president and publisher. All will report to Greg Worrell, the president of Scholastic Education.

The announcement of the new positions comes after the September earnings report that Scholastic Education revenues were $45 million in the first quarter of 2018, down 18 percent compared to $55.2 million for the same period in fiscal 2017. The company attributed this decrease to the timing of orders. International sales also sagged 14 percent in the first quarter.

Overall, Scholastic’s revenues plummeted 33 percent in the first quarter of 2018 to $189.2 million, compared to the same time a year ago, when the company’s revenues were buoyed by the release of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Parts One and Two. No such blockbuster hit the market in the quarter that ended Aug. 31, 2017.

But Richard Robinson, the chairman, president and CEO of Scholastic, said in the quarterly earnings release that new Harry Potter publishing will be announced for 2018 leading up to the 20th anniversary of Harry Potter in the U.S.

“In our school channels, we are starting our important back-to-school season with a well-defined book fair strategy, including new merchandising to highlight age-appropriate groupings of books, and in book clubs, a return to the multi-grade offers which teachers have been asking for,” he said in the company’s release.

“In addition, we are expanding our curriculum content in [the education division], backed up by a strengthened field sales operation, to support our continued growth in the core literacy curriculum market.”

The goals. according to a company announcement, are to advance the education division’s strategic growth plan by providing districts with core literacy curriculum for pre-K to grade 6, expanding the division’s services business by focusing on professional development and family engagement, and increasing sales and marketing capacity, according to a statement from the company.

Executive-Level Changes

Burwell brings to Scholastic experience as a senior business leader across multiple industries—from healthcare and technology to telecommunications and banking. She first joined the education market in 2006 as part of the executive leadership team of the ed-tech startup, Headsprout, where she built the marketing department and spearheaded the launch of a reading comprehension product. Later, she was senior vice president and chief marketing officer of McGraw-Hill Education.

Chanter has more than 30 years of experience in general and special education, educational leadership, and K–12 literacy. Most recently, she held positions at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and Achieve3000. In a previous leadership role at Scholastic, she worked with educators on best practices, and will now lead the company’s professional development consulting services business.

Cherrington has worked at Scholastic for more than two decades, contributing to and publishing nearly all of the supplemental curriculum products developed by Scholastic Education. She has played an instrumental role in the development of customized curriculum resources for school districts nationwide. Earlier she created books and resources for readers at Scholastic, Pearson, and The Jim Henson Company. In her new executive role, Cherrington will continue to lead Scholastic Education product development for classroom instruction while assuming the new responsibility of managing the division’s centralized publishing plan that includes family and community engagement offerings as well as professional books.

The announcement of the new hires and promotion comes on the heels of an Oct. 30 Scholastic press release announcing the promotion of Kenneth Cleary as chief financial officer, and the termination of its long-time chief financial officer, and chief administrative officer. “This change did not arise from any issues involving the company’s financial results, which are meeting our expectations, business practices, internal controls or financial reporting procedures,” Robinson said in the press release. The online publication CFO reported on that changing of the guard.

In research conducted earlier this year for EdWeek Market Brief, 85 percent of educators polled said positive words came to mind when thinking of Scholastic Education, placing it above Houghton Mifflin Harcourt,  McGraw-Hill Education, and Pearson Education. The online survey of district leaders and teachers was conducted by the Education Week Research Center.   

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt recently announced a new leadership team of its own.

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