The Next Class 2.0

Welcome to the Future of K-12 Education podcast, where we bring together education veterans and industry leaders to discuss the latest trends and innovations shaping the future of education. Join Rob Birdsell and Tom Burnford as they explore the possibilities of what’s next in K-12 education and gain valuable insights that will help you stay ahead of the curve in your role as a K-12 catholic school administrator. Subscribe now to be a part of the conversation!

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Season 3 (2022-2023)

Episode 1 – Jeb Bush

Rob and Tom start the new season off with Jeb Bush, 43rd governor of the state of Florida, about the current state of education, online vs remote learning, and much more.

Episode 2 – Jeanne Allen

Rob and Tom welcome Jeanne Allen – the founder and CEO of the Center for Education Reform. They dive deep into the NAEP scores and what it means for the students.

Episode 3 – Brent Maddin

Rob and Tom welcome Bren Madden – the Executive Director, Next Education Workforce at Arizona State University. Brent shares his work around developing the next generation teacher work force.

Episode 4 – Rob Schnieders

Rob and Tom welcome Rob Schnieders – the Vice President for Online Strategy and Innovation at Fairfield University and the former Co-Host of the Next Class!

Episode 5 – Don Shalvey

Rob and Tom welcome Don Shalvey to the Next Class. Don is founder of the first charter school in America – Aspire Public Schools and former Deputy Director of the Gates Foundation.

Season 2 (2021-2022)


Education veterans Rob Birdsell and Tom Burnford interview industry leaders about a wide range of topics related to the future of K-12 education. Sponsored by Catholic Virtual.

Episode 1 – Fr. Dennis Holtschneider

Rob and Tom talk about current and future state of higher education with Fr. Dennis Holtschneider (President of the American Catholic Colleges and University Association).

Episode 2 – Kent Hickey

On this episode Rob and Tom are joined by the President of Seattle Jesuit Prep talking about school leadership challenges and the future of Catholic schools.

Episode 3 – Joe Womac

Rob and Tom talk with Joe Womac (President of the Specialty Family Foundation) about how school leaders can engage with foundations.

Episode 4 – Richard Barth

Developing leaders, using data, and staying true to the mission. Join Rob and Tom as they talk with Richard Barth, CEO of the KIPP Foundation that supports 270 schools in the KIPP network.

Episode 5 – Fr. John Foley

Fr. Foley founded the Cristo Rey Network, a new model of high school. But where did the inspiration come from? Join Rob and Tom as they hear from Fr. John about his work and thoughts on the future.

Episode 6 – Dr. Philippe Richard

Rob and Tom go global with Dr. Philippe Richard, Secretary General of the International Office of Catholic Education from Rome. Learn what’s happening outside the US, next year’s World Congress, and why Philippe works with the UN and UNESCO.

Episode 7 – Fr. Steve Katsouros

Join Rob and Tom as they learn about another creative and growing education model from Fr. Katsouros, founder of Arrupe College in Chicago and current President/CEO of the Come to Believe Network.

Episode 8 – Lincoln Snyder

Lincoln Snyder is the President/CEO of the National Catholic Educational Association and talks to Rob and Tom about Catholic education in the US, enrollment increases, and what he learned working for beverage companies in Europe.

Episode 9: Beginnings and Endings: A New Vision for Education

Something different – Rob and Tom are the guests on The Next Class as they discuss the article “Beginnings and Endings: A New Vision for Education” and how online education can enhance traditional schools in six practical ways.

Episode 10 – Rick Hess

Rob and Tom talk with leading educational policy expert – Rick Hess – about what education will look like after the pandemic. Rick is the Director of Education Policy at the American Enterprise Institute.

Episode 11 – Jose Mesa

Rob and Tom talk with Fr. Mesa, Secretary of Secondary and Pre-Secondary Education for the Society of Jesus (Jesuit), about what makes Jesuit education unique and about their interests in opening new Jesuit schools around the world.

Episode 12 – Bishop Hying

For the first time Rob and Tom have an episcopal guest…the Most Reverend Donald Hying, Bishop of Madison, Wisconsin. Come hear about his new Catholic school, a web developer who has been beatified, what parents want from Catholic education, and snowmobiling.