Meet Elizabeth Orme, Founder and CEO of Creatively Focused
Connecting Passion and Innovation to Champion Educators in the Classroom
“Positive student outcomes lie at the heart of our mission, and the cornerstone of that success is the invaluable relationship between our teachers and students. That connection cannot flourish unless our educators stay fulfilled and confident in their roles. Cultivating their sense of fulfillment and expertise isn’t just our goal. It’s the very foundation upon which the future of education is built.” -Elizabeth Orme, Founder & CEO of Creatively Focused.
In a world of conventional career paths, Elizabeth Orme forged her own trail.
Elizabeth’s story began with a non-traditional route to the classroom, with her passion for academia and research journals as her compass.
She found herself at the University of Chicago, where her first assignment was working with ‘teacher work circles’ as a research assistant. The mission was to fortify their curriculums and rejuvenate their teaching methods.
A group of teachers would gather in the evenings, feeling tired and depleted. These gatherings were more than meetings however; they were a sanctuary of shared experiences and collective growth.
Within these circles, Elizabeth discovered that educators who entered feeling exhausted and drained emerged from the sessions reinvigorated. These gatherings extended beyond professional growth; they served as a means to rekindle the joy that often fades amidst the daily chaos. Elizabeth recognized that even within the most worn-out educators, creativity and passion persisted.
In a move that would change her trajectory forever, Elizabeth decided to walk the path she had studied. She immersed herself in the world of special education, driven by her fascination with the intricacies of the human brain and the unique talents that diverse minds bring to life.
After two years in the teaching field, burnout began to take its toll. The relentless cycle of working 60-70 hours per week, with a significant portion of that time consumed by mandatory paperwork, became overwhelming.
“The issue wasn’t one of competency, but capacity.” – Elizabeth
What followed was a deep understanding, sparked by the teacher work circles that had initially set Elizabeth’s journey in motion. The strength of those sessions came from three things: the feeling of being valued, the feeling of being an expert, and the feeling of connection.
“The adult learner matters. By bringing together these three elements, we can transform the education system so educators not only flourish but continue to grow as lifelong learners.”
Her vision was clear: Improve outcomes for students by alleviating the strain on educators and empowering them with the time and resources they need for a fulfilling lifelong career.
Empower. Educate. Elevate.
Established in 2016, Creatively Focused began as a service provider for school districts throughout Minnesota. In 2021, axis3 was introduced, a web-based platform designed to offer special education teachers and administrators targeted, on-demand support at a national level. The educator-driven technology simplifies special educator tasks and reduces paperwork burdens, all the while enhancing training, education, and professional growth opportunities.
Since the launch of axis3, the company has witnessed remarkable results, with over 1000 special educators from seven different states actively engaged on the platform. The introduction of axis3 has struck a delicate balance between the fulfilling high-impact activities that initially drew these educators to their profession, and the low-impact tasks mandated by compliance and state regulations.
Axis3 empowers special educators to not only witness the growth of their students but also to inspire a love for learning and ignite more “aha” moments of understanding. This happens by making paperwork and compliance tasks simpler and faster, giving educators more time to creatively focus on what’s really important in the classroom – the students.
“Connecting the heartwork to the brainwork is fitting for educators because it encompasses the emotional dedication they bring to teaching alongside the intellectual rigor required to inspire and educate young minds.” – Elizabeth
This newfound efficiency has a direct impact on educator morale. By lightening the load, teachers feel a resurgence of the passion that fuels them daily. Elizabeth is continuing to see educators embrace their roles as learners, eagerly participating in 15-minute micro-courses to better connect with new students in their classrooms. Notably, educators are self-enrolling in areas that genuinely excite them, creating a ripple effect of enthusiasm and growth throughout the education community.
Why “axis3”? Just as the cervical spine’s ‘axis’ connects the heart to the brain, Axis3 embodies that triad of value, expertise, and connection that educators deeply yearn for.
Elizabeth and her team recently raised $3 million in a seed round of financing to further the Creatively Focused mission.
“We’re thrilled to have closed this round with investors who see the great opportunity we have to impact education. Every special educator who chooses to do this work deserves to feel like it can be their career, and students deserve passionate, committed, and supported educators. This funding positions Creatively Focused to ensure all school districts across the U.S. are aware there is a solution to increasing the retention and recruitment of these valued educators.” – Elizabeth
See Where Heart Meets Mind at www.creativelyfocused.net