When Caroline Sanchez Crozier thinks back to starting her business 26 years ago, she chuckles and says “ignorance is bliss.”
The mother of two had left the corporate world for a more flexible work schedule as a consultant and decided it was time to incorporate. Her prior experience was in accounting but working with a company that brought technology to schools sparked a passion that had begun to grow when her children entered city schools and gave her first-hand experience with the holes in the system.
She decided to start her company, then known as Computer Services & Consulting Inc., to help schools incorporate technology in the classroom. Back in 1988, she had no background in technology or education.
“I went in with full, dedicated commitment to make a difference, not knowing what I didn’t know,” Crozier said.
The business eventually branched into two entities, CSC Learning and CSC Technology Services. The first helps schools leverage their technology acquisitions to better serve students on tight budgets and the other helps organizations manage their networks. About half of the team is focused on the tech side while the other half is stacked with education experts and former practitioners who can help teachers and schools incorporate technology in the right way, to improve student outcomes.
Crozier calls herself a converted educator. She is passionate about the need for better educational opportunities for all students, particularly those in urban areas. Much of her time these days is spent contributing her insights on volunteer boards and committees.
“I like to think we can all make a difference in our world,” Crozier said. “We can all be a part of the solution. That’s my philosophy and the philosophy of the people I bring on board.”
Crozier’s team grew to include 25 people making more than $1 million in sales in the first five years. There have been ups and downs, times when the company scaled back and she even thought about closing, but CSC Learning now serves more than 400 schools in the Midwest, Arizona and Mexico City. CSC Technology Services helps government bodies, healthcare organizations and school districts – most notably Chicago Public Schools – with IT and network needs.
In such a fast-moving field, Crozier has had to adapt constantly to keep up. The original business focused on bringing Apple computers to schools. Today, Crozier’s team starts the conversation with schools using their existing technology as the foundation. It is assumed schools have certain devices. The question is how to use them.
Technology helps facilitate personalized instruction. Crozier’s team trains teachers to use data to track student progress and offers curriculum products and ideas that incorporate technology.
“Building partnerships for student success” is the business’ tagline. Crozier’s chief role is forging new partnerships and creating a diverse community of stakeholders to be part of the solution. For her, that means the business community, too.
“Businesses benefit most from a future workforce that is prepared,” Crozier said, “but I still think that school districts function in silos, in many ways.”
For Crozier, changing that and improving education opportunities for others has always been a personal mission. She moved here from Michoacán, Mexico with her parents and 10 siblings when she was 8 years old. As the fifth child,
Crozier was the first to go to college and feels privileged she had that opportunity. All of her younger siblings followed suit, as did her two children.
Many in Crozier’s family have contributed to CSC in one way or another over the years, including her husband who has been her business partner for 21 years, and other nieces, nephews, brothers, sisters and her two kids.
Her cause, or “calling,” is making a meaningful difference in education. Whether it’s during the workday or through her various volunteer projects, Crozier is determined to contribute to the national conversation about how to make schools better.
“ It’s overwhelming when you start to think about all the challenges,” Crozier said, “but I am an optimist.”