Edlighten is an old fashion blog that’s run for nearly 20 years. It’s a place for me to write thoughts about education, technology, entrepreneurship, learning, and life.


I am a co-founder of Abre and currently serve as the Chief Innovation Officer.

Abre is a software platform that allows schools to manage and distribute web-based software to students, staff, families, and the entire community. Abre makes life easier for everyone involved in education. It keeps the focus on what matters: Growing the whole child.

Abre started in a school district (a short primer on the origin story can be viewed here) and has grown to hundreds of thousands of users in 10 states.

Prior to starting Abre, I served as the Director of Technology at Hamilton City Schools. Before becoming a director, I served as an instructional coach to teachers and course developer at Oak Hills Local Schools.

I started my career as a social studies teacher in Texas and Ohio.

I love education. I adore working with everyone in the learning community. I’ve learned to love the thrill of entrepreneurship. And I feel incredibly blessed to have a career arc that’s been pure joy.


I’m a graduate of the University of Michigan (BA in History and Latin American Studies) and the University of Nebraska (MS in Education Technology). Between the two, I earned a post-baccalaureate in education from the University of Houston.

I’m a big believer in alternative certifications and learning on the job.

Academically, I’ve always been drawn to the study of history. I carried this interest into the classroom. Knowledge of history is not only critical to understanding why we do things, but also to perceive where we desire to go in the future. P. B. and J. S. Medawar summarize it best:

“Human behavior can be genuinely purposive because only human beings guide their behavior by a knowledge of what happened before they were born and a preconception of what may happen after they are dead; thus only human beings find their way by a light that illumines more than the patch of ground they stand on.”


My favorite pastime is spending time with my wife. We both love to travel and have been to many parts of the world (her passion is for the Middle East, and mine is for South America). In addition to traveling, I love to read, design websites, and camp.

I’m also the proud adoptive father of two Colombian girls three Colombian kids. That adventure is found at http://ardenlane.net.

Zach Vander Veen

Zach Vander Veen