MagicSchool’s AI-Powered Software Is Ushering in the Future of K-12 Teaching

MagicSchool founder Adeel Khan is a former teacher and principal whose AI platform is saving teachers time, fighting burnout, and helping schools build responsible AI experiences for students.

8 min read June 27, 2024
Founder Stories Apps Early

The breakthrough success of ChatGPT in late 2022 brought with it a rush of existential questions for educators. Is this going to become the perfect cheating tool? Is this technology going to one day replace teachers?

Adeel Khan remained optimistic. He had spent his career as a teacher and principal, and became founding director of a nationally recognized charter school. He believed automation could free up teachers to develop stronger relationships with students.

Teachers have been underpaid and overworked for as long as anyone can remember, but the pandemic was a breaking point. A 2023 study found that the prevalence of burnout among teachers was 52% — higher than the rates reported for health professionals. Teachers who quit cited lack of support and deteriorating mental health that was exacerbated by the challenges of hybrid and remote learning during the pandemic. Beyond that, as Adeel knew, teachers are often trying to juggle curriculum, lesson plans and other student materials with insufficient resources.

“Teacher burnout is a crisis and something I’ve seen throughout my education career,” Adeel told us. “Generative AI is the first technology I’ve seen that could make a meaningful impact on teacher sustainability.”

The breakthrough technology was there, but there was room to customize it around teachers’ unique needs and workflows. Adeel got to work with a small team and launched the first iteration of MagicSchool AI in March 2023.

Teachers can use MagicSchool’s tools for tasks like language learning, adaptive 1:1 tutoring and lesson planning. Furthermore, it’s a step toward an idealistic future that is now in close reach: personalized education for every student. The platform can adapt to students in the same classroom who are at different levels in the curriculum, and tailors the content and output to be school-appropriate, making it easy for teachers to adopt. Adeel cares deeply about having an outsized impact on students and leveling the playing field, and believes that AI has the unique capability to do both.

Among the startups leveraging GenAI for K-12 teachers, we are impressed with how personally tied to their customer base MagicSchool is — and it’s reflected in its growth. We met Adeel after hearing the buzz MagicSchool was generating  among teachers and schools in the US. We were blown away that the young company, under a year old, was already having meaningful impact with over two million educators using the platform. The tide is also shifting in terms of sentiment on generative AI in education. A new survey of US teachers by the Walton Family Foundation found that the majority of those who have started using chatbots in the classroom have a favorable view of the tech.

These developments, along with MagicSchool’s rapid growth, loyal customer base and passionate domain-expert founder gave us the conviction to lead the company’s $15 million Series A, with participation from investors like Range Ventures, Adobe Ventures and Common Sense Media.

We are excited to leverage the broader Bain Capital family’s network and expertise across investments in companies like PowerSchool, Branching Minds, Presence and TeachTown in service of supporting MagicSchool’s mission.

Meet the Founder: Bringing AI to K-12 teachers

After Adeel launched Denver’s Conservatory Green High School in 2016, the first thing he imparted to his teachers was the importance of the relationships they’d have with their students and the community. “All the other stuff we do is great and it’s going to be important for the school to be successful, but nothing will be successful without a foundation of the relationship that you keep with your students and your families and your community,” he remembered telling them. And it worked: Under his leadership, Conservatory Green quickly became the top performing school in Denver.

“As a person who has worked in schools my whole life, I’ve consistently seen students who have the strongest relationships with their educators also have the greatest academic growth,” he said. We agree with Adeel that even as AI technology grows, the power of human mentorship will always be critical for children. “Students learn best when they have a relationship with a teacher.”

The explosion of GenAI compelled Adeel to return from a brief career sabbatical in 2022, and he began meeting with teachers around Denver to show them how to leverage AI for their classes. 

One of Adeel’s first use cases for the tool he built was a letter of recommendation generator. “At the high school I led, a few teachers in our school building got 60 letter-of-recommendation requests when college application season came around,” he said. “I know these students really well, I have great relationships with them, but when am I going to find time to write 60 letters of recommendation?” The teacher could put personalized information about each student into the generator, get a well-written response, personalize and edit it, and achieve even greater results than by having to do the entire batch from scratch. 

Adeel began working on MagicSchool when there was still a lot of fear around AI usage in schools, though he was aware of some potential drawbacks — for example, on the whole, many teachers who have been burned by promising technology before are AI-skeptical. But most of the teachers and schools that demoed MagicSchool understood its benefits. “Even in the early days as there were skeptics, the educators who used it loved it, so I knew we had something,” he said.

MagicSchool’s tools struck a chord and garnered a fast-growing community of teachers. With their feedback, Adeel continued to grow the platform with more education-specific tools to assist them. 

With MagicSchool, Adeel says, AI can take some work off of teachers’ already-full plates, giving them back more time to build relationships with students and their families. Importantly, Adeel said, the teacher is at the center of what MagicSchool does. “We never set out to build something that would replace a teacher,” he said, explaining that he doesn’t believe that dynamic could ever be replaced. 

Adeel’s love for teachers is reciprocated: MagicSchool’s popular swag reads “Teachers are Magic,” and the “Wall of Love” on MagicSchool’s website reflects the grassroots movement MagicSchool’s product has built among educators. That base of two million teachers using the platform continues to grow, and over 4,000 schools and districts have joined as partners.

How It Works: Software purpose-built for teachers’ needs 

MagicSchool is a co-pilot for K-12 teachers.

Harnessing the power of AI, MagicSchool enables the creation of lesson plans, assessments and rubrics, individual education plans, student recommendations and more. 

MagicSchool is built upon OpenAI and Anthropic’s models, with its tailored offerings informed by best practices, popular training materials and Adeel’s own education experience. A chatbot named Raina guides users through the experience. Teachers can give Raina prompt commands (e.g. “Write me a lesson plan for sixth graders about mitosis”) and receive near-instantaneous materials. MagicSchool has also built education-specific guardrails and created teacher- and class-ready outputs.

Adeel and his team have ambitious product goals. They launched MagicSchool for Students this past March, inspired by teacher feedback that AI needs to be taught and used in the classroom to prepare students for the future workforce. Magic Student is a student-facing AI platform that promotes AI literacy among students in a way that teachers can manage and monitor. This helps teachers modularize the abilities of AI so that it is used productively and thoughtfully for certain teacher-defined capabilities. Mirroring the growth of the company’s teacher tool, MagicSchool for Students reached hundreds of thousands of users in just its first month.

In some ways, building MagicSchool has not been so different from Adeel’s time in school leadership. “I lead MagicSchool just like I lead my school team. Leadership is not that different. Organizational culture is not different. The way that we work together is not different,” he said. And both paths are purpose- and mission-driven. “The people who work with us believe that AI is a really meaningful opportunity to make an impact on the world and education.”

What’s Next: Expanding Tools for Teachers

MagicSchool is the AI platform driving the future of education, realized through the combination of offerings for both sides of the teaching relationship. Previous generations of students had to learn how to type and use software like Microsoft Word — but today’s students will need to learn how to use AI, and MagicSchool is both preparing students for what an AI-equipped future workforce will look like, and equipping teachers with education-friendly tools to collaborate with their students using AI.

MagicSchool’s two-way tool allows for exponentially more personalized teaching. In a world where a teacher gives a biology lesson about mitochondria, the student goes home and asks MagicSchool questions, and the teacher can identify where there are learning gaps on a student-by-student basis and where their lessons can be improved overall. Parents who don’t speak English can engage with their children on homework and lessons in a way they couldn’t before by using MagicSchool. It has the potential to reduce the barriers to learning and enhance the way students learn, bridging teachers and students in a way that wasn’t possible before.
MagicSchool today is a team of 25 and is looking to grow. Adeel and his team have plans to continue to expand offerings to teachers and students while enhancing their existing tools based on feedback. Schools and teachers interested in bringing on MagicSchool for the next school year can sign up for MagicSchool on its website.

Related Insights