Every day, new advances in technology occur and the field continues to grow. But despite increased opportunities and demand in tech, educational opportunities for children to learn skills such as computer programming seem to be lacking.
Recently, one company has begun to change that, and it's just arrived in Chicago. Founded in 2014 in Silicon Valley, theCoderSchool was built with the desire to provide children ages 7 to 18 with a welcoming environment to develop computer programming skills. Believing in this objective, Justin and Robin Brown and Chad and Karen Kreindler will officially open theCoderSchool in Highland Park on April 21.
The couples plan to use their teaching experience to fulfill theCoderSchool's mission of engaging children to become enthusiastic about coding in an evolving technology landscape. As innovators and educators, they are definitely Jews you (and any tech-savvy children you have) should know.
1. What in your career paths led you to theCoderSchool?
Justin: I took one of the first classes in web development with the Starter League in Chicago. I have always been an entrepreneur and enjoyed starting new ventures that have focused on building.
Chad: Justin and I originally met when we were on the Board of Directors for the Young Leadership Division of JUF. In addition to being very philanthropic by nature, I also have a passion for entrepreneurship. I view theCoderSchool as a form of social entrepreneurship since I feel that we are providing a valuable service to kids by giving back to the community.
2. What inspired you about theCoderSchool mission and made you decide to bring it to Chicago?
Justin: I love their personalized approach to teaching and this was the differentiating factor that really motivated us to want to bring this to our community.
Chad: For the last 9-plus years of my career, I have worked in EdTech. As someone who works with school districts on a daily basis, theCoderSchool's personalized approach to coding mirrors the transformation I have seen in the classroom.
3. Chicago's reputation as a tech hub has grown a lot - how do you see the school fitting into the big picture here?
Justin: The earlier kids are able to learn how to program, the easier it is to improve and develop their abilities. I think I read something how in Larry Page's house growing up he used to take things apart and put them back together. theCoderSchool is a place where we will foster these types of skills.
4. Why are coding skills important for kids? What do you hope they achieve in your programs?
Robin: In the next five years, coding will be as essential as learning a foreign language and theCoderSchool is the idea environment to teach kids of all levels how to code. In the future, the majority of the population will know how to code and the earlier we can teach coding, the more prepared our kids will be. With theCoderSchool, I hope that kids find a language they really enjoy. The possibilities are endless with coding so it would be great to see kids create something that goes even beyond their wildest imagination.
Chad: Although many of theCoderSchool's students may not pursue careers directly in any of the STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) fields, we believe that coding teaches kids how to think and this is a valuable skill that can be applied regardless of the path that is chosen.
5. What are the differing course offerings and learning options available?
Chad: We believe that every student is different, and that kids should learn the things in which they are interested and at the speed that works best for them. Our core philosophy, Code Coaching, uses a super-small 2:1 student-to-instructor ratio so our students can get the focused attention and customization they need. The coaching relationship is adaptable and will evolve organically over time to promote continuous learning and engagement. In addition to Code Coaching, we also offer classes for ages 6-10 with in a 8:1 ratio, Code Camps, and a Premium Coaching option with a Coder Fair presentation every 3-4 months.
6. Explain the school's hands-on, individualized immersion-style approach and why that makes a difference when teaching coding.
Justin: Code Coaching is really our signature offering and what makes us unique. It allows us to pair 1 coach with 2 students that are learning something similar. It also allows us to match the coach's expertise with what each kids wants to learn.
7. What parts of your Jewish identity or experiences inspires your work?
Robin: Being Jewish, I always felt that I was part of a community. I really hope to bring this sense of community to theCoderSchool.
Chad: As someone who has always had a strong Jewish identity, I believe that it is important to give back to your community, which is the inspiration behind a program we have to offer coding options for underprivileged students.
8. How do you see theCoderSchool growing or evolving in general and in Chicago?
Justin: I think theCoderSchool model works in almost any community; if the demand is there then theCoderSchool is a great opportunity for kids to learn the skills they want and have fun doing it.