“I’ve always loved teaching STEM, and the very first Nerding summer funded the purchase of some great tech tools for my 4th grade classroom. Let’s be real. I like toys.
But as a teacher, I was faced with the age-old education problem of “never enough time”.
With so much being asked of our students and teachers, so often the first things to get cut from the classroom are science and creative projects.
One answer to “never enough time” was to actually create more time. I started designing extracurricular classes that melded important academic content with cutting edge tools and engaging activities. As long as they were hands on and interactive, kids would be able to engage deeply with the content in an after school and summer setting, thus giving us “more time”.
I also saw the kinds and quality of the classes being offered after school at my campus and in summer programs. The problems were glaring: same classes being offered over and over for years, too many kids in the class, and instructors that were college age or couldn’t manage a classroom.
The answer to this one is so simple, use cutting edge tools with academic curriculum, keep student/teacher ratios low, and employ real teachers with classroom experience. The class content can be learned by our teachers relatively quickly, but classroom management and the ability to question and push kids’ thinking is a skill we hone for our entire careers.
Anyway, the rest is history. We hope to see your nerd in a class soon!” – Niecy
Our first (adorably humble) summer. We kept it small and simple, holding classes at our house in Chandler.
We needed more space, and began using the great community room at Children’s Dental Village.
Created more summer classes. The next school year we began Nerding as an after school program in Kyrene.
12 class topics
1 teacher (Niecy)
Expanded summer age groups to 2nd-3rd grades by hiring Mrs. Kiefer, and rented a small commercial space with 2 classrooms.
Grades 2-3 & 4-7
16 class topics
The start of a new chapter. We rented the entire Desert Sun Campus in Chandler. Now 5 classrooms and expanded to grades K-1st!
K-1, 2-3, 4-7 Grade Levels
20+ class topics
We rented the entire Desert Sun Campus in Chandler, again, adding more teachers and more classes!
30 class topics
Eduprize in Gilbert was to become our 2nd summer location, but a virus had another plan for the world.
The plan was...
30+ class topics
over 30 teachers!
...What's that? Summer's cancelled?! The Pandemic hit so we pivoted to online classes. We teach kids to be resourceful, creative, curious, and to have grit! Well, here's our opportunity to practice what we preach! Pivoting an entire business model in a matter of 1 month put us to the test. We worked long and slept short to figured out how to save summer!
* We became Zoom experts
* Trained our teachers how to successfully teach online
* Micah Built a NEW Learning Management System Website to support this NEW version of Nerding
* Niecy and our other awesome teachers designed 13 NEW classes that were suited to online learning
* We kept classes to small groups of no more than 8 nerds per class for 50min each day, Mon-Fri.
*Designed engaging building projects that used materials from around the house so parents didn't have to buy anything online.
* Learning was a ficus but during a crisis like this we also emphasized having fun and keeping kids connected while stuck at home.
Summer was still a blast and kids and parents raved about the online classes! Kids built amazing things, learned all kinds of new skills, met new friends, and stayed connected. Whew, we not only made it through but we kind of saved summer!Summer 2020