Sawyer partners with hundreds of educators who are stars in their communities. From inspiring class content to engaging teaching style, these educators are known for their enriching activities that empower both children and parents alike.
We got the opportunity to chat with Penguin Coding School, an online and in-person organization that brings the joy of coding to children of all ages.
Thanks for taking the time to chat with us! I’d love to hear a bit more about you and why you started your business?
After working in the tech industry for 15 years, I wanted to create something on my own. I was teaching myself coding while developing an app, and I was so excited about how fun it was to learn coding myself that my enthusiasm spilled over into teaching coding to my own kids. Next, I started teaching kids in the neighborhood once a week in a vacant Sunday School classroom. The rest is history.
What’s the most rewarding thing about teaching children?
Knowing that the seeds of curiosity we plant in them today will blossom into a flower that will inspire yet another generation.
Can you describe an inspiring moment you’ve had as an educator?
A student who started learning coding with us 5 years ago was recently admitted to MIT and planning to major in computer science. She told us my class helped jump start her interest in the subject.
What’s one time a child surprised you and made your day?
A student created a YouTube video of a game he made in our class and then solicited users to try it out. He got hundreds of encouraging comments.
On a similar note, what’s the funniest thing a child has done in your class?
A student created an original video game with pictures of her mom as the superhero and a picture of her brother as the villain and then surprised her family at the end of semester show-and-tell.
Your classes revolve around STEM learning, why is it important for children to learn in this category?
So much of our world today is influenced by STEM - not just in the traditional science & engineering fields, but the arts and humanities as well. Tech algorithms even influence how our civic society functions (e.g. social media algorithms' influence on our democracy) - so it's vital that every child knows the basics of STEM and knows how to live with it.
What is your favorite class to teach and why?
I love teaching absolute beginners because we're able to see the joy in the kids' eyes when they first discover how powerful it is to be able to create things with code.
How do you think children should gain an appreciation for STEM when they’re not in school or your program?
There is so much free content out there for those who know how to get it. The key is for an adult or teacher to show them how to take advantage of all free content that is out there to continually educate themselves.
What is your favorite Sawyer feature?
We love how the comprehensive calendar allows our 2 dozen teachers in 10 different states to manage their own schedules and their class rosters without having to mess with dozen spreadsheets.
What's one trick you learned from another educator that you still practice?
Instead of asking if kids have any questions (because many are too shy to admit it in class), offer up questions that they may have and let kids vote on which ones they want answered.
Have you discovered new customers on the Sawyer marketplace?
Yes, a lot of parents try us for the first time through the free trial classes we offer on the Sawyer marketplace.
If you have additional team members, when did you know it was time to make your first hire? How did you navigate the hiring process?
We started hiring additional teachers in month 6 because I was teaching 7 days a week for over 40 hours a week. We have been incredibly lucky to have found great teachers through word of mouth and online job boards.
How do you balance your time between running your business (from an operational perspective) and teaching/connecting with parents and students?
It's one of the hardest thing about running a teaching business when you enjoy the teaching. I have been fortunate to find enough great teachers so that I finally feel comfortable cutting back on teaching and focusing on growing the business.
How has Sawyer helped your business?
The Sawyer software is the glue that seamlessly connects the sales side of registration and payment with the operational side of keeping track of multiple class rosters in real time for our admins and teachers. When we had to convert from 100% in-person to 100% online during the pandemic, we couldn't have managed the transition without Sawyer. The Sawyer customer support and business staff have been wonderful throughout.