Travis Reeves: Changing Lives One Student At A Time
BBC: First, we would like to say we love your platform and commend you for all that you do in the area of S.T.E.M. Share with our readers how Kids Next Code got started.
TR: I started Kids Next Code in January of 2016. The program was started in Riverdale, Georgia, with an initiative to bring more S.T.E.M. and technology programs to Riverdale. The program began to catch recognition throughout Georgia and led to opportunities with Fulton County Library, Clayton County Library, Lumpkin County Middle School, Spelman College organizations, Dekalb County Jail, to name a few. Initially, Kids Next Code offered web design classes to students ages 5-18.
In 2017, we began hosting adult classes in addition to student classes. One of the adult coding classes we started offering was called Sip and Code, which was a program where we offered wine and light appetizers while teaching coding. The purpose of the wine was to encourage learning coding in a relaxed, fun environment. The program received a very positive response. In 2018, we extended our programs to also offer mobile app design classes and robotics for students ages 5-18.
This year was our biggest growth year. This past Spring, we hosted our first class outside of the state of Georgia and brought Kids Next Code and Sip and Code to Queens, New York. To date, Kids Next Code LLC has provided S.T.E.M. and tech-related courses such as web design, mobile app design, and robotics to over 600 kids and adults in Georgia and New York. We have also created an online classroom on Udemy.
BBC: Wow, in such a short time you have accomplished so much. What motivated you to start this great initiative?
TR: What motivated me to start the business was seeing the lack of exposure and access that children and teens in deprived communities have to technology and STEM education. Growing up in Riverdale, I wasn't exposed to the same tech programs as other students I went to college with. I wanted to even the playing fields and give students in deprived communities an opportunity to gain exposure and be competitive in a tech-driven society.
BBC: Have there been challenges along the way?
TR: Some of the challenges initially was getting in the door to some of the organizations such as Riverdale Town Center, parks and recreations, etc. without having a teaching certification. I had to prove my self to organizations initially that I could teach coding in a way that engaged the students and in a way where they could also follow the material. Other struggles have been continuing to stay current. Technology is always changing, so staying current on software that is out there in the market that I can implement as part of my curriculum.
When teaching students, especially with a wide age range of 5-18, you always want to make sure that your curriculum can be catered towards all age groups. Sometimes it can be challenging, but I’ve been able to find that balance now after doing the program for over three years.