MISSION-DRIVEN STORY & TIMELINE

 

"My life's mission is to help children find and fearlessly move into the power of their unique story."

Kyle Christian Steele, Founder

 

2012 - 2014: The Fern Creek Coding Program was a volunteer initiative started by Kyle and a few of his friends at a local elementary school in Orlando Florida. The goal of the program was to teach a group of 14 gifted 5th graders on how to code. During the first few sessions, Kyle noticed that the students showed low enthusiasm about the opportunity to learn the coding process. As he tried to solve this problem, there was a realization that 80% of the students were from low-income families, and 20% were homeless. As a result, it was determined that many of them were uninterested in the long-term value proposition of coding because they were preoccupied with immediate life concerns and conditions, such as lack of food, shelter and stability.

Growing up in Detroit, Kyle identified with the complex dynamics that impacted the students. As a result, he asked each of them to write a story about their thoughts and feelings as a way of helping them cope with the emotional fallout from their traumatic and stressful life experiences. Once the students were finished writing, Kyle asked them to draw their stories, and then transform the drawing into an animated movie. To create their animations, the students had to learn how to use Alice, a program that makes it easy to create a moving animation by teaching them how to code through a 3D programming environment. As a result of this new approach, the students learned basic coding, their enthusiasm about the program greatly increased, and they learned a new method for helping them cope with difficult life circumstances. Due to the success of the first year, the program was expanded to all of 4th and 5th graders for consecutive school years.

 

 
 

2014 - 2015: As a result of the success of the Fern Creek Coding Program, principals and teachers from other elementary schools across Orange County Public Schools began to request the program for their locations. Due to the lack of resources required to sustain itself, such as funding and personnel, the volunteer operation was incapable of servicing the increased demand. Understanding these challenges and having a strong desire to live more fully into his life's mission, Kyle shutdown his existing technology startup and with the help of John Rivers, founder of 4 Rivers Smokehouse, dedicated 100% of his time to turning the Fern Creek Coding Program into SourceCode B46, a for-profit company.

During the retooling process, Kyle and his team decided that SourceCode B46 would continue to introduce elementary students to coding, but to also better align with classroom objectives. This structure allowed the storytelling process of the program to simultaneously enhance students comprehension and reading skills. After several months of work, the first SourceCode B46 classes were launched in September 2014 for grades 3 through 5 at Fern Creek Elementary, Lakemont Elementary, Princeton Elementary, Dommerich Elementary, The Orlando Science Center and Nap Ford Community School. Over the next year, SourceCode B46 expanded into other classrooms across Orange County Public Schools; including the The YMCA and the District of Columbia Department of Parks and Recreation. Eventually, the company would serve over 1300 students, accumulate approximately 21K hours of instruction time, and employ 11 instructors to facilitate on-site and online classes.

 
 

2016 - Present: Kyle's ultimate goal was to scale SourceCode B46 into every classroom in the United States, but noticed in the growth process that the quality of the program decreased and cost increased. As a result, after a year and a half, SourceCode B46 was shutdown and Kyle went back to the drawing board. Relying on the experiences from his past tech startups, the Fern Creek Coding Program, SourceCode B46, his friend and cofounder, Himanshu "Heman" Pagey, and board, Learn Jelly was launched in January 2016.

Unlike his previous education ventures, which focused on offering in school and online classes that taught elementary students how to code through storytelling, Learn Jelly focused on addressing the teaching priorities of K-5 learning guardians by providing them with an experience that helped students learn content areas and improve reading and 21st century skills through the combined power of stories, art and Computer Science. As a result of this shift, over 600 teachers and 14,000 students from 43 states, and Canada, signed up to participate in the pilot within 42 days of the product announcement in January 2016. In August of 2016, Learn Jelly partnered with the City of Orlando to pilot the platform and provide onsite programming at local community centers.

Due to the founders strong passion for solving the education challenges of low-income communities, Learn Jelly is a social venture with a mission to improve the reading skills of 20 million elementary students who come from low-income homes. To accomplish this, the company announced their Five For One Commitment which ensures that for every premium subscription of Learn Jelly that is purchased, 5 free premium subscriptions are provided to teachers and organizations to distribute to students from low-income homes.

HOW WE TESTED OUR CONCEPT AND OUTCOMES

Since 2014, our team has accumulated over 21,000 hours testing the Learn Jelly concept in elementary schools across the US. Our testing consisted of the following 3 stages:

Stage I : Read A Story Based On An Academic, Life Or Vocational Concept

During this stage, students were provided with a story based on an academic, life or vocational concept. In this example pilot session, students read "Caged Bird" a poem by Maya Angelou that voiced the rage and optimism that African-Americans experienced during the civil rights era. Through the poem, our goal was to help students identify with, and discuss, the differences in liberties and basic human rights withheld from African-Americans during that time.


The caged bird sings
with fearful trill
of the things unknown
but longed for still
and his tune is heard
on the distant hill
for the caged bird
sings of freedom

Stage II: Interpret The Story Through Drawing

Once students finished reading the poem, they then visually interpreted it through creating an illustration. This exercise is designed to teach them how to use the strategy of visualization in order to better comprehend the text. Our team built this visualization learning method based on the Dual-coding Theory by Allan Paivio, and strategies from literacy consultant Cathy Puett Miller.

Stage III: Animate Or Simulate The Drawing Through Code

After completing their drawings, students used the coding program, Scratch, to animate/model their illustrations. This exercise is designed to enhance their critical thinking and problem-solving skills; as well as to introduce them to basic coding concepts.

The purpose of our pilot was to understand how we improve a student's reading, comprehension and 21st century skills through storytelling, art and coding. In the video below, you'll observe how a student demonstrates these critical skills as he explains how he overcame challenges while animating a stanza in the poem.

 

"The caged bird sings
with fearful trill
of the things unknown
but longed for still
and his tune is heard
on the distant hill
for the caged bird
sings of freedom"

 

Pilot Footage:

This video was taken during an in class pilot at a local elementary school. Our goal during pilots is to test and improve existing and new workflow and content by acquiring real-time feedback from K-5 students, teachers and administrators.

 
 

 

FOUNDING TEAM

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Kyle Christian Steele, Founder and Chief Shepherd

Bethune-Cookman University & University of Michigan – BS Biology & Dental Science Fellowship

Heman Pagey, Co-Founder and CTO

University of Southern California  – MS Computer Science

ADVISOR BOARD:

Pam Birtolo

Chief Academic Officer at GPA & former Chief Officer Of Education Transformation at Florida Virtual School

University of South Florida

Cari Coats

Executive Director of the Center for Advanced Entrepreneurship at Rollins College and former EVP of the Orlando Magic

University of Central Florida & Duke University - Fuqua School of Business

John Rivers

President at 4 Rivers Smokehouse

Florida State University

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Michael Shindler

President at Four Corners Advisors, Inc. &  Former Executive Vice President Hotels & Casinos for Hard Rock International

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Washington University in St. Louis School of Law

Entrepreneurs in Action (EIA) 

Experienced serial entrepreneurs who work together to provide expert advice on existing social enterprise and nonprofit business strategies that are ready to move to a new level.