New Kid on the Block: The CoderSchool

Like all good children of Northern California, Tammy Nguyen wanted to make sure her kids had some exposure to coding. She and her young family moved from the Bay Area to Fidi 12 years ago, and when her two daughters were in elementary school, she found a coding tutor for them on Craigslist — a computer science major from Barnard. The girls loved it.

So when that student graduated, they found another tutor. Then Tammy started a Girls Who Code club at PS 276. And then, when her girls were out of elementary school, she started plotting her next tech education move. (Her older daughter also went to Kode with Klossy — the supermodel Karlie Kloss’ coding camp for girls.)

That’s when she discovered The CoderSchool franchise — started in Silicon Valley in 2014 — and she’s spent the past three years putting it together here. The school is now taking students and will open for its first class on Oct. 8.

The curriculum revolves more around the creative side of coding than the grind.

“We are not here to give your child a certificate,” Tammy says. “We find ways to make coding fun, positive and creative.”

The program uses a 2:1 ratio for teaching (the program is for kids 7 to 18) and starts usually with the coding language Scratch, because it’s graphical and easy to learn logic without needing to type. Middle school and older kids tend to be taught in either Python or Javascript, or they can try other languages like Java, C++, Scheme or Go. But the language is almost besides the point.

“For us it’s about teaching them a foundation where they can start doing critical thinking and be rewarded by building fun games early on,” Tammy says. “If your kid likes the gaming aspect, there’s so much they can do with it.”

She’s starting with afterschool classes only, 3 to 7p, on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday; 10a to 2p on Saturday. (For now, she is keeping her day job at the Small Business Administration, auditing loans, but that should not last long.) She currently has nine coaches on staff, and will spend the next weeks getting them trained. She’s tapped local college students and even high school kids, as long as they have gotten a 5 on the CompSci AP exam, because she knows from watching her own children learn to code that students respond better to a younger person’s energy. (She has a few seniors from Stuy on the staff.)

And she will watch how things evolve. She might offer programs in local schools, coach high school students studying for the CS AP exam, find other programs in the neighborhood where things might overlap. This is the first franchise in the city; there are five on Long Island and a couple in Jersey.

Tammy also got to design the space herself, using their guidelines and color schemes, and she went for a cool industrial vibe, so it’s looking more like the Google offices than a play space.

“I didn’t want a space where it just feels like another classroom,” she said. “I wanted it to me more fun, like a start-up feel. This is what they enjoy doing, it’s their hobby — it’s where they create.”

The CoderSchool
23 Warren | store 4 | Church & Broadway