Interview with Codify Zone founder Linda Smith


Check out the below interview with Linda Smith, CEO and founder of Codify Zone (@codifyzone).


What is Codify Zone?

Codify Zone was developed as a highly specialized organization to teach children Computer Sciences, innovation and leadership skills. We focus on providing our students with year-round after-school classes and summer camps. Our program is unique in that we use instructors who are professional Software Developers, Computer Engineers, Mechatronic and Mechanical Engineers. We aim to close the Computer Science gap from the classrooms to careers by offering classes in Coding, Web Development and Robotics in a fun and creative way. Our goal is to create a class leading company with class-leading instruction, fostering the next generation of technology geniuses.


Why did you decide to create Codify Zone?

The first reason why I decided to create Codify Zone came from my own involvement in the technology sector. I am a Computer Systems Engineer by education and spent years working in the law enforcement field as a Computer and Mobile Forensics Examiner. I saw firsthand the need for us to develop people with the skills to excel in computer sciences.

Secondly, being a mother of two kids I felt the need to provide them with opportunities to learn these technology skills so they will be ready for the jobs of the future. Technology is and will be the main driving force of any modern society and crucial to both personal career success and success as a society.



What has Codify Zone been able to accomplish so far?

Codify Zone started a year ago and has been developing itself and its team into a class-leading organization. Our team comprises only skillful professionals in each field. Our software development course is taught by a Software Developer, our Robotics course is taught by a Mechatronics Engineer and so on. We also have student placements in our classrooms. We teach in Hamilton at Mohawk College and in Burlington at TechPlace.


What will Codify Zone be doing this year?

This year we are running a unique Coding and Gaming Summer camp for kids 6-14 years of age. Our locations are Mohawk College and Ancaster sport centre. The camps are technology oriented with focus in coding and there is also a sport and arts and crafts component.

We are also starting new classes in September 2018. Classes will run for 12 weeks and include subjects like; Coding, Game Development, Robotics, Web Development am much more. Registrations open soon!!
I am also working in a completely new program where I am looking for gifted children to join me. So please if you are an educator or know of anyone that fits the profile contact me.



How did you decide what curriculum to cover?

First I tried different open source software developed for kids 6-15 years old. Second I taught some of them to my own kids. Third, I signed up my kids for coding classes with someone else. Fourth I signed up for a Robotics class for kids (yes I was the oldest !). Fifth, I hired a Mechatronic Engineer, a Software Developer and a Computer Science instructor to put the curriculum together based on my findings from step 1 to 4.

Lastly I tried it out with paying clients and it has been a success!! Every quarter we have a team meeting with the instructors and some of the parents that want to get involved and we discuss what needs to be change, what needs to be implemented and what needs to be taken out of our dynamic curriculum.


What makes Codify Zone different than similar offerings?

The main thing that makes us different from our competitors is that we are hands-on with student’s learning. Our instructors take the lead in the classroom and guide the children through a learning process. As our instructors are professionals in each field they are best able to explain and teach the curriculum we have developed. We believe this makes sure each child is able to complete their projects, learn and succeed. Our classes are small for a reason; we specialize in providing high-quality education to each child.

Another big difference is that we work with open source software and hardware which means our students can practice their classes anytime, anywhere without the need to buy a license for a specific program. We also allow our students to take home the robots they build when they are finished, this causes them to really internalize their success and see what they can do. It is much more inspiring then disassembling it so the next student can try.

Lastly, at the end of every class parents come into the room and their kids show them what they did and what they learned. This is a great way to encourage self-confidence, team building and public speaking skills. We also incorporate short exercise breaks, this allows kids to refuel and go back to coding.



What has been the most challenging thing about creating Codify Zone?

The most challenging part is to get our name out into the community. Most of our referrals come from word of mouth which is great, however, we believe the more people get to know us the better our chance we have of achieving our goal; teaching children the language of the future.


What has been the most rewarding part of Codify Zone?

The best part of what I do is witnessing just how fast and thoroughly our children are able excel at the programs. Programming is just like language, the sooner you start to speak your second language, the stronger and more fluent you will be.

I also love when kids are the ones that ask for homework, no kidding. I have a great relationship with all the parents and grandparents; I admire how supportive and involved they are with their children’s education. A couple of weeks ago a parent said to me “Linda, my kid got up early one morning asking if there was time to go to coding classes” it was a Sunday.

It also makes me happy to have instructors that are amazing educators whom constantly find new ways to improve their classes and projects.

I am truly blessed to be able to work at what I love, kids and technology.


How have parents responded to the programming?

Parents are a huge part of our success!!. Often I seat outside the classrooms with them and ask for their input and suggestions about our programs. I also ask parents to join the last 5 minutes of class where the kids explained what they learn in class. I am sure parents love it as they keep signing up their kids with us!



Where do you see Codify Zone in 5 years?

I see Codify Zone working with elementary and high schools along with other like-minded individuals and companies to incorporate a Computer Science K-12 curriculum in schools.


How can the community help you to grow Codify Zone?

The community would help me grow by attending our info sessions and by signing up their kids to our programs and camps!! Starting this fall Codify Zone will be supporting non-for profit organizations that help kids in need by donating a percentage of every registration fee.

I am also aware that there are kids that would love to come to our camps but cannot afford it. We want to offer 5 spots in our Mohawk College Coding and Gaming summer camp for FREE- email me for more details.


Kevin Browne

Editor of Software Hamilton.