Ryan Clark opened two Code Ninja franchises in Northeast Florida this year. The business helps students learn the skills that will be needed in the future, and it does so in a fun environment patterned after the martial arts model.
Tell me a little bit about Code Ninjas, its goals and how it achieves them.
We help prepare children ages 5-15 for a future with technology. Visiting our Code Ninjas center, children learn how to code in a fun, safe and social-learning environment where gaming is celebrated and STEM is cool.
Everything about Code Ninjas is built around fun, which keeps kids coming back. But the center also provides the results that parents are looking for, as their children gain coding and problem-solving skills they’ll need for the jobs of the future. Code Ninjas accomplishes this with a robust, game-based curriculum made up of nine belts, just like martial arts. The curriculum is self-paced, but not self-taught; kids get immediate help and encouragement from Code Senseis and fellow students as they advance from white to black belt.
The program keeps kids motivated with little wins along the way, and “Belt-Up” celebrations where they receive color-coded wristbands to mark their graduation to the next level. By the time a child finishes the program, they will publish an app in an app store.
What must the students accomplish to earn the various belts?
In addition, we have clubs, camps and other programs where we offer additional opportunities to learn other programming languages and software like Python and Sonic Pi.
What inspired you to open a Code Ninjas franchise?
As I transitioned from the military to the private sector, it was clear how important technology is to everything we do, whether an accountant or a developer. In order to be successful today, our understanding of technology and coding is a mandatory requirement like reading, writing and arithmetic. Looking for solutions to help prepare my children and supplement their education, I found Code Ninjas. The Code Ninjas program is amazing and provides the best methodology available to drive engagement and excitement to help children learn these amazing skills and prepare for a future with technology.
How long has the local franchise been open?
We have two Code Ninjas in the local area. Our first Code Ninjas in Fleming Island opened at the beginning of 2021, and Code Ninjas – Ponte Vedra has been open since April 2021.
What has been the response from families?
We have been told so many times, “I wish we had this when we were kids!” and we completely agree.
Our Code Ninjas families have been so excited to have a place that their child(ren) can go and turn screen time into a positive, learn technology and prepare for the future! We are incredibly grateful for the community and our families’ support!
Tell me a little about your background and how you got to where you are today.
For 20-plus years, my career has focused on technology, starting a small business in college, electronic warfare in the military, and then over the last 10 years, I have been responsible for the development and launch of new digital products and solutions to market for large financial institutions. Specifically, I led product management, program management and innovation teams. Throughout my career, I find it exciting to solve problems and create better solutions.
What do you like most about living in Northeast Florida?
Northeast Florida is awesome! I love the diverse economy, the beaches and history. There is so much to do here. People cherish their freedom and are active in their community. It’s a fun place to live and we always have visitors.
How do you like to spend your spare time?
I stay busy. As a small business owner, there is always something going on, but I do find balance. I like to spend time with the family, and yes we play video games! The Guana River Wildlife area is a treasure and amazing place to go run. You can watch the sunrise on the beach and enjoy nature on the trails. I enjoy taking a break and reading a good nonfiction book about history or economics.
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