With featured guest

Steven Eno

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In this episode, Micheal Pacheco and Steven Eno talk about making computer science classes accessible to high schoolers across the United States.

Steven’s company, 2Sigma School, offers computer science courses to every student in America, especially those in schools that don’t have access to good teachers or curricula.

Steven discusses the challenges of expanding to states with different credentialing systems and the successes of flexible remote programs like those offered by 2Sigma School.

A bit about Steven:

Steven has been exploring every facet of the high school education system for the past decade. His mission is to improve the coaching system for high school students so that every student has access to the best coaches around the world.

Where you can find Steven:

Website: 2sigma.school

Personal LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/steve-eno

Twitter: @steveneno

Where you can listen to this episode:

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Micheal Pacheco 00:00
Cloud There we go. All right. Hey, everybody. Thank you for joining us once again on another episode of the remarkable coach podcast. I’m your host, Michael Pacheco. And today with me I have Steven Eno. Any relation Steven?

Steve Eno 00:18
no relation to Brian Eno. You get asked that quite a bit.

Micheal Pacheco 00:22
I keep this on my desk here Oblique Strategies. That’s Brian Eno and Peter Schmidt. That’s awesome. If you guys, yeah, for anyone listening or watching, if you haven’t checked that out Oblique Strategies by Brian Eno and Peter Schmidt. Those are great, just kind of little cards to help you work through things. I digress. Getting back to the podcast, Steven here has been exploring every facet of the high school education system. For the past decade. His mission is to improve the coaching system for high school students so that every student has access to the best coaches in the world. Steven, welcome to the markaba Coach podcast.

Steve Eno 01:00
Yeah, thanks for having me.

Micheal Pacheco 01:01
Awesome. This is exciting. So tell me, I like to start out the podcast by just kind of inviting our guests to talk a little bit about themselves and tell us a little bit more about what you do.

Steve Eno 01:13
Yes, so right now my main kind of focus is helping high school students get access to high quality computer science education, through to sigma school. So we’re an early stage startup. And we are trying to work with schools around the country who can’t offer computer science for various reasons, they can’t find a teacher, they don’t know what curriculum to use, they don’t have the technology expertise to build out the infrastructure. So we want to come in and basically offer computer science to every student. And we do it in a unique way. And that like we don’t want to just be your traditional classroom, we don’t want to just be kind of lecturing and telling students like, Hey, here’s how conditionals work, here’s how loops work. We want to actually coach the students to say, okay, what are your goals? What are some problems you want to solve, and like, let’s start figuring out the skills to solve them using computational thinking. So we want to help students realize that computer science isn’t like this boring, like, oh, I have to learn syntax, I have to work with this weird editor, I have to learn like this new language, we want them to see like, it’s kind of like having this magical power where you can basically tell a computer what to do, and then it’ll, it’ll do things for you. So we want to coach students to identify problems and to be able to navigate the resources that they have at their fingertips, to be able to solve any problem creatively using computers. So yeah, that’s, that’s my main goal right now. But I do a lot of other things. Well, coaching students through the spike Lab, which is just kind of one on one coaching, we help students build entrepreneurial projects, just to kind of set them apart in this crazy admissions world that we live in.

Micheal Pacheco 02:55
That’s awesome. That’s awesome. I love we were talking before I hit record. And I was very much into computers and computer programming in high school and middle school. And I, I love your approach where you’re, you’re teaching them not necessarily you’re not opening with syntax and a bunch of boring stuff. But it’s really kind of focusing on the idea that if you can learn how to do this, you kind of open up like a magical door, and you can have the computer do stuff for you. In and that like really anything, right? Anything that you can, you can conceive you can you can theoretically do in a computer. And I remember when I was you know, 1112 years old, and I first discovered basic, and figuring out, you know how to do stuff in there and make the computer do stuff for me. And I was just like, This is so cool. And it was just very exciting and empowering,

Steve Eno 03:55
Yeah, exactly. And that’s our hope is to empower students. And we think that like the main issue is not like access to information. So if a student has a phone, or any access to the internet, sure, they can watch videos, and they can learn pretty much anything they want to. So it’s not an issue with access to information. It’s the issue with that, that that coach, like if you think about like, in the past, when students didn’t have access to that information, they needed a teacher to give them that information. Now what they need is they need someone to coach them through the challenges. And that’s the main thing we’re trying to build that to sigma school is basically what we’ve identified some of the key points where students get stuck, and we want to be able to say, Okay, we are the fastest, we know the best ways and the fastest ways to get students unstuck and to coach them through those challenges so that they can get to that next level where it’s like, oh, this is what I can do with computer science. So yeah, there’s that threshold where students are like, computer science isn’t for me. We want to coach them and help them realize it can be once you get past that level of kind of frustration and dealing with the little issues.

Micheal Pacheco 05:03
Yeah, I can’t think of any vocation really, that that wouldn’t benefit from some level of being able to sit down at a keyboard, and just creatively solve whatever problem it is that you’re faced with, right? I mean, honestly, so cool. What explain to me what is the difference between a teacher? And a coach?

Steve Eno 05:31
Yeah, great question. That’s something I’ve been trying to kind of define and figure out myself, I’ve been coaching sports, since I started coaching, or since I started teaching, so I’ve always had that coach, kind of mentality, big fan of John Wooden, big fan of a lot of these coaches who have kind of influenced education, just with through preparation through their systems. So I’ve always had that coach lens in the classroom. And I think that’s one of the things like I actually coached high school football before I got into the high school classroom. And so I always had that lens, before I had the teacher lens. And as I got into teaching, I had some amazing mentors, who really guided me away from the traditional teacher mindset, away from like, focusing on content away from me being like the person who gives all of the answers or gives all the information to really kind of finding a good problem and coaching students through that problem. And so I’ve taught engineering, I’ve taught computer science, taught and innovation programs that combine entrepreneurship, with engineering, and through like, the common through line is that I’ve always lean more towards coaching that I have towards teaching. And so like, the way that I ve kind of think about it, is that, like a traditional teacher, like has to wear many hats, they have to kind of live in this education system, where the coach really has a lot more freedom, they have a lot more ability to really, like build students, but more instead of like, doing the work for them, the coach is always on the side, kind of just giving recommendations and saying, Hey, like, why don’t you try this? Why don’t you do it this way, it might help you get to your goals faster. And so that’s where I see myself more as a coach. That’s, that’s kind of making recommendations and a teacher giving grades. And so so that’s kind of the way I think about it in my head.

Micheal Pacheco 07:24
I love it. I want to circle back, you brought up John Wooden, and I think that’s really great. That would be really great context for this conversation. Can you talk just real briefly, just a little bit more about who John Wooden is and why that matters in this discussion that you and I are having right now?

Steve Eno 07:41
Absolutely. So John Wooden was the coach that basketball coach at UCLA. He’s the winningest best college basketball coach in history. So I think there was a run where he had seven national championships in a row. And he also won, I believe, 10 overall. And so just amazing statistics. Excuse me, from an output standpoint. But what’s most important about John Wooden is kind of his philosophy is kind of focusing on the little things in order to accomplish the big things. So John Wooden, famously, the first practice of college basketball, taught his players how to put on their socks. And again, you might think like, these are college, college athletes, they know how to put on their socks fundamentals maybe. Right, exactly. So there’s a right way to put on your socks. And if you can’t do that correctly, you’re not going to be able to do anything else correctly. But he has, again, a pyramid of success. He has a lot of these kind of systems that you can think through as a teacher, and as a coach that can help your players succeed. And so I’ve leaned heavily on a lot of his writing, and just his philosophies. And I think if you think about like, the education space, in the last 100 years, there really aren’t, there’s not many people who stand out as like, they’ve had a huge impact on education, which is sad to say, there’s no there’s no like, revolutionary thinkers or anything like that. So there’s a few people in John Wooden is one of them, who stands out as kind of one of those leaders and one of those people who are above the above the rest in terms of their teaching and their coaching. And so that’s why I love to kind of refer back to John Wooden and just learn from him and try to try to implement his practices about preparation and his small little idioms that really help students like pick up things really quickly.

Micheal Pacheco 09:38
Yeah, he just he Yeah, he from what little I know about him, I probably don’t know as much as you do. It feels like I get the sense that he thinks about coaching a little bit differently. And and there is that element of you know it with men, I’m trying to think about how I would define coaching versus teaching, but he had he you know, He thinks about it differently. And he might define it a little bit differently. The story that I had heard, and could be completely wrong. But the story that I had heard was that he taught his his his students, his players, how to tie their shoes, you’re saying it was put their socks on? Maybe it was both. But the idea, I think, is that you know, if you get if you can’t do the basics very, very well. All of that, like everything builds on top of that,

Steve Eno 10:26
right? Yeah, yep. Yeah, exactly.

Micheal Pacheco 10:30
Cool. So, yeah, I mean, tell us a little bit more about your, your program and why, you know, why, why high school students? Why, why are you doing this?

Steve Eno 10:41
Yeah. So, with basic, I’ve always had my focus on high school, it’s, I think, you got such a crossroads for all of us, for everyone who’s just trying to figure out who they are. But it’s also that that point where you can really start to develop the skills that can set you up for the rest of your life, the rest of your career as well. And so like high school curriculum, and the high school experience, unfortunately, hasn’t changed much. And there’s just a lot of opportunity to help out a lot of kids just by doing some small AI giving them small nudges towards the skills that they can, they can really help them out. And so that’s why we’re focusing on high school computer science. Because if we can level everybody up at the high school level, we think it’s going to really have a positive impact globally on the future.

Micheal Pacheco 11:37
Right on, right on, and how do you? How do you roll your programs out to, you know, let’s say underprivileged, high schools where they are having trouble finding a teacher or curricula?

Steve Eno 11:51
Yeah, so basically, we’re at all in all in one solution. So our goal is that, basically, an administrator just has to send us an email. And if we want Computer Science at our school, and the reason why we’re the name is to sigma, it’s based on a paper that Blum wrote in the 80s, basically saying that if you can provide two things to students, one on one tutoring, and mastery learning, you can shift their outcomes by two sigma. So basically, you can take the 50th percentile and have the 90 at the 95th percentile of outcomes. And so that’s why that’s our kind of our Northstar is is to focus on that two sigma problem. And basically, we want to offer that level of education to any school that just simply emails us. So that’s all they have to do is we want to try to remove all of the headaches, all the barriers, and will do everything. So we’ll work with their IT team will work with their, their department chairs will work with whoever, like their administrators will do everything. And we’ll just basically take our program in our approach and make it fit into their current model. So every school is going to be different with about how they approach grading how they approach teaching. And so we want to come in and say, Yeah, we will, we will fit in our model into yours, but then we will basically like show that our approach is going to produce those two sigma outcomes and hopefully have an influence on the rest of the school. And so obviously, we can’t be there in person for all the schools we work with around the country. So what we do is we essentially have a teacher or another teacher who has a prep period, or even like an administrator, who is able to sit in the classroom, just sit there, they don’t have to do anything, they just have to be a person in the room to help the students get onto a computer. And then we come in virtually, and we coach the students, we use a flipped classroom model. So they have access to content, they have access to the actual like the lectures, and then what we do is we coach in the classroom. So during our live classroom time, we’re they’re coaching through problems. So we give them exercises, we give them projects to build. And we essentially spend all of our our lifetime just coaching the students. And so we’re building out a platform that can optimize like myself, as a teacher, I’m already like interacting with more students than I would that I would in person, I can do basically three to four times as much interaction with the students online with all the tools that we put together. And so that’s the goal is just a really kind of increase the reach. And so a teacher can have that one to one mentoring a lot easier. And a lot bigger. Virtually, I suppose on the computer science side of things.

Micheal Pacheco 14:38
Nice. How many schools are you guys currently working with?

Steve Eno 14:41
So this is our first year we’re currently working with six schools in six different states. And so we really want to meet the needs of based on every state’s different with their requirements for teachers, their curricular requirements. And so we really want to make sure we can work with anybody in the country. Yeah, we’re excited. to be working with, with the six tubes to six schools that we’re hoping to grow as well.

Micheal Pacheco 15:04
What’s your growth plan? Are you planning on sticking to America or sticking to the United States, you’re going to move up to Canada eventually go go global with this.

Steve Eno 15:13
Yeah, for right now there’s the United States has such a dire need, we’re going to stay in the US at first, again, our growth is is going to be in the the type of classes that we offer. So right now, most schools are just looking for intro computer science, maybe like an AP level computer science. But we also are offering cybersecurity, we’re offering data science, we’re offering artificial intelligence. So we want to offer all levels, so there’s gonna be some students who want to really push the boundaries on the high level, and then there’s other others that are going to need a neutral level. So that’s where we want to grow right now is just really offer the highest quality in terms of coursework. And then eventually, like, depending on the market demands, we may grow into the college level. Again, we may go down to middle school, just depending on what students what schools need support with.

Micheal Pacheco 16:07
Nice. Talk a little bit more about your your courses. So are you guys, for example, your intro to computer science? Are you working in Python with that? Or can the student pick, you know, whatever direction they want to go?

Steve Eno 16:21
Yeah, so So basically, what we view ourselves as coaches is, we are curating the best material for our students. And so we’ve canvassed every intro, of course, at the college level, and it’s available for high schools. And we’ve decided, hey, we’re going to recommend a Python intro course, because of its accessibility. And what we also do is we have exercises and projects that are visual. So we want our students be able to get visual feedback. And they’re not just working with text the whole time. They’re, they’re creating pictures. They’re creating moving animations, and they’re getting feedback from what they’re writing and code. And so we are, we’re basically, again, continuing to gather data on what works best to get students past that plateau of like, Hey, this is frustrating, I’m stuck, I don’t really know what to do. And what we’re finding is the more visual feedback students get, the better they can understand complex ideas like data structures, and navigating all of these nested loops and conditional. So now they can actually see what’s happening with the code that they’re writing.

Micheal Pacheco 17:23
So visually, what what kind of visual feedback are you guys doing or working with there? Are you just is it like, you know, hello world across the screen? Or do you actually have like some libraries that you’re bringing in that do like visual graphs or that sort of thing? Or?

Steve Eno 17:40
Yeah, so yeah, on our website, we have a lot of projects, I can share, share out, I can’t share it out. But you can see on our YouTube on our website on to sigma school, two sigma dot school, you can see a lot of our student projects. And so on our projects tab, you can see that they’re creating in our intro course, they’re creating things like the old school Frogger, game and Pac Man and things like that.

Micheal Pacheco 18:03
Even if you want to share your screen. This this is this is an audio podcast, but this will also be the video will be posted on YouTube. So if you’d like to share your screen and share some of that you’re you’re more than welcome to.

Steve Eno 18:15
Okay, cool. Yeah. So I’ll I’ll share out real quick. So here is our website, and just some sample projects. This is all from our intro class. And so you can see it’s using Python. This is using a graphics library that’s from Carnegie Mellon. So it’s just the CMU graphics library. And yeah, you can see that students are playing again, a lot of these things, you can see they’re not like perfectly functional. But you can see our different games that are making take offs. They’re doing things that are based on a lot of their interests, whether it’s tennis matches, we’ve had different Christmas and holiday themes. We have Baseball, baseball fields as well. So yeah, we have a lot of these on our website. But we’re going to continue to add more and more as the students create. And this is all in Python, we actually have students working in Java as well. And we’ll post some of those up here, as well. So yeah, we were we’re excited that the students are showing a lot of what they can do. Again, as you can see in this visual medium,

Micheal Pacheco 19:14
that’s awesome. Very cool. Yeah, I think I think Python is probably the right choice for an intro class. I’m glad you’re not starting people out with like PHP or something. Something awful like that. Right. Awesome. So is this is this all of this? Is this, like graded on their regular report cards through the school system? Or how does that how does that work?

Steve Eno 19:38
Yeah. So one of the things that we believe is, high school students are so busy, they really don’t have time just to do things like just for the joy of learning, which is kind of sad to say, like, like, it’s really hard for a high school student to like have a full High School load. Plus they want to do sports. They have all these extracurriculars. They don’t have time to like do something outside that isn’t necessarily for credit. So that’s the great part of our program is we’re fully accredited students can take a course with us whether it’s on the summertime, we have some self paced independent courses as well, and they get a full transcript, they get full credit for taking courses with us. And so that’s, that’s the great thing is that this is it can meet, like, if you’re in the state of California, it can meet math credit requirements, right? I mean, there were a 3g approved, so they can get UC science credits for it as well. And so it’s helping them again, get through some of the hurdles and the loops that they have to jump through in order to either get to college or not even get college credit through the AP or College Board.

Micheal Pacheco 20:47
Nice. What, what kind of struggles have you guys faced as you’re, as you’re expanding into new territories, ie new states, and every state has a slightly different take on what a credit means for a math credit, for example, right? I mean, I feel like that’s, that’s got to be a major barrier to entry to expansion.

Steve Eno 21:10
Yeah, and I think what’s interesting is, the biggest challenge we’ve had is the fact that we’re like a new approach to teaching and learning. So a lot of schools think I have to hire a person that’s going to fill our curricular needs. So they actually have to find a computer science teacher to teach their computer science. The fact that we’re not like that person that’s gonna come in the classroom. And administrators can be a little bit more creative of who they put in the classroom, and who the teacher of record is, that’s just a new way of thinking. And so that’s the been the biggest challenge is to help administrators realize that there’s other options out there, they can see that that some administrators have like a bad taste in their mouth about virtual learning, because of what happened during COVID. And like the, the switch, the quick switch that had to happen. And so they don’t see it as high quality. And so what we are trying to balance, okay, we actually are higher quality than what most of you can provide, by hiring, the closest person you could find, or the only the only person who applied for computer science position, right? That’s a lot of schools. A lot of schools have to deal with is like, Oh, I only have, I have to convert a math teacher to teach computer science and they can, like, be the I guess the lead learner is one of the terms that a lot of people use is like, yeah, we’ll just convert somebody who doesn’t know computer science to teach it has its own challenges. And so what we believe is paying coaches who have real mastery of the computer science, who can take students not just to the current, like beginner level, but answer the questions that really push them beyond and get to them to that point where they can create anything they want to. So that’s kind of the the differentiation we hope to bring is, is really bring expertise into the high school field.

Micheal Pacheco 23:07
Very cool. Very cool. You mentioned having at the local school, they’ve got a teacher of record that teaches the class, quote unquote, teaches the class, how do they use the material that two sigma provides? Or the coaches or? Yeah,

Steve Eno 23:26
yeah, so the, the, the teachers that are in, like, on on the ground, so to speak, they actually don’t have to do anything, they just sit there, take attendance, the physical attendance that’s required. And then our team are like, if it’s myself, or one of our other teacher coaches, they, we come in, and we zoom with the like, as if we were there every single period. So

Micheal Pacheco 23:50
so the teacher of record is basically just taking physical attendance. And then they can swipe on Tinder all day long.

Steve Eno 23:56
If they want to direct anything they want to visit, they can have their their prep period of time, they can do their other work, but there’s their students are fully engaged with us. And so like I am the one that has to make sure that every student’s learning that every student engaged, which has some challenges virtually but what I’ve found, I’ve taught students in China, I’ve taught students from kindergarten on up through college. And so as long as you find a way to connect and build a relationship with students, and this is this goes for any coaching, like as long as you build that relationship, and they trust and kind of trust that you have their best interests. They’re gonna stay engaged. And so that’s what’s what is one of our big findings this first year, is that you could actually do way more and build just as good of relationships with students, even if you aren’t physically in the room with them. And that’s like the feedback from our students. We actually went to go visit one of our schools in Kansas City, and that’s the first thing students said is like, it’s Feels like Misurina is in the room with us. It gives like Kiki, he asked us about how our sports teams are doing. Like a he cares about how we’re doing in computer science, and that helps us overcome all the challenges that we face. And so I think that’s always kind of one of the tenants of coaching is like you have to be able to build relationships with with your students. And so that’s it’s the same thing with virtual and so. So yeah, that’s, that’s our goal is like, we want to be the teacher. Like, we want us to feel like we’re there in person, even though we’re virtual.

Micheal Pacheco 25:32
Yeah, I mean, I think you said it yourself, you have to have that that relationship, there has to be a chemistry there. You have to earn their trust, if they’re going to listen to you. Right? So that’s that stuff. Super important. Cool Do you guys have so do you guys work from pre recorded material at all? Or is it all one to many live? Like if you’ve got a class of 20? Sitting in front of your, your your zoom computer on the other end? Right? Are you doing the teaching every single day? Do you guys have pre recorded material that they are expected to watch for like maybe homework or something? What does that look like?

Steve Eno 26:10
Yep, yeah, exactly. So we have pre recorded material I’ve, I’ve made a library of YouTube videos. And this year, and what we do is we basically see what exists out there in YouTube, on YouTube in like, small five minute clips. And we see okay, where’s there the gap? And that’s where I come in and kind of fill the gap with with video content. But But yeah, hit it on the head, we use a flipped classroom where we’ll assign the video content for homework. And that way, they have that kind of base, understanding all of the videos that we’ve created that we kind of curate, we add a layer of kind of mastery questions on top of it, so that we know Okay, did the student just like click play and then go do their laundry and not pay attention? Or did they actually learn the material that they need? So we have that layer of questions, just as a quick mastery check before they come to us the next day. And then we look at that data. And then we basically say, okay, most of you have this, here’s one thing that I just wanted to clarify, based on a quarter of the questions that you might have missed. And then here’s the exercise that builds on that content that will allow you to actually apply what you learned. And so So yeah, they’ll be doing getting the lecturer for homework. And then as soon as they get in class, they get the support they need to build to build a project to exercise and to use what they learned in a

Micheal Pacheco 27:35
library of YouTube videos. Is that essentially, are you are you going through YouTube videos and making a playlist of other people’s videos? Or do you guy? Are you recording them all specifically for two sigma? And they’re just hosted on YouTube?

Steve Eno 27:50
Yeah, so it’s a combination of both. So again, it depends on our course. And it depends on the needs of our students. And so this, like, again, this first year, we’ve we’ve used some of the open source videos that are out there. But then we realized, hey, our students, like, are having trouble with like XY plane and Cartesian coordinates, doesn’t necessarily have like to do a specific with computer science, but we’re like, hey, let’s build a video on like, how to map out coordinates, or let’s build out a video that talks about, let’s like, like, what’s a good example, algebraic equations that can help, like, design some of their images. So we do certain things or even like, talking about RGB colors, or whatever it is, we create those videos so that the students like now have access to watch that whenever they want to. But there’s also great videos out there, like we don’t want to reinvent the wheel, there’s amazing lectures out there. We find those and we basically, again, as a coach, we curate the best. So if if there’s something really good out there, that’s going to help our student level up, we’ll leverage that. If it doesn’t exist, then I create, create a video that can then be a part of our own library. So yeah, that’s our, our way of using YouTube. And how we curate as coaches.

Micheal Pacheco 29:13
I’m curious to know if you have or if you will, in the future, get pushback from school administrators. Knowing that all of the content is not to sickness does not belong to you. From from my point of view, there is a ton of great content out there and you’re wasting your time reinventing the wheel. And I think you’re doing the right thing, and I think you’re doing it the smart way. But I wonder You know what I’m saying like, I wonder if from an administrators from someone who’s hiring you and paying too for the two sigma access, I’m wondering if they’re gonna if you’re gonna get maybe a little bit of pushback, because not all of the content is yours.

Steve Eno 29:50
Great question. So in my 10 years of education, I’ve found that administrators are very busy and they don’t care. SCS they rarely get in the weeds of the curriculum they rarely did. Beyond looking at, like, what is one of the outcomes, they might look at a report on, like how well students did on the AP exam, or whatever it is. And if those numbers are high, they’re like, whatever you did is working, keep doing it. So we haven’t got pushed back yet. And I think, again, we our hope is that by providing that two sigma outcome, and say, hey, look like, like, we are pulling in the best like in this world of information. It’s not necessarily like the creation is the curation that matters the most as coaches. But we also want to be able to show our expertise by creating the content that doesn’t exist. So that’s, that’s where we want to be kind of a solution provider. And it’s the same thing with the tooling that we’re using as well. There’s some tools that you can piece together to provide a pretty high quality experience for students and be able to get good. But there’s also gaps in all those tools. And so we’re going to be creating some tooling and a platform that fills in the gaps in the current kind of educational environments so that our can get the best highest quality instruction no matter where they are.

Micheal Pacheco 31:17
Yeah, no, I think that’s great, man, I think you’re smart to leverage existing stuff, even, you know, this, the CMU graphics library that you said, you guys use? I mean, why would you not? You know what I mean? So I hope I hope that that works out? Well, the reason I think I brought that up is because I remember, back when I was at university, you know, I don’t know, it wasn’t an administrator level, maybe, but the teachers wouldn’t let us use things like Wikipedia. Which, you know, which which, which is the the single like, biggest depo of human knowledge in the history of the human race. Probably was at the time, too. But you know, it was, you know, what was on? unedited, I guess, by by professional editors at the time, so it was new technology, they were curious about it. Anyways, neither here nor there. How do schools find you?

Steve Eno 32:16
So, yeah, that’s, that’s one of the challenges being an early stage startup. I, again, obviously, we’re doing our best to reach out to as many schools who we think might have the need. And obviously, we have our website, we’re going to conferences. We’re doing our very best to reach out to schools. But yeah, we still haven’t found our best distribution channels to get to as many schools as we’re hoping to impact. But yeah, right now, it’s our website, going onto our website to find us. And yeah, we’ll be going to conferences, school conferences in the summertime to try and reach as many administrators as

Micheal Pacheco 32:49
we can. Nice. Very cool. I’m trying to think what else? Can you maybe just tell us like a story or two about some some wins that you guys have had with with some students?

Steve Eno 33:03
Yeah. So what’s been interesting about teaching in six different states, across the country, six very different schools. We have very, very different demographics. We have a school in Kansas City that is kind of 95%, black. And very different than our school in Texas, which is a Christian school that is predominantly whites, we have a school in Massachusetts, it’s a private school, that is a lot more advanced. And so we’re seeing a lot of these different needs. And the common thread is that they need coach a click, that’s the common thread. Doesn’t matter if they’re advance, they still need someone there to help guide them through the challenging parts to help kind of unlock their their full potential. And then at the intro level, if they don’t have the strongest math background, they still need coaches, to help guide them and get them into what what countrysides is and what it can help them with. And so even though it’s different, they all have similar needs. And what’s been amazing is, like, we’ve seen so much growth, no matter where our students are. And so that’s, that’s been my biggest win is like, I’ve taught at, like a public school in California, I’ve taught at a private school in Maryland. And I’ve always felt like, I’m not reaching enough students like, yeah, sure, if you’re in my class, I can help you out. But I’ve always wanted to have a bigger reach. And so I think that’s, that’s been my biggest win this first year is that I’m influencing students that across the country, and I think the more teachers we bring on, we have other teachers as well. It’s not just me. So the more I can coach them and guide them build the curriculum and the tools. I’m expanding my reach further. And so that’s our hope is that by bringing on some of the best teachers, giving them the tooling that they need and the support that they need, you We can now expand their reach. And so now they don’t have to stay in one geographic location, they don’t have to be limited to, like the class load that they can manage, we can put a team behind them, we can say, Hey, what is your sweet spot, if you’d like to create content, come on, go ahead and create some content for our videos. If you’d like to build relationships, you’re going to be front and center with our students in the classroom, if you’d like to build assessments that are projects that allow students to creatively show what they’ve learned, like well, we’ll put you will plug you into that part of our of our school. And so we’re trying to kind of reframe what it means to be a teacher or a coach to say, hey, look, like we want you to play to your strengths. We don’t want you to have to do everything, we don’t want you to be a computer science teacher, department chair coach of the basketball team, and in charge of the Dungeons and Dragons club. Like that’s what it normally feels like when you’re at a school, you just have to wear many different hats, because there’s nobody else to do it. We want our teachers to be focused on their area of expertise. And then we’ll say, Okay, what do you need when it comes to computer science, and we’ll give you the best. And so we’re finding that that works like, like, it’s amazing. Like, if you change the model, to focus on strengths and student needs, then they’re going to have a lot better outcomes. And unfortunately, a lot of it’s like, oh, well, we’ve always just thrown a teacher in front of the classroom and in front of students. And we forced them to teach four different classes and 150 different kids. And actually, what if you didn’t do it that way? What if you had the team that allows certain teachers to focus on a small group of students, those students might be on a similar skill set with other students across the country. So they may not be allowed, like locked into their their geography, they could find other students that are at their skill level, they can build and develop with a community, and then they can be coached by the best in the country. And so we’re hoping that that starts to become just a new model where schools can realize, oh, I don’t have to do it this way, I could actually save some money and not have to, like, scramble on find someone full time to do a small computer science load. I can just hire the best and yeah, just just allow my students to get into this larger community around the country. Dude, I

Micheal Pacheco 37:24
think I think that’s got to be a huge part of your value proposition is the money, the money savings, especially when you’re working with public schools that are already on such a tight budget? And just the the level of, of quality? You know, for dot per dollar spent? Is it going to be so much higher? Right. I mean, it’s just, it just is how, how huge of an impact was the corona virus pandemic, to, to your to this business to allow this to even happen?

Steve Eno 37:57
Yeah, I mean, before this, before the probably wouldn’t have even like, five wouldn’t have been considered. I don’t think. Exactly. And so. So yeah, I think once I realize, like so. So I’ve coached to coach students in different capacities, I mentioned I, I, before even the pandemic hit, I taught students in China, I’ve coached students around the country, like one on one entrepreneurial projects. And so as I taught virtually more and more, I thought, like this could actually be done really well. If you, you take the right approach, and you build like virtual first instead of like, I’m gonna take what I did physically, and throw it on the Zoom like that’ll, that will, that doesn’t do a good job. But once we realized, hey, like students in schools, like some, some students really thrive during COVID, because they’re like, Oh, this is my best way to learn. Like I like to, like be at home and learn online and have that flexibility. So once we saw that it was possible, and some schools are more open to it, then it’s like, hey, we can pull this off. It’s like it’s opened. Right, exactly. So COVID definitely opened the door for us to step through and say we’re going to provide the highest quality, virtual instruction. Very cool.

Micheal Pacheco 39:17
Awesome. Steven, is there anything that we haven’t touched on that you want to chat about before we wrap up?

Steve Eno 39:27
No. I mean, I think we covered a lot of it. I mean, I think, again, a lot of what what we’re trying to get to sigma school is, is again, reframe what it means to be a coach and in the classroom and really realize that, like computer science may seem like why would you need a coach and computer science is like this, like says like a nerdy, like boring topic that you just sit out in front of a computer and you you do it by yourself. That’s, I think what turns people off of computer science, once you realize you could be with other people and you can have a coach help you through these problems. Homes and help you build really cool stuff, then you can unlock the magic. So yeah, I think that’s that’s our main message.

Micheal Pacheco 40:07
I love this theme. I love your energy. I love your approach to this. You know, we were, again, we were talking before we hit record, I was very much into computers when I was growing up, I was born in 1980, I got my first computer in 90 in 1990. And I was at that point, I was basically an autodidact just kind of teaching myself sitting in a dark room hacking away. And, and I can only imagine the profound effect it would have had, if I had someone there to kind of walk me through problems. I think it was also I mean, you know, it was an interesting development to have that challenge to figure out for myself, but I think I could have gotten a lot further a lot faster. With with a coach and NA, and frankly, it could have been more fun than sitting in a room by myself.

Steve Eno 40:58
Yeah, exactly. And that’s the thing. It’s possible, like some really talented kids like you were could learn it on their own.

Micheal Pacheco 41:05
And I don’t think I would argue it’s not even about talent. I think it’s temperament. Right? Not everybody has the temperament to sit in front of a computer in a room by themselves. Right? It’s a group thing is just gonna be more fun. It’s gonna be more festival.

Steve Eno 41:17
Yes, exactly. And that’s our hope is make it more accessible. We want to make it so kids. And students can realize that, hey, like, Oh, I could build something in the future. Like I could see what the future looks like. Once we unlock hopefully not enough students like that, then hopefully, the future becomes a little brighter. And so that’s our that’s our hope.

Micheal Pacheco 41:35
I love it. Man. I love your energy. Steven, you’ve got a Summer of Code kind of computer camp that you want to offer to our listeners. And viewers want to tell us a little bit about that.

Steve Eno 41:47
Yeah, absolutely. And so yeah, so we’d love for you to go to our website to sigma dot school, we have a link out Summer of Code, where basically high school students could spend however much time they want to two weeks, four weeks or six weeks taking any of our courses. And so basically, we want to give students the option to either try out a course, and the two week timeframe or get credit for a course if they take four weeks. With us, they can get a semesters worth of credit on their transcript. If they take the full six weeks, they can get a year Long’s worth of credit for the course that they take with us. And so it’s kind of like a boot camp feel where it is going to be kind of two to four hours a day during that Summer of Code, but they’ll be able to walk away with a much deeper understanding of whichever course they take from our introduction to computer science course or AP courses, all the way up to data science and cybersecurity and artificial intelligence.

Micheal Pacheco 42:42
That’s awesome. Yeah, and I mean two to four hours a day and you can walk away in six weeks with a year long worth of credit. That’s nothing to sneeze at either. Sweet Stephen. Stephen Eno, thank you so much for joining us on the remarkable coach podcast. This has been a fun conversation. Yeah,

Steve Eno 42:59
thank you so much for having me.

Micheal Pacheco 43:00
I appreciate it. And thank you to our viewers and listeners. We’ll see y’all next time. Cheers.


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