Former software developer takes on teaching challenge.
With 20 years of experience as a software developer, Peter Christinzio thought it would be easy to teach his sons, Lucian and Valentino, how to code.
He learned it’s not as easy as it might seem.
“At the time, I was trying to teach them with the same languages and toolset that I use every day at work, which is like: ‘Here, come into this helicopter with me, and I’ll show you how to fly. That’ll be fine,’” Christinzio said.
After a haphazard attempt at teaching his sons, Christinzio and his wife, Allyson, started looking around Sarasota and Lakewood Ranch for a place to send their kids to learn about coding.
Their search came up empty.
So the Christinzios thought, “Why can’t we be that something?”
Peter and Allyson Christinzio, along with Allyson Christinzio’s brother, John Meade, and his wife, Christine DelaRionda, decided to open The Coder School of Sarasota.
The Coder School of Sarasota, located at 6293 Lake Osprey Drive in Lakewood Ranch, provides after-school and summer programs to teach kids ages 7-18 about coding.
The school offers a free trial for every student before enrolling. Various programs offer opportunities to learn coding step by step, to work on individual projects and to blend coaching with presentations and teamwork. High school students can participate in an invite-only program that will help them build a portfolio for college.
The Christinzios didn’t start off with The Coder School right away, though. First, they attempted to build a curriculum and business of their own.
“We thought we would build it from the ground up — that we would design a curriculum, and we would figure out how we were going to do it,” Allyson Christinzio said. “This was going to be this brainchild, and it was just this enormous task.”
They soon learned that “being an expert doesn’t make you an educator, and it doesn’t make you a business person,” Peter Christinzio said.
At a conference in South Florida in March 2019, the two couples discovered there are franchises that will teach kids how to code. They later found The Coder School franchise, which now has 49 locations across the country. The only locations in Florida are in Lakewood Ranch and Tampa.
Before the school’s grand opening Nov. 27, 2019, and classes officially started in the Lakewood Ranch location Dec. 2, the Christinzios offered classes in a conference room in the Even Hotel Sarasota-Lakewood Ranch in October 2019.
By the end of February, The Coder School of Sarasota had 32 students.
Meade and Peter Christinzio are best friends who both have 20 years of software development experience. They wanted to take a break from the professional world of software development and start mentoring younger generations.
“I’ve enjoyed just knowing that you’re giving back, being able to use this knowledge that I’ve acquired to give it to a fresh generation that’s going to have the talent and energy to take it even further,” Peter Christinzio said.
He said the most rewarding part of working with kids is the joy they get from the lessons they’re learning.
“I’ve worked with some of the little ones that have never done anything like this before,” he said. “We get some cartoon character to move around on the screen, and you can see that it turns on that they cause that to happen. They see the implications, and they go, ‘I didn’t know this is going to be that much fun.’”