Kids, these days.
Some of them can write the computer programming for their own video games before finishing elementary school. Others can earn a black belt by fourth grade.
After CodeNinjas opens in August in Ashburn, those kids will be able to do both things at the same time.
According to CodeNinjas co-owner Ashraf Kadri, CodeNinjas hopes to open in the Ashburn Shopping Plaza Aug. 18.
“We will announce the exact date when we know for sure,” Kadri said.
Kadri said the franchise will help Loudoun County’s “tech-savvy” youth develop their skills in a structured but flexible program. Because of the timing, the franchise will not be able to offer summer program and camp curriculum as it plans to in the future, but will build up to a full offering of after-school and weekend offerings by the start of the school year this fall.
“This program is really for kids from kindergarten through eighth grade,” Kadri said. “We are planning to have a summer camps starting next year, but we basically will have about three or four programs. We will have a drop-off program where students can come two times a week after school and we are also going to have parent’s nights out, on the weekends.”
Kadri said students can enter a program at any age or skill level and advance at their own pace. Parents are not locked into long-term commitments, because many children are involved in other academic, athletic or artistic activities.
“It is flexible,” he said. “We are called CodeNinjas because we give the belts. They start from the white belt and they can go all the way to the black belt. We think that for most students, if they stay in the program, they will be in for about three years.”
He also said CodeNinjas plans to provide shuttle buses for picking up students from schools within five miles of the business.
“We have about seven schools within that area,” he said.
Kadri has advanced degrees in computers and IT, including an MBA from The College of William and Mary. His partner, Jin Yang, also holds degrees in computer sciences from Georgia Tech. The two knew each other and had talked about starting a business together when Yang heard about CodeNinjas franchises.
“We worked together for about five or six years at a start-up in Ashburn,” Kadri said. “He went to Houston on a discovery (about CodeNinjas), and he called me right away and said, ‘I’m going in, what about you?’ I already thought it was a great idea, so I said, ‘Let’s go in together.’”
Kadri said they already have a location locked in for a second franchise in Fairfax once the one in Ashburn gets established. He said CodeNinjas centers also offer other opportunities for fun, hands-on learning to keep the children engaged and avoid screen-time overload.
“We are going to teach them about flying drones, and we will have an area for building with Legos,” he said. “We don’t want them on the computers for like five or six hours because we want to balance the screen time as well. We want to have a variety of methods of learning and problem-solving. We will even teach them about the computer programming behind drones, so they will know what’s going on behind how they are controlled.”
Kadri said they are looking to hire about six instructors initially to help oversee the programs, preferable recent high school graduates or college students involved in IT.
“They won’t actually be teaching coding, my partner or I will always be on-site to do that,” he said. “They will just be helping the students as they are working on problems and answering questions.”
Currently, the website – codeninjas.com/locations/va-ashburn – has basic information and telephone number to leave a message. Kadri said the site will be updated regularly as the opening date approaches, including specific curriculum, schedules and tuition information.
“We plan to have a soft opening before the grand opening,” he said.
Kids, these days.