Skool Aid was founded in May 2011 by Ian Smith, a Northern Kentuckian with more than 20 years of experience working with children. Skool Aid got its start providing elementary summer programming, and grew from there. Skool Aid brings together talented educators with a variety of backgrounds to provide a wide range of enrichment programming in music, fitness, creative arts, drama and more, across all four corners of the tristate.
For this month’s Local Spotlight, Cincinnati Parent talked to Ian Smith on his super “kool” organization:
What inspired you to start Skool Aid?
My mom was a school secretary, so education has always been part of the picture. From high school on, I’ve been working with kids in some way or another. I have a communications degree in Radio TV from Northern Kentucky University and kind of created my own sports-related minor. Out of college, I started substitute teaching and was regularly requested because I was the “fun” substitute who made games and learning fun. I was a musician at the time, but went back to school to get an alternative certification in special education, and taught that for three years.
I was also giving guitar lessons, and teaching fitness and music classes in Covington. But ultimately, I wanted to do exactly what I wanted to do: music, movement, arts and education. I wanted a menu of classes to sell to schools. Get a super passionate person in front of kids, and they’ll do what they love — with enthusiasm. Skool Aid is about people sharing their passion with kids.
What kinds of programs does Skool Aid offer?
Skool Aid offers more than 45 different types of after-school programs in the Greater Cincinnati area — Covington to Mason, the East Side to the West Side. What makes Skool Aid unique is that our programs are formed by the passionate teaching artists who work for the organization. One of our teachers is into art and recycling, so we created an upcycle art class. One teaching artist loves music, dance and fitness, which fits the framework of a Passport to the World class that takes kids to different countries each week. Skool Aid offers programs you won’t find anywhere else.
What are some under-the-radar programs people may not know about?
We have so many great events. We do Olympics events — think next-level field days with teachers! We have diverse Olympics events with the best teaching professionals. Parent engagement is huge; parents love our programs as much as students. Corporate events, senior events, preschool events – we are branching out to offer more programs to more audiences!
How much do classes cost, and are there scholarships available?
Pricing is super flexible, and we take a lot of pride in trying to meet budgets, whether it’s working directly with schools, through PTOs or other means. We are very creative in working with a variety of budgets!
Why are extracurricular activities important for kids?
As more and more arts, fitness and outside-the-box education goes away, that creates an even greater need. Simply put, kids need an outlet. Some places see us as “specials” to come regularly to bring a plethora of programs to schools: ninja warrior classes, circus gym classes, pottery classes, songwriting classes. We want to inspire kids to think outside the box. They can make new jobs and put together all their passions – like I did! — to create their own careers.
For more information on Skool Aid, and to find out how to bring Skool Aid to your school, visit https://skoolaid.com.