Viera teen launches nonprofit for STEM learning


Published:

CraftingEducation Academy founder/CEO Slayde Kerner mentors students in the nonprofit’s leadership academy.

Slayde Kerner is quite the tech-savvy businessman. At the age of 14, he’s already the founder of a tech nonprofit that gives local kids learning and leadership opportunities. Kerner’s latest endeavor is CraftingEducation, a nonprofit, charitable business that will open its doors for students in January in Suntree Station Plaza at 7025 N. Wickham Road.

The mission of the CraftingEducation Academy is to make Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) learning fun and accessible for kids just like Kerner. Normally so-called “coding camps” and other tech-heavy workshops can cost families $1,000-plus. 

“We have a main location and also travel to schools in order to teach through our mobile unit. This gives all students the opportunity to take part in the program, especially underprivileged students,” Kerner said.

At 12, Kerner began teaching his classmates the technical ins and outs of popular console and mobile application games and launched a MinecraftEdu club in his last year at Viera Charter School in eighth grade. When he started ninth grade at Viera High School this fall, teacher Heather James encouraged Kerner to take his talent and teaching abilities to the next level. 

In addition to classes like MinecraftEdu, the Wickham Road location will offer a 3D printing course. 

“CraftingEducation gives the kids an opportunity to work with many different programs like Adobe, 3D printing, MinecraftEdu, web design and much more in the near future,” Kerner said. 

Initially, the classes at CraftingEducation will begin as after-school courses, but there will eventually be some school-hour options for home-schooled students. There will be summer camp options too.

The CraftingEducation plan also includes a leadership academy for students ages 12 to 17 who will essentially learn the software from Kerner and then be qualified to teach the courses. Students in the leadership academy who complete the year’s duties will receive a partial college scholarship, funded by the nonprofit. Kerner’s sister, Seville Kerner, 12, will also be instrumental in the leadership academy training. She helped him start the MineCraftEdu club at Viera Charter and still is a student there. 

“It’s really nice to have a kid as an instructor, it’s like having a mentor,” Susan Sears, Kerner’s mother, said. “There’s more momentum and they can all learn together that way.”

CraftingEducation will host a black tie gala fundraiser at 7 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 30 at  Tradewinds Restaurant at the Duran Golf Club in Viera. Brevard Brass will provide the entertainment and there will be opportunities for prizes. Tickets are $55 each and can be purchased by visiting Eventbrite.com and searching “CraftingEducation.”

For more information on donating to CraftingEducation, or enrolling in the courses, go to craftingeducation.com or the Facebook page CraftingEducation Academy, or call 321-926-4848.