Here’s is the excerpt of the interview of Rachana Somayajula, Founder of FutureSTRONG Academy, with the Voyage ATL magazine.
Thanks for sharing your story with us Rachana. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
You could’ve chosen to land your eyeballs anywhere. And yet, here you are. So, thank you. It’s been my dream for years to do something to consciously create a better future where every one of us is excited about our own potential. My challenge to everyone is that they aspire for their personal best and leave a legacy of their work through their contributions to mankind.
As I look around, I see many programs that offer our children lessons on how to build better Robots and get their Math facts right. But there is so much we must do to equip our children with real-life readiness skills. That’s our mission with FutureSTRONG Academy – to grow children who respect themselves, their time and their capabilities in a world where distractions are just a click or a swipe away. I see myself as an advocate for bringing social, emotional and character development to families, schools and communities. We teach Robotics, Coding, along with the much needed 21st Century skills like goal setting, problem-solving, and decision making. Whatever I’m teaching, I never want to let this idea out of my sight – Our children are not just GPAs. I’m a writer and a Certified Master Coach in NLP and CBT. Until 2017, I was also a Big Data Scientist. In December of 2044, I hope to win the Nobel. Namasté.
Has it been a smooth road?
I think our collective mindset towards the importance of “soft skills” has been an issue. The reason for a program like FutureSTRONG Academy to exist in the first place is that these skills are not being actively taught in schools. Imagine an adult world in which your child has to navigate college, career and real life. How could he or she manage with understanding and experiencing concepts like self-esteem, resilience and clarity of thought.
The world is a dynamic place. There’s activity everywhere. And if people from all walks of life and generations come together each day to strive and thrive, emotional intelligence is going to play a very important role in our lives. It’s only because of soft skills can we lead in our cognitive (hard) skills. And the most important thing. The byproduct of our Technology revolution is that the cost of knowledge is going down. The answers to most of our day to day questions can be downloaded from the Internet in a matter of seconds.
It’s no secret that the teachers of tomorrow wouldn’t necessarily know more than the students they will teach in the context of academia. In such a world, the only thing we can teach our children is the timeless skills like soft skills. We can teach them what information is relevant and what’s not. There is a huge need to close the gap between the soft skills that kids need to be taught to what employers and real-life demands of our children when they grow up. And that’s where FutureSTRONG Academy comes in.
So, as you know, we’re impressed with FutureSTRONG Academy – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of and what sets you apart from others.
In a world where super-intelligent machines built by us are dictating our emotions and predicting our desires, we must raise our children to deal with unpredictable change and process information overload. With tools that developmental flexibility and emotional balance, we can ensure that they learn to listen to themselves first and use their power to choose with integrity and responsibility.
FutureSTRONG Academy is an after school essential life skills coaching program for Kids. When children, K through 12th grades, learn from expert coaches at FutureSTRONG Academy, they develop an extra tool kit for to stand out in a group of their peers who excel in the same set of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) skills.
Our Holiday and Summer camps are so much fun for ages 5 to 18! Scavenger hunts, robotics – take your robot home activities, HTML coding classes, chess club, video making lessons, building volcanoes, pipe cleaner crafts, brain breaks, math riddles, dance parties, field trips, teen financial literacy lessons to make your own ice cream and so much more!
We’re proud to call our classes as the Mental Rock-climbing experience of the brain! And that reflects in our mission too. Build Your Potential. Become Unstoppable!
Let’s touch on your thoughts about our city – what do you like the most and least?
If you are an EdTech startup like us, its good to be based out of a city that’s being called the Silicon Valley of the East, we love this vibrant southeast city because you don’t have to look far for motivation and inspiration. Atlanta is constantly reinventing itself, and that’s our mantra too. Learn, iterate and grow. Each day and every day.
Along the beltline, near Krog Street market, there’s an outdoor library for kids called the Little Free Library. On a Sunday, park at Krog Street market, ride your bikes until you reach the library, let them pick a book, and encourage them to relax on the hammocks while reading it.
In Duluth, there is the “Before I Die” wall. This Global Art Contributory Project started by Candy Chang has brought the conversation of death to the forefront. Asking that question to oneself requires a deliberate answer. It gives us a chance to start a daring conversation with ourselves. It gives us the drive to live life in the fullest and most meaningful way possible. It gives us a pause every day to define our mission statement and pursue how we want to make a difference in every child’s life.