Local Spotlight: Skool Aid

2020 turned everything upside down, including the whole “school” experience. In-person instruction was replaced by distance learning, and extracurricular activities moved into the virtual sphere. Amid all this educational turmoil, Skool Aid remained steadfast in its commitment to providing local students high-quality enrichment programming.

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 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. But up until last year, Skool Aid’s programs had always been in person. But that changed with the introduction of Skool TV. Southwest Ohio Parent spoke with Smith about how the nonprofit pivoted to stay true to its mission of educating and empowering local kids, and what’s next for this organization.

Until last year, Skool Aid focused primarily on in-person enrichment. How has that changed?

Before the pandemic, we averaged 50-60 in-person classes and presentations per week at schools across the tristate area, offering everything from classes in STEM and language arts to the performing and visual arts. Now, most of our classes are done [live] virtually via Zoom or Google Meet, but we’re also offering on-demand activities (pre-recorded videos) as an option. We’ve had to get creative during this time, but we’re still able to connect our teaching artists with students and families.

Tell us about Skool TV.

Skool TV is our newest way to bring enrichment to kids and families. It’s a subscription to all of our on-demand classes and activities. We currently have over 120 activities available on Skool TV, and will be adding more as we increase subscribers.

We have activities in everything: music, science, nature, fitness, wellness, art, dance, culture —  you name it! A subscription to Skool TV can be purchased by a household for $15/month. We also offer the subscription to schools at a discounted rate so that all of their families have access to it.

Many kids are burned out from screen time. How is Skool TV different from other virtual offerings? 

I completely get that — I have a 10 year old myself. The last thing I want to do is give kids more screen time. And with Skool TV, the video is simply our vehicle for the delivery of enrichment. Typically, videos are only around 10 minutes long; the teaching artist encourages students to do an activity off screen, anything from making a craft or cooking a meal, to playing a game or learning a dance.

How does Skool TV support local artists?

Almost all of our activities are made by passionate local artists. We have musicians teaching music, artists teaching art, athletes teaching athletics. What makes Skool Aid unique is that our programs are formed by the passionate teaching artists who work for the organization.

All of the videos [on Skool TV] have either been purchased outright, or the creators are paid royalties as the videos are used. We are excited that we are still able to help support our teaching artists during this time — just in different ways.

Looking ahead, what are your hopes for Skool Aid?

We are most excited to get to the end of this pandemic and be able to work with students in-person again. We miss doing assembly presentations, playing wheelchair basketball with schools and giving high fives to kids. But, I think we’ve done everything we can to connect with kids during this pandemic, and I’m excited for the future.

To learn more about Skool Aid or subscribe to Skool TV, visit skoolaid.com.

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