Today we’d like to introduce you to Meenakshi Singh.
Meenakshi Singh, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
As a parent, I was looking for a Learning center that would provide my 8-year old daughter after school STEM enrichment and the right environment for her to learn, finish her homework and her social skills. Since I could not find such a place, I decided to start one of my own in Frisco. Teaching has been my passion and that is why it became my career.
I used to participate in a kids show on a popular South Asian radio Fun-Asia, called ‘Science Smarts at 4’, and it inspired me to formulate the word, SMARTS, an acronym for Science, Math, Art, Reading, Technology and Social studies.
Soon, I outgrew my numbers due to popularity among parents and I moved into a commercial place in Fall 2012. The same year, I started Frisco Chess Club and began offering USCF affiliated tournaments as well as Chess lessons. To support the growth in enrollments, I partnered with various programs and ISDs in Plano, Flower Mound, Murphy, and McKinney. Later that year, our company won the “Best of Frisco” award in 2013. In 2015, we opened our own storefront center and grew to three centers in the DFW area.
What are some of your personal achievements throughout the years:
Along with a business entrepreneur, I am an education expert with a Ph.D. in the field of education and communication and my experience runs the gamut from college professor to Texas State High School Certified teacher in Science. I am a published author of many papers on Educational Pedagogy, Theories of Communication and inclusion of science in the curriculum (K-12). My interdisciplinary background is reflected in SMARTS which provides supplemental Education and Enrichment classes for grades Kindergarten to 12.
For many years, yoga has been also one of my passions. I am a certified Adult Yoga teacher E-RYT® 200, Kids Yoga Teacher RCYT®, and Yoga Alliance Continued Education Practitioner YACEP®. I have been teaching yoga for over 20 years and also came up with a unique way to teach science to kids with Yoga. I have been invited by local schools, public libraries, and private businesses to conduct workshops for kids, teenagers, and adults.
As for my passion in the STEAM industries, I serve as an Ambassador of E-Cyber mission and as a virtual judge for E-Cybermission which is the Army Educational Outreach Program to promote STEAM in local schools for the US Army.
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
The beginning was tough since I had decided to start my own business and not to own a franchise. I was paving my own path.
As I grew the business, I also needed to teach myself how to manage the business, employees and many other related logistics. The transformation from a classroom teacher to becoming an owner of a growing business required a different skill set which I had to learn quickly.
Time management is another challenge I faced because one never stops working if you are your own boss. I can never stop thinking about how to grow my business, how to make my products better and so forth. This sometimes does get overwhelming for me, but I do feel extremely satisfied when I see my students succeeding and parents getting their money’s worth.
How is SMARTS different than other Learning centers?
Child-Centric: I saw a need for a learning center in which curriculum could be customized according to the academic or enrichment needs of the child. At SMARTS our program is Child-centric, instead of the child having to fit into rigid “cookie cutter” type of programs offered by some franchises which do not even cater to their learning gaps. We develop a structured program that starts with assessing the student’s needs and individualizing the program accordingly.
Emphasis on Learning Styles: I believe that kids learn the most when we customize and match their learning style. We have playrooms with manipulative and Lego walls for brain breaks and full libraries where books are classified by their Lexile reading levels.
STEAM Learning Center: In addition to the academic programs we offer other STEAM based programs including, Science Lab, Robotics, and computer programming. SMARTS teams have consistently been successful winning many trophies and recognitions over the years including Judges Award, Champions Award, and Spirit Award. In 2018, SMARTS FLL team coached by me was recognized by the Frisco City Council for their achievements. I also serve as an Ambassador of E-Cyber mission and as a virtual judge for E-Cybermission which is the Army Educational Outreach Program to promote STEAM in local schools for the US Army.
SMARTscore: After many pilot studies and research, I created a customized diagnostic test called SMARTScore which follows an algorithm to show parents the current academic skills of kids. The SMARTScore is used to customize the program to keep the child challenged beyond the grade level if and when it becomes necessary
Teaching Creative problem solving: Albert Einstein once said ‘Education is not learning of facts but the training of minds to think’, I strongly believe in that. It is important that knowledge acquired through education can be applied to everyday situations and problem-solving. I coach teams of elementary to High school kids participating in different competitions like Destination Imagination, First Lego Leagues, Future Cities, which give kids a good platform for problem-solving and come up with their own solution through design thinking. It is an exhilarating experience to see the teams work together and win trophies by young adults.
Annual Competitions: Being a big proponent of competitions, we started hosting our annual spelling bee and Math Kangaroo which became a huge hit in DFW area as we included kids from kinder and above who are normally excluded from such competitions organized by public schools. From 12 participants, we have grown over 150 last year.
What advice would you give to someone at the start of her career?
Stay positive and Never Give Up: My advice to young entrepreneurs would be to always believe in your product/service and never give up on your dreams and goals. Make your own vision board and glance at it regularly to motivate yourself in your low moments.
Keep learning and growing: Every challenge or mistake is an opportunity to learn and make your business better. Keep yourself well informed about the latest research and keep improving your business based on the research so you can serve your clients well.
Customer Delight: Always go above and beyond when you are serving your client and give personal attention to your clients. A client never forgets how you make them feel.
The balance between family and work: Being a mother and a wife, it’s hard to juggle both business and family. Allocate time to be available for your family too, especially on important occasions. Take time away each year with your family during the year.
Good Team: To grow your business, one needs a team which shares a similar vision and is trained continuously to make your product/service better. Always appreciate your team and be there if they need you professionally or personally. Happy and well-trained employees would definitely help in growing our business.
Health is wealth: I have learned it the hard way, but there is nothing more important than yourself. Make sure to de-stress, workout, and eat healthily. Love yourself and treat yourself well.Contact Info:
- Address: 4280 Main Street, Suite 500 Frisco, TX 75033
5353 Independence Pkway Frisco, TX 75035
8780 Preston Road Frisco, TX 75033
- Website: www.smartsclub.net
- Phone: 214-578-7222
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Nitin Nanagiri, Megan Ingra