Cynthia Kaye, Founder and CEO Alive Studios: Reading and Math Lessons Come Alive in the Classroom
Founder and CEO of Alive Studios, Cynthia Kaye, is an innovator, developer, and publisher of educational software for Pre-K to 3rd-grade students. She earned a BS in Elementary Education from Florida State University. She received honors as a leader of one of the Top 15 Fastest Growing Ed-Tech Woman-Led Companies in North America with her first EdTech company. She is a graduate of MIT's Birthing of Giants Program for Entrepreneurial Leadership. Her passionate mission is to equip teachers with engaging technology to help students become proficient in reading and math by third grade. With all that, she is even a contributing writer on the subject of educational technologies and student engagement.
“When my husband and I adopted our two sons from Latvia, they had difficulty learning to read. I tried every product I could find to help them, but nothing worked. I was able to pull from my experience working as an elementary teacher, and being CEO of a company that provided educational products. I was determined to find a solution that not only helped my sons but also young children everywhere,” explains Kaye.
With access to the right people and technology resources, Kaye decided to take a risk and began developing a solution that would help kids learn to read in a new and engaging way. Understanding Augmented Reality 3D without the glasses, she knew the secret component to capture kids’ attention. Letters Alive was launched along with a zoo full of 26 animal characters that are a part of the program. “A new company, Alive Studios, was launched and hundreds of incredible success stories began pouring in from teachers, who we affectionately call our Zoo Keepers, using Letters Alive in their classrooms,” adds Kaye. “Our passionate mission is to help shift the Nation’s Report Card from only 37% of our 4th graders reading proficiency to over 70% reading proficiently.”
Alive Studios is used primarily by Pre-K and Kindergarten teachers. “They play an imperative roll in building and establishing the foundations for reading. Without these basics, kids get pushed through the system and not only get further and further behind academically, they also can become statistics for dropout rates and juvenile delinquency,” clarifies Kay. “Our reading and math kits, using augmented reality, help teachers create highly-engaging learning experiences in which kids are motivated and eager to learn.”
The company’s biggest challenge for getting Alive Studios into classrooms is funding according to Kaye. “When educators see our learning kits in action, they want them. But, funding doesn't always allow the purchase.”
As a solution, Kaye and her team refer teachers and schools to resources like DonorsChoose. They have successfully funded Alive Studios in several classrooms
In the role of CEO, staying two steps ahead of running the company is Kaye's intent. “We are always listening to teachers and innovating for their needs. Our team excels from concept to design to implementation,” explains Kaye. “We are always striving to develop more engagement, more excitement, more collaboration, more interaction, and more ‘Wow!’ Educators who know our brand have come to expect ‘the next thing,’ and we are thrilled to deliver.”
An example of how they listen to teachers’ feedback, they came up with My Letters Alive Journals, which is for mobile, because they wanted parent engagement. “We listened to their pain points and innovate. So, My Letters Alive Journals were born because of mobile parent engagement and getting help with writing letters correctly. That's been hot.”
Kaye shared several success stories of teachers using Alive Studios in the classroom. One included a Title 1 Kindergarten class in Nashville, TN mastering letter and sound recognition faster than other classes without Letters Alive. The teacher reported his students were consistently higher in Text Level Assessment data. Having a strong relationship with Kaplan Early Learning and an innovative relationship with HP helps the company stay ahead of the game. So, the company continues to grow a line of engaging products for the classroom “Of course, we also celebrate our big wins when schools roll out our products throughout a district”, Such as the School District of Philadelphia rolling out Alive Studio to their Pre-K programs in over 100 classrooms. Kaye gets an adrenaline rush hearing strong positive feedback from the district admins. “We love hearing stories of classrooms and kids springing to life and getting thrilled about learning.”
According to Kaye, with kids being raised using smart devices in their hands rather than plastic action figures, Ed Tech is here to stay. “Tech cannot be stare and peck. It has to submerge kids into an experience that is designed specifically to appeal to all learning modalities,” adds Kaye. “Kids can't have a personal world that is exciting, fast-paced, and interactive, then be expected to excel in a slow, boring classroom.”
Kaye explained how they designed Alive Studios learning kits to be collaborative. “They require interaction, activity, and hands-on experiences, which create moments that increase knowledge retention. ‘Submersive’ tech will become more prevalent from pre-school to college to not only keep up with learning experiences in personal lives but also as tools for educators to more effectively teach information and concepts.”
Alive Studios purpose is to help all kids learn to read because reading is the foundation for success. Without it, success is impossible. “This seems like a simple goal, but it has vast implications and effects. This can include crime, sex trafficking, career paths, drop-out rates, and community wellness. We are passionate about reaching into kids' lives at a vital time, in order to provide them with a life skill that has the power to change their journeys in life for the positive.”