Heights sisters launch app for home-schoolers

Cleveland Heights sisters Nina and Maya Serna are excited about the launch of their app to help home-schoolers track their work.

Two Cleveland Heights teenagers have launched a new app that helps home-schooled students with the tedious task of logging their study hours to earn high school credits. High school junior Maya Serna and her eighth-grade sister, Nina, launched HomieSchooler in November through a website, and they've applied for a grant to expand operations.

Each high school credit comprises 120 hours of study, which must be tracked over time. Students usually experiment with methods of logging their hours. Maya tried coloring in graph paper squares, which became cumbersome. “It was very inefficient. I would forget,” she said, “then the squares would blend together and it would be hard to count.” Then she tried a spreadsheet, with pull-down tabs for each course, which wasn’t readily accessible and was also easy to forget. When her sister, Nina, took a course for high school credit, they commiserated and wished for an app that could easily log hours.

“We noticed other kids tracking their hours," said Maya. “Some parents would track for the kids. It was a lot of work,” Nina said. When the siblings wanted to take College Credit Plus Classes at Cuyahoga County Community College, they needed transcripts, which were tedious to compile. The Sernas imagined there might be an easier way.

The wish quickly became an object of study. Via their father’s work in tech, Maya and Nina gained access to a team of app developers, and HomieSchooler was born. The user-friendly app lets students track individual classes, dragging blocks of time to fill the 120-hour requirement for each credit. The first year is free. An upgrade includes the capacity to store all four years of high school, upload images of any certificates received, and build a transcript along the way. 

During the almost two years of app development, there was a lot of brainstorming. Maya and Nina’s parents, Victor and Danielle, note app development requires a flexibility, unlike some other learning. As ideas elevate, there are times when there is no choice but to delete what was built and start over from scratch. “You learn a lot and the project gets better," said Victor. "You have to accept that loss and start over when the original code won’t work."

A visit to the website includes a demo of the colorful and easy-to-navigate app, which is fun and inviting to use. "I love adding time," said Maya. “And you can do it wherever you are,” added Nina, noting that no teen is without her cell phone.

They have applied for a grant from the KidBacker Foundation for Entrepreneurship and have been profiled on Hatchpad (hatchpad.co/ideas/Hkj7DSaFX), a fresh ideas incubator. The next layer of development for HomieSchooler is to build resources to cover operational costs: patents, marketing, accounting, legal fees, and app fixes. They must be able to support their user base long term.

Visit www.homieschooler.rocks to learn more about the app developers, see the app demo, and follow the launch process. And catch a Nov. 12 interview with Maya and Nina on Ideastream's "Start-Up Kids" segment on Sound of Ideas on WCPN radio (ideastream.org/programs/sound-of-ideas/issue-1-alternative-50-years-since-landmark-free-speech-decision-start-up-kids).

Shari Nacson

Mostly a mom, Shari Nacson, is a freelance editor, social worker, and nonprofit consultant who makes her home in Cleveland Heights. More than anything, Nacson is inspired by kids and adults who build connection through kindness.

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Volume 11, Issue 12, Posted 10:15 AM, 12.03.2018