The story of Young Innovators started in 2007 as a grassroots movement of early childhood educators In Orlando. Their concern was that traditional preschools had been offering the same curriculum for decades and looked the same as decades ago during the most fertile years of brain development. There was an urgent need to redesign learning environments and outdated curriculums to deliver better experiences for young learners.
CEO and founder Marnie Forestieri recruited a group of passionate professors from the University of Central Florida, including Dr. Debby Mitchell, Dr. Deirdre Englehart, Dr. Junie Albers-Biddle, and Dr. Kelly Jennings-Towle to embark on the journey of designing a STEAM curriculum framework and started working together with early childhood educators.
To implement their ideas and design the prototype, Marnie purchased a struggling school in Oviedo, and with the help of school director Erika Seger and the teaching staff, the school became a success. The team, known as the STEM SQUAD, started gaining national attention, writing books for national publisher Gryphon House and designing toys for Kaplan Early Learning.
The school became a success, started gaining national recognition, and shared its journey with educators to improve the quality of early learning. In 2017, The Orlando Science Center opened an exhibit inside the school to get children excited about STEM careers.
Yet, after scaling, the team realized that a STEM-focused learning framework in early learning was a good start but lacked important components. New research on brain development pointed out that if the two sides of the brain are disconnected, a child could struggle with learning challenges, as emotional well-being provides a strong foundation for emerging cognitive abilities.The curriculum team reflected that the initial prototype would become obsolete within a few years without innovation and decided to embrace change to move the company forward and remain committed to its original mission.
The school rebranded in 2019 as Young Innovators Academy. To redesign the prototype, the team needed to get back to work to design a teaching framework for learning that would allow them to keep innovating. This time, the team found inspiration in Agency by Design research from Harvard University and Stanford University Design school.
Having experienced firsthand the power of making from Harvard University professors Dr. Edward Clapp and Dr. Lynneth Solis, the original school became a laboratory of ideas that later became the teaching framework, The Innovation Advantage.
To remain committed to our mission, everyone on our leadership team has a solid understanding of child development to support teachers with curriculum implementation, behavior management strategies, and professional development.
A story of courage and resilience on how a mission-driven team practices the same principles they incorporate into their lessons. To teach children how to learn, pursue their passions, empathize with others, build confidence and resilience, work with others, do it again and make it happen.
Dr. Debby Mitchell and Marnie Forestieri.
CEO & FOUNDER
Education entrepreneur, curriculum writer, and author. Lifelong learner and world traveler. Marnie can be found in the hallways looking for dessert after lunch.
Educator, curriculum writer and teacher. I blend my passion for music with my kinesthetic learning style and coffee to create fun music.
VP Business Development and Acquisitions
Deal maker, sales strategist, and Air Force veteran. Devoted to faith, family, friends, new adventures, fitness and music production.
VP of Research and Development
Education Entrepreneur, impassioned teacher, and philanthropist. Devoted to faith, family, friends, new adventures, and chocolate.
Childcare boss, teacher and administrator. Misti can be found in Oviedo planning staff parties and school events.
Milagros is an ambitious creative marketer who finds delight in creating compelling digital content for Young Innovators.
Gamechanger and C-Level executive mentoring the team.
Educator and running for mayor of Winter Park.
Commercial Real Estate Investor & Entrepreneur