If it takes a village to boost a toddler, it might probably take a neighborhood to assist that youth go Superior Placement, or AP exams, as soon as they’re in highschool.
Curt Lewis has constructed a neighborhood for his college students by creating the High5Wizard, a smartphone app that helps college students put together for these exams.
A trainer at Poway Excessive College for the previous 23 years, his lessons embody AP U.S. historical past and AP authorities and politics.
“I like instructing at Poway Excessive,” Lewis stated. “Our children are so superior.”
Naturally, Lewis has seen quite a lot of adjustments in his twenty years on the faculty. Amongst them is acknowledging that at this time’s youngsters are practically at all times subsequent to their cell telephones. And whereas some may see the fixed contact with their gadgets as a foul factor, Lewis stated he likes to show negatives into positives.
With that angle, he determined to try to use the teenagers’ shut associations with their telephones to assist them achieve his lessons.
It was across the finish of 2019, he stated, when he requested his college students a few questions that modified all the pieces — what if that they had one thing on their cellphone that may assist them put together for the AP lessons? And if they may create one thing, what would they need?
Based mostly on their response, he determined to create a cellular app, High5Wizard.
“This app is designed to behave as a overview and course companion to achieve success within the AP exams,” Lewis stated.
He wasted no time in beginning work on the smartphone app, however the product instantly ran right into a delay.
“We began on the app proper earlier than COVID — it was the worst potential time to get something accomplished,” he stated.
However a neighborhood rallied behind Lewis and his app, and grew to incorporate his rapid household, current and former college students, fight veterans, a software program growth firm and even an investor.
His spouse of three years, Robin Flower, has been instrumental within the enterprise side of creating the app, he stated. His daughters, Elizabeth Lewis, 33, and Kathleen Lewis, 23, helped with writing the curriculum. His son, Patrick Lewis, has offered much-needed ethical assist.
His eldest daughter, Jennifer Piatt, 31, has helped by conducting outreach. Lewis stated Piatt and her husband are each within the Navy, stationed at Camp Pendleton.
“We really feel compelled to assist individuals. It’s a part of our DNA,” he stated of his household.
Lewis additionally credit many former and present college students who helped launch the product, wrote curriculum and offered suggestions.
He stated his traders, who he names solely because the Reichart household, have been “superior, and made the app potential via their beneficiant assist.”
As a fight veteran deployed to Iraq from 2003-05, Lewis turned to the San Diego chapter of Bunker Labs — a nationwide program that helps navy veterans and spouses begin and develop profitable companies and startups — for entrepreneur experience.
“Issues modified just a little bit whereas I used to be deployed; I do know I modified. However total, children are children,” he stated.
As soon as he had the idea for his app, Lewis turned to professionals to develop the product.
“We partnered with the engineers from Kromeon, a software program growth firm primarily based in Encinitas,” he stated. “They produced a product that’s clear, crisp and simply superior.”
He described the product as just like most different apps. As soon as college students obtain it, they will navigate to the content material space they’re keen on.
High5Wizard has a collection of inquiries to reply in varied codecs, akin to a number of selection or essay. College students can overview questions they missed, reality verify questions and discover tips about the best way to succeed on the checks, he stated.
The app even presents badges, trophies and a pacesetter board so the teenager will be aggressive with different college students as they examine.
The primary model of the app was launched in 2020. Based mostly on pupil suggestions, Lewis started the app with the AP historical past content material.
As soon as the scholars noticed it and started to make use of it, they requested different content material areas, akin to calculus and biology. U.S. historical past, world historical past, English, psychology and statistics are among the many areas now accessible.
The product was refined in 2021, and has already helped 1000’s of scholars with their AP exams, Lewis stated.
One is Caitlyn “Cait” Croston, a senior at Poway Excessive who has been Lewis’ instructing assistant since November 2022. She stated she realized the advantages of the app instantly.
“I took his class final 12 months once I was a junior,” Croston stated. “I used to be tremendous burdened about class finals. I ended up downloading the app and utilizing it to check. It was very useful.”
She stated the app displays what is definitely on the AP checks, and she or he was capable of acknowledge questions and navigate the exams simpler.
“It actually does show you how to put together for checks; even now, I discover myself utilizing it for AP authorities,” she stated, including that lots of her fellow classmates use the app as effectively.
Of their ongoing efforts to publicize the app, Lewis’ daughter Jennifer just lately contacted native TV station, NBC San Diego, leading to a information phase.
Lewis stated the phase, which aired earlier this month, generated numerous new curiosity in High5Wizard.
“Final 12 months, we had about 7,000 downloads, however because the information phase aired, we had 4,000 simply that week,” he stated, including that “we have been sort of floored!”
“We’ve a extremely good product and we wish to get it out to all the children, so we’re sort of ready for our huge break,” he stated.
Up to now, he stated he’s invested 1000’s of hours forming content material, created a minimum of 90,000 questions and spent $70,000 of his personal cash, partly, to pay individuals to develop questions for the app.
Regardless of the non-public value, the app is accessible to college students at no cost — Lewis stated he makes no cash from it.
“We wish to get this app out to as many individuals as potential, particularly the children that basically want the additional assist, and we wish to assist make them profitable,” he stated.
As Lewis continues to obtain suggestions and refine the app, he has a number of targets for the longer term.
He’s trying into upgrades, akin to making the app web-based, along with it being cellular, to make it accessible to extra college students.
He stated college students have already been asking for added highschool course materials, particularly in chemistry, algebra and trigonometry.
He’s additionally contemplating beginning a non-profit, with the objective of writing grants and accepting tax-deductible donations.
“I feel the children just like the app and like utilizing it, as a result of we’ve made it related to them and so they know that by utilizing it, it would assist them succeed,” he stated. “They’re additionally grateful, as a result of they know they’re getting one thing made with love.”