Living Greenwich catches up with Riverside residents Camilla Gazal and Flavia Naslausky, owners of Zaniac in Greenwich, Westport and the Upper East Side in Manhattan. Zaniac is an after-school enrichment program for K-8 focusing on Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM). The Greenwich campus is located at 644 West Putnam Avenue.
Zaniac has been going strong for over 2 years. What were a couple of motivating factors that influenced you to start Zaniac?
We were inspired by our five kids and their desire to explore STEM concepts. (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math.) We also made our careers in the Financial Industry and knew early on the importance of Math.
Can you give us some insight into your academic and professional backgrounds?
We both have experience in the financial industry, as mentioned, and we both grew up in Latin America and have been lucky enough to experience multiple cultures prior to settling here in Greenwich. We knew that STEM disciplines are integral to the success of our children so we wanted to create a fun, creative way for our kids to learn the essentials.
Please click on the link below for Camilla and Flavia’s bios: https://www.zaniaclearning.com/greenwich/meet_team/#camilla-gazal
Parent's rave about your programs. How does Zaniac differentiate itself from other enrichment programs?
At Zaniac, K–8 kids discover math and technology and just how much fun learning can be. Forget drills and repetition. Zaniac’s fun enrichment programs engage kids in creative, conceptual problem solving that builds confidence and helps them succeed in school.
Our forward-thinking approach allows students to grasp math and logic concepts, which are fundamental to skills like computer programming, in a way that feels like play. Game-Based Learning using Minecraft™ capitalizes on the love kids already have for the game to teach concepts ranging from biology to physics. We also use modular LEGO systems designed for education in our robotics courses to bridge the gap between theory and practice in engineering. Zaniac’s courses teach 21st century skills and ignite every child’s imagination. Success starts here.
What kind of student would benefit from a Zaniac program?
Every Student. The student who loves STEAM (the A is for Arts and Design) the student who is intimidated by STEAM. The introvert and the extrovert, Zaniac is for everybody, it is the place where all the students can meet with the same purpose of discovering themselves through STEAM. If your child is interested in web design, Robotics, game design, 3D printing, computer programming or Minecraft, these are just some of the areas they can explore.
What do parents like about your programs?
All of our programs are customized for the age of the child. Kids can start coding as early as 5 years old and go on their own pace until they have mastered Java Script or they can learn Math by mastering concepts that they have not yet been taught at school.
Parents also appreciate our own custom online software that allows them to keep track of how their child is doing as they progress through a course. And when parents see their children enjoying learning, mastering concepts and gaining confidence, that puts a smile on their face too.
It is our understanding that many of your Instructors are local from Greenwich High. What is your criteria for choosing them? How do you recruit the best of the best?
Our instructors come from Greenwich High School, Brunswick School, Convent of the Sacred Heart, GA, Stanwich School and local colleges. They are carefully recruited based on their mastery of the given subject and their enthusiasm for the learning process. Many of our instructors have been with us for years and are prized members of the Zaniac team. In fact, we’re fortunate enough to have instructors stay with us after they graduate High School and pursue their college education at institutions in the NYC area.
What is next on the horizon for Zaniac Greenwich? What's new and innovative at Zaniac this Spring?
Zaniac is launching two new programs this Spring - Web Design and Minecraft Galaxy, extending 2 of our most popular courses. In Web Design, students create their own website, going all the way from concept to functional, hosted site. Web literacy is becoming an increasingly important skill so we’re very excited about this new addition to our program.
In Minecraft Galaxy, students learn about Earth's oceans and undersea life with the Oceancraft mod, and explore space with the Galacticraft mod. They design and build rockets that travel to the moon, the International Space Station, and even Mars. The final class culminates with a team-building space rescue. Kids really enjoy the game aspect of learning via Minecraft.
We love living in Greenwich, what do you like about the Greenwich community?
Flavia and I have been living in Greenwich more than 15 years. Greenwich is an international and diverse hub. The education level is very high among students and parents. The schools are superb and there is a good balance between sports and academics. We can’t think of a better place to raise our kids.
Which civic or charity organizations in town do you support or which groups do you admire?
Reach Prep, YMCA, YWCA, Greenwich High Music and Theater, WBDC, ABILIS, various public and private school fundraisers.
644 W Putnam Ave - 2nd floor
Featured photo by Pam Grunow