How Donna Blevins Founded Be Smart Kids

Donna Blevins with Larry KingThe 1990’s are now termed “The Decade of the Brain.” This was a time when new insights into early brain development arrived on the scene. I was intrigued by the various discoveries being made. Having been a former elementary and high school teacher, it occurred to me that by combining the science of early brain development (age 0-6), the use of technology and good teaching practices, it might be possible to enhance children educational skills. I had always believed that we must prepare rather than constantly repairing our children, and I envisioned a way of making this happen so that every child could have an equal opportunity at a quality education. This became my mission and has continued for the last 24 years.

In the beginning, I faced many problems. I didn’t have a computer. In 1991, I borrowed a dusty old PC from the vocational school and taught myself. After viewing over 1,000 pieces of educational software, I chose 70 and arranged them into lesson plans. For the next year, I worked with a few of my friends’ young children. For a teacher, it was an amazing eye opener. Never had I dreamed that children could advance intellectually so quickly. What astounding me so much was I only taught each child 30 minutes a week. I was very careful about over stimulation.

After working that first year with children, I became more determined than ever to continue on my journey. How do I reach more children was the next question? For ten years I and other educators taught, built curriculum and gathered research on workable techniques and methods of teaching children (18 months to 6 years of age) in more than 30 daycares, preschools and centers. My staff and I were simply amazing at the results. In 1999, former Tennessee Commission of Education, Dr. Robert McElrath, agreed to test our children who had been in the program for more than 1 ½ years. These children collectively scored 3 to 4 years above their peers.

The next year Perot Systems agreed to design and build a computerized model for delivering the Be Smart Kids process. Another five years was spent completing the first version.

Be Smart Kids Used By Others
Building our own software gave me an opportunity to add additional subjects and techniques that were not included in early learning software. Now we had the opportunity to address the short attention span, motor skills, visual and spatial skills and to develop a progressive building block for many subjects in each lesson plan. Most importantly, we were able to build our methodology into the software. Teachers worked with our programmers testing out the program with children and giving feedback. Our research and improvement of the product continues today.