Allen and Gila Selis are people who believe in education. As the operators of Tech EdVentures and Music Together Dallas, respectively, they believe that education is something parents and children can do together.
For Gila, her story with Music Together Dallas began when she took her then 9-month-old daughter to a class in 2001.
“I loved my demo class so much that I asked the owner of the business if I could take the training to teach on Sunday mornings,” she said. “That magical feeling that I felt touched my soul right there and then, that very first class.”
The South Africa native began teaching six days a week until she finally bought the business in 2007.
Both Gila’s and Allen’s programs include parent-and-child style workshops, classes, and camps.
“There are so many children in our culture who grow up consuming music, not making it. Parents put on CDs,” she said. “I grew up singing and dancing. So when I was in this environment where there were non-performance-oriented mommies and daddies just making music for music’s sake with their little ones … I don’t even know how to describe that feeling. I just knew I had to be a part of it.”
Gila began studying how the brain processes and responds to this kind of learning. She continues to go to conferences to learn more.
“At the time that kids are developing brain cells the fastest and setting patterns for the rest of their lives, the more stimulation that you have and the more different kinds of avenues help develop them for long-term learning,” Allen said. “It’s incredible. If you could make a choice between doing math drills with kids at 5 years old and doing music, music’s like 20 times more important.”
Allen obtained a doctorate degree in education and served as a headmaster in Palo Alto, Calif., before moving to Texas and starting Tech EdVentures.
The beauty of both programs is that they blend completely different learning styles, both creative and technical. Gila’s hands-on music classes not only encourage creativity, but they also teach motor and auditory skills.
Similarly, though Allen’s classes focus on STEM-based learning, they, too, encourage creativity.
“We want kids to get hands-on with things, we want them to be intrigued, we want them to see this as playful and a chance to explore,” he said. “If you don’t know anything about computer code, I really believe you’re functionally illiterate.”
Preston Hollow resident Melissa Plaskoff enrolled her 9-year-old son, Hudson, in a Tech EdVentures camp and was pleased with the results.
“There are a lot of different camps focusing on the popularity of STEM,” she said. “This camp focuses on community throughout. They work in groups. They really like for children to express their thoughts and work as a team to put together programming and gaming.”
Tech EdVentures, which as of now has two locations in the area, has run a camp at Highland Park Presbyterian Day School by special request. Music Together Dallas has a number of locations in the area, with one at Tiferet Israel at Hillcrest Road and Royal Lane.
Both programs have a series of courses and camps running throughout the summer, divided by age group and interest.
“These days, so many children are behind the screen alone,” Plaskoff said. “When they are at [Tech EdVentures], they have to take a second to step away from that screen time and talk about what they’re developing. They can apply it and grow from it.”