Story by Liesel Schmidt
During his 23 years with the Navy, David Ryan served many different roles—one of which was working for the Secretary of the Navy overseeing physical security policy and leading physical security research and development projects. This facet of his career exposed him to emerging technologies until he retired from the Navy in 2012. After that, he worked in the defense contracting industry for seven years. In 2019, he and his wife, Laura, took the leap into entrepreneurship by opening Code Ninjas in Falls Church and Alexandria.
“We were always interested in becoming business owners,” says Ryan. “We have kids of our own and the STEM space is a much-needed skill that we felt was under-emphasized in elementary and middle schools. We found Code Ninjas and thought it would be a great addition to our community and a great opportunity to bring coding and STEM to the school-aged kids in our community.”
What makes Code Ninjas so unique is the model of learning it uses. “Code Ninjas is a fun, safe environment for kids to explore STEM topics, make friends with like-minded children and gain skills in problem-solving, social interaction, math, robotics, 3D design and printing and more,” Ryan says. “Our core curriculum is project- and game-based. The kids—who we call ‘ninjas’—start in White Belt and work their way up to Black Belt. They code and build games, and parents get to see the games that they make, play their games and share in the joy they have when they’ve created their own games.”
For Ryan, Code Ninjas isn’t just smart business—it’s something he’s passionate about. “Laura and I are both passionate about STEM education,” he says. “We hear from parents all the time about the impact we’ve had on their kids. It's not just about learning to code. It’s also about problem-solving, sequencing, math, social interaction and many other skills that their kids are getting at Code Ninjas.”
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