There was a time when Justin Shell worked as a naval architect focusing on designing stabilization systems for mega yachts. His job, he says, was “making super rich people slightly more comfortable on their large yachts.”
Then, in 2016, Shell and his wife had their first child, and Shell unexpectedly developed a passion for education.
“Until I had kids, I had zero interest in education,” he said.
Once his daughter was born, Shell started researching how children’s brains develop and how children learn. As his daughter got older and his wife and he began homeschooling, Shell started searching for learning resources near their home outside of Baltimore, Maryland. He saved good finds on a Google Map. His Google Map grew. Before long, Shell realized other homeschooling parents might also be interested in a map showing local museums, homeschool co-ops, and other educational options.
So Shell taught himself computer programming and launched MySchool, an interactive map that is free for families nationwide. Today, the MySchool map includes more than 2,700 locations across the country “to empower each community to come together to build out their local learning landscape.”
The locations are a combination of suggestions by Shell and individual people who have posted their own spot or recommended another. Visitors can filter for tutors, parks, hybrid homeschools, faith-based programs, secular programs, forest schools, and much, much more. MySchool also offers a $25 annual membership option that unlocks additional tools for homeschooling families like discounts, an expanding library of free educational resources, a digital homeschool teacher I.D. and more.
The ultimate goal, Shell says, is to uncover the amazing educational resources that already exist in each of our communities.