Educator and author Nikki Beinstein, well known for teaching at the Marble Charter School just launched a new nonprofit venture to help advanced students share and discuss their creative accomplishments. As a Valley resident of 17 years, Nikki has raised her two children Ruby, 14, and Moses, 11 — mostly in Carbondale.
Q: How has living in Colorado affected you?
A: I am a hiker, skier, traveller (when we finally can) and love writing. Coming here to our open and welcoming environment seems to have nudged me to explore myself much more.
Q: Your career has followed a winding path rather than a straight line. How has that turned out?
A: It’s interesting. All of my professional opportunities seemed to have brought me where I am today. I finally realized I am primarily an educator so that’s the direction I’m moving toward. I have worked in healthcare, finance, technology, nonprofit development,childcare and most recently as a teacher. Also, I’ve lived in Hong Kong, San Francisco, London and Florence.
Q: You have decided to take a sabbatical from teaching. Why?
A: I could see that advanced students, also called “gifted,” were not necessarily getting enough educational simulation. “These kids often just get bored,” and often never reach their full potential in a classroom setting. So I wanted to do something, and all my life and career experiences came together in 2020. And I began my next chapter.
Q: Tell me a bit about your new project.
A: I founded “The Serious Type” nonprofit in 2020 as an online curated portal for kids ages 12 to 20 who need to express themselves in an online environment and share their ideas with others like them. Then, I gathered together a group of education experts on an Advisory Board to get the project off the drawing board and into action. Plus, we have a dedicated Board of Directors. We expect to go live on theserioustype.org during January 2021.
Q: How do students participate and what type of their work can be submitted?
A: A student can submit directly on the website. We hope to get a wide variety of submissions, from the creative visual arts (painting, sculpting, wood carvings and photography) to written work (novel, poems and essays) to scientific experiments. Work must be completed and edited using appropriate language and grammar. Submitted materials need to encourage one focus of these three: environment (nature/science) equity (racial/social justice) or economy (innovation/growth).
Q: What are your goals for “The Serious Type?”
A: We hope to help young people to express their ideas in a non-judgemental environment. We’ve included a separate message board for students and teachers to communicate with each other. Our mission is to encourage kids to strive to create a happier and healthier world. We hope students from around the country and the world will participate. And we’ve already received many different types of students’ work.
Q: How are you reaching out?
A: Word of mouth, social media, and personal connections with many other organizations are critical. We really want to reach out to young people who are curious, creative and concerned and would like to help make the world a better place.
Q: You also are an established author. What are your published works?
A: I’m proud to say one of my books “Phlogs: Journey to the Heart of the Human Predicament” won a Colorado Book Award in 2009. It’s a photographic memoir about co-author George Stranahan. I also wrote “The Middle Word,” a young adult book combining historical fiction and magic realism. I was the lead editor for “A Predicament of Innocence,” also featuring essays and photographs by Stranahnan, who turned 89 in November.