Meet Noreen Merchant, a Libertyville resident, skillfully managing many different roles in her daily life – Mom, Wife, Entrepreneur, Audit Professional, Volunteer, World Traveler, and trusted Friend! Read more about Noreen and her new business Code Ninjas! She has a natural warmth about her and a big heart. Upon meeting her I was instantly charmed hearing that her and her husband’s motivation for staring Code Ninjas was to nurture their children’s passions.
Where are you from and how long have you lived in town? What brought you to the area?
I grew up in the Chicagoland suburbs, with several moves during my childhood years. Believe it or not, I really enjoyed school and finished High School in 3 years and then college in 3 years – graduating from University of Illinois with an Honors Business and Accounting degree at 20 years old! Soon after, I married my High School sweetheart and purchased our starter home in Schaumburg. With kids on our mind, we decided to move to Libertyville and have lived here for the last 11 years. This has been a wonderful community to raise our children and I’m happy to see them go from Montessori to Middle School (and hopefully Libertyville High School in a few years) all in the same town!
Do you have child(ren)? Age(s)
We have 2 amazing children – Aydin age 12 and Alyssa age 10. Our kids attend Oak Grove School
What are your favorite things to do in the area with and without your kids? Family friendly restaurant? Date night?
We love Libertyville and enjoy spending time at Independence Grove and Feed My Starving Children. Both kids really enjoy activities locally from piano lessons at Adler, taekwondo at Core Martial Arts, swimming lessons at FOSS, and gymnastics at Libertyville Gymnastics Academy! We love eating out A LOT and our family favorite restaurants include Shakou, Mod’s Pizza, Sushi Thai, Uncle Julios, and the newly opened Lazy Dog.
Are you involved in a business venture, a local organization, a creative endeavor or in the corporate world?
We actually got into this business because of our son, who was very keen on learning to code. We had enrolled him in several coding camps over the summers but there wasn’t a program locally for year-round learning that was tailored for kids. When we discovered Code Ninjas, we loved its concept and 9-belt methodology, the quality of the curriculum, and the depth of learning real computer programming skills. The curriculum also focused on critical thinking, problem solving, and teamwork. Bringing our passion, our combined IT & business background and many years of experience working with kids, we decided to open Code Ninjas and bring this valuable coding center to our home town of Libertyville!
In addition to the core coding and robotics program, Code Ninjas also offers fun and enriching camps, including Game Builders Club, Roblox Create, Drone Programming, MIT App Builder, Minecraft Builder and more! Our 2019 Summer Camp Guide has course descriptions and early bird registration is open online.
Our other offerings include a monthly Parents Night Out where kids get to explore games and technology at our center while Parents get a date night or time with friends. We also conduct Scout badge workshops in programming and robotics for Cub Scouts and Girl Scouts. Additionally, we now host fun STEM Birthday Parties where kids get to build and play games with their friends, experience Virtual Reality, 3D modeling & printing, and play with drones, robots, hovercrafts, and more!
We’ve tried to make Code Ninjas a community and family-friendly space. We partner with Libertyville and Vernon Hills school districts and participate in local events like STEM Career Fairs. We also hold community service activities in our center such as making no-sew blankets for Project Linus and children’s hospitals, and are a sponsor for Toys for Tots. We have also hosted free National Coding Competitions for kids.
Our business endeavor has brought our family closer together in many ways. My husband and I are equally passionate about the opportunities it provides for kids in our community to be ready for the future.
What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
I love adventure and am always ready to take on a (semi-safe) challenge! I’ve done skydiving, driven in an official NASCAR, snorkeled in caves, hiked in National Parks, and enjoyed thrilling sand dune adventures to name a few! I took up running last year and ran the Chicago Marathon in October 2018. I also love to travel internationally and explore different countries every year – some of my favorites moments have been navigating through the mountainous regions of Tajikistan, seeing the rice paddies in Bali, riding on a felucca on the Nile River, exploring the pyramids in Egypt, going on a safari in Nairobi, and watching the monkeys in the Batu Caves in Malaysia! I’m grateful for our travels and have enjoyed taking the kids on our global adventures!
What are some mottos you live by?
Enjoy life along the way. There’s never a perfect time for anything. Just go with your gut, do a little research, have confidence, and it’ll all work out. I also believe in community service and giving back. I’ve grown up with the notion that volunteering and service to others makes life meaningful. I’ve been fortunate to serve in many different organizations including the Board of Directors for FOCUS Humanitarian Assistance and President of our Homeowners Association – but my favorite is being a Girl Scout leader for my daughter’s troop for the last 7 years!
What is next for you?
Continue to grow and explore – personally and professionally.
On the business side, we are starting our second location of Code Ninjas in just a few months. We hope to bring valuable and fun coding education to the community of Glenview and Northbrook. It’s exciting to expand our business and grow the brand. We hope to continue building the community spirit and family friendly environment at our second center!
On a personal side, I hope to continue to travel with my family and friends. (There might be a visit to see the Northern Lights in the near future!)
Lastly, I want to be better at remembering to embrace and celebrate life every day! And enjoy time with the kiddos before the teenage years!