Three friends and former educators sought to provide enrichment to children’s lives after months of pivoting during the pandemic by opening The Nest in November 2021 at 8907 Bee Caves Road, Ste. 104, Austin.

“I was a stay-at-home mom for a year or two, and I [said], ‘This is not for me. Let’s do something.’ And so we [said], ‘Let’s do all the fun parts of teaching,’” co-owner Katy Ramirez said.

Carley Volk, Natalie Smith and Ramirez met while teaching at an elementary school in Eanes ISD, and together, they provide a range of classes for their students, such as Makers Mondays and The Art of Journaling, as well as seasonal camps and parties. The size of the classes is intentionally smaller at around 12-14 kids so the three can foster connections and be more hands on. The idea was formulated in January 2021 and came together before the year’s end.

“I taught in person and online the whole year. ... It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done,” Volk said. “All of the most beautiful parts of teaching were stripped away.”

Smith, who had been teaching for 17 years, felt some hesitance when it came to leaving teaching, but looking back, she said the change was for the better.

Students start each class by selecting a unique sticker offered by the three; each child introduces themselves and answers a question of the day to create connections. The walls of the space are decorated with artwork, books, stickers, craft supplies and positive words of affirmation.

“They all come from different schools. We have a lot of regulars, so they start making new friends and connecting with each other, having their own time to create or do what they really feel passionate about,” Smith said.

Hours vary by semester. 512-436-3019.