Jordan Mittler ‘22: A Young Wonder

Jordan Mittler ‘22: A Young Wonder

Andrew Spielfogel ’23

He walked up to the stage with confidence as he received a notable award. At just age 17, he is changing the world and receiving the credit for it. The award recipient is Jordan Mittler ‘22, and on December 12, 2021, he received the CNN Young Wonders Award for his organization, Mittler Senior Technology. Jordan and his teen volunteers are changing the world “one senior at a time!”

In many ways, Jordan was developing Mittler Senior Technology way before the program came into existence. At age 12, he and his immediate family decided that it was time to buy his grandparent’s smartphones. While both grandparents were hesitant to transition to this new form of technology, Jordan did not think that using smartphones would be such a dilemma for them as the usage of technology came about naturally for his generation. When Jordan realized that his grandparents were clueless about how to use their iPhones, he sat with them until they became experts. Looking back on his first experience in assisting seniors with technology, Jordan says: “my grandparents were my first students. I had so much fun with them that I wanted to create a program to help others.”

Once Jordan realized that elderly people across the globe must feel this same disconnect from technology like his grandparents, Jordan executed plans to help the older generation by visiting a nursing home around the corner from his home. After speaking with the nursing home staff about volunteering at their technology department, they told him that such a technology program at the center did not exist. Just about to leave the home, Jordan by chance found a woman playing bingo who was interested in learning how to use technology. Jordan sat with this 93-year-old woman for one year and taught her the basics of technology where she learned how to connect with her family from a distance. As Jordan puts it, “this opened up a new world for her.”

The next step for Jordan was to develop an actual technology class with a standard curriculum to teach seniors, soon to be called “Mittler Senior Technology.” This course began in the Ramaz Middle School computer room, and with the advertising help of KJ, he was able to educate 20 seniors weekly. Jordan’s “Computer Basics” course was designed to teach seniors to use computers and smartphones in a simple and organized fashion. This course included in-person activities and homework which allowed seniors to put their knowledge into practice. When each ten-cycle course expired, Jordan would educate a new group of seniors.

Soon enough, the demand for Mittler Senior Technology immediately grew. When nursing homes and other organizations discovered this program, Jordan understood that he had to expand past the 20-person classroom. With the help of teens from Ramaz— Joe Kaplan ’22, Julia Feit ’22, and Caroline Schwartz ’22— he was now accommodating 40 seniors at once. Jordan and his crew were able to go through a few cycles of “Computer Basics” in a larger setting just before COVID-19 hit.

Just like Jordan refused to give up on his grandparents, he knew he couldn’t give up on his new students— even with COVID restrictions. It was crucial for seniors to connect with their families through technology while in isolation; therefore, Jordan and his team of high school students made individual phone calls with every senior in his program and taught them how to download Zoom. Jordan says that this was especially difficult as he and his crew did not fully know how to navigate Zoom during the start of the pandemic, but they refused to quit. Eventually, the seniors downloaded Zoom, and Mittler Senior Technology was up and running again. Instead of relying on the “Computer Basics Course,” Jordan and his team adjusted the curriculum to cover topics more relevant during this isolation period, such as online shopping and face time calls.

While the pandemic struck the world, “it opened up a new vision for Mittler Senior Technology,” says Mittler ’22. Navigating technology during this difficult time was crucial, and now, there was no longer a limitation of 20 seats on the Upper East Side. Mittler Senior Technology could now teach seniors all across the world. After reaching out to community centers, organizations, and synagogues, Mittler Senior Technology taught up to 2000 seniors in 10 different countries.

The most recent improvement to Mittler Senior Technology is a virtual site called a portal where seniors could access pre-recorded classes and learn at their own pace. There are also “tech tip Tuesday’’ videos that give one technology tip in under 60 seconds. The only thing that kept Jordan dedicated and persistent with Mittler Senior Technology is the satisfaction and amusement he received from instructing seniors. “Seeing seniors do something new is fun and ultimately rewarding, especially when you receive gratitude from them,” says Mittler ’22.

When Mittler Senior Technology became extremely popular, there was constant publicity and free press around the world. Mittler Senior Technology has been featured in many newspapers, networks, and magazines, such as People magazine, Teen Vogue, CBS this morning, and more. Just at the beginning of the school year, CNN reached out to Jordan to express their interest in featuring him for their Young Wonders program. CNN has a yearly event at the natural history museum called “CNN Heroes,” where they honor ten heroes that have made a difference to the world, and chose two “Young Wonders” to honor, which are heroes making a difference under age 18. While “CNN Heroes” are nominated, “Young Wonders” are picked by a team that does tremendous research into each candidate. Once Jordan accepted their offer to learn about his program, there was tremendous prep work: video teams interviewed him, his grandparents, his teen helpers, and his students. The CNN team even recorded classes and spoke to one of Jordan’s students. After all of their research, CNN decided that Jordan was the perfect candidate to be honored as a “Young Wonder.” “This was definitely a shock,” says Mittler ’22. “Although I was featured many times, this was the biggest honor I received. This was a once in a lifetime experience that I will always remember.”

Jordan had the opportunity to meet many celebrities at this event. During his segment, Anderson Cooper and Kelly Ripa introduced the award, and John Matise– a grammy-winning celebrity– introduced him. After everyone watched a video describing Mittler Senior Technology, Jordan collected his award and was briefly interviewed by Anderson Cooper.

Ramaz is extremely proud of this honor that Mittler received with the help of his team. This achievement is extremely special to the Ramaz community, and they cannot wait to see what’s next for Mittler Senior Technology. Congratulations!