By Cecilla Chan
GSN Managing Editor
Fractions and long division didn’t come easy for 9-year-old Emily Hernandez.
It came to a point when Diana Hernandez realized that the help she was giving her 5th-grade daughter wasn’t enough.
So, she turned to Tutor Doctor East Valley.
“She’s showing progress on math at home when she practices,” the Gilbert mom said. “She is enjoying math, which makes me happy.”
Emily has been meeting with her tutor twice a week for nearly a month.
What’s different about Tutor Doctor is the instructor will come to a person’s home and a key point is the tutor is matched to the learner based on learning style and personality.
“I think the single most important element is the match,” said franchise owner Kimberly Selchan, a Gilbert resident. “Whether it’s a college student being matched with the subject or a tutor to a kid who’s lost motivation or confidence and a tutor comes in and believes in them and starts to get results. It’s amazing.”
Selchan opened her franchise in January and currently employs over 40 tutors, who are mostly teachers or college students who are subject-specific such as calculus. The tutors’ backgrounds and academics are vetted thoroughly.
Tutor Doctor started 15 years ago and has locations serving more than 200,000 families in 15 countries across the world, according to the company’s website.
Selchan’s franchise has 38 students from Gilbert, Chandler, Mesa and Ahwatukee in all age ranges, from a 4-year-old to a 53-year-old Mesa mom who decided to go back to college and earn her degree in biochemistry.
Tutor Doctor customizes a learning plan based on a comprehensive assessment of the student’s strengths and weaknesses.
Besides learning a particular subject matter, students also are taught skills such as working memory, sustained attention and performance monitoring to become better learners that serves them well after school.
For instance, Selchan said, if students are missing deadlines to turn in assignments, they are taught time-management skills.
“We’re not just tutoring in math without giving them the approach to tackle it,” she said.
Selchan regularly meets with her tutor and so she knows them, which is important in pairing them with a student. In turn, she would ask students during the assessment qualities of a teacher they’ve enjoyed and other information to get clues of the person they would respond to the best.
For instance, she may have a student who thinks no one understand him or her and thus is not willing to be open to listening to anyone. She would match that student with a college student, who may have gone through that phase not too long ago.
The tutor becomes more of a mentor and guide for the student, Selchan said.
“If you get a tutor who inspires them, they will get over the hurdle,” she said. “They will not progress unless they find a purpose.”
Emily was matched with an older tutor named Chuck.
“She thinks he’s super nice and he is very patient with her,” Hernandez said. “She talks about him like a grandpa.”
How often students meet with a tutor depends on their schedule and how far behind they are academically.
“If they are in the sixth grade but the assessment is closer to fourth grade, which is really common, they’d need three to four sessions a week,” Selchan said. “If they need a little edge, the average is twice a week.”
A majority of the students prefer the tutor come to their homes for instruction, according to Selchan.
The big thing is the convenience factor and families realize their children have already tried the institutional learning model in the classroom and need something more, Selchan said.
For Hernandez, she’s having the tutor meet with Emily at a library because there’s too much disruption at the home with two younger siblings.
Tutor Doctor’s subject offerings include math, science, language arts and test preparation. Selchan said if she gets requests for a subject currently not offered she would consider adding it such as when she received a couple of requests for help with thermodynamics. She ended up recruiting a polytech student as a tutor.
The business also provides tutors for students with special-needs and for on-line tutoring.
Math, with calculus at the college-level, is the most requested by students for tutors, according to Selchan. Another popular request is test preparation for the SAT and ACT, she added.
Although Selchan comes from a sales career spanning over 20 years, Tutor Doctor was a good fit for her, she said.
Her skills in building strong teams and delivering the best to clients and employees translated well into her new gig.
“I want to help those who want help,” Selchan said. “For kids, their job is school. We teach kids to understand how to do their job better and find its value. And when we have families that want that service and are willing to commit to the education process, the model was a win.”
Information: tutordoctor.com/gilbert-north/contact-us/ or 480-530-8029.