Becky West knew that she wanted to continue in her chosen career as a teacher, but she also knew a change in scenery was needed. So, in 2018, Becky left the Lambton Kent District School Board, where she had been teaching since 2004, and co-purchased a Sylvan Learning franchise. This allowed her to continue with her passion for teaching youngsters, particularly those that were struggling in school. “I just felt like I wanted to do something different, but I still wanted to work with kids, and I still wanted to try to make a difference,” she explains. “It was a huge learning curve for me because it meant I had to learn the business side of the operation, but it also meant I was still able to do what I love and that is working with kids.”

Sylvan Learning offers personalized instruction in reading, writing, mathematics, homework support, study skills and test preparation for students of all ages. “The kids that come to Sylvan might be a little hesitant, but within weeks, and certainly within months, they enjoy coming,” she says. “We are lucky that we have such a low teacher-to-student ratio. We can really zero in on the students and find out what they need to be successful. We also have meetings with their parents every six weeks to review metrics, share progress and teacher notes. We receive great feedback and hear from the families that they see a difference not only in academics but also in their child’s confidence!”

Becky says it is important to build rapport with all students who come into the Sylvan system of learning to make them feel comfortable. “Sometimes they come to us after a long school day and we always take a minute to check in, see how their day was,” she explains. “I find once they start building a rapport with our tutors, they are more comfortable and ready to learn. They really start to enjoy the relationships they form at Sylvan, and we take pride in showing them we are here to help and celebrate their successes with each visit.” To make things a little more fun, Sylvan offers their students tokens for each hour that they attend for good effort and a positive mind set. The students can then shop at the Sylvan store for items such as toys, sports equipment, gift cards and more.

(Sylvan was featured in the Smash Hits book. Click here.)

Sylvan offers two programs: one which teaches math, reading and writing; and another that focuses on homework support for high school students. Becky says frequency is determined in conjunction with Sylvan’s Insight initial assessment, where goals are set to meet each student’s individual needs. They see children who are either remedial and need help getting caught up, as well as those at grade level or above looking for an edge and a challenge. “Seeing our students improve and gain confidence is the most important thing to us at Sylvan,” Becky says. “Hearing a student tell us that they know Sylvan has made a difference in their learning is the best feeling for the student and our teachers. At Sylvan, this is why our team is motivated to do what we do every day! We strive to support our students for a lifetime of learning!”