Henry Genis, a West New York fourth grader, was, for a long time, used to the scores he’d regularly see on his report card, most of which were in the 60s or 70s. However, he said last week that his grades have dramatically improved in recent weeks after working with tutors at the Hudson Learning Center, a new tutoring center in Union City which stresses one-to-one learning in an effort to improve the cognitive skills of area kids.
“I was failing math,” said Henry. “I was getting 70s, and now I get perfect scores.”
Asked what he enjoyed about attending the center, where he goes a few times a week after school to work with his tutor and other children on various subjects, Henry launched into a long speech about the effect the Center had had not only on his academics, but his social life.
“After I work with my tutor, we all get together and work on our homework together, and we feel like a big family,” he said. “I’ve made a lot of new friends here and learned how to treat them with respect.”
“We try to provide the missing piece, whatever that may be.” - Maddy Miqueli
“I have three children, and I always tried to have them tutored just for supplemental knowledge and practice,” said Maddy Miqueli, the Center’s founder and director. “I’d drive around in Bergen County, and it’s totally saturated with tutoring centers, but there’s nothing down here.”
One reason, Miqueli said, is the cost of such services.
“Usually, tutoring centers can charge anywhere from $65 to $80 an hour,” said Miqueli. “All parents want the same things for their kids, so they should all be able to afford it.”
The Center’s various tutoring programs, which cover kindergarten through high school, start at around $25 an hour. The Center also offers summer sessions for students who need to gain “recovery credits” and test preparation for those planning on taking standardized tests, such as the SAT.
One on one
Miqueli said that the success of many of the Center’s students is due to her philosophy that the best learning, or at least the most useful assistance, comes in a one-on-one environment, when a teacher can devote their full attention to a student’s needs.
“We try to provide the missing piece, whatever that may be,” said Miqueli. “Sometimes its a confidence thing that comes from a teacher having too many kids to be able to focus on just one, so we showcase success.”
In the Center’s lobby, there is a “Wall of Success” covered in special certificates with each child’s name on them. Students set goals for themselves, and when they achieve them, they get a certificate on the wall.
“Success breeds success,” said Miqueli.
Another aspect of the program’s success, said Miqueli, is the fact that it works with a student’s regular teacher to pinpoint which specific areas of a student’s academics need to be improved.
“We let them know that a student is coming to us so we can get all of the information we need to help them,” she said. “We work with them to figure out where the student is and where they need to get to.”
All of the Center’s tutors are certified teachers, many of whom have recently graduated from Montclair State University or New Jersey City University, both of which boast top teaching programs.
“I don’t hire a teacher unless they share in my passion for education and are willing to follow my philosophy,” said Miqueli.
Christian Vela, a recent Montclair State graduate, said that many of the kids he tutors have improved greatly since arriving at the Center.
“I had one student who hadn’t gotten a perfect score on anything all year long, and just recently she got a 100 percent on a math test, so we stuck it on the Wall of Success,” said Vela.
Vela also mentioned that the coming weeks will be very exciting for the students, due to the impending arrival of their spring report cards.
“We’re all hoping for some really good news,” he said.
Dean DeChiaro may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org