Jun 26, 2019
Winner: Loretta McDonald, Stepping Ahead Tutoring, LLC
Runner-up: Bright Minds Tutoring
Founded in 2019 by Loretta McDonald, Stepping Ahead Tutoring, LLC has a single tutor, has served 4 students and completed 80 sessions. They focus on subjects including LEA, Math/Phos, and Reading Comprehension/Math.
Loretta has always been committed to helping children and adults learn all they can in order to have a better life. As a professional educator for over 35 years and a community worker in elementary schools for more than 12, Loretta emphasizes the importance of organization thorough preparation, communication skills, and setting clear expectations in one-on-one tutoring settings. Her passion for the subjects that she teaches helps her students learn more, dig deeper, and think harder, and her approach to individualized tutoring helps students build confidence, gain independence, and take on responsibility.
Read on to learn more about what set Loretta McDonald apart as Tutor of the Year in the minds of our judges!
Why did you start a tutoring business?
I worked as an educator for over 35 years and then retired. After retiring I decided to open my own tutoring business. I realized that children learned better with a one- on- one instructor.
I have always wanted to be an educator to help children and adults learn all they can in order to have a better life. It is important to me that I build a caring relationship with both children and adults. I try to be friendly and approachable. A great tutor is always ready by having excellent preparation and organization skills. As a tutor, I have learned to have a sense of humor, a warm personality, and show kindness to the students I work with.
As a professional educator for over 35 years and a community worker in elementary schools for 12 years, I learned that no matter how knowledgeable I am, if I can’t convey what I know to others in a way that is not only understandable but engaging, the knowledge itself is useless. As a tutor, if my communication skills are good, they can convey knowledge with better skills and results. I try to include the following skills when working with children: verbal, nonverbal, and visual, which involves speaking, writing, body language, and the organization of ideas into understandable structures. By tutoring one- on- one this helps my students understand exactly what the assignments and expectations are. I help my students understand what is expected of them. Therefore, it’s much easier for them to deliver.
I, as a tutor, am as good as what I know. The love I have for a subject matter inspires a person to learn more, dig deeper, and think harder about it. I care about the students' progress. When my students arrive to be tutored, an excellent plan is already prepared and is ready to be taught to the student for academic success. I spend time trying to develop interesting ways to reach the students I tutor. Being a tutor is not an easy job, but I try to do a lot to help my students learn and succeed.
What makes your tutoring business unique?
First, I get to know my students by listening to what they have to say about their education. I motivate them in wanting to learn to read for enjoyment and information. Also, I encourage them to keep math active by helping them solve problems through instructional guidance and believing in doing their best because it brings great results.
As a tutor I try to strengthen subject comprehension, boost confidence, and build important learning skills. I give my students positive feedback and individualized attention that they don’t get in a crowded classroom. By doing this, those students who struggle in a crowded classroom can keep up and some students might need to be challenged more.
What role do you think tutoring should play in education?
In education, tutors should try to keep students on track during the school year and during breaks. As a tutor, I encourage independence and responsibility with those whom I am working with so they can gain the ability to do school work on his/ her own without a lot of help. Later my students realize his or her own personal growth and will learn to take responsibility for his or her studies. With a tutor, I think students feel comfortable asking questions, big or small, without feeling self- conscious.
How has your business made an impact on your local community?
I am a certified retired teacher working as a community worker in the after school program at Luella Elem. School in Locust Grove, GA. As a community worker, I serve the school and the community population by helping to provide quality educational, recreational, and social programs for students. I help the supervisor plan programs to help stimulate students' social, physical, and intellectual abilities through participation in activities with their school peers. The program provides enrichment activities such as drama and literature (which I am the instructor). Also, the program engages the students in math, science, computer, and active play (which I help other instructors make plans for).
I introduced my business to the principal and teachers at the school and asked them to allow me to work with those students who are working below grade level first. Later, I asked to work with students who are a behavior problem in some way. I worked with those students in small groups and taught them "Character Education Skills" (Respect, Honesty, Sharing, etc.). Those students who were below grade level showed improvement and were promoted to first grade for the upcoming school year (2019-2020). The group that showed some type of behavior problem proved to me and their teachers that they could and did do better in the classroom.
My goal is to provide free tutoring to low income and abused children this summer. I would also like to tutor those children who are in foster homes.
Tell us about your student outcomes.
All the students I tutor show improvement in all areas. The best student outcome was seen in the turnabout life of an eighth grader who walked into my center with a hung down head and did not talk much. When he did answer questions that were asked, the answer was short and head hung down. After weeks passed by, I was able to have him talk to me while looking at me. He was very withdrawn. He did not like being home schooled. He said whenever he had a question or did not understand an assignment, he would call the
helpline, but it would be one or two days before he could speak to the online teacher. Now he feels good about himself because I give him more support. We have a relationship which is built on a strong tutor-to-student foundation which contributes to student success.
Congratulations to Loretta on your accomplishment!