Feb 15, 2018
Mary Miele is a tutoring powerhouse. The NYC-based mother of three still tutors students herself, while remaining a busy education consultant and the active founder of her own tutoring business, Evolved Education Company (EEC), where she and her legion of tutors offer their New York City clients “a different kind of tutor.”
Mary recently spoke with Clark about her tutoring business, her past experiences in teaching in public and private education, and what philosophy drives her and her tutors to give students the best possible, well-rounded support.
Clark: Could you give us a bit of your background in education?
MM: I studied Elementary and Special Education at New York University, before working three years in the NYC public school system as a middle school Special Ed teacher. I got involved in tutoring later, when I was a Learning Specialist at The Hewitt School, an independent, all-girls K-12 school in Manhattan. We began to receive inquiries from parents about tutoring services, so I accepted several of the jobs and used some of the money toward planning my wedding to Trevor. (Mary and Trevor now have three children: Bryce, Trent, and Alexis.)
What were some of the pros and cons about working in a school?
I loved the curricular work when I worked at a school. But with tutoring, I could match the curriculum to the individual student and figure out how to help the student reach his or her potential from outside the classroom. I felt like I had some ideas for how to help.
How did you get further involved in tutoring?
What I really liked about tutoring was the ability to hone my teaching skills, and I loved working with students directly. I was teaching at another private all-girls school, Spence, where I had a three-quarters workload. The reduced workload suited my needs at the time, as Trevor and I were starting our family, and I could pick up more tutoring work.
You eventually gave up teaching to pick up tutoring full-time. Why was that?
I enjoyed working with all types of families and partnering with them to provide their students with targeted academic support, while also nurturing their physical, emotional, and social wellbeing. This was all happening, mind you, well before social and emotional learning became mainstream, and before anyone was talking about mindfulness or flexible seating. With certain families, I could try my holistic approach and I could partner with the parents to really unlock their student’s overall potential.
Did you face any difficulties working as an independent tutor?
In the early years, I felt like my tutoring practice lacked a clear focus. I also missed the collaboration and supportive network that came with working in a school. I thought we, as tutors, lacked a common language to assess students’ needs and communicate them effectively to their parents and teachers. As an independent tutor, there was also no sense of professionalism or a place to evolve skills within the tutoring or consulting space. I wanted to speak with parents and educators about education processes, and to develop my ideas for the tutoring space.
Is that what led you to founding EEC?
Yes, I knew I had to form my own company instead of going solo, because I felt the need to form both an opportunity for educators to work and evolve, and to create methodologies for tutoring and my consulting work, which would involve a partnership with families and the development of the whole child.
You developed specialized methodologies to gauge and work with individual students’ academic, social, emotional, and physical needs. What makes your tutoring methodologies special?
Our methodologies involve a partnership between our families and educators. We are personal, and we care deeply about our students, their schools, and their families, as well as for our own educators and their journeys. We use a highly effective framework, which we call the Evolved Education Paradigm, which educators and consultants can implement in their own practice, to ensure that they examine and respond to all aspects of a student’s learning experience. What I love most about our method is that our educators work independently using this paradigm to unlock student potential.
How have you seen your tutoring practice evolve since you began EEC?
In so many ways! Mostly, I know more and can do more now. I have the benefit of learning from the educators who work here. I learn about early childhood education from Lynn and Jeneen, literacy from Christina and Meredith, EF Coaching from Gina, ADHD coaching from Deanna, the college process from Molly, test preparation from Mary, technology from Spencer, math education from Dustin and so many others! Their work has informed my work, and I'd like to think that my work as a learning specialist has influenced their work, too.
What is your advice to other tutors who are interested in adopting your whole child approach?
Those of us who support Pre-K to college schooling are working within a system that typically cares little about children in a holistic manner. My advice is to learn about The Evolved Education Paradigm and the whole child approach and put it into practice from the beginning of a job and throughout it. Every adult can easily make observations within each of the areas of the whole child approach.
Can you give any examples of the EEC methodologies in practice?
My favorite example is when I hired a math tutor. I trained her to use the Evolved Education Paradigm before she worked with her first Evolved student. By using the paradigm, she identified that the student didn’t misunderstand math in the way that she first thought. More importantly, she learned that the student was dealing with a social issue that left him without the motivation to work within the subject. The tutor brought this information to light and we were able to support the student in math, while he had some extra support to help him with the social side.
What have been the greatest challenges in creating a tutoring business in NYC?
My business fits into an already full life and has personal and professional complexities. I work at a fast pace—sometimes too fast! The work I do is massively personalized and involves services during which we support families and children, who are all variable, unique, and complicated. Then, there is the competition. When I began a tutoring company in NYC, I was, and still am, in a very populated service area. What has been challenging is to demonstrate to educators and to families that our approach matters, and that it truly offers something unparalleled in the industry.
How do you persevere as a tutor?
Like I do with our students, I look to my strengths to overcome challenges. And although I will not win at any cost, I am competitive. I was an athlete and I'm married to one of the most competitive men I've ever come across—and I love him fiercely for it. I work and thrive in NYC, the land of opportunity and the place where if you can make it here, you can make it anywhere. I want to show everyone what's possible when we as educators evolve and work as a team to support the whole child.
Disclosure: Evolved Education Company is a Clark client