The Story of Simply Tutoring in The Woodlands, TX

By: Simply Tutoring, Inc. | Published 01/08/2024

Logo created by Matt Strickland whose spirit lives on forever.

There is an old saying that “necessity is the mother of invention.”  This saying proved true for my friend and me who were both teachers and had to leave the classroom rather suddenly.  My friend had health issues and I had a ten-year-old son Matt who was diagnosed with brain cancer.  To say my world was turned upside down is putting it mildly…I kept trusting that God would have a plan….and he sure did!! 

Tutoring from my home
My friend had already started tutoring from her home and encouraged me to do the same since I still needed an income.  So after 15 years in the classroom, I started tutoring students in reading and writing in my home office while my son was homebound and undergoing treatment.  I was accustomed to orchestrating and managing a class of 25 to 30 middle school students, so working one-on-one was a whole different ballgame.  I could take time to find out how a student learned best and adjust my instruction/coaching accordingly.  We could also target the areas of struggle instead of revisiting what the student already knew.  I could pace the lesson to fit what the child needed and change things up as necessary to keep them engaged.   I really enjoyed how much I could customize the time spent with each student.  And I saw how that individual attention added miles to their self-esteem and confidence.

Taking it to another level
Over time, my friend and I realized that we could not take on all of the students who were being sent our way.  We needed more tutors on our team, so we reached out to teachers/students we knew in Conroe ISD to work along with us to provide help to more students.  It was 1999, and at this time there were only tutoring business franchises  who worked with students in small groups and progressed them through their own curriculum.  Students might have a different tutor each time they came.  The tutors did not seem to be paid very well, and they had very little freedom to stray from the assigned curriculum.  I started thinking about how my accountant sister had started her own business with a friend where they placed bookkeepers and accountants in temporary positions.  Why couldn’t two teachers do the same thing where we placed tutors with students for a period of time??  And Simply Tutoring was born!!  It was one of the first companies of its kind in The Woodlands, TX.

Convenient locations
As we hired more tutors, we built a team who could tutor almost any subject, grade level, or test preparation.  Our goal was always to pay the tutors well, so that meant no facility with high overhead costs.  Instead, we offered tutoring in the student’s home, the tutor’s home, or a neutral public location such as the library or a coffee shop.  These logistics worked well since we could provide the convenience of in-home tutoring (with a parent present) for busy families.  Some tutors could tutor virtually (via Skype back then), but it wasn’t until Covid that the need for Zoom learning increased.  We offer that, too.  

Tutors helping tutors
Another value we implemented early on was the idea that we could learn so much from each other as experienced teachers/tutors.   We started a monthly Tutor Share and Support Luncheon which continues today where various topics, strategies, and resources are discussed and presented for a kind of continuing tutor education.  Having taught in an inclusion classroom my last few years, I learned so much from my special education co-teacher who would modify my lessons to meet the needs of all students in my classroom…whether they had a diagnosed learning difference or not.  We provided  noise-blocking headphones, privacy barriers made out of manila folders, various colored overlays to use when reading, index cards to track reading or for making flash cards, the use of color-coding and movement when possible in a lesson or review game.  We determined if a student’s learning style was predominantly visual, auditory or tactile-kinesthetic.  The bottom line was that everyone learns differently, so we tried to normalize all strategies.  I shared these and other strategies with tutors, and they shared what was in their “teacher toolbox”. 

The many roles of Simply Tutoring
Simply Tutoring wears many hats.  In addition to screening, interviewing and mentoring tutors, our job is to listen to parents who are often desperate to get help for their struggling child. I understand some of the issues parents face as my son was in and out of school over a 4-year period, and I often hired one of our tutors to help him play catch-up and understand concepts that were taught in class on a day when he could not be there. Even though I was a teacher, I could not help with all subjects; it often took the pressure off our parent/child relationship to bring in a third party.  Many parents I speak with are experiencing the same dilemma.  Once information is gathered from the parent, we embark on a match-making process in hopes of choosing the right tutor from our team to work with that child.  Knowing each tutor’s strength is vital.  From the beginning we have managed  billing, advertising and other administrative tasks to allow the tutors to focus on their students.

Affordable tutoring through a variety of tutors
Believing that one-on-one attention has such amazing benefits, we wanted more families to be able to afford the “luxury” of tutoring.  We created a range of rates that would fit more budgets.   Honors-level high school students and college students could be fantastic tutors…being closer to a peer mentor for students and having recently taken courses fresh in their minds.  We could charge less for them than a certified teacher.  Degreed adults, certified teachers (active and retired), adults who homeschooled their children and those with a master’s degree or PhD were all added to the line-up.  We have even had some tutors who spent a lifetime in another career, but in retirement have been called to share their academic knowledge and its relevance to real life with students in the tutoring setting.   Our tutoring team is filled with gifted and amazing local people who have a passion for helping students succeed.   And we never lock parents into a contract that requires large sums of money.  

Why we continue  
Fast-forward to 2023 and Simply Tutoring maintains about 40 active tutors at any given time who are available to meet with students on a schedule that works for both parties.  I stopped tutoring personally when my son had a recurrence of cancer… which was devastating.  I continued running the company from my home office so I could be with him until he passed in 2002.  Accompanying him on that journey was nothing short of a miracle…a story for another time.  It was in God’s timing (not mine) that another miracle happened that same year…I gave birth to our daughter, Faith, when I was 44 years old!!!  I experienced the heights of joy and the depths of despair all at the same time. Looking back I just know that a power greater than me was carrying us during that time.  I couldn’t have done it otherwise.  Having the gift of a precious baby to care for, I  continued running Simply Tutoring from my home office and still do so to this day.  That baby is 21 years old now and has definitely benefited from the help of our amazing tutors over the years!  I am a believer in what we do.  And for over 24 years now,  many parents, students and tutors have shared countless success stories as well!!      

To find a tutor in The Woodlands, Texas area for your student, call Simply Tutoring at 281-362-7878 or complete our form to see who we can recommend.

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