Dr. Alesia Olsen, a lifelong educator, came into tutoring the same way most teachers do: she was looking for extra income.
But something else was going on in her life at the time; she was also writing her doctoral thesis. It was during her classes that the plight of students in Homebound Instruction came up.
And so began the germ of a partnership that resulted in Long Island Tutorial Services, which 10 years later, is now an island-wide educational support powerhouse — with over 200 certified affiliates.
On any given day, some 40 tutors are out in the field, working one-on-one with students.
That field, mind you, ranges from Riverhead to Roslyn, Southampton to Rockaway, and includes juvenile detention centers, rehab facilities, or pediatric cancer wards at local hospitals.
Basically, wherever a student is in need.
That’s because the idea behind LI Tutorial Services is this: all children should have access to top-notch educational services.
No matter what their life’s circumstances are.
“We’re the safety net for these kids,” Dr. Olsen says. “That’s what we do.”
How it works
LI Tutorial Services works with students who can’t be in school for whatever reason, be it an illness, injury, behavioral issues, drugs, and even runaways under court supervision. To provide such services, the company contracts with local school districts.
On the other side of the business is private tutoring, or in company vernacular, VEST, an acronym for “voluntary extracurricular student tutoring.”
For parents that choose to in-VEST, as they say, the company’s overarching philosophy has resulted in a strict rule when it comes to hourly tutoring rates at home: It’s $60 an hour.
Again, they want their services to be affordable for as many students as possible, not just those from families of means.
“Along with that, we have scholarships for parents who can’t afford it, all funded by donations from local companies,” Dr. Olsen said.
“During the pandemic,” she continued, “people were charging $80, $90 per hour. Some tutors who applied to us were asking for $100 an hour. So we would say, ‘If you want to exclusively tutor a few children or teenagers of wealth, this isn’t the place for you.’”
She would then point to a sign on a wall, the company’s motto:
“Where Students Come First.”
Of course, she explains, “due to the educational trauma of the past two years, unfortunately, there is ample work to provide people.” So, she continued, their tutors find a combination of flexible hours and competitive and sustainable compensation.
LI Tutorial Services also offers SAT and ACT prep for $75 an hour.
The right match
A major difference from other tutoring services and a real benefit to families is LI Tutorial Services’ ability to be flexible in swapping out tutors when needed.
Some troubled or oppositional teenagers, for instance, might respond better to a man than a woman, or vice versa.
Some tutors might not be able to emotionally handle visiting that pediatric cancer ward. But when that perfect match is made, it can be saving grace for a young person.
Often, the tutor becomes like family, especially if he or she is at the house several days each week — sometimes for months or years on end.
“We’ve had tutors who have been with students for multiple years, typically due to not being able to go to school over health concerns and conditions,” Dr. Olsen said.
“You know you’ve made a good match when that child and his or her parents want that same tutor to keep going back.”