Education cutbacks and a decrease in student individualization prompted a county-wide tutoring service.
Tom Cordell, owner of Excel Tutoring Service, began tutoring locally in colleges in January and expanded it in the spring to elementary, middle and high school, as well as GED preparation and special education.
"I'm trying to fill a void," Cordell said. "I'm not bashing the government or the school system. There have been huge education cutbacks. When I look at the time period we're in, I see a need to work hard to help motivate and educate our youth."
Tom Cordell of Excel Tutoring Services, right, works with Damion Hoffman, 14 of Williamsport on keeping track of school assignments.
Cordell does some of the tutoring, in addition to five tutors. Each tutor has a child abuse clearance and are degreed or certified in specialization. Jami Cordell also helps with administrative work, such as typing up practice tests for the tutoring sessions.
"Our mission is to provide highly knowledgeable tutors to our students," Cordell said. "But we don't kill them with cost."
Tutors first work on building individualized learning plans for students. Throughout the sessions, the tutors measure success and frequently communicate to the students' professors and teachers.
"We're a liaison to them on the progress of the student," he said. "We're all about individualized and customized."
For the college students, tutors can meet almost anywhere, like coffee shops and libraries. For the non-college students, the tutors are required to meet with them inside the house.
"In non-college, students seem to do better in a home setting," Cordell said. "It's their comfort level."
The first few sessions also are more about relationship building with the students than getting serious schoolwork done.
"We do what they want to do," he said. "It's not 'Get your math book out.' No. We learn about the students."
In addition to regular classes, tutors also help with time management and study skills.
Some parents do not know why their children have difficulty in school, so diagnostics can be done.
Common problems found through the diagnostics are reading comprehension and writing.
"It's a trickle-down effect," Cordell said. "It needs to continue to build. It can be retained for the rest of their lives."
The skills learned, such as time management or better reading skills, can also be used in the workforce, Cordell said.
The number of times tutors meet with students varies with how much help is needed. Some tutors help weekly, some twice a week, and some three times a week.
Tutors also meet with students with a variety of grade levels.
"There's special needs," Cordell said. "There's intelligent, but struggling. There are good students who do well, but need help with time management, like a coach and mentor."
Cordell said it is easy to measure the success of the tutoring programs.
"I had 25 students in science in January," he said. "Seventy-five percent had to get a certain grade to get into a program. One hundred percent of that 75 percent are in that program."
Tutoring hours are flexible any day of the week. Normally, for non-college students, the tutors are out of the house by 8 p.m. With college students, the hours are more flexible.
"I've been in the library at midnight helping someone," Cordell said.
Cordell can be reached at 506-9998 or firstname.lastname@example.org.