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Watsonville Tutoring Club Gives Generations of Students a Leg Up On Learning

By Pamela Sosnowski

When a child is struggling in school, it can put a lot of stress on all parties involved -- the student, the parent(s), and the teachers. For 13 years, Watsonville Tutoring Club has helped ease that stress and given kids a leg up in learning by providing tutoring in a supportive, personalized setting. In 2014, the Watsonville branch was ranked #4 among all locations worldwide, beating out major metropolitan cities.

The Tutoring Club specializes in assisting with reading, writing, mathematics, study skills, and even SAT preparation. The staff's approach is to build confidence with each student by first teaching them at the level they are comfortable with, and then helping them progress so that they can reach and even surpass their current grade's curriculum. A small student-to-tutor ratio ensures that each child receives enough one-on-one attention. Since 2003 the Watsonville location has guided over 2,000 students, ranging from kindergarten through college to do their best in school.

Watsonville's location was opened as a labor of love by five retired teachers that wanted to continue working with students and help them succeed. "Obviously, what we love best about working here is seeing the kids improve and develop a love for learning," says Steve Smith, Owner and Director.

"A child gets A's on their report card for the first time and brings it in to show us with a huge grin on his face. Parents tell me that their daughter is finally reading to them at home, when she didn't even know her alphabet before starting here. A teacher calls or emails to tell me that a student in her class has finally caught up or even moved ahead, when previously he was at risk of repeating the grade. We have had so many success stories, it's hard to pick one."

One story that does stand out in Smith's mind is that of a struggling boy known as JR, who was introduced to the Tutoring Club while in the 4th grade. He came from a household of nine siblings and a single parent and had missed a lot of school.

"He was frustrated by the fact that he was so far behind his peers and didn't want to try to learn because he was afraid of looking stupid," recalls Smith. "He constantly battled with his tutor and ended up in my office on a "time-out" half of the days he attended.  By the time he left us he had made progress, but I was afraid he wouldn't recognize the fact that he had come so far."

Four years later, JR, now a mature teenage, walked into Smith's office. Smith at first did not recognize him, "He shook my hand and said he had just wanted to come in and thank me for not giving up on him," he says. "He told me he was about to finish junior high, that he had all A's and B's, and that he was looking forward to going to high school."

In Watsonville's tight-knit community, Smith says it isn't uncommon to find out a current Tutoring Club student is related to a past one. "The 'it's a small world' moments are my favorites -- when we meet a new student and I find out that we tutored his older brother or cousin or neighbor 5 or 10 years ago," he says. "I love going to the store or the beach or a birthday party and seeing our students, past and present, in and around the community."

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About The Author

Pamela Sosnowski is a freelance writer, social media manager, contributor for REBEAT...

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