Learning starts at home

Can tutoring impact the global economy? Heather and Craig Curry think so.

“We’re such a global society now,” said Heather Curry. “To be competitive (in that economy) we have to be more competitive in school.”

American kids dream of being famous athletes or rock stars, said Craig Curry.

“Kids in China and India dream of being engineers,” he said.

The Vancouver couple started Better Grades In-Home Tutoring in August 2007. They run the business from home and send 40 tutors to 52 students’ homes, covering every subject from basic reading and math to business calculus and Chinese. The in-home strategy keeps overhead low and targets parents without time to drive children to appointments.

The Currys are no strangers to education. Heather Curry is a full-time math teacher at Shahala Middle School in Vancouver and Craig Curry taught English and journalism in Houston for six years. The couple met in 2004 while teaching at an international school in Nigeria.

They married and settled in her native Vancouver, where he began looking for business opportunities.

“I was looking for a way to start a business and use my education background,” said Craig Curry. “I always saw the benefit of one-on-one tutoring.”

After weighing the costs of buying a tutoring franchise – about $60,000 – he decided to start a tutoring business from scratch.

Start-up required a $20,000 loan, which the Currys expect to pay off in 2008. They declined to share company earnings, but Craig Curry said he earns a salary comparable to that of a full-time teacher. He works about 60 hours a week, while Heather Curry tutors for 12 paid hours weekly.

Tutoring costs $36 to $42 an hour depending on subject difficulty, and tutors earn $18 to $24 an hour based on experience and subject expertise. That rate is on the high end of the pay scale for tutors, but Heather Curry said it helps keep quality tutors.

The business depends on the quality of tutors’ work, so the Currys do careful screening and background checks. At minimum, Better Grades tutors have bachelor’s degrees and teaching or tutoring experience. All tutors working with elementary school students are certified teachers.

“Our goal is to correlate directly to classroom success,” said Craig Curry. “We work as much as possible with the school curriculum.”

Matching a new tutor with students usually takes two to four weeks. A tutor begins with one student for two or three hours a week, and can work with up to five students. 

Many clients are fourth graders to 10th graders, but some are college students. Referrals come from school counselors, advertising and networking through local business groups.

The Currys eventually hope to have a public presence with a storefront and tutoring center, but plan to keep focused on the in-home strategy.

“The exciting thing is (serving) 50 kids in one year,” Heather Curry said. “The growth potential is huge.”

Better Grades In-Home Tutoring

Craig and Heather Curry, owners


www.bettergradestutoring.com, 360-771-6776


Charity Thompson can be reached at cthompson@vbjusa.com.

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