One student is learning computer coding, another is taking Yoga. One is studying Spanish and another is mastering how to read a clock.
From learning the ABCs to studying for the LSAT, all are doing so online with tutors stationed around the world through Virtuo Tutors.
The company was launched last year by Lauren Rosenblum, a learning specialist at a New York City private school, who saw a need for improvement in the education sector at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I love working with kids, especially through one-on-one intervention, which allows you to get to know them, be their advocate, and monitor progress,” said Rosenblum, 28.
“The COVID-19 pandemic created a high demand for that. I saw something that was missing from our students' days and an opportunity to make it better.”
A speech pathologist with roots in Fairfield County, CT, Rosenblum was in her second year working at a Manhattan private school when the pandemic hit, and schools around the world switched to an online learning model.
Within days, Rosenblum saw the toll that online learning was taking on her students and their families. Some of her students struggled to show up on-time, others didn’t show up at all.
It wasn’t long before Rosenblum began getting calls from parents of students who she had been tutoring in person before the pandemic, saying they needed help -- fast.
"While my school did a good job of providing a full day schedule, many schools offered limited virtual classroom time," Rosenblum said. "When classes resumed in the fall, a lot of students were only in school a few hours a day."
Ever-changing schedules, inconsistent routines and spending less time in the physical and virtual classrooms left kids falling behind and parents scrambling for a way to occupy their kids while they worked the last few hours of the day," Rosenblum explained.
Not one to pass up a business opportunity, Rosenblum created Virtuo Tutors in hopes of bridging the gap for both parents and students.
Parents were asking Rosenblum for Zoom tutoring sessions -- and a lot of them.
"As we transition back to in-person learning, we are living in a new world in which the traditional definition of a classroom doesn’t really exist anymore," Rosenblum said. "We have some students and teachers completely online, some are hybrid, and some are in person.
"But they’re not allowed within 6 feet of each other -- so it’s really hard for students to get the individualized one-on-one time with their teachers."
Rosenblum noticed private conversations with teachers, check-ins, and simple tasks such as going over marked-up assignments drift further into the rearview.
Enter Virtuo: "A one-on-one tutoring setting that provides a unique opportunity to design an individualized curriculum, shift gears whenever necessary, move at the student’s pace, and fill in any gaps that have been created in the classroom," Rosenblum said.
Our mission is to ensure that no student falls behind when learning from home. Our tutors aim to bridge the gap between the lack of support and consistency with distance or hybrid learning and your child’s specific academic needs. In a highly supportive one-on-one setting, your child will make progress and build confidence as a young learner.
Rosenblum wanted to offer more than an academic experience. She wanted sessions to be customizable, flexible and fun.
Paramount to Rosenblum was providing something for everyone and building a company that would continue to be relevant, accessible and valuable to students well beyond the pandemic.
First on Rosenblum's agenda was finding tutors who were not only highly-educated, but well-rounded, each one with unique skills and talents to offer Virtuo's clientele.
Rosenblum started by reaching out to to fellow graduates from Teachers College Columbia University to see if they’d want to come on board. Then, by word of mouth, educators from all over the world began flocking to her.
As of early February, Virtuo had more than three dozen tutors, each one uniquely qualified and passionate.
Take Maria H., for example, a native Spanish speaker who lives in Spain and has a decade of experience teaching both Spanish and English.
Or Adam N., a programmer and educator who tutors in coding and creative technology -- who also happens to work on the lighting displays in the Macy's Christmas windows.
“One of the benefits of online tutoring, and one of the big reasons why it’s here to say, is that we have the internet at our immediate disposal for learning and teaching,” Rosenblum said.
“We have the resources and tools to teach whatever we want, in whatever way we want, without leaving our homes.
"Sessions can be modified however we need to in such a quick, resourceful way, and we can follow the student’s pace, interests and shift gears easily just by opening up a fresh tab."
Virtuo Tutors doesn’t only provide academic tutoring, Rosenblum explained.
The company prides itself on providing education services for parents who want to sign their kids up for something enriching -- but not more school work.
Virtuo can be for adults looking to learn a second language, and offers “brain break” workshops for for kids who are just "school'd out."
"While adding more Zoom time may seem counterintuitive to many parents, it actually is an amazing opportunity to create an interactive learning experience where you can watch videos, read books, draw on things, and practice problems -- all on one screen," Rosenblum said.
"It’s been priceless for families to be able to access these individualized sessions from the comfort and convenience of their own homes, which is a pandemic-inspired upgrade that won’t stop being valuable in a post-pandemic world"
Rosenblum last week was reminded of the important work she's doing while on an emotional phone call with a parent of a preschool-aged client.
"The mom thanked me for being a consistent member of her kids' lives during these months when everything else has been so unreliable and uncertain," Rosenblum said.
“Having a relationship with tutors who know them and look forward to seeing them has been really crucial for these kids. Fostering that consistent positive relationship and love for learning is finally becoming prioritized again.
"I'm so happy to be able to provide that for so many kids and families."
In-person tutoring is expected to be made available in the coming months.
Click here to sign up for Daily Voice's free daily emails and news alerts.