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Education adds up: Growing tutoring business fills need


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April Knox For The Republic / Mikala Greenlee, with Get Motivated Tutoring Service, tutors Johnathan Maina, a Junior at Columbus North High School, with his Geometry.
April Knox For The Republic / Mikala Greenlee, with Get Motivated Tutoring Service, tutors Johnathan Maina, a Junior at Columbus North High School, with his Geometry.


Columbus resident Mike Nehring taught math and German at Columbus North High School for six years and kept seeing students who were doing well in most areas — but falling behind in one or two, usually math and foreign languages.

He launched a part-time tutoring business in late 2012, but continued teaching full time. In May, he left Bartholomew Consolidated School Corp. to focus entirely on Get Motivated Tutoring Services.

As a full-time teacher, he could not devote as much time to the business as he needed, he said. And though he and his wife, Lindsay, expected a decline in clients over the summer, he decided to focus solely on the tutoring business.

“It was a leap of faith for us … but the need is out there,” he said.

ADDRESSING A NEED

Born in Utah, Nehring, 32, has lived in Columbus since elementary school. The entrepreneurial spirit seems to run in the family: His brother, Marc, recently launched Waste Servant, a local recycling business.

Mike and Lindsay Nehring have four children, ranging in age from 1 to 9. She home-schools the children for personal and medical reasons, and, he said, their decision to home-school the kids and offer a tutoring service has nothing to do with the quality of the local schools.

“Our schools are phenomenal,” Nehring said. “I see how hard the teachers work and the support that is in place.”

Get Motivated Tutoring Services

Offers: Tutoring for students aged kindergarten through high school and beyond. Also provides classes to study for tests such as the SAT.

Owner: Mike Nehring

Education: Bachelor’s in education for math and German; master’s in educational administration and leadership from Ball State University.

Educational experience: Taught math and German at Columbus North High School for six years.

Number of tutors: 9

Location: Home-based business. Students receive instruction either in their homes or at the library or Columbus Learning Center.

Subjects taught: Range from algebra to physics, grammar to Spanish

Number of students: Not disclosed — but has increased five-fold since the business was launched in late 2012.

Prices: SAT classes cost $239 and include 15 hours of instruction. Tutoring costs vary depending on the subject and experience of the tutor.

Information: getmotivatedts.com or 552-3393.

Startup costs for the business were minimal and overhead was low, Nehring said, because the tutors meet with the students in their homes or at the library or Columbus Learning Center — not at a business location that would require lease and utility payments.

Over the summer, Mike and Lindsay Nehring focused on marketing by networking, attending the fair and contacting schools.

Since then, the number of students receiving help from Get Motivated has increased five-fold, Mike Nehring said. Nine tutors provide lessons mostly for middle and high school students, though the business can offer help for children as young as kindergarten age.

Mike Nehring sits down with parents to determine the student’s needs, and parents typically buy a package of a certain number of tutoring hours they can use as they please. Some students get tutored once a week, but others may require more help, especially as a test approaches. He declined to disclose prices but said they vary depending on the experience of the tutor and the subject that is being taught.

Mike Nehring holds a bachelor’s in education for math and German and a master’s in educational administration and leadership from Ball State University. He does some of the tutoring himself — though he spends much of his time recruiting more tutors for his growing business.

HELP WITH PRECALCULUS

Columbus native Jami Graham said that with Nehring’s help, the precalculus grade of her daughter, Hannah, has improved by two letter grades.

Hannah, a sophomore at Columbus North High School, had a D- in calculus, which, her mother said, is highly unusual for Hannah.

“She was horrified because she’s an honor student,” Graham said.

She asked her daughter whether she would prefer taking easier classes — and forgo the honors diploma — or get help, Graham said. Her daughter said that she felt as though she could get a good grade in the class with a little assistance.

Graham said she heard about Get Motivated through a friend, and set up 10 sessions, once a week, for Nehring to tutor Hannah in the Grahams’ home.

Graham said Nehring did a fantastic job in the tutoring sessions and quickly built a rapport with Hannah, which helped her relax and focus on learning.

The sessions finished about a month ago, and Graham said her daughter told her that it felt great to be able to raise her hand in class and answer questions — rather than feeling lost.

“We’re extremely happy for her,” Graham said.

RIGHT TUTORS IMPORTANT

Some tutors are certified teachers, others are college students or stay-at-home moms with college degrees. Selecting tutors carefully is important, Mike Nehring said, because they have to have the right qualifications and personality and be able to motivate students, because tutors often deal with students who do not want to be tutored, but would rather hang out with friends or pursue their hobbies.

Parie Drechsel, a stay-at-home mom of four children who tutors with Get Motivated, said she likes the job’s flexible hours and helping students succeed.

“I love getting to know new people, and seeing their progress is really satisfying,” Drechsel said.

She tutors a student in Spanish and also helps an adult who is learning the language because her husband speaks Spanish. Drechsel also helps a sixth-grader with homework, mainly in math and science.

Drechsel minored in Spanish while getting a bachelor’s in business management after spending a year-and-a-half in Madrid on a mission with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

Drechsel said she likes the work so much she has encouraged other stay-at-home moms to try it.

“Mike’s a really good person to work for,” she said.

Get Motivated has begun offering classes for standardized tests. The classes provide 15 hours of instruction over two weeks, for $239, and include a full-length practice test that gets graded and analyzed. The class typically is offered just before schools take the tests. Get Motivated will offer its next preparatory class in January.

Mike Nehring said his business continues to grow, particularly in helping students prepare for standardized tests, an area that is boosting his business more than he expected.

Though tutoring sometimes comes with a stigma, parents are just trying to give their children some extra help, especially as they see increased competition for college spots and scholarships, he said.

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