Hidden in an unassuming former dentist's office on the first floor of Parker Towers in Forest Hills is a local business with an international reach.
, a tutoring office with an eye on the expanding horizon, may not have a huge sign on Queens Boulevard directing potential clients in, but word gets around.
Frances Kweller takes a great deal of pride in her office, and with good reason, she's worked to build a new kind of tutoring designed for the next frontier in education.
Tutoring for the 21st Century
Kweller started as a tutor before opening her own office, and has been around the business for about 15 years, she said.
She opened her office five years ago in Forest Hills and served more than 400 families, starting with a focus on helping middle school students find the high school that was right for them.
"Enough wasn't being done to help high school kids get into college and to help college kids find a job," Kweller said. "We designed Kweller Prep to fill in all the gaps."
This place is a one-stop shop to show you how to get where you want to go," she added.
Kweller Prep serves more than 1,500 families a year, with everything from in-person instruction to Skype-tutoring for students based overseas and coordinated college visits.
Kweller said that helping students change their understanding of education and focus on their goals was a hugely rewarding experience, and the engine that kept her coming to work every day.
"Very often the tutors at Kweller Prep are the first ones — sometimes before the parents — to find out that a kid got into college," she said. "I played an active role in that, and that feels great. That's really an amazing feeling."
A Changing Client Base in a Changing Economy
At an office originally designed to help younger students make their way through high school, things are constantly changing, and lately, they're getting a little more mature.
The economy has played a huge role on the tutoring business, Kweller said, but not in the way most people would expect.
"Our adult clients have sharply gone up," Kweller said. "Adults are now about 20 percent of our client base."
She said most of her adult clients are people looking to add a skill set or refresh a resume that maybe hasn't been needed in decades.
"Some of the students we teach, now their parents want an added measure of safety and security," Kweller said.
A Lifetime Goal
Kweller said the most important philosophy for her business and her clients is the idea that scholastic improvement, or a new set of skills, won't blossom overnight.
"We're not a quick fix program," she said. "Sometimes [new clients] think that there's this magic bullet, that you can do two or three hours of tutoring and suddenly master the subject — we don't sell any short term programs. … We really believe in nurturing the child, and it's not a short-term commitment. Nothing we do is a short-term commitment."