Teachers aren’t generally known as risk-takers. They follow a strict school schedule every day, every year, and love when they know their content well enough to hit a comfortable stride.
Jennifer Counter was there. She had taught for 10 years and loved her students and teaching in general. It was only by necessity that she looked outside of the brick and mortar walls of her school for additional income. She began by tutoring one student, a friend of a friend, and discovered that tutoring, for her, was the best part of teaching.
As she picked up more clients, she began meeting with students at public libraries and coffee and sandwich shops, and each client told more potential clients about her services. By year 2, she had 20 students, and the referrals kept on coming. The librarians began to eye her wearily as she had become more than a regular. That’s when she made the decision to take the risk of leaving teaching and going into tutoring full time.
“I didn’t always know the direction I was going,” she explained about that time in her life. “But I knew who was leading me. God nudged me in a different direction, and I stepped out on faith. He always lets me know when I’ve outgrown something, so I just let Him lead.”
And lead He did. With no advertising and pure word of mouth, business grew and Counter opened her center at 24662 Kingsland Blvd. in Katy.Three years later, she has grown to 32 tutors and a business manager, all serving about 100 students before the pandemic. They offer tutoring in every subject, pre-K through college, along with ESL and bilingual education and continuing education. Counter’s goal is to reach more middle and high school students, as their elementary clients are generally at capacity.
She attributes her success to several factors that distinguish her from big box tutoring centers. First and foremost,her program fosters connections between teachers and students. Clients have the same tutor on the same day and time each week. “I’m a mom first so I ask myself, what would I want for my daughter? The answer is consistency and someone who knows her. I take into consideration my students’ personalities, strengths, and weaknesses, and I hand select tutors. I know how important it is for the child to connect with the adult.”
Counter points out that her center also offers individual tutoring rooms that are following all CDC guidelines. Instruction is personalized versus worksheet- or computer-based. Counter assesses each student who comes in to determine their foundation, how they are doing in school, and where they are headed. All of the instruction is TEKS based, versus a set curriculum. As Counter says, education is constantly changing, so it’s necessary to adapt accordingly.
Students meet with instructors one-on-on either in person or on Zoom. Since Covid, Counter and her team are working on putting together group classes that meet online to provide tutoring and additional instruction lost throughout the pandemic. Students sign up for a minimum of one session a week, but may also drop in for group classes that will be set at a lower price. Prices vary by grade, subject, and level of tutor. There are four tiers of tutors: certified teachers, non-certified but highly qualified teachers, college honor students, and high school honor students.
“My passion is helping kids find their personal best. I believe that if you give out good, good will come back to you,” Counter said. She shared the story of a former student who had struggled with reading and low self-esteem. She worked with him for a year before he moved to Colorado. Seven years later, his mom contacted Counter to share that her son had written a paper about how much Counter had meant to him. The topic was the five people you’d like to meet again in heaven, and Counter was one of the five. He said that she had changed his philosophy on reading, helped him discover that he had dyslexia, and increased his self-esteem during a crucial time. He noted that she had believed him.
Counter’s goal is to help others just like she helped this young man. She is currently offering a special discount to Katy Christian Magazine readers of 20% off their first tutoring session. Students will need more help than ever making up for lost in-person instructional time, so check out Counter’s Tutoring today!