Education

Does your kid need help in school? Sylvan Learning Center is coming to the Central Coast

Sylvan Learning Center is opening in San Luis Obispo in February 2019, in the space next to Target on Los Osos Valley Road.
Sylvan Learning Center is opening in San Luis Obispo in February 2019, in the space next to Target on Los Osos Valley Road. Courtesy of Phillip Toriello

It’s halfway through the school year and your kid might be falling behind.

Luckily, a national tutoring service is coming to the Central Coast in 2019, starting with a spot in San Luis Obispo.

Sylvan Learning Center is expected to open in February in part of the vacant space next to Target on Los Osos Valley Road, previously home to Mac Superstore. (The other half of the space is leased to El Pollo Loco.)

The Sylvan Method promises to “challenge your student, build confidence, boost study skills and help deliver better grades,” according to its website.

Matthew Shea and Philip Toriello are behind bringing the national franchise to the Central Coast. Shea, a longtime local educator, is the franchise holder, and Toriello is the center director.

Shea and Toriello both said they’re excited to have an opportunity to help local children improve their skills.

“We’re looking to create a really inspiring environment,” Toriello said in a phone interview on Wednesday. “We aren’t just looking to bring kids in and get them to their grade level. We’re looking to create an experience where kids love to learn, with teachers that love to teach.”

Sylvan works by first testing students how they compare with others around the country. Then the company computes the number of hours it will take to bring that kid up to the national standard, and offers tutoring packages based on that figure.

Tutoring packages typically start at about $50 per hour, Toriello said, though the total cost varies depending on the child’s needs.

“We’re not taking a child’s homework and just getting them through that,” Shea said. “It’s really in conjunction with their actual schoolwork.”

The pair are expecting to focus at first on reading and math sessions for students in second through fifth grades. Sessions will have hree students per teacher, they said.

As they get closer to the anticipated opening date of Feb. 11, Toriello and Shea are still hiring teachers to help staff the center. In total, they expect to hire “six enthusiastic educators,” they said.

“We could just bring in teachers, but we are looking for a particular level of enthusiasm and energy that the students can feel,” Toriello said. “We want it to be an electric experience.”

Shea and Toriello’s Sylvan location won’t be the only one in the area for long.

Georgia Chasen, vice president of franchise development for Sylvan Learning Center, said the company expects to open six more franchise locations around the Central Coast within the next year.

“Sylvan Learning is thrilled to expand to the Central Coast of California,” she wrote in an email to The Tribune. “Sylvan franchisees are mission-driven to provide quality educational programs to their local community. We know that Matt Shea and his team will bring a much wanted and needed service to San Luis Obispo.”

“California continues to be a growth market for supplemental education,” she added, as shown by our pipeline of candidates for new territory opportunities.”

Kaytlyn Leslie writes about business and development for The Tribune. Hailing from Nipomo, she also covers city governments and happenings in the South County region, including Arroyo Grande, Pismo Beach and Grover Beach. She joined The Tribune in 2013 after graduating from Cal Poly with her journalism degree.

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