Owner of Kiddie Academy in Vancouver-Salmon Creek branches out into supplemental learning program

A Sylvan Learning center will open in Salmon Creek at the start of 2021

VANCOUVER — John Swartz owns Kiddie Academy of Vancouver-Salmon Creek. He is also a father. When he saw his 11-year-old son struggling to make the switch to remote, online learning in the spring and this fall, he decided to pursue a new resource.

John Swartz, Salmon Creek Academy Owner. Photo by Jacob Granneman
John Swartz, Salmon Creek Academy Owner. Photo by Jacob Granneman

“We felt like there was a huge need to really help parents with additional resources, additional support in the form of supplemental education,” Swartz said. “Kiddie Academy is all about preparing kiddos for kindergarten. With supplemental education, the whole idea is to keep them moving forward academically. So, my wife and I researched a few different companies that specialize in supplemental education, and we landed on Sylvan.” 

Sylvan Learning is an organization that focuses on equipping students who are struggling in the traditional schooling system by giving them a tutoring space and curriculum. Recently, they began doing supplementary learning for students who desire a deeper and more robust education process.

For more than 40 years, Sylvan has been working with their method of teaching and bringing new technology to the table. From libraries of information with on-hand staff, to pull and run books, to iPads with cutting edge software bringing the world to the student’s fingertips; Sylvan has evolved to supply extra educational opportunities. 

“Our major presence across the globe is through local franchisees,” said Sylvan Franchise Development Manager, Kristie Kalinowski. “They’re the ones that have a strong connection to the community as well as school systems to really be able to best service students in that area. We serve the gamut in terms of the number of students that we can offer services for, from age four and a half, all the way up through preparing students for college.” 

Such a program has seen increasing demand for the exact reasons Swartz has decided to own a Sylvan franchise in Clark County: a shortfall in remote learning. 

School age students at Kiddie Academy of Vancouver-Salmon Creek can be seen here working on their devices through their schools’ remote learning program. Photo by Jacob Granneman
School age students at Kiddie Academy of Vancouver-Salmon Creek can be seen here working on their devices through their schools’ remote learning program. Photo by Jacob Granneman

When talking with parents of his Kiddie Academy students, Swartz reconfirmed the difficulties he was witnessing with his son. 

Many parents with multiple children were juggling the added responsibilities of helping their students get online and learn the platforms, such as Zoom and Google Classroom, while still caring for those not yet in school. 

Swartz sees a partnership between what his Kiddie Academy location does with young children and elementary schoolers, and what his new Sylvan location will do with elementary, middle and high schoolers. 

“It’s really customized to whatever they want it to look like,” Swartz said. “They’re going to have a variety of choices. The supplemental education schedule, whether it’s during traditional after school time, during the week, or even Saturdays, they’re going to be able to choose what works best for them. It’s all based upon what their needs are.”

Part of the reason for going with Sylvan, Swartz said, was their level of expertise with using technology in the classroom. When COVID-19 shut down schools in March, Sylvan was able to pivot to virtual tutoring essentially overnight, said Kalinowski.

In an in-person Sylvan center environment, there is a 3-to-1 student to teacher ratio, which is much higher than the average classroom. This allows for more personalized tutoring for students, even in a remote setting. The company has also invested time and resources into helping students and teachers learn how to use tools like Zoom. 

“We’ve been able to continue to operate virtually, while also opening our centers safely in different communities where the restrictions allow,” Kalinowski said. “We came out with about a 100 page reopening guide to try to think of every scenario and what we needed to do to keep our children safe. We have about 90 percent of our locations reopened for in person services, and sticking with that hybrid model for those parents that might not be ready to send their child in person yet.”

The new Sylvan location will be in the Salmon Creek area, and will work in tandem with Kiddie Academy which is currently doing in-person care with children as well, Swartz said. The location, which has yet to be selected, is slated to open in January of 2021.

Swartz said he believes the timing to be perfect, as many students will have acclimated to their remote earning platforms by the end of the fall, and it will be evident to their parents where they may need more help. 

“We just want to help parents,” he said. “I think parents are really struggling right now. When we started Kiddie Academy, the goal was to prepare kiddos for kindergarten. Now, it’s expanding that goal, expanding that mission.”