Learning Magic provides tutoring for all ages
18, 2003 article written by Charles Winokoor
TAUNTON – MaryEllen Yeo calls herself "a learning tool."
And justifiably so. Because after a decade of teaching in the classroom, she has transitioned into the business world – but not at the expense of what she has always loved to do.
In March she opened Learning Magic, a private tutoring center located on the basement level of 23 Trescott Street, in a professional building comprised mostly of attorneys.
Yeo said that since then nearly 20 people – ranging from second-grade students to GED seekers to college graduates gearing up for their state teacher's test – have come to her to fine tune their study skills.
The profession made famous by Socrates and Aristotle, she said, still plays a vital role in society.
"Tutoring is a short-term learning aid, but the improvement is permanent," said the Dorchester native, who for the past six years has lived in Taunton with her husband and two children.
Yeo said she employs current and proven teaching methods, including elements of the Wilson Reading Method, Venn Diagrams and lattice math models. The idea, she said, is to foster one-on-one interaction by adhering to these contemporary school work techniques.
"We don't want to confuse. We want to complement what the school has been teaching," she said.
High school students preparing for MCAS exams make up roughly 30 percent of her client base, which she said doesn't surprise her.
"These kids have so much accountability nowadays, and some of them need to improve their skills," said Yeo, who added that she has a fairly even number of private students and those sponsored by local schools.
Learning Magic has two small classrooms, four workstations and no computers. There are workbooks on hand, but calculators are as high-tech as it gets. It all comes down to focusing on the basics of study skills.
"Parents can buy their kids computers. Why would they want me to let them play computer games here?" she said.
Yeo is a certified teacher and principal. She has a masters in education from Harvard University, a bachelor of science degree from Northeastern University, and is currently writing her thesis for a certificate of advanced graduate studies (CAGS) at Bridgewater State College.
She decided to pursue a CAGS, she said, "for my own personal development, to keep my brain stimulated."
Yeo most recently taught in Taunton High School and Norton High School, but got her start as a teacher at St. Peter's Parish in Dorchester. Following that she taught at Boston's Martin Luther Middle School and at Charleston High School.
She said she decided to start her own business after receiving encouragement from headmasters and doing a little personal research, both on and off line. Her conclusion was that there is a scarcity of tutors in the Taunton area.
She considered Lakeville and Norton, but said she chose Trescott Street in Taunton for its central location, and because it has plenty of available parking.
Yeo said there's nothing like being an entrepreneur. "I have a great boss," she joked.
She also has hired a young woman and a man – both recent college graduates interested in teaching careers – to work for her.
The space she rents was initially nothing more than a storage area. It took her, her husband and the landlord about three months to construct walls and install carpeting.
The result is a learning-friendly environment with yellow and white walls bathed in bright light that seems to personify her personal philosophy.
"The goal is to make it fun and get them to visualize things," said Yeo. "Learning encompasses all things and all of the senses."
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