Today we are so excited to chat with Anna Tewell, Director of Academic Support and Partner of Connections Academics! Anna is bringing Connections Academics from Cincinnati to Chicago, to offer academic support services to students in grades K-12. Read on to learn more about everything Connections Academics has to offer (including some amazing summer options), why Anna decided to bring Connections Academics to the Chicago area, and some great advice on how parents can support their children through this difficult school year!
Thanks so much for speaking with us today Anna! Can you tell us a little about yourself, and your career journey prior to Connections Academics?
I am thrilled to be chatting with Lincoln Park Moms today, thanks so much! My name is Anna Tewell and I am the Director of Academic Support and Partner of Connections Academics. We are a local, small business offering academic support services to students grades K-12. After 10 years of business in Cincinnati, we have just opened up our new Chicago location, which I will be leading. After graduating from Miami University in 2014, I began my education career in Indianapolis as an Elementary Intervention Specialist with a program called Teach For America. After 2 years in Indianapolis, I completed my Masters Degree in Special Education and moved to Cincinnati to continue my education career. In Cincinnati, I worked with elementary and high school aged students as an Intervention Specialist, as well as a key partner in opening a grant-run Student Success Center in my local public high school. When the pandemic hit, I made the tough decision to leave the classroom and begin working full time with Connections Academics as a “pod” teacher and private tutor, as well as their Mentoring Coordinator. In October 2020, my husband got transferred from Cincinnati to Chicago with his work and I approached the Cincinnati Team to see if they would be interested in opening a new location here in Chicago. My husband and I have been married since Fall of 2019 and we have had so much fun with this new move to Chicago and getting Connections Academics up and running.
We’re excited to have you here in Chicago! Which neighborhood do you call home? Do you have any favorite local businesses so far?
I am very excited to be living in the Lakeview neighborhood and have loved the tree-lined streets and plentiful dog friends for our Bernedoodle, Briggs! I haven’t had too much time to explore, but have loved all of the small coffee shops, like Cafe Deko and Two Hearted Queen, as well as exploring Southport and grabbing brunch at Crosby’s Kitchen with my husband!
Tell us more about Connections Academics and all that you have to offer!
Connections Academics offers academic services of all types. We partner with families and students to provide convenient and customized support that enables students to thrive in competitive academic environments. We are passionate about education and helping students both catch up and get ahead in all content areas. We are a local, women-owned, small business that pairs your family with a highly qualified tutor that will come straight to your home or meet virtually. With the use of our Thrive Model of Support, tutors walk your student through both guided and independent content review and enrichment and ensure they feel confident and supported, while simultaneously working towards mastery. Our team of tutors are primarily licensed teachers and highly qualified college or graduate students. Our tutors are trained to provide your student with personalized instruction that is catered to their needs. We work to gather as much information as possible about your student before the first lesson to ensure the tutor is ready to fully support them.
What makes you the most excited about bringing Connections Academics to the Chicago area?
As a former teacher of both elementary and high school students, I know what is necessary for students to succeed, but also understand how stressful academics can be for families as a whole. I am excited to bring Connections to Chicago and be able to ease the worry that families or students have when it comes to academics, particularly this summer in the aftermath of an uncertain school year. The Chicago area has many upstanding and impressive schools and being able to partner with those schools and their families to provide support is a dream come true.
What is your favorite part about what you do?
Though I miss working with students directly in the classroom, my favorite part of what I do is connecting with parents and guardians to work to find a solution to help their students thrive. At Connections, we firmly believe all students can be successful when given the right support, especially those given in addition to what’s going on in the classroom! Parents are the best insight into what their children need academically, which is why I love to connect with a new family and hear what they need support with most, then work together to find a perfect tutor and structure for their student. I also love to connect with the community around me and though I miss my community in Cincinnati, I can’t wait to connect with new families, students and schools here in Chicago.
With this school year being such a challenge, many families are worried about their children falling behind. What are some of the best ways for parents to support their children during these trying times?
This past year has been a rollercoaster for everyone, but especially students. Whether they were navigating in-person, blended or virtual learning, the school year was different and learning was affected. This summer will be a crucial time for students to continue their learning, while also getting in the rest and relaxation they need after an uncertain school year. Summer tutoring is a great way to keep kids learning, but can also be stressful for parents having to facilitate the learning. By setting up one to two days a week of grade level review with a Connections tutor, students can keep their brain engaged, without sacrificing too much of their much needed summer. This allows students to be working with fun and engaging activities, while taking the stress off of parents! I’d also highly suggest students of all ages read, read, read! Reading comprehension and fluency are important for all grade levels and can be an easy and quick way to keep kids engaged during their time off.
Connections has some great services to support students through the pandemic. What will Connections be offering through the summer in the Chicago area?
Besides offering private, in-home tutoring to keep with grade level content, Connections is very excited to be offering summer academic camps in partnership with Bennett Day School! We will be offering Orton Gillingham Reading camps for rising grades first through third, as well as Math Enrichment camps for rising grades 2nd through 7th. Our Reading camp will utilize the Orton Gillingham program, which is a multi-sensory approach to Reading that is perfect for struggling readers. Our Math Enrichment camps will be run by licensed teachers and review grade level content to assure your student heads back to school with sharpened skills. You can find more information about Connections summer services on our website and more information about our camps on Bennett Day School’s website!
What is one more thing that you’d like to share with our readers that we haven’t covered?
As I mentioned, my favorite part of my job is connecting with parents. We hope to make parents feel supported and heard by offering services that are guaranteed to help students reach their greatest potential. I am looking forward to meeting more Moms in the Lincoln Park area and would love to offer an introductory rate to any clients who mention Lincoln Park Moms when booking their first session with a Connections tutor! We are thrilled to be in the city and can’t wait to continue to support students and families in their academic ventures.