Motivating Students with Quality Online Teaching

People
By: 
Kenna McHugh, Learning Counsel Writer

Founder and CEO of iTutor Harry Aurora started his company in 2013 after leaving the mortgage banking business. He turned to the educational field because three generations of his family were educators. His mother was a school principal for 38 years. His father was a scientist, and his grandfather was a physics professor. He knew going into education was in his DNA. “When the financial market crashed, and I was looking for a new adventure, this was meant to be.”

Aurora started the company because he wanted to give back to the society. “I shared with my mom the desire to start an online tutoring and teaching company. She said ‘the teachers are going to be forever thankful because they are making money without leaving their homes. It's a revolution. If you don't do it, somebody else will do it.’  Eventually, iTutor turned into a successful business model.”

His mother recently passed away, but he continues to tell her story about being a principle in India helping her students after school by bringing them home, feeding them healthy meals, and giving them books to read. “My mom was my biggest motivation. I grew up with almost no privacy with kids in our house, so my mom could help them succeed in academics. The whole team knows about her life, especially the educators.”

iTutor is an ed-tech company that helps districts support student learning across all achievement levels using virtual teaching and tutoring with certified teachers. The company’s mission is to drive positive outcomes for all students – regardless of circumstance. “We aim to resolve the challenges faced by our school partners in closing the achievement and equity gap, specifically giving access to quality certified educators,” explains Aurora.

Partnering school districts, iTutor aims at fostering education with a community-driven approach built on accountability and trust between all stakeholders. Nurturing each student by safely connecting them with a certified teacher addresses their personal needs. Even though they are taught online, having a humanizing element engage them is crucial. “It is our fundamental belief to create an environment where students are active and empowered learners,” adds Aurora. “We address every student's unique needs by providing the best educator. Our goals align with parents and we’re grateful that they appreciate the convenience and customization of the services we provide. Parent engagement is equally important since we record all of our sessions and they can review classes with the child at any time.”

According to testimonies, school districts save time and money as a result of working with iTutor. “They see us helping them solve important instructional challenges for some of their most vexing students. Their willingness to adopt distant learning solutions and fostering a collaborative learning environment with their teachers is key to overcoming these challenges.”

Based on growth and maturity, iTutor’s technical team addressed all firewall/connectivity concerns by implementing a streamlined program called Tech Check. Most schools use one-to-one laptop models, so the company encounters fewer problems about the lack of hardware. In cases where there is an issue, they lend hardware to the districts.   

With logistical challenges addressed, Aurora reports, “We strictly focus on student engagement and performance through our online classroom. All instruction is through live 2-way audio/video/chat. Using the Socratic Method ensures students take on greater ownership for their learning.”

Aurora speaks highly of his educational directors and the team because he trusts their knowledge and teaching skills. “Professional development for our teachers ensures student engagement. We invest in top-notch PD for our educators. Our certified teachers differentiate instruction for each student, resulting in highly targeted lessons that accelerate learning - boosting student confidence. My primary focus is to ensure every member of our team has the resources to perform at their highest level and achieve their professional and personal goals.” 

From the beginning, Aurora focused on growing responsibly, listening to stakeholders, and not compromise on quality. “So, there is always an eye on processes, organizational efficiencies, and ultimately, it’s all about the impact and improving student outcomes.”

The Lower Kuskokwim School District in Bethel, Alaska exemplifies how iTutor reaches the most remote areas. With notable success in only six weeks, the students experience with learning online helped them gain respect for learning and inspired academic growth. “We have so many incredible, uplifting stories – every student of ours is a success story that inspires me We service students across the spectrum from overachievers to students in hospital beds, and even students many people gave up on. It all stems from my Mom who was an educator, principal for over 30 years.”

Aurora knows educational technology is part and parcel to the success of iTutor. “Our purpose is to combine technology with a human touch and unlock the potential in every student. It is ever-changing and creates new possibilities for working more productively, and more creatively, which makes me so excited to go to work each day.”