Irish Powers

by Terry Watson | August 6th, 2011
Irish Powers

Irish Powers (Photo by Brad McKenzie)

As the child of an educator and 82nd Airborne Division paratrooper, Irish Powers of Charlotte has accomplished a lot of things in her life. She has obtained a bachelor’s degree in speech communications with a Speech/Mass Communications minor in Journalism from North Carolina A & T State University, and moved to Maryland and worked as a public affairs specialist at the U.S. State Department. After completing her task there, she set out to fulfill a childhood dream to serve as a flight attendant. For the next 13 years, she flew the friendly skies as an attendant for U.S. Airways.

During her career as a flight attendant the tragedy of 911 encouraged her to change her career path. Residing in Charlotte, Powers obtained employment with the Charlotte Mecklenburg School System so that she could stay closer to home and spend more time with her husband and two daughters. She served as a technology associate, instructional assistant and Title 1 tutor. Her responsibilities included helping students reach grade level performance in reading and math. She has also worked with children who had learning disabilities.

“I discovered a love for educating and was very passionate about the academic success of the students. There were encounters that told me that the educational field was where I needed to be and I could have a great impact on the lives of children,” said Powers. Her gratification prompted her to do even greater things and reach for higher heights. In March 2011, she started her own business, A Step Ahead Tutorial Service, LLC.

Located in the University area of Charlotte, A Step Ahead Tutorial Service, LLC is geared towards students that need additional academic support outside the classroom , while also providing enrichment for students that just want to stay a step ahead in their academics. Additional services are offered to students with disabilities such as attention deficit disorder (ADD), Dyslexia and Dysgraphia and for students that need extra help with standardized testing, SAT Prep, EOG Prep and more. Most of the tutoring takes place in the public libraries.

Often with the busy schedules of the parents and tutors, they are able to tutor at the students home. “Our mission is to help children not only learn the skills and strategies that are being taught in the classroom but to master their skills and knowledge so that they can take them with them from grade to grade,” says Powers. They provide one-on-one tutoring with the student using qualified teachers and tutors that are knowledgeable of the curriculum and different strategies used in the classrooms. Some of the subjects they provide tutoring assistance with are reading comprehension, math, science, social studies and phonics. “Everything is focused around the students’ success,” says Powers.

With the assistance of other educators who also have a love and passion for helping others, Powers is able to assess the students to find out what their strengths and weaknesses are. Then they are able to tailor lessons to each individual students’ needs. “Some students learn differently, so when we work with the student we are able to teach the way they learn,” she says.
Some students may be hands on, some may be visual. In a classroom setting with 25 to 30 students to one teacher, Powers states that students are forced to learn skills one way and teachers only have a certain amount of time to teach the lessons. “Unfortunately, because of this the lessons are taught short and choppy and are only introduced to the student. If a student doesn’t learn the way the lesson is being taught, it will cause the student to have low test scores on their weekly, quarterly and end of grade test,” she says. “The students will have learning gaps that will eventually hurt and complicate the learning process in high grade levels. Tutors reinforce skills introduced in the classroom, re-teach the lessons and give the students the extra practice until the skills and objectives are learned and the knowledge is mastered.”

At A Step Ahead Tutorial Service the tutors follow along with the lessons being taught in the classroom. They also communicate with the teacher to make sure that students stay on track to becoming a successful student. Powers says many other tutorial programs place students on curriculum other than what is available in the classroom. “When that happens the students have to keep up with two curriculums, which can confuse and frustrate the student even more,” she explains. When possible an administrator from A Step Ahead may visit and attend conferences with the parents to ensure the success of the student.
Powers also provides a service that operates out of day care centers. Just recently she obtained a contract with a day care center, where we are able to teach the three and four year olds beginning phonics and sight words. The program that is being used allows the children to learn to read before they enter Kindergarten.

“Doing what I do is very rewarding especially when I hear of the success stories of students my program has assisted,” says Powers. There is a young lady that she tutored while in 5th grade. She excelled in middle school and was a member of an honor society in high school, and received a full scholarship to attend college. Her current staff consists of three tutors. By the end of the year she has plans to expand to 10 to 15 tutors. “We are hoping that we will actually be able to bring on board some of the teachers that were laid off and put them back to work and expand to surrounding cities,” says Powers.

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