Tom and Rosemary Wyrick weren’t yet ready for rocking chairs when they took early retirement years back. So in 2007 they began a second career when they bought a tutoring franchise and opened a facility in Cary.
The franchise has long since dissolved, and the Wyricks are now independent owners of Lifetime Learning Academy for Math, Science & English. The change, they say, has allowed them to focus on the needs of Wake County students without being obligated to adhere to a certain curriculum.
“We view our role as good academic coaches trying to develop skills and knowledge,” Tom Wyrick said. “We get you to practice and increase confidence so that at school you can be a star.”
Lifetime Learning Academy is an after-school business serving students from preschool to senior adults at its facilities in Cary and Holly Springs. In addition to typical tutoring and test preparation, it offers services such as adult writing and English as a second language.
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“One-third of our students need tutoring to raise their grades,” Tom Wyrick said. “One-third are doing well and need enrichment. Their parents want to make sure they are challenged.”
The final third come for preparation for the ACT and SAT and college entrance exams.
What makes Lifetime unique, the Wyricks say, is the individual attention. Classes are one-on-one and customized to each student.
“Our goal is to develop independent, confident learners,” Tom Wyrick said. “We hire caring, trained teachers and give them an environment where they can mentor students. We give teachers latitude with the study plans.”
Rosemary Wyrick said teachers identify and work on weaknesses.
“If you have homework, bring it in, but we’re not a homework club,” she said.
The facility is set up for individuals rather than group study. Individual study cubicles give each student a private space.
“Coming here is like going to the library,” Tom Wyrick said. “We are firm believers that we need to get students into the appropriate setting.”
Adds Rosemary Wyrick: “This is a destination place. You go to the grocery store to shop. You come here to study.”
While computers are available, the Wyricks prefer the old-fashioned pen-and-paper method.
“It’s a working session,” Tom Wyrick said, with direct teaching and immediate work to reinforce what is learned.
Because there is no group tutoring, students and parents are free to schedule sessions at their convenience. Hours are sold in blocks, and then it is up to the student to decide how to use them.
“It’s like a discounted book of movie tickets,” Tom Wyrick said. “It’s extremely flexible.”
Lifetime does not charge for the first SAT, ACT or PSAT practice test. Boot camps offer a practice test on Saturday and tutoring based on the results on Sunday.
The Wyricks are most proud of the relationships they develop with their students.
“We’re empty-nesters,” Rosemary said, “but we have lots of children.”
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