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HUNTERSVILLE – Steve Gilbert wanted a way to help Lake Norman-area kids after leaving the Air Force. His wife, Ann, a longtime teacher, wanted to involve herself in education once again.
The pair have found what Steve Gilbert believes is the perfect combination: the Omega Learning Center of Lake Norman.
The Gilberts own the learning center, a K-12 tutoring institution that opened at 9810 Gilead Road last October.
Steve Gilbert said he focused his efforts on opening the center, which is a franchise of the Georgia-based Omega Learning district, to positively impact local students.
The results have surprised even the Gilberts a bit: In slightly more than half a year, Omega Learning Center has amassed 12 teachers, tutored roughly 40 students and improved their skills in various subjects by an average of 2.5 years in a 95-hour session.
“We’ve felt very glad and called to do this,” Steve Gilbert said. “My work life and personal life used to be very separate. We’ve wanted to do something to touch lives in the community and this has given us that opportunity. It’s very gratifying.”
The Gilberts moved to the lake area from Downingtown, Pa., in 2006. After opening the learning center, the pair recruited teachers in Mecklenburg and Iredell counties to spend one-on-one time with students throughout the year teaching subjects including reading and math.
Ninety-five hour sessions are standard fare for students, which take about one year to finish and cost $40 per hour.
Ann Gilbert said the coaching students receive from teachers sets Omega Learning Center apart from traditional schools, where teachers don’t have the time to devote attention to every student.
“We’ve gotten great feedback from parents on what we’re doing,” she said. “We’re really happy to be able to do it.”
Omega, which is certified by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, utilizes the nationally renowned Woodcock Johnson III assessment test – which measures aptitude in math and reading – to customize tutoring sessions.
Students receive one-on-one help in sessions that are usually comprised of two weekly after-school, one-hour sessions. Tutors engage with parents to update them on their child’s progress.
Steve Gilbert said the business impact of Omega Learning Center has also been positive.
“I’d say there’s definitely a market for something like this in the lake area,” he said.
“You’ve got a lot of public, private and charter schools, and parents want to make sure their kids learn as much as possible and get the best teaching. There is some demand.”
Omega also offers test preparation assistance for high school students getting ready for college.
The wide variety of offerings and Omega’s K-12 market makes the business a viable option for parents concerned about their children’s academic progress, Steve Gilbert said.
“We make sure the kids see the same teachers every time so they can foster some trust,” he said. “We want a perfect match for teachers and students. For us, we’ve found what we’ve wanted to do with this as well.”