Name: Sofia Ivanka
Company: Building Smart Kids
How did you get started in the tutoring business?
When I was younger I was really good at math, but a lot of my friends had trouble with math. My friends struggled with placement tests like the Task test, which is now called the Staar test, so I started tutoring some of them. In the beginning, I would use pizza or cookies to help them remember certain math problems because they were foods that we enjoyed. Soon after, I began to incorporate worksheets, and when I was 9 years of age, I decided to write my first book titled 4th Grade Math Rules, which includes my worksheets and concepts for fractions, decimals, division and multiplication.
What inspired you to create your company?
My company’s process is the same as my tutoring process, the only difference is that I actually go to the schools and it’s an official nonprofit after-school program.
What after-school programs do you offer?
Building Smart Kids is the organization but I offer two official after-school programs. The newest is “Combating Crime with Education” in partnership with Sheriff AJ Garcia for alternative middle schools. A lot of the sixth graders and seventh graders in alternative schools are on a fourth and fifth grade level in math. Our goal is to go in and tutor them to get them to the level that they are supposed to be at. “Math in Action” is the other program that we have implemented in three schools, including; Caldwell, Reynolds and Emmerson. Initially our goal was to go to at-risk schools not focusing on ethnicity but focusing on their level of education and their low test scores. We started out in Caldwell with three kids and out of the three students, two of them went from failing to above average and the third student went from below average to average. The principle at Caldwell was so impressed that she referred the program to Reynolds Middle School and we branched out to include Emmerson Middle School.
Where do you see yourself in the next 10 years?
All of my programs and connections are here in Houston, so I am not sure if I want to go away to college. I skipped ninth and 11th grade, so I will be graduating this year. If I decide to go to college in another state, I would want to implement Building Smart Kids in that state as well. In case I am accepted into the school of my choice, I have created an ambassadors program in the city of Houston. Anyone can become an ambassador by selecting a school that hosts our program and signing up on our website with the school of their choice. Once accepted, the ambassador will be given the materials and workbooks that they will need to teach the students and adhere to our program guidelines. Eventually, I want to be a corporate lawyer or an international corporate lawyer so that I will have the knowledge to spread my company internationally and throughout the U.S.
For more information, please visit http://www.buildingsmartkids.org/Home.html.