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Sylvan Franchisee and Special-Ed Professional Brings Supplemental Education Resources to Delaware Just in Time for a Challenging New School Year

Jason Blanshine opened the first Sylvan Learning Center in the town of Lewes in September.

By Kayla Bodel1851 Franchise Contributor
SPONSORED 10:10AM 09/28/20

Jason Blanshine, former special education teacher at Rehoboth Elementary, is opening Lewes, Delaware's first Sylvan Learning* center — bringing a much needed service to the community during a time when some students are struggling with virtual learning. Blanshine hosted a virtual opening on September 1 and is expecting an in-person opening in October. The center’s virtual opening is just in time for Cape Henlopen area students to head back to school. Blanshine’s business will provide a place for students that need supplementary teaching during the transition to virtual classrooms, along with enrichment education, SAT/ ACT test prep and STEM activities as part of Sylvan’s EDGE program. All services will cater to the new normal of virtual teaching by utilizing Sylvan’s Connect program — a completely virtual program that enhances the learning process for students. 

1851 Franchise: What did you do before franchising?

Jason Blanshine: I graduated from Cape Henlopen High School, which is the local high school here in Lewes.

I graduated in 2006 from the University of Delaware and spent three years as a paraprofessional at Milford High School while I was also going back to school to earn a certification in teaching history. After receiving my certification, I was a long-term substitute at Rehoboth Elementary. The principal of the elementary school suggested that I get certified in elementary and special education, which led me to my full-time position as a special education teacher there. 

1851: How did you initially find out about franchising? 

Blanshine: Getting into franchising was more just a conversation I had with my wife. She knew more about Sylvan than I did because she had one near her while living in Rochester, New York. She started pushing me to look more into it, which led me to discover what a great opportunity it would be for us and for the community. We wanted to be able to provide a service that helps further the education of students in the area. 

1851: Why did you pick franchising over starting your own business?

Blanshine: When I spoke to my friend, he asked me the same question. I went to Sylvan’s discovery day at their headquarters where I learned more information about the brand and business model. I brought that information back to him and we talked it through. There is so much more support at Sylvan compared to opening your own tutoring business as far as marketing efforts and other features of the business.

1851: What other brands did you look at?

Blanshine: There really weren't any brands other than Sylvan that we were looking at. We started with Sylvan and it all flowed from there. 

1851: Why did you choose Sylvan? What excited you most about the potential?

Blanshine: I chose Sylvan because of the vast array of services that we are able to offer students. Not only the remedial help, but also the enrichment learning, test prep and STEM activities. All of Sylvan’s services  are fairly new and not widely available in our area, so we’re excited to be able to provide them. 

The core of the teaching made me most excited. It brings the fun back to teaching without all the extra things you’re asked of in a public school setting. It allows you to focus more on the student and provides me with a career rather than just a tutoring side job. 

1851: What are your dreams with the business? What does the future look like?

Blanshine: My dream is for my Sylvan Learning center to provide a secondary source for students in the community to learn and set more students up for success to achieve their own goals, whether educational or personal. I want it to be enjoyed and seen as an asset by the community. As a special education teacher, you see students struggling with their education,I want to continue helping those students.

My plan for my Sylvan location is to also help the youngest children become more prepared for kindergarten. I want to provide ways to help those that don’t have access to preschool to have access to resources that will help them be more prepared for the next step.

1851: What value do you see your business providing to the Lewes community?

Blanshine: Not only do I think this will be a place for remedial help, but will also provide value for students that can be pushed further in their education. Sylvan can be the supplementary education that pushes them further and preps them for college and career training. We will also provide SAT and ACT test prep courses that will be very beneficial to the community.

1851: What advice would you have for others looking at buying a franchise?

Blanshine: My advice for others looking into franchising is to just go for it. I never dreamed I would be able to do something like opening a tutoring business and the steps I took toward it the more I realized it could be something that can work. The way Sylvan carries you through the process also makes it that much easier. Sometimes you have to take a risk to do something big. 

I was leaving a very safe position at a public school considering everything going on right now, and this was a huge risk for me. But I knew it was an opportunity for myself and the community. I’m not even open for another month and the word is already out; we’ve already been pretty busy with people inquiring about our services.

1851: How do you think your experience working with special needs kids will help with your new center?

Blanshine: I think my experience working in special education will definitely contribute to my center. I think providing additional help to special education students will also be an extra help for teachers. Just being another resource for these students and their parents is what it’s all about when it comes to helping special education students.

1851: How do you plan to handle virtual vs in-person learning?

Blanshine: One of the things that sold me with Sylvan is that they were able to pivot their business dynamic with virtual learning. Since becoming an owner, they launched Sylvan Connect, which is their effort to make virtual learning easier. 

I’m looking forward to being able to provide a space for students to come to and for parents to be able to take their kids to us so that everyone can get their work done - whether it is the student’s homework or the parent’s work. I’m wanting to create a space so that families are not so stressed about virtual learning. 

I think virtual learning has opened a whole other avenue for Sylvan franchisees. Before, it was usually the 3:30 p.m.–7:30 p.m. timeframe that franchises would see students. With virtual learning, we’re available at any point now for parents to bring students in to help them with Zoom learning and for working with their teachers.

*This brand is a paid partner of 1851 Franchise. For more information on paid partnerships please click here.