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How Sylvan Learning Continues to Stand Out in the Supplemental Education and Tutoring Segment

Sylvan continues to be a leader and innovator in the K–12 personalized education space, setting itself apart from its competition in key areas.

By Paul Mueller1851 Franchise Contributor
SPONSOREDUpdated 3:15PM 04/15/22

For more than 40 years, Sylvan Learning, the leading provider of personalized education for K–12 students, has transformed how students learn while inspiring them to succeed in school and in life. In an increasingly crowded education space, Sylvan maintains its reputation as an innovator and as one of the most unique educational offerings today.

“Sylvan has always been my favorite place to work,” said Sylvan’s vice president of education Emily Levitt, who has worked in education for 26 years. “Out of all of the education companies I've worked with, we’re one of the only ones that does what we say we’re going to do. We're mission-driven — that's not just a slogan, we really are. We believe in what we do, and we're proud to get up every day and do it.”

In addition to being mission-driven and a great place to work, here are some other reasons making Sylvan unique in the education space.

Sylvan Provides Proprietary Curriculum and Personalized Learning

Sylvan provides a breadth of curriculum and delivery options to accommodate students’ unique learning needs. Operating with the understanding that no two kids — and therefore, no two kids’ needs — are the same, Sylvan presents both students and parents with options for a personalized educational experience. This starts with the brand’s proprietary curriculum, which is written in-house.

“Almost everything we offer is proprietary, and that includes our curriculum,” said Levitt. “We do a lot of research and field testing to make sure it works before we roll it out to our community, and we refresh it every few years to make sure it’s reflective of what kids are expected to learn in each grade.”

Sylvan believes that education should not be one-size-fits-all. Teachers focus on making personal connections with students to help meet their individual needs, and the brand uses proprietary assessments that help build a 360-degree picture of a student’s abilities. This allows Sylvan to create a personalized plan to fit that student’s unique needs to best position them to move forward.

“It's not a cookie-cutter program,” said Leah LaClaire, a Sylvan center director and franchisee in Essex, Vermont who is a former corporate employee. “It's very personalized. It's individualized. And I think for a lot of parents, knowing that we've created a personalized plan for their child, it makes it easier for them to trust us and see us as a true partner in their child’s education.”

Sylvan Offers Cutting-Edge Educational Technology

Over the past 40-plus years, as the education and technology landscapes have evolved, Sylvan has done the same. The brand has not only kept up with the times, but it has also been an innovator in the education space.

The pandemic forced educational providers globally to pivot to virtual learning. But Sylvan has been leveraging a strong foundation of virtual programs since long before the pandemic. These programs include SylvanSync™, which houses Sylvan’s entire curriculum digitally, as well as a cloud-based CRM system that manages customer communication and a cloud-based administration system that enables franchisees to manage their businesses remotely. All of these digital programs helped Sylvan adapt to the unprecedented changes in the education landscape and provide a modern educational experience.

“We kind of use the iPad like a textbook,” said Levitt. “All the content is there and the student interacts with it, but the teacher doesn’t just hand the student an iPad and walk away. They’re constantly there to guide the child through the curriculum. So it's a really nice mix of multimedia and one-on-one face time with the teacher— something that I think really makes us stand out.”

Sylvan also uses data and technology to help centers directly with individual students. If a teacher or center director identifies a student who has an unusual learning need or who simply isn’t progressing and they cannot figure out why, they assess through its technology, Sylvan is able to zoom out and see everything that student has done with every teacher as long as they’ve been at Sylvan. 

This, according to Levitt, allows the brand to ask themselves tough questions.

“We can get a really good picture of why a child's not progressing,” she said. “We can ask ourselves, Were they placed correctly? Are the teachers doing what they're supposed to do? Do we need to change something at the corporate level about what we're doing for kids in this particular situation? So we do a lot of troubleshooting. It’s just one way that we can enhance the individual experience and constantly evolve to serve our students through our technology.”

Sylvan Has a Dedicated, Full-Time Education Team

Everything discussed above — the creation and continuous advancement of Sylvan’s curriculum, technology implementation, the evaluation of individual students who may be struggling — is all done behind the scenes by Sylvan’s dedicated education team, which Levitt leads.

One of Levitt’s many responsibilities is to ensure that the Sylvan education team stays up-to-date and delivers programs that will help students learn the different approaches that are expected in class. Levitt and her team always have their pulse on what’s going on in education across the U.S. and Canada and how to work through changing standards to bring the highest-quality educational experience to students.

“Some education companies may have one person that they occasionally run things by,” said Levitt. “But it's rare to have a dedicated full-time team like ours. We're here all day, every day, focusing on the children and the quality of instruction. And it's paid off. We've been around 43 years, and there's a reason for that: We're good at what we do and we have the experts to back us up.”

Sylvan Empowers and Drives Teachers Instead of Burning Them Out

In the wake of the pandemic and facing increasing burnout, 55% of teachers indicate that they plan to leave the profession earlier than planned. As one of the largest private employers of certified K-12 teachers with approximately 10,000 across the United States and Canada, one of the brand’s primary focuses is creating an environment in which teachers can spend their time doing what they love to do most.


Teachers don’t have to worry about the curriculum, which Sylvan provides. They don’t have to worry about lesson planning, course prep or even grading papers. When it comes to the teaching experience at Sylvan, the vast majority of time is spent directly with students, making connections and working to provide the immersive, individualized learning experience Sylvan has become famous for.

It’s just one of the reasons teachers love working with Sylvan, and it’s what keeps everyone from teachers to center directors to franchisees like LaClaire coming back to work day after day.

“I always say that Sylvan runs in my blood,” said LaClaire. “It's just a part of me because I really believe in our system. I believe in growing students’ confidence and making them feel comfortable and successful and inspiring that love of learning. It’s why we all come to work every day.”

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