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How This Sylvan Learning Parent Turned Into A Sylvan Franchisee

Years after Juliet Duggins enrolled her then-elementary-school-aged children in a Sylvan summer program, she had an “ah-ha” moment that led to her pursuing franchising opportunities with the brand.

By Morgan Wood1851 Franchise Contributor
SPONSOREDUpdated 8:08AM 08/09/22

Juliet Duggins, a committed mother, educator and now Sylvan Learning franchisee, has been closely involved in public education systems all her life. As a young girl, education was emphasized in her home — she never missed a day of school. After becoming a parent, she chose to enroll her own children in a Sylvan summer program to supplement the education they were receiving at public school. Then, years later, when the COVID-19 pandemic began impacting her community in the Bronx, Duggins realized that Sylvan could provide the tools she needed to support her community at a time when no one else could.

“New York City was one of the first cities to shut down because of COVID; we got hit first, right here in our community in the Bronx,” Duggins explained. “Teachers didn’t have a plan, principals didn’t have a plan, the district didn’t have a plan, the city, the state and the government didn’t have a plan. No parents had the answers, and we had nowhere to go and nowhere to supplement.”

At the start of the pandemic, Duggins was working as a public school educator. When her school transitioned to remote learning, she and her husband decided to pack up their family and stay with some of their best friends in Charlotte, North Carolina. Though this family’s school system had shut down as well, Sylvan was still operating in the area.

“They were packing the kids in the car, putting on the masks, and taking them to Sylvan,” she explained. “And I was like, ‘So your kids are not going to decline. There’s not going to be a COVID decline.’”

Eventually, Duggins’ friend brought her to the Sylvan Learning, and she had an opportunity to meet with the center director and discuss what Sylvan was able to provide to its community at that time.

Though she had enrolled her own children in Sylvan programs years prior, Duggins felt a revived sense of appreciation for what the brand was doing for students, especially amidst the confusion and uncertainty of the pandemic. 

“I was like, ‘Never take your kids out of Sylvan. Sylvan is amazing,’” she added. “Eventually, we had another conversation in June of 2020 about Sylvan and reopening schools, and she told me to open a Sylvan in the Bronx.”

Duggins had felt a distinct responsibility to the parents of her students, and the lack of support from the administration and the larger school district had made her apprehensive about returning to the classroom. Though there were discussions about returning to school in September 2020, Duggins says she was unprepared and did not know what she would say to the parents.

“I can’t tell them that everything is going to be okay and that we’re going to work through it because I don’t feel like we have the systems in place to do that,” she explained.

The same week that conversation took place, Duggins teamed up with her husband to initiate the franchising process. Though she had never been exposed to franchising, had no idea how it worked and was not even sure how much it would cost, she says that it was not a question of “if” but a question of “how.”

After working within the New York City Department of Education for over a decade, Duggins said she consistently finds herself telling parents that they have all the power, but some families do not have appropriate access to the resources or language necessary to identify areas where students need additional enrichment and communicate that to their classroom teachers.

“I want to connect what the kids are doing in school with what’s happening at Sylvan,” she explained. “And, in the conversations and meetings parents are having with me, they’ll be gaining the language and knowledge they need to take back to parent conferences in the school. That’s something that parents don’t currently have that I want to provide through this.”

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