By Danny Ritz
As students’ workloads continue to increase and college entrance competition continues to escalate, it is easy to empathize with a student who has become overwhelmed in today’s aggressively paced curriculum.
But for the hordes of San Clemente students who have just returned to their classrooms, there is an ample assortment of incredible opportunities available for those looking to receive critical out-of-classroom assistance. San Clemente Tutoring, Kumon Math & Reading Center and Mathnasium are just a few of the local facilities.
Dino Beganovic, 21, is a recent graduate of San Clemente High School and the founder and president of San Clemente Tutoring on Avenida Del Mar. Moving from Munich, Germany, at age 12, Beganovic was forced to balance his passions of the physical sciences alongside the necessities of having to learn English, which was a third language for him. Having to learn English and being placed in classes typically structured above his age—due to his European academic upbringing—proved to be a challenging but valuable lesson for Beganovic, who says he has known since that point he wanted to be a teacher.
“I didn’t know exactly how, but I became intrigued, and then obsessed, with learning how to explain complicated things to people,” Beganovic said.
He said he believes his youth and contemporary understanding of the local public-school curriculum are crucial parts of San Clemente Tutoring’s success.
The San Clemente Times spoke with Beganovic and other esteemed tutoring experts around San Clemente about how to identify who may be a good candidate for out-of-classroom education and how it creates pivotal success in school.
An age of discovery
Poonam Srivastava is the director of Kumon Math and Reading Center in San Clemente. In Srivastava’s experience, fifth and sixth grades are the ages of discovery for identifying youth who may be in need of extra assistance.
Steve Santacruz, owner of the Mathnasium franchises in San Clemente, Dana Point and Laguna Niguel, agrees with Srivastava. Santacruz became a part of Mathnasium after his own son struggled with math in the seventh grade.
“Pre-Algebra can be the most damning moment in all of education,” Santacruz said jovially.
Getting back to the basics
Although there are many influences, Beganovic, Srivastava and Santacruz traced the need for extra assistance back to one source—the lack of core understanding of fundamental concepts. “Education today isn’t mastery-oriented,” Srivastava said.
Santacruz seconded this opinion, stating, “At Mathnasium, we define mastery as understanding, not just answering. Mathnasium entirely changes the vernacular. We don’t use calculators, and not because we are against technology, we just want all of our students to understand the concepts deeply, to be able to mentally do the math.”
Individual attention is important, and increasingly difficult, even at a school such as San Clemente High School. Regularly rated as one of the best institutions in Orange County, SCHS still sports a 28-1 student-teacher ratio, and difficulties catering to individual needs are somewhat to be expected.
At San Clemente Tutoring, Beganovic said he is excited to offer solely one-on-one tutoring sessions.
“I feel as if it’s necessary for students to get immersive one-on-one help. I like to develop full plans and build personal relationships with my students. There will never be a time when a student will walk into our San Clemente Tutoring offices wondering, ‘ What are we doing today?’”
While San Clemente Tutoring, Mathnasium and Kumon all stated that they most commonly work with students on a weekly schedule or multiple times a week, they are all open to one-time sessions for particular needs within their respective curriculum bases.
A universal platform
Santacruz thinks the increasingly diverse community of San Clemente does hold one key advantage regarding educational success.
“This is a community that is attentive to their kids,” Santacruz said, with Srivastava voicing similar thoughts. “Parental support is necessary. A lot of students come to me too late. It’s OK. You probably don’t hate math; you’re just frustrated and uncomfortable.”
Srivastava continued on universal access to extra-assistance, saying that she has seen this need, and its positive impacts, across a multitude of demographics. “Kumon prides itself on equality,” she said later, speaking on how she has seen similar usage and success patterns across economic and ethnic backgrounds. At $30 to $35 an hour, she was proud to offer competitive and accessible pricing to all families of students in need of tutoring.
Santacruz delved deeper into the idea of equalizing the public-school platform.
“In my experience, in a class of 30 students, 10 are below average, 10 are on pace and 10 students are above the standard.”
Santacruz believes that by eliminating the outliers and balancing with the help of extra-assistance where necessary, a classroom can act harmoniously and move together.
“Nowadays, having a college degree is more important than ever to obtain a job in today’s competitive market, and therefore it is becoming more and more competitive to get into college,” Beganovic said. “San Clemente Tutoring can offer students the extra edge they will need to succeed into the 21st century.”
Dino Beganovic at San Clemente Tutoring can be reached at SanClementeTutoring.com, by phone at 949.415.4935 or by stopping by his office at 111 Avenida Del Mar, Suite 205, San Clemente.
The Mathnasium’s closest location as well as available classes can be found on their website at www.mathnasium.com or by phone 877.601.MATH (6284).
More information on Kumon Math and Reading Center can be found at www.kumon.com or by phone 1.800.ABC.MATH.