Although she said it might sound trite, Heather Roe has dedicated her career to education because she knows that’s how she can make a truly positive difference in young peoples’ lives.
And she can actually see that happening with her students in the classroom and now in her tutoring business where Roe strives to help them become curious and engaged life-long learners as well as to meet standards of excellence in their current grades and lives after leaving the halls of elementary, middle- and high school buildings.
To that end, Roe uses what she describes as the “whole child” approach to address individual needs and provide students with the tools to be independent thinkers and tie their knowledge into any number of areas – academic, social, local and global.
“In addition to academic excellence, I equally stress skills beyond the classroom such as critical thinking and connections to students’ environment and the world around them,” said the Belmont resident about her tutoring business called The Write Reason.
“For me, it’s not just about the grades children earn but equally important to challenge their emotional and social thinking as well.”
From the classroom to one-on-one instruction
A language arts teacher in the middle-school level for about a decade, Roe decided to take a year off when she moved to Belmont from western Massachusetts in 2005 to join her husband, Barry Jaspan.
“I’m a country girl from Ithaca, N.Y. and worked in a more rural area,” Roe said. “When I came here to be with my husband, I didn’t know if I would like city life.”
Roe decided to take a temporary job with an accountant as an office manager for one year while she settled into life in Belmont. That year stretched to five until, finally, she realized how sorely she longed for her life as a teacher.
“I missed working with children and the creative aspects of developing curriculum,” Roe said.
She tutored for about four years while still a full-time middle-school teacher, beginning when the mother of a former student asked Roe if she could help her son who wasn’t doing as well in his seventh-grade year.
“The woman said her son was struggling with language arts and wanted me to help him because I had connected with him while he was my student,” Roe said.
In January 2011, Roe began The Write Reason and said it’s slowly growing.
The subject areas she covers – for remedial and enrichment tutoring –include writing, reading, research, study skills and homework help in any subject area.
Tutoring to the child
Each tutoring session Roe provides includes an individualized lesson based on the student’s personal developmental readiness and skill level; a detailed progress report summarizing the lesson and, if applicable, what is expected for the next session; an additional 15 minutes of correspondence between sessions to answer any questions; and periodic communication with the student’s classroom teacher if appropriate and possible.
Roe – with a bachelor of arts degree in developmental psychology and education from Hampshire College and a master of education degree from Smith College – is a Massachusetts Certified General Education teacher for grades 1-9 as well as specifically certified for middle school.
Even though she is leaving the classroom, Roe intends to maintain her certifications.
“I believe in any profession it’s important to stay current and relevant,” she said. “I must be aware of what’s going on in the educational field.”
Yet she feels somewhat freed from the rules and regulations required in the classroom.
“As a tutor, I am able to decide what’s good for the students,” Roe said. “I don’t have the pressures of MCAS and have the flexibility to do whatever a student needs when it comes up. That provides a lot more ‘give’ in terms of what I can teach.”
For Roe, it’s not just about academic performance when she works with students.
“I like to challenge more than that, especially the emotional and social thinking as well and help students to transfer those skills,” she said.