Uniting the community and the classroom


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For many college students, graduates are lucky if they land a job within the first six months after receiving their diplomas.

But for Amanda McNew, SU Class of 2009, “Pomp and Circumstance” was barely out of her head before she was offered an ownership position at the Sylvan Learning Center in her hometown, Chambersburg.

At 26, McNew is responsible for keeping books, paying bills, scheduling classes, meeting with community members and hosting open houses with the help of a six-person staff and her mother, Kym Benford, co-owner.

Many of the teachers at the Chambersburg center, including the program director, are SU alumni.
During her time at SU, McNew especially admired Andrea Malmont, who still teaches classes in the education major.

After studying at Penn State University for two years and graduating from SU with a degree in elementary education, McNew worked as a substitute teacher in local school districts for a few months until she was contacted by the Sylvan Learning Center in early 2010. Through reputation alone, McNew’s name traveled to the previous owner of the center, who then contacted McNew with the job offer.

New to the Sylvan program and field of business management, McNew welcomed the opportunity to apply the skills she learned at SU.

“I’m always up for any challenge that is presented to me,” the young owner said.

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Working as a teacher at Sylvan, McNew gradually learned the role of an owner while interacting with the students as much as possible. The most rewarding part of her career, according to McNew, is “the look of excitement” that spreads across a student’s face when he or she reaches his or her goals.

Sylvan Learning is a tutoring program that serves more than two million students. Of the 800 plus centers around the world, Amanda’s center in Chambersburg serves 25 to 30 students. During study sessions, one teacher works with three students at a time.

When students enter the Sylvan Learning program, they are tested to see where their strengths and weaknesses lie, which results in no two learning plans being the same for students.

“We get to have really great, deep-connected relationships with our students,” McNew said of her staff in Chambersburg.

On Jan. 16, McNew and her mother became the official owners of the Sylvan Learning Center. Although McNew has more paperwork to concentrate on than before, she looks for any opportunity to leave her desk and interact with the children. McNew is the first and last person the students see when they pass through the doors to higher education.

In the future, McNew hopes to expand her Sylvan Learning Center in Chambersburg to satellite centers in the Shippensburg area so that more students can have access to the tutoring program.


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