Retired PUSD administrators return to teaching a different way

By: 
CAROLYN DRYER, Peoria Times Editor

Photo by Carolyn Dryer

Denton Santarelli and Rob Keagle are still teaching. They are offering a tutoring and mentoring service called LearnerLink that hires certified teachers to help students struggling in the classroom.

You’re a parent with a child who is struggling in school. You know your child needs help. The classroom teacher has a half dozen other students with the same struggles, but does not have the time to sit down one on one with each one to give them the help they need.
You realize you cannot give your child the help that he or she needs. So, you turn to a tutoring service. But, you want to make sure the tutor is proficient in the area where your child is struggling.
That’s where former Peoria Unified School District Superintendent Denton Santarelli and administrator Rob Keagle were focused when they decided to do something beyond retirement. They talked about offering a tutoring service. But they did not want to offer anything but the best. They decided to become a branch under the umbrella of ESI, Educational Services Inc. The tutoring service is called LearnerLink.
Keagle said he did a feasibility study and looked at a variety of tutoring services and found ESI provides certified and substitute teachers.
“I’m able to go ahead and hire certified teachers to tutor,” Keagle said.
“We’re hiring certified teachers; we do background checks and fingerprinting. We personally interview and train each teacher.”
Santarelli is a consultant to ESI to help with program development.
Regarding Keagle, Santarelli said, “This is his baby and he’s done quite well pulling it together.”
ESI’s founder was John Tavasci, a long-time educator in the Verde Valley who retired as a school superintendent. ESI is now run by his son, Phil Tavasci.
The company, according to Keagle, is “quite a support system for schools.”
LearnerLink offers state certified teachers only. The student assessment is conducted through the Northwest Evaluation Association (NWEA) program, which has been around 40 years. During all those years, NWEA has assessed 4.5 million students, Keagle said, and it operates in 49 foreign countries and all 50 states.
“I can find out what areas a student is lacking (math, comprehension, concepts). Once we do that and tutor for nine weeks, at the 11th week, we assess to see how much progress they make,” Keagle said.
He said one student in the program was a second-grader having trouble with math. She scored comparatively very low. Keagle said they found the areas where she was struggling, found the right teacher and focused on the areas.
LearnerLink teaches through “a blended approach of in-person and/or online learning, providing personalized curriculum …to tailor a program that leads each student to success,” its brochure says.
The personalized approach means the tutor selected for a student will schedule time at a public library, a school library, or a community center.
Keagle said the Surprise Public Library has 75 to 100 computers set up for use by its patrons. Tutors will not meet a student in their own home or the student’s home.
“We’re really encouraging in-person,” Keagle said. “But we have an online ‘white board’ that is interactive over the internet. We went live last week (Nov. 13).”
Keagle was scheduled to meet with PUSD officials to talk about LearnerLink and how he and his staff of teachers could contribute to student success.
Santarelli said, “Parents just want their child to be successful.”
Keagle said if he can connect with three different school districts, he hopes to build a client base from those connections, and also work through PTSOs and PTSAs.
“And the faith-based community,” Santarelli said. “Build solid relationships with families; communicate in as many different avenues as possible so parents know what we offer. There’s nothing to compare with quantifiable results.”
Both retired administrators believe they have the experience and the dedication to student success to provide a program for “accelerated learning and remediation.”
For parents who are looking for a tutoring and mentoring program using an industry-leading approach, Keagle can be reached at rkeagle@esiaz.us, or by phone at 480-676-3319. Check out ESI Educational Services at educationalservicesinc.com.

 

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Peoria Times

Peoria Times
7122 N. 59th Ave
Glendale, AZ 85301-2436
Ph: (623) 842-6000
Fax: (623) 842-6013

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