WENATCHEE — FocalPoint Educational Services is gearing up for a rush after the pandemic slowdown last year.
“Like many businesses, we have been hit hard by COVID,” said owner Meliesa Tigard. “When we had to shut down and go to Zoom, we lost half our students. They started coming back in the fall, and then we had the second, smaller shutdown, and our phone stopped ringing. We were building back up again this spring and, about the time the schools went back full time, we found that our phone stopped ringing again.”
Typically spring is busy.
“This year changed everything, and we know there are so many people who need us, but they might be putting it off right now,” she said. “Our message is: Don’t put it off. Make use of this summer. Just 2 to 3 hours per week in the summer is a game changer. Your next school year will be better if you commit and put in the time now.”
Tigard said the uncertainty of the past year was stressful.
“I was afraid the dream I had built for 20 years would be gone in an instant,” she said.
It isn’t the first time she has faced a challenge.
“When the economic collapse of 2008 came along, our competition went out of business. I moved into a single office with a couple of counselors and worked with students myself until I could build us back up into a learning center,” she said. “I know the feeling of worrying that you will not be able to make it, and those counselors made a space for me that kept me from going under. I will always be grateful for that. It saved my business to move into a smaller space and share until I could move into a larger, two-room office.”
This time around, she and her two part-time tutors adapted to Zoom classes and figured out how to work with kids online and still make sure everyone got their needs met.
“It was very challenging, but we came out of it with a new, computer-based program that we had not used before,” she said. “We use it now for our warm ups, or as a reward at the end of a lesson. The kids like it, and it improves their test scores.”
She is now focused on the future.
“I know that people really need us, and that the phone is going to ring off the hook in the fall when we go back to school and take the state tests,” she said. “I’m trying to get out there now and tell parents to get ahead of it. I know there are many kids who are behind now because of the way COVID affected us all. I want to prepare parents for what is coming.”