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Meet Amelia Blaska

Today we’d like to introduce you to Amelia Blaska.

Amelia, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I tutor exclusively for the SSAT, PSAT, SAT, and ACT standardized tests, and in a variety of subjects: English, History, Bible/World Religion, College Prep (including applications and essays), Study Skills, and ESL for students in elementary school up and through the early college years and even after, including college bound and college students, and even adults who have returned to obtain their degrees later in life.

I grew up in Dunwoody and graduated from The Westminster Schools here in Atlanta in 1995, where I was a National Merit Scholar, 10th grade class president and co-cross-country captain my senior year of high school. My college years were spent at the University of Notre Dame, where I graduated with English Honors (Alpha Tau Delta) and received a B.A. in English and the equivalent of a minor in Spanish.

Upon returning to Atlanta after graduating in 1999, I immediately accepted a teaching position at my alma mater, The Westminster Schools, where I taught seventh grade English and Creative Writing (Writing Workshop) to eight graders for six years. I also taught tenth grade English in summer school. I also taught one year at Holy Innocents’ Episcopal School, where I exclusively taught seventh grade English. In addition to teaching, I was personally committed to my professional growth. At Westminster, I served as Grade Level Coordinator for the 7th grade and was a member of the Vertical Team studying gaps and overlaps in the curriculum. I also advised the Junior High Literary magazine and founded the Creative Writing and Poetry Club. I also coached Junior High Cross County and Junior High Track and Field, and I served on the Alumni Board and the Admissions Committee at Westminster. At Holy Innocents’, I coached Middle School Cross Country and Middle School Track & Field and at both schools helped establish and raise money and awareness for the JDRF, a cause I am quite passionate about, as I have had students and a younger brother get diagnosed in their early teens or before, by establishing school-wide walks for the annual “Walk to Cure Diabetes.” That said, my first commitment was to my classes. To quote Nedra Roberts, Retired English Department Chair, “Intentional, creative, passionate, and organized, Amelia had a clear sense of what excellent teaching and dynamic school leadership are all about.” She would also say that I possess a special understanding of middle school minds.

Subsequently, and inspired by a love of lifelong learning, I chose to continue my education by becoming a certified paralegal. I attended Emory’s Paralegal Certification Program, which I completed in spring of 2008 and immediately thereafter entered the corporate world, where I have worked for several of the top plaintiff and defense firms here in Atlanta. Interestingly, I also began tutoring on the side in 2006.

I have spent nearly the same amount of time employed full time as private secondary school instructor as I have as a litigation paralegal in the corporate world.  Especially at high-tiered firms, sacrifices became necessary in the tutoring arena. Although I would not trade any of the experiences or time invested in the corporate arena, my true calling has and will always be as a teacher.

Thus, in 2018, I began my own tutoring enterprise full time. My classroom has changed insofar as I tutor students at their homes, the library, or at a Starbucks, but I have never been happier.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Deciding to start my own tutoring business was daunting insofar as I had to learn and essentially relearn what it would take to survive. Not bolstered by a full-time job and steady paycheck, I had to be responsible for growing and maintaining my business, acquiring my own insurance, and branding myself professionally. With multiple breaks and summers off, I learned that I must be proactive in finding students that always wish to be educated or tutored, and last summer I expanded my practice to tutor four South Korean students in ESL. Essentially what sets me apart from other tutors is my diversified skill set. When I began tutoring in 2006, I tutored specifically in English, Spanish and for the SAT. Now I tutor for the SSAT, PSAT, SAT and ACT as well as a variety of subjects. I also teach Study Skills and ESL. I have learning that I must always continue learning and growing. At present, the Coronavirus is the biggest struggle I face. However, I’m continuing to work with my current students, whether it be in person while students are out of school and during my regular tutoring hours, and I have also added a virtual component for those who are wishing to quarantine. I must always be prepared for change and I maintain committed to keeping up with all of information and technology that goes along with each individual tutoring assignment I take on.

We’d love to hear more about your work and what you are currently focused on. What else should we know?
What makes me most unique is my diverse skill set as an educator. I tutor exclusively for the SSAT, PSAT, SAT and ACT standardized tests and tutor in a variety of subjects and areas: English, History, Spanish, Math, Science, Religion, College Prep (including Applications and Essays, Study Skills and ESL for students in elementary school through the early college years and even after. I have taught a three week long SAT class to seven postgrads in the Core4 program. I even work with adults who have returned later in life to obtain their degrees.

In a recommendation for me, my former student Louis Battey III wrote, “Amelia has all of the knowledge necessary to teach anything under the sun, but it’s her caring and creativity that set her apart. She understands that not every student has the same style, and by tailoring her approach to each student’s needs, she can truly bring out the best in them.”

 

Do you look back particularly fondly on any memories from childhood?
My favorite childhood memory is teaching school in our playroom, which my parents had built for me and my siblings, Katie and Charles. I would invite Kendall, Newell, Leah, Patricia over and they, along with Katie and Charles, were my students. I had a chalkboard, my grandparents gifted us old-school desks, and I created work stations for the other students. I asked my mom to purchase me multiple copies of Golden Books so everyone could be taught the same stories and be on the same page. I typed tests on my mom’s college typewriter and accompanied her to Kroger, where I would Xerox copies of my tests for my students. I have always been a teacher and educator.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Amelia Blaska, Ann Simpson, Sylvia Miller, Baxter Kelley

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