The Tutoring Center, Wyoming, MI


Tutor helping struggling child with math and science

Director – Kristi Cole   
Kristi is excited to bring The Tutoring Center, with 120+ locations, to West Michigan. Kristi grew up in Grand Haven and has always lived in Michigan.  She received a B.A. degree in Business Administration from Michigan State University.  While her business career was successful she was looking for something more rewarding that would align better with raising her own children and her passion for teaching children.  This desire returned her to college at Grand Valley State University where she earned a B.A. in English/Language Arts with Elementary and Middle School Education certification. She has 20 years of experience in various roles in our area schools. Kristi has been actively involved with public and charter schools, provided private tutoring and led a community-based tutoring program. West Michigan is blessed with fabulous schools and teachers. For some children, however, there is still a gap between what they are completing in school versus what they are capable of achieving. Kristi observed this first-hand with the students she tutored. In her latest role, managing a tutoring program for Streams of Hope Community Center, the number of students requesting tutoring rapidly increased with a growing wait list. Experiencing this increased need for tutoring, inspired Kristi to look at additional options for families to help children reach their fullest potential. The Tutoring Center’s student focused model, proven methods, and rotational approach, will give students the skills and confidence needed to succeed.

Lead Instructor – Johanna Huggins
Johanna was born and raised in Riceville, Iowa. She always enjoyed going to school and knew that she would become a teacher. Her favorite childhood memories are the many ski trips to Colorado that she took with her family. After graduating from high school, she attended Winona State University in Winona, MN, majoring in elementary education and minoring in special education. Johanna has spent the past 26 years living in Grand Rapids with her husband and two children. She spent 32 years teaching middle school and elementary special education and fourth and fifth grade. During those years, she formed many close relationships with students, parents, and co-workers. She retired in 2019 and found that she really missed being around children, so tutoring seemed like a great way to fill that void. In her spare time she likes to watch movies, hang out with her family and friends, take trips to the beach, take walks with her dog, and go on vacation to warm climates.

Instructor - Joseph Mead 
Joseph was born and raised in St. Joseph, MI about two miles from the Lake Michigan coast. He spent most of his childhood exploring, visiting national parks with his family, sword-fighting, looking for treasure on the beach, and drawing constantly. He never found any treasure, but he did find that drawing was his greatest passion and decided he wanted to be an artist and author so that he could create imaginative stories for kids. That or an astronaut. Whichever was easier. After NASA openly rejected his astronaut school application on the grounds that he thought the Star Wars saga was a historical documentary, Joseph attended Kendall College of Art and Design in Grand Rapids, MI. There he studied Digital Media, character/environment design, comic book design, animation, digital painting, and scientific illustration. He is now a children’s book author/illustrator, which means he gets to draw animals and pirates and dragons every day! Joseph currently lives in Wyoming, MI with his pet rabbit Luna. In his spare time he enjoys collecting Legos, building replicas of medieval armor and weapons, playing video games, and reading/researching history and legends.  His favorite book series is the Lord of the Rings, his favorite lightsaber color is blue, and he is in Ravenclaw House :)

Assistant Instructor - Emily Sandborn
Emily was born and raised in Portland (half way between Grand Rapids and Lansing) and is currently living in GR. She is in her fourth and final year at Grand Valley State University where she is majoring in Secondary Education and English and minoring in Applied Linguistics-ESL (Teaching English as a Second Language). She enjoys being outside and being active, so she loves hiking, going to the beach, and playing soccer. On Saturday mornings she can be found coaching some adorable 1-5 year olds soccer. She also loves animals and has grown up around cats, dogs, ducks, and chickens. She currently has two cats, a three legged cat named Dwayne and a new kitten named Toothpick. Emily is excited to join The Tutoring Center and helping all the amazing kiddos reach their potential!

Intern - Grace Medalen 
Grace was born in Memphis, Tennessee, but has lived in Michigan for most of her life. She is currently a 10th grader at Byron Center High School. She plays for the school softball team and is also in the marching band. Grace loves music and has been playing the flute as well as the piano for 8 years. She is a member of the National Honor Society and works hard to maintain her 4.00 GPA.In her spare time she enjoys reading, writing, painting, and playing games with her family.  One of Grace's passions is traveling. Recently she hiked the Beehive Trail in Acadia National Park with her dad. One of her favorite trips was a family vacation to Greece where she hiked sixteen miles through the Samaria Gorge and had a meal prepared by a shepherd at the top of a mountain near his herd.  Grace loves working with kids and has a passion for helping people. She volunteers at her church where she spends time playing with younger kids. Grace enjoys math and looks forward to working with students to improve their skills.

Darby Eck
My name is Darby Eck. I was born and raised in Sparta, Michigan.  I am currently living in Grand Rapids while on a gap year from my studies. My parents are both retired school teachers who worked in Grand Rapids (Kelloggsville Public Schools). Growing up, I was very involved in sports and community service. I played rugby and softball in high school and was active in Special Olympics, Be Nice, National Honor Society, and Student Council. I also spent a year working as a cadet teacher for a kindergarten class in my district. Through volunteering, cadet teaching, and coaching youth sports camps, I realized that I love working with kids!  I graduated from Sparta in 2019 and was recruited to Harvard University for rugby. I plan to return next year as a sophomore and major in government and psychology. In my free time, I’m usually training, reading, writing, or spending time with family and friends. I love school and working with people. I’m very excited for this incredible opportunity to help kids with their academic pursuits!

Grace Fitzgerald
I was born in Grandville, MI, and have lived in the Grand Rapids area my whole life. I am a junior at Forest Hills Central High School and am pursuing AP classes and am involved in school clubs such as HOSA and the Helping Hands Club.  I enjoy listening to music, reading, and participating in community service projects with friends and family.  I also enjoy sports and competing in track and field and cross-country. I play the cello in symphonic orchestra and enjoy playing both modern and classical pieces. I am fascinated by other cultures and hope to travel the world after graduating from college. I try my best to be open-minded and positive and am always looking for ways to improve. I can't wait to help kids learn important life skills and grow as both a student and a person.

My name is Sierra Braman. I was born and raised in the small farming community of Ravenna, Michigan, and currently live in the Grand Rapids area. I am in my third year at Grand Valley State University, majoring in Elementary Education and Mathematics. In my free time, I love spending time with family and friends, playing card games, and catching Lake Michigan sunsets. It has been my dream to become a teacher since I was in fourth grade and I love helping kids build their confidence and reach their potential. I’m thrilled at the opportunity to join The Tutoring Center team and am excited to help kids strengthen their skills in academics and life!

Beka Braciak
Beka has lived in Byron Center, MI her whole life. She is currently a junior at Byron Center High School and is very involved with their band program. She is the color guard captain for Byron Center’s marching band and plays saxophone for their wind ensemble and jazz orchestra. In her free time, Beka most enjoys learning to play new music and instruments and discovering new music to listen to. She also enjoys reading, playing video games, and drawing. However, what interests her for the future is science - mainly biology and biochemistry. She is inspired by her uncle, who has done cancer research in California and Germany, and wishes to follow a similar career path. What Beka loves most is to learn. She tries her best to learn new things each day from various methods and topics. By working at The Tutoring Center, she hopes she can show kids how to love learning as well!

Sophia Lanning
Sophia was born in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and has lived in the Grand Rapids area for her entire life. She is currently an 11th grade student at Byron Center High School. She is a part of the school's tutoring club as well as the percussion program. Playing percussion is the highlight of her school day and allows her to participate in marching band, concert band, solo and ensemble, and orchestra concerts. She is also enrolled in several AP classes at her school. In her free time, Sophia enjoys reading, arts and crafts, and watching movies with her family. Her favorite movies are the Harry Potter series, a movie series that she has re-watched countless times. Sophia regularly attends church and has gone on a few mission trips through her church. Mission trips has made her realize how much she likes to help people. She is super excited to help students at the Tutoring Center.

Owner – Ed Cole
Ed is passionate about helping children and building a stronger community.  He is from Jenison, MI and has lived most of his life in various locations around Grand Rapids.  Ed received his B.A. from Hope College and his M.B.A. from Indiana University.  After spending 18 years traveling as a management consultant, he was looking for a change of pace and a way to get involved and make a local impact. After months of research, Ed found The Tutoring Center’s student first business model, 1:1 tutoring method and Rotational Approach  To Learning™ very compelling and is excited to be able to bring it to West Michigan.  It is inspirational to help and influence a child’s life and Ed is looking forward to the opportunity.   He considers himself a life-long learner and has been involved in many youth activities.  In particular, he enjoys youth sports coaching.  He has coached his three children and many teams through AYSO soccer, Upwards and Courthouse Basketball, YMCA’s, and the West Michigan Warriors. Ed also enjoys serving on local boards of directors and has or is currently serving at American Red Cross, West Michigan Environmental Action Council (WMEAC), Streams of Hope Community Center and Cornerstone Church.  He brings his passion for helping children learn and his business experience to helping manage the operations of The Tutoring Center.

Our classrooms feature an intense learning environment that combines “The Rotational Approach to Learning” and One-To-One Instruction. Both methods were developed by Edward S.Thalheimer, Ph.D., founder of THE TUTORING CENTER. Our innovative system gives your child far more One-to-One Instruction than he or she will ever receive in a classroom full of children, or even in a small group.

You have many choices available for your child, and we want you to make the choice that's in your child's best interest. For instance, many schools provide after-school tutoring or intervention programs for students who are having difficulty in school, and maybe your child has been offered one in the past. Even though these programs are free to families, current research indicates that these programs are inefficient and time-consuming. Since they focus mostly on completing your child's homework, they can not offer you a permanent solution. While school-based tutoring may provide your child with short-term homework help, THE TUTORING CENTER's intense One-to-One Instruction and "The Rotational Approach to Learning™" actually provide your child with long-term skills that will last a lifetime.


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