Welcome to our premier VOICE interview! Chrissy Belfour, ECE entrepreneur and founder of Tutoring Bridge Ltd. generously shared some her time with us to reflect on her professional journey. In the following interview, learn more about how Chrissy grew her passion into a lucrative business and now continues to forge ahead with confidence, ingenuity, and vision.
From ECE college grad to literacy specialist, Chrissy built her company organically from an informal part-time tutoring service for a few of her kindergarten students to a full-time independent enterprise, specializing in literacy development, mathematics, and most recently, French language development. Chrissy achieved all this while pursuing a Masters Degree in Education and taking supplementary courses to further her knowledge base. To say she’s been a busy woman would be an understatement!
What is your education background?
I completed my ECE at George Brown College in 2003 and I am registered by the College of Early Childhood Educators. I later completed my ECE, B.A. at Ryerson University in 2013, followed by my Master’s degree in Child Study and Education from OISE in 2015. I am certified by the Ontario College of Teachers.
Why did you choose to leave your job as an ECE to pursue your M.Ed. – did you have an end goal in mind?
I have been in the field of education for 15 years. I started off completing my ECE at George Brown College in 2003 and graduated 2005. I was hired as teacher’s assistant in 2004, so I chose to go to school part time and work full-time to gain experience. I worked as a senior kindergarten teacher at the same school for 7 years. During the summer holidays, I was approached by many of my student families to provide private tutoring. Although I began my career as a senior kindergarten teacher, I later decided that tutoring was my true passion. I decided to leave my full time job and go back to school to complete my B.A. and Master’s and I continued taking on tutoring clients while I was in school. It was very busy but I felt blessed to be working and going to school for something that I truly loved to do.
When was Tutoring Bridge born? How did it transpire?
Tutoring Bridge Limited was born in 2015 (officially) but my tutoring career began in 2008. My clients are all referral based but my business has grown quickly and steadily. When I graduated from my Master’s program, I had applied to the TDSB and had a successful interview with the board however I was not sure if it was the right path for me, as I would have to give up my tutoring business. I decided to decline the opportunity to teach in the board and incorporated my business instead.
What do you believe sets you apart from your competition?
I think parents and students see my true passion. Building rapport with client families is number one for me. I think my tutoring business reflects my expertise, dedication and genuine gifts and desire to teach. My tutoring sessions consist of both remedial and enrichment based programs. I create individualized, research based programs surrounding reading, writing, and mathematics. My goal is to set up all children for success, using the Universal Design for Learning (UDL), as I believe that everyone should have appropriate access to learning.
How do you See TBL growing?
I see Tutoring Bridge Limited continuing to grow as referrals keep coming in. I have also started hiring tutors to help keep up with the demand. Last year I had two employees and this year I have one. It’s great to hire tutors to help because they fill in for areas of expertise that I am not qualified to teach (French, High-school).
What has been your greatest challenge as an entrepreneur in education
During my first year of incorporating doing my own bookkeeping was a learning curve but it has shown me that you can do anything you put your mind to.
What is or has been your greatest success?
My greatest success has been fulfilling my dream to teach in a way that best reflects my gifts and talents.
What advice do you have for ECEs seeking nontraditional work outside a childcare centre?
I think there are so many options in the field of ECE and finding the right fit for you will be beneficial to yourself and the children and families that you service.
What advice do you have for ECEs wanting to start an independent enterprise, like you did?
My advice to go for it! Follow your dreams and work hard. It will definitely pay off!
If you’re interested in learning more about Chrissy’s professional journey, please see her website: http://tutoringbridgelimited.com
Chrissy is interviewed by our special guest, Freelance Writer, Colleen Thornton.