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Education

Del Mar’s Huntington Learning helps students meet, exceed their academic goals

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Huntington Learning Center Del Mar’s director Rajesh Kathiru.
(Karen Billing)

With his new Huntington Learning Center in Del Mar, Rajesh Kathiru is on a mission to give every student the best education possible.

Since 1977, Huntington Learning Center has been providing individualized tutoring for K-12 students and preparing high school students for SAT/ACT tests. While they have hundreds of tutoring centers nationwide, the new Del Mar location is only one of two San Diego-area sites.

Open in Beachside Del Mar since the last week of January, Del Mar’s center has been helping students with supplemental education in math and reading – both enrichment and remedial.

“Our students have made great progress in the last few months,” said Kathiru.

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Kathiru came to Huntington from the field of software engineering where he worked for 17 years, 11 of those years for Qualcomm.
“I always wanted to do something on my own,” Kathiru said. “And education has always been my priority.”

Kathiru has two master’s degrees, one in electrical engineering from University of Alabama at Birmingham and an MBA from UCLA. He earned two national level math certifications from his native India, excelling in math with perfect scores in standardized tests.
As an engineer Kathiru said he is good at following directions, which led him to explore Huntington’s franchising model.

“I thought Del Mar was a location that would work really well,” Kathiru said.

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He signed a lease in August for the Beachside Del Mar location and began the process of converting the former yoga studio into a learning center, following the franchise model with work stations for individualized instruction, a smaller room for students in kindergarten through third grade and rooms for SAT/ACT test prep and evaluations.

Of all of the tutoring centers he looked at, Kathiru preferred Huntington’s program in that it does not work in isolation but takes a 360-degree view of every student.

“It’s an individualized program, not a classroom setting,” Kathiru said.

Every student is evaluated by grade level testing. Huntington visits the student’s school to talk to teachers about how they teach and their observations of the student’s strengths and weaknesses, which is incorporated into the program. Parents are involved in setting the focus on what the student is looking to achieve and there is ongoing assessments and feedback from parents, teachers and students. Each student receives a very detailed curriculum, with skills taught from multiple texts from a variety of publishers and vendors, customized to the students’ specific needs.

In a short time, Kathiru has been pleased with his center’s results.

One student in the SAT prep program was able to go from an 1170 score at the beginning of April to a 1320 at the end of the month, thanks to the student’s consistency in taking advantage of Huntington’s online supplemental courses, modules and practice tests.

“Ultimately it is the students who do all the hard work,” Kathiru said giving the example of another student named Jake, an “extremely smart kid” from the Poway Unified School District.

Jake had scored 234 on a math MAP assessment test, which is a pretty high score Kathiru said, however, he wanted a score of 252 in a span of five weeks to be order to get into an advanced sixth grade class.

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While other learning centers had told Jake that they could not work with him because the timeline was too short, Kathiru was up to the challenge.

While he employs six tutors at his center, Kathiru worked with Jake himself. Like all students who come to Huntington, they are given a grade level evaluation in order to prescribe a program. Kathiru gave Jake the seventh grade test to gauge where he was at, finding a confident and motivated student who reminded him of himself. On the last Saturday before the May 1 test, they spent four hours studying together.

While the teacher had said it was not possible to make that kind of jump, Jake scored a 254 on the spring MAP test.

Just a few months into his new line of work, Kathiru said he is finding such joy and happiness from helping students meet and exceed their academic goals, to be the best they can be.

“With the right approach and dedication, I believe I will be successful more often than not,” Kathiru said. “If a student puts in their best effort, they are going to make improvements.”

Huntington Learning Center is located at 2652 Del Mar Heights Road. To learn more visit huntingtonhelps.com/center/del-mar-ca


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