Hamilton start-up, SkillHouse, links younger students, college tutors

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

New company to tutor K-12 kids with college students

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

A start-up company called SkillHouse, based in Oxford and Hamilton, is ramping up efforts to link students from kindergarten through 12th grade with trained college students who can tutor them.

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To start out, the face-to-face tutors will teach academic subjects, like math, English, science, social studies and three foreign languages (French, German and Spanish). Eventually, the plan is for skilled tutors to diversify into athletic skills for middle-school and high-school students as well.

The company uses “total trainers,” whose teaching skills are honed through theories developed by Miami University professor Doug Brooks of the Department of Teacher Education within the College of Education Health and Society.

“The more skills someone has, and the better skills they have, the more successful they’re going to be with everything they do,” said SkillHouse’s founder and president, Andrew Reddecliff. “So this company is based around that idea…. We want to be the leaders in skill development.”

An hour of training costs $30. Miami Hamilton students are already preparing to meet with students, and SkillHouse plans to form relationships with all the county’s school districts.

Reddecliff, 24, who grew up in Harrisburg, Pa., got the idea for the company because of weeks he spent each summer visiting his aunt, Luann Reddecliff, who at the time worked at Miami’s rec center. During those visits, Ms. Reddecliff paid Miami students to teach him and a sister various skills.

“While we were out here for those few weeks, we’d be working with them, learning those skills,” he said. “My sister and I developed new skills, and we’d go home, show our friends, and do all these different things.”

They learned basketball from Miami players, and other abilities from students who had rock-climbing skills, and still others who taught them proper techniques for lifting weights, diving, swimming and horseback riding.

“It was kind-of like our summer camp,” he said. “We always learned these skills and had a great time, and part of it was we were always learning from college students who shared that passion…. Not only were they teaching us skills, but they were also sharing their passion for that with us.”

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He and sister Maggie Reddecliff also gained self-confidence by interacting with the college students, who also gave them good advice about life. A Miami field-hockey coach introduced Maggie to that sport as a young girl, and she went on to earn a scholarship at Ohio State University, where she’s about to graduate.

Aunt Luann Reddecliff, a former Marine trainer and later director of training in Miami’s fitness program, now works with SkillHouse, overseeing the college-students’ training.

SkillHouse, which works with the city of Hamilton’s Hamilton Mill business incubator program, now is developing a mobile platform that will allow younger students and college tutors to check out each others’ profiles to familiarize themselves with each other before they meet, and to follow up with each other after tutoring sessions.

The company trains college students who have particular skills they are passionate about so they can effectively teach younger students who could use that skill. The program helps students, their teachers and the tutors themselves, who become “total trainers” before they start, with additional training as time goes on.

Dr. Brooks, a professor of 40-plus years who specializes in teacher effectiveness at Miami, works closely with the company. Among the skills he and his programs impart to students and SkillHouse’s trainers are things to do before a teaching session; how to open a class; methods to use during the sessions; ways to answer students’ questions; how to impart discipline; how to close a session; and things to do afterward as follow-up.

“It’s a pretty sexy project, and he’s very motivated,” Brooks said.

Prospective college tutors, families with students interested in tutoring, or educators who know students in need can contact the company through www.myskillhouse.com, by email at andrew@myskillhouse.com, or 513-276-3164.