For Sahar Nasr, owner of Math Plus Tutors, the journey to a life as an entrepreneur is one that has many aspects to it—all of them fascinating in one way or another.
The challenge, in many respects, is knowing where to start as her story unfolds.
One logical place may be Egypt, where Nasr first earned a bachelor’s degree and masters degree, both in nuclear engineering and where she envisioned a career teaching at Alexandria University.
In 1992, Canada beckoned and Nasr and her husband decided to immigrate, settling in London, Ontario, where they both earned doctorates at the University of Western Ontario (now Western University), hers in physics and his in chemical engineering.
With a job available for her husband in the research department at Imperial Oil, Nasr chose to invest the next few years raising their four children, the youngest of which is now in grade 11 at Northern Collegiate.
Four years ago, prompted largely by her passion for teaching as well as what she saw as an unmet need in the community for the kind of advanced help students would need if their full potential were to be met, Nasr launched Math Plus Tutors, the business that will celebrate its four year anniversary this September.
Today the business has continued on a strong growth trajectory, with a complement of 16 tutors in subjects ranging from math, biology, English, and French, as well as other languages such as Arabic and Korean.
When she launched the business, Nasr admits the name “Math Plus Tutors” was always intended to mean subjects in addition to mathematics.
But the name took off on its own and often had potential clients thinking that the only subject was mathematics, which, of course, is not at all the case.
In fact, Math Plus Tutors continues to expand its portfolio of subjects that are available to be taught by her staff.
Even areas as diverse as aerodynamics and broadly focused programs dealing with STEM—Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics—are now offered by Math Plus Tutors.
While clients are most often tutored on a one-on-one basis, there are a variety of options to help a student who needs the “extra help” needed to succeed academically, including group sessions and the various “Exam Prep Programs” that Nasr and her staff are continuing to develop.
Nasr also has a “soft spot” for helping students with special needs in any number of subjects.
She’s also developed a curriculum (STEPS—which stands for Stimulating Training Empowering Personal Success) specifically intended to equip special needs students with the basic skills that will help them live independently.
As far as fees are concerned, Nasr has developed a basic competitive scale that reflects the investment she has made in staffing and facilities.
“The reality is that we all want to do what’s best for our children, and starting early in identifying where a young person is struggling and then building a foundation of understanding that will go a long way toward ensuring success for the future.”
Nasr is also someone who understands how important it is for a parent with a student who needs the help to start early, although she has seen results even when someone seeks help later than one might hope.
What’s even more important to point out is the realization that the issues faced by a student may go deeper than even the subject being taught at that moment.
“Quite often, the problems a student faces go back even several grades,” said Nasr. “What’s really needed is to build a foundation of understanding so that we can create progress going forward.”
That said, the first step may very well be to contact Math Plus Tutors for an initial discussion with Nasr or a member of her staff.
The firm can be reached online at www.mathplustutors.ca or by phone at (519) 542-1999.
This article first appeared in the May/June issue of Lambton Shield magazine.