Elyssa Katz has found an opportunity in the new distance learning marketplace. Courtesy photo.

Local mother Elyssa Katz spent spring frantically juggling her three, six, and eight year old children’s distance learning schedules while her husband worked from home. By May she was at her wits end. Knowing many other parents were in this predicament, Katz launched two new businesses: the Counselor Concierge, which matched families with private camp counselors this summer and now the Zutor™ Concierge, a distance learning tutoring service for the fall.

Katz describes herself as a “matchmaker between parents and educators”. Through an in-depth vetting process she pairs families with their perfect Zutor™, who is a qualified educator that comes to students’ homes and helps them manage Zoom learning.

“Around July I started having a lot of anxiety about the fall. I had no clue what was happening but my gut told me we weren’t going back to school,” said Katz. “I am not good at teaching my kids; it’s not healthy for our family. I thought if I could find somebody to come over that was also being safe in terms of social distancing, I would be comfortable with having an in-home teaching aide for my kid.”

Having spent summer matching families with out-of-work camp counselors who could replicate an at-home camp experience, Katz decided to launch a second business pairing families with Zutors™. To help her in this endeavor she hired a teacher in Santa Monica to review candidates from an educational perspective while she assesses them from a parent’s perspective.

Through this specialized process she believes she can pair parents and learning pods with the best Zutor™ for their children’s needs. Word has traveled quickly. Katz has worked with more than 100 educators so far and has a waiting list of parents across the country.

“We came here five years ago and I tried to hire a nanny by working with nanny agencies, but I felt like nobody was listening to my needs and they had no idea about the caregiver they were sending to my house,” said Katz. “When I started this company I said to my friends, ‘if I ever become like the agencies I experienced, I don’t want to be doing what I’m doing’.” Because of this, Katz spends hours matching each family and Zutor™.

The company is also unique because it also examines what each Zutor™ is looking for. “I really want the educators to find a job that works for them. There are so many smart educated people who are out of jobs right now that I want to help them just as much as I want to help the families,” said Katz.

This specialized service does come with a hefty price tag. Matchmaking fees start at $800, although unlike tutoring agencies Katz does not take a cut from her tutors’ pay. All Zutors™ have a bachelor’s degree and a background in education. They are paid directly by parents and have a typical starting rate of $25 per hour.

Katz recognizes that these services are not an option for all parents and is working on a new website for the Zutor™ Concierge that will have free distance learning resources.

From her experience helping three elementary students manage distance learning in the spring, she knows parents are in a tough position this fall. Katz advises them to make sure their children’s at-home classroom is organized with all necessary materials and to spend time helping them learn how to manage Zoom and other online platforms. She also recommends reaching out to both teachers and parents in the local community when children are in need of extra help.

“Just do your best with your kids and your kids will do their best, said Katz. “If you can just support them and empathize with them and let them know you know this is hard, I think that will help them feel less stressed also.”