Leading Central MA: Evolve Tutoring Founder Alan Houghtaling
Monday, October 07, 2013
Susan Wagner, GoLocalWorcester Contributor
|A passion for young people: Evolve Tutoring founder Alan Houghtaling.|
Alan Houghtaling brings nearly two decades of extensive and varied experience working with adolescents to his leadership as founder and director of Evolve Tutoring. His company is committed to helping kids to grow academically, while also supporting and encouraging their development as people. Evolve offers support across the academic spectrum, SAT prep, organization and study skills, special needs tutoring, and a comprehensive college application package to families in Central Massachusetts and across the state.
SW: What led you to your current career path?
AH: What stands out to me is the organic evolution that led me to where I am. If twenty years ago someone had told me that this is where I would be today, I would not have believed it. After studying English in college and then doing some traveling, a pattern began to emerge. Whether it was mediating a dispute between battling teenagers in my neighborhood, gathering kids in Newfoundland for a Frisbee game, or lending a hand to street kids in Guatemala, I found I had a passion to work with young people. That realization set my journey in motion. Working with kids has been incredibly rewarding and my varied experience led me to this place.
SW: How did that translate to opening Evolve Tutoring?
AH: Those early experiences led to my working with kids in various capacities, and this helped me learn so much. I facilitated individual and group counseling with at-risk youth, looking past the outer shell of someone, and taking the time to learn how they experience their world. Then, leading outdoor adventure trips with teenagers I learned how to supportively teach kids to challenge their limits in a physical and emotional way, and that through focused effort and determination, anything is possible. Translating those experiences into tutoring and coaching has shown me that young people need someone to not only help them become a better student, but to see them for who they are, while helping them to flourish in all areas of their lives.
SW: What do you find the most rewarding?
AH: I am immensely gratified, and humbled, by the amount of kids I have worked with who still stay in touch and keep me a part of their life even as they move into their late 20’s. I get calls, emails and invitations to share in the important milestones in their life, or to just continue offering a supportive and mentoring hand. They tell me what a difference we have made in their life, and they continue to make such a difference in mine. I’ve been really fortunate in that way.
SW: Can you describe one day in the life of Alan Houghtaling?
AH: It is very exciting. As the director at Evolve, I connect with many families and students. I work on professional development with my tutors and supervise them, which is very rewarding. Handling the day to day activities of running and growing a business is also important. I love reaching out to the community to help give parents the tools to help their children.
SW: What do you do when not at work?
AH: I spend as much time as possible with my wife, our dog, along with family and good friends. I love to read, mountain bike and refinish old furniture, taking old beat up projects and refinishing them. Nature is an essential part of my life, though I don’t get out in it nearly as much as I’d like to. When I do, it helps me recharge by being away from the distractions and chaos of daily life.
SW: What is the something that few people know about you?
AH: I won a national screenwriting contest and pursued screenwriting for a few years.
SW: What has been your greatest influence?
AH: In the larger picture, life itself has been my greatest influence. I started working with kids because someone took a chance and hired me with no experience. It is that combination of free will and the way life evolves that defines my path. My dad was also a powerful impact throughout the years. While we had our struggles at different times, we now have a great relationship. He is the hardest working person that I know and that is where I learned my work ethic. My incredible wife influences me every day, and now that we are expecting our first child, I have no doubt that he will be an enormous influence on every aspect of my life.
SW: What would you like most to communicate to young men and women in Central MA?
AH: I would like to communicate just two things. The first is to pay attention, and become familiar with your own unique process, and to the myriad of small steps needed to get to your goal. Ask yourself what you are doing to get there every day. Secondly, while grades and academics are important, it is also important to follow what is in your heart. Thinking critically is valuable and needed, but it’s also vital to feel your way through life and to trust that part of yourself.
SW: Any special plans for the future?
AH: As I mentioned, my wife and I are expecting our first child, and he will arrive at the beginning of February. That is starting to be all consuming in our personal life. As far as from a business perspective, the more the business grows, the more aware I am of giving back. There are so many kids who can benefit from the tutoring we provide but can’t afford it. While I need to make a living, I am working on figuring out how to make it possible to make a difference. In the future, Evolve Tutoring will have a giving back component in its model, which will start out small and grow with the company but it is just in its planning stages right now.
On November 13th, at 7:00, I will be presenting a talk/workshop entitled: Academic Strategies and Mindful Approaches for Students with ADD/ADHD, and Executive Function Challenges. This is being done in coordination with Westborough SEPAC (Special Education Parent Advisory Council), and will address issues that so many parents are struggling with today. It will take place at Tatnuck Bookseller, in Westborough, MA, and the public is invited.
I will also be offering a similar presentation that will be done in partnership with HYP yoga studios, and we are finalizing the date for that. You can contact me at our website for further information.
With more than 25 years of leadership experience, Susan Wagner has been known for driving events, initiatives, launches, and openings through her company Susan Wagner PR. In this challenging economy, she has begun a new division to offer affordable start-up packages to new and emerging small businesses and non-profit organizations that include professional writing services, websites, collateral, marketing, social media grassroots outreach and regional PR campaigns.