New Franchisee Profiles

How Franchisee Amber Castillo Built Upon Her Mother’s Tenacity and Her Own Rich Leadership Experience To Find Success with Sylvan Learning

The US Air Force veteran and former South Los Angeles teacher knows how to turn challenge into reward.

Back down from a challenge? Sylvan Learning’s new franchisee Amber Castillo doesn’t know the meaning of the words.

With a background rich in experience across leadership roles—from five years of service in the U.S. Air Force; to a competitive management role with Home Depot; to over a decade teaching in and around southern Los Angeles amidst a national recession—Castillo knows how to not only persevere, but to flourish.

Never one to pass up an opportunity, Castillo is now preparing for the grand opening of her Hermosa Beach, California-based Sylvan Learning center this summer.

Castillo expressed that she’s more than excited to bring Sylvan Learning’s unparalleled, technology-driven offering and individualized learning plans to students in her territory, which stretches along the coast of South Bay Los Angeles from El Segundo, west to Hawthorne, and then south to Redondo Beach, just west of where Castillo and her three children presently live in Torrance.

“I have a lot of passion, experience and expertise that make Sylvan a perfect fit,” Castillo said. “I love teaching but after 12 years I could see that the system [in which I worked] wasn’t making sense for students or for teachers. I knew I needed a change.”

Castillo turned to supplemental education franchises to fill that need.

“I wanted the support and infrastructure of a successful business model so I didn’t have to figure it out on my own,” Castillo said. “I wanted to position myself for the best chance of success so that I could support myself and my family.”

Castillo looked into Kumon, Mathnasium and Sylvan Learning. Knowing the need for attentive, tailored teaching, she was turned off by Kumon’s worksheet-focused model, feeling it didn’t individualize sufficiently to meet students’ needs. Mathnasium’s math-centered curriculum caught Castillo’s interest at first—she shared that math is her favorite subject—but ultimately felt too stagnant for the experienced teacher and businesswoman.

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Key Takeaways

  • Castillo knew that Sylvan Learning was the right fit for her upon seeing how Sylvan’s 3-to-1 student-teacher ratio and complementary technology platforms combine to best position students for success.
  • Sylvan’s franchise development sales team connected Castillo to multi-unit owner Todd Crabtree and, after hearing how the brand positioned Crabtree to realize his professional goals, knew that she was signing onto a brand with which she could grow.
  • For Castillo, Sylvan won out over other supplemental education franchises like Kumon and Mathnasium because of its proven pedagogy and wide-ranging subject offerings.

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