Palm Beach Post
Tutoring firm helps young riders keep pace with academics
Every January, the best equestrians in the world arrive in Wellington for the Winter Equestrian Festival. For eleven weeks, they live and breathe competition. Many of them are junior riders who juggle high school or college classes while training daily and showing on the weekends. Some commute each weekend, studying in airport terminals and writing research papers in the barn between lessons.
Danielle Cooper was one of those riders.
She graduated from New York University in 2012 and worked for a few agencies before starting her own, Grand Prix Tutoring (www.grandprixtutoring.com). She works closely with her students and their teachers to make sure their grades don’t suffer while they’re chasing their dreams of blue ribbons and gold medals. The Wellington-based entrepreneur’s firsthand experience helps her relate to the unique academic needs of her equestrian clients.
“When I was in high school, I’d stay in Wellington for a month at a time,” Cooper said. “I was privately tutored to keep up with my academics. When I was in college, I commuted weekly from New York to Wellington. When I’d wait for my flight, I’d sit with other junior riders, and we’d all do our schoolwork. I’d always offer to help anyone who was sitting there. That jump-started my tutoring.”
Some young riders disenroll from school and stay in Wellington until April, essentially switching to home schooling for the duration of the winter show season. Others fly down on the weekends and need a tutor for occasional help. Cooper and her staff work in tandem with each student’s school and teachers to make sure they keep pace with their classmates.
“We communicate with their schools and we’ll send work back and forth and proctor tests,” Cooper said. “For the students who have to disenroll for a season, we make sure to create custom curricula for them and academic portfolios to send back to the school to make sure they stay on course with their classes.”
The one-on-one attention of tutoring often leads to equestrian students getting ahead of their classmates and graduating early, in spite of their rigorous extracurricular activities. Grand Prix tutoring offers in-home or virtual help, and even pay-by-the-minute help for quick questions or emergencies. For Cooper, it’s all about helping her fellow riders and taking the anxiety out of academics.
“We understand that equestrians need flexibility,” she said. “We don’t have set office hours because we’re in-home or virtual. We can help late at night when necessary and wherever we’re needed. We can even come to the barn. We try to customize and personalize academic help for our students.”
Cooper hopes to pass on her love of learning and help kids achieve their goals in the classroom and the show ring.
“I love seeing students realize their academic potential,” she said. “I find it really rewarding when a student grasps a concept they’ve been working hard to understand, or when their scores go up or they enjoy learning. Tutoring can make a big difference in a student’s education."