The staff members at Sylvan Learning's numerous centers understand that each child learns differently. Therefore, they don’t try to implement a uniform tutoring system; instead, they design custom lesson programs based on the results of a skills assessment using diagnostic tools and one-on-one interviews.
Tutors work with students from pre-kindergarten through grade 12, illuminating topics ranging from basic reading and writing to remembering complex algebraic formulas without having them tattooed on your chest. Many of Sylvan’s instructors work in local schools, so they are intimately familiar with common curricula and understand how to gear lessons toward optimal results. Camps and after-school and summer classes can ready high-schoolers for the rigors of the ACT or the SAT, or they can help students to wow college-admissions officers with their superior essay-writing skills.
At Maryland Fencing Club, it's all fencing, all the time. The club's name graces a 2,000-square-foot facility dedicated to the centuries-old Olympic sport, complete with three electric strips and one for private lessons. A seven-member coaching staff—each a member of USA Fencing and certified by the US Fencing Coaches' Association—runs the show, grooming young novices and seasoned swordsmen alike to become the next vanguards of the sport.
Students enjoy focused attention as they learn the nuances of footwork and sword handling, particularly during their most formative years. Elementary-school classes are held at an 8:1 student-teacher ratio, while that number moves to 14:1 for high-school and adult classes. The coaches encourage vigorous competition, but they never do so at the expense of fun, reminding pupils to thoroughly enjoy their company and time on the piste.
From his post at Harford County Airport, Kevin Hess heads up a team of FAA-certified flying instructors as the owner of Harford Air Services. Himself a 25-year veteran of the skies, Kevin invites aspiring aviators under his wing to earn private pilot's licenses, instrument ratings, and advanced endorsements. Before lifting off, beginners get a taste of flight through introductory lessons, which involve both ground school and hands-on flying experiences, though birds still actively resent that turn of phrase.
Since 1978, Brett Aviation's FAA-certified flight instructors have imparted wisdom to fledgling aviators through programs ranging from discovery flights to full pilot certifications. Their trusty aircraft run skyward laps from its nest at Martin State Airport, allowing students to get a feel for flight controls and build the confidence that comes from hours spent aloft. Planes also take off on sightseeing flights, giving passengers aerial glimpses of such destinations as downtown Baltimore, Annapolis, and Ocean City at 120 miles per hour, just fast enough to outrun the tall ships that frequently drag-race down Chesapeake Bay.
As a kid-centric music venue, Drool of Rock doesn't just draw in local musicians—it creates them. The passionate instructors lead kids aged 2–5 in a curriculum of age-appropriate activities with a musical bent, including live performances and basic instrument education. During summer camps, kids aged 2–10 romp through the 6,000-square-foot center or play games in the 2,500-square-foot outdoor play area. On the weekends, local kids' musicians take to the stage for interactive performances, which are often free or priced in the currency of Candyland.
With 23,000 square feet of dedicated fencing space between them, The Baltimore Fencing Center's two locations offer students plenty of room to practice lunges and polish parries. Presiding over all the action is owner and head coach Bin Lu, who once served as a member of the Chinese National and Olympic teams and as coach of the former. Today he passes along the knowledge he accumulated while competing at the highest levels to students of all experience levels—even those who have never picked up a foil or battled a level 3 mage. The center welcomes beginners of all ages through its Learn to Fence program, and routinely sends its qualified fencers to USFA National events.