Brian Leaf has spent countless hours parsing through Family Guy, Twilight, The 40-Year Old Virgin, and myriad other pop-culture phenomena—not for his own amusement, but to pick out SAT and ACT vocabulary words lurking in the scripts, which he's compiled in six books. A seasoned test-prep instructor, Leaf has helped thousands of students surmount standardized tests through his books and workshops, which dole out insider advice for taking the entire tests as well as specific subjects such as math, reading, and dodgeball. Students leave each session with a collection of McGraw-Hill guidebooks, tips on stress management and avoiding common avoidable mistakes, and strategies for each subject.
In the late 1970s, career educators Eileen and Raymond Huntington opened the first Huntington Learning Center in Oradell, New Jersey. Their goal was to take an individualized approach to education, adjusting instructional tactics according to each student's set of needs. Their success in helping K–12 students prepare for exams and improve grades and study skills quickly spawned franchises across New York, New Jersey, and elsewhere.
Today, the certified Huntington tutoring staff uses testing and rubrics for assessing each child's skills, academic needs, and potential for growth. The teachers even note the student's behavior in different testing and academic situations to craft a methodology sensitive to each child's learning style. Teachers also adhere to the company's code of ethics, which stresses professionalism and confidentiality and encourages pupils to improve their grades honestly through dedicated study rather than shortcuts.
After fighting her way back to a size four following the birth of her third child, Debi Condon earned her personal-training-and-nutrition certification and founded Evolution Fitness. Debi and her crew lead mostly female groups of all ages and fitness levels through indoor and outdoor boot camps, TRX-suspension classes and personal-training sessions. Interval routines leverage mats, free weights, and nearby playground equipment to build up endurance against fatigue and cooties. With an emphasis on supportive motivation rather than drill-sergeant tactics or endless scrimmages against fast-food mascots, trainers strive to build accountability among their students through friendships and unlimited email support.
An affiliate of Westfield State University, Westfield Flight Academy is an FAA-certified flight school where current and former airline pilots help ground-bound beginners head for the heavens. Leave ineffectual bird suits and prohibitively ugly rocket sneakers at home for a high-altitude tutorial, beginning with a preflight discussion of basic information and the principles of aerodynamics. Following the briefing, the cockpit will become your classroom as you embark on a training flight lasting about 45 minutes, giving you the chance to start, taxi, take off, and fly the plane as your instructor explains how to break gravity's rules without hurting its feelings. After the flight, every pupil will receive a certificate of completion, as well as a logbook signed by the instructor using a quill stolen from the wing of a peregrine falcon, the only bird that can fly without first inhaling helium.
Since taking her first tango class in 2005, Veronika Kruta has immersed herself in the world of argentine tango. She's traveled the country to attend tango festivals, where she learned traditional and modern techniques under the tutelage of famous dancers. Her travels inspired her to found Vktango in 2008, where she teaches a wide range of tango styles. Through Vktango, she shares all the lessons she’s learned, helping each student find their own style to the beat of traditional tango songs, alternative modern tunes, or perfectly timed jackhammering from nearby construction crews. She also draws on her expertise as a DJ spinning tango-ready rhythms for such events as the Boston Tango Festival.
A member of the New England Collegiate Baseball League since 2008, the Blue Sox incubates top college players while they stay fresh and limber between seasons in the NCAA. Partially funded by Major League Baseball, the league consists of 10 teams across six New England states, all competing in a summer of hardball that begins in June and concludes with the playoffs in August, just before players trade in baseballs for rubber-band balls and return to school. Originally founded in 1997 as the Concord Quarry Dogs, the Blue Sox wield homefield advantage at Mackenzie Stadium, a venue that can seat more than 4,000 fans or 30 anti-T-shirt missile silos.