The Dundalk Study Academy: Building students for life
Having completed their Study Marathon ahead of state exams and working with all their students throughout the year, the Dundalk Democrat catches up with teachers, Leanne Muckian and Monique Bryson-Clarke of the Dundalk Study Academy to discuss how they started their business, the challenges facing students online and their plans for the future.
The two business partners, Leanne Muckian and Monique Bryson-Clarke, started the Dundalk Study Academy in November 2016 and since then have been helping their students to develop healthy study routines in a relaxed and friendly environment, 30 Clanbrassil Street, in the heart of Dundalk. Ms. Bryson-Clarke explains how it all began:
"We saw a niche in the market for Dundalk to offer services for students – secondary school students – after school and provide grinds also; we took the risk; we found the perfect building in a great location. Location is key – it wouldn't have worked. We have three floors and lots of space."
Dundalk Study Academy, who entered Ireland's Best Young Entrepreneurs and came runners up in Louth for Best New Startup Business in December, offer a range of services: from grinds on a range of subjects, courses on dyslexia, mindfulness and cyberbullying to supervised study. With a holistic approach to education – Leanne Muckian explains that one of their mottos is "we build students for life – not just for exams!" Providing a safe and focused environment for students is paramount, as Ms. Muckian explains:
"We have Junior and Senior rooms tailored – so, the students come in, we take their phones off them...Then we have resources – exam papers, Less Stress More Success, Stationery, anything that they would need – an iPad for research to do their study. And then there is always a fully qualified teacher in the room with them, so that runs every evening and then we have later options until 8pm as well for the Leaving Cert students, which they love because even the study in school finishes at 6pm, so if they wanted to do any more study, there's nowhere for them to go but there is now."
With the exams still going on, how hard is it for students to switch off from the internet and social media and turn to study? The Dundalk Study Academy run cyber bullying courses to tackle this issue, Ms. Bryson-Clarke explains how the students need help switching off from the distractions online.
"I think that was one of the reasons why we set up Dundalk Study Academy because of that. I think it's huge not being able to switch off and not only that – the nasty side of it too – that you can't avoid now. There's a lot of cyber bullying going on and even through talking to parents here – that some students weren't happy in schools and it was nice to come here with fresh faces; it was outside the school but yet they were meeting new friends, which was a huge thing. The friendships that we see throughout the years, through 5th years who are now 6th years becoming friends with people from different schools – it was lovely to see."
Leanne Muckian and Monique Bryson-Clarke have helped many students since the foundation of Dundalk Study Acaedmy and have many testimonals singing their praises. Their holistic approach to education has answered a void in the town – an friendly space that promotes healthy studying habits and social aspects to learning. As Ms. Muckian reiterates:
"One of our mottos is that 'we build students for life – not just for exams!' And I think that's so important to get to know your students as people; whereas, in school as a teacher you get to do that but only to a certain extent because you're running to and from and you can't have that extra little mile that you can have in here. So, in here it's a safe place for kids – they can open up and be themselves; we encourage them to be the best that they can be – both academically and otherwise."
Leanne Muckian, who teaches history, and Monique Bryson-Clarke who teaches maths, both also correct exams to keep up-to-date with the curricula and clearly love what they do and have many plans for the future of Dundalk Study Academy. As Ms. Muckian explains:
"Our summer camp is going to be that transition from 6th class into First year, and now we're thinking of opening a homework club for primary school kids as well next year. There's so many ideas we have – and improving and offering things that aren't readily available."
Dundalk Study Academy can be contacted on 087 403 5720.