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Tip-Top Brain - Astoria, NY. Every student has the natural ability to learn if given the opportunity to receive a quality education. With a supportive and positive classroom environment and upbeat, compassionate and intelligent instructors to guide students through their educational journey, we believe that all students can unlock and discover their fullest potential.
Tip Top Brain in Astoria, is a learning center that is creating a great deal of buzz among both parents and educators in Queens.
Offering cutting-edge tutoring services, Tip Top Brain is a labor of love for Nicolas and Ourania, the school's founders and lead instructors.
Knowing that there was a better, more personal way, to educate our young people, Nicolas and Ourania decided to dedicate themselves to offering a curriculum that would speak to the real-life needs of students and their parents. At Tip Top Brain, children will receive the kind of education that they deserve, getting the kind of individual attention that just isn't possible in today's overcrowded public school system.
After returning from a well-deserved holiday, connecting with their ancestral roots in Greece, Nicolas and Ourania sat down with Aplez.com for an in-depth interview.
Our conversation covered many topics of interest, to parents and students alike. Down to earth and personable, the school's founders were more than happy to talk about everything from their love for their hometown of Astoria to the controversial issues that concerned parents have to navigate, every day, in today's educational system.
Nicolas and Ourania's answers were not only thoughtful but caring. They are educators whose mission goes far beyond "just" getting your son or daughter's grades up. Tip Top Brain is concerned about every aspect of your child's development including their social skills. One size never fits all at this school where individuality is cherished, not taken for granted.
Tip Top Brain is all about giving parents options when it comes to their child's education. When it's time to bring out the best in your child, Tip Top Brain is a genuine game-changer.
Nicolas and Ourania, first off, when was Tip Top Brain founded? And why Astoria? What made you choose this community as the home for your school?
"We founded the school in August of 2015. Astoria was an easy choice simply because it is the community that we were raised in. We thought that a community like Astoria would be the perfect home for our learning center because it is a big part of who we are as people, our values; really just about everything."
You have always stated that Tip Top Brain is proud to serve the community. Could you explain those feelings in more detail?
"Astoria has become increasingly diverse which is a very good thing. Along with the rest of Queens, Astoria is probably one of the most diverse communities in the nation, not just the city of New York. But it has also become a very expensive place in which to live", noted Nicolas.
Continuing on, Nicolas said that "With higher expenses, both parents need to work in order to make ends meet. Thus, they have little or no time to help their kids with schoolwork. We're here for the working moms and dads as well as for those newly arrived parents who may speak little or no English and, therefore, may have a unique set of problems as far as helping their children with school assignments and other educational issues."
One of the most common issues that Nicolas and Ourania have to deal with are parents who are perplexed about the new Common Core Curriculum.
"To say that these moms and dads feel clueless would be an understatement, " said Nicolas, referring to the anxiety that the Common Core has caused in families throughout the State of New York.
"Tip Top Brain is also here to serve those children with a learning disability, such as Dyslexia or ADHD. There are relatively few learning centers or tutoring services that are equipped to help children with certain disabilities thrive."
Extremely well-qualified to speak on this subject, Ourania has extensive experience in working with children who have ADHD, ODD, anxiety and behavioral issues or are on the Autism spectrum.
As a camp counselor at the NYU Summer Program for Kids (SPK), Ourania worked closely with boys and girls with ADHD as well as other serious, comorbid disorders. Furthermore, Ourania has gone through an extensive training course in behavioral therapy under the supervision of clinical psychologists.
This wealth of experience has carried over into Ourania's day to day classroom activities at Tip Top Brain. There is no potential student behavioral issue that she is not prepared to handle.
Nicolas and Ourania both graduated at the top of their respective high schools, thus earning a full scholarship to NYU. There, Nicolas received a Bachelor's Degree in Biology with a minor in Psychology while Ourania's major was also biology and she minored in both chemistry as well as child and adolescent mental health.
With over ten years experience tutoring students, both privately and in a classroom setting, Nicolas is currently pursuing his Masters in Computer Science while Ourania is not far away from earning her Masters degree in neuroscience and education at Teacher's College, Columbia University.
At Tip Top Brain, Ourania and Nicolas have created a beautiful and welcoming environment. One of the first thing that a visitor to the school notices is the color scheme.
We asked the founders what was the significance of the specific colors that they chose for Tip Top?
"The colors were handpicked after several months of research and careful decision making "explained Nicolas." We chose colors that have been proven to enhance a student's overall learning experience. The colors are not too bright where they could be overly distracting nor are they dull or boring, in any way. Our two main colors are a deep purple and a very vibrant blue. Those are two colors that can be appreciated by both boys and girls, making both genders feel comfortable and welcomed."
The first thing that students and parents see when they enter the reception area at Tip Top are a number of interesting quotations that are artistically drawn on the wall.
Two of the quotes that stand out the most are "Be a Buddy, not a bully" and "Life is all about mistakes and learning from them". Definitely food for thought.
"Tip Top Brain is a bully-free zone." explained Nicolas." We teach our students that bullying is unacceptable in any way, shape or form. Each student is unique in their own way, with various abilities. To make fun of or tease another student is very mean and hurtful. Sometimes, students will confide in us that they are being bullied at their regular school and were too ashamed to tell their parents about it."
"When we let the parents know what was going on, they were beyond grateful for the information. Given our psychology backgrounds, we are all about keeping and spreading a positive attitude towards mental health. That is so very important for both the short and long-term future of a child, both in an academic sense and for the child's overall health".
Nicolas and Ourania feel that life truly is all about learning from one's mistakes. We all make them, after all.
The staff at Tip Top encourages students to try as hard as they can and that it is 100% okay to make mistakes.
As Nicolas puts it;" If you make mistakes, that means you are making an effort. Eventually, those mistakes will be a thing of the past. Even the most brilliant minds in history made mistakes. We are a learning environment that is open to all students. We want them to feel comfortable to ask questions, be themselves and rebound from their mistakes. When you offer a child a pleasant, encouraging, fun and judgment-free environment they not only learn better but they LOVE to learn."
Let's talk a bit about your staff. Any business, but particularly a school, is only as good as the team that it employs. How do you go about screening the tutors who work with your students?
"Our potential instructors go through an extensive process before being hired," noted Ourania and Nicolas.
"All teachers/tutors must be enrolled in a four-year university, pursuing their education in a related field such as math, science, English or social studies. We look for caring, patient individuals who have demonstrated excellence throughout their academic careers."
"Teacher-student rapport is crucial. Our students have to be able to, not only, relate to the instructor but be motivated by them, as well. After conducting an in-depth interview with the applicant to assess personality and attitude, we will then place the potential instructor in a classroom setting. Here we conduct several different mock scenarios in order to see how they would respond to various students and how effective they are as teachers in terms of clarity and effectiveness."
Nowadays, money is on everyone's mind. We asked Tip Top's founders what they would say to a concerned parent who may be considering private tutoring for their child, but think that it may be too expensive and not fit into the family budget.
Nicolas provided a great deal of clarity in his answer.
"There are a couple of different ways that a mom or dad can go on this. We offer private tutoring sessions in which, with a 1 to 1 teacher to student ratio, the child receives undivided attention and a completely individualized session. Our group tutoring sessions offer a very small 1 to 6 ratio, maximizing the attention that a student receives while allowing their parents to remain on a budget. These are our Brain Booster programs."
However, many times, they will actually have two instructors in the classroom, working with a small group of students. Talk about over-delivering on one's promises!
Chiming in, Ourania added that," Our private tutoring sessions can be purchased hourly or in packages. When private lessons are bought in packages of 10 or more, parents can save a great deal. However, if they find that they still cannot afford it, we always recommend trying our group sessions (grades 3-8), since the teacher-student ratio is ideal and all materials are individualized to the student. If they are in grades pre K-2 or 9 to 12, where only private tutoring is available, we try our best to work out a payment plan with the parents."
Tip Top brain offers a varied and intriguing curriculum. Among the subjects and topics covered are math, reading, and writing, science, social studies and history. They are experts at preparing students to take a myriad of exams, ranging from the SHSAT, SAT , Gifted and Talented, AP exams to the Regents.
The instructors here can also help out with developing your child's socio-emotional skills, Science Fair projects, handwriting, and essays for high school or college admission.
Helping a student with his or her homework is something that comes up quite a bit. It can be challenging but the team at Tip Top Brain is more than up to the task.
"When helping a young person with their homework, we see many different types of students", explained Nicolas and Ourania.
"We have those students who are motivated to do it, but just do not understand how and we also encounter kids who know how to get their homework done, are smart, but are completely unmotivated. It's not impossible to reach those types of kids. But you have to work at a pace that is appropriate for each student."
Tip Top Brain's staff believes that building any sort of skill or confidence begins with care and understanding. It's all about building rapport so that the student learns to trust their teacher and is there to guide them through their hardest social, academic and personal struggles.
At Tip Top, learning is also all about having fun. STEAM Camp, for example, brings together science, technology, art, engineering and mathematics for a very hands-on experience. The students get to deal with actual engineering issues through assigned projects and classroom work.
The Code Zone enables students to explore the world of computer science through various academic areas. Who doesn't want to learn more about smart technology nowadays?
In fact, when Aplez.com visited the school, we saw a state of the art computer that was built from scratch by some of Tip Top Brain's students.
Also on the schedule are 3D printing workshops, Scientific Saturdays and an art-infused book club for various grades that will most definitely put the fun back into reading.
Every year, Tip Top Brain also hosts a very special Halloween extravaganza, which mixes Halloween-themed projects with science. And yes, you do get to dress up and wear a costume, if you like!
Be on the lookout for FREE reading and writing boot camps, as well.
Moms and Dads are absolutely encouraged to visit the school and interact with the staff. In fact, Tip Top will be hosting seminars on various topics that are designed specifically for parents.
With their school, Nicolas and Ourania are building a true community for Astoria's parents and their children.
Tip Top Brain is a quiet and comfortable oasis of learning where children can build the foundation for a very bright future.
Located in one of the most vibrant neighborhoods in the city, Tip Top Brain has tucked away on a residential side street, just off Ditmars Blvd.
When you visit the learning center and meet with Nicolas and Ourania, why not make a day of it with your child? Take advantage of everything that this charming neighborhood has to offer, from cool cafes, coffee bars and every type of cuisine you could imagine to colorful boutiques.
With the N and W train station just a short walk away and the Q 69 and Q 101 bus stop right outside their door, Tip Top Brain is truly destination learning. It is well worth the trip from anywhere in the city.
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Address: 2171 Steinway Street
City: New York
Mon 1:00pm - 8:00pm ,
Tue 1:00pm - 8:00pm ,
Wed 1:00pm - 8:00pm ,
Thu 1:00pm - 8:00pm ,
Fri 1:00pm - 8:00pm ,
Sat 10:00am - 5:00pm ,
Sun CLOSED - CLOSED .