[ezcol_1half]By Kate McGregor
Options for after-school learning have just expanded with the opening of DEFT Learning Academy in the Glebe, a centre that offers academic enrichment and remedial programs in math and English language arts for students in grades 1 to 12.
Trevor de Freitas, founder and director of the Academy, has created a niche market in programs designed to assess the individual needs of each student, whether that need is to catch up, maintain grades or move ahead of the class.
DEFT Learning Academy moved to the Glebe from Westboro in November 2015. The popular after-school classes take place Tuesdays and Thursdays in the Ecclesiax Church, 2 Monk Street, close to Bank Street and Fifth Avenue.
The clever oval logo for DEFT speaks to the values de Freitas places on education. He chose the colour orange to reflect energy, balance, enthusiasm and warmth. The running fox – born of a chance encounter with a red fox that crossed his path on the way home from work – represents physical or mental responsiveness, quick thinking and adaptability. The tagline, “Committed to Student Success!” complements the message nicely.
De Freitas’s love for learning started at a young age. Born in British Guiana in South America – now the independent nation of Guyana – he moved with his parents and siblings to Toronto in the 1970s where he excelled in after-school classes. He became an electronics technologist, got a university degree in electrical engineering and fell in love. He and Janice moved to Ottawa, married and raised two sons. De Freitas worked at Bell for a dozen years, followed by Nortel for four to five years and specialized in software and hardware engineering. He saw the writing on the wall when the economic downturn eventually hit the high tech industry, and with it he saw an opportunity to chart a new career path.
As a father with a zest for helping his own children with their homework, de Freitas decided to channel his passion for education into a new business venture. He opened a franchised math and reading centre in the Glebe in 2006. Slowly and steadily, he grew a successful business. Eight years later he decided it was time to spread his wings and become [/ezcol_1half] [ezcol_1half_end]“an unrestricted free agent” so that he would be better equipped to address the divergent learning needs of children. He spent several months working with an education consultant examining the wealth of educational resources available before developing an after-school, supplemental education program aligned with Canadian core curricula. DEFT Learning Academy was born in Westboro in November 2014. He moved the Academy to the Glebe a year later.
De Freitas strongly believes that education is the path to a better society. As well, he notes the personal benefits of education: “My experiences as an educator, and as a father, have shown me time and again that whenever a student improves their grades at school they become more self-confident in all that they do.”
Students attending DEFT Learning Academy benefit from a blended approach of independent learning and traditional tutoring. De Freitas has set the bar high for those teaching assistants who work with the students. He aims for a ratio of one teaching assistant to a maximum of two to three students. Students are encouraged to use computers and tablets blended with paper worksheets for homework assignments to create a learning experience that is engaging, flexible and portable.
DEFT Learning Academy also offers preparatory courses for students who intend to apply to private schools or American colleges and who are required to write a standardized test, such as the Canadian Achievement Test (CAT), American College Test (ACT), Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test (PSAT) or the SAT Reasoning Test.
While DEFT Learning Academy does not have a visible street presence, de Freitas has the quiet confidence of a business entrepreneur who has tutored more than one thousand young people over the years. “I’m a low-key type of person. For me it’s about the steak not the sizzle when it comes to signage. I’m not a flashy person.” In addition to word of mouth to spread about DEFT, he advertises monthly in the Glebe Report.
De Freitas is grateful for the support the community has shown for his new business. As he says, “The Glebe stands for a lot that is good about a community. I’m kind of humbled by the support of the parents. Every child who comes here we treat like our own kids.” [/ezcol_1half_end]
Kate McGregor is a certified Integral Master Coach™ and writes the Business Buzz column for the Glebe Report. To inquire about her services: 613-884-1864; email@example.com; www.kmcoaching.com
DEFT Learning Academy
2 Monk Street, Ottawa
Tuesday: 3:30 p.m.–7:15 p.m.
Thursday: 3:30 p.m.–7:15 p.m.
Monday, Wednesday and Friday