Murrysville man draws on experiences in starting SAT prep academy
After searching the Pittsburgh area for courses to help his son, Jay, prepare for the SATs and failing to find a program that met his standards, Jesse Lee started his own.
Drawing from his own educational experiences, Lee founded mySchooler Academy and Education Consulting and put together programs designed to replicate the hyper-intensive study practices common in his native South Korea.
Lee moved to the United States from South Korea in 2000, earning a master's degree in information science from Carnegie Mellon University.
“A couple years ago I thought about it, that I just needed (to provide) that for college preparation,” said Lee, 46, who lives in Murrysville with his wife, Kyung, and son Jay, a junior at Penn-Trafford High School. “Originally we started this year in January: Saturday classes started at that point and then we just expanded them. Our students just needed more, so we set up doing a summer schedule for them.”
In Korea, university entrance exams are administered only once a year, with intense pressure on students to perform well.
“Like most Korean parents, my parents pushed their children into a mega-competitive educational system in Korea,” Lee said. “In particular, my mom was full of passion toward her children's education for the future.”
Because students in Korea have so much at stake based on their performance on the standardized tests, their study habits are extreme compared to Americans'.
“They spend most of their time – 12 hours per day at least – improving their academic skills or scores,” Lee said. “They go to the private learning center at 8 a.m. and get back home at 8 p.m. during the summer breaks. It seems weird but works well.”
The mySchooler Academy introduced its intensive SAT and SAT II summer courses this year. The nine-week SAT prep classes meet Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. in Winchester Thurston School in Shadyside. The SAT II course started July 1 and runs for seven weeks, meeting Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the mySchooler Academy office in Monroeville.
“It's definitely an Asian perspective. In a lot of the bigger metropolitan areas in the States and abroad, this style of school, the intensive style, is readily available, especially in cities with large Asian populations,” said Grace Park, a mySchooler SAT prep tutor.
“It's a bit of an Eastern philosophy in terms of school prep,” she said. “It's very rigorous. You have to do a lot of practice, and it's a lot of hands-on instruction.”
Each day of SAT prep classes devotes time to critical reading, math and writing, with students striving to master 100 vocabulary words each session. Students are able to track their progress through review sessions and four practice tests throughout the summer.
In addition to the summer classes and weekend classes during the school year, mySchooler coordinates lodging and classes for international students during their schools' holiday breaks.
“My vision, and mySchooler's mission, is building better education for the future through teaching the next generation, touching the dream and transforming the spirit,” Lee said. “I am confident and looking forward to (mySchooler) having a successful performance in the business field soon. The mission is ongoing, and it's my life's long project.”
Although Lee, like any business owner, hopes his business succeeds financially, student growth is the ultimate measure of mySchooler Academy's success, he said.
“I definitely see him as an entrepreneur, but I also see him as being passionate about educating the kids,” Park said. “When you see him talking to the students, he definitely cares and wants them to dream big dreams and use this course as a way to get there.
“I think it's part opportunity, but mostly it's because of passion and compassion,” Park said.
Greg Reinbold is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-459-6100, ext. 2913, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- New Florence assistant fire chief charged with having sex with juvenile
- Former Mich. lawmaker uses D.C. trip to lobby for veterans health care
- Woman testifies about alleged sex assault in Arnold
- Ligonier council approves design changes to Diamond
- Latrobe infant found in filth, police say
- Greensburg mayor race features write-in hopeful vs. businessman
- Soccer league seeks access to borough’s field at Willows Park
- Youngwood council delays vote on rental property inspections
- Hempfield woman bounces back from serious car crash
- Medical center ‘monstrosity’ near end in Jeannette
- Officials criticize West Newton code enforcement officer