When her otherwise high performing daughter, Reesa, got Cs in chemistry and math, Novelette Sharpe took action. She’d heard about Focus Tutoring Academy from another parent, who recommended the service. Sharpe said that after four months, Reesa’s performance in geometry has improved dramatically and she has a better grasp of chemistry.

Success stories like Reesa’s are how Ruth Smith, founder of Focus, has built her 23-year old business.

“Most of my business comes from word of mouth and satisfied customers,” said Smith, Gifted Coordinator at Dr. Michael Krop Senior High in Miami.

Seven years into her 30 year teaching career, Smith took her passion and turned it into a business. After offering free tutoring to family, friends and neighbors, the veteran of the Miami Dade Public School system launched Focus Learning Academy, a full-service tutoring program.

“I began tutoring in my home at the dining room table, the living room, and my patio. I simply outgrew the free tutoring and began to charge for my services,” said Smith.

She boasts a “99 percent” success rate among the hundreds of students who have participated in Focus’ tutoring, which is located in North Miami Beach.

“Almost every child that has come to us for help has excelled and passed the FCAT with our program.”

Smith said she encourages parents to go above and beyond to help ensure that their children get the educational help that they need.

“Children need the assistance and support in order to meet these constant demands. They cannot  do this alone. We must find a way to provide our children with the extra academic support needed for graduation,” she said.

Recent changes in Florida’s education requirements will mandate that high school students pass an End of Course exam for each of their subjects. Focus currently offers tutoring assistance for the Algebra 1 EOC, and will add other subjects in the future.

“This is a new requirement that will one day replace the FCAT. Eventually every course that students take in high school will require passing an EOC for that course,” Smith explained.

According to the Florida Department of Education website, “The Florida EOC Assessments are part of Florida's Next Generation Strategic Plan for the purpose of increasing student achievement and improving college and career readiness. EOCs will be computer-based, criterion-referenced assessments that measure the Next Generation Sunshine State Standards for specific high-school level courses, as outlined in the course description. The first assessment to begin the transition to end-of-course testing in Florida is the Algebra 1 EOC, whic was administered for the first time in May 2011.”

Reesa said she now expects to earn As and Bs in math and chemistry like she does in all of her other classes. The tenth grader said that she would recommend Focus to fellow students in need of additional assistance because the tutor helped to clarify the subject.

“I was having problems…with geometry. I understood some parts. When I went to the tutor, she cleared things up,” said the tenth grade student who has plans to attend medical school and is strongly considering becoming a pediatrician.

In addition to part time tutoring services during the regular school year from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m., Smith and her team of seven professional tutors also provide a five-week summer program for children between the ages of 6 and 13, and a separate session for older youth between the ages of 14 and 21. The summer program runs from July 11 through August 12. 


WHAT: Focus Learning Academy’s summer camp

WHEN: July 11 through
August 12

WHERE: 1810 NE 153rd St., Suite #4 North Miami Bch,

CONTACT: 305-944-3206