#47 – Outside Tutoring and Communication with Jessy of Ace Cookie Tutoring

Episode 47: Tutoring and IEPs with Jessy of Ace Cookie Tutoring

Have you considered getting an outside tutor for your child but are unsure what that would look like with their IEP? There can be a lot of questions when thinking about getting outside support for your child. Today, Jessyka Coulter from Ace Cookie Tutoring is here to give us some insight on getting the most out of outside tutoring services.

Have you considered getting an outside tutor for your child but are unsure what that would look like with their IEP? There can be a lot of questions when thinking about getting outside support for your child. Today, Jessyka Coulter from Ace Cookie Tutoring is here to give us some insight on getting the most out of outside tutoring services.


In today’s episode, we are diving into all things tutoring with Jessyka Coulter. Jessyca is a former paraprofessional who is now using the skills and knowledge from supporting in the classroom to help students outside of school with her tutoring business. We are diving into the benefits of tutoring, the importance of solid communication between tutor and IEP team, and finding a great tutor for your child. If you are wondering if your child could benefit from an outside tutor, this is an episode you don’t want to miss!


If you are looking to get a better understanding of what you are actually reading when looking at your child’s IEP, I have an amazing resource for you! The Decoding IEP Workshop offers live q&a with me, an informative workshop, and a Facebook group for follow-up support. Not sure if you can make it? The workshop will be recorded and you will have access to it indefinitely!


Be sure to join my Facebook group, The Parent IEP Lab Insiders, to ask any questions you have, connect with other parents, and share within our amazing supportive community!


In this episode, we cover:

  • Announcement: The Decoding IEP Data workshop is open for enrollment
  • The benefits of receiving tutoring outside of school
  • The different levels of communication between tutors and the IEP team and what a tutor’s role may be in IEP meetings
  • How and where to find a good fit tutor for your child


Connect with Jessyca:


Connect with Beth:


Related Podcast Episodes and Resources:

Beth 0:00
Today we’re asking the question, should you get an outside tutor for your child? And if you get one, or maybe you already have one, how can you make sure that when the tutor figures out how your child learns that that information is transferred into the IEP, so your child can be fully supported and learning in school? You are listening to The Parent IEP Lab, the podcast that helps you get an effective Individualized Education Program or IEP for your child without having to constantly fight with the school. I’m Beth Liesenfeld, occupational therapist who has participated in over 400 IEP meetings. My mission is to help you turn insider knowledge of the schools processes and culture into effective parent advocacy for your child. Today, we have Jess from Ace cookie tutoring. She’s a former special education aid turned to online tutor, and is here to help us understand why and how tutoring is helpful for your child and their IEP.

Have you ever looked at an evaluation report or IEP and seen all of those numbers and all of that information and thought, what does this all mean? Don’t worry, I’ve got a great solution for you. The decoding IEP data workshop is designed to help you learn the different types of data and where it should be found in the IEP. We also talk about how schools use the data to build out goals, accommodations and services. And what you can do as the parent if you aren’t seeing the data that you want to see from your team in the IEP is one hour of workshop, one hour of live q&a And a Facebook group to get all of your follow up questions answered. And did I mention it’s only $27? Go to the IEP lab.com/data and sign up for the next workshop. It’s done live, but the recording is available for life. Again, go to the IEP lab.com/data to sign up, and I’ll see you in there. Now let’s get into today’s episode.

Hello, Jesse. Welcome to the podcast. And so excited to have you here.

Jesse 2:18
Hey, Beth, thank you for having me. I’m glad to be here.

Beth 2:21
Of course, I would love for you to just kind of start out and introduce yourself and your business. And tell us about a little bit of your background.

Jesse 2:29
Definitely. So most of our listeners probably know me as Jessica Coulter, then I’m the CEO and founder of Ace tutoring. And for me, I’m all about teaching teens how to love learning. I mean, I want them to actually know what they’re learning and why they’re learning it. As to my background, I’ve been a tutor for about six years now. And then I’ve also currently work as a substitute teacher and kind of what got me into the school system at all, I think probably what you really want to know is that I worked as a paraprofessional for two years I was in the ed classrooms, I think was emotionally disturbed is at the high school level for a year. And then the year before that I had the kids that weren’t in life skills at the middle school level, they were kind of one step above. So I needed the one on one support and the gen ed classes. But yet they could actually go out in the different classes.

Beth 3:19
Yeah, that’s super cool. I love parents who have that experience of pushing into the classroom and actually seeing like the curriculum, and then how kids with disabilities are like what they need to be able to understand that I think it’s so valuable for you to actually see what’s happening in the classroom.

Jesse 3:35
Oh, definitely. I mean, that’s one of the things that caused me to leave the classroom as it was a matter of the kids I worked with every single one I worked with whether they actually got to go to classes or not. I knew that they could handle the material. I mean, there was this one particular sixth grader. He talked, but not really. But yet he was a whiz when it came to math, but because he would just leave the class randomly and just like run off, we couldn’t let him go to gen ed classes. And yet I knew he could handle the material.

Oh,that’s so difficult, especially when people are trying to do inclusion, and then it just wasn’t a good fit for him.

exactly. They just weren’t enough parents. I mean, if we’d had enough for probably each kid that get hit on the material. Yeah. But unfortunately, you kind of have to choose which kids are eventually going to be able to be on their own.

Beth 4:21
Yeah, we talked about that a lot. How the school system isn’t a good fit for kids in general anymore. It’s a pretty archaic system. And then we need some changes. But I think the change is going to start with parents. So that’s why we’re on this podcast.

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Jesse 4:34
Right? Exactly. Yeah.

So what are some of the benefits for having an outside tutor like you can you take us through your process? I think you do it virtually Correct.

Exactly. I work with a lot of students virtually. And then that’s kind of funny with COVID. We either have parents that have learned that virtual is the way their child learns. And so that’s all they want me to do when it comes to tutoring, and yet there’s parents that are still 100% under the belief that their kids only learn in person, so I actually do both. It just depends on if they’re local with me here in Kansas, or whether there’s somewhere else in the world.

Okay, that’s amazing. You said that not all of your clientele has IEPs. Right?

Exactly. I’ve worked with a little bit of everybody, the kids that have never been tested for anything, the kids that have IEP s five, or fours, and yet, you know, the kids to that they might just be a little behind. And yet, it’s not that they don’t understand the material. It’s not that they don’t want to learn, it’s just that they haven’t figured out how they learn. And so when a teacher presents the material in a way that doesn’t work for them, they don’t know how to learn.

Beth 5:40
Yeah, so you do a lot of problem solving. And I think that’s why I really, really wanted you on is because I’m sure in your sessions, you have a lot of aha moments, and you have a lot of things that you figure out about your clients. And I remember being an OT in the schools. And when I started an outpatient, I was like, why are the the school OTS not contacting me? It’s because they didn’t know I existed. And so really, it’s up to the parent, essentially, to communicate that these services are happening, but also just communicating those aha moments to the rest of the IEP team. Exactly. So what is the best way for parents if they do have tutoring or outside services? What is the best way for them to communicate your aha moments and the problems that you really get solved in the one on one sessions?

Jesse 6:33
It’s been a variety of things I know, that’s probably not what our listeners want to hear. But I’ve had some parents that want me very, very involved. So I mean, I’ve been to IEP meetings with students before. I mean, I’ve had parents that want me that much involved about other parents that they pretty much send an email to the teacher saying, hey, look, we have a tutor now. And then they step back, like they’re pretty much you know, Jessica, this is your problem. Now you you email the teacher, you figure out the homework, you figure out what modifications my child needs. I also have the parents that stay very involved in that every time I emailed them, they forwarded on to the teacher or were expected to group emails. So I mean, it really just depends on the parents, I think it probably depends too on where we are in the semester. Sometimes parents feel that pressure, especially with the high school kids becomes a matter of there’s urgency. So the more I can involve Jessica with the teacher, the more we can get stuff done faster.

Beth 7:25
Yes, that totally makes sense. And I love that you say that you’ve gone to some IEP meetings. I just had this question from a parent the other day of like, who can I invite? Can I have people there for a portion of the meeting? Have you stayed for the entire meeting, or just a portion of the meeting before

Jesse 7:42
I was there for the whole media? I mean, we went through what the current goals work and what they were currently modifying. So that way, I knew kind of what they were already trying to make happen, what they thought was working. And then they wanted to hear from me after working with the students for a couple of weeks, I think was actually probably a couple months and go okay, is this something that you’re doing with a student? Is this something that you see helping? What do you think like you kind of asked earlier, what are you doing that we’re not doing that we should be doing?

Beth 8:10
How cool is that? That’s amazing. Yeah, this is that’s a really similar thing to what I told this parent is like, you can have somebody you know, write up a summary of what they have done and submit it so that you guys can put it on the record of the IEP and pick through it. But if somebody’s coming, it’s really nice to have them there for the whole entire meeting. Right? You got it. So nice. Is there anything else that you would like parents to know about? Tutoring services in general, like expectations for tutoring services? Or how about getting services? That’s the right fit for their kid?

Jesse 8:45
Definitely. Yeah. I mean, that’s, that’s a question I could talk a lot about. So I don’t know if that’s what you want or not. I think about the first thing being a lot of parents don’t know how to choose a tutor, like, unfortunately, so many schools. I mean, even in my own local area, they don’t allow parents any access to outside tutors, like it’s all the teachers are here after school, we have a tutoring program, you know, you’ll get the help you need here. And so sometimes parents think, well, it’s what the school is offering, it must be the best. Unfortunately, what happens I see this a lot with students I work with, they’ve gone to the after school tutoring, they’ve gone to their teacher for help. And yet, it doesn’t help because they are understanding whatever the teacher is trying to teach them. Or unfortunately, what also happens with the upper level math classes, is you have a teacher there that teaches middle school math it’s volunteered to be the after school helper, and doesn’t know the math because why don’t teach it so why would I know it? So unfortunately, that’s kind of the number one problem is that parents just don’t know. Okay. If the schools not helping before school, after school during school, where do I find someone to actually help my child?

Beth 9:56
Yes, and I think we’ve discussed this in a different session. For the school has to be very careful about how they recommend services. Because if they put it in a way where they say, Your child needs tutoring services, then there’s this a court case somewhere that said that they would have to pay for it. So they’re very careful about recommending outside services. So where should parents go to find a tutor and figure out if it’s a good fit?

Jesse 10:23
I mean, my favorite schools personally, as a tutor are the ones that have a private tutor list. Because those schools, they don’t just allow anyone to be on the list. I mean, there was a process I had to go through, I had to verify what that I could actually teach and tutor what I said I could, I could just say, oh, put me down for these 10 classes and kids came to me know. And I mean, I also know that I have to renew that every year. So I mean, it’s people that are active in the community that are, you know, real people, and actually know what they’re doing. So I mean, that’s something I check for is if your school has a private tutor list, because it’s really weird. I don’t know if it’s just a local thing, or what, but some of the schools that I work with it actually have a tutor list. They also have like school websites with like, you know, school activities and things. But then they have kind of like almost a secret portal or like a secret, like listing on the website that has all these academic resources, like, it doesn’t seem like parents know about them. Because you know, during a rotation, the kids are snoozing. And yet parents can’t always make it to this parent nights are back to school nights. And so then they never know about it until their kids are really, you know, really, I can have trouble.

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And I would say to that even some of the staff might not know, of those resources, either. So who is like the best person that would know about this?

See such a tricky question. Because as a tutor, I’m always trying to connect with parents, I’m always trying to connect with teachers. So I mean, if I substitute teach for a class that I know, I can tutor, I always try to leave a note behind. But yeah, at the same time, in my experience, and have I reached out to school that I don’t really know it all. They always direct me in the counseling office. I imagine all of our listeners are probably being told that to go to the counseling office, the only question really is, is that really the best place? I mean, I know sometimes I’m able to drop off flyers, and I wasn’t in the office, the end of the counseling office. But yeah, something like that sometimes just goes on a shelf or in a corner and dies, because the counselor didn’t put it there. didn’t know it was ever gifted. And so yeah, they’re in charge of the schedules. Yeah, they’re in charge of transcripts. But are they the ones for academic resources? I don’t know. I mean, from what I hear, for the students I work with, it doesn’t always seem like the counselors have enough time because I know they’re definitely not helping with the college process, because we’ve got time for that. And so are they really going to be able to help parents or students with tutors? I don’t think so.

That’s a really good insight. And so parents might have to dig a little bit. And if you get shut down someplace, go to the principal, if you get shut down in the principal, go to the secretary. So you might have to dig a little bit, and maybe look on the website to see if they have a hidden page somewhere for that as well.

Exactly. And I mean, somebody’s parents can Google tutor, and then whatever class it is, and whatever area they live in. The only problem with that is dependent on who you use, it’s going to be such a varied experience. I mean, my business is all one on one, that’s all I do I only work with students, one on one, because it’s a matter of okay, you know, is it the content is the problem? Is it how learning is the problem? Is it the teacher, you know, what, sometimes it’s something as simple as the beginning of the day or the end of the day, like, it’s student just is not ready for math at eight in the morning, we’re ready for math at 230. And it’s just a schedule change. Other times, it’s just, you know, okay, I missed a step two weeks ago, and I’ve been confused for two weeks, we fix that, and oh, this is really easy. Now. That’s all it takes.

That’s amazing. And I know you’re pretty passionate as well about those, not just the academic skills, but also the study skills. Do you want to tell us a little bit about what you do to problem solve some of those study skills?

Definitely. Yeah, there’s, there’s nine study skills I teach the right program love to learn. And for me, those study skills really are life skills, the way you learn today, and for any of our parents are listening, the way their kids learn, especially in high school is gonna be the way they learn, you know, in college 10 years into their first job, I mean, it never changes. So I guess my big takeaway that I’m gonna make sure all our listeners have is no matter if their kids have IEPs or don’t, we got to figure out how they learn you know, simple and something as simple as their learning style or the auditory the visual kinesthetic, because that is like the absolute first step is once we know if a kid is visual. Okay, so to me, I’m a visual learner. That’s all about the colors. I’m all about reading. So I mean, if it’s something as simple as we write in pencil, math class, green pen and science and purple in English, sometimes that’s all a student needs to separate homework and notes and start that process of organization.

That’s really, really cool. Are you taking clients from around the country or do you stick to Kansas?

Oh, am I actually around the world it is what it is. I have students that are in Kansas, I have students in North Carolina, South Carolina right now. And I’ve actually just started with a couple students in Australia. So it’s pretty much wherever. Yeah, like I speak English.

So cool. I love it. So where can parents find you online?

So I have a website, a spooky tutoring.com. And then a lot of my parents encouraged to come to my Facebook group where I host lots of events and interviews with people like us. So you know, we got a bonus interview if they haven’t heard that yet. And that’s called a teaching teens love learning a group mamas is what it’s called.

Beth 15:34
Perfect. I will link those up in the shownotes at TheIEPLab.com/podcast. Thank you so much for coming on. This was so amazing to hear all of your insights. Thank you.

Jesse 15:44
You are welcome was a pleasure to be here.

Beth 15:49
I hope you had some great takeaways from Jess with ace cookie tutoring. She has some really cool experience with being a special ed para. So she gets that world but then she also really loves the private tutoring aspect of personalizing exactly what that child needs. And then we figured out together how to communicate that with the IEP team. If you have any questions about tutoring, if you want to connect with other parents that might have had tutoring, or how they manage that communication between the outside tutor or even any service provider and the IEP team, I want to invite you to the Facebook group. You can find the link at the IEP lab.com/episode47 and you will find a little graphic there with the Facebook invitation right there. You can click that graphic and request access to that Facebook group. We are in the group ready to welcome you and just we’d love to connect with you and help you in your journey. So check us out there and I will see you same time same place next week. Have a great one.