Katina Goulakos, writer for the well-known Blog platform MTL Blog spoke with MAISON d'Étude Co-Founder, Mira Katz to learn more about MAISON. Why it was created, what makes it a unique place to learn, and how they plan to help students emerge more educated while learning online.
Maison d'Étude is like the trendy Soho House, but for education. It is the coolest place for anyone between the ages of 13 to 20 to go and learn. There are no other private members clubs for learning and students, this vision was one that Mira and Alex had, and seeing it through has been a dream come true.
The founders come from very different backgrounds when it comes to education but both share the common belief that school needed a major rebrand and that's how their business came to be.
Not only does their program offer support academically but their main goal is to equip them with life skills.
I spoke with Mira about her and Alex's goals, visions and plans for this incredible program.
If you could describe Maison d'Étude in a few words, what would you say?
In a few words, Maison d'Étude is a private club for students, and
It's a place where students feel inspired, motivated, and positive.
Where individuals can feel like they belong while taking steps towards adulthood that they feel good about.
What inspired and motivated you both to start Maison d'Étude?
The details are different for both of us but the end goal was the same.
Alex knew she wanted to be a teacher from the time she was a teenager. She is a physical education teacher by trade and she was working as a teacher and she quickly realized that there wasn't room to innovate as much as she dreamt about in the school system due to the vast amount of rules. She then began fantasizing about having a school of her own. A place where she could design the curriculum herself which is what inspired her towards this path.
Her goal was to create an environment where students truly wanted to be, a place where they got excited to go to and grew as individuals in every sense of the word.
On my end, I had started a tutoring company 5 years ago and I had built the first-ever study lounge. I always loved school and I was in pre-med with the idea of becoming a doctor. No one around me loved school, and I think it is because schools are not particularly designed to be loved. I also wanted to design a place where students wanted to be.
Most of all, I wanted a place where the teachers were mentors, that were there to teach specific subjects as well as give students tricks to stay motivated and be organized.
I also wanted kids to learn how to manage their skills, stresses, eating habits, and day to day lifestyle choices. School ends up being this stressful thing, instead of it being the best time of your life and at Maison d'Étude we strive for students to enjoy the process every step of the way.
Is that your hope for students, to fall in love with learning?
Absolutely, outside of the confines of school, learning is the most fun thing.
Learning is something that we do for fun, from good conversations to documentaries, we love being fascinated.
We want to show kids how to feel that daily as we equip them with the skills to feel more confident.
With confidence, they learn that it is okay to try and fail and that you can learn everything which in return teaches students that they can be anything and do everything.
What are the main qualities and qualifications you look for in teachers?
The first thing is someone positive, someone who makes you feel good just by being around them. Also, we want to find teachers who are good students in school. Teachers with master's degrees, Ph.D. students, and anyone who has mastered the art of what being a student is.
Every person that we hire must be well rounded, it is not only about being a good student. We look for active individuals, team players, and people who are passionate about the world around them.
We are not just looking for teachers, we are really looking for role models and mentors, people who can give our students tools that they can bring into the real world.
Do your teachers change their methods based on each students learning ability?
Of course. We have the most elaborate way of working with students. Every single new student gets a full interview, which we call a discovery. From there, we can build a profile on each student to gain an understanding of who they are as individuals.
After every session they have, a report is written out so that we know exactly what they worked on and what the next steps will be.
Have you seen a big improvement in students?
Yes, that is the biggest motivator. There are different ways to measure success, and the easiest one is to look at grades. However, there are so many factors that go with grades, including their environment.
We have seen so many students go from failing courses to passing with flying colours. For me, the most beautiful transformation is the confidence that students gain.
Gaining confidence and becoming comfortable with themselves is so rewarding to see. When a student is more confident in learning, the grades will go up and they will begin to enjoy learning more and more. It is truly a gift that pays off throughout their entire lifetime.
Where do you see your business going in the future, what are your goals as a company?
There are a bunch of things and currently, life has given us a curveball. We had the intentions of going online eventually, however, we had to go through with that earlier than we would have wanted to, which has been a blessing.
With transferring our business online, we are now able to reach a much wider audience as we are not tied down to our location.
In the future, we would love to incorporate more career development services, including internships, mentorships, and apprenticeships. Being able to give our students access to real-life hands-on learning.
We have also been incorporating social and emotional learning. We have a guidance counsellor on our team and a new service called personal development coaching. This gives students a chance to work on their academic skills as well as their social and emotional skills.
Our big dream is to have a location in every major North American city. We would love to also change students' perspectives on school and learning while giving our kids the tools to tackle the world.
Do you find it hard to stay as connected with your students without physically being around them?
I do feel the lack of their presence and not seeing them every day has been a big shift. However, we know how to pivot and innovate as we get past this hurdle. We are now looking forward in what we can do in the present.
We are finding ways of staying connected and although it is a challenge we are working hard to figure out how to navigate it.
What can Montreal locals do to support your business during this time?
I think the first thing is to join our community in any way you can.
Our biggest mission is to change people's perspectives on learning and to inspire and empower young people. You can visit our website or join our newsletter which includes resources and uplifting messages. You can follow us on Instagram, and see what we are all about.
For any parent who wants to give a gift to their child, the gift of mentorship is one that holds a lot of value.
Parents can apply for their children online. We are giving free discovery calls over the phone. We can figure out from there who on our team will be a good match for them.
We are currently online and when I say online, it is not just Skype and FaceTime. We have a great setup that is modern and interactive, it's quite amazing.
To learn more about Katina Goulakos, writer for MTL Blog, click here.