In the latest installment of our occasional conversations with Fort Worth newsmakers, Jennifer Hannah, founder of the new Sit Beside bus tutoring service, discusses how parents and students can utilize her unique services.

This conversation has been edited for length and clarity. For an unabridged version — and more about snake venom — please listen to the audio file attached to this article.

A few minutes with Jennifer Hannah

Kristen Barton: Hello everyone, this is Kristen Barton, education reporter at the Fort Worth Report. And I am here today with Jennifer Hannah, who is the owner and operator and founder of the Sit Beside bus, which offers some pretty cool tutoring services for students. 

How are you? 

Jennifer Hannah: Hi, I’m doing well. Thanks. 

Barton: To get started, just tell me about Sit Beside bus, what it is, how you got it started.

Hannah: Sit Beside us is a magical mobile learning experience for students within the Fort Worth area. It offers mobile tutoring services that are super convenient for families and allows for small group tutoring. 

Barton: Do you drive the bus to someone’s house? How does it work?

Hannah: I park it either in community locations such as the community park. I also am talking with schools right now to get them to be able to come onto campuses so that I can get kids right after school for kind of that convenience factor for families. And I’m also available and open to pull up to houses. Or other after school locations, it just depends on what the community need is, and that’s part of what I’m trying to figure out right now.

Barton: Tell me how you got started? 

Hannah: I am coming off of 17 years in the classroom as a primarily third-grade teacher. I was noticing every year more and more students not having the confidence in the classroom and a lot of negative self-talk of their abilities. And more families also saying they really just want their kids engaged in learning; they want them curious. They want this hunger for learning back into their child. And really, third grade can be when that switches for kids. I knew that I was wonderful with small group learning. I knew that parents needed tutors and they needed something more than just a one-on-one tutor because that can only serve one child at a time. With sit beside, though, we do small group tutoring and so we’re able to serve more families at a time and really replicate a classroom experience where the tutoring in the bus is going to have more carryover to the classroom.

Barton: How can parents or students get these services? How can they get in touch with you? How do they set that up?

Hannah: Right now, I am very active on Instagram. You can go on Instagram and it explains more about the business, the bus and the opportunities on it. There’s also a website, if you go to sitbeside.com, it tells you a little bit more about me, a little bit more about the business and tells all about the different services that are available. And Instagram is @sitbeside as well. Families can also email me directly at jennifer@sitbeside.com. 

Barton: Is there a fee for the services?

Hannah: There is a fee; it depends on the service. The way that the programs are kind of structured are — I offer two different math tutoring services — and those are structured so that we meet twice a week and it pretty much matches the quarterly system in a school. The prices kind of reflect that. 

The book club service that I offer is monthly and we meet three to four times a month, and that’s about $250 depending on how many times we meet. (I also have a) Writers Workshop, (and) I’m trying to figure out the best way to serve students on that if it’s monthly or semester wise as well. So that pricing is being determined, but right now it’s about the same cost as the book club would be.

Barton: Tell me about the book club.

Hannah: Book club is kind of like an adult book club, but a little bit more focused and like actually talking about the book. What I love about this program is that before we even start the book, I’m able to meet with a small group of about six students, and really talk about the context of what’s going to be happening in the story.

One thing I’ve noticed with students in a classroom is when they get into a book they’re really quick to kind of give up on it. And sometimes that’s because they don’t have the frame in their head of how to really dive into the book. I’ve experienced that myself as a reader. And so the first session of the book club, we really spend time understanding the context of the story, tapping into past experiences we’ve had, also looking at important things about the author or if the book is a Bluebonnet Award winner. We are able to kind of talk about that. And then we start the book together, they read some of it at home. The next session, we come together and talk about what we’ve read so far, clarify anything and help each other through the book so that we’re getting a much deeper understanding of what’s happening. We’re able to talk about it.

Reading is more fun when it’s a collective conversation, and hearing all the different perspectives of what’s happening, really grows you as a reader and grows you as a learner. And that’s why it’s not just once a month, but it’s throughout the book that we meet to talk about it. 

Barton: Is there anything else you would like the readers to know about your services or the bus?

Hannah: It’s a pretty magical bus. From the outside it very much looks like a box. But when you step inside, it’s pretty magical. I can’t wait to have kids in here learning and talking and making it messy and really just, you know, the energy that comes with learning and helping kids grow and become more confident. I’m just super excited about that. And I just encourage families to head to the website at sitbeside.com check it out and really read through all of the experiences other families have had. Anytime I go to it, I get really excited about what I’m going to be doing in the bus and just all the families of the children that I’m going to be supporting.

Barton: OK, great. Well, thank you so much, Jennifer, for taking the time to chat with us and tell us more about this program. We appreciate it.

If any of the readers or listeners have something you would like to know a bit more about, you can email any of the reporters or news@fortworthreport.org You can also reach us on all of our social media channels to make a suggestion for another “A Few Minutes With” episode. Thank you.

Kristen Barton is an education reporter for the Fort Worth Report. Contact her at kristen.barton@fortworthreport.org. At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial supporters. Read more about our editorial independence policy here. 

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Kristen Barton

Kristen Barton is an education reporter for the Fort Worth Report. She has previous experience in education reporting for her hometown paper, the Longview News-Journal and her college paper, The Daily...