QWERTY may be a term first coined in the 19th century but it was the 20th century notion that personal computers (with QWERTY keyboards) could be used as a powerful tool in helping kids with learning differences that’s behind the company of the same name located in downtown Menlo Park.
“My former business partner first started tutoring in 1976 and coined the name QWERTY Education Services in 1986, and I joined in 1998,” said Michael Perez, who currently heads the tutoring and educational services firm. “In the 80s, he began having kids use PCs to write stream of consciousness. Then they’d cut and paste to organize their thoughts.”
Unlike many of his staff, Michael does not have a background in education. After getting an undergraduate degree in aeronautical engineering, he came west to attend graduate school at Stanford with the thought of one day becoming a professor. “But I did do tutoring as an undergraduate, and when I decided not to pursue a career in academia, I was drawn to the idea of doing one-to-one tutoring.”
QWERTY offers a variety of educational services, such as test preparation, including two kinds of tutoring for kids age 4th grade through high school. “Kids with learning differences who need the involvement of a non-parental adult come here for three or four hours a week. We have specialists on staff who work with students. There’s an element of mentoring in those sessions.
“Other kids just need to learn the ‘how’ of a certain subject — how to do trig, how to write a paper. That’s very content focused as opposed to how to be a better student overall.”
One thing that Michael, who also lives in Menlo Park, has learned in his years in the tutoring business: “There’s no shortage of opinions on how to educate kids! So, what we have to ‘sell’ is relationships. And the good word of mouth is what’s kept us in business.”
Photo by Irene Searles