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Kara Scanlon: Finding her Career Path in Educational Therapy

Updated: May 27, 2022

Kara Scanlon is an Educational Therapist based out of Southern California and is also the chair of the national conference of the Association of Educational Therapists.

She meets with about 15 students a week and her specialty is working with kids in math. She has realized that students are not interested in learning executive functioning. So Kara’s strategy is to start with a subject that they are failing in, in order to gain their interest and trust, and then weave in executive functioning.

From Tutor to Educational Therapist

Her journey with this profession began when she started tutoring girls at her high school in math in the mornings before school, and in college she used her personal experiences with learning disabilities to help people with similar struggles in the math and science departments.

In her early 20’s she realized that being a research scientist was not her path. Although she loved tutoring, she thought she couldn’t make enough money from it to turn it into a career. However, her ed therapist from her childhood told her otherwise. Once she started on this path towards ed therapy, she felt like all the pieces came together perfectly.

Such a large percentage of people who need an ed therapist do not have access to one and it prevents people from living up to their full potential. A passion project of Kara’s is working towards changing this.

Kara has a contagious energy and passion. She likes to have creative and calming outlets to keep herself energized whether it is watercolor, planting, or playing with her dogs and it has a huge effect on her work life.

How do I ask for the money I deserve?

Asking for the amount of money you think you deserve can be awkward and difficult but realizing your self worth, working with families that you want to work with and respect you, stating your price emphatically, and showing the 110% effort you will give are the strategies that have helped Kara find success.

Kara has side projects in countries around the world where she works with clients pro-bono and this is something that helps her find a balance of serving more wealthy clients as well as fulfilling her purpose as an educator for all people regardless of socio-economic status. This is also something that makes the families she works with more comfortable with her price.

She also spends a lot of time volunteering with Association of Educational Therapists (which she is now chair of) and works on modernizing the organization.

How do I gain more clients?

Word of mouth is a key to success and so Kara says starting with one or two clients and focusing really hard will still bring a lot of success because they will spread the word about you if they had a great experience.

And, keep expanding your network! There are so many people out there who are aligned with exactly what you have to offer, you just have to do the searching.

Every student Kara has worked with has opened up a new part of self-understanding. Open communication is important to relationships with clients, and Kara lets her clients know how she is feeling so they feel comfortable doing the same.


Sean McCormick 0:01 Welcome to the Earn More Tutoring podcast. Here you will hear the real stories of teachers tutors and other educators who took ownership of their time and money to do what they love. If you want to earn more with your tutoring skills, this is the podcast for you. Today's guest is Kara Scanlon. She's an educational therapist based out of Southern California, who works remotely with clients worldwide. She also is the chair for the National Conference of the Association of Educational therapists. Welcome to the show, Kara. I am so excited to be here. I'm excited to have you here as well. So tell us about your current practice and what it looks like. Kara Scanlon 0:42 How much time do you have. I jokingly call it a boutique therapy business I, I am a sole practitioner, I am my whole business. I see about 15 kids a week, some kids, one can I in particular, I see for hours, one hour once a once a day. And then I have some kids that I see 30 minutes, once a week. And so I kind of it kind of runs the gamut. My specialty is working with kids in math from sixth grade, but really more high school and college up to calculus three. And then in that I do executive functioning, I don't do executive functioning only I've found that if I do that, the kids aren't interested. So I start with a subject that they're failing. And then when they see that they can make progress with me, then they trust me. And then when I say random things, like make a like make calendar appointments and use Google Calendar and all this kind of weird stuff that they're like, everyone's told me that so many times and it never works, that they trust me. And so when I say it, they actually do it. And so I've kind of so I do, I do. Still super excited to be here that once they've trusted me, then I can do executive functioning. and that's what's worked for me. And then I don't have like, I can just keep talking forever about this. Is there anything in particular you want to know? Of course, Sean McCormick 2:17 of course. Yeah. No, I wanted to I wanted it needs to have a brief or you know, general overview. And I think one thing that's really important is how did you get started, you know, what did you do an add therapy program? What What led you to your first client? Kara Scanlon 2:37 So I'm gonna go like, even way back before that. My senior year of high school, the dean of students at my school, shout out to Immaculate Heart. I noticed that my math aptitude. I don't know how he actually describe it. But he asked if I can come in early every day before school and tutor girls and not. And because I'm a great person, I said yes. And I did. And I had a lot of fun. I and most of the girls that I worked with just didn't have self confidence. So it wasn't about actually teaching the concept. It was about just giving them a place to understand like, no, just because someone said that you're not good at math doesn't mean that you're not good at math. And then when I went to college, because I had dyslexia and ADHD, I was part of students with disability services at the University of San Francisco and the director of Students with Disabilities Services, got super excited that I had tutored math and was like, Oh, you're not neurotypical you understand? Can you help us? Anyone who's part of our department? Can you help them with math and science? So I just started doing that. And then I thought I was gonna go to grad school for like biophysics or cancer research, like my father, worked in three different labs did some pretty high level research and hated it, and then had a midlife crisis that 22 was like, so many people were like, well, like, why don't you just do the thing you like doing, which is tutoring kids? And I was like, Well, you can't make money doing that, like, and then my therapist because I hadn't met therapists from like, kindergarten. So my senior year of high school was like, wait, go to grad school. You have this unique ability and math and physics because I was a double major in college. Go. So I called up the head of Holy Names this program and I was like, like, I can do some math. Like, what do you think, should I apply? And she's like, Oh, you can do high level math. And I'm like, Well, I know. Like, like, I can do like calc three, you know, like, differential equations. I'm not there like topology, like I have a decent understanding. And she's like, No, I just met middle school math. And I was like, Oh, we're good. And I I just, I mean, obviously I like to talk pure I am. So between that and the fact that I love math, like you can't make me stop talking about math. I'm actually not wearing my math socks today, like I forced my students to see. But like anything math, I'm just I geek out so hard. So and my students love that I get that excited, even though they think I'm psychotic. And so just, it's gone from there. That's how I started. Sean McCormick 5:28 That's a pretty incredible origin story...

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