Tag Archives: Yearsley Winkler

Buy One, Give One: The Meloria Model

Tutoring is big business. Westport youngsters from kindergarten on spend untold hours honing their reading, writing, math, science, singing and sports skills. They — okay, their parents — pay big bucks for the opportunity.

Of course, not everyone can afford a tutor — not even in a group setting.

Meliora Education is doing something to help. The Westport-based college prep company, provides SAT, ACT and academic tutoring with a twist. Every hour purchased buys an hour for Bridgeport-area juniors and seniors.

Meliora offers the service through Fairchild Wheeler. The magnet school on the Bridgeport-Trumbull line is actually 3 high schools: aero/hydrospace engineering, biotech/zoology and information technology. There are 500 students in each.

Tuck Northrop

Tuck Northrop teaches literature at the engineering school. A Westport native who left investment banking for a more fulfilling career in education, he loves both his job and his school.

“The kids here are really smart,” he says proudly. “And you can’t learn aircraft design and naval architecture at other schools.

Fairchild Wheeler has been recognized as a Magnet School of Excellence. Graduates go on to Ivy League and other top schools.

But getting ahead is a constant struggle. The gap between the haves (like Staples) and the have-nots (like Bridgeport schools) is enormous. That’s where Meliora rides to the rescue.

Founder Yearsley Winkler — a baseball and soccer star at Staples, who after graduation in 2003 earned degrees from Yale and in England — hired Northrop as Fairchild Wheeler’s first after-school SAT tutor.

Northrop recruited others. They now teach 2 sessions each afternoon. Students attend two per week.

It’s tough. But, Northrop says, “it gives students a chance they otherwise would never have.”

Tuck Northrop and his students.

The classes are free. Students do pay $20 for an SAT prep book (a $24 value). If they do not miss a class, they get their money back.

Meliora’s buy one/give one model does not cover all the costs. A recent $25,000 grant from the Daphne Seybolt Culpeper Memorial Foundation funds the rest.

Results are very encouraging. Northrop worked with one class that scored very low on the first diagnostic test, and one that scored high. Both improved dramatically during the program.

Bridgeport students took the SAT last month. Scores are not yet in. But they felt good about their preparation, and comfortable knowing what to expect.

Meloria will run the course again next year. And in the fall — thanks to the Culpepper grant — they’ll help the soon-to-be-seniors with their college essays and applications.

Tutors Bridge Westport/Bridgeport Gap

Chris Winkler played baseball and soccer at Staples High School. After graduating in 2003 he went on to Yale (where he majored in English), and England (where he earned a master’s degree). As soon as he finishes his dissertation, he’ll have a Ph.D. from Temple.

Winkler — who now goes by the first name Yearsley — knows his way around academia. But he hasn’t forgotten his Fairfield County roots.

Yearsley Winkler

Yearsley Winkler

From growing up here, he realizes the outsize role played by tutoring and college prep services. He also knows that — just a few miles from Westport — there are students who, by the unfortunate luck of where they live, have no access to those advantages.

Even at Bridgeport’s Fairchild Wheeler Magnet Schools, Winkler says, there’s only a once-a-week SAT Club, run by teachers with no special training in test-taking.

Winkler also knows testing. He worked for 8 years with Andover College Prep. A year ago he went out on his own.

Now he’s formed his own company. Meliora — that’s Latin for “ever better” — offers 1-on-1 SAT, ACT and AP tutoring, along with college advising (picking schools, writing essays, etc.). All his tutors are affiliated with Yale.

But here’s the business model twist: For every hour of tutoring or college prep purchased, Winkler’s company will provide an hour to students from Fairchild Wheeler.

He did not choose Fairchild randomly. Westport resident Jay Lipp is principal of one of the 3 smaller schools housed within Fairchild Wheeler. And former Westport superintendent of schools Claire Gold is a longtime consultant for Bridgeport’s education system.

“Growing up here, with all the advantages, it’s hard to even realize the systemic differences between good high school experiences and kids who don’t have the same fortune,” Winkler says.

meloria-logoOther tutoring and college prep companies offer pro bono services to less advantaged students. Winkler says Meliora is different, because its 1-to-1 model — an hour-free-for-every-hour-paid plan — is “fully devoted to this collaborative project.”

Winkler adds, “I’m realistic. I know Westport parents are not paying directly to help Bridgeport kids. But I hope they realize they’re doing some good.”

There’s an enormous gap between schools and services in our affluent suburb, and those less than 10 miles away.

Yearsley Winkler hopes to make the gap smaller, and the effort to bridge it “ever better.”

(Meliora launches in January. For more information, click here.)