from the brother and sister team – Matt & Jessy Giammarino – who built BrainBoost
We created BrainBoost in 2006 as a place for kids to learn from incredible teachers, in ways that would really make a difference in their lives. We had a lifetime of working with kids – as coaches, tutors, mentors, and camp counsellors – and we could see that across society, kids were failing to learn what they needed to learn for a rich and meaningful life. At best, they were getting through; at worst, school was a nightmare.
From our personal teaching we knew that great things could be accomplished when teachers and kids worked around goals relevant to the student, in a way that was inspiring, honest, and in line with a student’s strengths and weaknesses. However, as individuals we could only teach so much. We became obsessed with creating a space for many educators and students to work together, in a network of awesomeness, that would allow kids to become the people they wanted to be, and the people society needs.
By 2006, we were ready to rock. We started in a church basement, with 4 employees and 35 students. Today, our team of 50 serves over 300 students, with nearly 60 of those students coming full-time. We are blessed and grateful to have realized our dream. Every day we work collaboratively with students and teachers, to grow minds and support our students in living a meaningful and competent life. We consider ourselves lucky to be surrounded by such special people, staff and students alike.
BrainBoost approaches learning in a way that’s student centred, pragmatic, and depends on a highly skilled staff.
BrainBoost builds each student program around an agenda, or goal, that we construct with the student. We only accept students who want to attend (no, your mom can’t just sign you up!), and we take frequent feedback from students and parents to ensure we’re meeting students’ expectations and goals. Our expertise in educational design ensures that each program allows the student to realize their aspirations, with an outcome that is truly student driven.
With such a variety of student goals, we can’t just buy into one approach to learning. What works varies greatly, depending on the situation. We use tools from many education disciplines in our work: special education, clinical psychology, sociology, biology, philosophy, social justice, design, and more. Because our institution has so much knowledge in such a wide variety of areas, we can use these knowledges as a tool, not an ideology.
And finally, we trust our (truly spectacular) staff to use their skills effectively. We hire people who really know how to do things. Some of our team has extensive experience in their field of teaching; some are educational professionals; and some are both. Our staff receive extensive formal and informal training at BrainBoost through ongoing coaching and workshops. Additionally, we support our staff in getting additional education as needed. As a result, our team has a wide variety of skills and abilities, and they use those skills flexibly in the service of student goals