Frances Kweller: Tutoring the Future with Kweller Prep
Frances Kweller has a mission to help as many children as possible find and fulfill their college and career dreams. Kweller is the founder and owner of Kweller Prep Tutoring and Educational Services Inc. (kwellerprep.com), headquartered in New York City. A community advocate and thought leader, Kweller has been in the college readiness business for 15 years.
She was recently named the Business Woman of 2023 by the Forest Hills Chamber of Commerce. More than 1,500 students enroll in her prep programs each year. Her tutors provide lessons for children as young as the third grade. Kweller, who spends summers in the Hamptons with her family, hand-picks more than 100 tutors each year to service students from New York City to the North Fork.
“We do much more than just tutoring,” Kweller explains. “We help students develop a pathway to college and career success. Tutors often serve as life coaches and mentors throughout a student’s most critical developmental years.”
Kweller has a special place in her heart and company for first-generation college applicants and children of immigrants like herself.
“As most are aware, COVID-19 created a learning gap for many students, a gap our tutors fulfill academically and emotionally. We encourage soft skills because many students have missed so much, so many opportunities,” Kweller says of skills that include communication, emotions and empathy. “Our goal is to help the students show the best version of themselves to a prospective college.”
She explained that many students need more confidence to reach for their aspirations. Instead, they may settle for what seems attainable. Helping them learn to set goals is an integral part of what her team does. They also focus on such foundational things as test taking, tutoring and confidence building. Kweller, who is married and a mother with three children ages 2, 7 and 8, practices what she preaches. At home, she intentionally builds strong and goal-oriented children. She proudly says she has two strong girls and a son who has loads of confidence.
“A lot of the children we work with need to develop the concept of aiming high,” says Kweller, whose company also offers scholarships. “Part of putting them on a good path is building their self-esteem so they are comfortable with aiming high. We encourage them to try and set realistic expectations, including creating a plan that will lead to success.”
This includes casting a wide net with multiple sports, entering competitions and applying to various colleges.
“We teach them that it is perfectly fine not to meet their first goal,” Kweller explains. “Perhaps your child will try soccer but realize they’d rather be a pianist. As a parent, we want them to be the best soccer players, pianists and whatever they want. If we, as parents, get to know our children, we can help channel their interests. Part of that is remembering they are kids and allowing them to be kids and enjoy the small things.”
She explained that children should aspire to be the best at what they attempt. She also says trying many things is part of getting to know oneself. Helping students to have the confidence to try many things is important. Understanding that you don’t have to be the best at everything is also a valuable lesson.
“Kweller Prep has a very intentional, dedicated mission to help children advance to higher education, including placement in highly competitive environments that build their careers,” says Kweller, whose company crossed the 10,000-student mark last year.
Kweller Prep has many success stories. Two of those she is most proud of are Abiba Dyuti, whose Harvard acceptance was the first in the history of Queens-based Richmond Hill High School; and Sebastian Acevado, a student whose Stuyvesant High School acceptance beat so many odds that it made headlines.
An education activist and community leader, Kweller has launched diversity initiatives that have helped hundreds of students enter one of New York City’s highly selective, specialized high schools. Kweller Prep partners with the Stuyvesant Alumni Association to provide low-income, disadvantaged students free access to Kweller’s high-quality test prep tutors and textbooks.
Kweller, a lawyer by profession, is from an immigrant family and attended New York University’s Steinhardt School of Education and attained a law degree from Hofstra University School of Law.
As a businesswoman, mother and attorney, Kweller often guides parents on how they can develop success in their children.
“As parents, if we choose not to see the stress our children are under, it doesn’t mean they don’t experience it,” Kweller says. “Some parts of stress can be avoided. Don’t be a last-minute person. Don’t wait until the deadline has come to start working. These are things that a parent can help the student with. It also means leading by example.”
In 2022, Kweller was nominated as one of the Power Women of Queens. She attended the event with a dozen female members of her staff and her two daughters. Kweller says it was important that her staffers and daughters celebrate overcoming the challenges inherent to being a woman-owned business.
“Helping students achieve confidence and success is my mission in life,” Kweller says. “I found my calling.”
Todd Shapiro is an award-winning publicist and associate publisher of Dan’s Papers.