LA CRESCENTA — The glut of after-school tutors lining Foothill Boulevard did little to deter Tariq and Saddia Rana from launching a learning center of their own.
"Each center offers a very different service," Tariq Rana said Saturday at the grand opening of his Kumon Math and Reading Center. "For us, everything is one-on-one, independent and individualized."
The center, which on Tuesdays and Fridays serves roughly 120 students between the ages of 2 and 16, opened last month with support from the Crescenta Valley Chamber of Commerce.
Jean Maluccio, chamber president and member of the North Glendale Community Plan Advisory Committee, said that with 30,000 residents and seven area schools, the appetite for supplemental learning has not been sated.
Among the after-school tutors are those catering to Armenian and Korean learners, science-minded students and those looking to brush up on test-taking skills.
"They're a way to build self-esteem," Maluccio said, noting that one of her buildings houses two learning centers. "There are so many families here to serve."
Steve Pierce, a former town councilman credited with strengthening the group's community and business presence, stressed the importance of filling a vacancy on the busy boulevard.
"Any time we can have another business locate to Foothill Boulevard, that's positive," he told the Ranas. "Particularly a businesses such as yours."
At Kumon, Tariq Rana said, students are given daily homework assignments, which are then submitted for review. The goal is to create self-motivated, independent learners who can understand and apply their skills in a nontraditional sense.
The result is a jolt of confidence, with children and teens able to accomplish their work speedier and more efficiently, said John Park, an instructor at the 2754 Foothill Blvd. location.
"When they come you get a sense of their attitude and skills," he said. "After a while I notice their confidence, and they don't get frustrated."
Tariq Rana said one of the curriculum's goals is to observe each student closely to in order to tailor the work. It doesn't help to assign 10 pages per day if it puts undue stress on the child and causes them to veer off course.
"In that case I might assign five pages for some time to ensure that the homework is completed and that they are sticking with it," he said.
Children start off with a placement test and move slowly up the ranks developing regimented studying habits and building a strong foundation, Saddia Rana said.