By Denise Allabaugh
For nearly 10 years, Academy Tutoring has been behind the scenes quietly helping more than 2,500 students from Luzerne and Lackawanna counties get accepted to some of the top colleges in the country.
Rob Fumanti, a former middle school and high school teacher and adjunct professor in the education department at Chestnut Hill College, started the business in 2007 with a staff of just three tutors helping a few students get ready for their upcoming SATs.
The company, based in Exeter, Luzerne County, has grown to a staff of more than 60 tutors helping students in kindergarten through 12th grade in all academic areas.
Academy Tutoring, which celebrates its 10th anniversary this month, is regarded as the top SAT and ACT preparation provider in Northeast Pennsylvania, said Fumanti, who serves as CEO.
While the company is most known for providing one-on-one tutoring, staff from Academy Tutoring also teach SAT and ACT courses at Wyoming Seminary and MMI Preparatory School.
“We regularly get called by school districts in both Luzerne and Lackawanna counties as well as the Intermediate Unit and staff on the SAT and ACT,” he said.
Fumanti’s wife, Jennifer, a state-certified elementary school teacher and former human resources manager, is director of operations at Academy Tutoring.
His father, Bob Fumanti, is from the area and is a former superintendent at Wyoming Area School District, and his mother, Fran, was a teacher.
Fumanti started his career as a naval officer and had lived in different parts of the country.
In 2007, he was teaching high school chemistry in the Philadelphia area and part-time at Chestnut Hill College.
While he enjoyed teaching, he said, he wanted to have more input into what he was teaching students and he wanted to create his own curriculum. He thought he could have more of an impact and reach more students in a less formal environment.
“I wanted to come back to this area and really make a difference and contribute to the Wyoming Valley,” he said.
Another big motivator for him to start a tutoring company was that he felt that Northeast Pennsylvania students were drastically not represented enough at the top colleges in the country.
“I went to the Naval Academy for my bachelor’s degree and the University of Chicago for my first master’s degree. There were very few people from NEPA at either of these schools,” Fumanti said. “I wanted to move back to our area to change that.”
By helping students increase their SAT and ACT scores, Fumanti said, they have been accepted at universities such as Stanford, Harvard, Princeton, Penn, Cornell, Columbia, NYU and West Point as well as the Naval Academy and Air Force Academy.
The rates for a tutor from Academy Tutoring start at $30 an hour.
HELPING STUDENTS EXCEL
By helping students get into their top college choices, Fumanti said, Academy Tutoring helps students get a lot of scholarship money.
Scholarships are directly tied to students’ SAT and ACT scores, he said. With increased test scores, students from Academy Tutoring have been awarded more than $3.2 million in scholarships, he said.
Academy Tutoring also has worked with many top athletes in the area, helping them to get scholarships, he said.
“I think we have also changed the way people look at tutoring,” Fumanti said. “Years ago, if you needed a tutor, people thought you weren’t smart. Today, it’s exactly the opposite. Most of the students we get are some of the top students in the school, asking us to help them reach high goals.”
West Pittston resident Lori Campenni said her son Julian’s SAT scores jumped by 400 points thanks to working with a tutor from Academy Tutoring to prepare.
Her son Julian, 24, received a football scholarship and received a bachelor’s degree from human services and family services from The University of Connecticut and is pursuing a master’s degree in sports management at Boston College.
The tutor worked around her son’s busy sports schedule, Campenni said.
“It was a big help for Julian. It was not that he wasn’t prepared, it was just that it helps kids (who are) busy with sports get to that next level,” Campenni said. “I thought it was amazing. Being so busy with doing schoolwork and sports, it made a huge difference when it came to the SAT testing, which is tricky.”
ONE FULL LETTER GRADE
According to Fumanti, in the 2015-2016 school year, 93 percent of the students they tutored in regular subject areas increased at least one full letter grade. SAT prep students’ scores increased an average of 160 points and ACT Prep students’ scores increased an average of four points.
Academy Tutoring’s latest offering is college admissions counseling.
“We help students every step along the way to acceptance, including helping with their applications, essays and interviews,” Fumanti said.
He said there was a real demand for this service “as we have found that there is information overload out there for students.”
“Students and families are bombarded with college options and choices,” he said. “What they are really looking for is the best possible education and the best possible price.”