Success, in my mind, is happiness and fulfillment.
Dr. Emily Levy was steeped in the field of special education before she had even started an academic career; her mother was the founder of a school for learning disabilities in South Florida. She spent much of her childhood working at her mother's school and being trained in various multi-sensory approaches to teaching. After receiving a bachelor's degree from Brown University, she began a career in finance but quickly realized she wasn't well suited for the profession. Subsequently, she began tutoring students with learning challenges, in the evening and on weekends throughout Manhattan.
It was during this time period that Emily developed a true passion for helping children with unique academic agendas. Once her own schedule was completely filled, she began hiring and training tutors to assist in the overflow. Her success ultimately led her to being both Founder and Director of EBL Coaching, a "specialized tutoring program that offers individualized one-on-one home and on-site instruction using research-based techniques." Today the center employs an immense team of experts who specialize in providing one-on-one multi-sensory instruction at learning centers, as well as at students' homes in NYC and NJ.
Emily holds a Master's Degree in Special Education and a Doctoral Degree in Education. She has written two student workbook series: Strategies for Study Success; a 15-part student workbook series which teaches students test taking, note taking, organization, reading comprehension, and writing. The second series is Flags and Stars, an 8-part multi-sensory phonics program based on the Orton Gillingham methodology; designed to build reading and spelling skills.
You have a fascinating story Dr. Levy! I think when we imagine someone “carrying on the family business” we envision a factory, restaurant or shop. You certainly have broken the mold! Your mother seems to have been a solid source of inspiration for you.
Watching my mother help so many special education students at her school inspired me to want to go into the field. Many students struggle with their learning and I have found over the years that using the right combination of research-based, multi-sensory methods can truly change the lives of these students. Seeing students succeed and thrive gave me the drive to create and grow EBL Coaching to what it is now, where we are able to help hundreds of students each year truly change their lives.
You started a career in finance, which sounds light years away from education!
Yes. While I quickly realized that the financial world was not for me, I learned so many valuable skills from that experience that help me now to run EBL Coaching in an effective way, from creating a positive culture to being comfortable with numbers and communicating well with parents and staff members.
Can you elaborate on your educational journey? On a scale of 1-10 how difficult was it?
My journey to where I am now has been very organic. I was accepted into Brown's 8 year medical program when in high school; decided to do finance before entering medical school (my plan after college) and then completely fell in love with education. I followed my passion - and then pursued my Master's and Doctorate degree along the way to gain credibility and expertise. While I would say that it was close to a 10 in terms of trying to manage my life (getting married, having kids, writing books, etc.) while at the same time getting my degrees and growing a business, it was a very organic process for me and one that unfolded each step of the way.
What exactly is it that you do today?
I currently run two learning centers: one in NYC and one in Englewood, NJ. As the Director of EBL Coaching, I personally assess each student and then hand-match them with one of our learning specialists. I create an individualized learning plan for each student and oversee the instruction on a regular basis. I also personally have three young daughters (who I hope to be a role model for!), so my life is quite a juggling act, but I wouldn't change it for the world. The opportunity to truly change the lives of so many children is something that I take great pride in and that gives me deep pleasure.
The beautiful thing about learning is that no one can take it away from you. - B.B. King.
What inspires you about your job?
Each student that comes through our program has unique and specialized learning needs. I start by personally assessing each student - something I love doing - and then watch their skills rise with the combination of research-based, multi-sensory teaching methods that are most appropriate for that child. There is very little that tops the joy one can receive from watching kids become more confident, self-assured, and successful in school.
What is your definition of success?
Success, in my mind, is happiness and fulfillment.
What personality traits or skills help an educator to be effective in your specialty area?
It is important to be kind, passionate, and understanding. I also feel that it is important not to judge people. Many parents I meet with have different philosophies on parenting, discipline, and how they choose to educate their children. I make it a point never to judge - only to empower children and parents and come up with a plan that is most appropriate for each child and family.
What would you deem to be your career highlights?
- Opening a second EBL Coaching learning center in Englewood, NJ.
- Writing my second student workbook series called Flags and Stars, a multi-sensory phonics program based on the Orton Gillingham methodology.
- Giving national presentations on effective study skills strategies for test taking, time management, note-taking, reading comprehension, and writing.
- Helping underprivileged special education students functioning far below grade level receive state funding for tutoring.
- Becoming a regular writer for NY Family magazine as an "education expert."
What one thing would you like to see changed in your field?
The education field, in my opinion, is behind so many other fields in terms of technological advancement. I think there is a lot of room for growth in this area.
What do you hope to have accomplished by the end of your career?
I hope to spread the methods that I have developed for special education students across the nation and ultimately across the world. These multi-sensory methods and the diagnostic and prescriptive way that we teach them have made remarkable, life changing differences for our students.
What advice would you give someone who wanted to follow in your footsteps?
Follow your passion and build credibility with education and degrees to support your pursuits.
As you can see, there are a multitude of career paths in the field of education. There is one path however, which has not yet been travailed. It is your path. Only you can reach your career destination. Only you can start the journey and plant seeds along the way.
When we asked Dr. Levy to sum up her career in one quote she said, "The beautiful thing about learning is that no one can take it away from you." B.B. King. Dr. Levy, you have most certainly proven this beyond expectation!