By Janee Law
Set to celebrate its 10th anniversary next March, Huntington Station-based tutoring service Village East Gifted works to enrich the lives of gifted students through its progressive and creative approach to teaching.
“We have the most entertaining, academically-rigorous program for highly astute learners of all ages,” founder Tobi Phillips, of Huntington, said. “We create our own curriculum based on what the kids want, need and their interests. It’s a pioneering approach to gifted education.”
Open to children and teens ages 5-17, VEG offers a variety of services, such as homeschooling, tutoring and after-school programs, which teach students in Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics (STEAM); and CORE academic subjects like Latin, SAT words, writing, global studies, foreign language and American sign language.
Students must meet certain qualifications in order to enroll in VEG, and must already be enrolled in a school district.
VEG was founded in 2007 and eventually settled at its 33 Walt Whitman Road location. It has enrolled approximately 600 students since opening, and has spawned a second location, which opened in Roslyn Heights three years ago.
Phillips, a former teacher in the Half Hollow Hills School District’s Academically High Aptitude Program, said that when she founded VEG she did it because wanted to branch out. She began enrichment tutoring in the basement of her Huntington home, first with seven students.
Phillips continues to teach, and also employees 11 part-time teachers and some assistant educators. VEG classes run for two hours and cost $112 per class. VEG offers financial aid and scholarships to students.
“If a child is gifted and they need this and the parents can’t afford it, then we make sure that we get them in,” Phillips said.
VEG’s school year runs seven days a week from September to June, and offers more than 30 classes. There are also summer programs available.
The 2,300-square-foot location offers a half-day kindergarten program during the day, and after-school programs for grades K-12 starting at 4:30 p.m.
With 38 years of teaching experience, Phillips earned her bachelor’s degree in vocal music and anthropology from Ithaca College, and then earned three master’s degrees in education, special education and education of the blind and visually impaired, each of which she earned from Boston College. Phillips later went on to earn a doctoral degree in instructional technology from Teachers College, Columbia University.
When it comes to teaching students at VEG, Phillips said she loves it.
“I love coming here and watching the students light up when we teach them,” she said. “We’re changing the way gifted children are taught because our program works and kids keep on coming back.”