By Martie Thompson
Born and raised in Ohio, Kimberly Mullins said even as a young girl she loved math and science. When she started college at the University of Akron, her original intent was to obtain a degree in computer engineering, like her mother; however, upon learning that chemical engineering was one of the top paying professions (which she felt would be helpful to repay her student debt), she changed her major — only to find that there was not a lot of work available in the field. So, she fell back on her computer science background and became an automation engineer. She said she held four different jobs for four different companies over four years before deciding that she might not be the best fit for the structure of Fortune 500 companies. “I challenged the status quo because I always wanted to make improvements,” she said. Mullins has been self-employed in a number of positions where she said she has followed her passion for growing and getting better since 2000. Currently, she is the owner of Tutoring Club of St. Johns.
Q: How did you come to live in the Jacksonville area?
A: I had a successful network marketing company in the early 2000s and I lived overseas in the Netherlands. I eventually moved back to the United States and one time as I was driving from Savannah to Orlando, I drove across the blue bridge in downtown Jacksonville. Something about it called out to me. I always knew I wanted to live outside of Ohio, I just didn’t know where. So I moved to Jacksonville in 2008. When my daughter was in first grade, I knew she needed extra help with school and so I built a house in Nocatee so she could attend St. Johns County schools. I met my second husband, David, shortly after I moved in to my “single life” house in Nocatee. He was everything I could ask for — also a successful businessperson and most importantly, a Christian. We married in 2019 in Jamaica.
Q: How did you become the owner of Tutoring Club of St. Johns?
A: While my daughter was young, I decided to become a business broker because I needed a job with less travel than my previous job as a professional speaker. The Tutoring Club of St. Johns was owned by the owner of the location in Mandarin and she contacted me to sell it in 2018, which I did. The person who bought it was ready to sell within a year. My husband and I decided to buy it because we have a passion for learning and also because we both have successfully run businesses before. In September 2019, we started looking for a second location since the first location was going so well. We contracted to open a location off of County Road 210. It was supposed to open in March 2020, but was delayed by the coronavirus. We had a soft opening in mid-July and plan to have a grand opening in mid-August.
Q: What are you doing differently at the Tutoring Club because of the coronavirus?
A: We are working to make everything as safe as possible in this time of coronavirus. Only students are allowed in the center and we have limited the number of people in the center to less than 50 percent capacity. Everyone wears a mask and we do wipedowns hourly. Our third center is actually our online center and more than half of our students are taking advantage of this. It is live and interactive, with a tutor and the same curriculum and homework help available as at the centers — just not face to face.
Q: What is one study tip that you could offer to parents?
A: My number one tip would be to get your children reading! Every day, especially during the summer. Studies show that students lose between 25 and 30 percent of their learning gains during the summer and with the pandemic this year, it is predicted that the losses will be even more. Reading is the only learning skill that you get better at by doing, over and over.
Q: What do you like to do in your spare time?
A: Our family loves to go boating and we enjoy traveling. We had planned to go to the UK in September, but that will likely be postponed. In the past, we have enjoyed trips to Las Vegas, Greece, California and of course, Jamaica, where we were married.
Photo courtesy Kimberly Mullins
Kimberly Mullins and family: husband Dave, daughter Kathryn and cat, Gabe.