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Meet Donna Lazar of A-List Education

Today we’d like to introduce you to Donna Lazar.

Donna, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I began to love teaching at an early age – I can remember putting my little sister through many years of play “school” when we were young. While pursuing other passions in New York after graduating from NYU, I began teaching for one of the nation’s leading SAT programs. After teaching in their program for 3 years, I realized I loved the challenge of making test preparation interesting and fun, but I really wanted to begin tailoring a curriculum to individual students’ needs. I then began teaching the SAT and ACT for A-List Education NYC. After feeling quite alone with minimal guidance for years, I was suddenly in the midst of the most brilliant minds dedicated to empowering students for these important tests and to cultivating my abilities as an educator. The founders of A-List Education, all Harvard graduates, had developed a customizable curriculum and materials that were unlike anything I had ever seen. The curriculum was utterly comprehensive and the materials were snarky and funny, a true pleasure to use. I gained a deep understanding, not just of the SAT and ACT, but of standardized testing in general.

In 2009, I decided to move back to LA but was devastated to leave A-List’s nurturing and innovative workplace environment. I begged A-List to come with me, but at the time, they were primarily focusing their energies in the New York area. After I developed a loyal clientele in Los Angeles using A-List’s training and materials, 2016 saw the arrival of A-List Education in Los Angeles, and the rest is history.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
The biggest challenge for us has always been geography. LA’s unique sprawling nature has made covering the Los Angeles area very interesting. Since we offer private tutoring, we usually meet students in their homes, as this is usually the most comfortable place for them and saves parents an after-school drive. Since we work with students from Monrovia to West Hills, from Northridge to Palos Verdes and everywhere in between, the rush hour traffic can be a beast! But creative scheduling and podcasts make the commute bearable.

We’d love to hear more about your business.
A-List Education began working with 5 students in New York in 2005 and now serves more than 70,000 students across our tutoring and institutional programs from all around the United States and the world. With offices in New York, Boston, London, Dubai, Shanghai, and now Los Angeles, A-List works with students from all backgrounds to provide top-quality, personalized tutoring and college admissions assistance. With a strong focus on education, we continuously have the highest score improvements in the industry and unparalleled college acceptance rates. A-List’s direct instruction programs provide schools and nonprofit organizations throughout the United States with high quality test preparation for their students. Our professional development programs allow us to train educators to bring our programs to their schools to create sustainable and cost-effective test preparation for their students. We are most proud of our students, of course! And what sets us apart are our dramatic score improvements and our ability to customize a test preparation program for individual students, schools, and organizations. We also offer free, full-length proctored practice tests to our students to allow them to practice what they learned and get acclimated to a realistic test day.

Do you feel like our city is a good place for businesses like yours?
Los Angeles is a magical city. I remember trying to do something as simple as rent a car in New York City on a holiday weekend. I showed up, excited to realize my dream of going hiking outside of the city limits. No go: everything was booked, no chances, no opportunities. There is something exciting about living in a city as cut-throat, over-populated, extreme as New York City, but there is something truly beautiful about Los Angeles. There is enough space, enough room, enough bandwidth to make your dreams possible, and enough people, opportunity, diversity and industry to make it exciting. It is the perfect place for an entrepreneur. Everything seems possible in Los Angeles. In addition, I knew from growing up in LA, there wasn’t a test prep company like us here. We are offering something truly unique and there is a strong need for us in Los Angeles.

Pricing:

  • Private tutoring rates range from $150 – $200/1-hour session and include all materials and unlimited practice tests.

Contact Info:

Getting in touch: VoyageLA is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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