BookNook Insights

Online Tutors Find Purpose Beyond the Paycheck

“I want to be that teacher that helps kids feel confident and enjoy learning.”

Catie Symalla, BookNook Tutor and public school teacher


BookNook Tutoring has emerged as a force for good in the online tutoring world, and tutors are noticing. Says BookNook Tutor and TESOL-certified teacher Cynthia Drapac, “Working with BookNook makes tutoring feel like a noble pursuit. It shocked me. I didn’t realize this element was missing for me until I felt it.” 

Like most teachers, online tutors crave the opportunity to make a significant difference in kids’ lives. Add that to the combination of autonomy and support that BookNook offers, and tutors are finding a tutoring gig that checks all the boxes. 

No longer just for families who can afford it 

BookNook works with students to improve their reading skills. “The learning gap was wide before the pandemic, and COVID has exacerbated the problem,” says Jason Singer, VP for Tutor Experience at BookNook. “Schools and teachers simply don’t have the capacity to address this massive need,” he continues. 

BookNook is filling this void by offering online tutoring in the form of synchronous, small-group instruction. Schools, not parents, pay for BookNook tutoring services, so it’s students who need it most that receive the extra help. “I’m so glad we’re catching these kids; otherwise, they’ll just float along, for who knows how long,” says Lynnleith Patterson, BookNook Tutor and ESL teacher. 

BookNook tutoring is about measurably advancing students’ reading skills, not whizzing students through lessons, just to check a box that says the lesson was completed.  “I cherish the opportunity to be fully present with the kids,” says Cynthia. “‘I am an adult who is paying attention to you.’ This alone can make a huge difference in their lives!” 

Community and support 

Often, online tutoring can be an isolating profession. As independent contractors at home working from their computers, virtual tutors aren’t regularly connecting with professional peers. BookNook tries to change that paradigm and create spaces for Tutors to chat with each other online and get support when needed. “I can connect with other teachers and Tutors in real time,” says Cynthia. “I was struck by the heartbeat of the BookNook team. ‘We want to create a community for you guys as Tutors.’”

BookNook provides live tech support and meet-ups with Tutors over Zoom for “coffee corners,” to talk about how things are going, answer Tutor questions, and provide Tutors with resources on working with BookNook’s platform. “We value our Tutors immensely. We want them to feel a sense of purpose, community and pride working for BookNook,” says Jason. 

“The BookNook personality is very bubbly and nice,” says Catie. “They’re engaging and very comfortable to talk to.”

“I like the diversity,” says BookNook Tutor Kimberlee Walter, a seasoned English-language teacher trainer and tutor. “BookNook seems really interested in our feedback.”

An online tutoring platform that’s easy to use

BookNook’s platform is designed to advance students’ reading skills. The combination of video and technology allows for synchronous instruction and the development of important relationships between students and Tutors. The curriculum is embedded, so Tutors don’t have to bring their own or do any lesson planning. Says BookNook Tutor Cindy Hatok, a reading coach and former public school teacher. “I love the curriculum. It’s fun and easy to work with.”

BookNook Tutor Dr. Diana Carle was working with a student who was clearly bright but whose negative self-talk was getting in his way. The student’s teacher was very communicative, and Diana suggested she and the teacher work together to offer the student a reward for participating in all his tutoring sessions.

“It was night and day, the transformation,” Diana says. “As soon as he knew he had that reward, and a Tutor on one end and a classroom teacher on the other working with him, he started getting practice questions and formative assessment questions right. He did it, and he’s learning that he can do it, and he comes every day with that attitude. At the end of each session, I give his teacher a report, and he can praise and high-five the student. I treasure him. He is my most difficult student, but I treasure my interactions with him the most.”

Says Tutor Lynnlieth, “I love the diversity of the students. I just love working here.”

Think you’d also love working at BookNook? Learn more about becoming an online tutor.