An educational center with a unique mission
By Michael Perlman
Kweller preparation has not only been a major draw for tutoring and education services, but also a beacon on behalf of the humanitarian spirit.
With a local center located above the Midway Theater at 108-22 Queens Boulevard on the second floor, owner and founder Frances Kweller of Forest Hills and general manager Ben Z. Davidov of Kew Gardens have tirelessly made a difference for younger generations.
Remarkably, Kweller Prep teaches and mentors an average of over 1,500 students per year, which is over 10,000 students over the past 15 years.
Kweller explained, “Kweller Prep has a very intentional and dedicated mission to help immigrant and minority children progress through higher education, including placement in highly competitive environments that build their careers. We are a focused program that hires tutors who reflect the students we serve, setting them on the right path to success. »
In July 2022, Kweller Prep was recognized by New York Family as one of the “7 Best Afterschool Programs for Kids in Queens”.
Kweller is an attorney from an immigrant family and a graduate of NYU’s Steinhardt School of Education and Hofstra University School of Law.
She is considered an expert in education information and is a regular on national television interviews.
Davidov, originally from Israel, earned a BBA in Entrepreneurial Management from Baruch College in 2019. Backtracking to Forest Hills High School, he took advanced courses, enabling him to complete the high school program at the end of 11th grade, and taking AP and college courses as a 12th grader.
Among his leadership roles, he served as President of Hillel at Baruch and also won the Henry Wollman Award for Outstanding Contributions to Student Life.
Kweller started a very successful organization due to his frustration with the school system.
Throughout high school and college, she felt that the system did not offer her enough useful information or advice.
Davidov said, “Frances started Kweller Prep to be a community resource and provide insight into the application and testing process, while teaching students the testing skills they would need for their college career.”
He proudly joined the Kweller Prep team in 2014 after experiencing the same frustrations.
Member of the Kweller Prep team with Frances Kweller, third from left and Ben Davidov, fifth from left
“As an immigrant, I struggled to navigate the NYC Department of Education system, and I learned as much as I could from my mentor, Frances Kweller, so that I could also serve as a resource to our community,” he said.
Today, they are both members of the National Association for College Counseling.
In 2015, Kweller Prep was certified by the government as a 100% women-owned business in New York City and New York.
For many years, Kweller Prep has established community partnerships with Place NYC and the Forest Hills Chamber of Commerce, in addition to building relationships with various educational institutions.
They include Stuyvesant High School and its PTA, Townsend Harris High School and its PTA, Forest Hills High School and its PTA, Brooklyn Tech High School, Bronx High School of Science, York High School, Richmond Hill High School, Arts and Business High School , Academy of Finance and Enterprise, and the First in Family Fund, which is Kweller Prep’s nonprofit organization.
The Kweller Prep approach varies from alternative supplemental educational programs, as it specializes in preparations for competitive middle schools, high schools, colleges, and graduate schools.
Classes are limited to 10 students and are offered in person and via Zoom.
In addition to focusing on minority students, Davidov explained, “We use group customization and ensure that each student leaves our center better prepared for the exam. Our strategy is to over-prepare and offer plenty of resources, so there are no surprises on exam day.
Kweller continued, “We meet with most of our families before a class begins, to understand each student’s needs.”
Kweller, Davidov and their colleagues are recognized for their ability to identify young talent and focus on holistic learning approaches.
“Families seek out us in hopes that their child will one day attend a top school or an Ivy League school. We offer support from grades 3-12 to help students every step of the way. We guide students through what is required each year, so that they achieve the results they envisioned,” Kweller said.
Davidov added, “Families start planning for Ivy Leagues as early as 6th grade and often have meetings with management to create a great college application. At the beginning of the 12th grade, Kweller Prep offers a university application service that helps from A to Z to prepare applications for universities in the country.
One can wonder about a typical day at Kweller Prep, which is ultimately not so typical.
After the opening of a full-time security officer, 80 students per session attend their daily or weekly class.
“Students come to their assigned classroom, where they typically receive 4 hours of instruction. They have an abundance of resources relating to their review and the next steps after completing our program,” Davidov said.
“Students receive our tests, assignments, textbooks and related materials, as well as snacks to keep them engaged. We order breakfast, lunch, and dinner based on the session, and order all food from local small businesses to support our surrounding community.
Students take exams at Kweller Prep every four weeks during the school year, which are for fall and spring weekend classes, and every Monday during summer camp classes.
“Once their session is complete, they are escorted by staff and security, and staff meet with parents to update them on their child’s progress, followed by email progress reports,” Kweller said.
Management and administrative staff hold daily meetings with parents and families to personalize lessons, dedicated to the needs of each student.
For Kweller and Davidov, running Kweller Prep is a gift.
In a joint statement, they explained that the benefit includes having 10 or fewer students per class, providing uniforms, materials, curriculum and a safe workspace.
Kweller Prep staff appreciation event.
“We bring together some of the brightest minds in New York who aspire to bigger and better things. The friendships created between staff lead to the creation of study groups, new business ventures, and access to major-specific opportunities outside of work at the center. We mentor all staff and support them in pursuing other opportunities outside of Kweller Prep, as we strongly believe in supporting small business and entrepreneurship.
Kweller explained their goals: “Our short-term goal is to help every student who comes to our center achieve their academic goal. Our long-term goals are underway and we hope to share some good news soon. We plan in the future that we will work to create a school for students to get a head start on the NYC DOE curriculum and can be years ahead entering high school and college.
In the spring, shortly after the death of Zhiwen Yan, the community’s beloved Chinese food delivery man and longtime Forest Hills personality, Kweller took a leap forward.
She started a GoFundMe through her nonprofit First in Family Fund, Inc., to support her three children.
Miraculously, over $100,000 was raised in 24 hours, which grew to $154,160. It attracted a total of over 2,600 donors.
Showing kindness to students, parents, staff and the community at large makes Kweller and Davidov true humanitarians and a mobilizing force on behalf of innovative education.