This is an interim report on the Smith’s Okamoto school. I took over the Smith’s School of English in Okamoto in July 2006. It had been in operation since September 2004 (6 years total so far) and it had only a tiny 15 active students at the time I took over. This month (August 2010) student number 224 joined. (You can do the math to see how many join each month on average). Of course I do not have 224 students currently, but I can tell you that I have more than enough, and that is not bad at all considering that several are man-to-man or private students. We have two classroom areas and I do have a part time teacher who helps me two evenings a week. My income is fine, my workload is fine, I have good help. Life is looking good.
It has been tremendously fun to build the school. I doubled the number of students in the first 6 months and tripled it in the first year. It has been hovering around where it is now for the past two and a half years. This is a level at which one teacher alone can handle comfortably, but it is possible to handle up to 100 students although it might be a quite hectic for one teacher.
As students I have had doctors, lawyers, university professors, business men and women, elementary, junior high, high school and university students study with me. All my students have been and are continuing to be a lot of fun to teach. Together with other Smith’s schools I have held more than a dozen events over the past four years including bowling and karaoke parties, Barbecue Parties, Halloween, Christmas and New Year’s parties. But the cherry blossom viewing parties at Osaka Castle park in April have been the most fun with many Smith’s schools joining and between 80 and 100 students attending.
Smith’s offers a good opportunity for anyone who is serious and willing to work hard to teach and coach students to achieve their highest level. Also I believe that Smith’s is progressive and will truly lead English education forward in Japan. Smith’s is already making great strides to provide students with opportunities to study at home and augment the in-classroom lessons with fresh and up-to-date lesson materials.
The Smith’s curriculum provides a good foundation and addresses most of the weakest areas in which Japanese students need review and practice. However, it is also open-ended enough to allow the teachers (who are school owners) to augment the lessons to make them very beneficial for the students.
Smith’s monthly tuition system is the most straight forward system available to students in Japan. It fits their lifestyles and is simple and fair. If I were a student, I certainly would not waste time considering any school other than Smiths because I know they will get the best coaching and make the most improvement by working with a Smith’s teacher. Smith’s teachers really care about the students and their progress.
Anyone who is really serious about reaping the benefits of your own labor and is willing to put in the effort can succeed at this business and really enjoy teaching within the Smith’s franchise system. The staff provides very good support helping students to book lessons and answering their questions.
I intend to continue teaching within Smith’s for many more years to come.
Al Bartle (Smith’s School of English – Okamoto)
That’s impressive Al. Well done. You’re a great inspiration for other Smith’s school owners/coaches. I am sure your students appreciate having such a great teacher who cares about them.
Thank you so much for all the work you’ve done and are still doing for the Smith’s system. You’ve posted more than anyone else here on the Soap Box and you have posted a lot on our Japanese web site too. You have also created a lot of material for online lessons. You have become a very important part of the Smith’s system and I am very happy to have someone like you on our team. Keep up the great work!
I have enjoyed holding joint Smith’s events with your school and look forward to the next one.
Al Bartle says
Thank you so much for the kind words. It has been fun so far to create lesson materials. I look forward to other schools using them more and more.
I also have enjoyed the joint events and hope to hold one again soon.
Al (SSE Okamoto)