Thank You For Being Such A Vital Part Of Our Team, Lindsey Wander! We Look Forward To Sharing More About You So Others Can Get To Know You Better!
Tell us a bit about your backstory and what lead you down your current life path.
I originally enrolled at Cal State Fresno to study Biomedical Engineering. In just four years, I graduated with a Bachelor’s in Biology, a Bachelor’s in Chemistry, and a Minor in Mathematics. Several domestic and international internships later, I discovered her passion for teaching and re-enrolled in college to earn her teaching credentials. For several years, I taught STEM in the low-income neighborhoods of California, making it my mission to create a learning environment that was so engaging that it motivated my students to come to school. We explored, questioned, innovated, learned, laughed, and loved – all within my classroom walls. However, time and financial restraints, added to endless bureaucratic red tape, prevented me from being able to dedicate the 1-on-1 time to my students who needed it. Thus, many of my “kids” fell through the cracks – and there was nothing I could do about it. So, when I moved to Chicago at the age of 29, I decided to start my own tutoring business, which later became WorldWise Tutoring. My mission was to help students of all abilities to not only improve their grades and scores, but to also learn the skills to become confident and independent lifelong learners, and grow into competent and conscious leaders. I sought to empower our youth with the tools to succeed in school, work, and life – so that they were in the powerful position to be agents of change in their own lives and in the lives of those around them. My methodologies were so effective that my business quickly grew beyond what I could handle alone. So, I started to “teach the teachers,” guiding tutors dedicated to my mission of empowerment through education with my best practices. Now, years later, WorldWise Tutoring has 60+ tutors providing online services worldwide and in-person services in Illinois and Texas to students of ALL ages and ALL abilities in ALL subjects. I have seen our students grow into accomplished, self-sufficient adults who are still eager to learn more. With the widening achievement gap due to COVID-19 school closures, I combined my passion for serving underprivileged students with my expertise as a tutoring business owner to form the nonprofit 501(c)3 charity Educate. Radiate. Elevate. This organization is focused on providing high-quality 1-on-1 instruction in academics, enrichment, test prep, and learning and life skills to low-income students of color. The goal is to strengthen the educational achievement of our youth in order to provide economic, social, and mental stability for us and future generations. I found a career that I love and that makes the world a better place. My goal is to inspire my students to do the same.
What or who inspired you to pursue your major/career?
As a child, I was misunderstood and inaccurately labeled. I was deemed a problem child with anger issues who was only good at math. This frustrated me and caused me to act out even more. I had a few adults – my first, third, and seventh-grade teachers – who took the time to explore beyond my behavior to find out who I really was inside. They were instrumental during some especially challenging phases of my personal life to help me redirect my internal chaos towards something that made me feel good: learning. With their guidance, my thirst for knowledge amplified – they somehow knew that making sense of the world around me would help to calm the world inside me. I credit these three teachers with much of my own success as an educator, compassionate human being, and lifelong learner. I now seek to provide other students who are misunderstood and inaccurately labeled with the same peace and joy. My goal is to help others find their unique voices, explore their personal interests, and magnify their true passions.
What is one thing you are most proud of achieving in your life?
I am most proud of the fact that, from an early age, I have had the strength and wisdom to follow my intuition when making important life decisions. I changed my major to something I was passionate about, though it disappointed my family. Rather than immediately enroll in graduate school or seek employment after graduating college, as was expected of me, I instead sought out various internships in order to find a career I loved. I moved across the world alone for a position that paid very little. I quit my stable job as a classroom teacher and started a tutoring business in a new state. With each of these decisions, my well-intentioned loved ones projected their own doubts and worries onto me. However, I carefully weighed the pros and cons, overcame my fear of disappointing them, and ultimately made the decision that was right for me – and each time I ended up right where I was meant to be.
What keeps you motivated? What maintains your passion for and commitment to the work you are doing?
I am fortunate to be in a field that is mentally challenging and immensely rewarding. Each student, family, and tutor is unique. I seek to understand where they are coming from and in what direction they want to head. Then I work to empower them with personalized tools to be active agents of change in their own lives and the lives of those around them. As a result, students feel more confident, homes are more peaceful, and tutors are more fulfilled. Feedback like “That makes so much more sense now!,” “He loves his lessons!,” “You have taken away our worries!,” and “I am so proud to work with your company!” is what keeps me motivated. Messages from past students and tutors about how my company has changed their lives for the better are what maintain my commitment to this work. Knowing I am making a difference where it counts most is what keeps me passionate about my service.
What do you like to do in your free time?
Though I live in the city now, I am an undercover tree-hugger. I love anything outdoors and anything that has to do with plants and animals (except spiders!). I also love to be active. So, in my free time, you’ll find me hiking, paddle boarding, or biking. I also live up to my last name, and I like to wander the globe on my time off, exploring places and cultures I’ve never experienced before. I have an amazing network of friends and over 30 nieces and nephews – so my happy place is being surrounded by those people I love.
Tell about an amazing trip you took. Where did you go and what did you enjoy most?
I have taken so many amazing trips, I wish I could talk about them all. My most recent adventure was to Bali in Indonesia. It reminded me a bit of California in that it had such a variety of terrain: from mountains to cities to beaches to villages – there were endless sighs to be seen. The food was delicious – so fresh and flavorful. But perhaps what I loved the most was the people. The culture and community were heart-warming to experience. I felt so at peace and so loved while I was in Bali. Plus, the naughty monkeys were hilarious!
Is there something exciting you are working on now? What is it and why did you choose to start it?
Forming the nonprofit Educate. Radiate. Elevate. has certainly been a labor of love. After nearly a year of 80+ hour weeks trying to pivot my main tutoring business, WorldWise Tutoring, due to changes that resulted from the COVID-19 pandemic, I was in desperate need of a break. But the voice that had been in my head for years saying “What about the kids who are capable, but cannot pay?” got louder and louder. Low-income communities of color were inarguably hit the hardest in 2020 by inequities in healthcare, economics, social justice, access to technology, and education. My worry about the kids in these communities grew and grew – and I decided I need to act. Armed with the knowledge that my teaching methodologies are extremely effective and that ANY child can be successful when provided with the right tools, I started the nonprofit to do my part in easing the societal ills plaguing these underserved communities.
Describe a time when you sought out someone else’s idea or feedback and how you incorporated that insight to yield a better result.
I have always been passionate about educational equity and promoting lifelong learning. However, I have struggled with how to most effectively ensure inclusive and quality education for all. With the COVID-19 pandemic disproportionately affecting low-income BIPOC communities, I knew I needed to take action right away. I sought out guidance from social entrepreneurs I trust and admire for ideas of how I could use my expertise and resources to help minimize the growing achievement gap. Per their advice and support, I was able to successfully launch the nonprofit Educate. Radiate. Elevate. Now, in establishing partnerships with other nonprofits, service providers, and schools, I am constantly asked “Where have you been? We need you!” I look forward to (finally) making strides towards equitable education and opportunities for our most vulnerable children.
Share one professional development goal and one personal goal you have for the upcoming year.
Professionally, I am always seeking out ways to be a better leader for my staff. One side effect of being a business owner is having the ability to create jobs that people genuinely enjoy. This enjoyment comes not just from the work itself, but from the sense of achievement and growth the accompanies a job well-done. I would like to create more opportunities for joy for my staff, while also helping them to grow professionally and personally.
Personally, I would like to “re-activate” my goal of visiting at least one new state and one new country each year. Travel is not only essential for my mental health, but it also provides me with unique learning opportunities. Not only do I learn about the location, people, culture, and history of the places I visit, but I learn about myself as a human. And I know first-hand that learning is essential to growth.
The road to success is difficult and requires tremendous dedication. What advice would you give to a young person who aspires to follow in your footsteps and emulate your success?
First, I would tell them to find their unique voice and explore their personal passions, letting their intuition guide them along the way. By being in tune with one’s true self, success and joy will be attained. Second, I would encourage them to take risks in their learning. Read a different type of book. Enroll in a specialty class. Join a unique club. Travel to a foreign land. By stepping outside of our comfort zone, we begin to truly understand our essence. Third, I would remind them that there are lessons in failure. Ask someone you admire about how they got where they are today, and I guarantee the story will be riddled with struggles and missteps. The key is to learn from those difficulties so that the outcome is even better than expected. There is a quote that I love that says something like, “You can’t go to the gym and expect to build muscle without weight and resistance.” To embrace the struggle as a way to grow.
What are you most passionate about? Can you share a story?
Since I was a child, I have been in love with Mother Nature and dedicated to protecting her treasures. My earliest memories are of seeking out ways to recycle and save water, of exploring the wonders of forests and lakefronts, and of snuggling furry caterpillars and kissing ants (yes – that is not a typo!). Now, I consider it my personal legacy to inspire a love of the outdoors in my nieces and nephews. I live for the wonder and love I see in their eyes when I bring their attention to a cool plant or bug. I truly believe that one of the best ways to learn empathy and respect is to truly realize that we are all connected to each other and this planet. “We are one.”
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be?
I’m sure this is obvious, but I would like to inspire a movement that seeks to empower all people through educating not just their brains, but also their hearts and minds. This holistic approach to learning is truly the only way to inspire the love of learning that is essential for growth as humans and as a society. Thankfully, the rising generation is full of empaths who are demanding that we acknowledge them as whole people with emotions, passions, and dreams. It is our job as adults to provide them with support, resources, and opportunities to flourish – mind, body, and spirit.
What about the Educate. Radiate. Elevate.’s Purpose, Mission, and Core Values speaks most to you and why? *
I (obviously) love everything about Educate. Radiate. Elevate., but perhaps my favorite Core Value is our Holistic Approach which states: “We take a comprehensive approach to teaching by seeking to address the emotional, social, ethical, and academic needs of our students in an integrated learning format.” I have always been a huge proponent of not just educating children’s brains, but also their minds and their hearts. How can we truly help our children learn if we do not embrace their whole essence of what makes them them? The emotional, mental, and social aspects must also be explored and embraced. This means going beyond the mere label of social-emotional learning – we must strive to empower our children with the individual tools to grow into competent and conscious leaders. This is how we truly affect change in society.