Getting to Know… Beryl Novice of ATOP Education

Beryl Novice has taught maths and English for nearly 30 years in the Inner West. Ten years ago, she established ATOP Education, in Croydon, tutoring students in English, maths, science, philosophy, robotics, coding and computer science. Beryl is passionate about providing innovative teaching methods and has been recognised with an award for her contribution to innovation in education.
Tell us about yourself.
I wanted to be a teacher since the time I was four. Instead I became a legal secretary, which I hated. When I was married with children, someone asked me to go to the adult education school WEA with them. There was a maths class and I topped it. I always loved maths. I ended up deciding to do my HSC as a mature age student. I then got into Sydney University where I studied science. Eventually I joined Kumon. The moment I started teaching I knew I was born for that. Education is such a passion for me. I worked as a supervisor with Kumon at Woodstock, Burwood and Drummoyne for 24 years, and I spoke at events for the company around the world. Almost ten years ago I decided to start my own tutoring business and I now have a shop based in Croydon.
On a personal note, I live in the Inner West, have three adult children, and my hobbies include singing karaoke, jazz singing and going to the gym.
What inspired you to set up ATOP Education?
After so many years of working with Kumon, I knew I wanted to continue teaching but that being a franchisee wouldn’t suit me – I just have too many ideas! The people around me encouraged me to set up my own business. What I love doing most of all is devising educational programs and setting up my own shop gave me the chance to do exactly this.
What are the various services you offer?
We provide tutoring in English, the STEM subjects – science, technology, engineering, mathematics – as well as a few additional subjects such as philosophy. In addition to the NSW maths curriculum, we teach Singapore maths. We also help prepare students for specific assessments. And lastly, we assist pre-schoolers with their transition to Kindergarten with a very gentle school readiness program. To help our students reach their full potential, every student has their own individual program devised to suit that student.
We use innovative teaching methods. In fact, in 2015/2016 I received a Consensus Innovation Award for Innovation in Education. The awards celebrate innovation across all sectors. That was a proud moment. We were also finalists in two sections of last year’s WSABE (Western Sydney Awards for Business Excellence).
We’re about to roll out a new program in August for three and four year olds, using technology which allows us to bring the experience of a physical classroom online. This gives students to access our innovative methods without geographical boundaries. Webinars and class groups can also be conducted using the program.
What can clients expect from your services?
Our classes are held in small groups with a maximum of four students per tutor. The students’ results are tracked in their own individual folder so parents can see their child’s progress.
Our aim is that our students will find learning enjoyable and become self-learners. We find that most of our students do grow in confidence and progress ahead of their class level. Parents can also expect that they will have more time to enjoy with their child.
ATOP is a very positive, professional environment. Our wonderful mentors all hail from well-known universities and receive thorough training in handling students of all ages and abilities prior to commencing tutoring. One of the staff, Djuang, has been working with me for more than 20 years and has a very good name as a tutor.  I don’t teach these days but I do oversee all of the classes and also attend to the administration.
What do you enjoy most about what you do?
I absolutely adore children and I adore helping them to achieve to their highest potential.
Best piece of career advice you can offer?
Working for money is never enough. Your career has to be something you love. If you’re not enjoying what you do, then move on. For a while I worked in the travel industry. It wasn’t for me and I really should have got out sooner than I did. I’m so glad to have found my passion for education and have my own business in this field.
Have you ever read a book that has changed your perspective or path in life?
I’m mad on reading! I would have to say that everything I read changes me a little bit. I love books with strong female characters. Perseverance is most important.
As an experienced mother yourself, what advice can you offer less experienced parents?
Parents shouldn’t be worried about trying to teach their child at home. Leave that to the experts, I say. The best thing a parent can do to educate their child is to take the child out to explore life.
Favourite places in the Inner West?
I have lived in the Inner West for many, many years. I’m a big fan of the West Tigers. I think the Inner West is a beautiful place with all the well-established trees and waterways. Burwood Park is a lovely spot. I love all the cafes and restaurants too. Trovatinos Cafe in Wareemba is one of my favourites. I like going to Croydon Bowling Club too.
Photograph of Beryl Novice and Djuang courtesy of Christopher Maait 
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