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Engaging Minds works to build students ‘executive function’ skills

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Dan Levine is founder and president of Engaging Minds.Lane Turner/Globe Staff

With after-school learning centers in Newton and Wayland, Engaging Minds offers a different approach to traditional tutoring. Instead of directing efforts toward a particular subject, coaches work one-on-one with students on developing "executive function" skills applicable to their schoolwork, future jobs, and life. Founder Dan Levine, who lives in Needham, has this to say:

Q. How did you get the idea for the business?

A. After I graduated from the BU Questrom School of Business in 2002, I worked in education where I encountered a lot of students who were not doing as well as they could be. I saw that these students needed help learning skills and strategies for approaching their work, not in understanding content. They just needed to be taught differently.


Q. What are executive function skills?

A. They're the skills needed to be successful in school and life in the 21st century — a process-based approach that enables students to organize, prioritize ideas, plan and manage time, initiate tasks, set goals, and develop plans to achieve those goals. In today's world, with so much information available, becoming a skilled problem-solver able to access information is just as important as learning content.

Q. What happens in a session?

A. Sessions are 55 minutes long, and all start with a big picture of the students' actual schoolwork. Instructors drill down the assignments into manageable pieces and then teach students how to approach them thoughtfully and strategically.

Q. Who is your typical student?

A. Students at every level can benefit from this kind of thinking, but the majority we see are in late elementary through high school. They go to public schools, private schools, and top prep schools.

Q. What about instructors?

A. We're exceedingly careful to find instructors with strong skills to deliver our methodology effectively. The vast majority are classroom and learning center teachers with a master's degree in education.


Q. What is the goal for your students and business?

A. Because I believe in this so strongly, I want to reach as many kids as possible — which is why we offer free workshops to parent groups so they can use these strategies at home with their kids. I love the fact that we can help students reduce stress, and for some of them, regain control over their academics and feel more confident. No kid wants to feel like they're behind. To see them grow so much is unbelievably rewarding.

For more information, call 617-964-3100 or visit

Cindy Cantrell can be reached at