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SALTWATER PORTRAIT

Harriet Weiss: Business executive turns to tutoring

Bronx native coaches students in math, science
November 27, 2018

Technically she is retired, but Harriet Weiss says she is not ready to give up her passion for academic coaching.

Although Weiss bounced around the country her entire career, she was born in New York, and the Bronx will always have a special place in her heart. “Growing up in the Bronx was like living in your own little world,” Weiss says. Weiss is a first-generation American; her mother traveled to New York from Austria.

After attending high school at the Bronx High School of Science, Weiss continued her education at Cornell University in upstate New York. She graduated in 1980 with a bachelor's degree in engineering. She said she had also been accepted into MIT, but she said, “I wanted to leave the city, and Cornell is surrounded by country roads and farmhouses, which was very attractive to me.”

Fresh out of Cornell, Weiss was recruited by Arthur Anderson Consulting and became a senior business consultant until 1984. “I absolutely loved working for them. It was the job of a lifetime,” Weiss said. After that job, her career began to take off. Weiss worked for numerous companies including AT&T, American Express, JP Morgan Chase and even McDonald’s. “I’ve traveled all around the country for many of my jobs. I’ve had work in California, Atlanta, Florida and also North Carolina.” Once her husband, Jay, picked up a job in the midwest, Weiss moved to Chicago full time. “New York girl goes to Midwest. It was quite a change,” Weiss said with a laugh.

After Chicago, Weiss moved back to the East Coast, relocating to West Chester, Pa.

Pennsylvania is where she discovered her passion for kids. Weiss recalled a day when her son returned from elementary school, complaining that he hated math. “I told him that ‘no child of mine will ever do poorly in math,’” Weiss said. Soon after, she became engrossed in tutoring her two sons through their schoolwork. She quickly discovered a passion for helping all kinds of kids succeed in academics, and before long she turned that into becoming center director and franchise owner of Huntington Learning Center in Wilmington.

She not only headed the business side of the company, but also tutored many students in math and science. “I knew a lot of kids struggled in math and science, and I really wanted to help,” Weiss said. “I’ve worked with so many different kinds of kids during my years at Huntington, and it’s taught me so much.”

At Huntington, Weiss was also responsible for training different kinds of teachers and monitoring the progress of all her students. “I consider myself an academic coach. I not only teach kids and help them academically, but I also help them with the emotional stress of applying for college and getting through their rigorous coursework,” Weiss said.

Weiss continued at Huntington for nearly 16 years before moving to Sussex County. She was looking to retire and thought Lewes was the perfect town to settle down in. “Not only is it so beautiful down here, but the lifestyle is just so appealing to me,” Weiss said. “The beaches in Rehoboth reminded me of my childhood summers in Coney Island.”

In 2017, Weiss made the move to Sussex County to retire, but she simply wasn’t ready to give up her passion for tutoring. Within a few months of officially residing in Lewes, Weiss had already started helping local students become more efficient and productive, and partnering with Cape Henlopen High School to help. “I am so impressed with the school’s use of technology and the students’ knowledge of how to bring that technology to use,” Weiss said.

Besides expanding the number of students she helps, Weiss also wants to become more involved within the Sussex community. “My husband and I really want to learn about how we can donate our time to the community,” Weiss said.