Vanity Barr-Little, Ph.D., executive director of Sylvan Learning of Apollo Beach, and her three sons.

Understandably, many parents are concerned about gaps in instruction, particularly over the past two years. And then there are the students, who are experiencing first-hand the slew of educational changes.

The Little family, U.S. Army veteran Kourtney Little and his wife, Air Force veteran Vanity Barr-Little, Ph.D., sought out academic support for their sons during the last school year. Despite learning interruptions amidst COVID-19, Barr-Little wanted to be proactive and make sure her sons became prepared for the school year.

Barr-Little places a high value on education and developing a love of learning as she owns two small businesses in Brandon, including CNA Training & Testing Center. She discovered the nearest Sylvan Learning location more than 30 miles from where they reside and enrolled her sons. Since their enrollment, their grades improved and their academic confidence grew.

A conversation that she had one day after picking up her oldest son from a session led to the opening of Sylvan Learning of Apollo Beach on March 31 of this year.

“His words moved me to bring the opportunity my children had to other children and families closer to home in the growing South Hillsborough County community,” Sylvan Learning of Apollo Beach Executive Director Barr-Little said.

Sylvan’s methodology approach is based on academic research with 40 years of proven teaching experience and leading-edge technology to pinpoint any gaps in learning so that the skills are taught in the order that makes the most sense.

To add, it also is the only enrichment and tutoring company that measures academic achievement systematically. Its certified teachers are knowledgeable in the local curriculum, which aligns with the provincial and state standard. Sylvan Learning is open year-round, and to avoid summer learning loss, parents can enroll their kids into one of Sylvan’s programs.

“All in all, taking my sons to Sylvan has been one of the best parenting decisions that I’ve made,” Barr-Little said.

For more information, visit It is located at 7130 Big Bend Rd., Ste. 110 in Gibsonton and is open Monday through Thursday, 11:30 a.m.-7:30 p.m., and on Saturday, 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Morning instructional hours will be added in the summer. Call 489-6397.

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Tatiana Ortiz is a freelance writer with the Osprey Observer Newspaper. She began as an intern here in 2010 and has been writing since. Tatiana graduated from the University of South Florida in 2015. She earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Mass Communications with a concentration in Public Relations. In her free time, Tatiana enjoys photography, biking and being with her family.