Striving for Excellence

Tutoring, mentoring company helps students achieve

Chelsea Jones | 4/24/2014, 8:24 p.m.
Tutors and mentors can have a tremendous impact on a student’s academic success. Carl Dorvil, founder and CEO of Group ...
Students participate in group lessons in Ms. Lisbon’s class. Photos courtesy of Group Excellence

The Dallas Examiner

Tutors and mentors can have a tremendous impact on a student’s academic success.

Carl Dorvil, founder and CEO of Group Excellence, a company that collaborates with schools to offer students tutoring and mentoring, understood this well when he started the company – as a student in college.

The year was 2004, and Dorvil, a second-semester junior at Southern Methodist University, was triple majoring in public policy, economics and psychology. He was working four jobs – as a tutor, teacher’s assistant, research assistant and intern at a law firm – to repay the loans he had received the previous year to finance his tuition. Scholarships had paid for his freshman and junior years, and would soon pay for his senior year.

He was focused on becoming a lawyer; since childhood he had always dreamed of becoming the next Perry Mason or Matlock. However, tutoring changed his heart and quickly became his passion.

As someone who’s always had a knack for turning his interests into something profitable, Dorvil looked for ways to expand upon his tutoring job. After reading Rich Dad, Poor Dad, a book that advocates financial independence through investment and entrepreneurship, by Robert Kiyosaki, Dorvil felt challenged to start a business.

He told his friends about his new idea. They all laughed. Nevertheless, Dorvil was determined.

“I had a lot of friends [who] said, ‘It’s not going to work,’ and ‘You can’t do this.’ [But] for me, I kind of fed that to my ego and used it as fuel. It really inspired me to work even harder to find a way to make this work,” Dorvil said.

His idea was simple: College students (whom he deemed as models of success) would tutor and mentor K-12 students. He decided to focus on mentoring, as well as tutoring, because he felt both were needed to ensure a student’s success.

Reflecting on his experience as a tutor, Dorvil noted how students oftentimes understood their classwork, but had no incentive to do it. One of his students, for example, failed a test, not because he didn’t understand the material, but because he had fallen asleep during it.

Dorvil commented that he told the student, “Na man, don’t fall asleep.” The student agreed not to, and for the next test, remained awake and passed.

After reading another book on how to create a successful small business, The E Myth by Michael Gerber, Dorvil outlined a business plan. He pitched his idea to a Dallas ISD executive math director, who liked his concept. She worked with him to secure a $20,000 grant from Texas Instruments, which was sponsoring Algebra I initiatives.

At the beginning of his senior year, Dorvil signed a contract with the company. The money he received would be used to jumpstart his business and pay its part-time employees $10 to $15 an hour.

Dorvil’s business, which he called Group Excellence, had officially begun. His friends quickly signed up to be its first workers.

Every morning before class, Dorvil picked up his friends and drove to work. The mentoring team tutored 10 hours each week – Monday through Friday, two hours a day.