MY WORK­ING LIFE

Cleo Masliah teaches the chil­dren of the rich and fa­mous. The 32-year-old is of­ten wel­comed into their world – and gets a taste of their jet-set­ting lifestyle. Here she tells us all about it.

Friday - - Contents -

From teach­ing on cruises to spend­ing time at re­sorts, Cleo Masliah re­veals what it means to be a tu­tor to the chil­dren of the rich and fa­mous.

Cleo has of­ten had to give lessons to her stu­dents on a cruise ship, a boat and even while snorkelling How did you get into pri­vate tu­ition, Cleo? When I was at high school in France I was bilin­gual and there were kids at the lo­cal schools who were tak­ing English lessons in class but their teach­ers didn’t ac­tu­ally speak very good English. So that was very easy pocket money for me! Then I tu­tored through­out uni­ver­sity to support my­self. Sounds like you were born into it… It’s al­ways been a part of my life, I think. When I was do­ing my sec­ond de­gree in Belgium I taught French and English as a for­eign lan­guage to high-pro­file in­di­vid­u­als – diplo­mats, movie di­rec­tors – and I re­alised I wanted to fo­cus on teach­ing, I wanted to travel around the world and I wanted to help some chil­dren. So I went into it full-time and that’s what I’ve been do­ing for a few years now. Do you typ­i­cally move in with the fam­ily? Usu­ally not. A lot of my clients have many prop­er­ties – in Dubai one client had a tonne of apart­ments so they handed me a flat in the Ma­rina for the en­tire time, which was very nice. But some­times it makes more sense to move in – es­pe­cially if you have a tight dead­line to help a stu­dent pass en­trance ex­ams or you have a kid that doesn’t speak such good English. If you’re there you be­come more of a men­tor and a friend and their English im­proves sub­stan­tially faster. There are other cases, like when I was sail­ing around the Caribbean with a fam­ily, where ob­vi­ously, you’re on a yacht, so you’re liv­ing with the fam­ily. Also there can be things like se­cu­rity is­sues that means it makes sense for me to live with a client, too. Sounds cool! It’s very in­ter­est­ing. We’re part of the in­ner cir­cle of some of the wealth­i­est fam­i­lies in the world – a num­ber of my clients are on Forbes’ rich list – and they live dif­fer­ently; it’s in­ter­est­ing to see how they run their busi­ness on a day-to-day ba­sis. It’s also in­ter­est­ing to see how some clichés are just com­pletely wrong. Like what? I think there’s an idea around glamour where there’s this as­sump­tion that it’s an Instagram lifestyle. And yes, we fly in pri­vate jets and yes, the houses are ex­tra­or­di­nary, but at the end of the day, it’s just real peo­ple lead­ing a nor­mal life. They have needs just like you and me – and one of their needs is their kids’ education. There’s a nor­mal­ity to it that isn’t cap­tured in those images. Was it all a bit daunt­ing at first? It wasn’t, be­cause I grew into it. You need to un­der­stand that when I was 20 I was telling off CEOs of com­pa­nies for not hav­ing done their home­work – and the rea­son why they hadn’t was be­cause they’d been play­ing golf with George W. Bush! Once you’ve done that at 20 every­thing else is… ‘OK, let’s do this!’ If you’re go­ing to be wowed by the lifestyle or crave it, then you’re not go­ing to get to the top in this pro­fes­sion. How much of a dif­fer­ence can one-on-one tu­ition make? If I’m try­ing to teach you some­thing you’re prob­a­bly go­ing to have par­tic­u­lar things that you learned in the past that you’re quite shaky on. If I’m teach­ing one-to-one, I can spot these and go back in time to fix it. You can’t do that with an en­tire class­room. It’s easy to imag­ine that priv­i­leged kids are all spoiled. Are they? Kids are kids! All kids are nice, they all want to be loved and want to feel val­i­dated and that they are achiev­ing some­thing they can be proud of. That’s not to say that some kids from any back­ground won’t have spe­cific is­sues. But I’ve never met a kid who was di­a­bol­i­cal. Also, the kids are of­ten very po­lite and well-brought-up. What was the strangest place you ever gave a les­son? On a boat dur­ing a fish­ing trip and it had to be in­ter­rupted be­cause the wa­ters ended up be­ing choppy and my stu­dent was sea­sick. Are you ever able to bring the amaz­ing lo­ca­tions you visit back to the class­room? I try to. I got one stu­dent into snorkelling in the Ba­hamas and we were able to bring this back into a lot of the things we were learn­ing about. We were do­ing food chains and ecosys­tems and it be­came very in­ter­est­ing be­cause she could snorkel and see what was hap­pen­ing in the food chain. And it doesn’t stop there, you can then in­cor­po­rate it into his­tory by talk­ing about how Christo­pher Columbus ar­rived there. Fi­nally – kids of­ten like to buy their teacher a small gift at the end of the year: has any­one ever of­fered you a di­a­mond neck­lace in­stead of a box of choco­lates? No! Peo­ple of­ten ask me about gifts and I think there’s a myth about the gifts tu­tors re­ceive. Par­ents are more likely to in­vite us to stay at some swanky re­sort that they own or in­vite us to stay for a month at some $30 mil­lion (Dh110 mil­lion) prop­erty of theirs.

Cleo’s in­tro­duc­tions to ul­tra-high net worth clients is usu­ally made though Sim­ply Learn­ing Tu­ition, who have been oper­at­ing in the Gulf re­gion for seven years. They pro­vide every­thing from full-time home­school live-in tu­tors in Jed­dah, Dubai and Abu Dhabi to a long-term on­line service that has Bri­tish tu­tors work­ing from London, help­ing to pre­pare chil­dren for en­trance ex­ams to UK schools. sim­plylearn­ing­tu­tion.co.uk

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