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Hidden Gems: Meet Rhett Barbour of TorchPrep

Today we’d like to introduce you to Rhett Barbour. 

Alright, so thank you so much for sharing your story and insight with our readers. To kick things off, can you tell us a bit about how you got started?
I started as a high school math teacher. I absolutely loved it. There isn’t a more incredible demographic to work with than 14-18 yrs. old. Everything is starting to make sense to them (or maybe it’s all starting to NOT make sense!) and they’re asking real questions about life, who they are, and why they’re here. I considered it an honor to work with them every day. 

My best friend at the time was a professional card counter. His career was all bent toward hacking the system and using all available information to play smarter than everyone else. We put my bent toward students and curriculum and his strategy together to create something simple that could impact students everywhere. 

That’s how TorchPrep was birthed. Since 2009, we’ve trained over 40,000 students to challenge the traditional perspective on standardized tests and dominate the college admissions process. And we’ve all had an absolute blast in the process! 

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not, what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
Nothing good is ever smooth. If I wanted smooth, I wouldn’t have started my own company. When you go out on your own and start something you have to expect bumps . . . and more bumps . . . and more bumps. But, is it worth it? Yes. 

Learning how to operate in a tightly regulated industry like education has been difficult. 

Learning management lessons as well as constantly improving our actual offering to the market has been difficult. 

Finding the balance between growth and sustainability has been difficult. 

Thanks – so what else should our readers know about TorchPrep?
We are a band of visionaries, artists, teachers, hackers, poets, advocates, and friends. Our movement is about changing the lives of students. 

We make our mark on this world by training students to maximize their scores on standardized tests to help eliminate all obstacles to post-secondary pursuits. 

We equip our teachers to understand that higher ACT® test scores are our by-product, not our focus. Our focus is building a culture and an experience that fits the paradigm of a teenager, compelling them to care. We always say we’re Heart First, Head Second focused. No spreadsheet will ever take precedence over a student. As a result of our rapport, relationships, energy, and high expectations, the ACT® test scores have soared. Build with the student in mind and you’ll create change. 

The future is bright. Through our training, we are hoping to leave a legacy that makes students, schools, and cities better. We love what we do and have every intention to keep the awesomeness flowing at full force! 

We start with the facts. Standardized tests do not exactly pull on the heartstrings of the average 16-year-old. Standardized tests do have a fundamental impact on a student’s future. This reality demands that we come at this problem with exuberant amounts of charisma and strategy. Our vision is to train students to think differently…to think strategically. The following represents our “how”. Each value is a governing ideology, and everything we do is interpreted through the following lenses. 

Provoke: We push students to develop an innovative, creative, and strategic approach to both education and life as a whole. 

Instruct: We deliver content in a clear, concise fashion that the listener can comprehend and build upon. Sound instruction is paramount for our success, and it is a hill we die on. 

Entertain: We bring large amounts of energy, stories, and interpersonal skills to the table. Our zeal is enough to carry students through the entire Boot Camp. 

Can you share something surprising about yourself?
I love any sport with a racket. 

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