Brazilian immigrant opens Sylvan Learning in Ocoee

William Silva has followed his dream of coming to America and opening a tutoring and test-prep center.

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When William Silva was a child in his home country of Brazil, he dreamed of moving to the United States. When he got older, he made annual trips, bringing Brazilian tourists to Orlando and the theme parks.

In December, he realized his goal of moving to America and starting a business.

Silva has opened a Sylvan Learning Center franchise in the Good Homes Plaza shopping center in Ocoee. He brought his family with him in hopes of giving his three children a better chance for success.

“It's one thing I really wanted to have when I was a little kid: knowing English, any studying here,” Silva said. “I wanted to give them that opportunity. We have a poor education in Brazil. If you want the best education, you pay thousands and thousands for that.”

Silva's 8-, 13- and 14-year-old children are starting classes at the center. He said they know a little English and are working hard to learn the language.

Sylvan offers tutoring in math, academic reading and writing, in addition to classes in study skills, homework support and college test preparation. Three years ago, the only two Sylvan centers in West Orange County closed. That left local folks needing assistance to go to Kissimmee and Clermont.

Silva knows the value of a good education — he graduated college with degrees in English, literature and English grammar and owned 15 Fisk education center franchises in Brazil. Today, his father, brother and sister-in-law manage those centers to allow him to help students in this country.

“Thousands of Brazilians are living here, and they need help with their kids,” Silva said. “They need help with their English, and the kids are at public schools, and they need help with tutoring, especially in reading and math.

“Sylvan is for American people, but Brazilians need us, as well,” Silva said.



Amy Quesinberry

Community Editor Amy Quesinberry was born at the old West Orange Memorial Hospital and raised in Winter Garden. Aside from earning her journalism degree from the University of Georgia, she hasn’t strayed too far from her hometown and her three-mile bubble. She grew up reading The Winter Garden Times and knew in the eighth grade she wanted to write for her community newspaper. She has been part of the writing and editing team since 1990.

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