The National Spelling Bee's new normal: $200-an-hour-teen spelling coaches

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Scott Remer, 23, who grew up in the Cleveland suburbs and tied for fourth in the 2008 bee, believes he might have been among the very first of young bee retirees to carve out a coaching businesses. In 2009, a fellow speller from the Cleveland area who was one year younger than he asked for his help. He obliged, pro bono. The next year, his student Anamika Veeramani, won the whole thing.

Since then, Remer has published a popular bee guidebook, “Words of Wisdom,” and he has coached three to five elite spellers per year at a rate of $80 an hour.

“I have statistics, based on historical trends, that break down the National Spelling Bee’s world lists by language of origin, and we try to spend an amount of time on each language proportionate to the frequency with which words from that language appear,” said Remer, now studying for a master’s degree in England. “The goal is to be flexible enough, and to have accrued enough words in your memory bank, and enough understanding of how language patterns work, to be able to spell words even if you have never heard of them before.”

Scott Remer