I received my undergraduate degree from Seton Hill University, and took additional courses in graduate studies from Rutgers University. Information about my professional history includes 35+ years in publishing and education.
Tutoring experience includes work with elementary, middle school and high school students. Subjects include language arts, reading, writing fiction, nonfiction and poetry; geography, history, study skills and organization.
Favorite subjects to tutor are reading, language arts and social studies. I find these subjects to be the open doors to learning. A good story can take you anywhere. History tells us how we built the world. There are no limits to where we can go and what we can do, because these subject ignite our imagination. They tell us what we can be.
My teaching philosophy is a combination of discovery, dialogue and benchmarks of progress. As a tutor, I am an advocate--the person who sends that message to the student that progress and success are not only within reach, but entirely attainable.
I have several interests beyond academics. Our family loves to travel, and we also spend time in the mountains camping and hiking. Yet I am entirely at home amid great works of art, and enjoy music, books, writing, photography and painting. Gardening and cooking for family and friends always makes my day.
One of my greatest challenges as a parent also became one of my proudest moments. My 1st grader began to bring home substantial errors on written work. I was convinced that she understood the content and could not figure out why she was having trouble as she consistently brought home low marks for 3 weeks.
An additional eye exam and vision testing proved that my daughter had convergence insufficiency and binocular function disorder. She said that the letters for "dog" were all over the page. --For weeks she had been struggling in silence, wanting to keep up with the work and make her parents proud.
We began eye therapy and exercises, and continued every day together for one year. By the end of her year, she could see and focus properly. Reading was still an emotional obstacle because she had been ridiculed at school for not being able to read. But with more work on fun picture books and lots of encouragement from her dad and I, she gradually overcame the feelings that lowered her self esteem.
This year (2015) my daughter is about to begin her junior year in a rigorous high school. She maintains a 4.0 average. She likes herself and dreams about her future in aerospace. She believes that she can do anything. While she may not achieve every dream, dream she does. I look forward to counting her stars.
We don't get a second chance with childhood, and as the first teachers of our children, we need to be present and in tune--regardless of their ages.
--My own mother always told me that every day is a gift. I'd have to agree with that.
Seton Hill College - BA, English and History (double major)
What is your teaching philosophy?
The intelligence of children is precious and must be nurtured. "Follow the light unflinchingly." --J.R.R. Tolkien
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
Engage the person, remembering that I enter as a stranger who desires to be an advocate.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
Students become independent learners through one success built upon the one preceding it. I commit to encourage those successes and support the person inside of the student.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
Motivation stays fluid through giving rewards, learning through play, changes of scenery, and a balanced diet of stimulation that is student specific. As advocates, we need to listen to the student. That's where we learn the keys to individual motivation. Students stay motivated when they have good cause.
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
Simplify the concept. Identify tools that the student can relate to, and present the concept in parts or images that allow the student to connect to the abstract concept or skill.
How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?
Provide the tools that employ familiar images and sounds. This allows me a simple way to convey concepts and give them meaning. The student ultimately needs to "own" the meaning in order to control the concept or comprehend it.
What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?
I always begin with a smile. I always invite the student to ask any and as many questions as desired. This is about one person engaging with another. I also encourage discussion about likes or even dislikes. It's important to make sure that students initially find a teacher or an advocate trustworthy. Without trust, the dialogue makes slow progress. Both tutor and student need to be on board for the project. We're a team.
How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?
I would make sure that we dispense ( at least temporarily) with the notion that there is any grading involved. Rather I would encourage adventure and discovery. Connecting the subject to positive images and experiences can change a student's perspective, and such moments are pivotal. The subject that once caused self-doubt can be seen as a whole new world.
What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?
This can be achieved through dialogue, games, puzzles, and creativity. Content evaluation needs to be tailored to the learning strengths of the student--be they visual, audio, hands-on, etc. Providing a creative outlet that combines benchmarks of cognition can produce accurate results. Much depends upon on how a student engages with testing and challenges.
How do you build a student's confidence in a subject?
I build confidence by taking the time to take the steps needed for completion. These steps may be small or large. Each step needs a process and a reward or achievement. Achievement builds confidence. We stay study buddies to the end.
How do you evaluate a student's needs?
I initially request information from parents or their committed caregivers, as well as the student. While paperwork and reports tell part of the story, the student also needs to express and communicate what is or is not working. I ask students to show or express projects that have caused elation, as well as those that have caused frustration.
How do you adapt your tutoring to the student's needs?
I always determine how best a student learns and identify strengths--visual, audio, creative, intuitive, motor, etc.
What types of materials do you typically use during a tutoring session?
I engage any media, as well as music, learning packets, books, and electronics.