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Learning is about awakening curiosity, engagement and creativity. What a gift it is to enhance our capacities to express our views and arguments. For more than fifteen years, I have worked with students as a University teacher both in England and in New York, Chicago, Ann Arbor and California. We have developed writing, enhanced critical reading capacity, honed grammar and strengthened subject-based knowledge. Ask what connection a task has to your life and the things you care about as a way of awakening your interest. Let's focus on critical analysis and creative reflection along with basic skills and structure as a way to give your exams and essays a boost. I look forward to meeting and working with you!

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Mary’s Qualifications

Education & Certification

Graduate Degree: Harvard University - Master in City Planning, City and Regional Planning

Graduate Degree: Harvard University - PHD, Sociology


Art, music, swimming, riding and writing

Tutoring Subjects

College English

College Essays

College Level American History


English Grammar and Syntax

Essay Editing

European History



High School English

High School Level American History


Homework Support


Public Speaking


SAT Reading

SAT Writing and Language

Social Sciences

Social Studies


Special Education


Test Prep

US History


Q & A

What is your teaching philosophy?

Finding links between a task you are assigned and your own life and interests is likely to deepen your engagement in the task. Often this frees creativity and increases motivation and engagement. Tell your story. As Maya Angelou tells us 'The bird sings not because s/he has answers but because s/he has a song.' It is your story. Try to link your work to what moves you.

What might you do in a typical first session with a student?

In the first meeting, we would probably introduce ourselves. Of course, it is a priority to find out about your goals and to learn what you are hoping to accomplish through our tutoring.

How can you help a student become an independent learner?

Awakening creativity and confidence boost independence and self-starting motivation.

How would you help a student stay motivated?

Give useful feedback and emphasize the value to realizing their own potential, which is a lifelong gift.

How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?

If struggling with reading comprehension, we emphasize skimming the first sentence in each paragraph to get a sense of the work. With that frame in mind, skim the text. Go to the questions, and reach back to search for answers.

What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?

At the start, we introduce ourselves. It can be good to learn about grade level, a sense of how their studies are going, and their goals and prior experiences. Linking to plans and hopes can be a great motivator!

How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?

By linking subject matter to our lives and interests, we can often generate a sense of excitement and commitment.

What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?

Some strategies I use include verbal discussion, quiz or test-taking and review, making up our own examples and sentences, illustrating points, and most of all revision or review by going back to test knowledge after forging ahead.

How do you build a student's confidence in a subject?

Confidence comes from encouragement, consistency, and progress over time. We can compare accomplishment to prior work. We can look at how the patterns of problems being grappled with have changed and become more advanced as basic issues have been dealt with.

How do you evaluate a student's needs?

A student's needs are importantly linked to her or his goals. Once we know where you want to go, we begin to assess where you are now. We can look at grades, actual work, standardized tests, and teacher reports. If entry to a particular college is sought, we can compare current achievement to those standards and devise a plan for working to meet them.

How do you adapt your tutoring to the student's needs?

Each of us works at a different pace and learns in our own way. As a tutor, one has to come to know how a student progresses and choose approaches best suited to that style.

What types of materials do you typically use during a tutoring session?

In a tutoring session, materials are chosen in light of the goals and needs of the student. For test preparation, test prep books can be good. One has to decide whether the SAT or ACT is the target. For writing, we might start with some language usage review books and then move to sentence and paragraph construction followed by actual practice on paragraphs.

If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?

If a difficulty is encountered, we could first try approaching the task from different angles. Next, we could try to contextualize it in terms of relevance to real life (e.g., to a planned nursing career). Finally, we might talk about why this particular skill is so challenging, and then go back to the task.

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