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I taught ESL, freshman comp, and technical writing at CWRU. I taught English, algebra, and ESL for 4 years at the Andrews School private day and boarding school. I taught English at Webb School of Knoxville with an emphasis on writing and grammar.
My experiences with ESL, as well as graduate level linguistic courses and the particular attention I paid to the writing process, give me the grammatical knowledge most English majors never get. My work with students on not only the revision process but in the realm of asking for and giving valuable feedback on content before editing makes me an excellent writing coach.

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Donna’s Qualifications

Education & Certification

Undergraduate Degree: Hiram College - Bachelor in Arts, English

Graduate Degree: Case Western Reserve University - Master of Arts, English


Teaching ballroom dancing, reading, cooking, science fiction and fantasy

Tutoring Subjects

College English

College Essays


English Grammar and Syntax


Essay Editing

High School English

HSPT Reading

HSPT Verbal

Public Speaking

Test Prep


Q & A

What is your teaching philosophy?

I believe in teaching the "why" as well as the "what." I believe showing how the material applies not only to what is going on in school, but how it, or the skills gained from it, will apply in their future. Learning the material requires desire more than talent. My job as a teacher is to inspire and motivate as well as instruct.

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

I would want to get to know them a little bit. I would want to know what they find easy, what the find challenging, what their goals are, and what they enjoy reading. I would want to see some of their writing.

How can you help a student become an independent learner?

Critical thinking and problem-solving skills are the most important thing that I can help them acquire. Practice and repetition will help give them the confidence that they have achieved those goals.

How would you help a student stay motivated?

Motivation is important, but, honestly, self-discipline is more important. People in general rely too much on external motivation; we need to help people dig in when they don't feel like it and finish what they need to do to get the results they want.

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

You need 100 ways to explain anything. The greater the challenge; the greater the reward--especially for the student! We need to just try again from a different angle.

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

Reading out loud can help. Sometimes a lack of comprehension is a lack of focus...reading without attending. Breaking down the reading into smaller chunks and discussing the purpose and progression of the story or information is also helpful.

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

Getting to know the student is key, but also setting up ground rules is very important.

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

That depends on the subject, but I would use outside source material that might engage them yet connect to the subject.

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

Summary/say-back is a good technique to have the student explain the material themselves in order to gauge their understanding.

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

A student's confidence is built more on their successfully overcoming obstacles than through their initial ability.

How do you evaluate a student's needs?

Two things are required to evaluate the student's needs: an understanding of the school's requirements and an understanding of the student's current skills.

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

Expectations, material, and evaluation are always matched to a student’s ability.

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

Good old pen and paper are important in writing. Using the computer is often necessary when drafting, revising, and editing requires paper copies. In teaching writing, I require multiple drafts.

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