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I am a poet and community activist with a strong connection to the place where I live. Poetry deepens my connection to the earth, and my commitment to help create a just, peaceful and sustainable world. I work with other volunteers on environmental issues such as climate change, the cleanup of the Hanford Nuclear Reservation and the Portland Harbor superfund cleanup. I graduated from the PSU Leadership for Sustainability Education master's program with a certificate in Teaching Adult Learners. I've taught and tutored ESL and GED as well as a graduate course, Global Political Ecology. I have also worked with special needs students. An important part of my life-long learning has been to visit other places and cultures. I served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Uganda where I worked with primary teachers. I've learned to learn from those I teach!

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Laura’s Qualifications

Education & Certification

Undergraduate Degree: Antioch San Francisco - Bachelors, Creative Writing

Graduate Degree: Portland State University - Masters, Leadership for Sustainability Education


I am an avid reader, mostly non-fiction currently. I also love fiction, poetry and books on spirituality. Films are also a big part of my life. I keep a journal and also write poetry when I have time. I love to dance, to hike and to travel. I ride my bike and bus it whenever possible. I'm dedicated to becoming place-literate--knowing about the ecology of where I live as well as its culture and history. Most of my free time is spent working with other community activists in creating a just, peaceful and sustainable world.

Tutoring Subjects

College English

College Essays

Comparative Literature


English Grammar and Syntax


Essay Editing

High School English



Q & A

What is your teaching philosophy?

My philosophy of adult education is learning and teaching that focuses on the whole student within the context of his or her community. I believe in creating a brave space where students are able to learn from one another in a supportive atmosphere that honors difference and multiple ways of learning and teaching. I believe in developing a curriculum derived from student interests and rooted in the questions that arise from their experience. The core of my philosophy revolves around creating opportunities for reflective learning, which allows students to develop creative problem solving skills that they can apply to their lives and the needs of their community.

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

I'd begin by getting to know the student a little to learn about what motivates their studies and to confirm what they're looking for in a tutor, and how I can best support their goals. I'd also be open to sharing my experience if that's of interest.

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

I would identify where the student is having difficulty, and encourage them to monitor their comprehension by using strategies like restating the difficult sentence or passage in their own words; looking back through the text and forward in the text for information to help resolve the difficulty; and summarizing the text in writing or through conversation--how does what they've read relate to what they already know. Making a visual diagram of the text, as well as taking notes could also be helpful.

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

Establishing a personal connection to begin with is important. I'd begin by getting to know a little about the student--their goals and interests, and what they're needing help with. I'd share a little bit about my background and expertise.

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

I would help the student identify how the subject relates to what they're interested in, what they already know. I also think approaching a subject through the story of place and participants helps to contextualize and access a difficult subject.

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

Various assessment activities could be used to be sure that a student understands the materials. These include testing, informal conversation, formal presentations, and self assessment.

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

Approaching a subject from various perspectives and modalities creates a familiarity that enables the student to engage with the subject. Also, determining what skills are needed and specific to learning the subject, and helping the student to master these through practice and repetition builds confidence.

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