A native of Seattle, I have lived and traveled in many parts of the United States and Europe. As a teenager, I attended a French international school and passed the French "baccalaurat," the French high school diploma. I later attended Pomona College in California, Emerson College in Boston, and then completed a 3-year program in Acting and Theater at Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle, earning my BFA in 1982.
My teaching career started in 1984 at a small international school in Switzerland where I taught English as a Second Language (now called ELL) for six years. I also lived and worked in Prague, Czech Republic, where I taught English to government workers, business people, young adults, and even a Roma (gypsy) folkloric group.
In 2004-2005, I completed a Master's in Teaching at Seattle University, then went on to teach English and French in Shoreline Public Schools (high school) until 2013. Since then, I have been teaching part-time at a small independent school, where I work with children from as young as 5 or 6 up to 18. With adults, I have taught English as a Second Language and have tutored French, German, public speaking, and English pronunciation. I am especially interested in writing and in helping young people and adults become better writers for whatever purposes they need: school papers and essays, college admissions essays, creative writing, and more. I also love to help with reading, vocabulary, grammar, and understanding spoken English.
As a tutor, I believe my role is to coach and support your learning and growth, not provide you with answers or do your work for you. I am likely to ask more questions than give answers: to help you understand your thinking process and learning style, to empower your learning by showing you new approaches, and helping you develop new skills and understanding. I will listen to your needs and seek to understand where to focus our time together.
I speak French and German well, though I am not a native speaker; I am also familiar with Czech and Spanish. I love languages! I am open-minded and interested in other people, and try never to judge people by their appearance, cultural or religious background, age, or anything else. I approach students from a place of respect and tolerance and strive to be a good teacher, guide, tutor, and mentor.
In my spare time, I read fiction and non-fiction (history, the cosmos, or whatever catches my eye), and I write fiction and poetry; I enjoy hiking and biking, walks in the woods, and playing billiards. Music is a big part of my life, too: I sing, and listen to all kinds of international, folk, classical, Baroque and early music. I wish I could play the piano. Maybe I need a tutor!
I look forward to working with you toward your unique learning goals.
Education & Certification
Undergraduate Degree: Cornish College of the Arts - Bachelors, Theater
Graduate Degree: Seattle University - Masters, Teaching
Reading fiction; writing fiction and poetry; biking and hiking; international music and traditions; classical, folk, and early music; drawing and other art projects; movies
High School English
What is your teaching philosophy?
My primary belief as an educator is that all people want to and can learn. As a teacher and tutor, my goal is to be a "guide on the side," empowering students to construct their own learning experiences and understanding. People have different learning styles and strengths; a key to success is to tap into strengths to build, learn, and grow.
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
To start with, we will get to know each other a little so we can feel comfortable and understand each other. This might include sharing stories from our background, showing pictures, telling a favorite joke or describing a favorite hobby. We may play a short game or another activity that will help me understand your learning style: are you a visual learner? Do you prefer to see words and texts? Do you relate to things you can feel and move around? And of course, we will begin to look at your specific goals and the material you need to work on, and begin a learning process on which to build.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
"Give someone a fish and feed them for a day; TEACH someone to fish, and feed them for a lifetime." This familiar quote says a lot about the importance of independent learning. I support your independence by asking questions; exploring diverse approaches to the material you are working on; helping you recognize what to focus on; and working with you to find a heartfelt connection to your learning process.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
To be motivated you need to care about your learning process and the material you are working on. This is best achieved if you, the student, are finding meaningful connections to the material and to your process. I will stay focused on you and your interests, letting you lead our work and own the outcomes. Together, we will seek to make your work and learning personally meaningful.
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
There are many ways to approach a challenging puzzle. If you are having difficulty learning a skill or concept, it may mean we need to try a different approach: make a game of it, or learn through a song or rhyme, or identify patterns that will help you get the bigger picture. Learning happens in many ways, sometimes without your expecting or even realizing it. Some learning happens quickly; some develops over time. Persistence and patience will accomplish much.
How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?
Reading is a valuable and life-enriching skill, and everyone is in the process of becoming a better reader! There can be many reasons why you struggle with comprehension. A lot goes on in your brain as you read; for example, recognizing words, guessing at meanings from context, reading "between the lines", and storing new vocabulary in your memory. There can also be issues with attention, lack of interest, fatigue, and eye coordination. I will work with you to identify your reading issues and narrow our work to focus on specific goals at a time: building vocabulary, finding the right level of challenge (sometimes known as "Lexile level", finding key words or phrases, and understanding complex sentence patterns such as the one you have just read!
What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?
Strategy depends a lot on the material, but generally, when it comes to work with language skills, practice and repetition are essential. Also, where possible, using material already familiar to a student makes it easier to approach and connect: for example, if you are an English Language Learner (ELL student), reading an English version of a familiar story from your cultural and language background might be useful (and fun!) Taking time at the start to know and understand each other is a good investment, as it helps us find authentic, interesting connections to the material we are working on.
How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?
As I have said elsewhere, authentic, personal connections to the work is very helpful to motivation. A high school or middle school student who "hates to write" may need to find a subject they are passionate about, like music or Magic cards or snowboarding, and have a chance to write about it without judgment or a grade. Or if French is the target, and verb conjugations aren't engaging you, maybe we can play a game of cards and you can explain the rules and some good strategies to me -- in French. As always, it's important to reach into yourself, find something you are passionate about, and use it as the engine to drive your learning forward.
What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?
I'll ask a lot of questions and listen attentively to your responses. I may start with a simple "test" to get a sense of your level of knowledge and skill; then, at a later point, give you a similar test to measure your progress. I'll give you opportunities to demonstrate your skills, whether it's speaking in a new language, writing a well-structured short essay or paragraph, explaining your understanding of a challenging text, or having a successful conversation in English.
How do you build a student's confidence in a subject?
A great advantage to tutoring is that you have regular one-on-one opportunities to practice, improve, and demonstrate your learning not to a teacher or audience, but to yourself. Part of my teaching style is to ask you to reflect regularly on your progress and your process. In other words, to be aware of both what you are learning and how you are learning. As you gain mastery and awareness of your learning curve, your confidence is likely to improve.
How do you evaluate a student's needs?
In our first sessions, we will discuss your goals and practice some basic skills. As an experienced teacher, I will be alert to evidence that will help us identify where we should focus. This can vary widely according to the material, your background, and many other factors. With a combination of attention, information through observation (data), analysis, and reflection, we will assess and revise our strategies as we work together over time.
How do you adapt your tutoring to the student's needs?
Every student is different, so flexibility is a key asset in tutoring. I have worked with children and adults of many ages and in many different settings. First of all, I need to know you and gain understanding of your learning style. Some people are "left-brain" logical thinkers who like explanations, charts, texts and tables; others are "right-brain" thinkers who need pictures, sensory experiences, movement, and imagination. Some ELL students may need immediate help with specific vocabulary relating to a profession or career; children may need extra help practicing French or writing their ideas down in complete sentences, essays, or stories. I will listen to you, the student, and approach you as an individual, with respect for your strengths and sensitivity to your needs.
What types of materials do you typically use during a tutoring session?
I always like to have plenty of paper or a notebook on hand, and often coloring pencils or other art supplies if that seems to be an approach that my students need (I'm very visual myself, and love to sketch, draw, or write things down as we work.) With French, German, or ELL (learning English) I often turn to songs, pictures, short films, and word games for practice and engagement. Whatever the language, a dictionary and sometimes a thesaurus are always handy, and I prefer books to online resources, generally. For older children and adults, access to a laptop and the internet can be valuable, for writing, research, access to reading materials, or a variety of online exercises, study guides, and audio/video material. Of course, if you are working with a specific textbook, worksheets, or set of instructions, having these on hand is important, and it will be helpful if you can provide me with copies.