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I am a lifelong student. I simply love to write, particularly in academic settings, so I figured, why not get some degrees out of it? I have a PhD in English and two MAs, in English and Liberal Studies, and if I could go back and get another degree, I would. Writing is my world, academically, professionally, and personally. I teach English and Creative Writing at University North Carolina Wilmington, I write and publish essays and short stories, and in 2012, Luminis Press published my debut novel. Writing and teaching writing are my love in life, so much so that it almost never feels like work, or like a job. I have taught at the University level since 2002, at Southeast Missouri State University, University of Southern Mississippi, and now UNCW. My classes have ranged from developmental English to graduate-level literature courses. Despite my almost fifteen years of teaching, I am a student at heart, which helps me be an effective tutor.

Besides writing and teaching, I get to live in one of the most beautiful towns in the nation: Wilmington, NC. It’s bordered by the Cape Fear River on the west and the Atlantic Ocean to the east, and I like to take my giant puppy swimming or playing on the beach. Other hobbies include figure skating, and hot air balloons; I was working on my hot air balloon pilot’s license until I moved too close to the ocean.

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Vallie’s Qualifications

Education & Certification

Undergraduate Degree: University of Mississippi - Bachelors, English

Graduate Degree: University of Southern Mississippi - PHD, English


My puppy, hot air balloons, rivers, and sometimes bad reality tv

Tutoring Subjects

10th Grade

10th Grade Writing

11th Grade Reading

11th Grade Writing

12th Grade Reading

ACT Writing

Adult Literacy

College English

College Essays

Comparative Literature

Creative Writing


English Grammar and Syntax

Essay Editing

Expository Writing

Fiction Writing

Graduate Test Prep

GRE Analytical Writing

High School English

High School Writing




Q & A

What is your teaching philosophy?

My teaching philosophy is that good writing is born from revision. Often we become too caught up on a word-to-word or sentence-to-sentence basis. I think it's important to get big picture ideas on the page first, and worry about the polishing when you revise.

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

Mutual trust is paramount in a successful tutoring session.

How can you help a student become an independent learner?

It's important for teachers and tutors to not take over a student's work, but instead implement a happy medium of guidance.

How would you help a student stay motivated?

It's just as important for a student to know what they're doing right as well as doing wrong, so that they can grow in their learning and use their strengths to the utmost.

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

There's no one solution; every problem must be handled individually. I would begin a dialog with the student, backtracking to where they first became lost in learning that skill or concept.

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

My first suggestion is always to suggest breaking up the text visually. For instance, if it's something being read in a markable document, that the student try double-spacing the text, entering a larger break between paragraphs, and maybe a page break for chapters if applicable. It helps to slow down the reading, which adds a little time to the process. And it just looks far less daunting than a dense block of text.

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

I want to know both general interests and academic interests in hopes that I can build on an already successful base of learning. And I encourage, when possible, writing about subjects for which the student cares. I'd much rather a student incorporate their love of sports into their work than the tired "world peace" type essays.

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

I think it's important to first find out what they're *not* excited or engaged about, if possible. Without that, it's impossible to do so.

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

Repetition and revision, over and over.

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

By acknowledging the positives in the work so they know what they're doing right.

How do you evaluate a student's needs?

Not only do the student's needs need to be discussed before the work begins, but also they must be a question revisited consistently, because needs change.

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

I have to remember that tutoring a student is not the same as my usual University teaching of students.

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

Whatever works. I wouldn't want to get stuck in a pattern of using a certain type of material, because every student is different.

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