I love many things - reading, tea, drumming, my dogs - but I love teaching best. It has been my most rewarding and enjoyable endeavor. As the oldest of 5, “helping with homework” was a given. When told as a teenager that I’d make a great teacher, I decided being trapped in a room with more kids was not on my life agenda. I attended UCONN and graduated with a BS in Agriculture (CANR).
I've done many jobs in my life (milking cows, counseling the unemployed, supervising summer work crews, guiding trail rides...) and, oddly enough, they all involved teaching in some way. Well, not the cows, but THEY taught ME a lot about patience. When I left dairy work for health reasons, my cousin suggested substitute teaching. Then a little third grade boy in a special needs class (my second assignment) stole my heart and my future was decided. After substituting for 5 years (K -12) I completed teaching certification at ECSU in Willimantic.
I have been a certified teacher for over 25 years. My subject areas include Biology, Environmental Science, Human Physiology, Physical and General Sciences, and I’ve worked with students at fundamental, college prep and honors levels. For 20 years, I taught in 2 alternative settings: a private, non-profit residential school and a public alternative high school; the last 5 years at a regular high school. My greatest strengths lie in working with children who face challenges to success like learning disabilities and behavioral issues. My favorite subjects are Genetics, and Anatomy and Physiology. My philosophy on tutoring is that everyone can learn. You just have to find the right mix of interest, confidence and presentation.
I am willing to work with clients both in person and on-line. In-person sessions can be arranged at a local library or other public space. I prefer working with students away from the distractions of home to enable them to focus more completely on their tutoring goals and progress.
Education & Certification
Undergraduate Degree: UCONN - Storrs - Bachelors, Animal Science
Reading: Science Fiction, Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Mystery. Pets: dogs, cats, reptiles, fish, horses, cows. Movies: adventure, sci-fi, fantasy. TV CSI, NCIS, medical, cop and legal shows, sci-fi and fantasy
Anatomy & Physiology
High School Biology
High School Chemistry
Middle School Science
SAT Subject Tests Prep
Study Skills and Organization
Q & A
What is your teaching philosophy?
My teaching philosophy is, “Whatever it takes." How many times do you explain something to a student? As many times and in as many ways as it takes. I also think learning should be fun as much as possible.
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
I'd like to have a short discussion about the student's interests and what they like about school. Then I would ask what they think they need and what the problems are in their learning.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
Independent learners are created first by lighting the fire of interest, which will create questions to explore. Then giving them the tools to investigate and discover the answers to these questions will provide answers that fan that flame and offer more questions to explore. These tools can include improving reading levels, scientific experimentation, computer literacy and self-esteem. The learning will have its own rewards because learners will come to enjoy the process of seeking out the answers and the questions for themselves.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
I would look to the student for reasons to stay focused and for what goals they want to accomplish. I would then use these reasons to remind the student why he or she is working with me. I have a positive outlook and total confidence in my student's ability to succeed.
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
I would look to the student to see where the difficulties lie. Most kids immediately say "All of it!" so I go to the most basic facts of the concept and ask, “Do you know what ___ is/means?" The response is most often "Yes" or "Yes, but..." thus proving to the student that he/she does know something about the topic, giving us a starting point. We can then narrow down that "All" and identify specific problems to address.
How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?
Vocabulary, word forms, practice and praise.
What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?
That totally varies by student. The best strategy is to find out what a student likes and dislikes about school and the subject matter, and then go from there.
How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?
I would talk to the student to determine why they are struggling. I would create situations where the student could be successful, and I would include unusual trivia within the lesson that would make the subject more interesting and intriguing. Did you know the symbol for the element Lead on the Periodic Table is Pb because it based on its Latin name Plumbum? Since the first house supplying pipes were made of lead, it is the root of the term "plumbing."
What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?
Any combination of techniques required. I will answer a question as many times as it takes, in as many different ways as I can create, until it is solid. I will find or draw diagrams, pictures; use YouTube for videos, make music or write songs, based on the student's learning style. And I have.
How do you build a student's confidence in a subject?
I first find out why the student lacks confidence in the first place. I ask my students because who better than they know what is going on? Sometimes it's just a matter of a one-on-one demonstration, say for balancing chemical equations, to make the Big Bad a Piece of Cake. Is it a skill deficit? Chemistry is extra difficult if you don't understand Algebra. Did the student once have confidence in him or herself in the subject, then lose it? If so, why? I look for and "fix" what I can. Then, I start with a review of the concepts right before the point where they “lost it.” This way the lower section of the learning scaffold is solid before we venture into the weak area. I set the student up to win by posing small tasks (pieces of the whole) we may do together. I back off slowly until the student is succeeding on their own with me cheering from the sidelines. We can go back as many times as needed or change the strategy (reading, writing, hands-on) as many times as needed.
How do you evaluate a student's needs?
In this company, one of the best tools is a well-written and inclusive student profile created by the intake person when the family signs up. If there is evidence of a learning related diagnosis or special education involvement, I talk to the parent. Then I talk to the student either before or during our first session. They know themselves best and, if truly serious about wanting your help, will be honest. If you hear a student say they do better when they have a chance to discuss vocabulary words and is failing because the teacher requires him/her to read the workbook on their own, think learning style. Finally, I use 25 years of experience teaching in an alternative setting to make my own evaluations about what is going on. I can then offer the material in different styles, use different techniques and teach the student different strategies to address his/her learning needs.
How do you adapt your tutoring to the student's needs?
My bottom line: I do whatever it takes and give them whatever they need, except the answers. Those we pursue together. How many times do you explain something to a student who isn't getting it? As many times and in as many ways as it takes.
What types of materials do you typically use during a tutoring session?
Anything at my disposal. Coming cold to a tutoring session, I will search the Internet, YouTube, Google Images, my own hard drive for PowerPoints, worksheets, quizzes, packets that apply to the student’s questions, etc. I have textbooks in various sciences and at various levels to which I can refer. Students often have textbooks and class materials we can access. One great tool on the online tutoring platform is the ability to use my or the student's camera to take pictures of a test or assignment we need to go over. It comes up on the platform whiteboard, so I can share it without the student having to read the questions and the answers to me. Knowing what we plan to cover in a session, I will do the searches ahead of time to have material ready. I can create questions on the concepts we will be using to offer as practice, or find something appropriate in my own teacher files. I have gone to the library 3 times recently to borrow a book one of my clients is reading so I can be up to speed and have a useful discussion on the events of the story. What a treat to reread "To Kill a Mockingbird" after almost 55 years!