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I had the opportunity and the pleasure to grow up and teach for seven years in Prince George's County, Maryland, a county rich in diversity across races, cultures, religions, and socioeconomic statuses. Teaching English at a high school there challenged me to engage with my students' countless and evolving perspectives on learning, writing, and reading literature. As they learned from me to analyze and write about literature, so I learned from them to consider novel perspectives on the texts we read and tailored my lessons to be more conducive to all viewpoints and backgrounds in the classroom.

I now teach composition and literature classes at a community college and tutor at the college's writing center. I've brought with me lessons that I learned from growing up and teaching in Prince George's County; to be sure, my new setting offers its own brand of a diverse student body, and I'm grateful for the challenges my students present to me every day. Whether at the college or high school level, I have always tried to make my classroom student-centereda place where students are not passive listeners but active agents in their own learning.

Tutoring enables me to empower students even further as agents in their own education. While I love teaching in a classroom setting, tutoring students one-on-one provides a special opportunity to personalize lessons. As a writing tutor, I am able to gauge a student's strengths and areas for improvement and tailor tutoring sessions to meet a student's unique needs. I do not simply proofread students' essays for them; I ensure that they understand any mistakes they have made and are able to identify them in their future writing. I am also passionate about getting students to engage with the literature they read. Whether they read poetry or prose, and whether they read for class or for pleasure, I try to instill in them critical reading skills that will make what they read more understandable and more enjoyable.

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Courtney’s Qualifications

Education & Certification

Undergraduate Degree: University of Maryland-College Park - Bachelors, American Studies

Graduate Degree: Catholic University of America - Masters, English Language and Literature


Reading the newspaper, completing crossword puzzles, hiking, camping, playing soccer, volunteering

Tutoring Subjects

10th Grade Reading

10th Grade Writing

11th Grade Reading

11th Grade Writing

12th Grade Reading

12th Grade Writing

9th Grade Reading

9th Grade Writing

Adult Literacy

American Literature

British Literature

College English

College Essays

College Level American Literature

Comparative Literature

Elementary School Reading


English Grammar and Syntax

Essay Editing

Graduate Test Prep

GRE Verbal

High School English

High School Level American Literature

High School Writing

Introduction to Fiction

Introduction to Poetry






Short Novel




Q & A

What is your teaching philosophy?

I want students to be active agents in their own education. I empower students by assessing their individual strengths and encouraging them to apply these strengths to subjects that may seem difficult. I want my students to build the confidence to face new challenges with excitement rather than fear.

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

I want to spend a short time getting to know students first-- interests, hobbies, and extracurricular activities. I believe that establishing a friendly, conversational rapport with students early puts them at ease before we move forward into a subject that may cause them anxiety. I will also encourage students to identify and reflect on their academic strengths and weaknesses before we get started with the subject material. This opportunity makes students agents in their own learning. After learning a bit about students, I will delve right into the subject they are seeking help with. While I will impart on students my general knowledge of the topic, I will also tailor my lessons to address specific assignments the students must complete for school or for an application.

How can you help a student become an independent learner?

I teach students skills and habits that they will learn to apply to each new book they read or essay they write. Such skills may include critical reading, annotating, summarizing, paraphrasing, brainstorming, drafting, revising, and proofreading, among others. I do not simply give students answers but teach them to think in a way that leads them to an answer independently.

How would you help a student stay motivated?

I give my students measurable goals that they can achieve in each lesson. This lets them see that they're making progress and improving even on the toughest of days!

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

I will slow down the lesson. Students can't make progress if they're blindly going forward without mastering necessary steps along the way. In writing and grammar, practice is key, so I will assign struggling students practice exercises so that they can gain confidence in a skill before proceeding.

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

I will have students pause after a block of reading (perhaps a paragraph or two) and try to summarize, out loud, the main points of the section. Articulating ideas out loud helps implant them in our long-term memory. If a student cannot recall important main points, I will have them read an even smaller chunk of text and give an oral summary after reading it. I am also a big believer in annotating. I encourage my students to read with a pen or pencil, to underline key words or phrases, and to take notes in the margins of their readings.

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