I am a two-time graduate of James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia, receiving a bachelor's degree in English in 2008 and a master's degree in secondary education in 2009. Since graduation, I have worked teaching high school English and coaching wrestling in a relatively poor and rural district just south of Richmond. Though I am fully qualified and capable of tutoring any subject related to English, one of the things I have enjoyed the most success with as a teacher is preparation for standardized tests. I also very much enjoy teaching British literature and the writing process. There is no better feeling to me than seeing the gratitude in a student's face when he or she exceeds expectations and can go on to complete the next step in his or her educational journey. Outside of teaching, I am a rabid baseball fan (Let's go, Mets!), I love going to concerts, and I enjoy hanging out with my cats.
Education & Certification
Undergraduate Degree: James Madison University - Bachelors, English
Graduate Degree: James Madison University - Masters, Secondary Education
SAT Verbal: 770
SAT Writing: 700
I love to play my guitar, go to concerts, read anything I can get my hands on (especially comics), watch baseball, and play with my kittens
10th Grade Reading
10th Grade Writing
11th Grade Reading
11th Grade Writing
12th Grade Reading
12th Grade Writing
7th Grade Reading
7th Grade Writing
8th Grade Reading
8th Grade Writing
9th Grade Reading
9th Grade Writing
College Application Essays
High School English
High School Writing
Introduction to Fiction
Introduction to Poetry
Middle School Reading
Middle School Writing
Q & A
What is your teaching philosophy?
I think education should be a two-way street. The best way to educate a student is to understand what his or her goals are and find a way to get there. My goal is to help my students in ways they find interesting and world-broadening.
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
Find out more about the student: what are his or her goals? Why is he looking for a tutor? What does she struggle with? What does he do well? I would then most likely observe the student as he or she works with some material. This way I can get a handle on how a student attacks a certain piece of work, and we can work on finding a more effective method.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
I think it is important to help students build a skill set to help figure things out on their own. Showing students different ways to figure out what things mean through word analysis can be helpful. Giving students ideas on reliable sources to find information on the internet is increasingly more important in today's world.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
As a wrestling coach, I am well versed in the power of motivation. It is important to celebrate success and growth, even when the end result is not quite where we want it to be yet. By telling students what they do well and giving specific goals to focus on for next time, everyone will be able to make incremental improvements until we reach our ultimate goal.
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
It depends on the subject or test, degree of difficulty, and student goals. My first option would of course be to explain the concept or skill in as many ways as possible, giving examples or parallels to things the student might recognize. However, if a student really just does not understand something and it is not an absolutely essential component, we may focus more on strengthening other areas to cover that particular weakness on the test or in the class.
How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?
This is one of the most difficult things to teach. The answer is simple, but it isn't easy: the best thing to do is for the student is to read as much as possible whenever possible. You can't get stronger if you don't lift weights, you can't get faster if you never run, and you can't become a better reader if you don't read. However, I have also used many strategies with struggling readers that have helped as well: having students write short summaries of the main idea next to each paragraph works well. Highlighting key words and phrases can help. Asking students about the motivations of the characters within a piece can help them understand why things might be happening. There are many activities that help, and we would work through as many of them as we could to get the student where he or she needs to be.
What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?
Observing how the student works is absolutely the most important part. Seeing what his strengths and weaknesses are and coming up with a plan of attack on how to boost the strengths and minimize the weaknesses is the best way to get him to improve upon current performance.
How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?
It might depend somewhat on the subject and the nature of the struggles. If a student just doesn't want to read or is not good at it, finding high interest material is a relatively simple solution. A student struggling with test prep or a more closed-nature kind of problem can be more difficult. I think the best solution is to first find out what the student's goals are: for example, if a child wants to go to a great college, he will need good SAT scores. Helping him understand that the pain is temporary and a necessary evil of getting over that barrier to admission can be quite helpful.
What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?
The best way to make sure a student understands something is to have the student explain it, preferably to someone who doesn't know much about the subject. If someone can teach another person a concept, then he truly knows that concept well.
How do you build a student's confidence in a subject?
Celebrating successes and measuring growth against a starting point.
How do you evaluate a student's needs?
A twofold approach: first, by asking what the student feels his or her needs are. Second, by observing how a student works and what kind of product the work leads to.
How do you adapt your tutoring to the student's needs?
By communicating with the student and parents to make sure that the student's needs are being understood and met. If a student has different goals or doesn't feel satisfied with what we are doing, then I need to find a way to make sure that need is being met.
What types of materials do you typically use during a tutoring session?
It depends on the subject and the student. High interest reading material, released practice questions, and assignments from a teacher, or activities of my own creation are all available and ready to be used at any time.