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Hello! I am currently a graduate level student that will begin work towards my Human Health and Environmental Systems MPH at Oregon Health and Science University in the fall. I held my first tutoring job in high school, where I spent after school and summers working with local elementary school students on reading, writing, and math skills. I loved the rare chance to see the look on a child's face when a tricky concept they had been struggling with suddenly made sense.

More recently, I have been working at the Washington State University Vancouver Writing Center. There I did both face-to-face and online consultations with students about pieces of their writing. We would discuss the papers ideas, argument, organization, flow, grammar mechanics, and citation style. When working with papers, I follow strategies that we were taught to use at the writing center, which include reading papers out loud to help find problematic sentences, doing reverse outlines to check the organization and effectiveness of the papers argument, and teaching the sandwich method of using quotes to help students avoid overusing other people's words.

My favorite concept to explain from my time working at the writing center is how to use semicolons! Many people are both confused and scared by that particular piece of punctuation, but it's actually fairly simple to get the hang of if explained in plain language (rather than what I think of as 'grammar language'). I always enjoyed having regulars that came in stop me to show off their effective use of a semi-colon in a paper, when they have previously been too uncomfortable to use it.

While I have not previously tutored in sciences or standardized testing, I am very knowledgable in the sciences due to my degree in Environmental Science and can share testing strategies that help avoid making mistakes and falling for trick questions. I believe a tutoring session should be a discussion, rather any type of lecture, where you should feel comfortable enough to ask questions or let me know if something isn't working. Personally, I struggle in math and never thought I would be able to get a degree that requires the math skills that my BS did and MPH will. However, I now believe that anyone can succeed in any subject, as long as the information is presented in ways that they can understand and they put in the hard work needed to make success happen.

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Kourtney’s Qualifications

Education & Certification

Undergraduate Degree: Washington State University - Bachelors, Environmental Science

Graduate Degree: Oregon Health & Science University - Current Grad Student, MPH Environmental Systems and Human Health

Test Scores

SAT Verbal: 730

GRE Quantitative: 154

GRE Verbal: 166


I enjoy reading sci-fi and fantasy books, talking with friends about the literary aspects of books, movies, and TV shows, as well as caring for my dog and three cats. Currently, my husband and I live in a townhouse with a postage stamp sized lawn, so I am unable to have a garden, except the multitude of plant pots I have on my front porch.

Q & A

What is your teaching philosophy?

Teachers must present information in a way to make it accessible to all who want to learn. Academic writing has its place, but it is not appropriate for spreading understanding to most people. It is important to be able to communicate knowledge to someone in a way that they will be able to understand, no matter their learning style. That is something I strive to be able to do.

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

That is partially going to depend on the subject, but first I will ask them what kind of help they are specifically looking for from me in the subject. Then I will let them know what they can expect in the session; for example, if I am helping someone with a paper I will go over the pedagogy I will use, such as reading the paper out loud to help catch mistakes or awkward phrasing and make sure they are comfortable with it. Finally, I will make sure to let them know every time, not just the first time, to interrupt if something doesn't make sense and needs to be explained in a different way.

How can you help a student become an independent learner?

Directing students to resources that they can access on their own is one of the best ways to encourage independent learning. For example, I always recommend certain websites to students who I am helping with their citation.

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

If the way that I was explaining a concept wasn't working for a student, then I would do some research outside of the tutoring session for alternate ways to learn that concept. I might try to find an explanation that involved some hands-on work or one that utilized images/graphs that I had not used previously. I would also look for different language to use, because while it can sometimes be easy to think in academic language once a concept is learned, wrapping one's mind around a concept that is shrouded in complex language can be extremely difficult.

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