I grew up in and around Chicago, graduated from Princeton University with a B.A. in Comparative Literature, and studied at Boston’s Berklee College of Music. I have taught English in Paris; studied theater in Berlin; performed improv comedy at Chicago’s Improv Olympic Theater; interned at ABC News in Washington, D.C.; served as the Communications Coordinator to the Illinois Attorney General; and, since moving to Nashville in 2008, I have played guitar and pedal steel guitar on David Letterman, Jimmy Fallon, Jimmy Kimmel, Jay Leno, Austin City Limits, the Country Music Awards, and the Grammy’s. I have worked as private teacher to home-schooled students; and as an in-home academic tutor, focussing on ACT preparation, math, writing, French, and German, for nearly a decade.
Because I so clearly remember the anxiety of preparing for my college boards, as well as the satisfaction of moving from confusion to mastery, preparing young adults for the ACT gives me the most satisfaction as a teacher and tutor. My personal style as a teacher/tutor? I try to get to know my students: what do they enjoy about learning; what do they hate; how do they learn best; what are their strengths and weaknesses, perceived or otherwise; what are their goals; how do their goals for themselves match up with their parents’ expectations? I try to find my way into each student’s shoes and then ask myself, “If I were this person, what would be helpful to me?”
Some students are inherently confident but need guidance developing test-taking skills, memorizing vocabulary, or assimilating math formulae.; some students doubt themselves and need encouragement and emotional support to put their knowledge to good use; each student is different. When I’m not tutoring, I’m playing guitar — steel guitar is sort of my specialty — writing and recording music, practicing yoga, and meditating. Sunday mornings, you can usually find me playing an instrument in church.
Education & Certification
Undergraduate Degree: Princeton University - Bachelors, Comparative Literature
I play guitar, steel guitar, and Dobro. I practice yoga and mediation. I'm a movie buff, of sorts.
College Level American Literature
Elementary School Math
Elementary School Reading
Elementary School Science
Elementary School Writing
High School English
High School Level American Literature
High School Writing
Middle School Reading
Middle School Reading Comprehension
Middle School Writing
Q & A
What is your teaching philosophy?
I imagine myself in my students' shoes. (Usually, I only need to take a short trip down memory lane.)
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
I'd have a chat. I'd be curious to know what brings the student to the session. I'd attempt to gauge (and discuss) his or her levels of enthusiasm and anxiety. And, I'd want to the student to leave with an improved sense of his or ability in the subject -- help her make at least one breakthrough, however big or small.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
A wise person once told me that we can learn a new skill in the following way: Watch one; do one; teach one. I try to get my students to the point where they can teach the material. When the student can become teacher, she has become independent.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
Depending on the student, the approach might vary. The short answer, though, would be to focus on what the student is doing well. Some days, that might be as simple as having shown up for tutoring.
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
If the student is having difficulty learning an abstract concept, I may try to present the concept in a more concrete, "real world" way. If the student is having a hard time remembering math formulas, I'd create a "cheat sheet" for him or her, and then ask him or her to recreate it each time we meet together. If a student is having a hard time conjugating a French verb, I'd make flash cards together. In short, I'd try to find something the student CAN do (for example, making a "cheat sheet" or flash cards) that will reinforce whatever it is we're learning.
How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?
By taking it slowly. Sometimes, by asking them to read allowed. Sometimes, reading to them and asking them to perform what I'm reading -- and then switching roles.
What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?
I find I have the most success when I focus on what's going well.
What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?
I'd ask the student to teach it back to me.
How do you build a student's confidence in a subject?
I build a student's confidence by giving him or her opportunities to succeed -- even if success just means making the effort.
How do you evaluate a student's needs?
The same way I evaluate anybody's needs: by spending time together, talking, and getting to know him or her.