I am thrilled to bring my successful experience as an educator, vast subject knowledge and passion for teaching to Varsity Tutors. I possess a Master's Degree in Education from Hofstra University as well as an Advanced Certification in School Leadership from SUNY Stony Brook. In addition my professional credentials include New York State teaching certification in Social Studies (7-9), NYS School Building Leadership and NYS School District Leadership. I have taught social studies for ten years including courses in American History and Government (Regents), AP USH and Civics.
I went into teaching because I wanted to change the world. I know this sounds overly idealistic but I have managed to realize this mission. You see changing the world is not the monumental task it seems. What I have found is that when I help one student to learn than I have changed the world. When this learning enables my student to take another step towards realizing their potential than I have changed the world. As an educator this has always been my mission and I am pleased to continue it with Varsity Tutors.
Education & Certification
Undergraduate Degree: SUNY College at Brockport - Bachelors, History
Graduate Degree: Hofstra University - Masters, Education
Coaching, reading biographies and history themed books,visiting historic sites, keeping tropical fish, golf, gardening.
Q & A
What is your teaching philosophy?
Several years ago, when I decided to change my career path from that of a sales executive to that of an educator, it was not an easy task. It essentially required starting a new career from scratch. But I did so because of my love of knowledge and learning. A love that had been instilled in me by my parents and the many wonderful teachers I had had over the years. I knew that as my parents and teachers had once guided me it was now my turn to help guide others. And so, a mission was formulated. A mission to use my passion for knowledge and learning to help young people acquire the knowledge, skills and emotional intelligence they would need to realize their own potential. In order to see my mission succeed, I knew I had to rely on my guiding philosophy as to the nature of education. I brought this philosophy into the classroom as a teacher for ten years. When the opportunity arose to serve as a school administrator I jumped at the chance. Now I could apply my philosophy to more than my immediate students but to an entire school. Of course, the question I needed to answer was what would be the most effective way to do so? The answer I arrived at was based on my experience as a teacher. I knew that the key to being a successful teacher relied on staying true to my philosophy and on my ability to create a great class.
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
In addition to formatively assessing the student's academic level for a particular subject, I would also like to learn about the student themselves. What are their interests, their hobbies and their goals? This not only allows me to know my students on a more personal level, but it also allows me to tailor my lessons in a way that will best assure engagement by the student. I will also see to it that my student starts to get to know me. My interests, my hobbies, and my goals for them. This will help to create a greater bond between us and allow for the building of the understanding and trust which is so important for effective tutoring to take place.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
By showing my students how to learn, the importance of learning and ultimately the joy and satisfaction in learning, I ensure that my students will gain an appreciation for learning which will last a lifetime.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
The best way to motivate a student is to allow them to experience success. I learned this as a coach and applied it to my players with great success. I also learned that the same motivational strategies that work on the field will also work in the classroom. Nothing breeds success like success.
How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?
First, by making sure that they read text which is challenging yet appropriate for their academic level. Second, by utilizing text which is based on their interests and experiences. The greater their connection to the reading material the more likely they will put in the effort needed to comprehend. Third, by assisting them by reading to them and with them. This allows me to clarify reading passages and vocabulary which may be difficult for the student to comprehend at first.
What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?
Get to know them. Learn not only their academic level but learn about them as a person. Learn about their interests, their passions, their concerns about the subject, and their ultimate educational goals. By doing so, I can tailor my lessons in such a way as to increase the student’s engagement in the subject and ease any concerns they may have about successfully learning it.
How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?
You do so in three ways. First you get the student excited about the particular unit of study. This hook, or anticipatory set, needs to tie in the interests and experiences of the student with the lesson. Next you need to engage and academically challenge the student in a way which allows the student to experience a level of success. It is important to encourage the student and to make sure that true learning is taking place. And, maybe of equal importance, you need to make the learning experience enjoyable. Interjecting some humor into the process will go a long way. It helps build a trusting relationship between the tutor and the student which will ultimately increase a student's engagement with the subject.
What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?
The technique I have found to be the most reliable for checking a student's understanding of the material presented falls under the category of formative assessment. This means constantly checking with the student during the course of the lesson to make sure that they are learning what they need to learn. And by checking I do not mean simply asking a student if they understand, but by asking the student to demonstrate that they understand. This could be as simple as a material based question or a brief writing assignment. Of course, the lesson would conclude with a more summative assessment. This could be a written summation of the lesson, a short quiz or an exit ticket designed to demonstrate a level of understanding. Units could be checked for understanding by utilizing unit-based projects, research papers, or unit tests.
How do you build a student's confidence in a subject?
Nothing builds confidence like success. As a former coach, I know this all too well. And so, you choose a pathway for learning which is based on the student's academic abilities that allows them to succeed. I will certainly provide the guidance necessary for that student to succeed. And in short time, as the student's confidence builds, they will be able to provide most of their own guidance.
How do you evaluate a student's needs?
Formative assessment, which includes speaking with and observing the student during lesson time, is the most proven way. This allows me to gauge a student's academic level on a continuous basis. Of course having conversations with parents and teachers from the student's home school can provide excellent insight into a student's needs as well.
How do you adapt your tutoring to the student's needs?
By use of formative assessments (observing, speaking with the student) as well as summative assessments (quizzes, tests, and projects), allows me to identify the student's needs. Once learning styles are identified I can now tailor instruction to that which will have the most impact on the student.
What types of materials do you typically use during a tutoring session?
As a social studies teacher, I use a tremendous variety of materials during a session. One of the most useful is video. This source can be directly linked with writing materials supplying the student with both a visual and written experience. This is one of the most effective ways to learn social studies. Of course written material in the form of texts, newspaper articles, and worksheets are a staple of social studies because they provide a human connection to history and provide a wealth of pertinent information. I use them all.