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My experience with secondary education began at Fountain Valley School in Colorado, a private boarding high school where I gained many skills that prepared me for a successful undergraduate experience at Tufts University and my masters at Cornell University. I double majored in International Relations and Spanish at Tufts University for my B.A., and after three years in the Peace Corps I went on to receive my master's degree from Cornell University in International Agriculture and Rural Development.

Since I first took the SSAT as an 8th grader I have always enjoyed standardized testing, something that set me apart from most of my classmates. From the PSAT to the ACT, SAT, and GRE, I have found the tests to be like games that needed solving, and this is what I like to share with students. Standardized tests present clear goals for students to achieve, and I am encouraged with the amount of progress that can be made by preparing for the tests and having a strategy for tackling each section.

In addition to tutoring for standardized tests, I really enjoy Spanish language tutoring. Language learning has always been my fun class, and since studying Spanish I have gone on to study French, Malagasy (native language of Madagascar), and Hindi. All of this experience as a language student has allowed me to explore different teaching styles and to really understand what are the steps that need to be taken to master a language. English was always a fun subject for me, although I never imagined myself an English tutor until I joined the Peace Corps and realized how wonderful it is to work with English learners and watch their progress. Not only do I enjoy tutoring non-native speakers, but I find that I have a way of teaching writing that can help students to feel more confident when confronted with a blank page in front of them.

My teaching philosophy is student-centric, following the belief that each person has a unique learning style and that my job as a tutor is to mold to that style. Nevertheless, there are some core elements to my teaching style that I am likely to use with students. The first goal for me is to engage with learners by having a positive attitude and making learning fun. When learning is engaging and fun, I find that the material is more memorable and some of the stress of testing is removed, and to this end I try to incorporate games as much as possible. I like to give the students ample space to show me what they do already know, something that is illuminating to me as a tutor and also frequently surprises students with how much knowledge they already command. When learning new material, I prefer an in-depth approach that will look at the same idea from multiple angles. This is helpful, especially for younger learners, as a way to reinforce learning and also to check and make sure that the concept is fully understood. I find that connecting the new material to real-world circumstances or current events can be a useful tool, especially for students who find it a challenge to stay motivated when material is perceived as irrelevant. Overall, I am very flexible and I enjoy meeting the student at their current level and making progress from there.

When I am not tutoring I am planning/planting my garden and battling the many pests that our damp weather brings, or on a hike in the mountains with my sister. On colder days I keep my hands warm by knitting hats for friends and family. My new winter project is to tackle shoe-making so that I can finally have a truly custom-fit shoe. So far I have managed one pair of sandals, but this summer I expect to be trying out a few new models I'm working on.

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Elsie’s Qualifications

Education & Certification

Undergraduate Degree: Tufts University - Bachelors, Spanish; International Relations

Graduate Degree: Cornell University - Masters, International Agriculture and Rural Development


Traveling, learning new languages, gardening, and shoemaking.

Tutoring Subjects

ACT English

ACT Writing


Adult Literacy

American Literature

College English

College Level American Literature

Conversational Spanish


English Grammar and Syntax


Essay Editing

Graduate Test Prep

GRE Analytical Writing

High School English

High School Writing


ISEE-Lower Level Reading Comprehension

ISEE-Lower Level Verbal Reasoning

ISEE-Lower Level Writing

ISEE-Middle Level Verbal Reasoning

ISEE-Middle Level Writing

ISEE-Upper Level Verbal Reasoning

ISEE-Upper Level Writing


Middle School Reading Comprehension


PSAT Critical Reading

PSAT Writing Skills

SAT Reading

SAT Writing and Language


Spanish 1

Spanish 2

Spanish 3


SSAT- Elementary Level

Study Skills

Study Skills and Organization

Test Prep


Q & A

How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?

I would find out other interests in their life and find a way to make the difficult subject more relevant to those interests.

What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?

I would offer a similar problem or question that used the same techniques but differ in content. Additionally, I would ask for an explanation in their own words, or for them to explain it to a younger sibling or friend. Explaining a newly learned concept is one of my favorite tools for reinforcing ideas.

How do you build a student's confidence in a subject?

I like to break things down into simple pieces, allowing students to gain confidence one step at a time. As their skill grows, pull together more pieces until they feel confident in the whole. One technique I find useful is to put the subject or problem in the form of a game, because when students are having fun the stress from a difficult subject is reduced.

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