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I earned my BA in English from the College of William and Mary, though I would say I've learned far more through independent study than I did in school. One could say that my degree taught me the analytical skills necessary for successful independent study, or one could say that William and Mary attracts exactly the sort of pretentious nerd who engages in "independent study." It's a correlation-causation type deal.

Anyway, after graduation I worked for four years as a dog trainer at the Richmond SPCA, putting my degree to good use with some exquisitely written training reports. It was there I also began tutoring of a sort: teaching people how to train their dogs. I quickly learned that just because I might know the "best" method to teach a dog a certain behavior, it's hardly the best if the dog's owners aren't going to do it!

I put this principle to use at my first non-dog tutoring jobs, at Eye Level Learning Center and at Inspirational Youth Services, a foster care contractor. In these positions, I worked with students ranging in age from 4 to 14, some labeled as "gifted" some as "special needs." I found that both extremes, and all those in the middle, suffered from a lack of confidence in their own abilities, and a sort of learned helplessness. The "gifted" kids were terrified of making a mistake, and the "special needs" were so used to failure that they failed to mobilize knowledge and skills I knew they had.

It's with those students that I learned that my main job as a tutor is to make myself obsolete. Anyone can give a student the answers. The challenge is teaching the concepts, the process, and the confidence the student needs to arrive at the answer on their own. A wrong answer arrived at through that can indicate more mastery than a right answer arrived at by rote.

As a tutor, I seek to teach not just the fact, but the "how?" and not just the "how?" but the "why?" It is no coincidence that my favorite subjects are Literature and History--a study of each of these will enable one to better understand the "how?" and "why?" of the world around them, and are a bridge from the world of academia to the real world students live in.

I'll now conclude this philosophical treatise to say that I do have something of a personal life, living in a home in Brookland Park, Richmond, with my wife, Lindsey (an English instructor at John Tyler Community College), my dog Sinclair, my two cats Hannah and Ginny, and my turtle, Horace. In my spare time I enjoy reading (what a surprise!), gardening, and being laughably incompetent at DIY home repair. I'm trying to get better--maybe you could recommend a tutor.

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Alan’s Qualifications

Education & Certification

Undergraduate Degree: College of William and Mary - Bachelor in Arts, English

Test Scores

SAT Composite (1600 scale): 1510

SAT Verbal: 800

SAT Writing: 700

GRE: 331

GRE Quantitative: 161

GRE Verbal: 170


literature; psychology; gardening; DIY; radical politics; searching through alleys and dumpsters for useful things, much like the noble opossum

Tutoring Subjects

American Literature

Clinical Psychology

College English

Elementary School Writing


English Grammar and Syntax

Essay Editing

European History

High School English

High School Level American Literature

High School Writing




Latin 1

Latin 2


Middle School Writing



Public Speaking

SAT Reading

SAT Writing and Language

Social Sciences

Social Studies

Test Prep


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