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My interest in, and ability to, write was not instantaneous. As many do, I had a spark, something extra; but left to my own devices, it would have faltered and perhaps failed. It took a number of experiences to give that spark the oxygen it needed to grow into a flame that even now requires careful tending.

Teachers first instilled in me an appreciation of ideas, the building-blocks of any successful writer. Beginning with my earliest days as a basic writer of similarly basic fiction stories -- I was a rabid reader of science fiction and fantasy, which my writing reflected -- I had teachers patiently bear my unruly, unfocused, and disorganized writing style. They looked beyond the clumsy prose and alien subject to look at me, the student, and encouraged me to explore all ideas. Hence, they used material I loved to teach me how to plan my writing before putting it to paper.

Later experiences gave me appreciation for planning. As a writing tutor in college for five-and-a-half years (through most of undergrad and all of grad school), I had to develop a vocabulary for discussing the hierarchy of needs for a writer to keep in mind. Furthermore, it taught me to identify and address weaknesses ranging from the big picture to the smallest comma. This "on-the-job" learning gave me the supplemental appreciation for the various building blocks of language. (This was also helped by my adventures in learning Latin, Greek, and Hebrew. Nothing helps more than learning another language!) Hence, I was able to learn the nitty-gritty material, which was reflected in my own writing, as well as how to teach it.

Finally, in my time teaching K-12 students, I have learned how to mediate those high concepts into their fundamental parts. Theoretically, a young student can learn the same basic material as an older one, as long as it is broken down into age-appropriate parts. I reach back to my own growth as a writer, seeing students make the same mistakes I did and laboring hard to fix them together with the student.

As a teacher, I see it as vital to encourage dynamic ideas, teach ways to help the student look ahead, emphasize the finer points of language, and make age-appropriate goals. All of these I have seen in my own growth as a writer -- and I know there's so much more learning to come!

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James’ Qualifications

Education & Certification

Undergraduate Degree: University of Dayton - Bachelor in Arts, English

Graduate Degree: University of Dayton - Master of Arts, Religious Studies


My interest lies in collecting old books - as much for aesthetic reasons as for their content! The ancient world in general is fascinating to me, though I am most familiar with the medieval era. Linguistics and history of the English language are also extremely interesting. When I'm not working on my doctoral work, I play video games on occasion and listen to a number of podcasts. My fiancee and I seek out bargains and treasures at antique stores as well! Finally, once in a great while I get to do some translating from Latin or Greek or Hebrew - if not for work, then for fun.

Tutoring Subjects

College English


English Grammar and Syntax

High School English

High School Writing

SAT Reading

SAT Writing and Language

Test Prep

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