In 2005, I graduated summa cum laude from the University of South Florida with a bachelor's degree in English Education, excelling both in language arts courses (on literature, linguistics, and composition) and education courses (on educational psychology, teaching methodology, and practical internships).
During 2005 and into early 2006, as a fledgling college graduate, I worked in a long-term substitute position at a Florida high school, teaching Advanced Placement Literature & Composition. There, I gained experience in instructing high school students in exciting, challenging content, but I craved a different work environment, one with more one-on-one time with students. So, since March of 2006, I have been working as a private tutor, helping students with reading, writing, and test preparation.
In 2014, I completed a master's degree at the University of Houston in educational psychology, a program which improved my skills in teaching and motivating students to learn. My thesis project examined the most effective ways instructors can help students maintain a strong motivation for writing.
Also in 2014, my family and I moved from Texas to Hawaii for my husband's work. Through 2015, I worked with students in and around the town of Hilo on the Big Island. Recently, we moved once more, to the beautiful west end of Richmond, Virginia, where I'm happy to be working now with new students. Our family loves this area: we intend to stay for good.
For me, tutoring is highly satisfying. Getting to develop close relationships with my students and seeing them grow in their skills are the best parts of my work. I love what I do.
Philosophy of Education
I am adamant in the belief that excellent reading and writing skills make all the difference in students' lives, well beyond high school and college graduation. My teaching style is centered on that belief. Regardless of a particular student's short-term goals for tutoring, I aim to help each student become an accurate, fast reader and a fluent, expert writer.
I enjoy teaching reading skills directly as needed, especially with students who are very young, with students preparing for reading exams, and with students making the transition from reading for enjoyment to reading analytically for A.P. classes. Aside from those special situations, though, I find that with the right guidance and a good selection of interesting books, almost all students get hooked on reading. From that point, I focus on encouraging the reading habit and helping students reflect thoughtfully on what they've read rather than rushing through it.
I sympathize with kids (and adults!) in that writing is hard, that every English teacher has a different set of expectations for writing assignments, and that for most of us, writing causes anxiety. In our lessons, we combat those anxious feelings by replacing them with skills that foster confidence. Because I teach students one-on-one, we always work at an appropriate pace, building skills one step at a time, always with the understanding that in our lessons, failure is impossible and every weakness is a chance to become stronger.
I also sympathize with parents in that kids aren't getting enough writing instruction at school: when teachers are pressed for time, writing practice becomes infrequent, and when classes have twenty or thirty kids, each gets only brief remarks on her papers--remarks that do little more than find errors. These instructional gaps are filled by our lessons. Students work with me to write regularly; the luxury of our one-on-one time allows me to respond in detail to their work, finding and celebrating what they've written that's effective; helping them change and develop what's not so effective; fixing any mistakes, helping them understand what went wrong, and teaching them how to do it right; pointing out the next logical step in making each piece even more mature and compelling; and helping them take that step. It's a process that builds students' skills, confidence, and pride in their writing. I love it.
At the heart of both reading and writing skills is a strong and flexible vocabulary. I help students learn the words they need to become better readers and more graceful, confident speakers and writers. I believe that learning words is a lifelong and worthy pursuit, and through our lessons, students also learn how to continue on their own to find and learn words worth knowing. To explore in detail how I help students retain and apply vocabulary, please visit this blog post, and to sign up for the daily vocabulary lessons that I share via email, please head here.