First, I offer the technical details: I have a Ph. D. in American Literature and over twenty years of experience as a professor and instructor of writing, literature, and creative writing on the college level. I have worked with a diverse mix of students—of varied backgrounds, abilities, ambitions, and difficulties—in this country and the Middle East. Second, I am passionately devoted to teaching: every student I meet engages my interest, and that engagement enables me to draw from my students—through our conversations and my reading of their work—a precise understanding of their singular struggles and how best to address them effectively, efficiently, and supportively. All that I help my students learn, be it grammar, the composition of a powerful argument, the comprehension of a difficult text, the modes of negotiating the SATs, goes far beyond any single skill, for all imparts methods of critical and creative thinking and writing that they will be able to carry beyond our work together into every subject they study.
I love the surprises every teaching session brings me: each student is a singular being, with his or her own way of being and thinking, gifted with originality and power, even if they may now rest, with various degrees of silence, within. By listening to my students, reading their work, helping them express ideas that they barely know they have but deeply desire to communicate, I learn as much as I teach. Even working upon something as simple as grammar or essay structure involves conceptualization that forms the ground for complex critical thinking. Watching the unique way in which such thinking emerges with each student teaches me, sets off creative sparks that feed, in turn, my own thinking and writing.
It was great to work together with Amy. She is a very talented, patient, and insight tutor! I highly recommend.
Professor Nestor was my professor of writing in my freshman year in university, as well as of literature and cultural theory in my junior year. She was also one of the mentors I had when working on my 60-page senior year thesis. I am most fortunate to have had her, a dedicated thoughtful, patient, empathetic, and hardworking educator, as one of my professors. She has a strong ability in creating a productive rapport with her students, like myself, helping them with specific needs that they may have, such as in working on a particular form of prose writing. Her knowledge of writing, literature, and cultural theory are of great depth, knowledge that she effectively and engagingly communicates to her students. She has made me a better writer, reader, and thinker. She has provided me with such skills as critical thinking that have been useful to me in other subjects I took during university and beyond.
First, I listen: I ask the student to talk about the class, project, subject, test, or application essay upon which we will be working. From this conversation, I begin to develop a clear sense of the work to be done, of both the intellectual matters to be conquered and the student's anxieties, desires, and interests, all of which must also be faced. From there, I develop a plan—not one that attempts to solve every problem the student may have at once, but one that works by conceptual steps, each of which builds upon the one before. This does two things: first, it builds the student's confidence as he or she moves succeeds at one aspect of the subject, then the next; second, it helps the student develop critical and creative thinking, as he or she comes to understand the logic of the process, sees how we have been progressing, how each step relates to the others to form a more complex whole.
I have a BA summa cum laude in Medieval Studies from Cornell University and a Ph.D. in American Literature and Poetics from SUNY Buffalo. I have taught writing, literature, creative writing, and critical theory on the college level for over twenty years, most recently, for ten years, at Georgetown University in Qatar. Over the last two years, I have tutored students of many ages—junior high school students to adults—of all abilities in the same subjects, as well as test preparation, college application essays, philosophy, multidisciplinary senior thesis research and writing, and business writing. Students who have worked with me have raised their grades and test scores significantly, deepened their critical thinking and writing skills, and enhanced their self-knowledge and self-confidence.
My teaching began, strangely, with my restaurant work: learning to become an excellent waiter in an excellent restaurant meant learning how to let the food speak through me, how to teach my customers sensations, the pleasures the dish they were considering would give them. This meant listening to both my chefs and the food itself, then allowing the food to find the words to express its true qualities through me. At the same time, my studies in wine made me a resource for my fellow waiters: the combination of that knowledge and my growing ability to allow the wine to speak through me led the owner of my restaurant to ask me to hold weekly sessions with them to teach them about the wine list and the way different wines could be paired with particular dishes. When I left restaurant service, moved to Prague, and began teaching English, I discovered that I had only to translate the skills I had already developed into the new realm in which I was working.
I have worked with students of many cultures—the Middle East; Pakistan and India; Southeast Asia, China, and Korea; Northern Africa; Eastern Europe; and the United States, Canada, and Mexico—abilities, and ages—from junior high school students to adults. This includes differently abled students, such as those with dyslexia (I am mildly dyslexic myself), those whose abilities have been suppressed by the norms of the educational system, and very bright students who need greater challenges than their schools can give them to fully develop their creativity and critical thinking.
Does the teacher think she knows everything and seek to impose her knowledge upon you, or is she interested in your original ideas and helping your develop and express them clearly, precisely, and gracefully? Does the teacher assume she fully understands the literary work you are reading and knows what it means, or is she interested in your interpretation and helping you fully ground in in the text and express it through a clear, well-structured, effective argument of your own? If the answer to either question lies in the first clause, you should seek another teacher, for the one you seek will respect you, listen to you, be open to the surpise of your ideas, and patiently work to help you bring them to their finest expression.
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