I have always been fascinated by language, but I came to love English-language tutoring at the Douglass Writing Center at Rutgers University, where for ten years I was a faculty member in the Writing Program. I taught expository writing, remedial writing, and research writing. At the Writing Center I came to value the opportunities for individual learning afforded by 1-on-1 teaching. I came to see that many students learn best through short, guided lessons followed by self-driven activities like brainstorming, free writing, editing, and so on. This “I do / you do” approach helps students build confidence and independence, as well as study habits that will help them excel as writers.
I attended Reed College, a small, liberal-arts-focused school in Portland, Oregon, where I received my B.A. in philosophy with a concentration in philosophy of language. During my studies, I was forever changed by Aeschylus, Dostoevsky, Nietzsche, and Wittgenstein. Years later, while working on a Ph.D. in the History of Western Thought at Cornell, I was certified as a teacher of writing at Cornell’s Knight Writing Institute. I designed and taught a freshman writing seminar on pre-Existentialist thinkers. To their surprise, my freshman students soon learned that they were capable of reading and writing about an inscrutable giant like Heidegger, even at the age of 17. It was especially rewarding to introduce students to a complex, consequential idea or text, and to hear them say “Wow” before beginning to engage the material in their writing.
After my time as faculty at Rutgers, I worked for five years for an ed-tech company where I mentored hundreds of college applicants struggling with the dreaded “personal statement” component of college applications. For me, mentoring and tutoring both must occur in a safe, honest, open, focused, and question-based learning environment that is both encouraging and nonjudgmental.
I’m a competitive person and a passionate advocate for my students. Realistically defining success while aiming high is a skill I help teach all of them in consultation with their parents. Soon enough, students will have to set their own goals, so I believe in fostering autonomy early.
In my free time I write computer code in a dialect of the language LISP. I create word and logic puzzles for my very deductive wife. I hope someday my puzzles will amaze and challenge students, young and old, to think and use language in a spirit of play.