I have always been fascinated by psychology: figuring out how people work, what makes them tick and why. As I grew up, this showed itself in two ways: acting and teaching. When I started at Whittier College, I knew I had to continue to pursue education and theatre. However, a double major in education and theatre felt overly narrow for my interests; I love math, psychology, and how psychology relates to education and theatre. I decided to create my own major so I could reach beyond the normal undergraduate experience. I took courses in theatre, art, psychology, child development, and education, giving me a base upon which to apply theatrical and physiological principles to my teaching. I completed my bachelor’s with a self-designed major in embodied pedagogy and performance and a self-designed minor in mathematical concepts.
My passion for an individualized education was born from personal necessity. I started taking ownership of my educational experience early in life as a result of learning disabilities, which made a traditional middle and high school experience unworkable. I struggled to have my deep understanding of the course content reflect in my scores. My concept comprehension was constantly put into question because I couldn’t remember to turn in my homework, I had trouble with the fine motor skills of using a pencil, and my brain was exhausted from sitting still all day. As I learned strategies that helped me work with my learning disabilities instead of working against them or pretending they weren’t there, my scores improved, and I was able to unleash my passion for learning. Understanding how my own brain worked within the education system inspired me to help my classmates with their math and English assignments.
I saw math as intuitive and as a puzzle, and I enjoyed showing my classmates the connections that helped me understand concepts. I quickly realized that many people feel that math doesn’t make sense, but I could show them that math is one of the only things that makes sense universally. While not everyone shared my enthusiasm, I was always able to help improve their understanding. It was fun for me to help others, and it gave me insight into how their brains worked.
Though I had always enjoyed informally tutoring my classmates and younger sister, my journey as a professional tutor started in college. For two years, I tutored fellow college students with academic needs ranging from improving study skills and working with their personal learning style to preparing for finals and general concept comprehension. I worked with students enrolled in classes ranging from pre-algebra to calculus. I have also pursued my interests as a collaborator at Tinkering School (an overnight summer camp). For the past 7 summers, I have taught people from ages 8 to 17 to use power tools safely and facilitated physical and emotional safety as they build things physically and metaphorically bigger than themselves. Tinkering School’s educational philosophy has helped shape my own: it’s important to say, “Yes, let’s try it!”, to practice empathy and active listening, and to build a rapport of reciprocal trust and respect.
At AJ, I apply the skills I have gained from my experiences as a college tutor, a collaborator, a lifelong learner, a math enthusiast, a cat lover, a thespian, a gymnast, a dancer, and a proud neuroatypical member of the LGBT+ community to help others develop a deeper understanding of their subject matter and of themselves.