Director of Operations
Smith College 2003, double major in Latin American Studies and Luso-Brazilian Studies, 4.0 GPA, graduated Summa Cum Laude; member of Phi Beta Kappa; STRIDE Scholar, winner of Arthur Ellis Hamm Prize; Near-perfect score of 1590 on SAT I Exam (800 Verbal, 790 Math); score of 790 on Writing and 770 on Spanish SAT II Subject Tests; Score of 5 on AP Exams in Calculus, English Language, English Literature, Spanish Language, Spanish Literature, and Biology.
Sharon spent her time in college between Massachusetts and Latin America, studying abroad with the Brown-in-Brazil program in Rio de Janeiro and working as the Project Director with Amigos de las Americas, a youth development non-profit. She graduated after just three years, and continued her work with AMIGOS as the Director of Training, combining her passions for education, language, and international development. Back in her Chicago hometown, Sharon tutored a wide range of students, from teaching Portuguese for the Workplace to employees in a nut import company, to tutoring inner-city second graders in literacy and numeracy, and lots of high school math in between.
Now based in Brooklyn, Sharon works for the New York City Department of Education as a School Business Manager, running the operational and logistical side of new, small, public school development. She is also the director of an intergenerational religious education program that brings together elementary aged kids and adults of all ages to delve deeply into textual analysis and interpretation.
When tutoring, Sharon’s approach is to help students build confidence through focusing on what they know, either by drawing a picture when a math problem feels confusing at first, or re-phrasing a difficult sentence in their own words. She encourages students to think logically about whether or not an answer makes sense. This avoids getting sidetracked by trick responses written using common errors. She also personalizes test prep by reminding students that the writers of tests are people, too, and the idea is to get inside of their heads to figure out what they tend to be looking for test-takers to demonstrate. Humor is essential in learning any subject, and studying isn’t boring when you find ways to laugh about it, so she finds ways to make work funny whenever possible.
If she’s not tutoring, working at a school, or reading, you are likely to find Sharon practicing Vinyasa Yoga, pretending that milk chocolate is healthy, listening to cheesy ‘90’s Latin pop music, or obsessively planning her family’s next travel adventure.
Columbia University, 2013, major in History with a Specialization in American History of the 20th Century; Dean’s List 2012–2013; Hunter College High School, 2009; 99th percentile composite score of 2280 on the SAT I; score of 5 on Spanish AP exam.
Willis grew up in New York City, where he received a rigorous education at Hunter College High School. But it was beyond the classroom, in the city’s museums and theaters, that his curiosity was continually piqued. Also, on weekends and during the summers, he had the opportunity to study music in programs offered by the Manhattan School of Music and Harlem’s Jazzmobile.
Over the course of his time as an undergraduate, Willis conducted research throughout the city’s archives and libraries and wrote a Senior Honors Thesis on New Deal-era photography projects sponsored by the Farm Security Administration. His accomplished and dedicated professors and demanding but fulfilling classroom curriculum inspired him to teach others. It is with great enthusiasm that he attempts to equip his students with the same set of tools and insights that he has learned.
Since 2013 Willis has tutored students for the ACT, SAT, World History and U.S. History SAT Subject Tests, SHSAT, ISEE, SSAT and numerous AP tests, including US History, World History, Spanish Language and US Government and Politics. In order to provide the most effective instruction possible, he employs a strategic approach to identify patterns in students’ weaknesses and focus on the material that would be most helpful. This involves a combination of insights culled from years of experience with test preparation, and careful attention to students’ unique abilities and struggles. This sometimes requires connecting the material—which can begin to seem irrelevant beyond a single examination or standardized test—to themes and patterns in the world at large.
In recent years, Willis has also worked as a Spanish translator for the Huffington Post, and he has performed as an actor and musician at venues throughout New York City, including the Guggenheim Museum, Pianos, and Bowery Electric.
Stanford University, 2015, B.S. in Symbolic Systems with a concentration in Decision Making & Rationality, minors in Mathematics and Creative Writing; 3.65 GPA; 800 on SAT Math, 780 on SAT US History Subject Test; 99th percentile score of 35 on the ACT.
From preschool through the 8th grade, Stu attended the Avery Coonley School, a private institution for gifted students in Chicago. He then went to Downers Grove North High School, one of the top public schools in Illinois, where he served as vice president of the National Honors Society, logging the most tutoring and volunteering service hours out of all the 200 plus members. As a high school student, he worked one-on-one with other high school and middle school students, tutoring coursework in math, physics, biology, and chemistry.
At Stanford, Stu majored in Symbolic Systems, a cognitive science major that covers a wide range of subjects including Computer Science, Psychology, Philosophy, and Linguistics. More specifically, he concentrated in Decision Making and Rationality, which included courses in Philosophical Logic, Prospect Theory, Game Theory, and Behavioral Economics. In his role as an advising fellow for the Symbolic Systems program, he had office hours every week where students could come in and ask for advice or help on schoolwork. In his free time, he worked as an undergraduate research intern in both the Psychology and Linguistics departments. He also founded and ran a student group for stand up comedians on campus and wrote jokes for several humor groups.
Stu tutors ACT and SAT English, Math, Reading, and Science with Competitive Edge in addition to the SSAT and ISEE. He combines Competitive Edge’s approach with students’ particular needs by attacking problems from their point of view, finding custom solutions that will be most meaningful and productive for each individual. Through his studies in decision making, he has realized there are many different strategies for problem solving. Finding the one that is best suited for each of his students is rewarding and fun.
In his free time, Stu performs stand up comedy at bars and clubs around the city. And if he’s not doing that, he’s probably working on his blog or some other writing project.
University of Iowa, 2016, MFA in Nonfiction Writing; American University of Cairo, 2012, Masters in Arabic Language; Dartmouth College, 2011, major in Asian and Middle Eastern Studies (Arabic), Phi Beta Kappa (2011)
At Dartmouth, Spenser wrote for the school newspaper, was the social chair for his fraternity, and dove for the varsity swim team. The day after he graduated, he flew to Cairo where he studied Arabic in a one-year Masters program and joined an Egyptian parkour team. After completing his studies in Cairo, Spenser moved to New York City and tutored the HSPT, SHSAT, SAT, and ACT for A-List Tutoring until he left to attend Iowa's Creative Writing MFA program where he studied nonfiction and translation.
In addition to being a student at Iowa, Spenser also taught undergraduates courses. His Introduction to Nonfiction course examined six aspects of the genre: personal writing, science writing, travelogue, writing about language, profiles, and political writing. Students also learned how to workshop, revise, and then revise again. For his Writing for Grants and Awards course, he required his students to design their own semester-long project. He then worked with them to draft personal statements, grant proposals, Fulbright applications, resumes, and cover letters. Spenser currently lives in Brooklyn, and his writing has appeared in The Atlantic, Rolling Stone, and Sports Illustrated.
Spenser tutors Constructing America, the HSPT, the ISEE, the SSAT, social studies, and all things ELA and writing related. He believes in hard work and discipline but also thinks that tutoring can be casual and, if not exactly fun, then pleasant. In terms of style, he focuses on practicality. If a student wants to learn the difference between a coordinating and subordinating conjunction, he's happy to teach him/her, but otherwise, Spenser eliminates jargon and pretension in order to make the subject matter as accessible as possible. Students who come to him for help with writing can expect to learn specific, concrete techniques to improve their organization, structure, and flow. They should also prepare to revise, revise, revise.
In 2015, Spenser competed on “American Ninja Warrior,” which he wrote about for Rolling Stone.
Dartmouth College, 2014, majors in Linguistics and English; Graduated with honors; Gender Research Institute at Dartmouth Fellow, 2013; recipient of Stanley Prize, 2013; Recipient of Kaminsky Family Fund Award, 2013; near-perfect score of 2340 on SAT; perfect scores of 800 on English, Math, and Chemistry SAT Subject Tests; near-perfect scores of 780 on US History and Biology SAT Subject Tests; score of 5 on AP exams in Biology, Chemistry, Calculus BC, US History, and European History; Gold Medalist on National Latin Exam.
At Dartmouth, Anna’s class choices were widely varied, ranging from Social Neuroscience to The Black Radical Tradition to Design Thinking. Anna's favorite courses usually had more to do with the pedagogy of her professors than with the content of the courses, grounding her belief that the right teacher can enliven any subject material. She particularly enjoyed, for example, a course on Puritan Poetry with the professor who later became her Honors Thesis Advisor. In this class Dartmouth students worked on equal footing with students from an alternative high school in West Lebanon, each group learning from the life experiences and understandings of the other. In her senior seminar, Dialectology, the advanced linguistics students conducted field research in Boston and co-wrote an academic paper which we submitted to conferences. Her activities outside of the classroom included founding The Dartmouth Radical newspaper—for which she edited articles and wrote press releases, serving as president of Soul Scribes slam poetry group, sitting on the Women's and Gender Studies Student Steering Committee, and teaching newly initiated fraternity brothers the basics of consent as a Mentor Against Violence.
Anna's teaching career began at her high school in the heart of Silicon Valley, Castilleja, as she participated in a peer tutoring program for middle and high school students, a volunteer tutoring program at a nearby school, and mathematics and English instruction for elementary school students in her neighborhood. In college, she ran writing workshops and taught performance poetry.
Since graduating from Dartmouth, Anna worked as a teacher in somewhat unorthodox settings. At Everytown for Gun Safety in Las Vegas and NYG Strategic Marketing Consultants, her jobs were to train new hires and direct team-building. She focused on teaching, training, and establishing rapport with her team and clients.
Since Anna has taught a diverse group of people in a variety of settings, she learned how to teach to different learning styles and backgrounds. Finding mutual interests and building rapport allows her to build excitement in the material she is teaching. Her fervent belief in excellence is reflected in students being motivated to their top performance, even those students who are already performing at a high level. Anna's appreciation for both breadth and depth allows her to forge unlikely connections between subjects, learn and teach in a deep and highly contextual manner, as well as to find points of interest for almost any student in almost any subject.
When she isn't waxing poetic about the way multiple-choice questions reveal their own answers, you might find Anna editing her friends' first novels, or gazing fondly at falling leaves.
Northwestern University, 2016, major in Theatre, minor in Sociological Studies, certificate in Creative Writing for the Media, graduated Summa Cum Laude, GPA of 3.96, Dean’s List from Fall 2013-Spring 2017, Lambda Pi Eta (Communication Studies Honor Society), Honoree at Northwestern Honors Ceremony and School of Communication Honors Convocation.
Ben grew up in New York and is a product of the private school system. He attended the Browning School for grades K-8, and he spent his high school years at Riverdale Country School, graduating with a 3.9 GPA and with honors. His experiences taking Constructing America and Integrated Liberal Studies are among his fondest memories during his time at Riverdale. Ben has always enjoyed finding different approaches to break down complex material, a skill that contributed to winning two Riverdale Science Awards and excellent performance in math.
At Northwestern, Ben served as the Artistic Director of Lipstick Theatre, a student organization dedicated to providing opportunities for female artists, where he mentored more than ten directors in the staging of various productions. In addition to studying theatre, Ben took numerous courses in Art History and Spanish, and he developed a passion for academic and creative writing. In his sociology courses, he examined and analyzed research pertaining to the effects of race, gender, sexual orientation, education, and urbanization on individuals in American society. In his senior year, Ben completed Northwestern’s screenwriting certificate program, in which he penned multiple episodes of an original sitcom as well as a full length feature. His experience in this program gave him the proper communication and organization skills for workshopping, revising, and analyzing writing topics with his fellow students.
Following his graduation, Ben moved back to New York both to pursue a career in acting and to continue engaging in academia through tutoring. His mother currently teaches History at The Spence School. Teaching and a commitment to helping others mature as students and thinkers are important qualities to Ben as well. Ben is able to understand the pressures and responsibilities of New York-based high school students in particular, as he successfully went through the same process not too long ago. His experience working with student writers and directors has also helped him become a stronger tutor.
Ben believes in establishing a strong rapport with students, fostering a collaborative approach to learning, and catering all lessons to the specific needs and learning styles of the individual. The ultimate goal is to help students build confidence, find their own voices as critical thinkers, and feel in control of their academic material.
Ben holds an encyclopedic knowledge of theatre, film, and all things popular culture. He can name you the winner of every major Academy Award dating back to 1960.
Harvard University, 2016, major in Sociology with an advanced citation in Spanish Language, 3.7 GPA; National Merit Scholarship Winner; National Achievement Scholarship Winner, AP Scholar with Distinction; Score of 34 on the ACT (99th percentile); Score of 780 on SAT Math; Score of 770 on SAT Writing.
Kyra is originally from the Metro Detroit area of Michigan where she lived before moving out east for school. While at Harvard, Kyra developed a strong interest in understanding the ways in which people interact and the reasons behind these interactions, eventually deciding to study Sociology. In addition to her courses in Sociology at school, Kyra’s coursework spanned across the social sciences and included Psychology, Philosophy, History, Economics, and Statistics. Kyra has also long been interested in education-- an especially memorable course for her over her four years centered on Education in the United States.
While in college, she also continued to take Spanish courses and spent time studying abroad in Leon, Spain. In Spain, she studied Spanish Language and History and had the opportunity to live with a Spanish ‘host mom’ in a homestay. Outside of classes, she was heavily involved in the theatre and a cappella scenes, starring in several plays and musicals, and serving as the Music Director of her a cappella group.
Kyra’s experience in teaching and tutoring spans various settings. In high school, she worked both as a one-on-one math tutor and as the manager of a music computer lab for students. In this lab, she was available to answer questions and assigned students programs used to further their music development. In college, she served as a committee chair for Harvard Model Congress, a group that creates government simulation conferences for high school students. In this role, she led students through discussions on several current event topics and issues. Further, as music director of her a cappella group she was often responsible for coaching the group in learning parts and improving technique. After graduating, Kyra worked as an Analyst with Legendary Entertainment. In addition to working on strategy, she gained experience in training over 30 new hires and interns over her time in that role.
Kyra enjoys bringing these past experiences together as a tutor for the ACT, SAT, ISEE, SSAT, and Spanish. She understands that prepping for exams can be stressful, and aims to help students develop strategies that work best for them in order to feel confident when sitting for the tests. Kyra genuinely loves helping students improve and reaching an “a-ha!” moment on a topic that was once challenging for them. In tutoring sessions, she works to create an environment where the student is comfortable making mistakes and asking questions, as she believes that this is the best way to grow.
Outside of tutoring, you can find Kyra trying new recipes, listening to almost every genre of music, or watching (and then discussing) the latest and greatest movies and TV shows.
New York University, M.F.A. candidate in Dramatic Writing, Tisch School of the Arts; Stanford University, 2017, B.S. in Symbolic Systems with a concentration in Cognitive Science, minor in Creative Writing, Honors in the Arts, 3.84 GPA
From middle school on Matt balanced a healthy obsession in the humanities and performing arts with a fascination for math and quantitative problem solving. He worked on a play literally every semester of middle and high school, while at the same time taking the most rigorous academic courses available to him. He won senior awards in Film and Playwriting at his high school, Crossroads School for the Arts and Sciences in Santa Monica California.
At Stanford, Matt majored in Symbolic Systems, an interdisciplinary program combining Psychology and Philosophy with Computer Science and Linguistics, with a bit of Biology and Design thrown in for good measure. He concentrated in Cognitive Science, which further brought in Neuroscience, Communications, and more. When he wasn’t in the classroom, Matt acted and directed in a Shakespeare company, wrote for the annual campus comedy musical, received a research grant to create a screenplay in London, and served as a freshman Resident Assistant. For two years, he acted as the Film & Television Editor for the Stanford Arts Review, an online arts publication, during which time he worked with writers on dozens of critical articles, providing feedback and developing the pieces into publishable shape. In addition, Matt was a campus tour guide, an experience that gave him skills in communication and public speaking; in his senior year, he was promoted to Manager, and part of his job was working with recent hires to put together their tours in a way that tells their personal stories most effectively. These days, Matt continues to engage with film, theater, writing, and academia as he pursues an M.A. in Dramatic Writing (a joint playwriting, screenwriting, and television writing program) at NYU Tisch. A lot of the time, he tells stories about brains — human or computer.
Matt started tutoring during his junior year in high school. He volunteered at 826LA, a non profit supporting writing skills in elementary, middle, and high schools in the Los Angeles area. Later on, through his experience working with writers and tour guides and studying decision-making, he knows every individual’s approach to difficult problems is going to be different, and perhaps different depending on the problem. The goal is to have as large a toolbox of strategies to draw on as possible – Matt believes if a student can develop both a quantitative and creative mindset, they are formulating such a toolbox. Working in students with this approach is nothing short of a thrill. In addition to select coursework support, Matt has years of experience and specializes in the SAT, ACT, SSAT, and ISEE.
Harvard College, 2015, special concentration in Theater Arts & Performance, graduated Magna Cum Laude; 3.8 GPA; Henry Russell Shaw Fellowship for Postgraduate Travel; AP Score of 5 in English, European History, Biology, Chemistry, and Spanish; High School Valedictorian
Growing up in the Boston suburbs with a lifelong schoolteacher for a mother, Mark has always been passionate about and invested in education. In high school, he advanced beyond his grade level in a number of courses and was ultimately recognized as his class Valedictorian. Outside of academics, his passion for performance led him to serve as the President of his school’s Drama Club. He also served as his Class President and founded his school’s Spanish Club. At Harvard, Mark created his own major and program of study which combined the fields of drama, contemporary art, and performance studies. In addition to his creative coursework, he enjoyed taking classes in the sciences, including psychology and environmental science, as well as English courses like 18th century French literature and the works of Shakespeare and Samuel Beckett.
Mark began tutoring after he moved to New York and loves working with students on a number of subjects, from ACT/SAT prep to Biology, Spanish, and more! He believes the most important thing a student needs to succeed is confidence and motivation. Working hard, working smart, and believing in yourself are the keys to unlocking any problem and passing any test – even the ones that continue well into adulthood! He enjoys working with students to decode challenging Math problems, revealing the operations at play behind a story being told in a word problem or a situation being described by a graph or table. His favorite thing about being a tutor is getting to know each individual student and watching them master a topic or problem that once frustrated or discouraged them.
Outside of tutoring, Mark works as an actor, singer, and performance artist in New York City and beyond. He loves talking about reality television almost as much as he loves talking about uses for a semi-colon and polynomial long division. He also listens to a lot of Fleetwood Mac.