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.
Teachers College Columbia University, 2016, M.A. Initial Certification in Art and Art Education; Williams College, 2012, B.A. in English Literature; Class of 1960 Scholar, 2011-2012; Gates Millennium Scholar, 2007-2016; National Merit Scholar, 2007; National Honor Society, 2006-2008; Scholastic Writing Awards, 2004; Prep for Prep Valedictorian, Contingent XXIV; scores of 5 on AP exams in U.S. History and English Literature and Composition; scores of 800 and 790 on the Writing and Critical Reading sections; perfect scores on Essay sections of the SAT and GRE.
Raised in New York City, Paisley attended Hunter College High School and the Brearley School. While attending, she was involved in the literary journal and school newspaper, and was the President of the Music Appreciation Club. On Saturdays, she first attended the Parsons School of Design Precollege, then the Manhattan School of Music Precollege Jazz Division. During her time at Williams College, Paisley was a leader in the Student Government, serving as Neighborhood President. Always active and thirsty for outdoor adventure, she was a member of the Equestrian and Cross-Country teams. Her curious nature led her to take courses abroad in Argentina and Egypt. In addition, she contributed to the Williams Record newspaper as the restaurant critic.
Paisley has been teaching and tutoring for over a decade, and she loves every second of it. After college, she taught in public and private schools in Massachusetts and New York City, during which she gained many valuable skills in lesson planning, curriculum design, classroom management, and fostering the most effective student-teacher relationships. Some of the schools she worked in include Berkshire Arts and Technology and Coney Island Prep, where she taught grades 6-12 Visual Art and grades 6-7 English, respectively. Paisley tutors the SAT, ACT, AP, ISEE, SSAT, and SHSAT, in addition to academic subjects including Social Studies, History, Algebra I/II, Geometry, and English. All of her students see clear improvements in their grades and test scores. She has also worked with students on college essays and applications for college and awards. Her students have won honors such as the Scholastic Writing Awards. A methodical tutor, she believes in zeroing in on any weaknesses right away and constantly drilling the difficult concepts (grammar, math, science, reading comprehension, or vocabulary) until they are internalized. However, her aim is not only to teach her students the strategies and content knowledge they need to succeed on their tests and courses, but also to be a mentor and motivator. With her sense of humor, she strives to make students laugh and to make tutoring an experience they can look forward to.
When she is not tutoring or planning lessons, Paisley spends her time cooking, exploring new restaurants, going to museums and jazz concerts, or playing music.
Stanford University, 2008, double-major in Human Biology (concentration: International Women’s and Children’s Health and Rights) and Drama; California Scholarship Federation member; National Merit Finalist; AP Scholar with Distinction; Score of 1520 (99th percentile) on the SAT, 780 on the US History SAT II.
At Stanford, Jill was active in the drama department (producing and acting in “How I Learned to Drive” for her senior project) while studying public health, eventually teaching about HIV and reproductive health in Tanzania as well as studying abroad at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts.
Jill is now in her seventh year of preparing students for the SAT, ACT, ISEE, SSAT, SHSAT, and the HCHS entrance exam. She enjoys working with a wide range of students, including those with learning disabilities. She’s seen some students score 2400’s and 36’s, and others raise their scores enough to move their “Reach” schools into the “Match” category. Since moving to New York, she estimates that she’s worked with well over two hundred students.
Jill is familiar with how stressful test prep can be, and strongly believes that levity is an important tool in conquering the test prep and school admission process. She also encourages her students to teach her concepts they’re mastering, as teaching is often the best way to learn. Every student is unique, so Jill doesn’t agree with one-size-fits-all approaches; instead, she likes to figure out the best strategies for each individual student.
When not tutoring, Jill is probably acting, seeing plays, or auditioning. She spends her spare time hiking, rooting for the Stanford football team, seeing theatre, and reading every book she can find.
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.
Brown University, 2011, double major in English and Literary Arts; 2330 on SAT with perfect score of 800 on Math section; 35 on ACT (35 on English, 36 on Math, Reading, and Science); 790 on SAT Math II Subject Test; National Merit Scholar; AP Scholar with Distinction: scores of 5 on Physics B, Calculus BC, Statistics, English Literature and Composition, Spanish Language, and U.S. History.
Dmitriy first started teaching after his freshman year of college, when he started a branch of a newly founded SAT/ACT prep company entirely from scratch in his hometown, Vernon Hills, Illinois. After coordinating all logistics, publicity, and marketing, he taught two classes and tutored dozens of students privately. He then continued freelance tutoring on both exams over the next three years. After graduating, he moved to Seoul, South Korea, where he primarily taught high school literature at an elite after-school academy. Since moving to New York, Dmitriy has continued to tutor on the ACT, SAT, and writing. Until recently, he worked in the editorial department at Bedford/St. Martin’s, a leading college textbook publisher.
Throughout his years of teaching, Dmitriy has helped students with the SAT, ACT, AP English Literature and Composition Exam, AP English Language and Composition Exam, SAT Literature Subject Test, SHSAT, SSAT, writing (including both English class and admissions essays), literature, and K-8 and high school math. His goal is to direct students to better futures by building their confidence and helping them reach higher scores.
When it comes to test prep, Dmitriy systematically targets gaps in knowledge and suggests specific strategies to overcome weaknesses. When helping with homework and writing, his strategy (and pleasure) is to connect with students and help them realize how their studies are relevant to their lives and the world around them. He has a passion for literature and is excited to inspire the same in his students.
In his free time, Dmitriy enjoys attending literary events, dancing at concerts, playing poker competitively, experimenting in the kitchen, and traveling the world (26 countries and counting).
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, 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.
Columbia University, 2014, major in Sociocultural Anthropology, minor in Jazz Studies, 3.73 GPA, Dean’s List 2010-2014; composite score of 2240 on SAT I; 760 on SAT US History subject test; score of 5 on AP exams in Calculus, US History, European History, Comparative Government, English Language, and English Literature; Bronfman Youth Fellow 2009; Stuyvesant High School.
Jacob grew up in New York City where he was lucky enough to learn in several diverse educational and experiential settings. He started off at the Bank Street School for Children, a progressive elementary and middle school and then attended Stuyvesant High School, which in contrast to Bank Street, is a rigorous and test-driven environment. During his time at Stuyvesant, Jacob had a number of inspiring and dedicated teachers, particularly in the humanities, who stimulated an interest in social justice and American politics.
During his time at Columbia, Jacob pored over ethnographic texts and social theory treatises, closely studied trance and possession rituals in Haiti and Bali, and transcribed the solos of John Coltrane and Thelonious Monk. The breadth of Jacob’s college education required keeping his quantitative and critical thinking sharp, particularly useful while delving deeply into the humanities. Throughout his time as an student, he also focused on music, playing guitar in a variety of jazz and rock ensembles and taking a number of music theory and ethnomusicology classes.
When tutoring for standardized tests, Jacob seeks to help students identify their greatest points of weakness, whether in the material or simply as test-takers, and provide them with methods for tackling those problems from a variety of angles. While he is devoted to providing students with the material and strategies to get the best test results, Jacob also emphasizes the importance of academic curiosity, experimentation, and problem solving skills. He wants his students not only to ace their tests but also to become enthusiastic lifelong learners.
When Jacob isn’t tutoring, he is pursuing a career as a guitarist, performing at various venues throughout New York City. He also volunteers at the Community Action School (MS 54), conducting weekly literacy foundations sessions with middle school kids.
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 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, 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.