Director of Tutoring
Pace University, Masters of Science in the Teaching of Mathematics, 2006, 4.0 GPA; Yale University, 2004, major in African American Studies, graduated Magna Cum Laude with Distinction in the Major; perfect scores on SAT I Verbal, SAT Writing, Math II, Physics, and French Subject Tests; recipient of the AP Scholar Award for the student with the most and highest scores on Advanced Placement Exams in Illinois; score of 5 on AP exams in Physics C, Calculus BC, English Language, English Literature, French Language, French Literature, Economics, Art History, U.S. History, and European History.
Lily spent her time at Yale taking a wide range of classes from Anthropology to Mathematics. As a freshman, she was selected for the Directed Studies Program, a highly rigorous interdisciplinary course of study in the Philosophy, Literature, and Political Science of the Western tradition from Herodotus to Hannah Arendt. While pursuing her diverse educational interests, she also tutored in the New Haven public schools and started Ballroom Dance Outreach, a student group conducting free dance lessons in local high schools.
After graduating from Yale, Lily was accepted into the New York City Teaching Fellows Program and began teaching at the Urban Assembly New York Harbor School in fall, 2004, where she taught until spring, 2012. She simultaneously earned her Masters in Teaching and Professional Teaching Certificate. She has eight years of classroom experience teaching Mathematics and Physics, with subject areas ranging from Algebra remediation to calculus-based Physics, and has successfully shepherded her students through NYS Regents, SAT, ACT, ISEE, SSAT, and AP exams alike.
As Director of Standardized Test Preparation, Lily brings to bear her years of experience with curriculum development, group instruction, and individual tutoring in both public and private schools to the challenging task of mastering standardized assessments, approaching them from both a strategic and a content-based point of view. She has worked to amplify and maintain test-specific guides totaling over 500 pages in length which focus on critical thinking skills and thorough understanding of content as a foundation, bridging the gap between the exercise of test preparation and the goal of becoming a well-educated and well-rounded student in any context. Students’ content mastery is bolstered by test-specific strategy and timed practice, which ensures accountability for students and their instructors and allows tutors to tailor their methods to the needs of each learner. Lily specializes in effective use of technology to add to students’ confidence and scores, and her review classes have helped test-takers maximize their performance and contributed to CET’s development of curricula based on detailed analysis of each exam’s structure and content. Additionally, she trains every one of CET’s test prep tutors and oversees their work with individual students, focusing on continuous improvement and expansion of CET’s teaching techniques.
Lily herself has helped dozens of students improve their test results both in and out of the classroom and has become one of the most sought-after tutors at CET with her unique blend of expertise and relatability. She has seen great improvements working with students in a wide variety of subjects and grade levels and knows that every student can and will learn with the right approach. Lily believes strongly in a conceptual, discovery-based, and student-focused approach to learning. She is well acquainted with the challenges and pressures of a rigorous academic atmosphere and works to engage students through both her own passion for the subjects she teaches and her naturally enthusiastic and supportive personality.
Lily considers boredom to be a sin and spends her non-teaching time immersed in her other career as a Latin Ballroom dancer. (She also teaches, performs, and competes in the cha cha, samba, rumba, paso doble, and jive!)
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, 2011, major in English and Comparative Literature, 3.96 GPA, graduated Magna Cum Laude with English Departmental Honors, Dean’s List Fall 2007-Spring 2011; member of Phi Beta Kappa; National Merit Finalist, 2007; Recipient of the Robert C. Byrd Scholarship, 2007; Near-perfect score of 2350 on SATs, (with perfect scores on Writing and Reading sections), 770 on Chemistry SAT Subject Test, 800 on Spanish SAT Subject Test; AP Scholar with Distinction: Score of 5 on AP exams in U.S. History, Latin, Spanish, and BC Calculus.
A lifelong academic high-achiever and extremely versatile and experienced tutor, Alice has worked with hundreds of students to help them excel in such diverse subjects as English, history, Spanish, geometry, chemistry, physics, algebra, trigonometry, precalculus, and calculus; she has also tutored dozens of students for the SAT, ACT, ISEE, SSAT, SHSAT, GRE, and various SAT subject tests with consistently spectacular results.
As a native New Yorker and graduate of the New York City private school system, Alice is well acquainted with the stress and anxiety created by its pressure-cooker academic environment. She employs empathy, humor, and enthusiasm to help her students solidify their skill sets and develop confidence in their own academic abilities, while having as much fun as possible along the way. Her methodology consists of a systematic, step-by-step breakdown and explanation of concepts and strategies, as well as a keen attention to the details of each student's unique personality and learning style.
When she is not tutoring, Alice may be found reading at home, running in various NYC parks, or pursuing her career as an actress/singer/dancer.
Princeton University, 2012, major in Religion with a certificate in Theatre, top quintile; Member of Phi Beta Kappa; Award for Outstanding Original Research in Islamic Studies, 2012; Sophomore Award for Excellence in Theatre, 2010; Shapiro Award for Academic Excellence as a Freshman, 2009; score of 5 on AP exams in Chemistry, BC Calculus, US History, and Psychology.
Clayton has worked with Competitive Edge since 2012, working with students in virtually every area of test prep and coursework. He is uniquely qualified to support students in both the humanities and advanced science and math courses, and shifts seamlessly between these disciplines. As a test prep tutor, Clayton has worked with students to prepare for the ACT, SAT, SAT Subject Tests, Advanced Placement exams, Regents Exams, ISEE, and the SSAT. Though his plan for students is always based on their individual needs, Clayton strives to make his sessions fun and engaging, while also holding his students accountable. He takes great pride in letting his students gradually take more ownership over their test prep program, and has helped them gain admittance into some of the top colleges in the nation. Clayton loves to make personal connections during his sessions, and still regularly keeps in touch with many of his former students.
Prior to his work with Competitive Edge, Clayton tutored for three years as a Fellow with the Princeton University Writing Center, an undergraduate and graduate resource for academic writing. He worked individually with hundreds of students on a wide variety of academic papers, becoming known for his calm and approachable demeanor, and his ability to explain concepts clearly while letting students take ownership of their work. He later became a Head Fellow at the Writing Center, training other Fellows to become more effective at their craft.
Clayton is also a certified high school science teacher for the subjects of Physics, Biology, and Chemistry. He has experience teaching science in the classroom at Sharpstown High School, part of the Houston Independent School District. His passion for science dates back to the earlier years of his education, when he won the Bausch and Lomb Award for Excellence in Science in 2007. Through Competitive Edge, Clayton has designed curricula for and taught full classroom based courses on the ACT and the SAT Physics subject test. In the classroom setting, Clayton focuses on finding a balance between creating engaging content for all students, while making sure no students feel left behind.
Lastly, he is a nut for all things creative—he loves theatre, writing and music, so much so that he has trouble determining which of these is his true love! Currently, he is writing a book, while occasionally performing his award winning one man show at colleges along the East Coast.
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.
Teachers College Columbia University, 2016, M.A. with Initial Certification in Art and Art Education; Williams College, 2012, major in English Literature; Class of 1960 Scholar, 2011-2012; Gates Millennium Scholar, 2007-2016; perfect score on Essay section of the GRE; National Merit Scholar, 2007; National Honor Society, 2006-2008; perfect score on SAT Essay section and scores of 800 and 790 on the Writing and Critical Reading sections; Scholastic Writing Awards, 2004; Prep for Prep Valedictorian, Contingent XXIV; scores of 5 on AP exams in U.S. History, English Literature and Composition.
Raised in New York City, Paisley attended Hunter College High School and the Brearley School. At Brearley, she was a writer for the literary journal and school newspaper, and was the President of the Music Appreciation Club. On Saturdays, she attended the Parsons School of Design Precollege, later the Manhattan School of Music Precollege Jazz Division. At Williams, Paisley was a leader in the Student Government, serving as Neighborhood President. Always active and yearning for outdoor adventure, she was a member of the Equestrian and Cross-Country teams. Paisley’s curious nature led her to take Winter Term courses abroad in Argentina and Egypt for choral singing and art. In addition, she contributed to the Williams Record 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 time she gained valuable experience in lesson planning, curriculum design, classroom management, and how to foster the most effective student-teacher relationships. Two of the schools she worked in were 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 including the Scholastic Writing Awards.
A methodical tutor, Paisley subscribes to zeroing in right away on any weaknesses and constantly drilling difficult concepts (grammar, math, science, reading comprehension, or vocabulary) until they are internalized. However, Paisley’s goal 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. Lightening up the tutoring experience by injecting humor and laughs, she aims to have her students look forward to their sessions.
When she is not tutoring or planning lessons, Paisley spends her time cooking, exploring new restaurants, swimming, going to museums and jazz concerts, and listening to 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 has been preparing students for the SAT, ACT, ISEE, SSAT, SHSAT, TACHS, and HSPT since 2009. 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 most likely studying, as she's en route to becoming a nurse practitioner. She spends her spare time hiking, rooting for the Stanford football team, seeing theatre, and reading every book she can find.
CUNY Graduate Center, currently matriculated, Ph.D. in Nanotechnology and Materials Chemistry; Rollins College, 2013, graduated Magna Cum Laude with Honors in Chemistry and Mathematics; American Institute of Chemists’ Outstanding Senior Chemistry Major Award, 2013; Archibald Granville Bush Award (excellent standard in academic pursuits), 2011 & 2013; Thomas R. Baker Memorial Prize (excellence in chemistry), 2012; Centennial Award (academic excellence), 2009-2013; Cram Science Scholarship (excellence in the sciences), 2009-2013; Deans Scholarship, 2009-2013; CRC Press Chemistry Achievement Award, 2010; ranked 3rd in Deer Park High School, NY, 2009; scores of 5 on AP exams in Macroeconomics, English Language and Composition, Chemistry, Physics B, and US History; 800 on Critical Reading SAT I, 780 on Math SAT I.
While at Rollins College, Justin not only studied broad interdisciplinary concepts in an Honors Degree Program, but also specialized in science and mathematics. His understanding of the development and implementation of scientific reasoning allowed him to draw connections between intellectual and academic paradigms. As he made the transition from being a chemistry tutor for the Rollins Chemistry Department to a math, science, and test preparation tutor at a private tutoring company, this skill made it possible to develop novel strategies for students to have a more dynamic interaction with subject matter.
Justin’s approach lends itself especially to ACT and SAT test preparation. By showing his students the underlying patterns in the type and content of questions on standardized tests, he helps them establish the confidence and familiarity required to radically improve their scores. Once students realize that tests like the SAT and ACT are predictable, they see the benefit of practice and also lose the edginess that is so often associated with and detrimental to test taking. Justin prides himself on not only helping students achieve higher scores, but also on reducing any associated stress.
While tutoring dozens of students at Competitive Edge Tutoring, Justin has demonstrated the efficacy of his approach, with his students scoring up to and including a perfect 36 on the ACT. Additionally, he was able to prove his versatility by teaching an SAT II Physics prep course at a prestigious NYC school, Avenues: The World School. Despite setting a high bar for his students, and himself, his track record continues to improve.
Justin also works as an inorganic radiochemistry Ph.D. student at Hunter College, researching topics related to cancer imaging and nuclear fuel remediation. While his graduate work is far more advanced than the subjects he teaches, his research helps maintain and hone an intellectual edge, generating an intensity and passion that stimulates his students.
Beyond his work as a scientist and instructor, Justin is a voracious consumer of literature, fiction and non-fiction, as well as an avid outdoorsman.
Brooklyn College, 2015, Dietetic Internship Program; Hunter College, 2014, M.S. in Nutrition, 3.8 GPA; Cornell University, 2011, major in Biology & Society; The State University of New York at Stony Brook Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) Scholarship recipient, 2007-2008; Score of 5 on AP Exams in Biology and Psychology.
During her senior year at Walt Whitman High School on Long Island, Michelle was accepted into the selective Stony Brook University Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) program, a unique honors curriculum that seeks to increase the number of women in the fields of science, math, and engineering. As a WISE scholar, she gained intensive research experience through classroom instruction, as well as extracurricular participation in a cell biology and pathology laboratory.
She transferred to Cornell University the following year and took courses in a wide array of subjects, ranging from bioengineering to animal science to German language. She participated as a research assistant in several projects and was a staff photographer for the Cornell Daily Sun. During her tenure as menu steward of a vegetarian housing cooperative, Michelle became passionate about food and nutrition. Consequently, she joined on-campus organizations geared toward educating students and members of the Ithaca community about healthy eating.
While a graduate student, Michelle worked as an SAT, ACT, and biology tutor with a national franchise and, subsequently, with a small independent company. She has experience working individually with students, as well as in small group and classroom settings, which has solidified her propensity to be empathetic and patient. Since joining CET, she has worked with a plethora of NYC middle school and high schools students as they traverse the complexities of the high school and college admissions process. She sees her role as not only a test prep and academic subject specialist, but also as a mentor.
The first in her family to attend college, Michelle has a perspective on learning and academic achievement that can only be earned through self-directed goal setting and enduring tenacity. This perspective informs her tutoring philosophy, which is that once students believe they have the capacity to accomplish their goals, mindful planning, practice, and patience are the keys to success. Her ability to alleviate anxiety, while simultaneously encouraging intellectual growth and development, leaves a lasting impression on students, as they translate critical thinking skills into better academic performance and more confidence in their own abilities.
When she is not tutoring or spreading the gospel of healthy eating, Michelle enjoys art museums, musical performances, record collecting, yoga, cooking, and knitting.
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.
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.
Columbia University, 2018, Post-baccalaureate Premedical Program, 3.7 GPA; Wofford College, 2015, major in Math and minor in Economics, recipient of full scholarship, graduated cum laude, 3.6 GPA; Greenwood HS, Greenwood, SC, graduated 3rd out of 400 students, AP Scholar with Distinction, score of 5 on Calculus BC, member of National Honor Society, 2011, recipient of Greenwood County Kiwanis Club SAT Award, Physics C, Psychology, US History and Statistics, captain of the golf team, 2015, MVP honors.
Although Hayes majored in math and minored in economics in college, he also took classes in the humanities, ranging from religion, to philosophy, to art history. His desire to learn and experience new things inspired his travels to continental Europe and Thailand, where he studied art history, WWII, and cultural and religious diversity as part of Wofford’s semester abroad program. Outside the classroom during his sophomore and junior years, Hayes served on his college’s financial affairs committee as a research analyst and later as the portfolio manager of the student-run investment fund. He also played for the men’s division I varsity golf team.
After graduation, Hayes went to work as a junior equity analyst at Dividend Assets Capital for a year-and-a-half before enrolling in Columbia University’s Premedical Post-Baccalaureate program to pursue a career in medicine.
Hayes’ experience as a tutor began when he was an undergraduate, helping other students in calculus, economics, and physics. At Columbia, he continued tutoring his peers in the requisite math and science courses. His tutoring methodology is to break complex problems down into several simple ones. He believes that starting with a strong grasp of fundamental concepts is vital to the solution of any problem. As opposed to memorizing specific formulas and algorithms, he has students derive theorems and “play” with variables in an equation, so they fully understand all aspects of the topic, an approach that lends itself well to math programs with emphasis on problem solving (e.g., Exeter Math). Finally, he believes humor is essential to learning, especially when a student is lacking confidence.
In his spare time, Hayes loves exploring New York’s food scene. He is also a voracious consumer of post-modern fiction.
Northwestern University, 2017, 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.
Columbia University, currently matriculated, M.F.A., Playwriting; Harvard College, 2012, major in American History and Literature, graduated Magna Cum Laude and Phi Beta Kappa, Phyllis Anderson Prize for Playwriting, 2014, Detur Book Prize, 2012, John Harvard Award, 2011; score of 800 on SAT Reading and Writing, 720 on SAT Math; Scores of 5 on AP exams in European History, American History, English Language, and English Literature.
Andy, in addition to courses in his major at Harvard, took classes in philosophy, evolutionary biology, statistical methods for health policy, climate science, and Spanish. He also was a member of the improv comedy group The Immediate Gratification Players, and wrote and directed many plays with the Harvard-Radcliffe Dramatic Club.
He began tutoring while in college, initially focusing on SAT-prep but later branching out into college admissions coaching, academic tutoring, AP exam tutoring, and other standardized tests. Since then, he has tutored dozens of students from age seven to thirty-seven, with extensive experience tutoring SHSAT, SSAT, ISEE, SAT, ACT, PSAT, and Common Core exams. After graduating, Andy served as an assistant teacher and tutor with City Year Rhode Island, working to boost reading and writing skills among under-served populations in Providence.
Working with City Year gave Andy invaluable experience in tutoring reading and writing. He believes that English is no more fuzzy or subjective than math. Students often rely too much on what they "feel" is the correct answer without grounding their answers in a close reading of the text at hand. This rigorous, objective technique enables him to help both students who are avid readers and students who think of themselves as "math kids" understand and appreciate the written word.
When tutoring students in history, Andy emphasizes a systematic approach rather than one based on memorization. He strives to make history come alive through an appreciation of the contingent nature of what may seem to have been inevitable. Andy wants his students to understand more than names and dates; he wants them to understand the underlying causes of historical events. In this way, Andy presents history as an engaging and contested narrative, rather than as a collection of facts.
His approach to tutoring the math sections of the SAT and ACT emphasizes problem solving as opposed to memorizing formulas with a methodology similar to his tutoring history. Andy believes that students will best succeed in math if they understand the underlying concepts behind the problems. In this way, math becomes more of a puzzle game than a chore.
Andy also emphasizes making a personal connection with his students, allowing him to connect their academic work with their personal interests.
Andy spends most of his free time writing plays and songs. His plays have been produced across the country at theatres, universities, and fringe festivals. He loves going to the beach, and dreams of one day retiring to live full time in Coney Island.
Yale, 2017, major in American Studies, graduated with Distinction in major, GPA of 3.78, recipient of Mellon Fellowship, 2016, recipient of V. Browne Irish Prize, 2017; 800 on SAT Reading, 760 on SAT Math, 780 on SAT Writing; 800 on Math II SAT Subject Test, 750 on Biology SAT Subject Test; Score of 5 on AP exams in BC Calculus, US History, Biology, and Psychology; Valedictorian of Hunter College High School, winner of top awards in Math, English, Social Studies, Biology and Theater.
Growing up in Manhattan, Oliver attended Hunter College High School throughout middle and high school. There, he developed a love for the learning made possible in a rigorous academic culture, as well as an awareness of how the challenges of such a high-pressure environment can become stifling. This sparked the beginning of Oliver’s educational career, tutoring peers as a peer mentor, and leading workshops on bullying and bias. Oliver continued this work at Yale, teaching in a wide variety of contexts, including in workshops about bystander intervention and consent, as a peer tutor, at a youth prison, and most recently, in Zhengzhou, China as part of the US-China Elite University Colloquy.
At Yale, when he wasn’t acting in his role as an educator, Oliver spent his time studying, writing for the Yale Herald, acting, and performing stand-up and sketch comedy. His dual comedy and teaching experience has confirmed that, as a rule, the best work is collaborative, fun, and occurs when you meet someone where they are at, rather than where you want them to be. As such, Oliver works to build close relationships with students, encouraging a sense of their own capacity to reach their full potential. As someone who has studied and excelled in a broad range of academic fields, Oliver is a firm believer that any subject can be made interesting. When tutoring standardized tests, Oliver helps students unlock and understand the test inside and out, and find the best preparation strategies on an individual basis.
When he’s not tutoring, Oliver can be found performing stand-up comedy around the city, biking down the Hudson River, or missing his subway stop because he is too engrossed in his book.
Princeton University, 2014, major in Computer Science, Magna Cum Laude, GPA: 3.83, Shapiro Prize for Academic Excellence for 2011-2012, Tau Beta Pi, Engineering Honor Society; National Merit Scholar; 2300 composite score on the SAT; score of 800 on SAT Subject Tests in Mathematics Level 2, Physics, and U.S. History; National AP Scholar; score of 5 on AP exams in Microeconomics, U.S. Government and Politics, Calculus BC, Physics C, Psychology, U.S. History, English Language and Composition, and Human Geography.
Phil has loved both learning and performance for as long as he can remember. Throughout high school and college, he had a habit of stacking the most rigorous academic courses he could take with a heavy commitment to extracurricular theater, which taught him time management and self care.
At Princeton, Phil fell in love with computer science. He found the modular approach of breaking big programs down into smaller, self-contained pieces satisfying and was impressed by the endless opportunities to make new and interesting applications. He also took a wide variety of courses outside of computer science, including in the philosophy, psychology, English, and theater departments and found that the analytical skills he was developing while writing and debugging code carried over quite well to other subjects.
Phil applies this to tutoring, helping students break complex problems down into manageable chunks and find the underlying logic of how they fit together, so that they can apply what they've learned in new situations. He recognizes that these tests can be very stressful and believes that developing effective coping techniques is an essential part of preparation. The ideal outcome for Phil is that his students not only learn the material they are currently studying but gain the skills to effectively take on whatever challenges they encounter in the future.
When he is not tutoring, Phil can often be found auditioning for and acting in plays, reading in a cozy corner of Drama Book Shop, or picking up a new skill.
Barnard College, 2015; major in American Studies and Human Rights; graduated with departmental honors; summa cum laude; member of Phi Beta Kappa; 3.95/4.0 GPA; Tow Foundation Public Service Program; Dean’s List 2011-2015; 5 AP scores in AP English Language and Comprehension, AP Calculus AB, and AP Psychology.
In college, Mollie’s passion culminated in her year-long departmental thesis, “Dave Duerson, Affirmative Action and Racial Justice Under Neoliberalism,” which received high distinction. Prior to that, Mollie completed a semester-long independent research project as part of her study abroad program with the International Honors Program in Human Rights on the tension between an international human rights framework and the unique female experience. Throughout college, Mollie consistently worked to develop her writing, research, and interrogation skills. When not running between internships, the library, and outdoor concerts, Mollie was auditioning for plays and writing fiction.
Mollie’s role at Barnard as a Speaking Fellow, where she encouraged fellows to speak amongst themselves, furthered her experience in cultivating dynamic conversation. Working as a peer to peer tutor and helping her peers overcome their fears of public speech taught her that the best way to teach is to encourage and support. She takes this same approach to standardized test prep and homework help. Focusing on the basics and ignoring the traps laid by tricky tests takes confidence and Mollie focuses on building that up in students. Mollie works with students to break down the material and solidify their building blocks. Students will not only nail their tests, improve their grades but develop better learning habits. By approaching these tasks as opportunities to flex students’ muscles, they become stronger with each practice session. Using these same tools, Mollie also tutored Washington Heights middle schoolers in math while at Barnard.
Since graduating from college, Mollie has worked with nonprofits and in government service, at the New York Attorney General’s Office. She continued cultivating her passion for social justice and love of learning. She’s helped protect the rights of New Yorkers and promote nonviolence amongst youth.
When not tutoring or working, Mollie can be found lounging in Prospect Park, watching 30 for 30 documentaries, or boxing. And if not, most likely she’s lost in a game of fetch with a Pit Bull.
Wesleyan University, 2017, double major in Physics and Film, 3.7 GPA; Danish Institute for Study Abroad Humanities Award (awarded to best student in program from over 100 students); 1510 SAT Math/Verbal (99th percentile) and 34 ACT (99th percentile); 770 SAT II Literature; National Merit Finalist.
Ian attended an international high school where he completed the rigorous International Baccalaureate program. After high school, Ian continued his international education by deferring enrollment at Wesleyan to travel abroad in Europe and South America to study service learning and cultural exchange. During this time, Ian taught Peruvian students English and interned for a non-profit focused on developing youth leadership, both of which helped to spark Ian’s interest in tutoring and youth mentorship.
At college, Ian was an extremely active member of Wesleyan’s prestigious film major (alumni include Joss Whedon director of The Avengers and Matthew Weiner creator of Mad Men), working on numerous film projects, serving on the highly selective Film Board that curates Wesleyan’s film series, founding and serving as editor-in-chief of a film publication advised by chief film critic of the New York Times, AO Scott, and writing a feature-length screenplay as his senior thesis. As a physics major, Ian was a member of the Society for Physics Students and worked in a molecular spectroscopy lab studying quantum interactions of Rydberg molecules using an ion gun, vacuum pumps, and a high-powered yttrium aluminum garnet laser. On the side, Ian pursued his other passion, writing. During his time as an undergraduate, Ian took five writing classes, participated in the Paper Airplanes program for tutoring Syrian students living abroad, and worked as a writing mentor for other Wesleyan students, receiving training for the job in the semester long Ford Teaching Seminar. A firm believer that good work can’t be done without a little play, Ian also found the time to captain a rec soccer team, pursue his passion for music as a member of the Jewish a cappella group, the Mazeltones, and to just relax and spend time with friends. While at school, Ian also got the chance to continue to pursue his passion for international education by studying abroad in Denmark where he got the chance to explore his Scandinavian roots and to study Søren Kierkegård’s work at the philosopher’s alma mater, the University of Copenhagen.
After graduating Ian served as an on-set producer for a Yale student feature film as well as producing and directing several smaller projects. Ian is currently interning for an art-house distributor called Zeitgeist Films, a division of Kino Lorber.
As in much of his life, Ian believes the key to tutoring is balance. Ian prides himself in applying both a systematic approach to identifying students’ weaknesses and addressing them as well as a more empathetic, adaptive approach that acknowledges that each student is unique in their learning style and that motivation and confidence are essential parts of the learning process. Ian feels that excessive stress is the enemy of motivation and seeks to reduce it by breaking down learning topics into manageable chunks and reminding students that learning takes place over time. Past students have mentioned Ian’s patience, geniality, and encouragement as key strengths of his tutoring style.
When not tutoring you can catch Ian writing, producing, and directing films; playing or watching soccer (particularly the German national team); perusing music blogs; reading a book; watching a play; practicing guitar; visiting a museum; or hiking in the wilderness.
University of California Berkeley, 2017, Physics major with Dance minor; Honors and Dean’s Honors; 3.8 GPA; Berkeley Undergraduate Physics Research Scholarship recipient; AP Score of 5 in Physics B, Calculus BC, Chemistry, Molecular Biology, Music Theory, French Language, US History, and English Language; AP Scholar with Distinction; SAT II scores of 800 in Math 2, Chemistry, Biology, French, Physics
Growing up in Berkeley, California, Rocky was always interested in the hard sciences and the performing arts. In high school, he performed in the school orchestra, danced and choreographed for the school’s dance productions, and acted in plays, while taking the most rigorous math and science courses available and teaching himself how to code. When he got to UC Berkeley, he decided to specialize in math, physics and dance, enjoying the abstract and all-encompassing nature of these disciplines.
Rocky began tutoring in high school through his honors math program, tutoring struggling middle and high school students in math. In college, he continued to tutor privately as well as working as a TA for his school’s beginning modern dance course. He has tutored courses from pre-algebra to SAT/ACT prep and college-level quantum mechanics, and truly enjoys helping make coursework and standardized tests easier for his students. Rocky is convinced that any student can succeed on any test or in any course given the right approach and study strategy, and that contrary to popular belief, there is no such thing as being “not a math person.”
Rocky is currently matriculated in a certificate program at the Peridance Capezio Center studying contemporary dance. When not tutoring or dancing, Rocky can be found doing yoga on his roof, or cooking while listening to a good podcast. His current favorites include This American Life, Radiolab, 99% Invisible, and Freakonomics, though he’s always open to new suggestions!
Washington University in St. Louis, 2014, majors in Spanish and International Studies, graduated with College Honors; Annika Rodriguez Merit Scholar; National Merit Finalist, 2010; near-perfect SAT score of 2390; perfect score of 800 on the Math II and English Literature, 780 on Biology-E SAT Subject Tests, score of 5 on the Calculus BC, U.S. History, and English Literature AP exams.
Megan is a graduate of Castilleja, an elite all-girls school in Silicon Valley, where she sought out elective challenges like the American Mathematics Competition. She mentored in a Stanford after-school program for girls and was a Teaching Assistant for the ALearn summer math enrichment program, specializing in tutoring bilingual students.
At Washington University, Megan integrated her Spanish studies with coursework in public health, economics, environmental studies, and anthropology. Her love of adventure led her to Santiago, Chile, during her junior year of college, where she lived with a homestay family for six months while studying at the Universidad Católica. Upon returning to WashU, she worked as a Spanish Teaching Assistant, helping new speakers build their fluency and confidence through highly interactive lessons.
Megan gained hands-on experience in St. Louis local policy issues; through a service-learning course, she tutored women in the County Jail and worked with the Environmental Law Clinic to map the impact of new development on wetlands. On campus, she typically could be found in the Edison Theatre, either backstage managing a show or onstage performing ballet, salsa, and contemporary dance.
After graduation, Megan was a Fellow in the Coro Program in Public Affairs, a graduate-level experiential learning program in civic leadership. The intensely collaborative projects cultivated her understanding of people's varied modes of information processing and her ability to engage individuals in a manner suited to their learning preferences. Her tutoring is strongly guided by the Socratic, inquiry-based approach to learning developed in Coro, and she believes that asking students the right question is far more powerful than giving them the right answer.
After graduation, Megan developed some of her key teaching tools while working at LaunchCode a St. Louis-based nonprofit that trains adult jobseekers for computer programming careers. This experience demonstrated the effectiveness of practices like linking concepts to their real-life applications, having learners reteach new concepts to others, and "debugging" flawed responses to reveal mistakes. She also wrote grant proposals that netted over half a million dollars for LaunchCode, including the Grand Prize-winning submission to the MIT Inclusive Innovation Challenge.
Yeshiva University, 2005, B.A. in Mathematics; 3.95 GPA; Cardozo Law School, 2008, J.D. with a concentration in Tax Law; 770 on SAT Math, 790 on SAT Verbal.
Dani attended Yeshiva University High School, a private school located in upper Manhattan. He excelled in math, his favorite subject, scoring a 98 on the math Regents and a 5 on both calculus APs. Dani enjoyed his rigorous English education as well, studying grammar, literature, and essay writing from an instructor who also taught at Horace Mann. At graduation, Dani was honored to be valedictorian of his class.
Dani went on to attend Yeshiva University, receiving one of the school’s top academic scholarships. There he majored in mathematics, studied honors English, and began his tutoring career in the school’s writing center. Dani graduated with one of the top ten highest GPAs in his class.
After college Dani studied law, further honing his skills in reading comprehension, writing, and analytical reasoning. Since graduating and passing the bar, Dani has worked as a legal consultant, advising large-scale clients in the early stages of litigation cases.
Dani’s tutoring at Competitive Edge focuses on test prep for the ACT and SAT. He has a patient and friendly approach, and he finds that these qualities help students get more out of the tutoring process. Dani also helps his students by framing test problems as puzzles. This method is effective for two reasons: first, students can solve problems more easily when they focus on the concrete rules they need to follow; and second, students absorb material better when they find it enjoyable.
Speaking of puzzles, Dani is an avid fan of crosswords and Scrabble. He even has a side job as a crossword contributor for The New York Times.
Yale, 2017, major in Studio Art, graduated with Distinction in major, GPA of 3.81; recipient of Cahoon Fellowship, 2017, John Boit Morse Memorial Fellowship, 2016, Yale Creative and Performing Arts Award, 2013 & 2016, and Tetelman Fellowship, 2015; Score of 5 on AP exams in BC Calculus, Physics C, Chemistry, French; 800 on SAT Reading, 800 on SAT Math, 780 on SAT Writing; scores of 800 on SAT Subject Tests in Math II, Physics, Chemistry, and French; National Merit Scholar, AP Scholar with Distinction; recipient of Scholastic Arts and Writing Gold Key and Silver Medal.
Captivated by the beauty of math and science, Jin Ai has always loved sharing her academic interests with others through tutoring and teaching. In middle and high school, she progressed from teaching her younger sister what she was learning in math class to tutoring struggling students in her school, to serving as an assistant teacher for an AP BC Calculus class. On a gap year in Korea during college, Jin Ai tutored high school students in English while working full-time in an organic chemistry laboratory. As a New York City native and alumna of Yale and Hunter College Campus Schools, Jin Ai is very familiar with the pressures and challenges of rigorous academic environments. She seeks to help her students find balance and joy in their lives while pushing them to succeed.
An inquisitive and exploratory student, Jin Ai delved deep into the Chemistry and Linguistics majors before choosing Art, a field which combined her passions for lab work, interactivity, and craft. Outside of her academic studies, Jin Ai fenced on Yale's varsity team and interned at IRIS, New Haven's refugee agency. In addition to assisting families through their first 90 days in America, Jin Ai received the Cahoon Fellowship to undertake a photography project with four young students from the refugee community, thus bringing her pedagogical and creative interests to her work with immigrants.
For fun, Jin Ai makes computer music, climbs rocks, and initiates staring contests with cats.
Princeton University, 2017, major in Astrophysical Sciences with a certificate in Applications of Computing magna cum laude, GPA of 3.79, top quintile, Google Scholar 2017, Jocelyn Bell-Burnell Award for Outstanding Work in Physics 2015;Score of 5 on AP exams in Biology, Calculus BC, Chemistry, English Language, English Literature, Macroeconomics, Microeconomics, Physics C: Mechanics, Physics C: Electricity and Magnetism, US History; scores of 800 on SAT Subject Tests in Chemistry, Math II, and US History; ACT score of 35; National Merit Finalist, AP Scholar with Distinction.
Arianna’s love affair with math and science started as massive crush in 7th grade. She was fascinated by the physical phenomena of our universe and the way in which mathematics is a language with which to describe these wonders; however, she initially found herself a little shy in her (problem-solving) approach. With the help of her patient and dedicated teachers, she overcame her clumsy flirtations with the subject matter, and found the confidence to tackle it head on. She graduated high school having taken the most number of science and math courses of any student, and even had a prestigious internship at the Cahill Center for Astrophysics at Caltech under her belt. Having attended a notoriously intense private school in Los Angeles, Arianna is acutely aware of the pressures and standards that middle and high school students experience.
Arianna entered Princeton already knowing she wanted to major in Astrophysics, but took the opportunity to explore many other topics in STEM. She found that she had a knack for programming, and ended up getting a certificate in Applications of Computing. She also explored statistics and machine learning, as well as courses on the impact of technology on society, which remains a lingering interest of hers. She reached the advanced levels of three languages (Mandarin, German, and French), and spent summers working and learning in China and Germany. She has completed a number of independent research projects on topics ranging from Transient Object Classifiers (Caltech) and the semi-colloidal properties of quantum dots (University of Duisberg-Essen) to the photometric properties of dust, galaxy star-formation rates, and the cosmic microwave/infrared backgrounds (Princeton). Her work on astrometric detection for NASA’s WFIRST mission was even published in July 2017!
After graduating, Arianna completed a highly selective software development program, before beginning work as a software engineer/data analyst at a rapidly growing start-up. But somehow, she can’t imagine life without working with students and sharing her passion for learning and growth.
Arianna’s dalliance with private education began when she was selected by her teacher to assist students struggling in advanced Chemistry her sophomore year, and she hasn’t stopped working with students since! Throughout high school, she helped her peers in chemistry and mathematics, and taught 3rd grade Sunday school at her local synagogue. In college, she instructed middle and high school school students in all levels of mathematics, physics, chemistry, and SAT/ACT preparation, as well as her peers in multivariable calculus, statistics, physics, and astronomy. Since graduating, Arianna has continued working with students from ages 10 to 27 in the same subjects, with the addition of computer science.
In her free time, Arianna loves to sing, dance, and attend the theater. She can be found frequenting museums, practicing her programming skills in coffee shops, and exploring NYC by foot one block at a time.