MEET FEW OF OUR TEAM MEMBERS

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LA DONNA WHETSTONE

Tutor

La Donna graduated with a BS in Physics, minoring in English Literature. Her interests include astronomy, geology, English language, writing, and vocabulary building. She lives with her teenage son, her husband, and two small dogs.
La Donna has tutored off and on for over 17 years since graduating from college. She spent her teenage years tutoring and counseling younger children through youth programs in Oregon. After college, she became a private tutor due to her interest in education. She has worked with children as young as three and as old as 22. Despite her science background, she is beginning a career as a writer, and enjoys tutoring English writing, spelling, and vocabulary the most. Coming from a family of ten children along with having a teenage son, she has a lifetime of experience with children. She has tutored students with ADD, ADHD, dyslexia, and other learning disabilities. She enjoys teaching study skills to improve students time management and give them less stress when facing exams. La Donna believes every child has the ability to learn and that tailoring homework, study skills, and teacher interaction can encourage children to become more active in their own education. For her, the end goal should not just be improving grades, but cultivating a love of learning.

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LIZETH FRANCO

Tutor

Lizeth is a recent graduate from the University of California, Berkeley. She earned a Bachelor’s degree in Legal Studies and a minor in Education and plans to, ultimately, attend law school and become an immigration lawyer. Throughout her changing career path from pre-medicine to pre-law, she took a variety of course work from Organic Chemistry and Calculus to Media Studies and Sociology of Law. She does specialize in math and history, but is overall well-rounded and equipped to tutor many subjects.

Lizeth has tutored for many years since middle school and up to throughout college. She values the power of education and because of that, she continues to tutor and loves helping children realize learning can be fun. She believes everyone learns differently and at a different pace and likes to personalize her approach for every student whether it be with visual aids or a more hands-on approach. Overall, she wants the next generation of students to not only master the material in front of them, but also take away skills they can apply to life in general and the belief that they can accomplish anything they set their mind to with effort and hard work.

When she is not working, Lizeth enjoys running, painting, and spending time with friends and family.

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RAJA VASANTH

Tutor


Raja graduated with his PhD (2018) and Masters (2013) in mechanical engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. His research interest focused on “reactive flows” entails a strong background at a fundamental level at the intersection of mathematics, physics and chemistry. He is well equipped to handle a broad range of generalized courses (math, physics and chemistry), targeted (specific) advanced courses (AP Calculus AB/BC, AP Physics 1/2/C, AP Chemistry, etc) and standardized test preparation (SAT, ACT, GRE, etc).
During his graduate school, he has served as a full-fledged teaching fellow twice and as a teaching assistant numerous times for various courses ranging from freshmen to graduate level. He has also tutored several high school students with their general coursework and standardized test preparations. This experience in dealing with students at various levels (high school to engineering senior) gives him a unique perspective on understanding the difficulties faced by students as they transition from high school to engineering focused classes at the university level. Raja is a full time researcher in a national lab and is planning to take up a position in academia due to his passion for teaching and research.
As an aspiring faculty, Raja strongly believes that his primary goal is to support the students’ cognitive processes by fostering in them confidence, critical thinking skills and problem-solving strategies aided by foundational knowledge so as to ground their ideas in practice. He believes that effective teaching starts with promoting a nurturing learning environment, where the teaching strategies are carefully tailored to match with students' needs.
Outside of research and teaching, Raja enjoys watching football (Visca el Barça), cooking and long walks.

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EMILY OCHOA

Tutor

Emily graduated from San Francisco State with a degree in English (concentration in Linguistics) and a minor in French. While at San Francisco State, she took courses such as Language in Context, Intro to the Study of Language, History of the English Language, Post Colonial Literature, Global Texts and Practices, and Phonology/Morphology. During Emily’s undergrad, she was a writing tutor to first generation and low-income students in San Francisco State’s Social Sciences Department. There, she tutored in person, and subsequently transitioned to online sessions during 2020.


English and French are Emily’s specialties, but she is prepared to tutor math and science at elementary levels as well. Her tutoring job combined with the volunteer work she has done with English learners at San Francisco City College has given her an appreciation for educators who are able to cater to all different learning styles. What she loves most about tutoring is being able to develop a relationship with the student to the point where she is aware of the student’s needs and style of learning so that she can best guide them to steadily progress throughout the year.


In her free time, Emily loves the outdoors and often goes to Yosemite with friends and family. She is also an avid reader and thoroughly enjoys cooking meals from scratch.

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PRERANA ATREYA

Tutor

Prerana graduated from the University of Houston with her bachelors in Psychology with Honors. She is now currently studying behavioral Psychology at the University of Pacific's graduate program to one day work with children who have developmental disabilities. While at University of Houston, Prerana minored in Creative Writing and has taken several workshops and seminars in literature, creative writing, and memoir writing. She has worked as an editor for two undergraduate publication companies in Houston as well.


Prerana has been tutoring math and english for 4 years now. She started out as a math tutor to children in K-10th grade, but slowly began to work with high school students taking AP english classes. She has tutored students in AP/DC Literature and English, SAT English, and worked as an editor/mentor for creative writing platforms. Prerana's passion for tutoring comes from her love for education and the constant need to keep expanding her knowledge. She loves to motivate and encourage students to find their own passion in education. To do this, she likes to get to know the student and their specific learning style. Due to her clinical experience, she is able to provide useful and meaningful study skills/time management skills for students who have a learning disability, have ADD/ADHD, or anxiety. By taking the time to personalize each tutoring session to the students' needs, she is able to help students discover their strengths and talents. There is an indescribable feeling of happiness that comes from empowering students to discover the world and themselves.


In her personal time, Prerana loves to write creative nonfiction essays, read books, and dance!

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MELANIE MARKO

Tutor

Melanie has 16 years working with students both in General Education and in Special Education. Melanie is a Special Education Instructional Aide, her specialty is assessment based on IEP Goals for the purpose of reporting on them and baseline assessments for program placement. She currently attends college to complete her degree in Education with a background in Psychology. Her current accolades are her GPA of 3.88 and she is on the Dean’s List, all while taking accelerated classes.

   

Melanie’s passion for teaching stems from her enjoyment of experiencing the moment a student masters a challenging task. The excitement and sense of pride in that moment is very fulfilling. She has been tutoring for 10 years, and can competently work with kinder-12th grade students effectively in phonemic awareness, decoding, phonics, reading fluency, comprehension, language arts, grammar, writing, high school English and essay writing, based following the common core  standards. Melanie also has been working with students in kinder-8th grade on common core math standards since their adoption in 2013. She has access to most teacher’s edition math textbooks, and creates comprehensive lesson plans based on students specific needs, and assesses for mastery of skills.  Melanie also has 3 years working with the new SAT incorporating lessons and practice tests from the College Board’s Educator’s Book of Knowledge, career exploration program, and ACT, SBAC, MAP, and PSAT test prep.

    In her spare time, Melanie is involved with animal rescue, spending time with her family, repurposing, and gardening.