Donald McLeod’s current tutoring subjects are listed at the left. You
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Donald McLeod’s qualifications in specific subjects below.
A veteran journalist who has written for a dozen national magazines, I also am an honors graduate of Yale University (3.84 GPA, "Magna Cum Laude") and a National Merit Scholar who participated in the prestigious Telluride Creative Writing program at Cornell University.
My professional competence as a writer and editor is supplemented by years of teaching experience, including a great deal of recent work prepping high school seniors for various standardized exams (SAT, ACT, etc.).
I tested very well myself, and am happy to bring that expertise to bear in my work with students planning to take the ACT English test.
A well known political science professor of mine at Yale (James David Barber) said that a thesis I wrote about trends in midterm Congressional elections was one of the finest he had ever read.
In my post-academic life, I have worked closely and effectively as a communications (PR) consultant on several political campaigns, including the late LA Mayor Tom Bradley's successful re-election campaign.
I thus bring both academic and professional expertise to my current work teaching and tutoring American History.
An honors graduate with a degree in Communications from Yale University, I have taught English, American literature and English as a Second Language (ESL) at both the high school and college level, most recently at UCLA.
A veteran journalist and communications executive, I also bring proven professional competence in composition (writing and editing) to my work as an English tutor.
My cover stories and feature articles have appeared in Adweek, Billboard, Box Office, The LA Herald-Examiner, The LA Weekly, Movieline, People Magazine and Software Developer, among other prominent national publications covering entertainment, media and communications.
Whenever possible, I like to incorporate contemporary media sources (magazines, newspapers, online film & TV clips) to keep the language current and intellectually compelling in tutoring sessions.
Before matriculating at Yale, where I graduated magna cum laude (top 5% of my class), I also attended the prestigious Telluride program for creative writing at Cornell.
An honors graduate of Yale University, where I studied Communications and Romance Languages, I bring an appreciation of the sometimes humbling process of learning a new language to my work as a tutor of English as a Second Language (ESL).
Through the years, I have taught ESL at both the high school and college level, including a recent advanced class for visiting Italian and German students at UCLA.
A well-traveled journalist and former Hollywood communications executive, I like to incorporate contemporary media sources (newspapers, magazines, online TV & film clips, music) into my lesson plans whenever appropriate.
I also bring a respectful and cosmopolitan perspective to my work with non-native speakers of English, based on the notion that we are all "citizens of the world."
Having served as the head of PR and Corporate Communications for the most profitable division (home entertainment) of the world's most successful movie studio (Warner Bros) for five years, I have extensive experience in film marketing.
Among the films I launched into the home market for Warner Bros were GoodFellas, Free Willy, JFK and Bladerunner: The Director's Cut.
My work in movie marketing includes stints in the publicity departments of Pathe and MGM Films, where I worked on such cult classics as Barfly and Moonstruck. I also worked in the elite "Corporate Entertainment Group" of Hollywood's biggest PR agency, Rogers & Cowan, where I worked on such films as Stand By Me (Castle Rock) and the Talking Heads concert film Stop Making Sense.
The son of two noted character actors, I was raised in the film business, and worked briefly as a child actor on TV.
I later studied Film at Yale with such notable professionals as the Italian master of "neo-realismo" Roberto Rossellini, critic Andrew Sarris, and director Nikos Psakarapoulis (the late Artistic Director of Circle in The Square theater in New York).
I would be happy to share my love and knowledge of cinema with any bright and ambitious students of the medium.
Having studied French at two top American universities widely respected for their French programs (UCLA, home of the "immersion" theory, and Yale, where I graduated with honors), I arrived in Paris at age 19 largely unable to speak the language.
With a little effort, I could make myself understood. But I didn't understand most of what the French themselves were saying back to me.
That's when I realized the crucial importance of slang (including student and business slang) in understanding everyday conversational French.
As I continued my studies at the University of Geneva, where French is the principal language, I made a special study of French slang (what the French themselves call "la langue verte," or "argot")). I saw how most commonly used terms for "job," "book," "car," "boy," "girl," and "money" differed from the normative "newspaper" French typically taught in American schools and universities.
My familiarity with colloquial French later served me well in my career as a Hollywood publicity executive, during which I regularly "passed" as French at European marketing venues such as Cannes.
A French translator as well as teacher, I translated the acclaimed Belgian graphic album series "Jeremiah" into English, and have done French/English translating for several technical translation agencies.
Given my background in the media, I like to utilize a range of contemporary French media (newspapers, magazines, online French film & TV clips, all rich sources of everyday slang) in tutoring sessions to keep the language current, relevant and compelling.
After studying Italian at YALE, I soon put my language skills to good use as a stage manager for Jake (Raging Bull) LaMotta and the "LIRA" (Little Italy Restoration Association) organization in New York.
Later, in Los Angeles, I spoke Italian extensively at industry events like the Cannes Film Festival) as an executive at MGM Films, which had been taken over by an Italian conglomerate in the early 1990s. Italian also came importantly into play when I worked in publicity for Warner Bros, particularly during the 1993 release of Martin Scorsese's GoodFellas.
For the past ten years, I've brushed up on contemporary Italian slang while working with two Brazilian born, Italian-speaking nurses for my elderly actor father.
During the Summer of 2012, I also taught advanced ESL to a group of Italian high school seniors at UCLA, occasionally breaking into their native language to convey particularly difficult points.
It's a beautiful, funny, expressive language, and I'm happy to share my knowledge with students, whether they be of Italian extraction or merely "honorary Italians" like myself.
Modern American, French, Italian and British literature constituted the core curriculum in Communications at Yale University, where I graduated with honors (magna cum laude) in the top 5% of my class.
My academic credentials also include the prestigious Telluride program in literature & creative writing at Cornell, as well as a year studying modern French literature at the University of Geneva in Switzerland.
Since completing my studies, I have often worked as a journalist, writing cover stories and features for a dozen national magazines covering media, communications and entertainment (Adweek, Billboard, Box Office, Movieline, People and Software Developer among them).
I also have taught American language and literature at both the high school and college level, including a popular course on "The Bohemian Tradition in American Literature: From Poe & Twain to Kerouac, Kesey, Mailer & Thompson" for European college exchange students In Pasadena, California, and at UCLA.
As a journalist, I've written well-regarded cover stories and features for a dozen national publications covering media, communications and entertainment -- among them, Adweek, Billboard, Box Office, The Hollywood Reporter, Movieline, People, and Software Developer.
As a communications executive in Hollywood and Silicon Valley, I have written hundreds of press releases and dozens of press kits for such major studios and production companies as Warner Bros, Castle Rock, MGM, and France's Pathe Films; I also have written dozens of corporate newsletters, including Warner Bros.' monthly 'Calendar', quarterly 'ie', and the Warner Home Entertainment portion of Time-Warner's annual reports.
So I bring professional level communications and proofreading skills to the task at hand.
All writers were readers first, and I am no exception.
The son of two noted actors (Don Keefer & Catherine McLeod), I was surrounded by books and great literature as a child - the prefaces of Shaw, the stories of Twain and O'Henry, the essays of Montaigne.
That kind of intellectually enriched home environment gave me a distinct advantage when it came time to apply to colleges (I was accepted both at Harvard and at Yale, where I graduated Magna Cum Laude, meaning "with high honors"; I also received Yale's "DuPuy Graduation Prize for Academic Excellence").
At Yale, I studied writing with a noted authority on the subject: Prof. William Zinsser, author of the popular and critically-acclaimed "On Writing Well" series of style guides and professional writers' handbooks.
I'm happy to share the benefits of my own education and experience with reading students, including both native and foreign-born speakers of English.
I first studied World History in an advanced AP (honors) class taught by a woman who was a political refugee from Czechoslovakia in the wake of the Communist clampdown after the "Prague Spring," so I have never doubted the subject's importance or relevance.
Later, I took the entire Ancient History sequence (ancient Greece & Rome) and a high-level course on Soviet History at YALE University, before ultimately deciding to concentrate in Communications.
I also studied modern European history and culture at Switzerland's UN annex during my Yale-sponsored junior year abroad at the University of Geneva -- a city known the world over as a center of diplomacy.
Given the rapid globalization (and even more rapid international communication and travel) now shaping the world economy and political landscape, I think the study of World History is now more clearly relevant and essential than ever.
As a Communications major at Yale, where I graduated Magna Cum Laude (top 5% of my class), I studied creative writing with former Life Magazine Editor William Zinsser.
Prof. Zinnser's book series "On Writing Well" has become the go-to contemporary reference source on the subject, much the way EB White's "Elements of Style" was for an earlier generation of writers and students.
Before matriculating at Yale, I also studied Creative Writing in the prestigious Telluride Program at Cornell University.
Some years later, I put that early training to good use in my own career as a journalist, writing well-received cover and feature stores for more than a dozen major publications covering media and entertainment -- among them, Adweek, Box Office, The Hollywood Reporter, Movieline and People Magazine.
I also won the advertising industry's highest creative award (a Belding) for promotional copywriting for Billboard Magazine.
Being able to write effectively and edit quicky were essential skills in my subsequent work as a top communications (PR) executive Hollywood (Warner Bros, MGM) as well.
Over the past few years, I have put those same skills to use helping authors prepare successful book proposals (one, a psychologist, calls me her "writing guru"), helping students optimize and polish their college essays, and editing graduate theses,