I taught English in the classroom for three decades, and I was department chair for more than 20 years. I also taught literature to gifted and talented high school students at Northwestern University each summer for 16 years.
Since leaving the classroom, I have tutored many students on the ACT test, with reading students generally improving anywhere from 5 to 10 points. Overall, my students generally gain at least 4-5 points in their composite scores even after taking classes on the ACT before I meet them. I also have worked for GAINS Education Group, as well as other educational consulting firms. I have written ACT-like reading tests, analyzed real retired ACT tests for the College Readiness Standards of each question, and led workshops for teachers on how to teach the test. I have also edited a grammar book series, taught a college composition course, and worked with many students on general language arts writing, reading, grammar, and vocabulary skills.
My Clarinet Teaching Tradition
I have been teaching aspiring clarinet players since I was in high school. Throughout my university and professional careers, even while in other fields, clarinet playing and teaching have been constants in my life. I even met my wife, who plays oboe, in a university concert band. The pure enjoyment of the music it plays and the instrument itself has prompted me to perform in several orchestras and to start two performing woodwind quintets. I find my increasing knowledge of the literature for clarinet to be fascinating, and my personal library of solos, ensembles, clarinet choirs and fundamental books is growing quite vast. I use this library to ensure my students will play a challenging yet developmentally sound repertoire. I also enjoy the sound and technique of the clarinet; I don't think that any other instrument can quite achieve the acoustical thrill of the rich, ringing resonance of a clarinet singing its way through a lyrical run.
I've also appreciated the relationships that have developed through my music teaching. I've started students as young as second grade, and most my students return from college to take lessons during their vacations. Most have attained scholarships. I'm proud that of the many students who have continued lessons with university instructors, virtually all of them have been told that the quality of tone we worked to achieve would not be touched. I've played for and attended their weddings and remained friends with many. My current primary accompanist is a former clarinet student who also performs with me. Most of my students have gone through junior and senior high school in one of three outstanding systems: Elk Grove, Deerfield, and Lake Park High Schools, with most of my current students in the latter two. I have also taught several, including first chairs in both, in The Chicago Youth Symphony and Midwest Young Artists. In the high schools we yearly perform several solos, ensembles, and clarinet choirs. I have had hundreds receive I.M.E.A. district honors and several reach state. One year (1996) six Lake Park clarinetists all made I.M.E.A. Watching students grow and achieve is a joy of my life. Teaching is both an honor and a quest!
My experience in teaching English is wide and varied. Not only was I a classroom teacher and department chair at a prestigious and rigorous independent school for many years, but I taught both middle school through ninth grade as well as summer school literature for gifted and talented high school students at Northwestern University for 16 summers. I designed curriculum in writing, literature, speech, grammar, and vocabulary, inaugurated a visiting author's program, organized interdisciplinary studies for the division, planned a school-wide "Year of Chicago" program, and began many other programs, such as a yearly writing assessment and various writing contests.
I am proud that more than half of my students returned to credit me for their prowess in writing and passion for literature. I am even prouder that my work during all of those decades could make the difference in the lives of so many individuals.
My academic qualifications, including my masters in education from Northwestern University, are supplemented by professional experience as a newspaper reporter, as a print shop job operator, as an academic editor, as editor of a seven-volume grammar series, as instructor of a college level writing class, as a professional editor and proofreader for various kinds of writing pieces, and as an educational consultant.
While I have taught a great variety of subjects, including writing, all others aspects of language arts, test preparation, and music, my greatest passion as a teacher is to see the growth students achieve from their reading, the integration of ideas afforded by literature, and the excitement my students evince when they have discovered such integration. Literature was the centerpiece of the school where I taught and served as a department chair for so many years, and I was blessed to work for 16 summers with gifted students in the literary analysis course I created for the Northwestern University Center for Talent Development. I have continued my own pursuit of literature, and I extract great pleasure from teaching to my tutoring students.
For nearly thirty years in the classroom, I taught correctness in writing and speech to my students. As department chair I wrote the curriculum, which included a great deal of work on grammar and usage, for all the students in our five grades.
Since I have left the classroom, I have tutored all ages and manners of students in writing and test preparation, which on both the ACT and SAT includes a heavy emphasis on rhetoric, grammar, usage, and mechanics. My students always improve greatly in this and other areas. I have also edited a seven-volume grammar text book series and taught a college composition course.
Furthermore, my editing background includes pieces of all lengths, from essay to articles to books. I was also in charge of the newspaper, yearbook, and literary magazine at my school, I worked for printing companies, and I have served as an editor for several organizational newsletters as well as sports editor for a suburban newspaper chain.
I have always enjoyed reading, for pleasure and for growth. The more I've lived and taught, I have come to regard books and reading as a central experience necessary for the fully realized life. Few things give me pleasure as much as seeing my students become excited when they discover the patterns or archetypes or the use of symbols and meaning that allow them to start integrating ideas they have encountered. As Ray Bradbury would say, they are learning to "stitch the fragments of the universe together into one garment." Seldom does one see as much excitement and joy as when a young person makes a connection on a real, intellectual level.
I've been fortunate to both witness this miracle and be a part of it many times during my career as an English teacher and department chair, an summer instructor of a gifted and talented
course in literary analysis, and as a tutor of students of all ages. This can happen with Shakespeare or in great novels, such as by Golding, Fitzgerald, or Dickens; it can happen within the wondrous intensity of impossibly well-crafted poetry. It can happen in young adult literature, short stories, and other pieces to help students gain more enjoyment and understanding in what they read.
Helping my students gain comprehension and meaning in what they read is a significant part of why I continue to teach. I enjoy seeing my students grow.
In addition to scoring well on the SAT verbal (many years ago), I have helped many students to prepare for it. Every student I have worked with on the SAT reading and writing have improved 100 points or more. We work on roots and prefixes and targeted vocabulary lists as well as both reading comprehension and strategies that apply to the test. On the both SAT and ACT reading, my students will grow in ways that apply to but also extend plus the test itself.
My strongest qualification for teaching SAT writing is that I have had great success teaching writing in general. The majority of my Lake Forest students, where I taught for three decades and served as department chair, as well as those whom I taught during my 16 summers at Northwestern University's Center for Talent Development, later returned or contacted me to tell me that I had made the difference in the writings, the appreciation for literature, and their general command of the skills inherent in the English class.
I have honed these skills while teaching writing of all kinds to students of all ages as a tutor, as well as while editing, including a grammar textbook series, and teaching a college writing course.
The somewhat artificial situation required for the SAT essay, mainly the limitation of 25 minutes, is served best by first having a solid approach to writing and then learning to retain these strengths while tightening the scope of and the time given to the essay. I have enjoyed watching my students achieve a great deal of success writing their essays for the SAT.
I taught for 28 years and was the English department chair at a school with a rigorous curriculum that emphasized writing. Most of my students returned to tell me that I had provided them the foundation of their writing skills. Since writing is such an individualized subject, it fits with my desire to help every student grow in skills and in intellectual command within his or her own skills, aptitude, and background. I was also able to apply this principle during 16 summers of teaching a gifted literature and writing course for high school students at Northwestern University. I have continued to help countless students with their writing as a tutor. I also taught a college composition course.
In addition to my teaching experience, I have taken writing workshops at Northwestern, the University of Illinois, and many conferences. I wrote for a suburban newspaper for two years, and I have been editor of several newsletters and other publications. I also was a consulting editor for a seven-volume grammar textbook series. Finally, I edit letters, promotional materials, blogs, papers, and books for businessmen and women, friends, and members of organizations, as well as writing many articles myself.