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Purdue University (Master's)
Purdue University (PhD)
I am an educator with 20+ years of experience and specialize in tutoring students in language arts, including reading, writing, and spelling, as well as in elementary math. I have training as a literacy intervention specialist and currently tutor students who are struggling to learn to read. Additionally, I also teach elementary math and writing to both children and adults. For the past several years I have also taught Adult Education courses at Richland Community College; my expertise is in working with adult students who struggle with math and reading foundations. I love working one-on-one with students and and have seen exciting progress in students with whom I have worked.
Early in my career, I got my Ph.D. in psychology and taught psychology at the college level. I soon realized that although I enjoy teaching psychology, even more, I enjoy teaching the skills that allow students to become excellent students and communicators: writing, research, and if needed, reading and spelling. I also had the opportunity to teach an inter-disciplinary writing course to first-year college students for about a decade, and this further fed my love of helping students become proficient writers and communicators.
When my children were young, 15+ years ago, I left college teaching to homeschool my children. Being able to work one on one with my students, and teaching to meet their individual needs, was very satisfying to me. Those years of homeschooling allowed me to unleash the creativity in teaching which is so natural when working with either small groups of students or with individual students. As homeschoolers often do, we participated in numerous co-ops with other homeschooling families, and I did a lot of teaching in those co-ops as well. Along the way, I had a lot of fun helping my students learn to read, write and spell, as well as understand and solve math problems, and got invaluable experience working with students who respond best to individualized instruction.
Now my children are all in public school or college, and so I am again able to teach others. Even though I consider myself primarily a language arts instructor and coach, I have more recently found math tutoring to also be very enjoyable.
Since students' learning styles and ways of learning vary a great deal, many different approaches and tools can be useful. When teaching reading and spelling, I find that using techniques which incorporate visual, auditory and sensory/hands-on learning work best for many learners. Struggling readers and spellers, including those who are dyslexic, need very specific and detailed instruction, and I am trained to teach reading and spelling to such students using multi-sensory techniques. Whenever possible, I also like to use games as a learning tool. When teaching writing, I start out having students work with models of writing rather than start from scratch since getting started is often the hardest aspect of writing. There are many oral tasks which use the same cognitive skills as writing, but are frequently more enjoyable for students than writing, so I freely utilize such learning tools too. I prefer hands-on math and games, but will also use written work once the student understands a concept. Please tab to the "Subject" tab on this website for more detail about my approach to each of the subjects I am qualified to teach.
My goal as a tutor is to meet students where they are in their learning and to help them get to where they want or need to be. Often this means I have to find or create new tools to meet individual needs that don't respond to the tools I already have in my toolbox. Frequently, this means that I help the student find relevance within their own experience for the skills they are working on; one of the most frustrating things for struggling students is to be required to learn skills that seem irrelevant. I love helping such students find relevance within their own world of experiences. Meeting my students where they are in their skill-building, finding the tools that work best for them, and helping them discover the relevance these learning tasks have for their own lives is my greatest delight as a tutor. This is when the "light bulbs" go on and learning becomes enjoyable! I am an educator with 20+ years of experience and specialize in tutoring students in language arts, including reading, writing, and Read more
This rate applies to lessons < 15 miles from my home. Further distances will probably entail adjusted rate. Note to Dyslexia/Reading students: Please ask about the possibility of a special rate.
Sheryl is wonderful. I am so happy that we connected. I am doing home school and I felt I needed a little extra help in teaching my son to read. I can see he is enjoying himself and he is learning.
My son had a great time during his first lesson. We are seeing Sheryl for specific dyslexia tutoring through the Barton Method. This type of tutoring is rare in our area. There are very few Barton tutors in southern/central IL. She is very flexible with her schedule and driving to a location to meet for tutoring (reducing our travel time). Sheryl interacts very well with my 8 year old son who does have some issues with focus. He seemed to respond to her methods well and focus well during his first lesson. She made the lesson fun and interactive. My son asked when his next session was. So he didn't seem to feel it is extra work or punishment to have to do additional work to his already heavy school work. He is looking forward to his next lesson. Sheryl is very thorough in her after lesson summary so that my husband and I know exactly how our son is progressing and what they are working on. Excellent first lesson! Thanks!!
Sheryl provides a lot of feedback and helpful information to assist my son with strengthening his math skills. His attitude towards math is improving just in the short time that we have been working with Sheryl.
Sheryl is a great tutor, she is helping me with my writing skills. She helped me to search some subject that I had forgotten and to articulate them. I strongly recommend Sheryl, she is very patient and dedicate tutor.
In most cases, tutors gain approval in a subject by passing a proficiency exam. For some subject areas, like music and art, tutors submit written requests to demonstrate their proficiency to potential students. If a tutor is interested but not yet approved in a subject, the subject will appear in non-bold font. Tutors need to be approved in a subject prior to beginning lessons.
Besides having a Ph.D. in psychology, I am qualified to teach students with dyslexia to read using a Orton-Gillingham multi-sensory approach (engaging the visual, auditory, and kinesthetic/hands-on sense modalities).
This approach to teaching reading breaks the task of reading into small, manageable bites: there is explicit instruction in phonemic awareness (being able to hear the units of sound in language) and in phonics, incorporating visual, auditory and hands-on tasks. Each sound is taught separately and explicitly. Students are taught rules for sounding out words and for spelling. As necessary, students are taught sight words, but the emphasis in on sounding out words and learning rules for different sounds and spellings of sounds.
I have 80 hours of training by ALTA-certified instructors (ALTA is Academic Language Therapists Association) and am now additionally training with Susan Barton who has designed the Barton Reading system.
The instruction is comprehensive, in that students are taught to spell and write as they are learning to read. It is rare that a student is not able to successfully read and spell after completing this program. The difference in students is how quickly they progress. I work with students to help them master a particular skill before moving on and so each student achieves success.
In order to be successful, it is important that instruction be frequent; at a minimum, a student needs one hour of instruction two times a week, and three hours a week will allow the student to make much faster progress. Such instruction can be implemented into a regular school day, and in this case, five days a week is ideal. Although such instruction is a huge investment, this approach to reading instruction has been highly successful and I would be happy to explore with you whether such instruction would be a good fit for your family member needing instruction.
I have a Ph.D. in psychology. After teaching psychology and writing for a decade, I transitioned into homeschooling my own children from Pre-K through grade 9. For all of those grades, I facilitated or taught the various elementary subjects. More recently I have been trained to be a literacy intervention specialist, and am trained to teach multi-sensory phonics to struggling readers. My background in the sciences has proven helpful even in elementary science, and I find it enjoyable to teach elementary math as well.
With each subject, I like to use a hands-on approach to learning as much as possible. In addition, I am a huge fan of good literature and reading to learn about every subject matter, and so love to help students learn through finding appealing books to help them with particular subject matter.
Whenever I work with a student, my first task is to learn to know the student and how s/he best learns and then try to tailor the instruction to those strengths and preferences. Taking the time to individualize instruction in this way maximizes the chances that the "light bulbs" will go on more quickly!
Math in the abstract is very difficult for many students, but when it is made concrete through the use of hands-on activities and games, as well as through concrete examples and applied problems, math can become lots of fun and more understandable! My experience is that until math is understood, paper and pencil tasks are usually busy (and frustrating) work. The feedback I get from my students is that my patience and my ability to individualize instruction to meet them where they are in their understanding of a particular math skill serves them well.
More recently, I have started to explore math techniques particularly useful for students who have been diagnosed dyslexic. Multi-sensory instruction which utilizes visual, auditory, and hands-on tasks are of great importance, but at times, additional work needs to be done on understanding foundational concepts that often are not explicitly taught in the classroom. I love working with students who struggle with such concepts and find that students think such work can actually be quite enjoyable.
My experience with ESL students is working with adult ESL students on advanced phonics and spelling. Non-native speakers who are quite fluent in speaking English may still not be confident of their pronunciation of words as well as their spelling on written work. I have successfully helped such students become more confident about both their pronunciation and spelling by teaching them rules of both pronunciation and spelling through teaching phonics in a way that works for adults.
I have a Ph.D. in psychology. After starting out teaching psychology and writing to college students, I then homeschooled my children for over a decade. In my early years of working with my own children, I realized that some students pick up reading with limited teaching, while others require explicit instruction in phonics. In the years since that I have had the opportunity to receive training in how to teach struggling students how to read, using phonics as the backbone of the instruction. The students that need my help typically need to have phonics broken down into individual sounds and at a pace that is slow enough so that one phoneme is very familiar before going on to the next one. Such instruction works best using a Orton-Gillingham approach in which phonics is taught using multisensory techniques – each lesson utilizes visual, auditory, and hands-on approaches to learning. I trained in the Alphabetics approach and am now training with Susan Barton who designed the Barton Reading system. I find that students who need help in learning to read are relieved when we start working together – it is extremely frustrating not to be able to read (often these students compare themselves to others who read with less effort) and having the learning process broken into manageable chunks is a huge relief to these students.
Before a student can effectively master phonics, it is essential that the student has cultivated phonemic awareness. Phonemic awareness is the skill of being able to hear individual units of sound. The easiest unit is a word, more difficult is a syllable, and most difficult is hearing individual sounds or phonemes. Before even working with letters per se, we work on breaking words into individual sounds, blending sounds together into words, rhyming and manipulating sounds in several other ways so that the student is able to hear individual sounds as they are paired with letters and combinations of letters when we work on phonics.
The need for work on phonics is not necessarily limited to young students. Adults who struggle to read may also be in need of some work on phonics. Typically adults who need help with phonics will be able to move more quickly through instruction than young children may, but adults who struggle to read also at times benefit from phonics instruction. Phonics, however, is only one of the skills required for reading, and so with adults, it is important to access whether reading is being hampered by a lack of certainty with phonics or one of the other skills required for effective reading. I am able to give assessments to determine whether a student needs to work on phonics or on other skills required for effective reading.
Working with students on this work is a joy for me – reading is such a basic skill in our culture that a student who struggles to read often struggles with self-confidence and self-esteem. Almost without fail, these students become successful readers (they simply need to be taught in a different way than what they had been taught before) and becoming successful quickly allows them to stand a bit taller and with much more confidence! I would be happy to work with a struggling reader in your family who would benefit from work on phonics.
Reading is one of the most complex skills students set out to learn. Many students are natural readers, insomuch that they learn to read regardless of the nature of their reading instruction. There are a significant number of students, however, who need explicit and detailed instruction in decoding words using a phonetic approach which breaks words down into individual sounds.
Besides having a Ph.D. in physiological psychology (one of the neurosciences), I am also a literacy intervention specialist. I have had 80 hours of training by ALTA-certified instructors and am now training with Susan Barton, who designed the Barton Reading method. I use the Barton Reading method, which is an Orton-Gillingham method because Barton uses a multisensory approach (engaging the visual, auditory, and kinesthetic sense modalities) for this instruction. The instruction is comprehensive in that students are taught to spell and write as they are learning to read. Once a particular sound is learned (for reading) that sound is then also used to spell words as well as to write words. The instruction is mastery based, and instruction is not considered complete until a student is successfully reading. In order to be successful, it is important that instruction be frequent; at a minimum, a student needs an hour of instruction three times a week.
This approach is an integrated one insomuch as students also learn to spell and write as they are learning to read. Reading and spelling are complementary tasks and the best way to learn the one is to also learn the other!
In younger students, a struggling reader is most often in need of instruction in phonics. An older reader who struggles, however, may be skilled in phonics and yet not be an effective reader. Such readers may struggle with fluency, vocabulary, or comprehension in addition to, or instead of, struggling with phonics. With an older reader, it is important to assess which skills are keeping the reader from effective reading. When I work with an older reader, I start with accessing which skills are holding the reader back and then tailor the instruction for the skill and level needed.
Not being an effective reader can be an extremely humiliating and frustrating experience. It is a joy for me to witness what happens to students’ self-confidence and their willingness to engage in reading once reading is less of a struggle. I would love to work with the struggling reader in your family and help with the transformation that such instruction can bring.
I got my Ph.D. in psychology and taught psychology at the college level right after grad school. It was in that setting that I first began working with students on study skills. But the need for effective study skills begins long before college. When I homeschooled my own children, we worked on study skills, actually from a fairly young age on. But study skills become increasingly important as students move into middle and high school.
A student's ability to do well in an academic setting is often more a function of his/her study skills than it is of some natural aptitude in a given subject. Some of these skills are not even exclusively academic skills: time management, goal setting, organization of materials, knowing how to ask questions, and knowing how to break down tasks into manageable parts are all both academic and life skills. Other skills, however, are more academic: critical thinking; reading comprehension; memorization and information retention; writing and research skills. A successful tutor will find ways to break down this rather daunting list of skills into bite-sized chunks to allow a student to build success with the individual components.
Students who struggle with study skills often are frustrated, and because of not experiencing success in their schoolwork, often become very unmotivated. Because I like working with struggling students, I am frequently able to connect with them. I value being able to use playfulness, a listening and perceptive ear, and considerable creativity to connect with them and find ways to help them gain grounds on their study habits and skills. I would be excited to be able to connect with the struggling student in your family in this way!
After teaching a writing course for first-year college students for about a decade (and loving it!) I then home-schooled my children for the next decade, and had the chance to assist them in cultivating their writing skills. Now I am tutoring various students in their writing skills; in the past year, I have worked with college graduates looking for admission into graduate school, college students, high school students, and elementary students. Additionally, I am teaching a writing class at Richland. I would be happy to see whether my skills could be helpful to you!
Sheryl N. passed a background check on 2/15/13. The check was ordered by Sheryl through First Advantage. For more information, please review the background check information page.
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