Shelley’s current tutoring subjects are listed at the left. You
can read more about
Shelley’s qualifications in specific subjects below.
I graduated with honors from Tulane University in English and Theater and from Loyola University Law School with a special award for my work in Comparative Law.
I've taught English in numerous situations, from high school students at an all-girl private school to ESL at a junior college in New Orleans. As an Chief of Appeals for the City of New Orleans' Law Department, I not only reviewed hundreds of appeals, but supervised the writing of new attorneys and law clerks. Currently, I'm working with a business to improve the written communication of several of its employees.
My individual coaching clients and students, primarily international professionals, business owners, managers and academics, have come to me to improve their English grammar, usage and syntax. I'm happy to say that I've helped them reach their goals---moving to new jobs or promotions; becoming more confident in their writing, conversation and presentations; enjoying a newfound competence in using the writer's English tool box.
Over the years, I've worked with a diverse group of students and clients.
Most of my coaching practice consists of non-native speakers: academics, scientists, journalists, engineers, business owners and managers. They've come to the US from India, Latin America, Africa, the former USSR, China and the Middle East. Most of them seek to improve their professional and social communication.
Some students and clients are learning English for the first time and want to get the fundamentals down enough to communicate essentials or to enter a regular ESL class.
Early on in my career, I taught ESL in my native New Orleans, and have taught various subjects over the years. Additionally, if accent reduction is a goal, I use my experience as a dialect coach to facilitate learning Standard American pronunciation.
While I can't guarantee that each session will be easy, my clients say that they enjoy themselves; and I certainly enjoy our time together.
Grammar is not always easy to master in most languages, and it's been my great joy to help non-native speakers improve their grasp of English grammar. Depending on a coaching client's or student's level of English fundamentals, learning style, time constraints and motivation, I tailor coaching or tutoring sessions to each student's needs and challenges. I'm happy to say that thus far, most of my students begin to see improvement in a very short period of time. And, although there are no guarantees that it will be easy, most of my students say our sessions are fun (and they're enjoyable for me, too).
For more than 25 years, I've been in the work force as a lawyer, theater professional and now communication coach. I graduated from Tulane University with honors in Theater and English, and then attended acting school in New York, the Neighborhood Playhouse, where I studied with a professional speech coach. I then obtained a law degree from Loyola University.
Over the years, I have learned how to structure various types of speeches--persuasive, motivational, political, humorous, etc. Naturally, in law school, I had to learn how to argue a case in the trial court and on appeal and as Chief of the Appellate Division of the City Attorney's Office in New Orleans, I reviewed hundreds of briefs and prepared attorneys for appellate argument.
I also have significant experience in speech as a dialect coach. For example, I was the dialect coach on a production of The Chosen at Arena Stage, one of the largest and most influential regional theaters in the US. I now use my dialect coaching experience to help international professionals and academics with accent reduction. They've come from China, Korea, India, Columbia, Mexico, Egypt, Africa, Estonia, Ukraine and Lithuania. I've helped them with everything from presentations to interview practice to enhanced conversation.
Religion has always fascinated me and you might say that comparative religion has been an ongoing quest. I studied it as an undergraduate and have continued to study and write about it for many years. If you are interested in pursuing a course that will take you from the earliest religions all the way through history to the major ones practiced today --- and their impact on the fabric of our lives and our health of our planet, then it would be a joy for me to work with you.
I've had over twenty-five years' experience as a theater professional and lawyer and now serve various theaters in the Washington, D.C. area as a dialect coach. I'm a playwright as well, and the sum of my training and experience has enabled me to help students and coaching clients hone the communication skills.
My coaching practice has consisted of adult, professional non-natives who have come from Egypt, Estonia, Lithuania, Ukraine, India, Mexico, China, Korea, Columbia and Trinidad. They are anxious to acquire Standard American speech or at least modify their accents if it appears to be keeping them from attaining their professional goals. (In theater, the task is often to help an actor acquire a dialect or work on reducing or eliminating a regional accent that can get in the way of establishing a character. I also coach actors individually on accent remediation because a regional accent can prevent an otherwise talented actor from being cast.)
I also received formal speech training as an undergraduate at Tulane, as a theater major and then under the legendary Lyda Virginia Parker at the Neighborhood Playhouse School of Theater, a professional acting school in New York.
Over the years, as a lawyer and playwright, I've also learned how to structure speeches, the various forms that they come in---motivational,persuasive,informative,etc. and how to write an effective presentation using PowerPoint, transparencies and available technologies.
One of the many hats I've worn in my life is that of a playwright and screenwriter. I trained professionally in New York with the legendary teacher, Sandford Meisner, and graduated from the Neighborhood Playhouse, the theater school he founded. Sandy was a master teacher and his method not only informed my writing but also the writing of playwrights like David Mamet, directors like Sydney Pollack and the acting of theater artists and film stars like JoAnne Woodward, Diane Keaton and Robert Duvall.
As an undergraduate at Tulane University, I majored in theater, studied directing and ran an improvisation workshop there using techniques borrowed from Viola Spolen, founder of the Second City company in Chicago. After graduating from Tulane,I headed for NYC and the Playhouse, and at the age of 23 founded my own theater company off-off Broadway. Ultimately, I went to law school at Loyola University where I obtained a law degree and I practiced law for ten years. Yet, when I had the opportunity to do playwriting full time, I took it in a New York second!
As a professional writer and coach, I've found that vocabulary is one of the easiest things to teach and one of the most enjoyable subjects to learn.
I've helped numerous non-native speakers increase their vocabularies by creating tools specifically designed to suit them as individuals. I've also worked with college students who are native to the US, who also have sought to improve upon their vocabulary and usage.
After making an assessment of learning style, challenges and motivation, I create a series of sessions to help a student-client meet his or her goals. Additionally, it's important to know a his or her field/ workplace/ profession/ academic discipline because each milieu can have a specific vocabulary that should be mastered. Moreover, usage is very important; so it's necessary to learn words in context and not in isolation.
One of the best things about coaching vocabulary acquisition is that it's measurable--unlike grammar and other aspects of linguistic endeavor. Progress can be gauged easily by the coach or tutor and by the student client by using simple tracking methods.
I love working with students and coaching clients on their written English and have a proven track record in business, academic, legal and creative writing.
I've enjoyed coaching undergraduates, helping them to improve their essay writing and exam taking skills. I've also worked with non-native professionals who have wanted to kick up their English writing a notch.
As a lawyer, I served as a law clerk for a La. Supreme Court Justice and then headed the Appellate Section for the City of New Orleans' City Attorney's office, where I wrote appellate briefs in complex litigation and taught appellate writing in staff workshops.
As to my creative writing, my plays have been produced in New Orleans and the Washington, DC area and most recently have been read at the Kennedy Center's Page-to-Stage Festival as well as Georgetown University. I've also contributed to several screenplays and am currently working on a memoir.
It has been my great joy to help others with their writing---the satisfaction I obtain from teaching writing is as profound as the act of writing itself.