John S.

Tucson, AZ


English, Reading, Special Education (cross categorical) ED LD

In-person lessons
50+ Hours
4.8 average from 30 ratings
Very good with learning disabilities
— Jennifer, Marana, AZ on 8/6/15


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University of Arizona
Special Education


University of Arizona

english (Master's)

Special Education (MEd)

About John


My name is John, and I am a retired sixty-one year old former English and Special Education Teacher.

I graduated from Arizona State University with a Master's degree in English, and from the University of Arizona with a Master's degree in Special Education and Rehabilitation. I began my career teaching English for four years on the Navajo Reservation, then I moved to Tucson to teach English for twenty one years, and special education for ten years. As an English teacher, I taught all grades, from 9th grade to 12th grade, and at every level, from remedial to gifted. As a special education teacher, I worked with all grade levels, from 1st grade to 12th grade grade. My two specialized areas were learning disabilities and emotional disabilities. Under learning disabilities, I had students who had reading disabilities, dysgraphia (inability to form letters), dysgraphia (inability to comprehend abstract math), inability to remain focused, inability to retain information from written matterial, ADD and ADHD (lack of organizational and focus skills), oral retention of information, short term memory and long term memory retrieval, and numerous other skills. Under emotional disabilities, I worked with students with Asperger's Syndrome, Bi-Polar disorder, highly marked ADD and ADHD, highly marked depression, Tourettic impulse drive, alcohol fetal syndrome, highly marked depression, suicidal ideation, conduct disorder (anger management), poor impulse control, and other disabilities.

At the present time, I am a volunteer with Jewish Social Services. I work with Holocaust survivors as an ESL teacher. For many of them, Russian is their primary language, so much of the work I do is teaching basic conversational skills, as well as help them translate documents (letters to relatives, business, family) from Russian to English (I also am certified in ESL). They are all shut-ins, so I make it a point to visit each survivor (or survivors, in the case of husband and wife) at least twice a week for to hours.

If there is one thing I learned during my thirty-three years as a teacher, it is that each student is an individual, with very specific learning styles. There is no one size fits all education. I also believe in working very closely with parents, with their concerns. No tutoring program can work very well without parental input.

I look forward to hearing from you

My name is John, and I am a retired sixty-one year old former English and Special Education Teacher.

I graduated from Arizona State University with a Master's degree in English, and from the University of Arizona with a Master's degree in Special Education and Rehabilitation. I began my career teaching English for four
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In-person lessons

"Very good with learning disabilities"

- Jennifer, Marana, AZ on 8/6/15

"Great Tutor"

- Grace, Tucson, AZ on 9/27/13
Test Preparation:
ACT English,
SAT Reading,
SAT Writing
American History
Special Needs:
Special Needs
Elementary Education:
Elementary (K-6th), Elementary Science,
Spelling, Study Skills,

Approved subjects are in bold.

Approved subjects

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.

ACT English

The best way to improve reading and writing scores is to read and write. The grammar and the literary textbooks are not enough. The most important thing a parent can do is read along with their children. Here are just a few steps:

1. Read a book that is at the child's level. If a child is reading at a seventh grade level, Herman Melville's "Moby Dick" will be way beyond his comprehension level. On the other hand, if he is reading at a 10th grade level, "Moby Dick" might be the perfect fit. You child's grade level should be on file at his/her school.
2. Don't read for speed. Read for comprehension. This is especially true when one is reading one of the great classics.
3. Encourage conversation, keeping in mind that his insights might be just as valid as yours.



Once again, you will need to know your child's level of comprehension. Writing is much harder to evaluate than rading.
1. Does he have trouble putting a single sentence together?
2. When he attempts to put together an essay, does he begin by organizing his thoughts and creating an outline?
3. Does he know how to access information?
4. Does he comprehend grammar to automaticity? Or does he stare at the paper, his pen not moving across the page?
5. Does spelling come easily to him (see my section on spelling)?
6. Does he comprehend the process of writing a term paper (see section on study skills), including creating an outline, gathering credible information, writing a thesis statement, making sure that every piece of information relates to the thesis, writing summaries of whatever information he has gathered, creating a conclusion that reinforces and points back to the body of the essay (all the information he has gathered), proofreading, having another person proofread his work, creating a bibliography, name just a few.


To develop a high level of comprehension requires a high level of individualized instruction. One of the most important things I will be doing is teaching parents how to work one on one with their child (this is especially necessary when working with children with special needs).

Some other things:

1. Constantly check for your child's level of frustration. I always do this with my students. If a child is holding a pencil and the pencil doesn't move across the page, I don't assume him to be lazy. Instead, I ask him after class what he finds so frustrating. Only then will I comprehend the needs of the child so he can succeed.
2. Always check for comprehension. Just because a student reads a paragraph with the correct phonetic skills does not insure that he is comprehending what he is reading.

Improved reading and writing skills will not develop overnight. It takes years and years. It will take courage and determination. It will mean that the student must overcome self-doubt and the fear that no matter how hard he/she tries, the mountain will be too high to climb.



One of my specializations as a Special Education teacher was working with students who had marked ADD and ADHD. I worked not only with students, but with their parents, developing full case studies. Much of my work involved developing focus techniques, organizational techniques, impulsivity control, and recognizing high levels of frustration.

I have a Master's Degree in Special Education from the University of Arizona, with a specialization in children with emotional disabilities. One of those disabilities included ADD and ADHD. I worked in special Education for the last ten years of my teaching career.

ADD and ADHD are complex and puzzling conditions. It is even more complex and puzziling if the child has a learning disability (or disabilities). The tollowing are just some of the behaviors associated with the diagnosis:

1. Difficulty staying on task, keeping focused, completing assignments
2. Easily distracted, racing from one idea or interest to another.
3. Producing work that is sloppy and carelessly completed.
4. Creating the impression that they are not listening or have not heard whatever is is that they have just been told.
5. Displaying symptoms of age inappropriate behavior and high levels of impulsivity.

More often than not, their behavior makes them unpopular to other calssmates. Such behavior, without behavioral intervention, make them very vulnerable to school failure, rejection by peers, low self esteem, and extremely marked levels of frustration.

Luckily, there are many accommodations to help students with ADD or ADHD:

1. Placing the student in an area of the classroom where there is minimal distraction.
2. Modisfy school routine so the student so the student can walk around the classroom (such as passing out papers).
3. Providing a high level of structure and routine.
4. Requiring a daily assignment notebook.
5. Helping the teacher to have the student's attention before teaching a lesson, such as a hand sign, or eye contact.
6.Making directions clear and concise.
7. Allowing for extra time if needed.
8. Breaking assignments into workable chunks.
9 Providing feedback on completed work as soon as possible.
10. Encourage parents to set up appropriate study space at home.
11. Making use of learing aids, such as a computers, calculators, tape recorders, and numerous learning aids.
12. Finding something that the student does well and encouraging that interest.
13. Provide ample praise and rewards, reinforcing improved behavior and academic performance with praise.
14. Modifying testing situations, providing additional time for practice.
15. Having parents work very closely with teachers.

With modifications and with patience, the student will be able to make the necessary behavioral adjustments to succeed.

One last thing. . .realizing that the child is struggling, and wants to succeed. He will need a loving family, and parents who are very dedication.

I look forward to working with you.


I have two degrees. The first degree is from Arizona State University: a Master's Degree in English. The second degree is a Master's Degree is Special Education and Rehabilitation from the University of Arizona. I have two areas of specialization. Under Specialization: LD (learning disabilities) and ED (emotional disabilities). I worked with and tutored many students with Dyslexia, as well as numerous disabilities related to reading/writing.

Question: What is Dyslexia

1. It is one of several distinct learning disabilities.
2. It is characterized by disability in single word decoding
3. It is also characterized by insufficient phonological processing disabilities.
4. None of the disabilities associated with Dyslexia are the result of generalized developmental disabilities or sensory impairment.
5. Dyslexia reveals itself when a child manifests problems with reading, writing, and spelling.

The analogy most research has shown is that the brain of a person with dyslexia reveals that the frontal region of their brain is symmetrical and smaller than the same region of someone with a normal brain. Think of the brain of a dyslexic as a poorly functioning television that does not pull in or analyze signals to the point where the picture is barely visible

Every case of dyslexia is unique and different, and each person affected personally deals with it differently. Dyslexia is something that will never go away. It is also inherited. and has a genetic basis.

Without individualized help and recognition, a child with dyslexia will experience very high levels of frustration and shame. A child with dyslexia may have to struggle so hard to recognize words that he overlooks the meaning of the content. As a result, poor readers lose the motivation to read.

Reading is a skill that continuously develops with practice. There is no magic "cure" for dyslexia. This is not to say that there is no hope. Students with dyslexia must have sufficient opportunities to practice and engage in read, as well as encouragement.

Parents! Read with your child, and praise your child. Dyslexia is a disability that can be overcome. The struggle is very real.

Elementary Science

There are several skills a child must have if he is going to be successful is Science:

1. The ability to take notes from an overhead. Very few teachers use blackboards anymore. Often times the notes are typed out and arranged by outline. However, there are many students who cannot keep up with the copying of the notes. Sometimes it can be due to poor vision, but more often than not the child might have a reading disability, an inability to process written information, difficulty focusing on anything for a long period of time. All is not lost, however, for most teachers are willing to make copies of their notes. The notes can be taken home and written down. It doesn't take more than thirty seconds for a teacher to copy her notes on a xerox machine.

2. At the grammar school level, text books are very highly organized: The questions at the end of a chapter are always organized according to the order they appear in the chapter; important concepts are underline or written out in red; Chapters are broken down into small sections (sub-chapters; every text has a index that lists all subject covered withing the text; there are also illustrations which refer directly to keys points revealed within text.

3. Use of a tape recorder. Before a student takes a test, he will need to spend some time memorizing the information he has compiled. The easiest way to do this is by utilizing a tape recorder. Have the student read into the tape recorder all of the information which will probably be on an exam, and once recorded, play the tape recording over and over until the student knows all the information to automativity (the point where the student can answer the question without having to pause).

4. Sparking interest in subject covered. When I was seven years old, our teacher took my class to visit the New York Museum of Natural History. Upon entering, the first thing I saw in front of me was a huge brontosaraus, one hundred and fifty feet long, and over ninety feet tall. When I arrived home, I told my mother I wanted her to buy as many books about dinosaurs as she could find. I also asked her to buy models of dinosaurs. By the time I was ten, my room had an entire library of books about dinosaurs, as well as fifty different models.

Placing that spark of imagination and curiosity is the most important element of succeeding in science, and the subjects to explore are as limitless as the number of stars and solar systems in the universe. Unfortunately, very few textbooks are written to create such a spark. That's where computers come it. It's one thing to have a thermal vent defined. It's quite another to go down inside a submarine, dive to five thousand feet, and witness sulfuric smoke surfacing from mini volcanoes (vents), circling around in an environment where light never reaches, and exploring all the strange creatures (angler fish, tube worms, crabs whose skin in white) whose life source in not oxygen, but sulpher.

My advice to a parent is develop in their children curiosity. Spend some time with your children by the ocean, or planting a tree, or looking up at the stars at night. By sharing with your children, you will also share in their sense of wonder of the world around them.


I was an English teacher for twenty one years. I taught at all levels. I taught many different essay styles: inductive, deductive, comparison/contrast, process, journals, poetry, and personal-expository. In reading, I taught everything from context clues, phonetic sound/structure, to symbolism in Shakespeare. Later on, I finished my degree in Special Education and Rehabilitation from the University of Arizona, specializing in ED (emotional disabilities) and LD (learning disabilities).
My twenty two years as an English teacher, an all of my knowledge of language, became inherently useful, for almost all of my LD students had disabilities in reading and/or writing.

It would be impossible to go over every aspect of English; nevertheless, here is a short list:

1. Sound systems of individual letters.
2. Sounds systems of letter combinations.
3. Spelling.
4. Penmanship and letter formation.
5. The ability to break down long words into small phonetic chunks.
6. Punctuation.
7. Composing a combination of sentences and placing them within a paragraph structure that contains organized structure and meaning.
8. Grammar: verb tense, subject and predicate placement, prepositional phrases, noun phrases, simple sentences, compound sentences, compound/complex sentences.
and much, much more.
7. Deriving meaning from content.
8.The realization that a single word can have numerous meanings.
9. The realization that when we read an essay, novel, poem, or repair manual, every single word is being filtered by our own experiences upon this planet.
10. Proofreading.
11. Outlining.
12. Producing the opening paragraph of a six hundred word essay.
13. Inductive and deductive thinking.
13. Knowledge of various essay formats: personal essays based upon real life experiences, comparison and contrast(comparing two different events, experiences, or ideas, and stating what they have in common, and what are their differences, inductive and deductive essays (term papers, any writing which requires research and reason), process essays (essays which explain how to perform various tasks
14. Continuous curiosity
15. Study Skills (see study skills).
16. The importance of organization.
17. Speech and Debate (see public speaking).

Of course, the list could go on and on. What I want to do is tell a story about the one person who had encouraged me to become an English teacher. Her name was Mrs. B., my 11th grade English teacher.

Mrs. B. was stern, and her face had the ability to stare unforgivingly. Whenever she spoke, the entire class was silent. She demanded absolute seriousness and respect. On the first day of class, she made the statement, "Words are everything. . .words, words, words. Without words, we'd still be in the stone age bashing each others' brains open with clubs."

The first paper I wrote for her was about the death of my grandmother who died just two weeks earlier. The essay was an apology for staring out the window and looking at the sky. Two days later, she returned my paper. It was covered in red ink. On the bottom of the paper were the words, "Please see me after class."

I was terrified. I was ready to give up completely, As I entered her room, and as I approached her desk, I had already decided to just give up and accept the reality that nothing I would do would ever meet her expectations. I sat down, and she began going over each and every comment and red mark. I wanted to walk out of the room. It was then she asked me if I had any idea why she called me in. I told her I had no idea. She looked right at me, and said, "I graded over one hundred papers last night. Your paper was the one which brought tears to my eyes. Your grandmother must have been a very loving, compassionate person. Someday, you will be a writer or a teacher of writing. Just don't give up. You have so much to say, and a beautiful way of saying it."

At that moment I made a decision. Every paper I wrote for Mrs. Berkley was going to be as perfect as possible. Every sentence was going to be grammatically correct. At the age of seventeen, I had stored within my memory thousands of stories.

At the end of the semester I received an B+ on my report card. I still have the report card.

Teach a child to love words, love language, and everything else will follow.


How to figure out whether a sentence is grammatical:

1. Examine the sentence:

John and me are going to the movies.

2. Break the sentence apart.

John is going to the movies.
Me is going to the movies.

3. Which part ofthe sentence is not grammatical. The obvious answer is "Me is going to the movies."

4. The correct form for the sentence should be:

John and I are going to the movies.

Grammar is the study of words and how they are used in the sentence. There are over a thousand grammatical rules. The question, therefore, arises, "How does one learn all of the rules to automaticity." My own answer is that it is not enough to do all the exercises in a grammar text. Grammar is learned to automaticity through practicing grammatical and rhetorical patterns, reading, and most important of all, writing.

Grammar is very similar to the process of working on an internal combustion engine. A person can memorize all of the parts of the engine, the tools needed to take the engine apart and put it back together, the importance of extreme organization, the differences between the hundreds of engines, the numerous sections of an engine, the safety rules, the complete metric system. However, it is not until he works on an actual engine and practices assembling and reassembling it that eventually he can become a mechanic. For the writer, knowledge of grammatical structures are essential if a person is every going to write; but so is outlining, paragraph structure, organization, diction (word choice), phonics, spelling.

In order to write, it is not enough to memorize grammatical rules. A person must be able to internalize, automatically, the rules.

One last point. To learn grammar to automaticity, a person must also read. If a parent sets down fifteen minutes for their child to read (and make sure it is something the child is interested in)then all of the rules of grammar will be internalized.

Sit down and read with your child. Share you observations with him. Make reading fun and not a chore. Encourage you child to keep a journal. Print out and publish his short stories in a book.

He will succeed!


I was an English teacher for over twenty one years. The most important element when reading a work of literature is to not be a passive reader. Reading requires both induction and deduction (exploring and examining content and drawing conclusions). In a classroom, reading also requires discussion.

Reading also requires the ability to construct meaning through content. For example, we have all had the experience of putting something together only to discover we skipped on of the major steps involved in completing the project. Finding meaning through content is how we solve math problems, read history and science text books, write term papers, and draw conclusions based upon whatever subject area we are involved in.

Reading involves not just comprehending content in Shakespeare; it involves comprehending content in all areas involving words and language, from following directions to completing tax forms.

This all raises the question, "How does one develop a love of reading?" For many children, reading is an overwhelming tast, especially when they reach junior high or high school. In first or second grade, whenever it's reading time, all of the children in the room are excited. The teacher brings out a brad new book, filled with bright colored drawings. The teacher points to the drawings, and asks the class what the drawing are about. Only after ever figure and thing on the game is identified and labeled does she begin to read the passage. To the children, the entire process is fun. The same cannot be said for many children in both junior high and high school (especially with the advent of No Child Left Behind). Some children might be able to read from the text phonetically, but when asked about the content of the writing, their minds draw a blank. Other children might not be able to put together the various phonetic 'chunks' that make up the work. Then there are those who have given up completely, who sit at the back of the class hoping to not be the one the teacher calls upon.

My own belief is many children find reading boring, overwhelming, and embarrassing. So what works? A high degree of individualization. A teacher who forces a poor reader to read in front of the class will bring that child nothing but shame in front of his peers. A better solution is for the teacher to read to the class, and have class discussions about the meanings of important passages.

For example, let's say that a teacher is teaching Shakespeare's "Macbeth." The play begins with a passage in which Macbeth states that the weather is "fair and foul." Stop at the point, and ask the class to describe what such a day might look like. Then point out how a person's life can be both "fair and foul." Make sure you get the children you know who find reading difficult to get in on the subject. Their comments might be very perceptive. Follow their comments with a single, "That's something I haven't thought about. Tell me some more." The teacher will have made that child's day, and the child will have gained respect from his peers.

The other thing is to read along with your child every night for at least fifteen minutes. DO NOT READ FOR SPEED1 Read for content. If you see that you child is having difficulty, slow down. But never, ever give up.

Reading is a gift, but to gain that gift requires practice and positive reinforcement.


I have two degrees: the first is a Master's Degree in English from Arizona State University. The second is a degree in Special Education from the University of Arizona. My two areas of specialization are LD (learning disabilities) and ED (Emotional Disabilities). As a special education teacher, many of my students read at a second of third grade level, even though they were in the eighth or ninth grade. They had absolutely no understanding of how reading and writing related to sounds (phonetics). They were also very poor at spelling, for they did not have the ability to break down long words into phonetic sounds. In some extreme cases, they were even unable to identify individual sounds produced by individual letters. Phonics was an important part of my program.

Phonological awareness begins at birth. A child becomes aware of the sounds of the world around him. The more a child is exposed to language, the greater his awareness of sounds will be.
Phonological awareness begins with the recognition of phonemes, the smallest units of sounds. To gain phonetic awareness, the students are taught to match letters and letter patterns with sounds. This is the first step to acquiring awareness of a language's inherent structure. Next comes the matching of sound patterns (i.e: floor, door).

Phonetic awareness requires a number of different skills:

Listening: the awareness of how sounds are produced; separating different sound patterns; isolating one sound from other sounds.

Structure Awareness: Separating parts of a word (or syllables); recognition of words that sound the same; blending of syllables into complete words

Rime: What words rhyme with hell (bell, smell, well, shell);

Phonetic Awareness: identifying which words have different first sounds; identifying the ways sound systems are blended and mixed; the breaking down of large words into phonetic chunks that can (like building blocks) be taken apart and put back again.

Some children are born with an innate ability in developing phonetic awareness, and as a result, they usually have success in school when it comes to tasks that require reading and spelling. Other children have poor phonetic skills, and as a result they will find any tasks requiring reading and spelling difficult, and often overwhelming.

Phonological awareness is an auditory skill that is developed and acquired by the child being exposed to sound structures. The more a child hears spoken language, the more he/she will develop the skills necessary to recognize, identify, and manipulate it. Phonological awareness instruction focuses on listening, distinguishing sounds,

The best way for a child to gain phonological awareness is to read to the child every night. Pick out a book with very colorful pictures. Every children's book is filled with bright colors and interesting (from the child's insight) pictures. As you read, point out the different objects in the pictures. Have the child point out what the different objects are. Only after the child has looked at all the pictures should the parent (or tutor) begin reading the story. Also, it is important that the parent (tutor) utilizes positive reinforcement.

One of the greatest memories I have is of my mother reading to me every night. The images and the sounds of the words and the rhymes and how they all combined to create beautiful images within my mind told me that the world was a safe place where I was loved and protected.

Now that I am an adult, I am often overwhelmed by the beauty of words.

It was the greatest gift my mother ever gave to me.

I hope to hear from you.


As an English teacher, I graded tens of thousands of essays, often late into the night. The best way to proofread, however, to to work one on one with a student. The worst thing a teacher can do is drown an essay with red ink and return the essay to a student. When someone writes, the last thing they need is to have their self-esteem destroyed before they have even made the attempt to progress. The last thing the act of writing should be is a source of anxiety. The person who is placing pencil/pen to the paper, or typing on a computer, is a real person, with very real feelings.

By allowing students to write at their own level, their writing will improve. Scolding students with negativity, and they will hate writing for the rest of their lives.


Proofreading is very hard work. The hardest thing about proofreading is that the language used in a paper MORE often or not reads and sounds correct to the reader. The writer can go over and over the first draft only to discover, aside from a few commas, nothing wrong. However, when he gets his paper returned, he discovers it covered in red ink. To him, everything about his paper seemed perfect.

The paper usually ends up in the round file (trash can). Here are a sample of some of the comments teachers make when grading term papers:

1. Your thesis statement completely contradicts your closing comments. Also, the entire paper lacks structure and coherence.
2. You failed to footnote almost half of your sources.
3. Your paper would have been much better had you utilized transitional phrases.
4. Sources?
5. Paragraph five states the same information as paragraph four. The only difference is the wording.
6. Did you have another person read your rough draft?
7. You have one run on sentence after another. Please read over my corrections and rewrite paper and I will give you a better grade.
8. Outline?

I could go on and on, but I believe you get the general idea. It took me on the average fifteen to twenty five minutes to grade one ten page paper. Many were the times I graded term papers very late into the night.

I hated it.

But I did discover a number of things that work.

1. Outlining, having a thesis statement, making sure that every paragraph points back to the beginning, and reading and rereading the conclusion to make sure the words of the conclusion refer back to the thesis.
2. Having more than one person go over the rough draft. . .the more people the better.
3. Helping students to limit their subject.
4. Reading the rough draft into a tape recorder, and playing the recorder back. What might look correct on paper might sound atrocious when played back on a tape recorder.
5. The finding of sources that are reliable; not all sources are reliable.
6. Integrity.
7. Attention to detail.
8. Outline!

Writing is hard work. Don't give up! Sooner or latter that C- will become a B+, and maybe even an A.


I have taught reading at all levels, from 1st grade through 12th grade. My personal belief is that for many children, reading is often very overwhelming.

Every single subject requires reading, be that subject Elizabethan Literature or basic math. If a student is unable to draw information from the context of the text in front of him, he will eventually become so discouraged that he will give up.

There are so many different aspects of reading. Here are just a few:

1. Is the child able to draw meaning from content. There are many children who go from one grade and on to another because when they read, they are able to sound out each word phonetically. But then he enters into the higher grades, when he is asked to recall and explain what he has read. When he comes to the questions at the end of each chapter, he just sits there, pencil in has hand, staring at the page, unable to recall what he has just read.

For a child to become a good reader, he will need positive encouragement. Not everyone develops reading skills at the same pace. Reading, therefore, should be highly individualized.

Also, parents need to be involved in the reading process. The more a child reads, the sooner he will develop the skills necessary to gain knowledge from text. From that point on, he will find reading not just frustrating, but overwhelming. The only hope is intervention and one on one tutoring. The tutor reads alongside the child, and as they are reading, the tutor checks to see if the child can summarize what he has just read. He also helps the child find meaning from the content. If there is a very long word, the tutor helps the child bread down the word into phonetic chunks.

When it comes to answering the questions at the end of the chapter, the tutor has the child read each question, checking the child's knowledge and understanding, and goes through the text. At this point, another difficulty develops. Without one on one help, the child might read and reread the chapter, never finding the answer he is looking for. Eventually, without individualized intervention, the child will eventually give up. Luckily, all textbooks are very organized, and the answers to the questions almost always follow the outline of the chapter. If the child works on understanding the organization of the chapter, he will find the answer he is searching for.

One last thing; it is imperative that the tutor work very closely with the parents, and that the child read every day. Also, praise your child for every success. If the child feels frustrated and overwhelmed when reading, it follows that whenever he attempts to read, eventually he will just give up. Be patient, and try to understand the world from your child's point of view. Also, be an advocate for your child at school. Let his teachers know about his poor reading skills; they way they will know to work more closely with him.

SAT Reading

For most people, reading does not come easily. There are so many processes involved in the reading of an essay. Here are just a few.

1. Diction, the choice of words. For a single sentence to make sense, the person reading the essay has to continually ask why each individual sentence was written in a specific vernacular. A single word can change the meaning of a sentence, or even an entire essay.
2. Knowledge of the subject. To give an example, I am very knowledgeable about the tragedies of Shakespeare. For that reason, if I am reading a essay about symbolism in "King Lear", the article will be easier for me process because I am familiar with the subject area (I have a MA in English). On the other hand, if the subject is "Iowa Tax Codes", I will in all probability become lost and frustrated to the point of tears.
3. Content: One of the reasons why discovering reading disabilities is very difficult is that a child might have an excellent knowledge of phonetics, and when asked to read, his diction is perfect. However, when asked about the content, that same child will be unable to reveal any knowledge of the content of what he has just read. The child might read from a text book, but finding the answer to the questions at the end of the text is an overwhelming and frustrating task.
4. Comprehension of organization. There are many types of essays, each with its own organizational pattern. There are personal essays in which the writer is reflecting on some aspect of his life. There are process essays which describe the steps involved in completing a task. There are comparison/contrast essays, in which two opposite ideas are examined for their differences, as well as their similarities. There are inductive essays, in which a statement is made, and the rest of the essay is a presentation of statistics, information, assessments, and observations which set out to prove the original thesis. There are inductive essays, in which information is compiled, explored, assessed, dissected, and only after all the information is given does the author make a statement about what the information proves or disapproves. You might be asking yourself why is this important. My own personal reply is that one doesn't read a manual about how to solve computer problems (which I constantly have to refer to) the same way one reads "Moby Dick".
5. Courage to not give up.

If a parent wants his/her child to become proficient, or to excel in reading, the parent should spend some time reading together with the child, stopping along the way to talk with the child about the context of whatever essay, book, text, or magazine article they are sharing.

The more a child reads, the better reader he/she will become.

SAT Writing

I have a Master's Degree in English from the University of Arizona, and I was an English teacher for over twenty two years. I also taught English 101 and 102 for two years when I was a graduate student. During those twenty two years, I centered my curriculum on my students' acquiring the skills necessary for writing essays: personal reflection, process, comparison/contrast, inductive writing, deductive writing, poetry, journals, summaries, thesis statements, research, separating opinion from fact, logic, objectivity, and analysis

In an ideal world, by the time a student has reached the twelfth grade, that student will have all the tools necessary to write an inductive/decuctive essay or term paper. Hopefully, by that time he has absorbed all the rules of grammar to automaticity, knows how to put together simple, compound, compound-complex sentences. He should be able to write a paragraph, and an essay with a thesis statement, a body, and a conclusion. He should be able to read a textbook and draw meaning and content. He should be able to read (though with some difficulty) the great classics, including "The Bible" and "King Lear."

However, it has been may experience that most students do not have the ability to perform many of the above tasks. They might be very proficient when it comes to completing multiple choice tests, but the act of placing ideas into the structure of a term paper is overwhelming. Why? Because they've never attempted it before.

He are some of the skills involved in writing a term paper.

1. The gathering of information: The computer has made this process considerably easier than in the old days (when I was a freshman in college). But the student needs to know if his source is reliable. Much of the information on the internet is made up. Just because someone states an opinion does not make it reliable. This is even true of the daily newspaper. Plus, for every study done by a professional journal, somewhere there is another article stating exactly the opposite.
2. Structure: There are two ways to begin a term paper. The first is to gather up as much solid information as possible (leaving out adjectives), then developing a thesis paragraph and a conclusion only after all the information has been analyzed (deduction); the second is to begin with a statement setting out precisely what the essay will be attempting to prove, and only after that statement has been clearly written down, beginning the process of developing the body of the essay, utilizing and including reliable facts that relate back to the opening statement (thesis).
3. A knowledge of: outlining, footnoting, paragraph development (when writing a paragraph, does all of the information refer to the main idea of each paragraph?); taking apart the information from the opposing argument for its content, and logically taking apart that information with logic and consistancy; footnote forms and bibliography; knowing how to summarize ovjectively information gathered; standing back and examing (over and over) as logically as possible every single paragraph and sentence; proofreading (best done by the writer and someone else going through and pointing out errors and inconsistencies); being respectful of opposing viewpoints (and absolutely staying away from the use of adjectives); readability of essay; and finally, before you turn in the paper, checking the paper to see if you have completed all of the above.

To state it bluntly, without the above skills, it will be very difficult, if not impossible, to complete four years of college. If a student does not have the skills, he will need to develop them as soon as possible. To get though fours years of college requires utilizing the skills to automaticity.

I hope to hear from you.

Special Needs

Before retiring, I was a special education teacher for ten years. I have a MA degree from the University of Arizona in Special Education and Rehabilitation, specializing in students with learning disabilities and emotional disabilities. As a LD (learning disabilities) specialist, I worked with students with reading, writing, math, and cognitive disabilities. As an ED specialist, I worked with students with highly marked ADD and ADHD, Aspergers, Dyslexia, BiPolar Disorders, Tourettes Syndrome, and other disabilities.

The one element that is most important when working with students with special needs is to understand the disability, and help the student to develop the skills necessary for success. Without a high level of individualization, the student will in most cases develop a highly marked level of frustration and just give up.

Also, parent involvement is a necessary key to success. The parents are the one who have witnessed their child's disability first hand, and as a result they have an enormous amount of information which is necessary in developing an Individualized Education Plan (IEP).

When I was a teacher, I worked very closely with parents In developing programs and modifications. I found that the more involved a parent is with the child's education, the more likely that chld is to be successful.

Study Skills

I received my Master's Degree in English in 1976, and I was an English Teacher for twenty one years. I received a second Masters's Degree from the University of Arizona in 2000. That degree was in special education. I had two areas I specialized in. The first was working with students with emotional eisabilites; the second was working with students with learning disabilities. All three of my areas of specialization required the teaching of study skills.
There are many aspects involved in acquiring study skills.

1. Organizing time and space. Take a look at your child's room, and you will probably get a very good idea concerning his sense of organization. No child's room is ever completely organized. But can he find assignments, necessary text books, pens and pencils? Does he write down his homework assignments? Does his room have the proper lighting (not too bright, and not too soft)? Is the room relatively free from destractions? When you look inside the room while he is working, is the television on? Does he have easy access to organizational tools (cleendars, planning books, dictionary? once inside the door, is he in an environment where he can block out house noise (conversations, television noise, his siblings playing?

2. Gathering information from text: Often, a text is very difficult to read, and this is especially true for someone with poor reading skills. Is your child easily frustrated when it comes to finding the content necessary to answer questions at the end of the text? Is he able to go back over the text and find the necessary information he needs to answer the questions? Is he familiar with the vocabulary of the text? When he is reading the text, is he able to comprehend the organizational patterns of the text? When asked to write out a paragraph concerning some aspect of the text, does he just sit there trustrated with a blank expression on his face?

3.Reading skills: Read with your child. While you are reading with him, look for high levels of frustration. Does he read slowly, one sentence at at time? When you ask him about the paragraph he has just completed, is he able to summarize the paragraph? Is he able to point out the main topic of the paragraph? If there are large words whose meanings he does not know, is he able to discover their meaning by analyzing the content of the rest of the sentence? Is he able to sound out the words?

4. Computers: Is he able to focus on whatever article he might be reading from the computer? Or is he constantly off task, switching over to video games or You Tube? When it comes to gathering information, the computer is a very valuable tool. But the computer can also be a tremendous distraction? Don't assume that just because he is inside a quiet room without distractions that he is necessarily working on his classwork.
5. Processing of Information: Completing a math problem is a process. . .to finish the problem, a person has to follow the step by step instructions, then check over the answer, making sure all steps have been followed. Many children have poor processing skills.

There is no overnight solution for acquiring the study skills necessary for success. For a child to develop study skills will require cooperation: the teacher, the student, and the parents, and the child's teachers must be involved. Also, as the child is acquiring the necessary skills, he must be given as much positive reinforcement as possible. Chances are, he has already developed a sense of failure. The more input, the better the child's chances for success


The more a person builds his vocabulary, the easier both writing and reading will be. The best way to improve vocabulary is to read often. There really are no short cuts.

The following are some aspects to learning new vocabulary:

a. Verbal Context: The other words in a sentence often provide clues to the meaning of a single word. Young children learn most of their vocabulary by taking guesses as to the meaning of words. Take the word 'table'. If a child hears the sentence "Dad wants the family to sit at the table", he will watch as everyone gathers around the piece of furniture located in the center of the room. He will see the food being placed upon that piece of furniture. After a while, he will come to the conclusion that 'table' is the place where the entire family gathers around to eat. The words within the content of sentences and paragraphs give out clues as to meaning.

b. Using clues: Most English words have several meanings. Very few words have just one meaning. For example, take the word 'point'. Now, examine the sentence, "He placed the 'point' of the pencil' upon the paper." When you look up 'point' there will be several definitions: the tip of a pencil; a unit of scoring; the main idea someone is trying to express. If a person does not examine the content, he will be unable to come up with the meaning. On the other hand, by referring back to the content of the sentence, the answer will be obvious. . .the tip of a pencil.

c. Discovering Meaning by Determining the Part of Speech: For example, in the sentence, "The queen signed the paper and affixed her seal" the word 'seal' is a noun. Ask a few questions about the sentence and the answer will reveal itself. 'Affixed' is a past tense verb. What is being 'affixed'? The only answer is 'seal'. It therefore follows that 'seal' is a noun. Now, the student will need to find a dictionary and look up 'seal'. There are two definitions. The first definition is that 'seal' is a marine carnivorous mammal. That definition makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. Who would attach a large ocean mammal to an envelope? So the only definition that would make any sense is that seal is "something made of wax that secures."

d. Prefixes and Root Words: There are hundreds and Latin and Greek prefixes. Take the prefix 'tri', which is Greek for three. Now visualized a 'tripod' on a telescope. The 'tripod' is what holds up a camera or telescope. If a student learns all the prefixes, spelling and content meaning will come much easier to him.

e. Learning the Origins of Works: English takes in words from every language in the world, even Hindi and Urdu.

f. Reading with Parents: The more a child reads, the more his vocabulary will develop. I cannot express the importance of a parent reading one on one with a child.


The first rule of writing is to never write on an empty mind. Before setting pen to paper, a writer must be sure that he has enough information to write a complete essay. In order to comprehend a subject it is not enough to have an opinion. The writer must explore his subject. He must gather and examine all relevant material. He then needs to limit the subject so he can develop the utilization of necessary material. For example, if he selects the Civil War as his topic, he would need to write several volumes to include all necessary material. On the other hand, if he was to select one important turning point of the war, then he would probably be able to cover all necessary information in a twelve page double spaced term paper. Now, after he has limited his subject, he will need to work out a pattern of organization (outline). Only then is he ready to write a first draft.

Of course, the first draft will be far from perfect, so he will need to revise the first draft for punctuation and grammar, spelling, clarity, organization, continuity, and voice (will the essay keep the intended audience interested?).

Writing also requires concentration, knowledge of the rules of grammar and spelling, correct spelling, constant adherence to content, deduction and induction, and commitment.

The process of writing begins with the formation of letters, the sounding out of phonetic sounds, visualization, knowledge of spelling and grammatical rules, development of sentence structure, knowledge of paragraph structure, years and years of practice,self-confidence, attention to detail, and commitment.

Writing also requires a love of language, of how words placed in a particular pattern create meaning, cause reflection, give rise to ideas, insights, comprehension, imagination, questions, and understanding.

University of Arizona
Special Education


University of Arizona

english (Master's)

Special Education (MEd)

Very good with learning disabilities

John was very good and engaging with my daughter with special needs. He is enthusiastic and very learned on working with children. I'm so happy that we get to learn from his expertise.

— Jennifer, Marana, AZ on 8/6/15

Hourly rate

Standard Hourly Rate: $30.00

Travel policy

John will travel within 18 miles of Tucson, AZ 85742.