Debra S.

West Chester, PA


College Planning/Preparation, Writing, and Learning Differences

20+ Hours
5.0 average from 7 ratings
— Graham, Downingtown, PA on 7/8/15


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Penn State University


Penn State University (Journalism)

About Debra

School is a student's job, and helping to ensure their success is the basis for our work together. Working with students from middle school through college graduation, my key areas of focus include:

Writing -- one of the most important school and life skills, yet many students struggle with the process. Whether a research paper or a college application essay, being able to express thoughts and ideas clearly, creatively, and logically will be our focus. Showing a teen that writing can be fun as well as having a function often kick-starts a reluctant writer to strengthen their abilities.

College preparation and transition -- admissions, financial aid, college search and selection, applications and portfolios, and the ever-important college essay...we'll focus on the entire process or the areas needing support. And this includes working with parents as well. And if college accommodations, self-advocacy, and securing additional supports may be areas of need, we'll also cover these aspects of the transition process.

Organizational skills -- often referred to as "executive function" skills -- are often a huge stumbling block to school success. Lost papers, homework never submitted, assignments and projects completed hours before they're due -- sound familiar? From organizing subjects to learning how to plan for long-term assignments, there are strategies and tools to help with organizing and planning, two key areas where many students struggle.

Special needs -- many bright and capable students learn differently. If your teen has been diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome, ADHD, learning differences, or mental health issues and has been struggling in school, understanding the basis for their needs and developing new ways to support them in school and at home can help capitalize on their strengths. And this includes giftedness as well.

If you're a parent, my role is to partner with you and your child to develop a fluid coaching relationship so that your child/teen can build skills and increase their confidence. If you're a young adult heading to or in college, my role is to assess your strengths and strengthen your areas of need while focusing on your future goals and plans. And to remain a coach for you while in college as well if needed.

My background includes an undergraduate degree in Journalism, certification in technical editing, and substantive advanced training in education, special education, special needs, mental health, and issues facing youth including certification in Mental Health First Aid and suicide prevention.

Remaining current on issues including learning styles, inclusion, diversity, college selection and admissions, and education choice remains part of my own ongoing learning. Additionally, I developed and taught a two-week College Prep program at a Big 10 university (2016) for students from across the country.
School is a student's job, and helping to ensure their success is the basis for our work together. Working with students from middle school through college graduation, my key areas of focus include:

Writing -- one of the most important school and life skills, yet many students struggle with the process. Whether a research paper or a
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24 hours notice required
Travel Radius
Travels within 25 miles of West Chester, PA 19382


- Graham, Downingtown, PA on 7/8/15

"Great tutor worked very well with the student"

- Jay, Exton, PA on 1/19/12
English, Grammar, Public Speaking,
SAT Writing, Vocabulary, Writing
Test Preparation:
College Counseling,
SAT Writing
Elementary Education:
Grammar, Study Skills,
Vocabulary, Writing

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.


My work with children, teens, and college students with ADD/ADHD includes ensuring school accommodations are in place and being implemented, and working on organizational and study strategies which are key areas for school success. These executive function skills are critical for work completion, meeting deadlines, planning, breaking assignments into manageable sections, and time management.

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)

Along with broad and deep expertise in Autism Spectrum Disorders, my specialization is in Asperger's Syndrome, having supported students as a coach and their parents as an advisor and advocate for 20+ years. This includes collaborating with educators, clinicians, and therapists as well as developing educational plans to meet the unique learning needs of these students. Advanced training in diverse learning styles, IEPs/504s, evaluations, behavior, social skills, and executive functioning.

College Counseling

Working with high school students on preparing for the transition to college is the main focus and includes college selection, evaluation, applications, and writing essays. My work includes providing 1:1 support to college students who may need assistance with study skills and navigating the college environment.

I co-developed and facilitated a "Life After High School" program for 9th-12th grade students that focused on college transition as well as resume preparation and interviewing skills, and developed and conducted a two-week college prep course held in the summer of 2016 at a major university.

Additionally, I work with students and their parents as they make decisions and choices regarding the college process including if the student has received special education services in school.

Public Speaking

My experience in public speaking and training is diverse and includes addressing small groups and large conferences in the business and education arenas. I have developed curricula and programs and can teach/coach on the strategies for successful public presentations no matter their size or purpose.

Special Needs

For the past 15 years, I have supported parents and students with special learning needs. This includes autism spectrum disorders, ADD/ADHD, learning disabilities, and behavioral/emotional issues. Along with advanced training in these areas including IEPs, 504s, behavioral interventions, inclusion, and transition planning, helping parents and students work together to support areas of need while capitalizing on areas of strength remains the focus.

Study Skills

Developing strategies and tools to help students from middle school through college with executive function & study skills is essential to school success. Whether using a computer program such as "Inspiration" to help with brainstorming, creating visual models to assist with the writing process, or helping students utilize organizational tools that help them with studying, understanding what part/s of the studying process (e.g. memorization) is creating the greatest difficulty, or helping them address their executive function needs, all are essential to building competence in these areas.


Few skills are as important as writing. Whether a high school research paper or a college admissions essay, being able to convey information, ideas, opinions, and thoughts using solid grammar, strong vocabulary, and sentences and paragraphs that flow from beginning to end are core elements of the writing process.

Developing writing skills takes practice and making writing less of a chore and more enjoyable is possible. While texting and Facebook may be today's norm, students need to truly know how to write in order to be successful in school, college, and employment. Together we'll work on writing, whether creative or otherwise, to strengthen skills in this area.

Whether in a journal or blog, start to write. You'll be amazed by what you have to say.

Penn State University


Penn State University (Journalism)


Debra has demonstrated invaluable knowledge of the IEP process and suggestions about how we ought to proceed which we wouldn't have known otherwise.

— Graham, Downingtown, PA on 7/8/15

Hourly rate

Standard Hourly Rate: $75.00

Cancellation: 24 hours notice required

Travel policy

Debra will travel within 25 miles of West Chester, PA 19382.