Susan S.

Harrisonburg, VA


Strong academic background/experience, creating independent learners

In-person lessons
400+ Hours
Background check passed as of 11/10/14
5.0 average from 160 ratings
Patient, dedicated and invested in the success of the student
— Rippy, Front Royal, VA on 11/20/15


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University of Chicago
East Asian Studies
Harvard University
University of Chicago


University of Chicago (East Asian Studies)

Harvard University (Master's)

University of Chicago (Master's)

About Susan

I have retired from public school teaching, but I still want to help students be successful. I want students to recognize their potential, access that potential through better study habits and organization, and eventually become strong advocates for their own learning. I provide alternative explanations for students who have not understood classroom instruction, targeted at each student's unique learning style. I encourage continuous review and real-life application of material so information is embedded in long-term memory and becomes available for comparing and contrasting with future lessons.

Over the last three years, I have tutored students ranging in age from elementary school to graduate school. I am proud of what these students have accomplished and grateful for the testimonials they have posted to this site. Students who request tutoring are often in very stressful situations. I try to understand every student's current status and to provide the support that he/she needs to be successful.

My lessons include the following, as needed: (1) providing alternative explanations for classroom lessons that were not understood; (2) providing scaffolded practice for new lessons -- starting with step-by-step coaching, moving to less frequent coaching, moving to occasional redirection, then checking work only at the end of each task; (3) remediating skills necessary for the current lesson that may not have been mastered in previous years; (4) assessing students' learning styles and recommending new ways to study; (5) encouraging simple organizational and time management tactics to make study time more efficient, and (6) helping students understand how the knowledge they gain will help them in the future.

For younger students, I like to use plenty of color, humor, games, writing, and drawing in my lessons. I also like to give students opportunities to move around, perhaps working while pacing or dancing or throwing a ball back and forth. For older students, I try to apply what they are learning to real-world situations, including some I may have experienced personally. I hope that students leave their tutoring sessions with a clear sense of what they have accomplished and what they need to work on until the next tutoring session.
I have retired from public school teaching, but I still want to help students be successful. I want students to recognize their potential, access that potential through better study habits and organization, and eventually become strong advocates for their own learning. I provide alternative explanations for students who have not understood Read more

24 hours notice required
Travel Radius
Travels within 20 miles of Harrisonburg, VA 22801
Background Check: Passed
In-person lessons

"Patient, dedicated and invested in the success of the student"

- Rippy, Front Royal, VA on 11/20/15

"Excellent tutor, very knowledgeable"

- Tracey, Elkton, VA on 11/18/16

"Very patient and knowledgeable"

- Desireah, Mount Jackson, VA on 11/17/16

"Wonderful Tutor"

- Tammy, Harrisonburg, VA on 8/3/16

"Exceptional teacher"

- alex, Newtown Square, PA on 6/3/16

"Awesome tutor!"

- MOLLY, Harrisonburg, VA on 7/23/15

"Experienced, engaging and exceptional teacher!"

- Michele, Winchester, VA on 2/26/15

"Great Everything"

- Jacqueline, Chevy Chase, MD on 1/6/15
English, Grammar, Proofreading, Reading, SAT Reading,
SAT Writing, Vocabulary, Writing
Test Preparation:
ASVAB, Praxis,
SAT Math,
SAT Reading,
SAT Writing
Special Needs:
Special Needs
Elementary Education:
Elementary Math,
Elementary Science, Grammar, Reading, 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.


ADHD was a major topic of discussion in many of the courses I took at the University of Virginia to obtain my teaching certification, including "The Exceptional Learner," "Characteristics of Emotional Disturbance and Behavior Difficulties," and "Behavior Management." The disorder was also highlighted in several seminars I attended at a national "Learning and the Brain" conference. My teaching experience has shown me that no two students with ADHD (or ADD) are exactly alike, and this has led me to develop multiple means of helping students to focus: self-talk, quick breaks with physical exercise, use of various organization schemes, code words agreed upon by student and teacher as reminders to focus, judicious use of instrumental music while completing seat-work, elimination of busy work, and development of more engaging lessons geared to students' attention spans, to name a few. I have also collected books written for students about ADHD, and I sometimes assign short readings from these books as part of study skills lessons. Students seem to appreciate books written not only ABOUT, but also FOR them. Many of these books contain short exercises for students to practice in class, then to observe the results in their learning.

Algebra 1

I have taught Algebra I and/or math 8 every school year since 2001. I am familiar with the content of these courses, how that content has changed over the years, and how mastery of that content is assessed on the end-of-year SOL tests. When a local school district recently introduced a new two-semester Algebra I course, I helped to establish the pacing of units, and I developed materials for the course.

To be successful in algebra I, students must work hard in class and at home. They need to have organized notes and to refer to these notes when completing their work. They also should have access to alternative explanations of units they do not understand, as well as an appreciation of why certain material is being taught -- how it draws on what they learned in earlier years and acts as a foundation for the higher-level math they will encounter in high school, college, and careers. I believe that I can motivate students to do the first of these; I can teach students organizational skills, and I can give students the explanations and tie-ins that they need.

I have also helped student to be successful in their English classes. Since English 8 includes writing, reading, vocabulary, spelling, grammar, and other topics, the first requirement for success is organization. Most teachers have a regular schedule of due-dates for spelling and vocabulary assignments, as well as patterns for teaching reading and writing. Students need to have a system for keeping up-to-date with these various assignments. They also need to explore different methods for learning some of the material (visual? auditory? kinesthetic?) and to find the tactics that work best for them. I have helped students overcome these challenges in previous years, and I would welcome the opportunity to work with your students this year.

Elementary Math

As I believe you can see in my profile, I have extensive experience as a math teacher. In addition, I have been tutoring two students in 4th and 5th grade math since autumn/winter 2014. Both students have improved their understanding, performance, and confidence in math; testimonial available upon request. have developed extensive materials (games, crafts, manipulatives, visuals) for use in these lessons; these materials can be used with your child, and I will develop others, if necessary, to meet your child's special needs.


The Praxis test is a method of determining prospective teachers' basic qualifications in math and English. It is similar to the SAT, and probably less demanding than the SAT. Many students looking to teach elementary school and/or related arts courses (art, home ec, etc.) stumble on the math portion of the Praxis because they have not taken math courses in many years. I successfully tutored one such student in the summer of 2015; she passed the Praxis that fall. My methods included administering a practice test representing the major types of questions on the Praxis math, as indicated in a commercially published study guide for the test. I then offered explanations and practice problems in the areas causing the greatest difficulty for the student. I also used materials I had prepared for a study skills class in a public middle school to address test anxiety and to offer some "pointers" on how to approach the test. Finally, I administered another practice test and demonstrated to the student the great progress she had made.


I have more than five years' experience teaching 7th and 8th grade math in public schools. These courses preceded Algebra I, and thus were the equivalent of pre-algebra. Also, having taught Algebra I for many years (qualifications included under that subject), I am aware of the knowledge that students need to succeed in Algebra. I incorporated this awareness into my pre-algebra classes, and I now incorporate it into the pre-algebra tutoring I have done.

SAT Math

Over the last year, I have helped several students prepare for the math portions of the SSAT, the SAT, and the PRAXIS tests. In cases where students had taken the tests at least once prior to receiving my assistance, their scores on the second taking of the tests increased by at least 20%. In one case where the student had not previously taken the SAT test, her score fell within her targeted range of 500 or above. I have developed my own review materials, which target similar types of problems in appropriate groupings. I have also examined released SAT math tests, and I regularly provide student an analysis of the types of problems they are most likely to encounter. I also make use of review materials published by Kaplan, Princeton Review, and ETS.

SAT Reading

While working in a middle school in Fairfax County, I planned and delivered a study skills curriculum that included units in test taking and test anxiety. I have drawn heavily on materials and approaches used in those units when tutoring students for Wyzant. I believe that the work students completed as part of these units helped them to be more relaxed for tests, to focus on their work, and to achieve higher scores than they might have without this preparation.

As a special education teacher, I co-taught Algebra I and Geometry courses in middle and high schools. I also served as the sole teacher in one Geometry class during the second semester of 2014-15 at Massanutten Military Academy. While working for Wyzant, I have helped one student attain a high math score on the Secondary School Admissions Test (SSAT), assisting her in gaining admission to a competitive private secondary school. I also worked with a student from James Madison University, helping her to pass the math portion of the PRAXIS test that will allow her begin her student teaching duties in September 2015.

Special Needs

The certification program that I completed in 2001 at the University of Virginia qualified me to teach special education classes for students in grades K-12 with specific learning disabilities and emotional disturbance. I was steadily employed from 2001 to 2014, teaching classes for students with LD and ED in Fairfax County, Shenandoah County, and Warren County, all in Virginia. My classes also included students with autism, Asperger's Syndrome, ADHD, and hearing loss. In addition, I have successfully completed continuing education courses offered by these jurisdictions and by James Madison University that addressed various topics related to students with special needs,; these courses enabled me to keep abreast of current research and practices in special education, and allowed me to retain my certification through 2018.

Study Skills

Consideration of alternative study skills was part of several courses required at the University of Virginia to earn my state certification to teach K-12 students with disabilities. I put this learning into practice in courses titled "Resource" or "Basic Skills" at Luther Jackson Middle School in Fairfax and Strasburg High School in Shenandoah, for a total of 7 years. I also developed a formal curriculum for Basic Skills at Jackson that included units on types of learners, organization, time management, note-taking, managing homework, preparing for tests, and doing a research project. No two students are alike, but one of the many study skills I have worked on with students is usually helpful to new students. And if not ... we develop new ones!


Writing should be an exercise in logic. If your words do not follow a logical path, how will your readers follow your meaning? Your task as a writer is to gather your thoughts, decide how to illustrate them, then present your materials in an order that will make sense to your readers. It sounds so simple ... but it takes work to make this process a pattern that you automatically fall into when you begin to write.

To help students write, I first encourage them to "dump" their ideas. Whatever the topic they choose or are assigned to write on, scribble down all your thoughts on the topic as fast as you can. After a break, look at what you have scribbled. Try to find the strongest points, the most interesting examples, the key facts that you want to include in whatever you are writing. Keeping these in mind, try writing a clear statement of why you are doing this writing -- the thesis of your writing.

Once you know where you're going, you have to construct the vehicle to take you there. This is where outlines, webs, and other planning devices are used. I'm sure you've been exposed to these; working together, we can decide which method works best for you. When you have finished this structure, you will write sentences to meat on its bones..

Finally, the editing process is used to "clean up" writing. For me, editing usually results in a shorter product. I tighten sentences by removing unnecessary words and eliminate whole sentences that do not provide additional information in support of my thesis. I may also add a sentence here or there if my writing does not move logically from Point A to Point B. The last task is to be sure there are no mechanical errors in your work -- no typos, no spelling errors, no grammatical gaffes, no mis-used punctuation. There are tricks and tools that can be used here to ensure that all errors are corrected.

I have taught this process to students in elementary through high school while working as a special education teacher, and to business professions while working as a consultant and a corporate trainer. Your writing is a showcase for your intelligence: good writing makes your good ideas look even better! I can work with you to be sure this happens in your writing.

University of Chicago
East Asian Studies
Harvard University
University of Chicago


University of Chicago (East Asian Studies)

Harvard University (Master's)

University of Chicago (Master's)

Patient, dedicated and invested in the success of the student

What a truly terrific tutor! Mrs. S. genuinely cares about each of her students, finding ways to reach them and producing the very best results. Both devoted to their success without prompting anxiety or stress and patiently finding the best methods of teaching each student. She has been a life changer for my son. Cannot thank her enough.

— Rippy, Front Royal, VA on 11/20/15

Hourly rate

Standard Hourly Rate: $50.00

Cancellation: 24 hours notice required

Travel policy

Susan will travel within 20 miles of Harrisonburg, VA 22801.