Over 700 tutoring hours

Mary D.

Seattle, WA


Retired University professor, Stanford, UC-Berkeley, McGill

In-person lessons
Background check passed as of 2/15/15
4.8 average from 107 ratings

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Stanford University
Yale University Graduate School
Stanford University


Stanford University

Yale University Graduate School (Master's)

Stanford University (PhD)

About Mary

I've taught all ages from 3 to 83; I have special expertise and long experience teaching English, English and European literature, Classics, and all kinds of history, including history of art. I'm also good for basic math and science of the sort required for the SAT, GRE and LSAT.

Born in Portland, Oregon of Seattle parents, I earned my honors degrees - B.A., M.A., Ph.D - from Stanford and Yale. I worked my way through school with scholarships and fellowships plus part-time and summer jobs from age 16. I've lived abroad and traveled the world, making me multilingual, multicultural and compassionate. I've also been a community volunteer, activist and artist, even a designer who owned her own business before selling it to work in the corporate world of New York.

Teaching children made me a much better teacher of teens and adults. I learned how to listen, figure out what's needed, then quickly provide practical help. In some cases a student's difficulties stem from being born abroad, coming from another culture, speaking another language. I'm not a specialist in ESL, but I've already coached 4 14-year-olds in English, French and German as well as sports, art and crafts before joining the English Department at the University of California, Berkeley. There I taught a few foreign students whose native languages were French, German, Italian and Mandarin. At McGill University in Montreal, my students' numbers, range of backgrounds and languages, vastly increased. Out of the thousands I taught, hundreds came from Central America, Europe, Africa and Asia, the first of their immigrant families to enter university. Wherever I taught, I aimed to inspire, motivate and support students to reach their full potentials. So aside from doing star turns in big lecture courses, I taught smaller interdisciplinary courses designed to rapidly increase not just knowledge and skills but students' observational, analytic and creative powers. I achieved this by creating flexible assignments, then advising and monitoring students individually. This often meant one-on-one tutoring. In high school, many students settle for doing less than they can. They don't with me! Because I often transformed individual academic performances, some claimed I got all the best students. I didn't. I just held students to high standards, working with them till they thrived on their own. I'm proudest of those who nearly failed, then graduated with honors, becoming doctors, lawyers, architects, teachers--even artists, actors, and novelists.

We'll talk first about what you want to achieve and anything that might get in the way. I will probably ask to see examples of your writing and tests you have taken, just to confirm your self-assessment. If factors outside school affect you, we'll explore those, too. We'll then work out a plan to get you to your goals as quickly as possible, respecting limits on time and energy. I'll lead you through texts, problems and puzzles, devising exercises to sharpen your focus, your skills, your critical thinking. I may even assign you literary, logical or mathematical detective work - otherwise known as research. It's fun.
I've taught all ages from 3 to 83; I have special expertise and long experience teaching English, English and European literature, Classics, and all kinds of Read more

Travel Radius
Travels within 8 miles of Seattle, WA 98112
Background Check: Passed
In-person lessons
ACT Math, Algebra 1, Algebra 2, SAT Math
Botany, Ecology,
Geology, Nutrition, Philosophy, Zoology
Literature, Proofreading,
Public Speaking,
Reading, SAT Reading,
SAT Writing,
Vocabulary, Writing
Test Preparation:
ACT Math, GRE,
SAT Reading,
SAT Writing
Elementary Education:
Reading, Vocabulary
Public Speaking

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.


I have been a member of the American Institute of Archaeology, I first joined because i had become fascinated with Greek Bronze Age archaeology in the course of my researches into the backgrounds of the Homeric epics. Modern archaeology owed its beginnings to Schliemann's excavations at Hissarlik (Troy). Subsequent digs on mainland Greece and the Greek islands discovered a number of sites mentioned in the epics and the Homeric Hymns, among them Tiryns, Mycenae, Epidauros, Delphi, and Pylos, as well as artifacts that bore tantalizing resemblances to items described in both the Iliad and the Odyssey. I was the first faculty member at McGill University to coordinate the reading of the Greek texts with Bronze-Age archaeology, instead of treating the texts solely as literature or solely as supplements to archaeological excavations. I have visited many archaeological sites, of course, including most in Greece as well as major Rome. Pompeii and Herculeaneum. I have participated in only two expeditions, and those during summers, one at Perachora, near the end of the Corinthian canal, the other on Mt. Elgon straddling Kenya's border with Uganda. The Perachora dig looked for Bronze age artifacts; in Kenya we studied rock art painted in caves high on the mountain. I was the expedition photographer. I try to keep up with the latest findings wherever they occur, including human pre-history, and naturally subscribe to Archeology magazine.

Art History

I have an M.A. in History of Art from Yale University. I taught two evening courses in art history at New Haven College while working o my M.A. I later taught two courses in the Art Department at Stanford while earning my Ph.D. At McGill University in Montreal, Quebec, Canada I taught interdisciplinary courses combining art history. archaeology, classics and literature for 22 years. I designed and taught these course at the request of the Art History and English Departments, both of whom interviewed me for the tenure-track position I won. You can contact the Graduate School of Yale University if you nee them to certify my M.A., which I was awarded in 1959, also that I completed all Ph.D. qualifying exams in History of Art by 1960.


My lifelong fascination with biology began before I ever went to school. I viewed pond microbes under my great-grandfather's microscope at the ripe age of 4. My family was so full of MDs I nearly became one myself; my pre-university biology training was good enough that I tutored my classmates at Stanford and later scored in the 96th percentile on the sample MCAT test. All matters medical, biological and environmental remain my favorite recreational reading to this day.


Half of my Stanford University Ph.D. dissertation is devoted to classic literature. Titled The Metamorphoses of Odysseus, it explores the history of the heroic pattern-story narratives going back to the Odyssey. After analyzing both the surface and the deeper structures of the Odyssey, I analyzed Virgil's Aeneid, then traced the ways in which both the Homeric and Virgilian epics led to creation of ancient novels. the rest of the dissertation examined the translations, publications and reworking the ancient Odyssean pattern in the 15th and 16th century European and English literature, culminating in Shakespeare's last complete play, The Tempest. The Chair of Stanford's Classics department chaired my Ph.D. orals. and urged me to pursue my researches further.


I started drawing as a child; by high school I was in the Ford Foundation Gifted Child program in art. I majored in art at Stanford University and was accepted to Yale University's School of Art as major in painting. I voluntarily took early retirement from my university to go back to creative work in the visual arts, focusing mainly on pictorial wall hangings, which involved an enormous amount of detailed drawing and pattern-making. I also do monoprints and screen printing. While in graduate school, I taught children's art classes for the Portland, Oregon Park Bureau.

Over the past 16 years, my work has been exhibited in both the US and Canada. I've taught color and textile workshops in Vancouver, BC. At present I'm giving art lessons to a friend here in Seattle, who asked me to teach her drawing and painting after seeing my work. I've been teaching her for some months now. Although she was an art major at UW, after every lesson she exclaims on how much she's learned.


My expertise in ecology is based on a lifetime of study, practice and action. I grew up near Portland, Oregon. Both sets of grandparents were raised on farms in the Midwest but moved to Washington state in the early 20th century. One grandfather became an MD, the other a highly successful businessman in Tacoma. But they never forgot their backgrounds. Both they and my parents had extensive gardens including many fruit trees, and I started helping by the time I was five. Everything we grew or bought from farmers was organic. I also grew up being highly knowledgeable about the native plants of the Pacific Northwest. The family owned a 140-acre tract of virgin forest spanning Scoggins Creek in Washington County, and I was taken camping there many weekends every spring, summer and fall from the time I was 3 months old. I was given adult-level scientific texts by age 9, at 10 an adult guide to the wildflowers of the Northwest and by 13 began using my father's university texts to study biology, zoology, geology and botany before taking courses in high school and at the university. I was so proficient in biology by the time I entered Stanford that I tutored my classmates.

But there are still deeper reasons for my devotion to the ecology of the Northwest and to environmental issues all over the world. From the time I was small, every time our family went to the Oregon Coast we drove through the Tillamook Burn. It first burned in the 1930's, was re-burned three more times. and extended over four counties. I have never forgot what it looked like, though it has long since been replanted. (It was the single most successful such public project in the US, begun by the Civilian Conservation Corps and completed over another 40 years by thousands of volunteers, including students at my Portland high school. Every trip we took when I was a child I saw the miles and miles of devastation, in which only a few bare, black spars still stood on the scorched hills. The terrible sight has stayed with me all my life, the more deeply engraved by its contrast with the deep, verdant woods I knew, not just the variety of trees but the extraordinary undergrowth unique to our part of the world. The creek water was then so pure no one had to think about it's not being safe to drink. And the creek teemed with life. My father, as expert fly fisherman, caught us the trout we cooked over an open campfire; I gathered the huckleberries he used as bait; and during Fourth of July family picnics, my cousins and I caught crawdads in the pool beneath a big red cedar hanging over the bank. This eden was trashed after my grandfather's death in a car accident. The culprits? a dishonest timber company that bought from us the right to harvest the older trees. Even then, we were so environmentally aware that we had demanded protection for the creek, the beaver dams, all trees within a hundred yards of the creek and all trees under 8" in diameter. They bribed our lawyer to destroy the page of conditions after we signed it.

My first memberships in environmental organizations go back to my years in California, as both student and teacher. They have continued to the present day. I actively support the Sierra Club, the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Wilderness Society, the Environmental Defense Fund, the Audubon society. the Arbor Day Foundation, Earthjustice among others. While living in Canada I supported the Sierra Club of BC, the World Wildlife Fund, the Nature Conservancy of Canada, Ecojustice, and the David Suzuki Foundation and still do. In fact, the Nature Conservancy and the Suzuki Foundation are major legatees in my will. Meanwhile I read continuously about ecological and environmental issues all over the world.


As a tenured professor of English, I have taught thousands of university students from all over the world, though mainly native-born Americans and Canadians. I was lucky enough to come from a family of readers with extensive home libraries. But I'm also one of the hundreds of millions of Americans who have benefited from the thousands of public libraries founded by Andrew Carnegie. While trained by unusually fine teachers of English in a Portland, Oregon public high school, I gained immeasurably from my studies at Stanford and Yale, from my B.A through my M.A. to my Ph.D. I was a scholarship student all the way through and earned all my degrees with honors, including Phi Beta Kappa, the Monticello Prize and Jr. Sterling Fellowship at Yale, plus a Stanford dissertation Fellowship for doctoral research in England. The latter enabled me to enroll at the University of London, take seminars at the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes as well as do research at the British Museum. Oxford and Cambridge. I worked hard and still do.

In addition to being widely read in English literature from Anglo-Saxon poetry to contemporary fiction, I have long experience and expertise in other national literatures, starting with the Homeric epics and the ancient novel. This means I am conversant with major French, Spanish, Italian, German, modern Greek and Russian writers as well as a fair amount of Latin American literature. I have taught the big surveys of English literature and drama at Stanford, UCal-Berkeley and McGill, as well as specialized courses on Shakespeare, the Stuart court masque, 17th-century prose, Joseph Conrad, you name it. At McGill I became known for my interdisciplinary courses. The earliest combined art history and comparative literature with classics in translation; eventually I became even more widely known for my courses in Modernism and Post-Modernism. Where possible I built into these courses projects in which students could create works of visual art, write music, participate in the production of plays, and write poetry, fiction or one-act plays. Inevitably I directed interdisciplinary theses and chaired the biggest interdisciplinary program at the university.

I would not mention all this except to signal that I am NOT your ordinary English teacher, however successful I've been. I hate tooting my own horn, but I do have an exceptional track record. So if you are looking for an English tutor who will really work with you to develop and deepen your both your knowledge and your writing skills, I'm the one you want. I've worked with students from widely different backgrounds, including those from immigrant families, and enabled students to move from near-failure to graduation with honors. launching them on successful careers. I truly interact with my students. I respect their backgrounds; I do my best to identify their specific needs; I give them practical help to become the very best they're meant to be. I don't settle for the lock-step, predetermined methods that is often the reason a student is having trouble in school. And for what it's worth, I've even taught the oral literature of the Middle East, Africa and Asia--India, China, and Japan.

European History

I have decades of experience researching and teaching European history. I took the usual undergraduate courses at Stanford University and was introduced to historical research in my first term, advanced to independent study. I owe my deeper and far broader knowledge to earned my PhD. studies at Yale Graduate School, where I earned my M.A. in History of Art, earned honors on PhD qualifying exams, and won both the Monticello Prize and a Jr. Sterling Fellowship. I later earned a Ph.D. in English at Stanford, adding a detailed knowledge of British history to my background in European. Though a professor of English, I taught interdisciplinary courses that included European literature, and always included a solid grounding of the historical contexts in which the works were written, from pre-classical Greece to the present-day. Encouraged by the head of Stanford's Classics Department, I spent years researching Bronze Age Greece; teaching texts from later eras, whether ancient or modern, I consistently grounded my students in the social, economic, political and intellectual history of each text. I dived into original documents as a background to my analysis of topical references in English Renaissance literature. I became sufficiently expert to be asked by the Dean of the Faculty of Arts to give guest lectures on Tudor-Stuart literature for his course on Tudor-Stuart England. For an article on the background of The Merchant of Venice, I researched not just anti-Semitism in England and Italy but the changing fortunes of various European cities as Amsterdam and London overtook Venice as centers of overseas trade. When I taught Shakespeare, my first lectures focused on the material conditions of life for most English and Europeans during the 16th and 17th centuries; When I taught Modernism, I began with the rapid changes in the demographics and physical conditions of European cities in the 19th century. I continue to read European history, staying up-to-date with the most recent publications.


With a decades-long career teaching at elite universities in the US and Canada, I'm more than ordinarily qualified to teach English grammar. If you look at my qualifications under the subject heading "English," you will see I have honor degrees from Stanford and Yale, and have taught at New Haven College, Stanford, the University of California-Berkeley and McGill University in Montreal. I have also been a Visiting Professor at the University of Toronto. I've been tutoring for WyzAnt for several years, earning a 5-star-rating from my students. I can guarantee that with my help, you will write perfect English.


In addition to teaching thousands of undergraduates at three major universities, I've also taught hundreds of graduate students. Over the decades spent teaching students at all levels, I coached graduating students to take the GRE. Whether a student needs to reawaken dormant skills or acquire them for the first time, I can help WyzAnt students just as successfully as I've helped others. If your problem is math, I'll work with you to recover dormant skills and acquire those you never had. Math is really a set of games, and the math section of the GRE isn't all that tricky. On the other hand, if you want to improve your scores on the verbal portion of the exam, I can help you even more. Having been a university professor of English who's also taught history, comparative literature and Classics, I have a long record of raising student grades dramatically in the course of a few months or even weeks. I achieved this by tailoring lessons to fit the person and inspiring a lively collaboration between us.


As a university English professor, I enabled many students over the years to enter law school and become successful attorneys. I have decades of experience teaching to enable students to read accurately and swiftly assess not just surface meanings but nuances and implications. I'm also experienced teaching logic. I particularly enjoy helping students master the logic games and logical reasoning sections of the LSAT so they can answer questions swiftly and accurately.


Having written books, hundreds of papers and taught thousands of students since my 20s, I'm more than ordinarily proficient not just showing people how to write well but in editing and proofreading their writing on all kinds of subjects, fiction and non-fiction. I'm also multilingual, so I'm particularly experienced correcting errors made by students for whom English is a second or third language. My whole university career was devoted to helping students to develop their innate intelligence, acquire knowledge, and improve the quality of their writing. At this point I have proofread probably as many pages as the most experienced editors at major publishing houses. And I continue to do so.

Public Speaking

I was trained in voice projection at Yale Graduate School, first because that Chair of the Art History Department selected me to represent Yale at the Frick Symposium on the History of Art, which meant that I had to deliver a precisely-timed, clearly enunciated 20-minute lecture in the auditorium of the Frick Art Museum in New York City. But the second, larger reason was my being on the way to becoming a university professor as I earned my Ph.D. He knew i would have to teach lecture courses, big ones, as well as deliver papers at academic conferences. He did not want any of his graduate students being unintelligible, boring or orotund, paying no attention to time limits. Once at UC-Berkeley, I soon had to coach my Teaching Assistant how to project his voice, as he was making himself hoarse. At McGill I coached students in acting and public speaking in my Introduction to Drama, Shakespeare and Oral Literature courses. And when a surgical accident caused my mother to lose the use of one of her vocal cords, I coached her back to speaking normally, drawing on the same techniques of controlling breath, voice and volume from the diaphragm to reduce stress on the throat and vocal cord(s). I have also taken singing lessons and sung in choruses.

SAT Math

When working with students on the math portion of the SAT, I first ask what they think their problems are, then test them briefly, using my copy of the latest SAT prep book. On the basis of of both processes, I work out a systematic way of addressing the specific needs of the individual before me. Because no two students are exactly alike, I tailor lessons to suit each one. Having loved math in middle grades and high school, I try to convey how much fun it can be to master math instead of being terrified or confused. A lot of math is a wonderful game that can be vastly entertaining. Teaching basic processes, I've also learned over the years how to make learning new ones easier and faster. I pass on the tricks I've learned. I aim to give students not only competence but confidence, so on test day they won't find the SATs scary; they'll sail through them, knowing they've done well.

SAT Reading

Having taught thousands of English students at three major universities, I am extra aware of what's needed to do well on the verbal sections of the SAT. When I first meet new students, I spend a bit of time learning where they need help, then discuss how we can work together so they get the highest score they can. I have always tailoring my teaching to the needs of the individual. With a long record of freeing minds to achieve to reach their full potential, I am proudest of the role I played in enabling once-failing students graduate with honors. All it took was timely help, giving them both the skills and the confidence they needed to shine. Sadly, most students are not getting what they need to excel.

SAT Writing

Having taught thousands of English students how to write not just essays but research papers, theses and dissertations, I bring more than ordinary skills and experience motivating students. In fact, I have a history of transforming low-performers into the top students. The writing skills I teach ensure they'll know how to edit their writing the rest of their lives. I work one-on-one, tailoring every lesson to the unique personality, skills and voice of the individual.

World History

I have spent my entire life studying, researching and teaching history of all kinds--social, cultural, intellectual, economic and political. Shortly after entrance to Stanford, I embarked on Independent Study at the university's invitation, tackling more specific topics than those addressed in the then-required History of Western Civilization. I took a number of other history courses before graduating, earning a philosophy minor and Honors in Humanities. Once in Yale's Graduate School, to the four languages I already knew--English, French, Spanish and German-- I added Latin and Italian, including the regional dialects of medieval and Renaissance Italy plus the ability to scan Dutch, Flemish, medieval French and High German. The Master's program required us from the very first week to translate and use original documents preserved in city archives. While at Yale I also passed comprehensive exams in the art, architecture and cultures of of Pre-Columbian Central and South America in addition to the histories of Greece, Rome and Byzantium. The latter led me to reading widely in the history of the Near East and North Africa. Though most courses focussed on the European Middle Ages, Renaissance and Baroque periods--including theology--others were devoted to specialized topics in the 19th and 20th centuries. I also studied Chinese painting under one of the foremost experts on the subject. Earning my Ph.D. at Stanford, I added a more specialized knowledge of English history, including the development of the English language from Anglo-Saxon through the many varieties of Middle English to present day. All of this was accompanied by in-depth study of the historical contexts of all literary works. My doctoral dissertation led me back to pre-classical Greece and Homeric Greek. Thanks to all this training, I became deeply engrossed in archaeology, joining the American Institute of Archaeology and participating in two expeditions. My researches soon extended beyond the Mediterranean world to Africa and Asia. As a university professor I included history in every course I taught. Since then I've successfully tutored Seattle-area students in world history, reaching as far back as the earliest civilizations of Egypt, Mesopotamia and the Indus Valley, the earliest settlements in Central and South America, as well as to early China and Japan. Traveling extensively--never with tours--I have always made a point of acquiring enough of local languages to be able to converse with people as I meet them. My knowledge of history is thus leavened with personal encounters everywhere I've gone. Not surprisingly, I still read as much as I can about the whole range of history throughout the world. I'm not an encyclopedia, but I do know more than most. I've consistently helped students raise not just their marks but their enthusiasm for history. It's fascinating.


At Stanford, UC-Berkeley, and McGill, I've taught thousands of university students how to write. As a Wyzant tutor in Seattle I've been helping students at every level, from high school through university to graduate and professional schools. Because I've lived in several countries and traveled a lot, I'm multicultural as well as multilingual, and have special empathy for those struggling to express themselves in a second language. I'm by no means an ESL specialist, but I've worked with many immigrant students for whom English is a second language. As an ardent reader I'm acquainted with the literature, history and cultures of many countries, including those in the Middle East, Africa and Asia. I've also coached students writing poetry, plays, short stories and novels. Some have become professionals. While I will do my best to get you writing well, I will also help you find your own voice.

Stanford University
Yale University Graduate School
Stanford University


Stanford University

Yale University Graduate School (Master's)

Stanford University (PhD)

Hourly rate

Standard Hourly Rate: $50.00

Travel policy

Mary will travel within 8 miles of Seattle, WA 98112.