Tutor Spotlight: Alix B

Name: Alexandra B

Educational Areas of Focus: Writing, Reading, College Essays/Prep, SAT/ACT Prep, Critical Thinking, & Academic Success Skills

Educational Background: MFA in Writing/Teaching of Writing from Sarah Lawrence College (NY); BA with Honors in Sociology from Manhattanville College (NY): AZ Master Teacher (2014); Doctoral Student in Sociology of Education (1985-1987).

What is your teaching philosophy? My teaching is grounded in my passion for sharing with students the imaginative and transformative powers of the English language. The acts of written and verbal expression are individually and collectively empowering, and I place all the gestures of writing, reading, and critical thinking that my tutoring students encounter in a larger context of their development of full human beings. Students deserve to be encouraged that their ideas matter, and that they are active participants in the creation of cultural meaning. One of my fundamental pedagogical goals is thus to enact for students the ability to write well, to think well, and to imagine well—and how all these are required in order to become a truly enfranchised member of a culture. The tutoring experience, whether that is in a classroom, a library, or in a student's home, is thus a continual open dialogue, about how students learn and how teachers and tutors create the optimal conditions for questions, inquiry, and the application of new intellectual skills. I firmly believe that teachers and tutors play a central role in creating access for students to democratic, imaginative, and academic methods that guide students to become self-determined and successful individuals.

When you're not working with kids, what do you like to do? In addition to teaching college courses in First-Year Composition and Poetry, I love reading, writing poems and essays, going to classical music concerts, and supporting dog and cat rescue organizations.

Who was your favorite teacher and why? The teacher who enacted for me the most what it means to live as a teacher and poet and not just “do” teaching or writing was my mentor, the late American poet Stanley Kunitz. I met Prof. Kunitz when he was 90 years old and was still teaching, traveling and lecturing, and writing and publishing poems. He was extraordinarily generous with his time to teach and mentor me over the course of several years, and to support my efforts to expand the reach of Poet's House, a venerable New York City library and cultural center of poetry, to area graduate students of poetry. I learned from Prof. Kunitz that genuine creative writing has little to do with winning awards, being famous, or having a million-dollar book contract. It is about a certain way of noticing and perceiving which opens the imagination to the extraordinary in the ordinary, and the invisible amid the visible. His mentorship not only made me a better writer and teacher of writing, but a better human being, and I will honor and remember him always for those gifts.

What do you enjoy about tutoring?  I particularly enjoy meeting young people from a variety of backgrounds who all share the goal of creating the conditions for future individual success, and success for their families and loved ones. I deeply appreciate the humor that my tutees bring to our work at the same time they work diligently to overcome learning challenges and find more authentic ways of expressing themselves. I learn something new about how to be a better teacher in every tutoring session, and this is a fundamental part of why my tutoring work with Peak Academics is some of the most fulfilling educational endeavors in which I've ever participated.