Classroom Matters tutors are indeed the “Best of the Bay”! We hire experienced and proven tutors from top universities in the United States and abroad. In addition to a thorough background check, we provide intensive and ongoing training in our philosophy and approach to learning. Our tutors are dedicated professionals who are passionate about working with and supporting young people. Read on to learn more about them…
Aidan Ward recently graduated from the University of California, Santa Cruz, where he studied health sciences. He is enthusiastic about all aspects of mathematics and science and enjoys exchanging ideas. Aidan is very patient and committed to the success of his students; he has a knack for explaining concepts in many ways. He served as a university resident advisor for three years and is also an avid long-distance bicycle tourist. Free time finds him making music or learning something new, and his goal is to provide the sturdiest of scaffolding for students so that they can build their own tower of knowledge power! Aidan plans to become a medical doctor and never stop learning.
Brittany De Avilan graduated from UC Berkeley with a degree in English, which ultimately transformed her into a voracious reader of literature as well as history. Brittany enjoys engaging students in academics so they develop a love of learning. At Sacramento State, where she is currently working on her Masters Degree, she learned how to assess and implement systematic phonics instruction. Brittany has experience teaching phonics, writing, SAT prep and math courses up to Algebra, and she has also volunteered her time to work with students on their college applications. Brittany is patient, warm, and stays on task. In her spare time she enjoys cooking Indian food, looking at pictures of galaxies, and trying to understand her husband’s physics homework.
Caitlin Jenkins is from the East Coast, but came to California in 2002 for a year and ended up staying. She earned a BA in Biology from Mount Holyoke College and thought, upon graduation, she’d postpone a graduate degree in biomedical research to “try” teaching. Eight years later, she still loves teaching, tutoring, and spending time with kids. She earned her MA in Education and Multiple Subject Credential from UC Berkeley in 2009. Cait now teaches 4th and 5th grade science in BUSD and tutors all subjects K-5. In her free time, she loves to exercise, travel, and explore the parks, beaches and mountains of Northern California!
Casey Busher was born, raised, and magnetically pulled back to Berkeley. She is a Classroom Matters success story; with the help of the CM staff, she navigated her way through Berkeley High, SAT and AP testing, and the college application process. She recently graduated with honors from the University of California at Santa Cruz, with a BA in Literature and Creative Writing. While there, she wrote a novella about a young woman with whom she might have a few things in common. She has taught at-risk youth in Santiago, Chile, and is an advanced Spanish speaker. Casey tutors English, Spanish, and other humanities subjects, for test prep and the classroom. She also offers tools for effective study habits and general organization. More recently, Casey joined our administrative team and is a key player in all things CM. In her spare time, Casey enjoys solving crossword puzzles, playing ping pong, and freestyle rapping.
Cherilyn Nehira graduated from UC Berkeley with a degree in English Literature and a love of learning. Cherilyn loves empowering students to become passionate, curious, confident thinkers and believes strongly in lifelong learning. Cherilyn is a certified Project Manager, has directed summer education programs, and enjoys working with students of all ages. Cherilyn believes that, “you have to live spherically-in many directions”-Fellini, that most students have a unique way of learning, and that everyone can learn to manage their academic pursuits. Cherilyn specializes in tutoring high school and college level English, writing, history, humanities, Algebra 1, and K-12. Cherilyn loves to immerse herself in new cultures and to push beyond the boundaries of her own conception. Her current obsessions: writing, physics: dark matter and dark energy, training for her 3rd half-Ironman distance triathlon, and chocolate.
Derek Burle has a deep passion for science. Even at a young age, he knew he wanted to study the workings of the Earth, galaxy, and universe. Derek brings that passion for science to tutoring; he’s worked as a successful private tutor for years, helping students with chemistry, biology, physics, and math. A recent graduate of the U.C. Santa Cruz Earth Sciences and new resident of Berkeley, he is excited to engage and inspire students in his community. In high school, Derek struggled through math and was greatly assisted by a tutor. He understands that a tutor must be knowledgeable, but also patient and compassionate. When Derek is not talking your ear off about plate tectonics or the like, you can find him hiking, fixing bikes, or playing the bass.
Edward Elchico graduated from UC Berkeley with a degree in Molecular and Cell Biology, with a Neurobiology emphasis. His tutoring specialties are in math and science, with a side of enthusiasm! Among many activities at UC Berkeley, he tutored inmates with the Teach in Prison Program and mentored SF urban youth through Galing Bata K-8 Afterschool Program (it’s the only existing English-Tagalog afterschool program in the nation). He recently completed a 10-month AmeriCorps service year at a non-profit community health center just down the street (ask him about it!). In his free time, he enjoys swimming, running, and volleyball.
Ethan Kelley is currently a senior at UC Santa Cruz and will be graduating in March with a B.A. in Linguistics. As an undergraduate teaching assistant in writing for two quarters, he discovered and developed his passion for all things pedagogical, and after 8 years of learning French and a year abroad studying German Linguistics in Berlin, he is now adept at speaking both languages (and also found time to learn a little Portuguese!) Ethan hopes to bring his excitement for both languages and teaching to Classroom Matters to help students make steps (and leaps!) forward in their classes by focusing on both class content and study skills. When he’s not working and studying, Ethan can most likely be found fiddling with film cameras, watching foreign films, or searching the East Bay for the perfect burrito.
Frances Francia is originally from Seattle, and relocated to the Bay Area to attend UC Berkeley, where she received her BA in Ethnic Studies. She has been a lifelong teacher, participating in peer tutoring in elementary, middle, and high school. Professionally, Frances has been tutoring since 2004, in addition to working full time as a project manager at a software company. Someday, she plans to return to graduate school to become a professor at the community college level. She is Classroom Matters’ only Latin tutor, but she also tutors English, history, and math. In addition to providing academic support, Frances is a strong believer in the power of organization, and reinforces these practices in her students. She encourages her students to develop a lifelong love of learning, just as she has.
Isaac Pasternack is an East Bay native, raised in Richmond, California. He returned home after graduating from the University of Washington in Seattle with a BA in History and a minor in Jewish Studies. Isaac’s work with kids began with his trips to help out with his mom’s pre-school class at the young age of 9. Since then he has worked as a camp counselor, and now focuses his passion for education toward tutoring and mentoring students in the areas of reading and writing as well as Algebra I and II. Isaac is an avid music listener and a veteran college radio DJ, in his spare time he enjoys making music, riding his bike, and going to concerts.
Jesson Go holds a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Earth Science from UC Berkeley, where he worked on research projects and did internships that focused on soil science and ecological restoration. In the past six years, he has volunteered for after-school programs across the Bay Area, including OASES in Oakland and Galing Bata in San Francisco. These experiences have allowed him to work with students in mathematics, English, and science in all grades from K-12, as well as with primarily low-income, immigrant, and ESL students. Jesson sees tutoring as a fulfilling way to give back to the community wherein the tutoring is a vehicle of learning for both the teacher and the student. In his free time, Jesson enjoys listening to different kinds of music, visiting hole-in-the-wall restaurants, and perusing Netflix. He is currently applying for a Master’s program in Electrical Engineering at Boston University.
Jordan Coffey was born and raised in the Bay Area and is currently earning a degree in Molecular Environmental Biology at the University of California at Berkeley. He also performs research at the University of California at San Francisco’s School of Dentistry. Jordan is an experienced tutor in various subject levels specializing in math, science, Spanish and humanity courses. Jordan has four years of mentoring experience with the Berkeley Scholars to CAL Program. Jordan seeks to inspire his students and instill both self-confidence and personal motivation so they will be able to conquer any subject, no matter how daunting. Jordan specializes in study skills, helping students develop effective habits which will serve them in the classroom and beyond. Jordan is well traveled and enjoys discovering and learning about other cultures’ customs and beliefs. When he is not in the classroom, lab or library, Jordan can be found skateboarding or biking around San Francisco, tasting new delicacies, and observing fashion trends, musical performances, and art exhibits.
Katherine Monahan has the rare trait of being skilled in both humanities and sciences. Her natural inclination toward making connections and looking at the big picture led her to receive an interdisciplinary degree from Humboldt State University, where she combined natural sciences, physics, math and music into an analysis of cyclical motion. After college she worked as a sound engineer and educator in several countries (where she became fluent in Spanish as well as conversant in Wolof, French, and Thai). Some of her proudest accomplishments include starting a Bay Area youth hip hop non-profit, running a music studio in West Africa, and enjoying a loving relationship with her nieces and nephews. Katherine likes to work comprehensively with students, creating overall study plans to support their individual learning styles and address their full range of classes.
Laura Grau has a BA in business tourism and a MA in project management. She is a Spanish native speaker born and raised in Barcelona who has a broad understanding of her language and culture. Laura is passionate about traveling and getting to know people from other countries. Even while living in Spain, she realized that teaching Spanish is a good way to meet people from all over the world. She is a strong advocate of the communicative approach to the learning process and is keen to see all students enjoy learning Spanish. In her free time she enjoys hiking, practicing yoga and reading.
Lisa Miller was a popular and rigorous English and French teacher for six years at Berkeley High School. She received her BA in French Literature, with a minor in English, from the University of California at San Diego and spent her junior year in France studying at the Sorbonne. She is very interested in French language and culture and travels to France whenever possible. Additionally, Lisa spent several years working for an SAT preparation program and is well versed in test-taking techniques. Lisa is also terrific at helping students with study skills. She has honed her skills not just as a classroom teacher, but through her experience working with individual students both as a tutor and as a teacher in BUSD’s Independent Studies Program. Currently, as Director of Classroom Matters, Lisa draws on her experience as an educator and trainer to create an environment where every student can discover his or her own love of learning, both in and out of the classroom. Lisa designs study skills curriculum for Classroom Matters, travels to Bay Area schools offering workshops and trainings, and appears as a guest speaker at educational events. In addition to training tutors at Classroom Matters, she has worked as a new teacher coach and mentor for Oakland Unified School District.
Marcus Theus is a Bay Area native who just returned from the East Coast after graduating with honors from Princeton University. There, he received a degree in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. In college, he also studied abroad in Kenya and researched primate behavior. He is an all-around tutor who specializes in math and sciences as well as the content and strategy for standardized tests. He is patient and adaptive, but also vigilant and expectant. He aspires to instill in his students comprehension and confidence and to equip students with the ability to apply understanding of core concepts to approach novel situations. Outside of tutoring, he pursues activities including fitness, biking, pick-up games, cooking, etc.; he is also an enthusiast of literature and film–both classic and contemporary. Marcus has a passion for science and medicine, is EMT certified, and in the future will be going to medical school.
Matt Sharpnack, who was born and raised in the Bay Area, began working with children at an early age in his mother’s 2nd grade classroom. Throughout his high school years at Bishop O’Dowd, Matt worked many summers as a camp counselor before shifting toward education, tutoring, and mentoring. Since then, Matt enjoys engaging children in fun and exciting learning environments. He graduated from UC San Diego with a BS in Psychology with an emphasis in Biology, and he has worked as an after-school enrichment teacher for grades K-5 for the past two years. Matt enjoys spending time with his students, and he is especially passionate about developmental education. He has great patience and skill in helping students understand concepts and processes. In his free time he enjoys basketball, soccer, golf, snowboarding, nature, video games, tinkering, and reading.
Meg Webb graduated with honors from Arizona State University with a BS in Biology and a minor in Child Development. She started tutoring in high school while helping her younger brothers, who have learning differences, through their classes, as well as helping her classmates navigate their honors coursework. Meg specializes in tutoring mathematics, biology, and chemistry, and also has success helping her students develop organizational and study skills. She describes her teaching style as, “Patient, kind, and understanding, yet direct and very honest”. Meg’s main goal is to foster a love of learning in her students, and to give them the tools they need to be successful, not only academically, but for life in general. In her spare time, Meg enjoys singing, reading, and traveling to Chicago to spend time with her family.
Megan Shih is a current senior at UC Berkeley, graduating in May with a B.S. in Society and Environment. She has been tutoring various subjects, such as math, writing, and Spanish for the past 4 years, and thoroughly enjoys helping students learn. Megan is passionate about helping others, traveling, food, music and exercising. She has spent 2 months studying public health in Argentina, and has also traveled to many other countries. She loves the thrill of learning about other cultures and languages! Megan is excited to graduate from UC Berkeley, and hopes to continue learning more about environmental health and possibly pursue a Master’s Degree in Public Health. For now though, she is excited to be working at Classroom Matters.
Mike DeMaio is a Classroom Matters returnee; we’re excited to welcome this popular and skilled high-level math tutor back to our ranks. He specializes in all levels of math, chemistry, physics, and introductory levels of Spanish. Michael currently works as a technical salesman for a distribution company, after a brief stint as an air traffic controller. He has a BA in Applied Mathematics, with a focus on mechanical engineering, from Cal. In his spare time Mike loves sports, teaching, aeronautical science, and poker. Friendly and direct, he enjoys being able to show students the fun side of math and science.
Molly Gerstein Gales, teacher and mentor, founded Classroom Matters in 1998 at the request of a parent. Molly received her M.A. in English Education from Columbia University. She has taught at public high schools throughout the Bay Area. At Berkeley High School, Molly helped to create the 9th grade integrated core program and founded B.E.S.T., a successful program for second-semester seniors. At Serramonte High School in Daly City, Molly designed and implemented a complete project-based learning curriculum in all subject areas. While Molly was teaching at Irvington High School in Fremont, the school district requested that she share her innovative techniques with other teachers in a series of professional development workshops. She continued to train teachers in private workshops and as a Master Practitioner with the UCLA School Management Program, Bay Area. Although Molly does not participate in the daily operations of CM, she remains on call as a consultant and tutors privately from her home.
Shirley Hasson was born and raised in Tel-Aviv Jaffa, Israel. As a key player on our administrative team, Shirley brings over ten years of experience in various companies and non profit organizations, including the Jewish Community Center in North Berkeley, where she was an Associate Director for the children’s department. At CM, her responsibilities include managing a challenging schedule, providing a safe and enriching environment for all our families, and implementing new ways to expand our center. Shirley currently resides in San Francisco and is completing her Bachelor’s degree in Nursing at USF. Shirley hopes to someday work for the Red Cross and become a disaster relief nurse. In addition, she plans on continuing her education to become a nurse practitioner. To further her career goals and training, Shirley volunteers on a regular basis for a number of organizations in the Bay Area including the SF department of health. In her spare time, Shirley enjoys mastering her clinical techniques, learning new languages, cooking, painting, blogging, and traveling around the world.
Stephanie Schwartz recently moved to the Bay Area from New York City, where she taught third, fourth, and fifth grade for four years in the New York City public schools. She holds BAs in Women’s and Gender Studies and Jewish History from Columbia University and the Jewish Theological Seminary and an MSed in Childhood Education from Hunter College. She is currently enrolled in a special education credential program at California State University, East Bay and has extensive experience working with students with learning differences. In her spare time, Stephanie enjoys knitting, yoga, playing the guitar, and singing.
Tatiana Guerreiro Ramos graduated Cum Laude, too many years ago to count, from Monmouth University, where her mother taught Political Science. With a B.A. in Communications in hand, Tatiana headed off to New York City, where she worked in advertising for many years, most of them as a creative department manager. Following 9/11, Tatiana decided a career change was in order, and followed in her parents’ footsteps to become a teacher. After just a year in a third-grade classroom, Tatiana found herself in a family way and she and her husband decided she would stay home with their son. Almost a decade later, Tatiana is thrilled to be back in a teaching role. Her strengths are supporting K-8 students in math, language arts, humanities and foreign languages. A polyglot (English, Portuguese, French and Spanish) and a three-time National Memory Champion (the only woman to win the US Memoriad in its 15-year history), Tatiana enjoys crosswords, KenKen, keeping up with the news from her home country of Brazil, writing, and, most of all, spending time with her children.
Yania Escobar earned a degree from UC Berkeley in a self-designed major which combined Neurobiology, Psychology and Anthropology, and a minor in Education. Her undergraduate thesis discusses multiple intelligences and embodied learning, and ways to incorporate them in a variety of teaching settings such as tutoring and classrooms. Yania has worked at Classroom Matters for over three years, tutoring students in Mathematics, Sciences, Test Preparation, Project Management and Spanish. She spent 13 years in Uruguay where she mastered the Spanish language, learned about South American culture and experienced alternate approaches to teaching and learning. In tutoring sessions, Yania focuses on stress relieving techniques through personal empowerment and organization. She enjoys connecting with her students on an academic and personal level, assisting them with school work as well as life outside the classroom. Besides her work at Classroom Matters, Yania is passionate about Capoeira and her volunteer work at the Berkeley Free Clinic medical section.