Nice to meet you 🙂

We are passionate about teaching, mentoring, and helping students of all ages. Get to know us a bit below, and feel free to introduce yourself—we love hearing from parents and students alike.


Oliver Lee, M.F.A.  |  founder & DIRECTOR

Oliver Lee has been tutoring since his sophomore year of high school, when he was selected to teach at the Writing Center at the Gilman School, a prestigious private school in Maryland. In addition to his private tutoring work, he has taught at The Princeton Review, Yale University (summer sessions), and most recently at the University of Florida (Rhetoric + CompositionTechnical Communication, and Creative Writing: Fiction).

Oliver graduated from Princeton University in 2002, where he majored in Psychology and Creative Writing and won the fiction prize. He received an MFA in Creative Writing Fiction from the University of Florida in 2016, where he served as an editor of Subtropics literary magazine. His awards include First Place (English) in the Seoul National Essay Contest, a full fellowship to the prestigious NY Summer Writers Institute, and most recently, one of twenty-five finalists in Glimmer Train's 2016 New Writers Contest. His work has appeared in 12th Street Journal, Flaunt Magazine,, and Atlas Obscura, among others.


Elaina Mercatoris, M.f.A.  |  program director

Elaina Mercatoris is a graduate of Allegheny College, where she was the editor-in-chief of The Campus newspaper and The Allegheny Review. She completed her masters from the University of Florida (M.F.A in Writing) where she was assistant editor of the Journal for Undergraduate Research. She has taught at the University of Florida and the Santa Fe Learning Lab and specializes in reading & writing development as well as TJ/SSAT prep. Her poetry and essays have appeared in Subtropics magazine, Compose JournalNatural Bridge, and Cosmopolitan online.





Syed is a TJHSST and University of Virginia alum and a life-long science devotee. He received his Ph.D. in neuroscience at the opposite end of the country at the University of Southern California. While he has strong opinions on the eternal war of coastal superiority, his real passion lies in teaching the natural sciences: Biology, Chemistry, Physics, and Mathematics. He has served as a student mentor and tutor for more than 10 years, and is an author on several science publications.  His extra-curricular passions include language-learning, impressionist art, and botched attempts at fusion cuisine.  


ABBY, M.A.  |  MATH & Physics Instructor 

Abby triple-majored in Math, Physics, and Economics at the Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology and holds an M.A. in Applied Economics from the University of Maryland. She specializes in Algebra II and Calculus instruction and has devoted over a thousand hours volunteering in disaster relief for the Red Cross.


Petro, Ph.d. | SAT & AP HISTORY INstructor

Petro holds a Ph.D in Modern European History from NYU, where he worked as a graduate instructor. He has worked as a writing tutor in the Honors program at UMD and has taught SAT English and Writing at numerous academies in the DC/MD area. His dissertation, a history of Wawel, the Polish national pantheon in Krakow, is currently under contract with Lexington Books.


Christian  |  U.S. History & Writing instructor

Christian is a graduate of Wesleyan College where he majored in Government and African American Studies and was awarded the Monroe Prize and a Mellon-Mays Fellowship. He has worked as an admissions counselor at Wesleyan as well as a senior interviewer, and is currently a Millennial Public Policy Fellow at New America. 


Daniela, M.A  |  Spanish instructor

Daniela is a licensed educational psychologist and graduate of the University of Costa Rica. She has worked as a high school guidance counselor and a college dean of student affairs.  Daniela teaches Spanish at Principia in a fun, engaging way that takes into account the students’ specific learning styles and interests.


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