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 + Composition, Technical Communication, and Creative Writing: Fiction).
Oliver graduated from Princeton University in 2002, where he majored in Psychology and Creative Writing. 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, TakePart.com, and Atlas Obscura, among others, and he is currently at work on a comprehensive college essay guide.
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 Journal, Natural Bridge, and Cosmopolitan online.
Sonya Kim | Office Manager
Sonya received her Bachelor of Science in Applied Economic Management from Virginia Tech in 2015. Throughout high school and college, she tutored her fellow classmates who needed extra help in chemistry, as well as English as a foreign language to adults. In her free time, Sonya enjoys singing and playing piano, and has volunteered for Habitat for Humanity. Sonya hopes to one day be fluent in Spanish and travel all over the world.
Syed, Ph.D. | Science Coordinator
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 Coordinator
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.
Joseph | Math, Science, and SAT Instructor
Joseph graduated from M.I.T. in 2017, where he received a Bachelor of Science in Biological Engineering. A northern Virginia native, he has taught at the MIT Global Teaching Labs and done research in genetics at the Langer Lab and Harvard Medical School. Last summer, he advised and supported various Mexico-based startups at the Hub iLab, a sixteen-week innovation and entrepreneurship bootcamp.
Delphine | English, Writing, and ACT / SAT instructor
Delphine is a graduate of Phillips Exeter Academy and the University of Chicago, where she was awarded a four-year, full tuition merit scholarship and majored in Interdisciplinary Studies in the Humanities. She has worked as an ESL teacher in Moscow and an editorial fellow at Mother Jones, and is an experienced SAT/ACT instructor as well as college essay advisor.
Petro, Ph.d. | SAT & AP World 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.
Justin, M.S. | Biology + Math Instructor
Justin majored in Molecular and Cellular Biology at the University of Urbana-Champaign and holds a M.S. in Medical Physiology from Case Western Reserve University. He is analytical biological scientist and has been teaching and tutoring since high school.
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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