Meet the Tutor: Tonya A.

College: De Sales University

College Major: English / Communications

Elementary Education Teacher Certification: Kutztown University

How Long with 5 years

Subjects She Tutors: English, history and essay writing.

Tonya, an English, Social Studies and Essay Writing Tutor from Pennsylvania

A Passion for Tutoring

Tonya, English, history and essay writing tutor from Pennsylvania, proves that even the most grueling grammar assignment can be fun.

In 2000, Tonya was enjoying her job as a teacher and tutoring students one-to-one. But it was when she got her first computer and thought, 'There must be some online resources or online communities where tutors can meet and advertise their services,' that her passion really took off. In 2001, through a little bit of researching, Tonya found

"When I stumbled on, I thought,'This could be a really great way to build on what I've been doing as a tutor,'" says Tonya.

Not only did she find an online tutoring community through, Tonya found that tutoring students online expanded her skills as a tutor, made her a better educator and kept her challenged and motivated.

Tonya currently tutors in English, social studies and essay writing. She says most of her tutoring sessions are in grammar, where a 30-minute session can be all it takes for a student to understand something like comma usage to get a passing test grade. Working with students on writing assignments and literature questions often requires a more time, she says. And most often, when students get over that hump, it's smooth sailing afterwards.

"The most important part about starting a tutoring session in English or essay writing is getting all the parameters of the assignment," Tonya stresses.

Getting Down to Business

In Tonya's experience, the nature of online tutoring enables students and tutors to quickly find a common language and get down to business. And if a student has come to for help with his English composition homework, his focus is defined and his objective is clear.

"I approach each session almost like you would a blank blackboard, along with the fact that each student I am seeing is different—their age ranges, their academic levels, their comfort with various topics that come up."

Tonya says in each new session, she focuses on what works best for each individual's learning style. For example, the whiteboard is a tremendous learning tool for visual learners, while the chat function helps verbal students get over a homework hurdle. "I like that flexibility of the tools has in their classroom," says Tonya. "It allows us to be varied with the way we explain concepts and how we work with the students."

Tonya notes that once students are confident with the toolset, they are comfortable asking for help online.

"Being online helps students lower their guard, and when their guard is down they don't feel as embarrassed or bad about asking for help," Tonya says. "When I get the smiley faces at the end of a session, I know I did my job."

Empowering Students One Session at a Time

What tutors like Tonya impart to students, beyond the homework help, is the ability to work through the problems, the importance of staying focused and the benefits of becoming more organized. Students often arrive at a tutor frustrated, upset and at the eleventh hour of an assignment. One of the best features of the service, Tonya says, is the confidence-building feature.

"The biggest comments we get are when the student says, 'You’ve made this easier for me,' or, 'You’ve made this fun.' And that’s the greatest compliment a tutor can get."

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