academic coaching


middle and high school students:

Need help...

navigating a new learning environment?

deciphering instructions on assignments?

with study skills, organizing, and time management?


Specializing in the following:


reading comprehension, vocabulary, writing, editing

analysis and discussion


for any class that has writing prompts

Graphic Design

design concepts, design thinking, digital tools

high school students:



Need help...

navigating the websites, processes, lingo, and structures?

figuring out how your passions, interests, skill strengths can be turned into a college major or career?

brainstorming for writing application essays or critique and editing of essays to fit the word count?

You prefer talking to someone one-on-one rather than figuring out the daunting maze of options on your own.

You want advice from an academic insider on how to set yourself apart from all the other applications.


You seek honest information and help to figure out the best version of you.

college students:


Need help...

figuring out instructions, assignments, or other study skills in a hybrid or remote learning environment, possibly where your instructor is m.i.a.?

with your writing or editing of your assignments?

in time management and organizing your projects?

with design related topics?


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Extremely adept at listening and working with your best skills even if you don't like to write, or read. Many teachers teach the way they were taught and in the creative fields such as writing and design, they may not consider that you have not actually been taught what they think you already know. I can help you figure out their 'tell' and give you specific strategies on how to write within the constraints of each assignment. As a former g.d. professor, I constantly challenged myself to push beyond the teach the way I was taught and developed a coaching strategy that works!

1. An ACADEMIC INSIDER. Most teachers teach they way they were taught, but I consciously transformed from professor to coach early in my career after much self-reflection, reading, and researching including teaching conferences to be the best at the craft of teaching as possible. I can help decipher instructions and give you confidence in understanding your own learning style to navigate a challenging academic terrain that may feel out of your control whether that be secondary school or college. I know how the systems function in colleges and universities from how programs and curriculum is structured, to the admissions process. In my more than 20 years as a professor I was active in talking with prospective students and parents as well as engaged in 'recruitment'. I am giving you inside information on how to navigate this process. I can help you understand school type (research vs liberal arts, for example) in what will bring out the best you.

2. A CRITICAL THINKER. I have a unique mindset that balances analytical and creative approaches. I consider myself a lifelong learner and I'm able to help distill information sometimes that seems disparate into a connected pattern. I am able to ask you the right questions to be able to find your best solution - the major that fits you best, the type of school that would suit you best, etc. In writing, I am able to work with you to identify areas of your work that can be improved in a comfortable constructive critique style conversation. Maybe we'll spend a few hours editing your work live in a working document picking apart the meaning of words and phrases to make your writing the best it can be for whatever goal you have.

3. A PUZZLER. Some of my friends call me this and another one refers to me as a Swiss army knife. I love puzzles. I think being able to see patterns and inter-connectedness in figuring out a plan of study and career goals is fun. This also makes me extremely adept at scanning an essay for example and seeing repetition of words or phrases to pay attention to in expanding your vocabulary and grammar. And maybe the most important of all, I am adept at planning, time management, figuring out how to manage deadlines for multiple assignments, and yes even color coding.

4. An ADVOCATE. I have been working with people basically my whole life. I was a day camp counselor in high school and a writing tutor in college. I was a girl scout through silver award and then a leader for 5 years after undergraduate school. I have spent more than two decades working with people in small groups and one-on-one mentorship. My roles as a professor at small schools involved advising and coaching. I developed a portfolio course and assisted students in the bridge between college and career in assessing goals and skills all the way to creating a portfolio. Writing a college application essay is like applying for a job so there are similarities in this approach I will share with you in our sessions. I think about students, their work, and if I have ideas for them I will communicate those. If you are struggling to adapt to a new learning environment, I will be your advocate helping you navigate to achieve your goals, and maybe find joy in the learning process.

5. A Writing (and Design) Coach. I love words. I love to write and spend much time in the editing process of my own writing for various purposes. I won an obscure essay contest in 8th grade that took me many many hours of research, notes on index cards and more than one really late night of typing. I was in Honors English in college where I worked in the writing lab as a tutor. Even though I have an MFA in graphic design and taught graphic design, writing and assisting with writing was a primary aspect of most of my course instruction. I'm also a good editor with a keen eye for detail which is a skill needed in the visual communication field. I can easily spot typos and help you examine your word choice and sentence structures as well as topic analysis. I used to be shocked that my students in my college classes did not know how to write an outline for a research project or had never actually written an extensive research paper at all. Writing is a process. It's important to integrate research and editing into writing rather than last minute rush to submit a document on demand from an instructor. I would love to work with you so that you are confident in the act of writing. The challenge for the college application essays is to fit a very serious answer into a very short word count. It starts when you have figured out your choices for application and could take several conversations and live editing of your essay to get the best solution that will set you apart from other applicants.


embrace your super power!

Discover your learning style and empower your own learning path and that your uniqueness can translate into your career path by embracing skills and acknowledging weaknesses.

get started


Learn more about Val's style and approach and package plans.

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