ABOUT OUR TUTORS
All of our tutors:
- Score in the top percentiles of the tests they tutor
- Are outstanding communicators
- Love to inspire students
- Have impressive academic backgrounds
- Hold a bachelor’s degree or higher
It takes more than simply being a great test-taker to be a great tutor — personality is enormously important. Pinnacle Prep tutors have dynamic and engaging personalities. They communicate clearly and form long-lasting bonds with their students. Elite level one-on-one tutoring is built upon strong student-tutor rapport, developing trust, and sparking inspiration.
Once tutors are hired, they go through rigorous training. We also put tremendous energy into periodic reviews, continuing training seminars, and professional development for our tutors.
Peter earned a B.A. in French language and literature, an M.A. in comparative literature, an M.F.A in theater directing and is currently pursuing his Ph.D! He’s passionate about teaching and learning and loves finding creative ways to explain concepts and motivate his students. Outside of tutoring, Peter brings that same creativity to his internationally acclaimed work as a theater director.
Peter graduated cum laude with a B.A. in Theater. He enjoys using humor to make complex concepts fun, dynamic, and memorable. When not tutoring, Peter is a performing jazz pianist who also works as a producer and composer in film and television. You can find him in his free time either reading a novel at his favorite local bookstore or enjoying live music at one of New York’s many jazz clubs.
Ellen was a National Merit finalist and earned a bachelor’s degree in music and German and a master’s degree in voice performance. She loves to teach both academics and music and works hard to ensure that her students grow in confidence and reach their potential. She fosters the precision and organization they need to conquer standardized tests. When she isn’t tutoring, she performs both nationally and internationally and loves to take long runs in the park. Ellen is also one of our first session managers who sets students up for success with a personalized test plan.
Etan graduated with a B.A. in Film and Media Studies with departmental honors and a prestigious academic scholarship. He enjoys connecting with students and always tries to create a relaxed and exciting atmosphere for learning during his sessions. He is an avid moviegoer and music listener and also loves all manner of puzzles and brain teasers.
Connor graduated with a B.S. in mathematics and a B.A. in philosophy. They like to approach every problem from several angles to help students find the strategies that work best for them! When not tutoring, Connor can often be found playing a variety of tabletop games and a variety of wind instruments.
Liza graduated summa cum laude with a B.A. in theater and linguistics. She has an empathetic and positive tutoring style and is committed to making difficult concepts more approachable for her students. Outside of tutoring, Liza can usually be found acting, directing, singing in the shower, or working on a crossword puzzle. As one of our first session managers, Liza meets with new students and their families, answers questions and sets them up with a personalized test plan.
Adam graduated with honors with a B.A. in European social and political studies and worked at the Estonian permanent mission to the UN. He is currently pursuing an M.A. program in philosophy and education. Adam is a highly empathetic tutor who inspires passion and curiosity in each of his students. When he’s not tutoring, he is drumming with his post-punk band Mable by night.
Dylan received his B.A. in History, and is currently pursuing an M.A. in history as well. His passion for history is matched only by his passion for learning and teaching. In his personal life, he enjoys reading, writing short works of fiction, and listening to podcasts pretty much any time he is walking around the city.
Forrest graduated summa cum laude with a B.A. in cinema studies and also holds an M.A. in the same field of study. He currently works as a freelance film critic and photo archivist. Forrest works hard to foster trust and tailors his methods to students’ sensibilities and preferences. When he isn’t tutoring, you can probably find him wandering through museums, at the movies, or taking in a baseball game.
Zach earned a B.S. with departmental honors, majoring in cell and molecular biology with a focus on the genetics of neurodegenerative disease. He is currently pursuing an M.P.H. program. When he’s not nerding out over science, he’s probably nerding out over film or music. Zach likes to keep up the positive energy at his sessions, clearly explaining concepts and skills to put students on the path to success. When he’s not tutoring, you can find him petting other people’s dogs at the park, indulging in reality TV, or cooking up a storm in his kitchen.
Lynsey graduated cum laude with a B.A. in English and visual art. She loves to teach, and works as an educator at many NYC-area institutions like the Museum of the City of New York and Rikers Island. As a tutor, she approaches her students with warmth and enthusiasm and uses humor to make students feel relaxed and confident. In her free time, she creates art, reads, and plays guitar. As one of our first session managers, Lynsey meets with students and families to answer questions and craft a test plan.
Mark received a B.A. with honors in journalism with a focus on international political relations, and is now exploring his passion for the health sciences with a doctorate in physical therapy. He loves to learn and works hard to foster that same level of intellectual curiosity with every student he meets. When he isn’t busy tutoring or studying, Mark spends his time hiking, writing, and traveling the world.
Gabi earned a B.A. in psychology and literary arts and an M.S. in education focused on 7-12 Special Education. She is currently pursuing a second master’s degree in counseling. Gabi taught ELA for several years in public schools and enjoys working one-on-one with her current students. She is an enthusiastic and warm tutor with a knack for tailoring lessons to best fit her students. When she is not tutoring or teaching, she cuddles her kittens, rock climbs, and enjoys ice cream in the park. As a first session manager, Gabi helps set students and families up with a plan that helps them reach their goals.
Max graduated with a B.A. in mathematics and an M.A. in cinema studies. His patient and systematic approach to teaching helps students meet their goals and excel. When not tutoring, Max enjoys creating crossword puzzles and curating and writing about film.
Dennis graduated with a B.F.A. in theater and a B.A. in media arts and technology on a full-ride merit scholarship. He is a member of Mensa and works as a theatre director in New York City, where he has won awards for his boundary-pushing work. He loves helping students gain a calm yet focused confidence and providing them encouragement to reach their potential. As a first session manager, Dennis helps ensure that students and parents are set up with personalized plans to help them progress toward their goals.
Blake graduated with a B.F.A. in musical theatre and 8 semesters on the dean’s list with honors. Shortly after, he moved to New York City to pursue theatre as an actor/producer. His strength in tutoring comes from his enthusiastic energy and his ability to make learning fun for every one of his students. When not tutoring or acting, Blake enjoys dogs and camping. Blake is one of our first session managers and makes sure our students are set up for success with a personalized test plan.
Ashley graduated summa cum laude with a B.A. in cellular biology and neuroscience and a minor in psychology, and is looking forward to starting medical school this fall. She really enjoys breaking down complex science concepts and making them accessible to students. Her encouraging style and insightful approach helps students gain confidence with the toughest problems. When she’s not tutoring, Ashley enjoys playing Overwatch 2 or spending time with her dog Mochi.
Tyler graduated with undergraduate degrees in linguistics and philosophy (with departmental honors), and is currently working towards a Ph.D. in philosophy. They seek to provide students with conceptual tools to help them truly understand the mechanics behind tough problems. Outside of tutoring, Tyler is a cinephile and lifelong lover of cats and all forms of sweet treats.
Willa earned her M.A. and her B.A. in Philosophy, with an emphasis in Logic and Feminist Philosophy. Her specializations extend from standardized testing to academic support in a breadth of subjects, and she has experience teaching students of all ages. Willa also oversees many of the administrative operations at Pinnacle Prep. Her relationship with our company spans more than a decade. Outside the office, Willa’s passions include comedy, dance, and textile art.
Ian graduated with a B.S. in physics and minors in mathematics and computer science. He loves helping people understand new topics, and his patient, reassuring demeanor helps create a supportive environment in which students can grow. When he isn’t tutoring, he can be found deep in a forest or dangling from a climbing rope.
Shareef earned a B.S. in Electrical Engineering and a Masters degree in Engineering Management, and has many years of tutoring experience. He believes that every student can do well in their studies with the right approach and mentality. By using examples that are relevant to the student’s life, he ensures that his students can connect problems with everyday experiences and understand them on a conceptual level.
As a Venezuelan-American and native Spanish speaker, Manual is passionate about supporting his students as they navigate the challenging and rewarding process of learning Spanish as a second language. He holds a B.A. in mass communications and digital media. Manuel is a visual artist, content creator, and fitness coach who enjoys helping students reach their maximum potential!
Myles is a calm, reassuring and very versatile tutor. He earned his B.A. with honors in math but loves tutoring students in the verbal sections of tests as well. An avid bass player, Myles brings a creative, positive energy to engage students and take them to the next level. As a First Session Manager, Myles meets with new students to get them started successfully on their tutoring journeys.
Darrin, Senior Manager
Darrin graduated magna cum laude with a B.A. in theatre and minors in history and dance. Darrin’s passion for education stems from his own curiosity and creativity, and his background in teaching occasionally extends beyond academic tutoring and into the dance studio. He brings his warm and light-hearted nature to each tutoring session in order to provide the best atmosphere for successful studying. When Darrin is not tutoring, he might be found searching for the best donut in New York City. As senior manager, Darrin talks to new families and meets with new students to introduce them to our techniques and equip them with a personalized plan.
Ashwin, Regional Director
Ashwin earned a J.D. and an M.A. in history, where he lectured on CIA-backed coups and deconstructed colonial histories. He hasn’t lost his fondness for deconstructive theory, though! Today, he uses it to help high school students overcome the “intellectual hegemony” of standardized tests. In his free time, Ashwin tortures himself by taking capoeira (a Brazilian martial art) lessons and by making all the wrong fantasy football decisions. As Regional Director, Ashwin helps hire and communicate with tutors. He also does first sessions with students and helps match them with great tutors.
Lizz, Academic Advisor
Lizz received a B.A. in English and journalism and began her career in magazine and book publishing. In addition to her Academic Advising role at Pinnacle Prep, where she helps craft individual test plans and make sure our students are on track to succeed, Lizz is the author of three books, a freelance editor and writer, and currently the compiler of Workman Publishing’s bestselling 365 Cats calendar series. She loves all things cat related, reality TV, and exploring her Greenwood Heights neighborhood in Brooklyn, NY, where she lives with her husband and daughter.
Dhaya Ramarajan, COO
Dhaya graduated magna cum laude with a B.A. in English and a minor in education and an Ed.M. in education policy. She worked as an English teacher in public and private schools for several years. When she’s not teaching, Dhaya enjoys salsa dancing and experimenting with recipes. Her encouraging and interactive approach helps students master even the toughest problems. In her role as COO, Dhaya helps hire, train and communicate with tutors and oversees daily operations.
Jen Keiser Gordon, Esq., CFO
Jen graduated magna cum laude from college and earned academic honors in her J.D. program. She clerked for U.S. District Court Judge Stephen C. Robinson in the Southern District of New York and worked as a litigator in Manhattan. Jen co-founded At the Table, a nonprofit that provides tutoring and mentorship to students currently or formerly in foster care. As the General Counsel and CFO of Pinnacle Prep, Jen oversees finances, compliance, human resources and family engagement. She enjoys speaking with parents and helping them select the right program for their families.
David Gordon, Founder and CEO
David founded Pinnacle Prep in 2002 with one goal: to apply a systematic methodology to boost student scores on standardized tests. Combining his extensive tutoring experience with rigorous analysis of published tests, he developed methods and techniques that have helped students reach and exceed their goals. Knowing that motivation and engagement are key, David stresses handpicking tutors not only for their impeccable academic records but also for their excellent communication skills and dynamic personalities.
Prior to starting Pinnacle Prep, David served on the faculty at both New York University, where he earned an M.A. in composition, and Hofstra University. He also founded the Look & Listen Festival, a non-profit organization that presents new music concerts in art galleries and recently celebrated its 18th anniversary, and served as president of another non-profit, the League of Composers/ISCM, the oldest new music organization in the U.S. During his tenure as President of the League/ISCM, David launched the Orchestra of the League of Composers, started Residency, Membership, and Commissioning Programs, and increased the organizational budget by over 300%.
Throughout his life, David has also explored other artistic media, including writing a novel entitled The Canvas and directing and editing the documentary film Mitia, which aired on local television and was used by the Spertus Institute for Jewish Learning and Leadership in Chicago. David also has a lifelong passion for games and has won significant tournaments in billiards, poker, and chess. Recently, he’s found joy in board game design. He created his first board game when he was a teenager and after a long hiatus, has made over 30 games in the last four years (davidgordongamedesign.com), several of which have been signed by publishers and are expected to be released soon.
In their spare time, David and his wife Jen (the CFO of Pinnacle Prep) can often be found cheering on their children at baseball games or karate exhibitions, or taking their beagle Gordon K. Gordon (the official Pinnacle Prep office dog) for walks.