Pittsburgh Prep

TRANSFORMS

STUDENTS

into Academic Leaders

Our MISSION

WE TRANSFORM STUDENTS INTO ACADEMIC LEADERS

All our decisions at Pittsburgh Prep are focused on the following areas:
  • Build expert content knowledge in core subject areas of Math, Reading, English and Sciences

  • Think critically to make powerful deductions and inferences from given information and complex data

  • Overcome testing anxiety through stronger mindset and overall academic confidence

Our STRENGTHS

01. Unconventional Approach

The conventional approach by conventional high school systems and the official testing companies such as the College Board and the ACT is to simply provide practice problems and some attempt at explanation. The official study guides published by the College Board and the ACT, though useful, are hardly adequate for any serious student looking to improve their scores.

Our approach, therefore, is unconventional. Pittsburgh Prep’s core belief is to teach mastery of content (not recite corporate lesson plans), to produce powerful critical reasoning, build competitive test scores, and encourage lifelong learning. We never “teach to the test,” and never engage in shortcuts in lieu of concrete skill sets that provide solid grounding for our students to succeed on all standardized exams.

02. Tailored Curriculum

There are three ways we tailor our curriculum for all of our students:

  • Our entire program is based on an open-plan design, where our adept instructors are encouraged to plan, innovate and implement from our core curriculum. This means that our instructors are able to move laterally to best fit student needs in both large group classrooms and 1-on-1 tutoring sessions.

  • Developed in-house by our expert instructors, Pittsburgh Prep's core curriculum utilizes a powerful set of analytics to identify and resolve weaknesses in testing. From our diagnostics to our practice exams, every piece of data that we obtain results in strong adaptive changes that benefit our students.

  • We also are able to help students with special needs, having built a strong network of testing psychologists since 2006. Much more than obtaining extra time, we are then able to help our students take the exam strategically and confidently, to reach their highest potential.

03. Data-Driven Impact

There are two basic but important measurable items in education: Formative Assessment and Cumulative Assessment. We do both.

Formative assessment is a measure that provides specific guidance to our instructors to adapt and adjust their teachings so that their students will perform better in the very next session. We do this through our specific internally developed in-class constructive quizzes, end-of-class peer assessments, and via weekly staff meetings where master instructors lead and recommend changes to be made immediately. Having already graduated over 1,000 students from our program, we feel that we have demonstrated our impact in guiding students to their highest potential.

Cumulative assessment is a measure that shows the overall progress of the student. These are the previously administered, actual full-length practice exams our students take on a weekly basis. Our goal here is two-fold:

  1. To create a history of success so our students can confidently take the actual test.
  2. And to identify any ongoing issues in our skill set, so that our instructors can help our students break through these problem areas.

Lastly, as a results-based organization, we also boast a strong consistent average increase of 170 points for our students across the board. With over 2000 student graduates from every Pittsburgh county to countries as far away as Australia since our inception in 2006, we are confident in our abilities to guide our students to their highest potential.

04. Passion for Teaching

Simply stated, we love what we do. We’re a small company of dedicated teachers, utilizing research-based pedagogical methods, and we plan to remain this way, without compromise.

Our passion for teaching goes far beyond our curriculum. We take into account student context – sports, extra-curriculars, family obligations, jobs – all factors that can be stressful hindrances to student study. We meet with the parents prior to the start of every individualized program, and create a “goldilocks” scenario of preparation and access.

For group classes, our maximum teacher-to-student ratio is 12:1 during the summer, and 8:1 during the academic year. We maintain smaller classes to better conduct individual assessments throughout our sessions.

We maintain constant contact with our students and parents, communicating progress and challenges in a clear manner, focusing on resolution and score improvement. Teaching students to better comprehend normative exams such as the SAT and ACT, translates into better focus, deeper understanding of the nature of these tests and higher outcomes.

Finally, our instructors engage in professional development throughout the academic year, working both in research and classroom settings, from curriculum development to daily mindfulness. 

05. Experience and Credentials

All of our instructors possess the following:
  • A 99th percentile score in their areas of expertise

  • Individually, over 5 years (5,000 hours) of actual Classroom and tutoring experience

  • A Masters or PhD graduate degree in education

  • A proven track record of guiding students to their highest potential

06. Local Connection

Pittsburgh Prep is a locally focused small business, not another chain in a franchise. Our instructors and staff live in Pittsburgh, work in Pittsburgh, and maintain strong ties with the community and its schools.

We are the first independent test prep organization in the city of Pittsburgh and have become stronger and better every year.

We maintain and build strong relationships with local non-profits and community organizations, including the Pittsburgh Public Schools, Big Brothers Big Sisters Pittsburgh ChapterBloomfield-Garfield Corporation.

To date, we have provided over $150,000 in scholarship in the form of tuition assistance to students and families in need. We never turn down students based solely on finances.

Our STAFF

Sunghoon Kim

College Admissions Consultant
Instructor

Hoon, Pittsburgh Prep’s founder, has been teaching since 1997. Having transferred from NYC, Hoon wanted to provide a highly effective place of learning for students of all backgrounds in our fair city of Pittsburgh. He has devoted himself and Pittsburgh Prep to instilling within every student powerful lifelong learning skills applicable to college-ready success and beyond.

In the past, Hoon worked as an options trader on Wall Street, a volunteer with UNICEF and AmeriCorps, a restauranteur, and an edu-preneur. Throughout his life, however, reform-minded education has been his passion. Armed with a B.A. from NYU and an Ed.M. from Harvard Graduate School of Education, Hoon co-teaches in just about every class, and oversees the entire operation at Pittsburgh Prep with a singular focus – to develop superior instruction, continually improve the staff’s core knowledge base, and improve outcomes for all students at Pittsburgh Prep.

In his free time, Hoon can be seen raising his two children, enjoying sushi, being choked out in Brazilian Jujitsu, hosting his podcast Multiple Disruptions, and devoting his time to Pittsburgh Prep’s partnerships with local community organizations. Most recently in 2019 amidst the pandemic, Hoon received his certificate in Independent College Admissions Counseling from the University of California Riverside. Hoon is an associate member of the Independent Educational Consultants Association and a member of the National Association for College Admission Counseling.

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Joshua Goreczny

Instructor

Josh has dedicated his career and life to helping people improve themselves through education. Growing up in the rural town of Oil City in northwestern Pennsylvania, he appreciated the power of education as a transformative force from kindergarten on.  Josh double-majored at the University of Pittsburgh in Psychology and History, and fell in love with the local food and music scenes. Josh went on to earn a Master’s Degree from Pitt’s School of Education while teaching in the North Hills.

His ten-year teaching career has spanned work with students in public and private high schools, colleges, home tutoring, and at-risk interventions; Josh now fills his commitment to education as a full-time private tutor and instructor at Pittsburgh Prep.  Josh prides himself on his deep, caring manner of teaching, and students appreciate the level of enthusiasm and empathy he exhibits on a daily basis in and out of the classroom. Josh’s SAT classes and private tutoring students average 150-200 point increases on a regular basis, reflecting the overall average improvements at Pittsburgh Prep.

In his free time, Josh enjoys staying in shape with strength training and long-distance running, #nerdingout with technology, (attempting) home repair, and spending time with his wife and adopted pets, Chewbacca and Gordon.

Valeria Antúnez​

Center Administrator

Val serves as Pittsburgh Prep’s Center Administrator, and keeps our team on track as we pursue our mission and help our students reach their highest potential. Hailing from Puerto Rico, Val has come to love the Steel City, even if the skies are grayer here.

Before joining Pittsburgh Prep in mid-2018, Val cut her teeth working for her family’s business and studying art & design. She has been an integral part of our team and loves the opportunity to interact with the students and parents that make Pittsburgh Prep great.

When not in the office, Val is an avid climber, animal-lover, painter, and designer. We’re lucky to have a Renaissance Woman like Val to keep us on track.

Kelly VandenBosche

Director of Academics

Kelly grew up in Pittsburgh, then ventured to Philadelphia where she attended Drexel University receiving her B.S. in Materials Science and Engineering. She also obtained a Ph.D in Materials Engineering from KU Leuven in Belgium and taught high school and college-level courses in various institutions in Brussels. Upon returning to her hometown in Pittsburgh, Kelly has been teaching high school AP Sciences since 2011 and has most recently taught Research Science and AP Physics at Shady Side Academy Senior School. 

Kelly’s proudest accomplishment is inventing patented anisotropic foam, used in bicycle helmets to better protect riders from rotational head injuries. This only proves that Kelly has used her education and passion to truly make a difference in the world, something she hopes for all of her students as they pursue their dreams.

When Kelly isn’t teaching, she enjoys painting, reading, and playing with her dog, Bobbie. Her life motto is: “Everyone you meet knows something you don’t know – learn from them!”

Kelly has provided tutoring and guidance leading to students achieving their goal scores in Chemistry, Physics, and Mathematics.

college consultant

Brittany Pack

College Admissions Consultant Community Relations Director

Brittany is our Community Relations Director and College Consultant, leading our junior Voyager Program. Self-nicknamed our “Best Friend Maker”, Brittany’s passion is connecting people, building relationships, and deepening communities. Her favorite thing is working with teenagers.

Prior to joining Pittsburgh Prep, Brittany enjoyed an 11-year career in education, most recently serving as a teacher, advisor, coach, dorm advisor, and Director Student Activities at Shady Side Academy’s Senior School here in Pittsburgh over the last five years. She holds a BA in History and an MA in Education from the University of Michigan, and did her coursework in urban education and has worked in  independent schools in Colorado, Michigan, and North Carolina. She has also coached ski racing for the Grand Traverse Ski Club and Hidden Valley Race Club.

Outside of work, Brittany is either running, fly fishing, or skiing, and she occasionally does some breathtakingly mediocre art. She is also highly involved in her church and is obsessed with her big, loud, Michigander family.

Victoria Chuah

Instructor

Victoria grew up outside of Washington DC, and is currently pursuing her master’s degree at the University of Pittsburgh for computer science (where she also received her undergraduate degree in computer science).

Victoria has taught computer science and test prep to students of all of ages. She received a perfect score on her SAT math, and has also been recognized as a National AP Scholar with Distinction. She is currently a teaching assistant at the University of Pittsburgh and loves to watch her students learn and grow!

When she is not working with students, Victoria loves to dance and make people laugh. She has been dancing ballet her entire life and is a member of the Pitt Ballet Club and Pitt Dance Ensemble. Victoria is also a member of the University of Pittsburgh’s improv comedy club as well as the host of Pitt Tonight, the school’s best (and only) late night show! She also serves as an elected board member for Pitt’s student government board.

Sherry Amaya

Instructor

Sherry has spent most of her life living in various parts of Pennsylvania, enjoying Pittsburgh most of all!  After earning her BS in mathematics from Millersville University, she traveled to Pittsburgh for the first time, earning a MS at the University of Pittsburgh.  For both degree programs, Sherry focused her studies on applied mathematics, which allowed her to learn more about and model all kinds of neat biological phenomena, including cardiac arrhythmias, protein structures, and inflammation.  


After graduating from PITT, Sherry decided to pursue a career in math education, attending Slippery Rock University and earning an M.Ed.  She taught math in Maryland for four years and then returned to Pittsburgh.  Sherry has been teaching in Pittsburgh ever since.  Her favorite thing about being a math teacher and tutor is sharing the beauty and powerful utility of math with her students, as well as helping them to overcome any anxiety they associate with the subject.


In her free time, Sherry likes to sew, knit, and browse Pinterest for more ideas for her next crafting project.  Sherry also enjoys hiking, yoga, and reading.   She lives with her cat (who enjoys pushing pens, pencils, etc. off of Sherry’s work desk and sleeping for most of the day.)

Jacob Frenchman

Instructor
Jacob grew up in New Jersey and is currently pursuing a B.S in Biological Sciences, with a minor in Chemistry and a certificate in the Conceptual Foundations of Medicine. At Pitt, Jacob has served as a Teaching Assistant for introductory Biology and Organic Chemistry and serves as a Peer Advisor for the Pitt Biology Advising Department. He loves to share his fascination and obsession with science with his students to facilitate their exploration and understanding of science and the world around us! Jacob also works as a clinical research assistant at the UPMC Center for Clinical Neurophysiology, where he explores intraoperative complications of neurological and cardiovascular surgeries. Jacob scored a 99th percentile ACT score on his first attempt and understands how the relationships built with instructors facilitate a positive learning environment that helps students surpass their own expectations. When he isn’t working with students or studying, Jacob loves to cook, run, read, and play sports. He has played soccer since he was four years old and is an avid sports watcher (specifically the NY Giants, NJ Devils, and Manchester United). Jacob loves to cook because it is a creative, tasty way to apply some of the chemistry he studies and teaches: it’s science that you can eat!

Alexandra Waggoner

Instructor​

New to the Pittsburgh region, Alexandra joins us from sunny Texas, where she spent the last five years teaching in public schools and using her innovative instruction style to reach her students in every subject. She’s learning to love our wild seasons and gray skies, don’t worry.

After studying history at Trinity University in San Antonio and starting a financial literacy youth program at a local non-profit, Alexandra returned to academia to realize her true passion: teaching. Following completion of her Master of Arts, she worked to write and institute curriculum, sponsor student-run clubs and programs, and coach fellow teachers during her time at a local middle school. Above all, she is passionate about helping students better their lives through education.

When not teaching or learning something new, Alexandra enjoys traveling with her husband, hiking in state parks with her rescue dog, and trying out new styles of baking.

Clare Donaher

Instructor
Clare will finish her undergraduate degree in December at the University of Pittsburgh for Mechanical Engineering with a minor in Creative Writing. Every alternating semester, she works full time as a co-op engineer for Honeywell Inc., where she gets to apply her courses in a real-world environment. Clare has taken eight AP classes in high school, and loves both the creative and technical aspects of academia! She scored in the 99th percentile on her SAT and is enthusiastic about learning. She has worked as a teaching assistant at the University of Pittsburgh and loves to help others succeed. When Clare’s not in the classroom or the workplace, she loves to explore her creative pursuits. She is currently an executive member of Ruckus, Pitt’s improv comedy group, and served as a head writer of Pitt Tonight for three years. She loves to read, and is currently working on her first novel!

Michael Aguilar

Instructor

Michael grew up all across the Southeastern United States before earning an undergraduate degree from the University of South Carolina in English Language and Literature. He followed that with a graduate degree in the field of teaching from Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, LA in 2011. 

He spent the next 8 years teaching at every level of high school in Baton Rouge. Teaching all four grades of high school as well as AP Literature and Composition and developing and teaching his school’s AP Language and Composition curriculum. In 2018 he moved to staying at home with his children full time and joins Pittsburg Prep in hopes of continuing to assist young people with their educational goals while maintaining the schedule that full time fathering requires!

Outside of the educational field Michael loves to read, play beach volleyball, do any kind of physical exercise, enjoy the natural beauty that his current residence of Salt Lake City, UT provides, and spend time with his family. He owes all of his success in life to his brilliant and loving wife, Kendall. 

Robert Park

College Admissions Consultant
Robert has spent over a decade as an admission consultant. He believes helping his clients during this critical time can change the course of their lives. Robert is born in Pittsburgh and also raised his daughter in the Steel City. As a concerned parent, Robert not only was involved in his daughter’s education but also the well-being of our education system. To better understand the intricacies of our school system, Robert graduated with an M.A. in Journalism and Mass Communication focused on education reporting, where he studied alongside educators in various schools in and around Pittsburgh. This, as well as his B.A. in Philosophy (where he studied abroad in the UK at the University of Leeds), has given him an insider and outsider’s perspective on the American education system.
 
Also, Robert spent a year in Bangkok, Thailand, as an admission consultant to international school students applying to US and UK universities. Before this, Robert was an admissions consultant to professionals applying to top-tier European and American MBA programs. He has helped his clients get accepted into Harvard, Yale, Princeton, NYU, Oxford, LBS, INSEAD and many more universities and top tier MBA programs. Robert’s primary goal is not in the results; it is the process of self-reflection and discovery, which is his real passion. This is shown through his love of the arts, cinema, theater, politics, and comedy, which on some rare occasions he performs stand-up at an open mic.

Rob is an associate member of the Independent Educational Consultants Association and a member of the National Association for College Admission Counseling.
 
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NACAC Label

Kevin Oommen

Instructor
Kevin grew up in Connecticut and is currently a fourth year medical student at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. For his undergraduate studies he attended Northwestern University and double majored in Economics in Geography where he received the Outstanding Senior in Geography Award for the state of Illinois. After getting a degree from Northwestern, Kevin worked as an Investment Banking analyst at J.P. Morgan in Chicago before deciding to switch career paths to pursue medicine. He attended the post-baccalaureate pre-medical program at Bryn Mawr College and subsequently matriculated to the University of Pittsburgh for medical school. He received a 99th percentile on the SAT with a perfect score in both the Math and (now defunct) Writing section. Additionally he took 10 AP classes and was granted the National AP Scholar Award by the College Board. Kevin enjoys teaching about study strategies to make effective use of resources, technology, and time to learn material in an effective an efficient manner. He hopes to share his passion for learning with each of his students, regardless of the subject matter.When outside of the hospital and not teaching, Kevin enjoys planning elaborate brunches, learning about artificial intelligence, going on road trips, and perfecting the Neapolitan pizza.