into Academic Leaders
WE TRANSFORM STUDENTS INTO ACADEMIC LEADERS
All our decisions at Pittsburgh Prep are focused on the following areas:
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:
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:
- To create a history of success so our students can confidently take the actual test.
- 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
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 Chapter, Bloomfield-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.
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, listening to podcasts, 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 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 as well as the Pennsylvania chapter in PACAC.
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.
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 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.
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.
A true expert in all things English, 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 stay at home with his children full time and joins Pittsburg Prep to continue 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.
Felicia is our resident and highly accomplished artist, instructor and art portfolio advisor. She holds a BFA in illustration and publication as well as an MFA in studio art, professional practices and art education. She has deep experience guiding students in their portfolio development and advising students in their careers in every art-related field as part of our college admissions team. Her expertise includes following:
- College programming expertise from State Universities to private 4-year colleges to find best fit for students
- Career and major exploration in all art-related fields
- Drawing fundamentals: perspective, composition, golden section/geometry, figurative, and abstract
- Traditional and digital acuity regarding “tools,” styles and techniques such a Adobe creative suite
- Community enrichment projects: murals and public art
- Human Anatomy and functions
- Color theory, color design, color application
- Critical theory
- Visual literacy/communication
- Painting, Sculpture, Illustration, Graphic design, Sequential art
- Multimedia installations (concepts, and practicum)
- Curatorial and project development and implementation
- Creative writing
- Professional and studio practices
Atharv grew up in Pittsburgh, attending Canon-McMillan high school. He is currently a second-year student at Penn State, studying Pre-medicine as part of the 7-year guaranteed BS/MD program.
An alum of Pittsburgh Prep’s SAT intensive course, he achieved perfect scores on the SAT’s math section and on all sections of the ACT. Atharv has also served as a Learning Assistant for collegiate organic chemistry, and enjoys helping students get the results they wish to see.
In his leisure time, he can be found watching sports, learning trivia, or convincing himself to work out.
Corey grew up in northern NJ and is currently pursuing an undergraduate degree in both history and neuroscience at the University of Pittsburgh. Through Pitt’s Honors College, Corey is a candidate for the Bachelor of Philosophy (BPhil) degree, with a thesis focusing on the history of community health organizations in Pittsburgh.
He has extensive experience using the knowledge that he learns in the classroom and applying it to the real world.
In high school, Corey was a tutor for math and science classes while also working for an education company to develop AP Chemistry curriculum. He really enjoys making personal connections with his students and working with them to improve not only their subject knowledge, but also their studying and test-taking skills!
In his spare time, Corey is a volunteer at UPMC Children’s Hospital, where he works in the transplant unit to bring activities and games to the kids in the hospital. He also enjoys playing video games, watching sports, and trying all the different restaurants around Pittsburgh!
Atharva is originally from Chicago but has lived in Bangalore, India for five years, and Pittsburgh for the last six years. He is currently pursuing an undergraduate degree in Global and Public Health on a pre-med track with a minor in Business at Cornell University.
Eager to apply classroom knowledge to the real-world, Atharva has worked on a clinical and basic research project on Diabetes and Irritable Bowel Syndrome respectively. In high school, as a captain of the Speech and Debate team, he taught and coached students on speaking and debating skills. Atharva loves making new friends and learning new skills from his peers, colleagues, and students.
When Atharva is not working, you can find him dancing Bhangra for the Cornell Bhangra Team, solving Rubik’s Cubes, playing Chess, or trying different restaurants and cuisines in Pittsburgh or Ithaca.
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.
Anuj grew up just outside Pittsburgh and has always called it home. He is currently pursuing an undergraduate degree in Computer Engineering from the University of Pittsburgh.
Throughout his academic career, he has prided himself on excellence, earning numerous 5’s in his AP exams, a high SAT score, and the impressive title of National Merit Scholar. During these years, Anuj developed a love for explaining, connecting, and teaching – strengths that he brings to Pittsburgh Prep. He enjoys all things STEM, but his forte is mathematics where he develops a connection with the student to explain and develop confidence in the subject. His favorite thing about tutoring is the opportunity to explain a topic in a way that a student has never experienced before.
When not with his students, you can find Anuj volunteering at the Carnegie Science Center, spending time with friends, playing basketball, enjoying Pittsburgh’s great food options, or cheering on his Steelers or Panthers!