The Smarten Up Team

Mara Ravitz

Mara (Ravitz) Koffmann, Owner and President

Mara graduated magna cum laude from New York University with a bachelors degree in history and middle eastern studies.  After spending a year in South America teaching English and developing her fluency in Spanish, she returned to NYU to earn a dual masters degree in Childhood Education and Special Education with a 4.0 GPA.

With experience as a classroom teacher at the Parkside School, New York's preeminent elementary school for speech and language development, and as a learning specialist and director of the elementary literacy program at the Marymount School of New York, Mara started Smarten Up in 2011 to pursue her passion for crafting creative educational materials and resources.  Smarten Up integrates child-centered games, visuals, organizational tools, and real-world experiences into one-on-one instruction that takes the "school" out of learning.  Mara collaborates with each of the Smarten Up teachers to build this sort of engaging learning experience for every Smarten Up student. 

 
 
Ben, Curriculum and Instruction Specialist + Tutor Ben graduated magna cum laude with highest honors in literature from Harvard University, where he also studied environmental science. He worked as the Annenberg Fellow at Eton College in England, teaching Shakespeare to the Brits, among other things, before joining Smarten Up. He loves teaching and learning, in a wide range of subjects, from elementary-age reading to the SAT, on which he received a perfect score.  When he's not teaching, he is a writer and actor, and has strayed far from his native Oregon to live abroad in England, France, and Argentina.  

Ben, Curriculum and Instruction Specialist + Tutor

Ben graduated magna cum laude with highest honors in literature from Harvard University, where he also studied environmental science. He worked as the Annenberg Fellow at Eton College in England, teaching Shakespeare to the Brits, among other things, before joining Smarten Up. He loves teaching and learning, in a wide range of subjects, from elementary-age reading to the SAT, on which he received a perfect score.  When he's not teaching, he is a writer and actor, and has strayed far from his native Oregon to live abroad in England, France, and Argentina.  

Natalie, Tutor Natalie graduated from the University of Miami with her Bachelor's degree in chemistry in 2014. Now, she is working towards her master's in public health at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. She loves learning and would be in school for the rest of her life if given the chance. Natalie enjoys working with Smarten Up students because it gives her the chance to inspire this love of learning in others! When she's not doing her homework or helping students with their's, she's working towards being able to finish the Saturday New York Times crossword puzzle! 

Natalie, Tutor

Natalie graduated from the University of Miami with her Bachelor's degree in chemistry in 2014. Now, she is working towards her master's in public health at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. She loves learning and would be in school for the rest of her life if given the chance. Natalie enjoys working with Smarten Up students because it gives her the chance to inspire this love of learning in others! When she's not doing her homework or helping students with their's, she's working towards being able to finish the Saturday New York Times crossword puzzle! 

Brendan, Tutor Brendan studied music at Pomona College before doing Master’s work in education at Teachers College at Columbia University. Given this diverse background, Brendan enjoys teaching a broad spectrum of subjects, including math, science, writing, and music. His favorite part of tutoring is figuring out the missing pieces to finally help a student understand a challenging concept, and creating a learning environment where he or she feels comfortable enough to ask any and every question.  In his free time, Brendan loves playing piano, visiting the Met, catching a new play or musical, and, when he can get back to his native Colorado, skiing and hiking in the mountains.

Brendan, Tutor

Brendan studied music at Pomona College before doing Master’s work in education at Teachers College at Columbia University. Given this diverse background, Brendan enjoys teaching a broad spectrum of subjects, including math, science, writing, and music. His favorite part of tutoring is figuring out the missing pieces to finally help a student understand a challenging concept, and creating a learning environment where he or she feels comfortable enough to ask any and every question.  In his free time, Brendan loves playing piano, visiting the Met, catching a new play or musical, and, when he can get back to his native Colorado, skiing and hiking in the mountains.

 
Michelle, Tutor Michelle graduated magna cum laude from Vanderbilt University with a Bachelor's in Elementary Education and Special Education. She then went on to receive her Master's degree at New York University in Early Childhood Education/Early Childhood Special Education. Currently, Michelle is a Special Education teacher with the New York City Department of Education.She is passionate about establishing a safe learning environment where students feel comfortable taking risks and asking questions, which allow them to become active and independent learners. In her free time, Michelle enjoys trying out new recipes and curling up with a great book.   

Michelle, Tutor

Michelle graduated magna cum laude from Vanderbilt University with a Bachelor's in Elementary Education and Special Education. She then went on to receive her Master's degree at New York University in Early Childhood Education/Early Childhood Special Education. Currently, Michelle is a Special Education teacher with the New York City Department of Education.She is passionate about establishing a safe learning environment where students feel comfortable taking risks and asking questions, which allow them to become active and independent learners. In her free time, Michelle enjoys trying out new recipes and curling up with a great book. 

 

Eileen, Tutor Eileen moved to New York City to attend New York University, where she received her Bachelor’s Degree in Early Childhood and Special Education. After graduation, she began teaching at River East Elementary, a small, progressive, public school in East Harlem. She loves the school and has worked there as a 2nd grade special education teacher for the last five years. While teaching, she also attended Hunter College to complete her Master’s degree in Behavior Disorders. Eileen is a strong supporter of early childhood education and building a solid elementary literacy and math foundation. She believes that all children can learn and succeed in school when given the tools to do so. When not teaching, Eileen enjoys singing, reading, going on adventures, and hanging out with her 2 cats.  

Eileen, Tutor

Eileen moved to New York City to attend New York University, where she received her Bachelor’s Degree in Early Childhood and Special Education. After graduation, she began teaching at River East Elementary, a small, progressive, public school in East Harlem. She loves the school and has worked there as a 2nd grade special education teacher for the last five years. While teaching, she also attended Hunter College to complete her Master’s degree in Behavior Disorders. Eileen is a strong supporter of early childhood education and building a solid elementary literacy and math foundation. She believes that all children can learn and succeed in school when given the tools to do so. When not teaching, Eileen enjoys singing, reading, going on adventures, and hanging out with her 2 cats.

 

Elizabeth, Tutor Elizabeth graduated from William Paterson University with a Bachelor’s degree in Secondary and Special Education with a concentration in English Writing. Following graduation, she worked as a special education teacher at the high school level in New Jersey while simultaneously pursuing a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from The New School in New York. She is currently working to complete the coursework for the Gifted Education certificate from Rutgers University while also working as a head teacher at The Lang School. While Elizabeth basks in the joy of tutoring across various subjects and grade levels, she especially enjoys helping her students gain confidence while improving their reading comprehension and writing skills. During her spare time, Elizabeth enjoys working out, writing, catching up on reading (or sleep!), and trying new restaurants with friends. 

Elizabeth, Tutor

Elizabeth graduated from William Paterson University with a Bachelor’s degree in Secondary and Special Education with a concentration in English Writing. Following graduation, she worked as a special education teacher at the high school level in New Jersey while simultaneously pursuing a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from The New School in New York. She is currently working to complete the coursework for the Gifted Education certificate from Rutgers University while also working as a head teacher at The Lang School. While Elizabeth basks in the joy of tutoring across various subjects and grade levels, she especially enjoys helping her students gain confidence while improving their reading comprehension and writing skills. During her spare time, Elizabeth enjoys working out, writing, catching up on reading (or sleep!), and trying new restaurants with friends. 

 
Matt, Tutor Matt graduated with a degree in History from Harvard University, where he was also an active member of the theater community. He has worked with kids of all ages, both in academic and artistic settings. Matt has tutored in the New York City area for the past several years in everything from elementary school reading and math to college entrance exam test prep. He loves teaching his students how to make learning a little less arduous and a little more fun. Originally from Rhode Island, Matt is a New York based actor who has traveled the country performing in that uniquely American art form - musical theatre. 

Matt, Tutor

Matt graduated with a degree in History from Harvard University, where he was also an active member of the theater community. He has worked with kids of all ages, both in academic and artistic settings. Matt has tutored in the New York City area for the past several years in everything from elementary school reading and math to college entrance exam test prep. He loves teaching his students how to make learning a little less arduous and a little more fun. Originally from Rhode Island, Matt is a New York based actor who has traveled the country performing in that uniquely American art form - musical theatre. 

Eric, Tutor Eric is a writer, educator, and arts administrator. He moved to New York City to become a teacher after graduating from the University of Michigan in 2013 with degrees in English and Theatre. He taught 6th-grade reading and writing at a private middle school on the Lower East Side. Since then, he co-founded a theatre company, interned in Manhattan Theatre Club's Education office, and taught playwriting. He has been tutoring students of all ages and abilities for seven years, and he strives to engender fun and respect in learning. In his free time, Eric enjoys seeing shows and working on projects of his own.

Eric, Tutor

Eric is a writer, educator, and arts administrator. He moved to New York City to become a teacher after graduating from the University of Michigan in 2013 with degrees in English and Theatre. He taught 6th-grade reading and writing at a private middle school on the Lower East Side. Since then, he co-founded a theatre company, interned in Manhattan Theatre Club's Education office, and taught playwriting. He has been tutoring students of all ages and abilities for seven years, and he strives to engender fun and respect in learning. In his free time, Eric enjoys seeing shows and working on projects of his own.

Sophie, Tutor Sophie studied Modernist Literature at Scripps College and went on to teach English for three delightful years in Houston, TX. Eager to pursue her passion for writing, Sophie moved to New York City in 2011 to earn her Master’s in Poetry from New York University.  During her time there, she served as a managing editor of the Washington Square Review, and worked as an adjunct professor in the English Department. Since graduation, Sophie has continued to help middle school, high school, and college students find their voice as writers.

Sophie, Tutor

Sophie studied Modernist Literature at Scripps College and went on to teach English for three delightful years in Houston, TX. Eager to pursue her passion for writing, Sophie moved to New York City in 2011 to earn her Master’s in Poetry from New York University.  During her time there, she served as a managing editor of the Washington Square Review, and worked as an adjunct professor in the English Department. Since graduation, Sophie has continued to help middle school, high school, and college students find their voice as writers.

 
Emily, Tutor Emily graduated magna cum laude from Northwestern University with a B.S. in theatre. She is the co-founder of Philadelphia's first producing playwrights collective Orbiter 3, and works as a theatre producer, playwright and TV writer. Additionally, Emily was both an alumna and arts educator at Philadelphia Young Playwrights where she tutored and mentored young people in playwriting and creative writing. In her free time she likes to cook, root for any and all Philadelphia sports teams, stay active and spend time with her dogs, Finn and Nikki.

Emily, Tutor

Emily graduated magna cum laude from Northwestern University with a B.S. in theatre. She is the co-founder of Philadelphia's first producing playwrights collective Orbiter 3, and works as a theatre producer, playwright and TV writer. Additionally, Emily was both an alumna and arts educator at Philadelphia Young Playwrights where she tutored and mentored young people in playwriting and creative writing. In her free time she likes to cook, root for any and all Philadelphia sports teams, stay active and spend time with her dogs, Finn and Nikki.

Alexandra, Tutor Alexandra graduated cum laude from Bates College with departmental honors in English. She coordinated a pro bono law project after college, but she enjoyed tutoring high school students. Tutoring motivated Alexandra to join NYC Teaching Fellows, and she received her Master’s in English Education, Grades 7-12, from Brooklyn College. Alexandra teaches AP Literature and 11th grade ELA at a performing arts public high school in Brooklyn. She also advises the school’s yearbook staff and thinks the best part is getting to know her students outside of class. In 2015, Alexandra was awarded Columbia University’s Humphreys Fellowship. Another highlight was when Carmen Fariña, the NYC Schools Chancellor, observed her classroom. Above all, Alexandra adores teaching because she loves working with a variety of students – especially those who challenge her to think outside of the box!

Alexandra, Tutor

Alexandra graduated cum laude from Bates College with departmental honors in English. She coordinated a pro bono law project after college, but she enjoyed tutoring high school students. Tutoring motivated Alexandra to join NYC Teaching Fellows, and she received her Master’s in English Education, Grades 7-12, from Brooklyn College. Alexandra teaches AP Literature and 11th grade ELA at a performing arts public high school in Brooklyn. She also advises the school’s yearbook staff and thinks the best part is getting to know her students outside of class. In 2015, Alexandra was awarded Columbia University’s Humphreys Fellowship. Another highlight was when Carmen Fariña, the NYC Schools Chancellor, observed her classroom. Above all, Alexandra adores teaching because she loves working with a variety of students – especially those who challenge her to think outside of the box!

Karla, Tutor Karla recently graduated pre-med from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a Bachelor’s degree in communication arts. She worked as a research assistant in the Daniel Heller, PhD nanotechnology lab at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and is currently preparing to take the MCAT. When Karla is not studying for medical school, she is falling back in love with her hometown, NYC. She loves to help her students discover unexpected interests and uncover their unique strengths through individualized instruction and open communication.

Karla, Tutor

Karla recently graduated pre-med from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a Bachelor’s degree in communication arts. She worked as a research assistant in the Daniel Heller, PhD nanotechnology lab at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and is currently preparing to take the MCAT. When Karla is not studying for medical school, she is falling back in love with her hometown, NYC. She loves to help her students discover unexpected interests and uncover their unique strengths through individualized instruction and open communication.

 
Olivia, Tutor Olivia graduated from Harvard University with a degree in Filmmaking, while minoring in English Literature and Language. Throughout her studies, Olivia pursued her love of language through activities that extended beyond her coursework. She served as a full-time Spanish tutor for other students, volunteered as a language tutor for refugees in the greater Boston community, and traveled to Spain and Portugal as a research-writer for the Harvard-led guide book, Let’s Go. Now, as an actress and filmmaker, Olivia has continued her life-long passion for both language and the performing arts. She hopes to someday produce a film back home in Costa Rica!

Olivia, Tutor

Olivia graduated from Harvard University with a degree in Filmmaking, while minoring in English Literature and Language. Throughout her studies, Olivia pursued her love of language through activities that extended beyond her coursework. She served as a full-time Spanish tutor for other students, volunteered as a language tutor for refugees in the greater Boston community, and traveled to Spain and Portugal as a research-writer for the Harvard-led guide book, Let’s Go. Now, as an actress and filmmaker, Olivia has continued her life-long passion for both language and the performing arts. She hopes to someday produce a film back home in Costa Rica!

Elizabeth, Tutor Elizabeth grew up in Texas and moved to Vermont to study environmental education at Middlebury College. She went on to earn her Master’s in Childhood and Early Childhood education from Hunter College. Elizabeth has taught first and second grade and K-3 science at an independent school in New York City. In addition, she has tutored elementary and middle school students in reading, writing, and math. She has learned a lot from each child, and each experience helps her to learn and develop new strategies for becoming an even better teacher and tutor.

Elizabeth, Tutor

Elizabeth grew up in Texas and moved to Vermont to study environmental education at Middlebury College. She went on to earn her Master’s in Childhood and Early Childhood education from Hunter College. Elizabeth has taught first and second grade and K-3 science at an independent school in New York City. In addition, she has tutored elementary and middle school students in reading, writing, and math. She has learned a lot from each child, and each experience helps her to learn and develop new strategies for becoming an even better teacher and tutor.

Hannah, Tutor Hannah graduated from Boston University’s School of Education with a Bachelor’s in Special Education and went on to receive her Master’s in Applied Behavior Analysis from Columbia University Teachers College. Currently, Hannah is a Special Education teacher who specializes in reading intervention for elementary-age students. Throughout her experiences as a student and teacher, Hannah developed a strong interest in children’s literature and reading instruction. She believes in the value and necessity of exposing children to quality literature from an early age. It is her priority to identify and take advantage of students’ aptitudes, and find efficient ways to accommodate and remediate their difficulties. Hannah is a passionate teacher who is devoted to providing meaningful learning experiences that maximize each student’s potential.

Hannah, Tutor

Hannah graduated from Boston University’s School of Education with a Bachelor’s in Special Education and went on to receive her Master’s in Applied Behavior Analysis from Columbia University Teachers College. Currently, Hannah is a Special Education teacher who specializes in reading intervention for elementary-age students. Throughout her experiences as a student and teacher, Hannah developed a strong interest in children’s literature and reading instruction. She believes in the value and necessity of exposing children to quality literature from an early age. It is her priority to identify and take advantage of students’ aptitudes, and find efficient ways to accommodate and remediate their difficulties. Hannah is a passionate teacher who is devoted to providing meaningful learning experiences that maximize each student’s potential.

 
Dylan, Tutor Dylan graduated from Harvard University with a Bachelor's degree in music and a secondary degree in economics. He hails from rural Connecticut, where he was his high school's class president, valedictorian, and an Eagle Scout. Since moving to NYC, Dylan has acted as a music assistant for the Broadway and Chicago productions of Hamilton, and he continues to develop his own original musicals. When tutoring, Dylan has found that learning any subject is like learning an instrument: the best way to master it is to find a way to enjoy it.

Dylan, Tutor

Dylan graduated from Harvard University with a Bachelor's degree in music and a secondary degree in economics. He hails from rural Connecticut, where he was his high school's class president, valedictorian, and an Eagle Scout. Since moving to NYC, Dylan has acted as a music assistant for the Broadway and Chicago productions of Hamilton, and he continues to develop his own original musicals. When tutoring, Dylan has found that learning any subject is like learning an instrument: the best way to master it is to find a way to enjoy it.

Corinne, Tutor  Corinne graduated magna cum laude from Syracuse University with a major in Inclusive Elementary and Special Education. She went on to earn her Master’s of Science at Syracuse in the area of Inclusive Special Education, Grades 7-12. Throughout college, Corinne tutored students of a wide variety of ages in literacy skills. Corinne currently teaches 7th Grade Science at a public middle school in Long Island City, Queens. She also teaches reading using a decoding and spelling program for small groups of students to improve their reading skills. Corinne loves her job as a teacher because she works with such a diverse population of students. In her free time, Corinne loves to cook, read, travel, and try new things in the amazing borough of Brooklyn!

Corinne, Tutor

 Corinne graduated magna cum laude from Syracuse University with a major in Inclusive Elementary and Special Education. She went on to earn her Master’s of Science at Syracuse in the area of Inclusive Special Education, Grades 7-12. Throughout college, Corinne tutored students of a wide variety of ages in literacy skills. Corinne currently teaches 7th Grade Science at a public middle school in Long Island City, Queens. She also teaches reading using a decoding and spelling program for small groups of students to improve their reading skills. Corinne loves her job as a teacher because she works with such a diverse population of students. In her free time, Corinne loves to cook, read, travel, and try new things in the amazing borough of Brooklyn!

Gadi, tutor Gadi graduated from Washington University in St. Louis with a double major in Finance and Drama and a minor in Jazz performance. Growing up overseas in London, Jerusalem, and Mexico City, Gadi has gained a global and variegated perspective on teaching - which he applies to each of his students. Gadi’s passion is to prove to the world that everyone can do math - yes, even his mother! When he isn't tutoring, Gadi works as an actor, producer, and freelance director in NYC. 

Gadi, tutor

Gadi graduated from Washington University in St. Louis with a double major in Finance and Drama and a minor in Jazz performance. Growing up overseas in London, Jerusalem, and Mexico City, Gadi has gained a global and variegated perspective on teaching - which he applies to each of his students. Gadi’s passion is to prove to the world that everyone can do math - yes, even his mother! When he isn't tutoring, Gadi works as an actor, producer, and freelance director in NYC. 

 
Rachelle, Tutor Rachelle graduated from UCLA with a B.S. in Physiology and Interactive Biology. She grew up in California, moved to New York at the end of 2015, and currently works as a clinical research coordinator at Mount Sinai Hospital. She has been a tutor for over 10 years now and really enjoys working with kids. Her favorite part of tutoring is seeing a student light up when they finally start to understand a concept they found confusing before. Outside of work and tutoring, Rachelle loves to hike, spend time outdoors, and try new restaurants with friends. 

Rachelle, Tutor

Rachelle graduated from UCLA with a B.S. in Physiology and Interactive Biology. She grew up in California, moved to New York at the end of 2015, and currently works as a clinical research coordinator at Mount Sinai Hospital. She has been a tutor for over 10 years now and really enjoys working with kids. Her favorite part of tutoring is seeing a student light up when they finally start to understand a concept they found confusing before. Outside of work and tutoring, Rachelle loves to hike, spend time outdoors, and try new restaurants with friends. 

Jacob, Tutor Jacob graduated from Harvard University, where he designed a special concentration in Dramatic Theory and Practice. He brings patience and creativity to his work with students in all disciplines, and feels a particular connection to kids with attentional challenges. He is an actor, director, playwright, and musician, and aims to tailor specific, creative learning approaches to each individual student’s needs. Jacob has always loved to learn, and works to spread this love as part of his teaching process.

Jacob, Tutor

Jacob graduated from Harvard University, where he designed a special concentration in Dramatic Theory and Practice. He brings patience and creativity to his work with students in all disciplines, and feels a particular connection to kids with attentional challenges. He is an actor, director, playwright, and musician, and aims to tailor specific, creative learning approaches to each individual student’s needs. Jacob has always loved to learn, and works to spread this love as part of his teaching process.