Swell Tutor Bios

Naomi, Founder

Naomi Zell is a nationally recognized test prep expert who has helped thousands of students reach their goals on the SAT, ACT, SSAT, GRE, and other tests, and gain entrance to top choice colleges. She started Swell Education in 2010 to meet the need for personalized, flexible prep for high-achieving students in the Bay Area.  Word-of-mouth spread, and Swell now has a small team of tutoring all-stars who offer support both for admissions tests and for academic success in school.  Before founding Swell, Naomi spent years in various roles with The Princeton Review in Florida, Hawaii, Texas, and California, ranging from National SAT/ACT Product Manager to Premier Tutor.  After an extended sailing trip, she decided to launch Swell to focus on building relationships with families to help students succeed. She received her MBA from the University of Texas at Austin, where she was a Longhorn Merit Scholar, and graduated summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Florida honors program, with a degree in English and economics. Naomi is a top choice private tutor among Bay Area families and has tutored students from competitive schools such as Branson, Lick-Wilmerding, Marin Academy, Redwood, St. Ignatius, University, Urban, and many other day and boarding schools.  She spends most of her free time with her two small children exploring the Presidio and San Francisco, and works closely with the Swell team to help Swell students get their best outcomes.

Alexis, cofounder Swell Silicon Valley

Alexis joined Swell in 2013 and quickly became a highly requested tutor with a phenomenal track record. When it was time to leave the busy city and head South to the suburbs, Alexis jumped on the opportunity to expand the Swell family! Alexis and Naomi founded Swell Silicon Valley, focused on providing personalized and effective test preparation throughout the Peninsula. Originally from Santa Cruz, Alexis started tutoring while studying Sociology in Santa Barbara. During this time, she also studied education theory and pedagogy at the Gervitz Graduate School of Education, graduating Magna Cum Laude with honors. She later earned her Masters degree at the University of Amsterdam. Alexis offers her team of tutors and her students expertise, encouragement, and personalized strategies. With some students, Alexis also includes mindfulness techniques to combat test anxiety. Her goal is to connect personally to build a productive and enjoyable relationship that fosters great results. While teaching for The Princeton Review, Alexis was awarded Santa Barbara teacher of the year as her students had the highest average score improvement. Alexis also produces ACT practice content, creating new practice test sections and strategy tips for Tutor Ted and online resources. When not tutoring, she enjoys being outdoors with her dog, either on the beach or in the woods. Alexis meets students from Mountain View to Hillsborough. 

Associate Tutors


Andrew grew up in Maryland, but came to the Bay Area for college and never left. He completed his undergraduate education at Stanford University, with a double major in American history and music and received a Master's degree from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. Andrew has been a professional academic tutor, teacher, and curriculum writer for standardized test preparation since 2010. He has helped hundreds of students prepare for the SAT, ACT, and PSAT and has written curriculum for the new SAT and ACT.  In addition to test prep, Andrew tutors in subject areas including English Language and Literature, American History, World History, and Government & Politics. He strives to create a supportive, positive environment that allows students to achieve and acquire skills that can be applicable to both standardized tests and students' learning processes as a whole. It makes him extremely proud to watch his students grow into their own as test-takers, studiers, and scholars. When he isn't tutoring, Andrew plays drums and percussion in a variety of ensembles around the Bay Area. Andrew tutors in San Francisco and Marin. 


Andy grew up in the Orange County region of Southern California, and got his BS in Molecular/Cellular Biology at the Johns Hopkins University. He moved to the Bay Area in order to obtain a Master’s Degree in Global Health at UCSF. Andy first realized his passion for tutoring in high school, where he began to hold after-practice study sessions for his teammates on the football team. He continued tutoring throughout college and worked full-time for a local tutoring company in Baltimore, where he was known as its loudest tutor, but with good reason--he engaged his students as soon as they sat down and would have them laughing and learning simultaneously. Andy helps students with SAT, ACT, SAT Subject Tests, SSAT, ISEE prep as well as all levels of Math and Sciences. He has tutored more than 80 students for the SAT and ACT and is a firm believer that learning should be an enjoyable experience in order for it to be most effective. He is passionate about building relationships with students to provide an open space for learning and critical thinking, and ultimately help them tap into their potential and more. Andy tutors in SF and Marin.


Over the past decade Ben has gained international recognition as a standardized test prep expert specializing in the SAT, ACT, SSAT, and ISEE. Ben spent the first few years of his career traveling throughout the United States as a "premier" tutor for one of the largest test prep companies in the world. During this time Ben's services were requested for a number of years to teach at the acclaimed international high school summer program at Phillips Academy in Andover, MA. While there, Ben began to develop a reputation overseas and soon relocated to Istanbul, Turkey. While based out of Turkey, Ben traveled extensively working with students from all over the world. To date Ben has helped over 1000 students from more than 35 countries achieve their dreams of pursuing higher education. Given the diverse range of students with whom he has worked, Ben has a unique ability to quickly identify a student's individual needs and customize personalized plans to ensure maximum improvement. In his spare time Ben enjoys anything related to being out on the water, which stems from the time he won a bronze medal in the Junior Olympics for sailing when he was just a kid.


Originally from Nevada, Chase graduated from Yale University with a BA in Philosophy. He began SAT and ACT tutoring with a boutique Connecticut test prep firm as an undergrad and has spent the past seven years tutoring the SAT, ACT, SSAT, numerous SAT Subject and AP Tests, and various academic subjects including US, European, and World History, all levels of math up to Calculus, Philosophy, Economics, and Government.  When not tutoring, he enjoys running, skiing, rock climbing, canyoneering, (too much) coffee, art, literature, and writing fiction. While Chase has a passion for ideas and a knack for test taking, his greatest strength as an instructor lies in his ability to connect with his students and to coach them toward achieving their full potential. Chase tutors in San Francisco and Marin.


Cody grew up on a farm in Kentucky where his exposure to nature sparked a lifelong interest in science. Striving to push himself academically from an early age, he began taking the ACT and SAT through gifted student programs in the 5th grade. He participated in several academic competitions throughout his school career before attending the Gatton Academy of Math and Science, a two-year early college program that let him finish high school as a full-time undergraduate student. After high school he studied math and computer science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he worked as a programming tutor and continued working with test prep and academic subject students in the Boston and Cambridge areas. He has worked with students from elementary school age to college and has helped dozens of students reach their full potential. Cody moved to San Francisco to teach programming and iOS development as a summer job, but loved the city and the students he worked with so much he decided to stay! He really enjoys building relationships with the students and families he works with, and never hesitates to help them navigate test prep, high school, college applications, and just life in general. Cody tutors for the ACT, SAT, SAT Subject Tests in Math, Chemistry, and Biology, math through AP Calculus AB, computer science, and Coding (Python, CSS, Javascript, Swift/iOS) in San Francisco, Marin, and the Peninsula.


Doug is a career test prep teacher who has a BS in Chemistry from Central Michigan University and worked towards a Ph.D. and an M.Ed. from Colorado State University. Doug developed his flair for communication through a lifetime of involvement in music and performance, taught underclassmen throughout his graduate study, and earned the Master Teacher Award from Front Range Community College as well as the Mentor of the Year award from Colorado State University. Doug has years of experience as a master teacher and tutor at a national test prep company, teaching ACT, SAT, GRE, MCAT (Biology, CARS, General Chemistry, Organic Chemistry, and Physics), GMAT, AP and SAT Science and Math Subject Tests. In his many years of teaching and his own experience in higher education, he has seen almost everything that his students will face and enjoys helping them navigate the process. Doug maintains a high level of energy in his classroom and tutoring sessions and uses both humor and Socratic questioning to keep his students engaged. He has a reputation as a curmudgeon with a heart of gold, helping his students build self-reliance and a motivation to succeed. When he’s not teaching, Doug still plays music. He has a passion for collecting things as well, with his LEGO collection being his most prized collection. Doug tutors in Marin and Palo Alto.


A native New Yorker, Emily recently moved to the Bay Area, where she is slowly adjusting to the phenomenon of pleasant weather. Before coming west, Emily attended Yale University, where she graduated summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa, and spent many years tutoring and developing test prep curriculum in New York, helping hundreds of students at elite private schools throughout Manhattan improve their grades and boost their standardized test scores. A published novelist and avowed history geek, Emily particularly enjoys working with students on English, humanities and college essays, where she has the opportunity to share her passion for the written word and the mysteries of the past. Although a wordsmith by trade, Emily also loves the fact that tutoring gives her an excuse to keep her math skills razor sharp: she’s as comfortable explaining the intricacies of polar coordinates and vector multiplication as she is mining the meaning of Shakespeare’s sonnets. Emily tutors the SAT, ACT, SSAT, GRE and SAT Subject Tests in Math, Literature and US and World History as well as a variety of academic subjects including English, history, government and math through Precalculus. She works with students in San Francisco, Palo Alto, Woodside and via Skype. 


Born in Shanghai, China, George grew up in the Richmond District of San Francisco, where he learned to love books, basketball, photography, pierogis and rap music. After graduating from Lowell High School, he attended UC Davis for two years before transferring to Reed College. At Reed, he developed a deep passion for writing and post-War American fiction. He would ultimately return to the University of California community as a doctoral candidate specializing in post-War novels by Asian American and African American authors. George got his start in education very early as a tutor to elementary and middle school students while a high school student. For the last ten years, he has specialized in SAT and ACT test prep, advanced algebra, geometry and academic writing. He has developed ACT and SAT math curricula for two tutoring companies in recent years. In addition to tutoring, he has taught as a lecturer and graduate instructor across the undergraduate English curriculum at UC Irvine. George believes that every student’s path to academic success is unique and the best mentoring relationship is a collaboration. In his own educational experience, he has been fortunate to have amazing teachers and mentors who have helped him succeed at every level, so he has a special appreciation for the role of mentorship. George lives in Albany with his wife and his four-year-old son. When not overthinking his dissertation, he likes to worry about the Warriors, think about what to have for lunch, take pictures on long hikes around the Bay Area, play the violin and collect sneakers.


Heather is an alumna of Harvard (M.Ed., Learning and Teaching) and Oberlin (B.A., Politics) who has devoted her life’s work to helping students access educational opportunities. Her love for tutoring was sparked as an undergrad volunteering at a Title 1 school in Ohio. Since then, she has tutored math, writing, Economics, ACT and SAT prep in cities on the East Coast, before settling down in beautiful Northern California. She is passionate about developing students’ abilities to manage stress, prioritize work, and break down complex problems. Heather created computer science curriculum at Google before joining a college access program in Palo Alto, at which she visualizes data and evaluates scholarship applications. Originally from Kansas, Heather enjoys practicing yoga, hiking in National Parks, and cheering on the Jayhawks basketball team. Heather works with students in San Mateo and Hillsborough.


Ian is a recent graduate of the University of Chicago with a B.S. in Biochemistry and a B.A. in Chemistry, and was enrolled in the Chemistry and Chemical Biology PhD program at UCSF for a year. While at UCSF he participated in a volunteer program where he developed and taught science lessons to elementary school children, an extension of a love for teaching that he developed in college as a tutor and TA. He is well versed at teaching Chemistry, Physics, Biology, and all levels of math through AP Calculus BC and has worked with numerous college and high school students. He is also an expert test-taker, earning outstanding scores on the GRE, ACT, SAT, and SAT subject tests. Ian has always loved meeting new people and brings a friendly, calm demeanor to every lesson.  He has a talent for seeing each problem from the eyes of the student in order to help each student learn and solve problems in his or her own way. Ian is an avid soccer player and follows both the English Premier League and the NBA. His interests extend to movies and cooking for himself and for his friends. Ian works with students in San Francisco and Marin.


Isaac is from sunny Orange County, California. When parents of his high school friends learned of his perfect SAT score, he began his career as a star tutor by helping buddies prepare for the SAT, and he has continued tutoring ever since. Isaac has helped hundreds of students succeed on the SAT, ACT, and AP Calculus exams. In 2013, he cofounded an education company in Irvine, California. His track record is top notch, with several of his brightest students receiving perfect scores. Isaac has mastered the ability to quickly cater specific strategies to each individual student. Yet, most importantly, he is still learning and improving as a tutor, always seeking even better ways to help the next pupil he meets. In his free time, he likes to yell at professional basketball players through the television screen as if they can hear him. Isaac tutors in Sonoma, Marin, and San Francisco.


Jackson grew up in a sleepy town in the Sierra Nevada. He began tutoring in high school and continued throughout his college career. After graduating from UC Davis with a degree in Economics, Jackson decided to pursue tutoring more directly. He worked for several elite tutoring agencies in Los Angeles, doing prep work for the ACT, SAT, ISEE and HSPT and many academic subject areas, and has helped more than 100 students reach their goals on admissions tests in the last two years. His favorite part about tutoring is the ability to curate a curriculum specifically for each student. He loves fostering relationships with families and the satisfaction of watching his students flourish. Ultimately Jackson strives to improve his students' relationships with test taking and learning in general. Jackson is currently exploring several programming languages in his spare time and enjoys backpacking when he gets the chance. Jackson works with students in San Francisco and in Marin.  


Karsyn grew up in the Research Triangle region of North Carolina, developing an interest in math and science from an early age.  She attended California Institute of Technology and earned a B.S. with honors in Bioengineering and English. As an undergrad, she discovered her love of teaching while tutoring high school students. She continues to pursue this passion as a Peer Tutor at the UCSF School of Medicine where she is working toward a dual MD/PhD degree.  Karsyn tutors in a host of areas including Chemistry, Biology, math through Algebra 2, SAT Subject Tests, and the SAT/ACT. As a tutor, Karsyn strives to empower her students with the confidence to reach their goals by developing individualized approaches to mastering material.  In her free time, she enjoys venturing to new coffee shops in San Francisco and marveling at all of the breathtaking views that the city has to offer. Karsyn tutors in San Francisco and on the Peninsula.


Katie grew up in Beverly Farms, an idyllic New England town in Massachusetts. She has tutored more than three hundred students and is a seasoned test expert who can adapt to any situation. She began tutoring high school students in 2003 while she pursued a BA in both Political Science and Journalism at the University of Arizona.  After graduation, she joined forces with an elite tutoring company in Connecticut, and after nearly ten years of tutoring and roles as lead tutor, tutor trainer, and curriculum developer in Fairfield County – one of the most academically competitive areas of the country – she relocated to San Francisco. Katie prides herself on inspiring students and improving their test scores and grades by tapping into their individual needs. She specializes in prep for the verbal portions of the SAT and ACT, as well as U.S. History, U.S. Government & Politics, English Literature and Language, and college essays. Katie is an avid reader who enjoys traveling, hiking around the Bay Area, horseback riding, and showing off her pet bunny, FDR.  Katie tutors in San Francisco and Marin.


Nicole is an ACT and SAT expert, hailing from Illinois, which leads the nation in sheer quantity of ACT test takers.  She holds a bachelors degree in philosophy from DePaul University with high honors.  Nicole was one of the most requested tutors at one of Chicago’s leading private tutoring firms, which described her as “the perfect amalgam of tutor, mentor, and coach.”  She has tutored several hundred students for the ACT, SAT, and SSAT, and she has a range of experience developing curriculum, training test prep teachers, and mentoring students.  After several years tutoring for Swell in the Bay Area while managing an organic blueberry farm, Nicole now spends her time volunteering with the Salmon River Restoration Council surveying nearby salmon nests and exploring the wilderness of the Klamath National Forest in Siskiyou County where she resides with her family and flock of laying hens.  She meets students over Skype.


Originally from a beach town just south of Boston, Olivia is excited to finally be living on the "best coast". After graduating with a degree in Behavioral Biology from Johns Hopkins University in 2017, Olivia started working as a full-time tutor in Baltimore. She's tutored a variety of subjects from Biology to AP literature, and has worked with students for the SAT, ACT and SAT Subject Tests. Olivia enjoys helping her students achieve their goals and looks to coach students to their maximum potential. She has worked with over a hundred middle and high school students for standardized testing and subject tutoring. When she is not tutoring, Olivia likes to hang out with her cats, Tara and Sadie whom she claims are the 'best cats in the world.' Olivia tutors in San Francisco and Marin.


Sameep was born and raised in the twin cities of Minnesota. He moved to the Bay Area to study electrical engineering at Stanford, earning a BS as well as an MS. Sameep first caught the teaching bug while helping his peers with math in middle school. He continued tutoring throughout college, worked for a national tutoring company while getting his masters degree, and helps students with SAT, ACT, and SSAT prep as well as all levels of math through Calculus BC, AP Computer Science, and Physics. Sameep is equally comfortable with English—he is an avid reader and word nerd who completes the New York Times crossword puzzle every day. He has a gift for helping students reach their potential. In his spare time, Sameep plays and watches tennis and tries to venture to as many new restaurants and live music experiences as possible. Sameep tutors in San Francisco.


Sy lived on both US coasts and spent five years in Asia before settling in the Bay Area in 2013. She got her start tutoring as a student at Phillips Exeter Academy. During school breaks at her parent’s home in Korea, she soon found herself sought out for test prep tutoring and assistance with admissions essays. This spark ignited a career in education. After graduating from the University of Maryland with a BA in English Language and Literature, Sy became involved in all aspects of education: curriculum writing, classroom teaching, private tutoring, program design, and running both for-profit and nonprofit tutoring organizations. She has tutored hundreds of students and her specialties include standardized test prep including the SAT, ACT, and SSAT/ISEE, all levels of English, math through trigonometry, and executive functioning. She is particularly skilled with and thrives on relationship building and mentorship. In her free time, Sy enjoys traveling, cooking, and exploring the Bay Area’s diverse culinary scene. She tutors in SF, the Peninsula, and remotely.


Themasap grew up in central New Jersey and graduated from New York University as a Neural Science major with minors in Psychology and Creative Writing. He has tutored and taught hundreds of students, as a private tutor, teaching assistant at Stanford, and learning specialist with the Schwab Learning Center at Stanford. He got a perfect 2400 on his own SAT, and is passionate about helping students analyze performance and shape prep in the way that is most effective for them. Currently an MD/PhD student at Stanford, Themasap also tutors and mentors first generation college students from low socio-economic backgrounds through the mesh of college applications and standardized test taking. His philosophy follows that every student needs a customized study schedule that fits their preferred methods of learning - and he acts ultimately as a mentor for the students. Themasap enjoys hiking, biking, serenading himself in the shower, sports, satirical classical Italian literature, football (only when the Colts are winning), sunshine, and long car rides by the beach. Themasap tutors for the SAT, ACT, SAT Subject Tests in Physics, Chemistry, Biology, History, Literature, and Math Level 1 and 2 as well as various academic subject areas and meets students in Marin and San Francisco.