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. 

Senior 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. 


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.


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.


For over thirteen years, Jason has worked as a learning specialist and tutor for a wide variety of students in Boston, Washington, DC, Oakland and San Francisco. He loves collaborating with students and parents to support their specific academic and social goals. Jason tutors the SAT, ACT, SSAT, and SAT Subject Tests in Math, Literature and US and World History. He also tutors a variety of academic subjects including English, history, the sciences, and math through Precalculus. In previous lives he was a camera assistant in Los Angeles, an options trader on the floor of the CBOE and a medical research assistant in a zebrafish lab. Jason holds a BA from Harvard College, a MSEd from Simmons College, and two Massachusetts teaching credentials. When he isn’t tutoring, Jason seeks adventure in the nooks and crannies of the Bay Area with his wife and their two-year-old daughter. He tutors in San Francisco and via Skype.

John E

John has worked with hundreds of students to help them best realize their unique potential. His focus is on forming a rapport with his students to make test prep something they actually enjoy, which dramatically improves results. John believes that the process of applying to college, beginning with standardized test prep, is an opportunity for personal growth and understanding outside the traditional classroom environment. He is a co-author of the book "Tutor Ted's Guide to the SAT: A Comprehensive, Non-Boring, Score-Raising, Future-Winning Resource for SAT Mastery So You Can Get Into College." John graduated Cum Laude from Northwestern University with a degree in Theatre Arts and Creative Writing. After over a decade in Los Angeles and a year as a touring musician, John is happy to be in the Bay area and enjoying the air and people. John tutors for the SAT, ACT, SSAT, and the SAT Subject Tests in US History and Literature, as well as writing, English, and US History, and meets students in San Francisco and over Skype.


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.


Sam attended the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and received his BA in Psychology. Afterwards, Sam developed an ACT/SAT curriculum and started an education company while preparing for law school. After transitioning from his business, Sam attended the University of California, Irvine School of Law on a full scholarship, where he continued to polish his expertise in standardized testing instruction through his experience working with a boutique tutoring firm in Irvine. Sam has helped more than 250 students prepare for the ACT and has routinely produced significant score increases and helped them gain admittance to their top choice colleges. Sam firmly believes that dedication, communication, and ingenuity go a long way toward success on the ACT. With his free time, Sam enjoys outdoor sports, growing succulents, trying new types of food and playing with his golden spaniel puppy. Sam tutors in San Francisco.


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.

Associate Tutors


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.


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.


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.


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.  


Jeremy grew up in Las Vegas, NV and moved to the Bay Area to attend Stanford University, where he earned an M.A. in Public Policy and a B.A. in Political Science. Jeremy has been tutoring students for over ten years in a broad range of subjects, including math through calculus, history, economics, statistics, government, reading comprehension, writing/composition, and SAT/ACT prep. While at Stanford, he worked part-time as a teaching assistant for two upper-level courses, where he prioritized finding engaging ways to help diverse individuals learn. Jeremy's students appreciate him as an educator, but also as a role model, a collaborator, and a friend. His students say that his love for learning and his ability to offer clear explanations of difficult topics make his tutoring sessions interesting, engaging, and enjoyable. He is currently working on his first novel. When he isn't writing or tutoring, he enjoys playing music, reading, or learning about new subjects. Jeremy tutors in San Francisco.


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.


Olivia grew up in Colorado, where she got her BS in Physics at Colorado State University, minoring in Mathematics, Russian, and Art. She taught private lessons and group classes in mathematics and physics for the Dept of Natural Sciences, and shortly thereafter, moved to eastern Europe to tutor STEM. She has been tutoring in the Bay area since 2015 and is an SAT and ACT expert.  She has helped dozens of students prepare for the SAT and ACT and regularly tutors for test prep as well as physics, chemistry, biology, and math through Calculus BC. As a published travel writer, blogger, and avid reader, Olivia is well versed with reading and English and enjoys finding patterns to help students unlock their potential in verbal areas of the SAT and ACT. Olivia is passionate about helping students recognize patterns and make connections in standardized tests, and delights in supporting young women in STEM. When she is not tutoring, you will find her immersed in web development, playing guitar, painting, or exploring the great outdoors. Olivia tutors in San Francisco.


Roger got his start in tutoring after his junior year in high school, helping his peers understand the ins and outs of the ACT. He has always had an affinity for standardized tests, and has used his expertise to help hundreds of students on their college exams. After graduating from UC Berkeley in 2015 (B.S Electrical Engineering), Roger decided to further pursue his passion in education, starting his own ACT workshop at his old high school in Utah. He moved back out to the Bay Area in early 2017 to pursue a career in EdTech, and most recently worked as a coding instructor at Dev Bootcamp teaching web development. No matter where he goes, he takes immense satisfaction from watching his students grow and blossom into exceptional learners.  In his free time, he religiously follows the NBA, plays board games, and watches The Office episodes on repeat for the umpteenth time. 


Swami grew up in India and attended one of the world’s elite engineering colleges, the Indian Institute of Technology in Delhi. Swami graduated with a B. Tech. in Electrical Engineering and went on to get his M.S. in Electrical and Computer Engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He has helped dozens of students prepare for the ACT, SAT, SAT Subject Tests, AP courses (and tests) in Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Calculus, and other subjects, as well as other math and science subjects. He aims to build a strong, positive, mentoring relationship with each student and help them find internal motivation to learn, as well as develop organizational and study skills that improve outcomes. His deep knowledge of the subject matter and expertise in test-taking help students learn concepts and master problem-solving techniques. He draws inspiration from watching students learn to enjoy and love math and science. When he isn’t tutoring, Swami plays the piano and sings jazz and Indian music. Swami tutors in San Francisco, Marin, and the East Bay, and also online via video conference.


Hailing from the great state of Colorado, Tyler has been teaching for nearly 10 years. He began tutoring as an undergraduate student at Colorado State University, where he earned a B.S. in Physics and a B.S. in Mathematics. Here, he quickly discovered both his love and aptitude for teaching and science. He continued to teach, even while employed as a Research Scientist at Colorado State University and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, studying state-of-the-art solar cell devices and contributing to 8 publications. After a stint teaching in eastern Europe, Tyler moved to the Bay Area in 2015, where he made his focus helping students build skills for SAT/ACT test prep, math from elementary to AP Calculus AB, all levels of Physics, and Chemistry. His teaching style is very adaptable, accommodating the needs of the gamut of students and learning styles. A wordsmith for his gaming company who writes stories by day, Tyler is equally comfortable tutoring SAT/ACT verbal. In his free time, you will find Tyler designing video games with indie game company Offworld Games, playing guitar, reading, or sleeping under the stars. Tyler tutors in San Francisco