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.  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 tutors 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. Naomi meets students in Corte Madera and Laurel Heights.  

Alexis, cofounder Swell Silicon Valley

Alexis joined Swell in 2013 and quickly became a favorite with students and families in San Francisco and Marin. 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. She is both the star tutor and tutoring manager of Swell Silicon Valley. 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 studied abroad, earning her Masters degree at the University of Amsterdam. As a  private tutor, Alexis offers her students expertise, encouragement, and personalized strategies. With some students, Alexis also includes mindfulness techniques to combat test anxiety. Her goal with every student is to connect personally to build a productive and enjoyable relationship. 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 and in San Francisco. 

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. 


Chirag has over fifteen years of tutoring experience preparing students for the SAT, ACT, GRE, GMAT, and other standardized tests, as well as academic areas including algebra, geometry, pre-calculus, calculus, chemistry, biology, statistics, writing, and reading comprehension, both in classroom and one-on-one settings. He graduated from Johns Hopkins University with BS and MSE degrees in biomedical engineering and minors in mathematics and Spanish. He finished MD/PhD training at the University of Texas McGovern Medical School in Houston before moving to California to complete neurology residency training at UCLA. He's currently a brain cancer researcher at Stanford University. In his free time, he enjoys traveling and photography. Chirag is excited to tutor students in Palo Alto in order to help them achieve their academic goals.


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, and computer science in San Francisco and Marin.


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.

James T

A Bay Area native, James relocated back to the Bay Area in 2016 after spending the last decade on the East Coast.  He has extensive experience tutoring students ranging from elementary school to college and has helped dozens of students prepare for the SAT over the last seven years. Prior to joining Swell Education, he worked for a top Boston firm as a premier test prep tutor.   As a former collegiate athlete (track) and former  three sport athlete at Piedmont HS, James understands what it takes to effectively balance the academic and extracurricular rigors of high school.  Aiming to alleviate anxiety and pressure, James creates a comfortable and interactive tutoring experience for his students.  James earned a B.A. in Biology/Public Health from Johns Hopkins University and a MPH from Tufts School of Medicine.  He tutors students for the SAT in San Francisco and the Peninsula.

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.


Kate is a uniquely versatile tutor with over six years of experience who has worked with hundreds of students. Kate grew up in Paris and attended the Université Paris-Sorbonne, where she received her Bachelor’s Degree in Philosophy and her Master’s Degree in Linguistics.  The subjects she teaches include ACT, SAT, SAT Subject Test, AP, and SSAT prep, Biology, Physics, US, World, and European History, English, Psychology, math through Calculus, and nine foreign languages. It is Kate’s belief that her international upbringing and education, passion for languages, innovative and personalized approach to tutoring, sense of humor, and ability to relate to people of all ages are what mark her as a unique and effective tutor who will bring out the best in all of her students. In her spare time, Kate can be found working as a freelance photographer, surfing, scuba diving, playing the drums, and traveling around the world. Kate sees students in San Francisco, Marin, and remotely. 


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. While away from the books, Nicole works in agriculture, managing an organic blueberry farm in a sleepy Sonoma town.  She also enjoys practicing yoga, playing piano, and traveling.  She meets students in Corte Madera and Sonoma.


A.B. English and American Literature and Language, Harvard College
M.Ed. Learning & Teaching, Harvard Graduate School of Education
Susan taught full-time middle school at the Sterne School in Pacific Heights for two years, and presently teaches drama & performance there in the afternoons.  Prior to moving to San Francisco, Susan worked extensively in New York with students with learning differences, incorporating a strong multi-sensory and metacognitive approach. Her specialty areas are mathematics from ages 8 through high school and all areas and levels of standardized test preparation (SAT, ACT, GRE, GMAT, ISEE, SSAT), as well as Executive Functioning and study skills and all levels of English.  Her work with EBL Coaching and Olympiad Academia emphasized vocabulary development and strong study skills. While at HGSE, Susan did the majority of her coursework with Project Zero, committing herself to investigating critical thinking, inquiry and creativity.  Because Susan works with all ages, she is able to put students’ learning in context for them.  She prides herself on helping parents to feel involved and empowered in their children’s development.  As a team, Susan works together with her students to find manageable supports that allow students to take more responsibility for their own learning. In a former life, Susan was a classically-trained professional actor and agency model.  Susan sees students in Noe Valley.


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


Aashish is originally from Kathmandu, Nepal. He completed his Bachelors in Biology and Chemistry in 2012. Aashish finished his MS in Chemistry and Biochemistry from UC San Diego, where he was a teaching assistant and instructed over 150 undergraduate students in Chemistry. Aashish has several years of experience tutoring high school and college-level Biology, Chemistry, advanced Math and Physics. He has also ample experience tutoring most AP science subjects and the SAT and ACT. Aashish works full time in biotech research in Marin county and likes to spend time hiking, cycling, doing photography and programming micro-controllers. He is very invested in the success of his students and tutors students in Marin and the East Bay.


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.  

James H

James graduated from Stanford University with a degree in Human Biology. His interests are eclectic and he takes pride in helping students develop a lifelong love of learning. James taught for an elite Stanford tutoring company while still an undergraduate student and thereafter for a variety of high profile clients. He enjoys teaching almost any subject area from chemistry, biology, and physics to mathematics, languages, and history.  James is a startup enthusiast who enjoys creating something from nothing and is incubating his latest project in a small team. In his free time he loves listening to a great classical piece of music, learning a new language, running the hillsides in the east bay and pondering the questions of the universe. James tutors in San Francisco, on the Peninsula, and in the South Bay.


Jenna truly has a passion for learning that she joyfully shares with her students. She graduated from Stanford at the top of her class with a B.S. in Engineering, majoring in Architecture and minoring in Art Practice, along with a coterminal M.S. in Civil Engineering, while also competing as a gymnast and team captain on Stanford's Division I Varsity Gymnastics Team. Through the depth and breadth of her education in both engineering and the humanities, she graduated as a member of both the Phi Beta Kappa and Tau Beta Pi Honor Societies. She is now pursuing a Masters of Architecture at UC Berkeley where her research in biomimetic design has taken her around the globe. Jenna customizes her teaching method to best suit each student's individual needs and learning style. She is dedicated to her students' growth in every aspect of life and enjoys cultivating relationships with the families she works with while helping her students reach their full potential. She has significant experience tutoring a multitude of academic subjects in addition to test preparation. Since 2011, she has worked as a tutor at both the high school and college levels, and has worked as a Teacher's Assistant for the AP Physics B course at her alma-mater in Hawaii, Punahou School, one of the most rigorous college preparatory schools in the nation. She placed in the 99th percentile on the SAT, earning a perfect 800 on writing and a 780 on mathematics. Jenna loves everything outdoors, including surfing, backpacking, snowboarding, beach volleyball, rock climbing, and wake boarding. She works with students in Marin and the East Bay. 


Jordan started running leadership workshops for kids when he was in high school, traveling from his hometown of Sacramento all across California. He got his B.A. in Social Studies with a minor in English at Harvard University, the first in his family to graduate. He moved to San Francisco in order to be closer to his four younger siblings, and since then he's been working as a math tutor, writing coach, and homeschool teacher. He’s worked with students who have behavioral and developmental needs, child geniuses who don’t seem to need help, and athletes with a hundred other things on their minds, but in every circumstance he believes his job is about bonding with his students to create a warm and relaxed environment. He prides himself on helping kids appreciate their potential. In his free time you can find him working on a perpetually unfinished novel, cooking, or watching the Warriors.   Jordan tutors in San Francisco and 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.