To help you all get to know the Prestige Prep family, we will be featuring one of our wonderful tutors each month. This month, we’re pleased to introduce Molly Heller!
Hailing from the South Bay in the greater Los Angeles area, Molly grew up obsessed with Legos and dreaming of becoming the world’s first Rabbi who moonlights as a magician and ski instructor. After graduating from the Chadwick School, she traded sunny California weather for actual seasons and a dual degree program at Columbia University and the Jewish Theological Seminary. She graduated magna cum laude from both schools, receiving a BA in Theater from Columbia with departmental honors, and a BA in Modern Jewish Studies (a blend of thought, literature, and history) from JTS. Unbowed by an 8-class-per-semester course load, she also participated in the Columbia theater community’s major shows and productions. Perhaps most personally important was her involvement with Columbia’s Annual Varsity Show, a student-written musical with a 120-year history that she asserts is more popular than homecoming.
Upon graduation, Molly balanced her continued involvement in the NYC theater world as a director, playwright, and actor with a job teaching SAT and ACT courses to Chinese students in Flushing, Queens. Having never taught a class before, the trial by fire experience pushed her to learn how to best help the greatest number students in a limited amount of time. When Molly joined the Prestige Prep team in 2015, her focus shifted to one-on-one and small group tutoring. She credits this more familiar setting with allowing her to more immediately assess and respond to areas for improvement and customize lessons to help students be their most intellectually curious selves.
Molly’s approach to tutoring prioritizes serving as a role model. Her students, mostly in middle and high school, are going through difficult developmental years: “It’s important at that age to have someone who can tell you that you’re fantastic and that these monumental, stress-inducing events will not determine the rest of your life.” She finds many students internalizing negative narratives about their academic selves and seeks to help them see their strengths, and ultimately themselves, in whatever subject or test she’s helping them with. Molly’s approach also looks beyond the next test or essay: “The best kind of tutor leaves you with the skills that help you survive on your own as you move on to life’s next challenge.”
Also central to Molly’s tutoring philosophy is fun! She likes activities, games, and other ways to reward students for intellectual curiosity. She believes that, academically, there is something out there for everyone, yet schools frequently fail to help students figure out what that is: “I help kids learn what they enjoy about learning and what topics really interest them so they can maintain a passion for education as they get older.”
MORE ABOUT MOLLY
Favorite music to work/study to – a Vivaldi Pandora playlist she’s used since Junior year of high school (she can’t work to anything with lyrics)
Brain Food – Almonds
Favorite High School Class – AP US History (“I felt for the first time like I could understand the history of our country in the context of the rest of the world – to see current events and understand them from a historical perspective. The world around me started to click.)
Currently Reading – Sour Heart by Jenny Zhang
Favorite Movie – The Godfather, Part II
Seminal High School Event – a 3-week senior year backpacking trip in the Southern Sierra Mountains including a 3 day solo trip in the wilderness
Favorite Outdoor activity in NYC: Running the Central Park loop while the leaves change
Subjects Tutored – Everything but Chemistry