About Us

Our Philosophy

We have all heard the parable of the starving man who comes to the fishing village looking for food. Like the forward-thinking fisherman in that village, Northwest Educational Services believes in teaching our students to fish. We want our students to grow into empowered learners, becoming active agents in their own growth.

    • Our one-to-one tutoring is designed to meet an individual student’s needs. Coaches and students are matched based on both content expertise and personality fit.
    • Some of the most important coaching happens when there isn’t current homework or urgent test prep.
    • Everything counts. All homework assignments are opportunities to actively engage and prepare for future tests, and every step in the right direction is worthwhile.

Check out our blog to learn more!

Business Policies

    • No contract or long-term commitment. Most clients choose to set up regular weekly appointments, but you’re welcome to see us on a short-term or call-as-needed basis.  
    • Pay as you go service. Cash or check, payable to NWES.
    • 24 hours’ notice required for schedule changes and cancellations.

Our Coaches

Greg Smith

Greg is the owner of Northwest Educational Services. He graduated from Middlebury College in Vermont in 1985, majoring in African History and minoring in Physics and Computer Science. He also did a year of post-graduate study in Cognitive Psychology at the University of Vermont before earning a teaching credential from Lewis and Clark College.

Greg’s passion is teaching students how to become masters of learning so they can take charge of their own education. He emphasizes the use of proven strategies that help all types of students including those with learning differences. A dyslexic himself, Greg has been personally using these strategies for most of his life. He also works with parents on how to better support academic success at home.

With nearly three decades as an educator, Greg has extensive experience working with all types of students. He taught middle school English and History before founding NWES in 1995. Greg also runs the Learning Center at Billings Middle School and is frequently asked to speak at Seattle schools and educational conferences on topics ranging from test prep to executive function and parenting for academic success.

Originally from Portland, Oregon, Greg has lived in Seattle since 1995. As a young man, Greg was a serious tennis player, whitewater kayaker, and sports photographer. These days he enjoys skiing, bike riding, and rooting for the Mariners and the Seahawks. He lives in Queen Anne with his wife and two daughters.

Chris Loper

Chris grew up in Issaquah, WA, and graduated from Issaquah High School, where he earned over a year of college credit through AP classes. He attended Montana State University, where he majored in Sociology, minored in History, and earned a Baccalaureate Honors Degree with Distinction.

Chris is passionate about education because it is a direct way to make the world a better place. He loves teaching and helping students improve. Through independent study, Chris has used knowledge to greatly improve his own life. He wants to share that knowledge, inspire others to seek it, and empower them to retain it.

Chris has been with Northwest Educational Services since 2014. He works with students of all ages, covering all academic content. In addition to helping his students with curriculum, he provides his students with helpful information about the neuroscience of learning and the psychology of productivity. Chris is also the staff writer at NWES. His blog posts and lobby handouts are designed to help parents and students learn and apply successful student psychologyPlease follow our blog to learn more.

Chris also has a wide variety of teaching and coaching experience outside of tutoring. He taught ski lessons for five years and has coached several tennis players. He was an assistant teacher for the freshman Honors seminar at MSU, and he taught Big History to gifted 5th graders while living in Bozeman, MT. He also spent a summer teaching English to teens in Peru. More recently, for four years, Chris taught a weekly seminar for adults on science, history, and psychology.

Chris is also the creator of becomingbetter.org, a blog dedicated to the science and practice of self-improvement. You can find a collection of his best articles here. Through Becoming Better, he offers habit coaching for adults who want to establish optimize their habits, overcome procrastination, and become extraordinary. He also works with recent graduates and other young adults on executive function. Chris lives in Issaquah, where he is the owner of South Cove Tutoring. For fun, he skis, climbs, hikes, and plays tabletop games.

Jason Benhaim
Born in San Francisco and raised in Los Angeles, Jason enjoyed many summers teaching swim lessons to children of all ages before graduating from Stanford University in 2009 with a B.A. in English. As an undergraduate, he also completed all pre-med course requirements, but ultimately decided he would rather contribute to the well-being of his community by working at food co-ops. After stints in Davis and Albuquerque, Jason moved to Seattle in 2013 and began working at PCC Community Markets, where his most recent role was Assistant Store Director. He found that training, coaching, and developing staff members was the most gratifying part of managing a large grocery store, and is excited to exercise those skills more directly as a tutor.

Jason remains interested in mathematics and the hard sciences and has always harbored an unusual affinity for standardized tests, but perhaps his deepest appreciation is for the written word. He is currently finishing up a detailed trail blog he kept while thru-hiking the Pacific Northwest Trail from Glacier National Park to the Olympic Peninsula in 2018. He has also been known to follow through on several New Year’s resolutions to read 52 books in one year. Among friends and family, Jason is the go-to guy for editing, and he relishes the opportunity to help others express themselves clearly and originally. He recognizes that writing, along with grammar and vocabulary, can be sources of great anxiety; as someone who has struggled with perfectionism and procrastination, he has a keen interest in helping students overcome these common barriers to growth.

In his free time, Jason enjoys backpacking, running, yoga, and meditation. He also keeps his mind sharp by learning to sail and maintaining the boat that serves as his new tiny home on Lake Union. He is the proud owner of the marina cat, Ichabod, and aspires to one day take him out to the Pacific Ocean.

Kal Demisse

Kal was born and raised in Ethiopia, Eastern Africa. She received a bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering from Addis Ababa University (AAU) in 2016.

While attending AAU, Kal spent her summer breaks volunteering at an orphanage teaching kids math and introductory physics. During her last year at school, she held an internship position at a construction firm where she also wrote her thesis in collaboration with the Ethiopian Road Authority.

After migrating to the United States, her love for books would lead her to become a bookseller at the MIT campus bookstore in Cambridge, MA. While there, she enjoyed helping students find the books they needed and found time to explore the northeastern US.

Kal recently moved to Seattle and is eager to continue helping students learn. She is currently taking Chemical Engineering prerequisite classes at North Seattle College and plans to attend the University of Washington.

Kal speaks three languages and is also teaching herself American Sign Language in her spare time. She enjoys reading books, listening to music, and watching soccer.

Brandon O’Toole

With a BS in Mechanical Engineering and over 6 years of industry experience in Aerospace and Computer Software, Brandon has a deep, practical understanding of core concepts in Math, Science, and Technology. In addition to understanding the significance and real-world application of these topics, he is able to pinpoint the concepts which will have the greatest impact and help each student harness their own understanding more fully.

For fun, Brandon enjoys rock climbing, mountaineering, and video games.

Leah Jarvik

Leah was born and raised here in Seattle. In May, she graduated with honors from Haverford College, where she completed a double major in English and Theatre. 

Leah believes in the power of education not only to help individuals succeed academically, but also to grow into thoughtful and confident individuals. She holds dear the mission of Northwest Educational Services to help students to become “active agents” of their own education. 

Leah has worked as a tutor previously with the MAST program at Haverford College and abroad in Galway, Ireland, where she also had the opportunity to study education and literacy. Outside of tutoring, Leah has worked with young people through organizations including Audubon, Families for Effective Autism Treatment (FEAT) of Washington, and at the Magnolia Discovery Montessori School. Currently, Leah works as a teaching artist with the Seattle Children’s Theatre, where she forged much of her personal educational philosophy.  

Initially unsure of her career path, Leah lingered in the world of math and science throughout high school and her first couple years of college, even completing a research internship with Harborview Medical Center. Ultimately, her passion for story and storytelling won out and she has spent the last couple of years happily focusing on English and Theatre. In her final year of college, Leah completed two senior thesis projects (one for each major) and earned honors for both. 

Since graduating, Leah has returned to Seattle where she has been working professionally as an actor and theatre educator. In her free time, Leah enjoys practicing aerial circus, reading, traveling, and camping out in coffee shops on rainy Seattle days. 

Nathan Woo

Nathan was born and raised in Kent, Washington. His first love was for the sciences, such as chemistry and physics, but his first political science course realigned his sights on majoring in political economy instead. Nathan is comfortable working with children K-12. He has a thorough understanding of mathematics through trigonometry, and has a solid understanding of introductory chemistry and physics. He also has an expert grasp of reading and writing fundamentals.

Nathan believes that education is a primary means of empowerment for those who need it and a viable pathway towards personal happiness and enlightenment. In addition to working for Northwest Education Services, Nathan also serves as a special education instructional assistant for Seattle Public Schools as well as a Learning Assistance Program tutor. He brings a positive, can-do attitude and steadying counsel towards any task his students face.

Nathan’s hobbies include cheering for his University of Washington Huskies, running long distances, reading science fiction, exploring philosophy, and Sunday brunch.

Ryo Okubo

Born and raised in Los Angeles, Ryo has been working as a biological researcher since his time as a work-study student at UCLA. While at UCLA, Ryo completed all the requirements for a Physiological Sciences major (the typical pre-med path for students at UCLA) before switching to Ecology to pursue his passion. After receiving his B.S. in Ecology, he moved up to Seattle to attend graduate school at the University of Washington, where he received his M.S. in Biology. 

During his time as an academic, Ryo has enjoyed being both a mentee and mentor, interacting with all levels of scientists and students while publishing in scientific journals. His interests have expanded beyond ecology into neurobiology, chemistry, and data science.

In his free time, Ryo enjoys playing and watching basketball (Go Lakers!) and tracking basketball statistics, as well as coding, tending to his aquarium, and hiking.

Michael Jadick

Born to two bibliophiles and publishing industry professionals, Michael was raised in a household that revered the written word. He was also, somewhat ironically, diagnosed at an early age as dyslexic and dysgraphic. With the support of his family and some very patient special education tutors, Michael worked through his learning disabilities and went on to take honors and AP English, History, and Government courses throughout high school. More recently, he graduated Magna Cum Laude from the University of Washington, receiving his B.A. with honors in English.

Michael’s main areas of focus are reading, writing, and the creation of organizational skills and good study habits. Michael is also well versed in the humanities (history, government, philosophy, etc.) and is proficient in conversational French. 

Because he struggled to learn the essentials of literacy while growing up in an environment that fostered a deep love and respect for reading and writing, Michael understands both the joys that can be found through literacy, and the challenges students can face as they engage with written works and attempt to express themselves through writing. In his experience as a writer, both academically and creatively, Michael has found that these challenges are the things that teach us the most. The process of writing involves grappling with an idea and figuring out how to articulate a thought or a feeling to ourselves, so we can then express it to someone else. It is through this process that we come to better understand ourselves and how we think. 

Michael spent the last four plus years as a full-time student while working full time as the assistant manager for a busy café. This experience taught him the importance of strong organizational skills and work/life balance. Focus, discipline, and time management can be some of the most difficult skills to learn, but they’re some of the most useful for students and adults alike. When applied correctly, they can be indispensable tools for success, academic or otherwise. 

Michael started reading superhero comics at the age of six with his father and older brother, and his love of all things geeky has only grown over the years. When he’s not working, Michael can be found organizing, running, and playing in tabletop roleplaying groups, engaging with science fiction across all mediums, and (of course) reading comics. He also enjoys weight lifting, music, and playing with his cat.

Max White

Max was born in Palo Alto, California and then raised in Green Bay, Wisconsin. He is in his final year at Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, New York. He is currently living in Queen Anne with his family and their two dogs, Jake and Josie. When graduating from high school in Wisconsin, Max’s priority was to swim competitively in college. This led him to Vassar College. There, he has broken multiple school records and was awarded Rookie of the Year.

However, Max understands the importance of taking care of your mind as well as your body. As focused as he was on athletics when graduating high school, he has learned to appreciate the joy and equilibrium that academics can bring as well. English was his first passion, but after an amazing Intro to Psychology class, he decided to become a Psychology Major. He has also been studying Spanish since the 4th grade and is a Hispanic Studies Minor. 

Reading and writing are his academic loves. He enjoys reading just about any subject, but his favorites are science fiction or sports science. Both his sister and mother have dyslexia, so he understands that reading and writing can be difficult and off-putting for many. Being a tutor at Vassar’s writing center, he has worked with many different students on all stages of the writing process and believes that the key to being a good reader and writer is practice and perseverance. 

Being new to the area, Max spends his time exploring Seattle, finding new hiking trails, and trying new restaurants.

Andrew Durtschi

Andrew was born in Seattle and raised in the Pacific Northwest. He graduated from Harvard University with a bachelor’s degree in History. He has spent the last decade in the film industry, and has years of experience working as a writer. His background putting words to page professionally dovetails with years of experience helping students improve their prose and test scores. Working with the team at Northwest Educational Services, Andrew takes a holistic approach to helping each student, not just with the task at hand, but with strategies and study habits that will serve them for years to come.

Cami Sheppard 

Cami was born and raised in Seattle. As a child, she saw words as both toys and doorways to understanding the world. Early exposure to French expanded those horizons, and she’s always been passionate about opening those doorways for others. 

She spent her senior year of high school in Lyon and Paris, then majored in French at the University of Washington, graduating in 1983. Upon graduation, she moved to France forever—or until she ran out of money. 

She worked in finance for a few years, then returned to the UW for an MA in French Literature in 1989. At the UW, Cami taught undergraduate French language and culture classes, then taught in local private schools. 

When her three adult children were young, she began tutoring high school students in French, and found that she preferred one-on-one teaching. This led to supporting students in English as well, helping them craft and edit stories, essays, and research papers. Cami enjoys listening deeply for what her students really need. She’s worked with those who “just want to pass the class” and be done with foreign language, some who need help catching up, students working on college applications, students who don’t need a tutor—just someone to listen—and students who want to go beyond schoolwork. 

Cami’s love of language and story also led her to pursue her own writing. She completed a certificate in memoir and personal essay in 2016 and is currently working on an editing certificate. 

She spends her free time gardening, walking with her dog, hiking the Cascades and Olympics, reading, and traveling.

Michael Trask

Michael was born in Seattle and has lived near the city ever since. He graduated from Seattle Academy High School in 2016, and then from Seattle University in 2020, graduating Summa Cum Laude with a B.S. in Psychology. At SU he took pre-health courses in addition to his psychology courses; he specializes in tutoring chemistry, biology, psychology, statistics, and math (through precalculus) at levels from middle school to college.  

During his time in college, Michael discovered a passion for research design and data management. To complement his courses, he interned both at Seattle Children’s Orthopedics department and at UW Medicine’s Autism Center. 

For fun, Michael also spent many weekends in college serving as a speech and debate tournament judge, assisting his former high school speech team (up until COVID-19). He is always eager to help new or prospective speech and debate competitors compete and improve their speaking skills, whether it be in impromptu, dramatic interpretation, or other events. 

During his free time, Michael enjoys running, tabletop games, and anything to do with dogs. He looks forward to all the new activities he will be able to try once COVID-19 subsides, but for now he is perfectly content to force his roommate and/or friends into yet another Star Wars movie marathon.

Shoshi Bieler

Shoshi grew up in Ohio and graduated from Yale University, where she studied American Studies and Fine Art. Shoshi is passionate about learning, and first discovered her passion for teaching as an art educator, working with undergraduates and elementary school students alike to develop their skills in scenic design, painting, and drawing.

Shoshi delights in sharing her love of learning with students of all ages. Most recently, she taught for the school district in Sitka, Alaska, where she ran a mobile maker space and helped to develop the K-12 STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and math) curriculum. Some of her favorite maker projects included creating interactive graphic novels, turning a classroom into a giant musical instrument, and programming robots to travel through mazes. Shoshi also has experience editing a literary magazine, tutoring elementary school students in reading, and working as a residential assistant for college freshmen.

In her free time, Shoshi enjoys experimenting with new art techniques, rock climbing, hiking, learning new programming languages, and exploring Seattle.

Ian Rice

Ian grew up in Boise, ID where he graduated from Riverstone International School earning an IB Diploma. He then attended Wesleyan University in Middletown, CT where he earned a double major in Physics and Film. 

Ian began his tutoring journey when he took a gap year between high school and college to travel in Peru and Ecuador as part of the Carpe Diem program. There he taught children English in a small town in Ecuador called Baños. After he returned home, he continued working with children as an intern and mentor for a non-profit organization called One Stone, which is centered on youth leadership, before heading off to college. In college, Ian served as a writing mentor to several first-year students, helping them write essays in film, philosophy, creative writing, and more. As a senior in college, Ian volunteered as an online tutor for a Syrian refugee as part of the Paper Planes program. 

Ian has a passion for writing and editing of all types, particularly creative writing. At Wesleyan, Ian founded a semesterly film publication called Intercut advised by the chief film critic of the New York Times, AO Scott. Ian writes screenplays in his free time, including writing a full-length screenplay as his thesis, and loves to edit stories and screenplays whenever he gets the chance, including editing a story for a friend that ended up winning the Yale Law School short story competition. 

Ian has extensive experience tutoring for several companies in New York City, covering advanced math courses, test prep, and essay writing serving students from some of the most competitive high schools in the country. Ian enjoys teaching people of all ages from grade school to college and beyond.  Ian has a passion for learning of all kinds and believes with the right motivation and approach. As someone who appreciates both the rigorous logical approach of the sciences as well as the more intuitive approach of the arts, Ian models his teaching style off of both: using an organized systematic approach to identify ways of helping students grow, but not forgetting that emotion, motivation, and interest are just as important in the learning process.  He believes that adapting to the learning style of each student is vital and loves finding ways to bring joy to the process. He hopes to prove to students that no one is really “bad at math.” 

Ian recently returned from a transpacific sailing voyage aboard the sailing yacht Libeccio where he worked on board as the primary teacher for two children (ages 12 and 14) across all academic subjects. On this journey, he sailed through the Panama Canal, visited the Galapagos, and crossed the Pacific Ocean before having to return home when COVID-19 became a global concern. 

In his free time, Ian likes to play guitar, practice soccer, take care of his dog, go on runs, meditate, be disappointed by Arsenal in the Premier League, read, listen to music, and hike. Ian also works as a filmmaker and has produced a feature film as well as several shorts and has directed several shorts of his own.

David Hlavsa

After thirty years as head of the Theatre Arts Department, David has retired from Saint Martin’s University, in Lacey, Washington, where he taught acting, directing, playwriting, and film studies. As Chair of the University’s Interdisciplinary Studies program, he also team-taught courses in acting and film blended with economics, sociology, gender studies, education methods, religious studies, English literature, and business leadership. A recipient of the University’s Outstanding Teaching Award, he served two terms as Faculty President.  

David is a published author with a passion for good writing and a knack for helping students to develop their ideas into coherent and effective essays. Bring him a rough draft of any assignment in the humanities or social sciences, and he’ll help you make it sing.   

In the spring of 2000, David and his wife walked more than 400 miles across Spain from Roncesvalles to Santiago de Compostela. David’s memoir of the trip, Walking Distance: Pilgrimage, Parenthood, Grief, and Home Repairs (Michigan State University Press, 2015), won Foreword Reviews’ 2015 INDIEFAB Book of the Year in Family & Relationships, was a finalist for the 2016 Next Generation Indie Book Award for Memoir, and has been excerpted in The Utne Reader. WBUR Boston featured an excerpt from Walking Distance (an essay originally published in The New York Times as “My First Son, A Pure Memory”), read by Emmy-Award nominated actor Sterling K. Brown, in the station’s widely-downloaded “Modern Love” podcast.  

David’s other publications include An Actor Rehearses: What to Do When – and Why (Allworth Press, 2006) and numerous study guides and program articles for the Seattle Repertory Theatre. His plays, including Pack of Lies, I’m Your Man, and Long Run, have been widely produced.   

David is an accomplished acting coach and public speaker. If you’ve been assigned a speech or public presentation, he can help you streamline your content and connect effectively with your audience. 

David has a BA in English/Theatre from Princeton University and an MFA in Stage Directing from the University of Washington. Born and raised in New York City, he lives in Seattle with his wife, Lisa Holtby, and their son Benjamin. 

Bob Doan

Bob was born in Eastern Pennsylvania to a family of teachers. He received a BA in Psychology from Kutztown College in the mid-1980s, then attended Temple University in Philadelphia for History, where he eventually gained his MA and PhD (1998). He began teaching there, primarily at the community college level, before moving to Seattle 20 years ago. 

He has taught at a number of schools in Western Washington but has been at Bellevue College for the last 15 years, teaching US and World History. He has also taught Geography a number of times. 

An avid traveler, Bob has visited over 90 countries, but our southern neighbor is his favorite (though his Spanish remains stuck at ‘intermediate’ level). In addition to History and Geography, Bob can also tutor in most Social Sciences, especially Political Science, Government, and Sociology, as well as the basics of Psychology and Philosophy.

Having written a dissertation and many papers, and having graded many 1000s of essays, Bob is also very capable of tutoring in writing composition, reading comprehension, general study skills, and note-taking. Bob has tutored college students, as well as junior high and high school students in Social Sciences and writing. 

When not teaching or traveling, Bob likes to watch baseball, go kayaking, and listen to the Blues, the Grateful Dead, and other classic 60s music.

Janet Young

Janet has always been passionate about learning. In high school, she took eight AP courses, including every AP history course offered at her high school. She also served as concertmaster and was voted MVP of both the tennis team and the track and field team. She graduated with a B.S. in Psychology, a B.A. in History, and a minor in music from the University of California, San Diego. She then graduated from the University of California, Hastings College of the Law, and passed the California Bar Exam. She has worked as a lawyer and an executive director, and she currently owns her own business.

As an executive director working with youth in juvenile hall, she personally developed and led a math and English tutoring program for all high school graduates to further their education. She taught all ages while earning her black belt in Tae Kwon Do. She believes with the right inspiration and tools, anybody can love to learn.

Through it all, she has always found time to play violin, read, mountain bike, downhill ski, and save the environment.