Our Instructors



psst! hover over each portrait for a peek at our hobbies!  


Sandesh is a Junior Chemical Engineering student at New York University’s Tandon School of Engineering. He believes in fostering curiosity and reasoning in students, and endeavors to build problem solving skills that are useful far beyond the classroom. Sandesh tutors all standardized tests and a variety of STEM focused academic disciplines. 


Lisa is a recent graduate of Brown University, where she earned a B.A. in English with a focus on writing. At Brown, Lisa worked as a peer writing tutor, teaching assistant, and managing editor of a weekly student newspaper. She is committed to helping people express themselves as clearly as possible through the written word. Lisa values teaching and learning experiences that are fun and personal. Lisa also works as a fact-checker and copyeditor at a Brooklyn-based literary magazine.


After graduating magna cum laude from USC with a degree in English Literature and Creative Writing, Jerie moved to New York City, where she established herself as a musician, poet, community educator and herbalist. A scholar at heart, she has tutored a broad range of subjects for several years. She enjoys explaining concepts in ways that adapt to each individual's particular learning style, interests, and strengths, encouraging participation and independent thinking as much as possible.



BIO Coming Soon

Julia Derk- Math & Science, SAT/ACT

Julia joined City Smarts in 2016. A graduate of Brandeis University, she earned a B.S. in Neuroscience and Psychology with High Honors in 2012 and is currently a PhD student at New York University studying Alzheimer’s disease. Julia is a seasoned test taker, receiving all 4’s and 5’s on 11 AP tests and achieving exemplary scores on the SAT, ACT, and GRE. She has worked as a tutor and mentor for 8 years and co-founded Clear Direction Mentoring - a Science Technology Engineering and Math Outreach Program. She’s utterly passionate about helping others explore the world through Math and Science.


Nikki joined City Smarts in 2014, bringing classroom and private instruction experience as well as eight years of experience in strategic business management. She has provided mentoring and academic support to students from ages 7 to 12 at public schools throughout the city in subjects ranging from English language enrichment, mathematics, and organizational skills. Previously an account executive for Honora Pearls, Nikki developed and maintained client relations, brand reputation and business development for both national and international accounts. As Director of Accounts & Client Relations, she manages the City Smarts offices and provides a wealth of custom service-oriented expertise to our team. 

PENELOPE farris – math & science tutor

Penelope graduated from the University of Michigan with a B.S. in Biomolecular Science and Biopsychology, Cognition, and Neuroscience. In her final semesters she worked for the university as a tutor, mentor, and writing fellow, helping students with their science courses and scientific writing. She prioritizes the needs of her students, and aims to keep the them engaged and present. Penelope enjoys coming up with new tactics to help students gain confidence to not only further understand the material at hand, but also build problem solving skills to take on new challenges. She currently works in product development at a cognitive science consultancy, and enjoys baking and running in her spare time.

matthew gasda - writing & humanities tutor

Bio coming soon.


David hails from the great state of North Carolina, where the tea is sweet, and the people are sweeter. After receiving his degree in biology, David was awarded a fellowship through Princeton to teach English and study Mandarin at the Dalian University of Technology in Dong Bei, China. David has 10 years of experience tutoring the SAT/ACT, SHSAT, and other standardized tests. An accomplished actor and improv comic, David has a reputation for making tutoring fun.


Marisa graduated from Boston University in 2014, and has been working as a tutor, teacher, and writer ever since. A lover of the English language in all its maddening idiosyncrasies, she enjoys imparting an enthusiasm for learning–especially when tackling a subject that a student has always dreaded. Flexibility, personalization, and confidence-building comprise the core of her approach, and she strives to make even the most intimidating standardized test seem manageable. 

Jadila Majid - Standardized Tests, Math, Science & Essay Writing

Jadila graduated Rutgers Unviersity with a degree in English and minors in biology and psychology. She is currently pursuing a masters in Clinical Psychology at Columbia University. By integrating wellness methodologies into her tutoring, Jadila strives to make tutoring an empowering experience. Parents rave about her “positive energy” and “amazing” approach. Jadila has six years of experience honed as a university writing coach and SAT classroom instructor. A scholar to the core, Jadila has demonstrated mastery in a broad range of academic domains. In addition to subject tutoring, she currently teaches the ACT, SAT, SHSAT, ISEE, SSAT, ERB and NYState exams.

EMILY MANKOFF - 1st through 6th grade math & verbal

Emily has been teaching lower elementary for the past seven years. She received her BA in Developmental Psychology from the University of Pittsburgh and stayed a fifth year to complete her Master’s in Elementary Education. In addition to being a lead teacher at a school in Manhattan, Emily also leads a professional learning community with some of the teachers at her school. Throughout her teaching career, Emily has worked with students of varying abilities in both general education and inclusion classrooms. She has experience working with children with special needs both in classroom and small group settings. When she’s not in the classroom, Emily enjoys cooking, reading and spending time with friends and family!

Kevin McKeown- K-12 Enrichment, ISEE & SHSAT

Kevin is a graduate of Wesleyan University, where he majored in classical studies, and received his MA in Ecclesiastical History from Union Theological Seminary in New York City. He has worked in education for 10 years, supervising an after-school enrichment program in Lower Manhattan and tutoring Ancient Greek at the undergraduate level. Kevin works with students of all skill levels including those with dyslexia, executive functioning, and ADD. He tutors a wide range of academic subjects as well as the ERB, SHSAT, and ISEE. In his free time, you can likely find him writing scripts to fulfill his ambition of working in television, drawing one-panel comics, or spending quality time with his cat, Peach.


Rahul joined City Smarts in 2014. A graduate of the University of Maryland with a degree in Biology, Rahul incorporates both classroom and research experience into his lessons. Though he specializes in Environment, Chemistry, and Biology, he is also a gifted test taker, and assists middle school- and high school-aged students on a variety of admissions tests. He is currently a 9th grade Living Environment teacher in the New York City public school system.


After graduating from Lehigh University with Honors in 2016, Danielle moved to NYC to pursue her Master’s in School Counseling. She specializes in a wide variety of subjects - working with students at all skill levels, and has extensive experience working with students with IEPs. Danielle’s instructional approach is informed by her experience as a school counselor; she prioritizes the development of life-long skills.


Born in India and raised in New York City, Manpreet brings to City Smarts a singular passion for teaching math and science. While attending New York University’s Tandon School of Engineering, he developed his own SAT Physics crash course. The results speak for themselves: most of the class scored above the 75th percentile on the exam that November. These days, Manpreet can be found helping students master tests such as the SAT, ACT, and SHSAT, and advanced subjects such as AB/BC Calculus and AP Physics.


Tingting is a farmer and artist who graduated from NYU with a BFA and most recently was studying at Environmental Conservation at Columbia's Earth Institute.  For the past five years, she has been tutoring students in SHSAT, Common Core, SSAT, ISEE, Regents, and ACT. She also leads instructional STEM tours around the Youth Farm in Crown Heights as part of Brooklyn Greenhouse, and has worked on fostering creativity and emotional development for homeschoolers at Brooklyn Apple Academy. Her strengths are in math and logical reasoning, and she brings a personal, wholistic approach to tutoring.


Chando was born and raised in South Korea. Despite his late arrival in the States at the age of 13, he quickly overcame his cultural and linguistic barriers to thrive academically at one of California’s premier college-prep boarding schools. With a near perfect GPA and SAT score, he gained admission to Williams College, where he majored in music. It was during his time at Williams that he began to dive into the world of academic tutoring. Chando is equally at home providing guidance for specialized secondary school exams and college entrance exams. He recently earned his graduate degree in music composition from New York University and continues to work as a freelance composer/producer when he is not tutoring.

Haleigh Zillges- Math, Science & Standardized Exam Instructor

Haleigh attended the University of Pennsylvania, graduating magna cum laude with a BA in Biological Anthropology (minor in Hispanic Studies), and, most recently, with an MA in Global Studies. Before coming to NYC, she spent three years working at a genetics lab at Penn’s Perelman School of Medicine. She has extensive ACT/SAT/ISEE/SSAT/SHSAT experience, and she prides herself on helping her students foster calm and confident mindsets towards standardized testing. She is currently studying for the LSAT, and has an interest in studying human rights and social justice issues in the future.