PIVOT TUTORS is a rigorous and high level academic tutoring and test preparation center. We aim to challenge our students to help them reach their highest academic potential. Our teachers are charismatic, experienced, and experts in their fields, and we help students not only master the subject material, but show them how to study independently. We work with students of all different academic backgrounds, and as long as students are hardworking, there is no doubting their success.
Our mission is to creates a learning community of intellectually passionate students and teachers. We teach our students the knowledge and skills to help them become academically competitive and self-assured learners. What’s more, our mission is to provide our students with the foundation to successfully pursue any career they are intrigued by, instead of through subject avoidance. Our teaching style pushes students to stretch themselves, and become more adaptable learners who are capable, creative, and analytical problem solvers.
Our goal for every student is to build a foundation of steel in the subjects of mathematics, critical reading, analytical writing, and the sciences. By having a strong foundation in these essential subjects students will be academically competitive and open to every career option. We strive to help our students learn the both the class content and study skills they need to earn top grades and prepare them to be successful in college.
Shayda Moshirvaziri, PhD., Director of Education.
Shayda has over 10 years of teaching and tutoring experience with all levels of mathematics and science for middle school, high school and college level students. She has a passion for teaching young students, and has taught undergraduate courses at UCSD including, Introduction to Bioengineering, Human Physiology, and Computer Science. She developed an ACT bootcamp course for a private high school in San Diego, and has taught as a premier level ACT and SAT instructor for different test prep centers before starting Pivot Tutors.
Shayda graduated summa cum laude from UCLA with a bachelors degree in Electrical Engineering and a minor in Biomedical Engineering in 2003. She was accepted at MIT, John Hopkins University, Stanford, and UCSD for PhD programs in Electrical Engineering and Bioengineering on full fellowship. She chose to attend UCSD for graduate school and received her Masters and Doctorate in Bioengineering in 2007 and 2010, respectively. She has served in the capacity as the Senior Bioengineer at Applied Medical, Bioengineering Innovation Grant Writer at Tomnod, Inc, and as a Graduate Research Scientist at UCSD.
Lianna Carrigan, B.A., Program Coordinator
Lianna started her educational career in Austin, TX teaching English (Honors, and Pre-AP), ESOL, and Reading to grades 8-11. She then moved to Oak Park, IL to work as Educational Director and Teacher at a Huntington Learning Center, where she tutored ACT students, but also focused on curriculum development to improve reading comprehension, fluency, and literacy skills. She has also worked as an AP Language and Composition teacher at a charter high school in Chicago, IL. She has spent years working with students and families to achieve the best results for students in the classroom and beyond.
Lianna holds a B.A. in English from Barnard College-Columbia University, and a Post-Baccalaureate Teaching Certificate from The University of Texas at Austin. She is also certified to teach in two states (soon to be three!). When not at Pivot, Lianna enjoys reading, writing, hanging out with her husband and their dog, and spending time in the ocean.
Laurel Wilkinson, B.A., Student Coordinator, ACT and SAT English Reading, & Writing Instructor
Laurel recently graduated summa cum laude from UC San Diego with a B.A. in Literature/Writing and a minor in History. Upon graduation, she was recognized as a top scholar of John Muir College, received the Shirley Williams Memorial Award in Literary Arts and was awarded Honors with Highest Distinction for her thesis.
Laurel brings over five years of tutoring, mentoring, and communications experience to the Pivot Tutors team. She first discovered her passion for education in Northern California while working with elementary school students in reading and writing. She further cultivated an interest in pedagogy while serving as a writing tutor, mentor and undergraduate poetry course teaching assistant for UC San Diego’s Analytical Writing Program, Global Ambassador Program, and Department of Literature, respectively.
At Pivot Tutors, Laurel’s cherishes the opportunity to share her passion for the arts and humanities with students. She hopes to inspire them to understand the power and potential of the written word, and help them achieve their academic, career, and personal goals. In the future, she aspires to publish her manuscript and pursue graduate studies in creative writing, all the while maintaining a commitment to education. She enjoys dancing, climbing, listening to jazz and going for walks on the beach.
Meggie Morris, PhD., ACT and SAT English Tutoring, English & Writing, History, College Essays, Spanish and French Instructor
Meggie Morris brings over a decade of tutoring and teaching experience and a sincere passion to help students achieve their best work at all levels. As a native of San Diego, Meggie has extensive knowledge of local school courses and schedules, while also having a unique perspective from her previous work as a tutor and teacher in other regions, such as Virginia and New York. Meggie specializes in teaching the humanities and foreign languages, including History, Art History, Literature, Writing, Reading Comprehension, Spanish, and French. In recent years, she has worked as a curriculum developer and teacher for test prep subjects, including the old and new SAT, the ACT, and SAT Subject Tests. Additionally, Meggie serves as a College Counselor and College Application Coach for families in Southern California, assisting students in creating thoughtful college lists, understanding the admissions landscape and applications processes, and completing application essays.
Before returning to San Diego, Meggie received a BA in International Relations, History, and Spanish at the University of Richmond in Virginia, and then both an MA and a PhD in Art History from the Institute of Fine Arts at New York University in New York City. She continues to work as an independent scholar, conducting international research and publishing articles and chapters in both English and Spanish publications. Meggie is currently completing a book-length work, and managing to find time for lots of yoga and beach hikes as well!
Igor Pontual, M.S., ACT, SAT, & All Levels of Mathematics
Igor holds a B.S. in Accounting and a M.S. in Statistics from SDSU. Igor has worked with many students to help them reach top marks in math classes ranging from Algebra to AP Calculus. He also has experience developing standardized test preparation curriculum and teaching the New SAT, ACT and SAT subject tests. Igor's past experience includes working as an accountant at a credit union, however his true passion has always revolved around teaching and helping students learn and enjoy math!
Igor loves to spend his free time taking his Dachshund, Marty McFly and Golden Doodle, Peter Parker on road trips up the West Coast.
Robert Wrightson, B.S., ACT, SAT, Mathematics, and Biology Instructor
Rob has a passion for education, and over seven years of direct tutoring and teaching experience. His excitement for working with students is clear: you will always find a smile on his face before, during, and after work each day.
Rob works with students on the ACT and SAT exams, mathematics, middle school sciences, and all levels of Biology (AP/Honors). He graduated from the University of North Florida (UNF) in 2014 with a Bachelor’s degree in Middle Grades Math and Science Education and also holds a Florida Teaching Certification. Before moving to San Diego, Rob was the Head of Mathematics at a prestigious Florida tutoring center, where he designed individualized math and science programs for a wide range of students from various educational backgrounds. His role as a department head allowed him to develop curriculum and lead SAT, ACT, and math prep camps. He has also spent time as a public school teacher in Florida for eighth grade students in Honors Pre-Algebra, Honors Algebra 1, and Honors Geometry.
One of his main priorities in life is to have a positive impact on as many people’s lives as possible, and this has only been exemplified through his education career. As a new San Diegan, he is thrilled to have the opportunity to instruct and mentor San Diego’s best and brightest. Outside of helping San Diego’s youth achieve their goals academically, Rob enjoys being in the ocean, hiking, writing, drawing, and reading.
Michael Morshed, M.F.A., ACT and SAT English, Reading, and Writing Instructor
Michael started his teaching career in South Korea’s top academies, where he helped students learn academic English and the literature and writing skills they needed to succeed at top US universities for over 8 years. He has taught college-level composition, English language acquisition courses, has been a curriculum developer for college level English Composition. He also teaches English/Reading/Writing for SAT and ACT, and is a certified TOEFL instructor.
Along with teaching San Diego's brightest SAT and ACT students, Michael currently teaches an undergraduate writing course at UCSD.
Michael earned a master’s degree in Creative Writing from UC Riverside, and his bachelor's in English Literature from University of New Hampshire. He writes novels and has a soccer blog.
Annika Gacnik, B.S., ACT and SAT English, Reading, and Writing, and Biology
Annika earned her Bachelor’s degree in Molecular Environmental Biology at UC Berkeley and has worked as an undergraduate researcher in French Polynesia and as a visiting scholar at the University of Auckland. When she’s not busy traveling the world, Annika has worked as a Marine Science instructor at Seacamp, an academic enrichment program for middle and high school students from around the world. She has also tutored middle and high school Science, Math, and English in San Marcos, as well as for private clients, for over five years.
At Pivot Tutors, Annika specializes in ACT and SAT English, Reading, and Writing, as well as Biology! She is dedicated to helping students comprehend difficult concepts and improve their academic abilities. Being a lifelong resident of San Diego (and graduate of Carlsbad High School), Annika has years of experience (personally and professionally) with the unique academic atmosphere of San Diego and North County schools. Before tutoring, Annika served for 10 seasons as an ocean lifeguard and San Diego’s state beaches, and was an instructor for the Carlsbad State Junior Lifeguard Program. She has also worked in ocean fisheries, vineyards, and urban agriculture. In her free time, Annika enjoys adventuring (at home and abroad), bodysurfing, and cooking.
Amber Knight, B.A., ACT and SAT English, English, Reading, Writing, and History Instructor
Amber Knight is passionate about helping students of all ages develop an interest in the humanities, strengthen their writing, and build the critical thinking skills that are essential to their success in college and beyond. For the last five years, Amber has worked as a private tutor for middle and high school students in San Diego County, offering tutoring in all AP history subjects, AP Language and Composition, AP Latin, and a variety of English courses. She has also guided high school students through the college application essay process.
Amber recently graduated summa cum laude from UCSD, with a B.A. in History and Classical Studies. During her undergraduate career, she specialized in Ancient and European history and dedicated several years to learning and translating Classical Latin, Homeric Greek, and Italian. As an aspiring author and educator, Amber aimed to build a strong foundation in teaching writing while attending UCSD through teaching assistant positions and extensive training in pedagogy. Amber worked at UCSD's Writing and Critical Expression Hub as a peer writing mentor for three years while also working as a writing tutor for UCSD's Triton Edge summer program, Making the Modern World program, and the Analytical Writing Program.
Amber is currently considering graduate school programs in education and curriculum design, but before embarking on the next step of her own education, she is devoted to helping San Diego's brightest high school students pursue their own academic and career goals.
Steve Bass, B.A., ACT and SAT, English, Spanish, Geometry, Algebra Instructor
Steve graduated from UCSD with a B.A. in Literature/Writing and a minor in Spanish. Steve will receive his Master's in Critical Literacy and Social Justice from SDSU at the end of summer 2018. His Master's project is titled "Making test-thinking visible: Metacognition, students of diverse language backgrounds, and the ACT." If his adviser lets him submit a project with a title that long, the project will explore the effectiveness of metacognitive instruction as a scaffold for the decontextualized language of the ACT(and standardized tests in general).
Steve has taught classes and tutored students in all areas of the SAT and ACT for six years, and also works with students in English, Spanish, and Geometry, Algebra, and Pre-calc. Steve's got a weird love for the hardest math problems on the ACT and SAT, because they're like puzzles that make you think differently; he also gets that most students don't share this love and just want to get into a good college.
Steve spends his free time in fall praying for snow in the mountains, and his free time the rest of the year working on his car and keeping up with world events. He's got an unhealthy addiction to chocolate-covered pretzels, and wishes Sprouts would create a frequent-shopper program so he could afford more of them.
Mike Tran, B.S., Mathematics, Chemistry, and Physics Instructor
Mike Tran has been tutoring for the last six years in San Diego (his native city!). Mike graduated from Westview HS in 2009 and went on to attend SDSU where he graduated with a B.S. in Chemistry. He plans to pursue graduate school to become an optometrist!
Until going to optometry school, he is enjoying teaching all levels of math up to AP Calculus AB, regular and AP Chemistry, and regular and AP Physics 1 and 2 to many of Pivot's academic tutoring students. His goal as a tutor to help students excel in topics that may be new or unfamiliar to them, and to develop their scientific writing and thinking to be as specific and descriptive as possible. In his free time, when not at Pivot or busy applying to optometry programs, Mike helps run and stream video game events, doing camera and production work at gaming events all over southern California!
Maggie Thach Morshed, M.F.A., ACT and SAT English & Writing Instructor
Maggie Thach Morshed is a journalist whose byline has appeared in The San Francisco Chronicle, The Fresno Bee, The Sacramento Bee and other news outlets across the country. She was also a sports reporter at The Salt Lake Tribune, the largest newspaper in Utah, where she became an award-winning journalist.
Since leaving the newspaper industry, she has received a master’s in Fine Arts in Creative Nonfiction from the University of California at Riverside and has become a teacher and tutor in many regions in Southern California, and now at Pivot Tutors. Maggie specializes in teaching the New SAT and ACT, and helping students with reading comprehension, critical writing, and literature.
She is also a Peace Writer at the Kroc Institute of Peace and Justice at the University of San Diego.