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 create 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 both the class content and study skills they need to earn top grades and prepare them to be successful in college.
Shayda Moshirvaziri, PhD., Founder & Manager
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 Director
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, and also developed on curriculum to improve reading comprehension, fluency, and literacy skills. She has worked as an AP Language and Composition and Special Education teacher at a charter 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, as well as teaching certificates for Texas and Illinois . When not at Pivot, Lianna enjoys reading, writing, hanging out with her husband, their daughter, and spending time at the beach.
Angela Navatta, M.Ed., Assistant Program Director
Angela brings years of educational and administrative experience to the Pivot Tutors team. She graduated from Lipscomb University (Nashville, TN) with a B.A. in History, and went on to get her Master’s in Education at Southeastern University (Lakeland, FL). She has worked as a preschool teacher, as a Reading/Language Arts and Math tutor for elementary and middle school students, and as an educational administrator and museum educator at multiple museums.
Angela uses her vast educational experience to help Pivot’s families and students coordinate and navigate their tutoring needs. And when not at work, she reads a lot of books and will continue on her mission to try as many different pizza places as possible!
Igor Pontual, M.S., ACT, SAT, & All Levels of Mathematics Instructor
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.
Maggie Montague, M.F.A., ACT and SAT English, Reading, and Writing Instructor
For seven years, Maggie studied the art of writing, first receiving her bachelor’s degree in English with a minor in art history from Whitworth University and later her MFA in creative nonfiction from West Virginia University. Along the way, Maggie has served as a composition and creative writing instructor for 250 students and counting.
Throughout her years of teaching, tutoring, and editing, Maggie’s developed a love of helping students gain a new understanding of the English language. She enjoys working one-on-one with students to strengthen their knowledge of grammar, reading, and writing fundamentals. She hopes to share her love of language and literature with students, empowering them to write with clarity and heart.
Maggie writes creative nonfiction essays, fictional short stories, and freelance articles. In addition to tutoring ACT & SAT English, Reading, and Writing, she is currently working as a freelance copyeditor.
Marissa Venn, M.A., ACT and SAT English, Reading, Writing Instructor
Marissa received her bachelor’s degree in English from the University of South Carolina and her Masters in English Literature from the University of Toronto. Marissa is TESL (Teaching English as a Second Language) certified and loves learning so much that she is currently pursuing her Master of Science in Environmental Health from San Diego State University!
Marissa has over ten years of teaching experience. She has helped high school students master the ACT and SAT as well as used her extensive educational background to teach English as a Second Language to adults! When Marissa is not busy teaching or learning herself, she loves being outdoors: camping and hiking. She enjoys reading books of all genres and watching documentaries about outer space.
Kara Lu, B.A., ACT and SAT English, Reading, and Writing Instructor
Kara Lu graduated cum laude from UCSD with a degree in English Literature and Education Studies. She has dedicated her academic studies toward understanding how migration, colonialism, and multi-nationality shapes our language. This has led her to focus her career efforts on improving literacy, which she believes to be a key to unlocking students' potential and educational opportunities throughout their lifetimes.
Kara’s passion for working with students began early and she has held diverse tutoring, mentoring, and teaching positions. Her five years of experience in education include conversation coaching for international students, teaching language and humanities in a project-based classroom, individual mentoring for college-level writing, and leading university writing workshops. Kara is also passionate about giving back to the communities in San Diego, volunteering with nonprofits that provide STEAM education for disadvantaged and low-income neighborhoods. At Pivot, Kara brings her love for working individually with students to reach their goals. She hopes to help learners make the most of their academics and shape their own future!
Kara plans to continue impacting education equity and accessibility by pursuing a Masters in Education in the near future. In the meantime, she spends her free time painting, hiking, and perusing farmers markets in San Diego.
Peter Pavilando, B.S., ACT, SAT, Math, Chemistry, and Physics Instructor
Peter holds a B.S. in Environmental Engineering from UCSD where he also received the Provost’s Honors. He moved to San Diego from the Philippines when he was eleven years old, and has spent time in many of San Diego’s neighborhoods, including Rancho Penasquitos, Poway, and Escondido! Peter has worked as a part of the AVID academic tutoring program, with students in Math and Science at Mount Carmel High School, and also at the Teaching and Learning Commons at UCSD as a Supplemental Chemistry Instructor. He enjoys tutoring because he is able to help students reach their full potential, and help them work through concepts that they want to learn!
In his free time, Peter enjoys hiking the mountain trails around San Diego, and visiting local restaurants to try new foods. He also likes watching home improvement and DIY shows!
Ivan Canales, B.A., High Level Mathematics and SAT Math 2 Instructor
Ivan earned his Bachelor’s degree in Mathematics at UC Berkeley and has spent the past 14 years as a tutor for San Diego City College where he tutors everything from Algebra to differential equations. He also works as a Calculus instructor and runs classes and study groups for his students. Ivan has also been in charge of tutor training and online tutor coordination at SD City College, and has taught courses in Business Calculus.
At Pivot Tutors, Ivan specializes in teaching all levels of math - from 9th grade all the way through upper-level college coursework. He is dedicated to helping students understand the underlying concepts behind math. Born in Chula Vista, and a lifelong resident of San Diego, Ivan has years of experience (personally and professionally) with the challenging academic atmosphere of San Diego. When not tutoring and teaching math, Ivan loves spending time with his daughter, traveling around the Western U.S. and Mexico, and going to museums.
Samantha Hartogs, B.S., ACT Math/Science, SAT Math, and Biology Instructor
Samantha Hartogs graduated Magna Cum Laude from the University of Washington with a degree in Biology and Education. She received the Mary Gates Scholarship for her work in plant biology and has published articles on her research there. Sam loves working with students and seeing them achieve success in their school work, and she loves getting to know what makes every student unique - it’s what making teaching fun!
A San Diego (Carmel Valley) native, Sam graduated from CCA and has worked as a gymnastics instructor at the Carmel Valley Recreation Center, as well as a camp counselor at Birch Aquarium and Fleet Science Center in Balboa Park and interning at the Salk Institute! In college, she continued tutoring students in Biology, and worked in a research lab and greenhouse studying plant biology and pollination. Now at Pivot Tutors, she teaches the ACT/SAT Math and Science sections, as well as all levels of Biology! In her free time, Sam enjoys visiting local gardens and plant shops, and playing with her dogs!
Jonathan Veal, M.A., ACT and SAT English, Reading, and Writing, and US History Instructor
Jonathan Veal graduated with a degree in History and Political Science from Concordia University Irvine. He also has a Master’s in Communication Studies from San Diego State University. He currently works as an adjunct professor at Point Loma Nazarene and coaches their National Championship Debate Team, as well as tutoring debate, ACT/SAT, and US and World History. He loves tackling difficult reading passages with students and seeing them improve their understanding of new subjects!
In his free time, Jonathan enjoys playing Super Smash Brothers and reading postmodern philosophy.