My Vision Teaching English is my passion, and in my twenty-five year career as a college professor I’ve worked with students from Honors classrooms to remedial writing labs to prisons. I’ve also taught adult education literature classes, edited college English textbooks at St. Martin’s Press, published many magazine and newspaper articles and provided business communications support. These days, I’m bringing all that experience to your home or office, offering one-on-one coaching. My Credentials I was educated at Cornell and Boston Universities. My undergraduate degree is in Print Journalism, and my graduate work is in English Literature. In 1991 I was awarded the Boston University Graduate School Prize in Teaching. I was a full-time professor of English Literature and Composition and of Public Speaking at Mercy College, Dobbs Ferry, NY from 1998 until 2008. At Mercy I also taught in the Honors Program, and I provided one-on-one writing support in the Learning Center to undergraduate and graduate students in many disciplines. Since 2009, I've been teaching Mercy’s English composition and Public Speaking courses at Taconic State Women’s Prison in Bedford Hills, NY and at Sing-Sing. While I was working on my Ph.D. dissertation, I taught a series of adult education Shakespeare and James Joyce courses in Southern Westchester for over nine years. I also began tutoring local Ardsley and Dobbs Ferry High School students during that time, mostly SAT and ACT coaching but also offering senior students English thesis support. I moved to South Salem in 2004 and over time I began tutoring here as well, work that I love. A Final Note I think what best recommends me as a tutor is my ability to work successfully with students at all ability levels—and at most motivation levels. Over the years, I’ve fine-tuned my ability to create strategies that work for individual learners. Armed with experience, enthusiasm and a sense of humor I will help your son or daughter gain communication skills important not just for high school or college, but for life.
My Approach To my mind the most important aspect of my work as a teacher is to instill confidence in my students. In a one-on-one tutoring setting I have the luxury to evaluate your child’s specific needs and goals and to put together a personalized plan to address them. I want every student I work with not only to develop writing and analytical skills, but also to create a positive inner monologue he/she can draw upon when taking tests and tackling academic challenges alone. Identifying parents’ expectations is also critical to the tutoring process. Early on, we will discuss your concerns and goals. What would constitute an excellent outcome for my work with your child? Passing a troublesome course? Earning an exceptional SAT or ACT verbal score? Getting into that dream college thanks to a great application essay? No matter what your goals, I can help. Effective tutoring is all about finding a balance. Tutors don’t do students’ work for them, especially when it comes to writing assignments– your child’s essays must be her own words, warts and all. My job is to point out and guide students through the myriad choices they have as they learn to craft a document, from organizing content to placing the perfect semi-colon. I teach them what questions to ask of themselves as they approach and complete writing assignments. A Note on SAT and ACT Tutoring I will share many helpful test-taking and vocabulary-building strategies which can raise your child’s College Board scores. That said, a few tutoring sessions probably can’t take a verbal score of 490 to a score of 690; all of our expectations have to be realistic. The more effort your child puts into completing practice tests and drilling with vocabulary flash cards between tutoring sessions, the better the results. So, if all this strikes a chord give me a call and we can put together a great plan for your child.


WHAT? GED, SAT, ACT, AP, GRE coaching Coursework support College Application Essay writing Public Speaking mentoring WHO? (Whom, actually!) do I tutor? Middle and High School students GED candidates College students WHERE? Lewisboro/ Northern Westchester, NY Western Fairfield County, CT WHEN? Weekdays: Before or after school (last appointment 8 p.m.) Weekends: Anytime Saturday; Sunday afternoon  HOW? Your home or mine (South Salem, NY) One-hour sessions at $125/hour (discounts for booking five or more sessions in advance)


Resumé and cover letter editing Writing, editing and proofreading copy for various media Coaching individuals and teams in designing and delivering professional presentations (including overcoming public speaking anxiety) Interviewing strategies

In addition to tutoring high school students, I offer writing and editing support to adults. I bring an editor's eye to polishing business documents and resumés, and I can help with crafting the perfect cover letter. My background as a journalist and a book editor means I can also help you create clear and effective copy for your website and other social media.


Besides providing writing and editing assistance, I also offer public speaking coaching in a business context, both for individuals and teams.


Even if your business is technical, I can probably help; I am a quick study and I excel at rendering complicated material with clarity and conciseness. If in doubt, let's discuss your project in detail.




  • Comments from Lewisboro Students and Parents

    "Our family was so very fortunate to have Melissa Cook Candela in our lives! She worked with both our children over a period of five years as an English tutor, an ACT and SAT prep tutor and helped our children prepare their college application essays. She was a lifesaver during the college application process and made what could have been a very stressful process much easier. She related very well to both our children and brought out their full potentials. Melissa taught our children how to organize their ideas and thoughts so they could put them in writing. The end product was written by our child and they could own their own work. Over the years, I saw both my children gain aptitude and confidence in their writing and English skills. Both went on to college and are having great success. I attribute a great deal of their success to the excellent foundation Melissa gave them during their high school years.”

     —Renee and Tom Gossett, South Salem NY


    “Excellent tutor! She’s helped me with my SAT and ACT prep and numerous papers. Very easy to work with and takes the time to make sure you understand the content step by step.”

     —Bill Gossett, South Salem NY


    “Melissa to the rescue! She tutored both of my high school children—and they are very different learners. She connected beautifully with both of them and, most important, gave them confidence.”

     —Lisa Miller Pozniak, South Salem NY


    "Melissa was a BIG HELP to both of my sons when they needed a little extra guidance with their school work."

    –Jan Laquidara, South Salem NY

  • Mercy College Classroom Observations by my Department Chairs

    “The professor gained student respect, and they were eager and willing to contribute [to class discussion]. Many helpful questions were raised by the students and Professor Cook Candela’s responses were always clear, direct and supportive while she continually challenged them to examine their views closely. This was an extremely energetic class conducted in a highly professional manner. Overall, it was an engaging, productive and valuable session to observe.”


    “An interesting, challenging, productive class. [The Faerie Queene] is a challenging work to teach, but she handled it superbly. Professor Cook Candela’s enthusiasm was contagious, her rapport superb, the lesson a success.”


  • Adult Education Students’ Comments

    “Melissa has such a good balance of serious comment, class discussion and humor. [She] made Shakespeare accessible and fun—not the frustrating experience it was before!”


    “Melissa is such a dedicated and effective teacher. I want to continue with this course forever!”


    “The plays come alive. Melissa’s astute knowledge and love of this material comes through. It was the first course I have taken in 44 years, but not the last! This course sets the level that other instructors should be asked to achieve.”


    “What I liked best was the teacher’s preparation and ability to elicit interchange among students. We loved learning with Melissa and we can’t  wait for the spring course!”

  • Comments from Taconic State Prisoners taking Mercy College English Composition Courses

    “I want to thank you for helping me in my first college experience. You gave me hope when I really wasn’t sure of myself.  I have learned a great deal from you and I will carry it to my next class. I will never forget this class.”


    “I have enjoyed your classes so much. I truly hope that I will be in another course of yours in the near future. Thank you for your dedication and love of teaching. You are an inspiration to me.”


    “It has been such a pleasure to learn under you, and I know I will forever remember you. Trust me, you gave me confidence. At times I wanted to give up.”



Wise up!

Call or email me today!


South Salem, NY


914 374•9981

Submitting Form...

The server encountered an error.

Form received.

English Tutor - Over 25 years of teaching excellence

© 2019 Melissa Cook Candela



Site and branding designed by Go Dog Design Group