Daniel P.

Daniel Penny

Experiend Writing and Standardized Test Tutor

Brooklyn, NY

134.40 /HR


I've worked as a professional tutor for four years, working with students ages 11 and up. I specialize in reading, writing, research, and some standardized test prep, though my favorite subject remains college counseling. As a practicing essayist, I feel especially well-suited to guide students through the often mysterious process of crafting a personal statement, a task many of them have never encountered in school. Each student is different, and the fun/difficulty of this project is to find that difference, that unique quality, and build a compelling narrative around it.

I began tutoring as early as high school, when I took a training course the Writing Center at Bard High School Early College. It was a formative experience for me, and I ended up teaching the next batch of tutors and returning to the program to volunteer after I'd graduated high school. When I came back to New York for graduate school at Columbia, tutoring seemed like a natural step.

Teaching Methods

The methods that I learned at Bard are still a big part of my teaching arsenal (an emphasis on close reading, annotation, critical thinking, and writing multiple drafts), but I've also had the opportunity to develop professionally by teaching a course at Brooklyn High School for the Arts through Columbia's Artists as Teachers program (CA/T).

I'm currently developing a multi-genre creative writing seminar for Columbia's Summer High School Creative Writing Program, and have an undergraduate nonfiction syllabus in the works for the fall. With all my students, I always emphasize emulation--how does the author structure their argument, what kind of rhetorical moves do they make? Once we've identified a few key elements, I help my students attempt those same techniques in their own work. I never ask that my students write a perfect first draft, but rather that they take risks and seek to write with clarity, nuance, and a sense of curiosity.


  • Master of Fine Arts (MFA) from Columbia University in the City of New York in Creative Writing (nonfiction) in 2015
  • Bachelor of Arts (BA) from Grinnell College in English Language and Literature/Letters in 2013

Professional History

  • Director of Communications at Book&Table in from 2014 - Present
  • Digital Strategist at George Braziller and Persea Books in from 2014 - 2014
  • Editorial Intern at George Braziller and Persea Books in from 2014 - 2014
  • English, Writing, ACT, SAT, Grammar, and College Essay Tutor at WyzAnt Tutoring in from 2013 - 2014

About Me

Columbia MFA Teaching Fellow; Experienced Tutor in College Admissions, Reading, Writing, and Literature.

I'm a Brooklyn native and current graduate student at Columbia University, where I study and teach creative nonfiction. I write journalism, essays, criticism, and poetry, and have won numerous awards for my work including The Norton Writer's Prize and an American Academy of Poetry Prize. Recently, my essay, "A Model Camp," was selected as a notable essay to be listed in the 2015 edition of Best American Essays.

I've worked with a wide variety of students: from middle-schoolers learning to write a five paragraph essay, to graduate students applying for fellowships. I have experience with gifted students, ESL students, and students with learning disabilities. When it comes to reading and writing, I am a huge nerd, but I think that's a good quality for a tutor to have.

References (4)

Orit D.

22:35 PM 07/Jun/16

Relationship: Parent

Daniel is an outstanding tutor. While working with him, he helped me refine and narrow the theses of my papers, identified nebulous ideas that required further fleshing out, and most importantly, challenged my critical thinking abilities. Daniel's skill in guiding my revision process has resulted in an increase of a full letter grade on several of my papers. I have worked with different tutors in the past, and while each one has his or her own strengths as a writer and tutor, I find Daniel's teaching approach most productive for identifying my weaknesses as a writer.

Kellee S.

16:20 PM 23/May/16

Relationship: Parent

I don't think my daughter Livy could have produced a quality college essay without Daniel's Essay workshop. Additionally, I feel she learned new strategies that helped her with other essays she needed to write for both high school and college. I also have to say her overall organizational skills have improved and her English grade rose to a B+ the first semester of her senior hear, the highest grade she has had in English in high school. Lastly, she applied to 11 colleges and was accepted to 10 and waitlisted at 1. Overall, a stupendous result! I can't thank Daniel enough! He instilled a higher level of confidence in my daughter and her writing skills which I think will continue to follow her through her college years.

Matthew G.

09:51 AM 06/Feb/15

Relationship: Parent

Daniel has been working with our middle-school-age son on his writing for more than a year, and we've been extremely pleased with our son's progress as a result. Daniel is a personable, responsible, and thoughtful tutor; he provides reading materials that both engage and challenge, and has worked with our son on a broad variety of writing, from poetry to music reviews to persuasive essays. All throughout he has provided important lessons on the importance of specific detail, on making sentences both more complex and more accessible, and on organizing information to better convey a point. I would recommend him enthusiastically and without reservation.

Nicole G.

18:32 PM 05/Feb/15

Relationship: Parent

Daniel has been working with my son for two years, and I credit much of the progress my son has made to Daniel's careful attention. My son has ADHD and had struggled with reading and writing throughout elementary school. I had tried other tutors but no one clicked with Will the way that Daniel did. Daniel has high expectations. He holds my son to high standards, and my son eventually achieved them. At the same time, he is patient, and obviously skilled at tutoring students with learning challenges. With Daniel's guidance, my son has written some A papers - the last one completely on his own. He has learned to write. He is miles ahead of where he was two years ago. I strongly recommend Daniel.