Learners need to be considered holistically in order for their inherent openness and curiosity to emerge. Being conscious of how someone is naturally wired and what their specific needs are, a container of trust and understanding develops for the learner. They feel seen, become inspired, and relax enough to explore. Before long, they have cultivated a love of learning, positive self-motivation, and a sense of personal responsibility. Paired with the right support, this is how true and lasting learning takes place.
Meerkat Academics offers online conscious tutoring and coaching, with specialized areas of expertise in:
+ Test Prep
+ Architecture and Design
+ Emotional Wellness
I work with middle school, high school, university students, and professionals nationally and internationally via remote online meetings.
The Meerkat Method:
3 Dimensions of Holistic Learning
3 dimensions for working with students holistically and consciously:
1 - KNOWING the student is the first step in order to create personalized plans for achieving each student's goals.
2 - GROWING skillsets is achieved through progress assessment, project management, and metrics analysis. I impart not only the knowledge, but the methods for learning and growth.
3 - SUPPORTING each student's overall well-being to enhance their ability to be engaged life-long learners.
Learning Style is important for understanding how information is received. While most people receive information using a combination of auditory, visual, and kinesthetic styles, some lean more heavily on one over others. As a visual learner navigating through the world of predominantly audio learning, I’ve come to realize that this knowledge is invaluable and can be life-changing. Communicating to each student in their preferred learning style is akin to speaking a language that they understand.
Personality traits affect how we express ourselves and interact with others. Some prefer sensory details over the theoretical. Some are more introverted, while others are more extroverted in their thinking process. These preferences inform my communication and teaching style in order to cater to each individual's needs. Mirroring a student's communication and thought patterns allow me to convey difficult topics in a relatable container. I create a personalized framework for each individual to stay motivated and engaged in their own learning.
Personalized plans are tailored for each student according to his or her goals and level of time commitment. Many factors affect student learning curve and it is imperative keep students on target by closely assessing their progress through the lens of project management and metrics analysis. Reaching desired goals require not just knowledge, but the know-how of effective methods and monitoring.
We start with lesson plans, but stay nimble to adjust how and what we work on. This is how most students exhibit noticeable interest in learning within a few weeks of our working together. Grades and test scores provide valuable insight, not as a marker of intelligence, but for understanding a student's engagement and interest in learning. As these quantitative measures show evident improvement, other quantitative and qualitative data are also recorded and tracked to ensure measured progress.
Emotions are known to affect cognitive processes, including perception, attention, learning, memory, reasoning, and problem solving. For this reason, I integrate emotional wellness support into my work. This may come in the form of dedicated coaching sessions, practicing communication techniques, mindfulness exercises, and journaling. Not only does the learner reach a state of calm and focus needed for optimal learning, they are also learning crucial life skills for self-awareness and self-regulation.
Some of us have brains that are Ferrari engines, with bicycle brakes. This is a metaphor for the ADHD brain. As someone who was diagnosed with ADHD as an adult, I did not have the proper support as a student and had to build learning systems for myself, while working much harder than my peers. This has instilled in me not only immense compassion and patience, but practical tools for neurologically diverse students. I'm committed to providing the necessary support and use varied teaching methods to support any learning differences.
Fueled by my love of teaching, architectural design, and personal growth through self-awareness and healing, I have spent over 30 years working towards combining these three passions into one. Meerkat Academics has evolved over time to embody these three seemingly disparate practices.
It brings me joy to be able to share my educational pursuits, work experiences, and personal interests with students, parents, and peers who are aligned in their yearning to know more about themselves and the world they inhabit.
Liyan Catherine Wan is an entrepreneurial creative who has founded and operated 3 businesses, with experience leading, developing, and managing people and projects in Architecture, Interior Design, Engineering, and Education. She infuses her personal spirituality and conscious awareness into her work, elevating both her relationships with clients and the work itself.
As a corporate professional, she’s been blessed to work a variety of interesting jobs. As an engineer, she worked at Honda’s manufacturing facility in Ohio, on the development of the first-generation Acura MDX. As a Quality Assurance Engineer for Mars Chocolate, she diligently ensured that Snickers bars and Dove chocolates are defect-free with daily taste-tests. As an Architect and Interior Designer, she’s designed homes, hotels, resorts, mixed-use towers, and restaurants / bars around the world.
With experience scoring standardized tests and tutoring numerous students through Penn State's Learning Center, Varsity Tutors, and WyzAnt, Liyan began her personal 1:1 tutoring business in 2012 while pursuing her graduate degree in architecture in Chicago. Because of her dedication to education, she continued tutoring while working as an architectural designer. To dedicate herself to Meerkat Academics, Liyan resigned from working full-time at an architecture firm in 2019.
Because of her varied portfolio career, which requires that she is adept at STEM skills paired with imaginative creativity, she can easily explain difficult concepts to either a left or right-brain dominant student. Liyan empathizes with the students she works with, and firmly believes that anyone can learn as long as they are dedicated and willing. Her commitment to this is evidenced by her past literacy volunteer work at Anixter Center’s Jack Ehrlich Literacy Program. Patience and empathy is just as important as technical knowledge when it comes to increasing a student's confidence and interest in a topic and she is committed to using soft skills to encourage the learning of hard skills.
Through her executive leadership in a professional networking association, she co-founded a college coaching program in Philadelphia, which provided essay writing and college application coaching. She gained insight into the college application review process whilst guiding students to discover their application theme/personal branding to curate thoughtful essay responses.
She holds a Masters of Architecture degree from University of Illinois at Chicago, completed coursework at the Masters level at the University of Pennsylvania, has a Bachelors of Science degree in Industrial Engineering from Penn State University, and an Associates degree in Interior Design.
Outside of tutoring and coaching, she loves designing, learning esoteric topics, gardening, growing worms (and cultivating their poop!), and spending quality time with her husband and dog on Oahu’s many trails and beaches.
For more information on her qualifications and work experience, download her CV.
Sheila Kanchwala is an experienced educator and has taught at various outstanding progressive schools in the United States and around the world. She has a deep knowledge of and appreciation for children and adolescent students. Among the schools she has taught at include the Little Red School House in New York, the Avery Coonley School in Downers Grove, IL, Francis W. Parker in Chicago and The Berkeley School in California, as well as at Aga Khan Academy in Mombasa, Kenya. In addition, Sheila has worked in a consultant’s role at The Dalton School in New York, focusing on language integration. She also managed the Midwest region’s STEP program, focusing on coaching new teachers for high quality teaching and learning in the religious education setting. After three years in this educational leadership role, she started Rise over Run LLC, a tutoring and consulting organization that helps all children reach their potential.
She holds a B.S. degree from the University of Texas, an M.A. in Education from New York University, and an M.Ed. in Educational Leadership from the Klingenstein Center, Teachers’ College, Columbia University in New York.
Jason Kong is an educator that specializes in empowering learners to reach their potential. He spent most of his career supporting the needs of students in higher education settings. Jason has worked for the University of Delaware, and Columbia University. He specializes in program development, event planning, assessment, mentorship, diversity training, strategic planning, leadership, and team building.
Most recently, Jason was at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia as a Diversity & Inclusion Specialist delivering diversity trainings and implementing educational programs rooted in best practices that fosters an inclusive work environment and provides culturally competent care to patients and families.
He has a M.Ed in Higher Education Administration from the University of Delaware, and a B.S. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from Stockton University.
Mary Francis Drake
Rt. Rev. Mary Francis Drake, MA, MSW is Senior Adjunct Faculty in the Psychology Department at the University of Massachusetts--Lowell Campus and Online. She has been teaching for UMASS Lowell for 35 years. Her teaching, private practice counseling and spiritual direction offerings have focused on women and raising the energy of the Feminine to restore our beings and our planet to balance. With 25 years as a Psycho-Spiritual Counselor, 17 years as a Priest, and now Bishop (2 years) in the Mystical Christian Tradition, Mary Francis continues to broaden her scope in the area of Conscious Evolution by ordaining independent Priests and offering spiritual direction to seekers.
She is also a poet and author of 3 books related to her ecclesiastic training and its transforming power: This Much I Know Is True, 2016 (essay collection); beauty, grit & grace, 2018 (poetry collection); and Dancing in the Doorway: A Life’s Journey Between Worlds, 2022, (purposeful memoir). Mary Francis is currently a doctoral student in Ubiquity University’s Doctor of Ministry Program. She is also the mother of 3 young adult children. She has recently moved to Vermont to start a Queen Mothers Home for elderwomen to age in place with dignity and community, harvesting the gold of the elder years for the sake of future generations.