Winter-quarter biology and science tutoring is available at two places!

Nursing students and those taking science classes – winter-quarter tutoring for your studies is available now at two different locations in the Health Sciences and Student Services Building!

The Biology & Chemistry Tutoring Lab is now open seven days a week with tutors on duty to help you. It is located in Room 2642-A, on the second floor.

Here is the schedule for tutoring at that center:

Monday, 2:50 p. m. to 5:50 p.m.: Marcus tutors for all subjects and Allison tutors for chemistry.

Tuesday, 2:50 p.m. to 5:50 p.m.: Marcus tutors for all subjects.

Wednesday, 2:50 p.m. to 5:50 p.m.: Allison tutors for chemistry.

Thursday, 1:50 p.m. to 4:00 p.m., Gloria tutors for anatomy and physiology, biology, and microbiology. She also tutors during those hours for non-major chemistry.

Friday, 12:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m., Gloria tutors for anatomy and physiology, biology, and microbiology, as well as for non-major chemistry. From 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m., Taylor tutors for anatomy and physiology and for biology for majors.

Saturday, 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Marcus tutors for all subjects.

Sunday, 12:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m., Marcus tutors for all subjects.

At the Math & Science Learning Center, Room 1639, chemistry tutoring is available five days a week.

On Monday and Wednesday  Daniel tutors from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. On Tuesday and Thursday he tutors from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

On Tuesday Danny tutors from 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. On Thursday he tutors from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.

On Thursday Quynn tutors from 1:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m.. On Friday he tutors from 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m., and on Sunday he tutors from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.

From Monday through Thursday Thomas tutors from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.

On Tuesday and Thursday Uyen tutors from 12:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.



The way to pronounce English


Sarah Donnelly

SEATTLE, WA    January 10, 2019              By SARAH DONNELLY

Do you say “couldja, wouldja, don’tcha, wanna, gonna, hadta, havta,…?” Is this good English, bad English, or just English?

There are over 6,000 spoken languages in the world today, about 163 in the Seattle area, and each language speaker, or family of languages, has its own particular difficulty learning to speak English. For instance, Spanish speakers especially need practice to learn the stressed words, the rhythm, in an English sentence. Most dialects of Chinese do not have a “z” sound, so “rise” sounds like “rice.” And speakers of Arabic often need help with the two “th” sounds, as in “this” and “throw,” which they may reduce to “d” and “t.”

Pronunciation is about more than clearly saying an individual word. English is made up of about 44 vowel and consonant sounds, plus rhythm, intonation, linking words, and word stress, all vital to signaling new or important information. Try this: say out loud, “I am going to climb to the top of the Space Needle.” Which words are stressed, and thus important? Which words almost disappear? It varies depending on the context and message. Then say it with no inflection in your voice and equal stress on every syllable: “I am going to climb to the top of the Space Needle.” Hmmm. Not much to go on.

My goal is not to teach the perfect way to say a word, or perfect English, or accent-free English, but to help students be intelligible to others.

This is the first pronunciation workshop offered by the Student Learning Center.

It will meet winter quarter on Wednesdays from 2:00-3:00 p.m. in Room 1637-A of the Health Science and Student Resources Building (the large seminar room across from the SLC greeter’s desk). Each meeting will include work on at least one sound from spoken American English, and answering questions from students about how to speak our challenging language. I will use a computer and overhead projector to show useful ESL resources on the Internet, such as:

* Learn English with Let’s Talk on YouTube

* Learning English at Voice of America News,

or *, where we’ll watch a close-up of Rachel’s mouth, teeth, tongue, chin and jaw, a lovely image, saying, in slow-motion, “sixth,” a difficult word for most to pronounce.

Now say “squirrel.” Slowly.

Sarah Donnelly has been a tutor at North Seattle College since 2014. In 2015 she received a certificate for teaching English as a Second Language (ESL) at the School of Teaching English as a Second Language (S-TESL). Many other graduates went abroad to teach, but she chose to stay in Seattle and find adults who need help learning English. 

“Since working at Page One, I have enjoyed working with many students from around the world. Many want help with their English pronunciation, and I love to help them,” she says.




Winter quarter tutoring begins this week!


SEATTLE, WA — December 30, 2018

Greetings, newcomers, and welcome back, returning students! We’re in a new year! Winter quarter is here, and starting this week so is tutoring help for many of your courses.

North Seattle College’s Student Learning Center begins opening this Friday, January 4, to help registered students with language, math, science, business and accounting courses. Walk-in one-on-one tutoring is free to registered students and does not require appointments.  The Page One Writing & Language Center, which tutors students in English and other languages, opens Wednesday, January 9. The Biology & Chemistry Learning Center will also open soon, at a date to be announced. Tutoring centers are located in the Health Sciences and Student Resources Building.

SIGNING IN. You can sign up for tutoring anywhere on campus – from a college computer, a laptop or a phone. Log in at  Once you set up an account, select which center you want (accounting/business, biology/chemistry, writing, or math and science.) Then fill out the form on the screen, with your name, which table you’ll sit at, and what subject you want help with.(see “dashboard” graphic, below).


The system will ask you to request a particular tutor from a list of those working, if you want, or will allow you to select “any tutor” if you are willing to work with whichever one is available.

FOOD & DRINK: You can bring drinks into the tutoring center as long as they have lids tightly-secured on top. You are not allowed to bring food into the centers.

Here are the tutoring centers where you go for help and when the centers open for the quarter:

ACCOUNTING and BUSINESS  (Room 1636A): The Accounting & Business Learning Center opens Friday, January 4.  Tutoring for general accounting, business and economics. Hours: 11 a.m. and 6 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 11:00 a.m. to 1 p.m. Friday and from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m. Sunday.

When you need help here, check the tutor work schedule just to the right of the front door.  Tutors are assigned to work on specific subjects, and it’s good to find and request one who is knowledgeable in the area you’re studying. Ten tutors will help with accounting and business subjects; four will help with business software for Bus 124 and 169, one of them at the library; two will help with business law; and they all work at different hours.

Tutoring for IT 102 and IT 125 is by appointment, from classroom instructions, and is available only to students registered in the class. The Accounting/Business Center conducts tutoring for the medical terminology class (AMA 117), through workshops; two will be held on January 10 and January 24 in Room 1637A. Other dates will be announced.

BIOLOGY & CHEMISTRY (Room 2642-A, on the second floor). Opening day and hours will be announced. This center provides tutoring for classes in biology, chemistry, human anatomy and physiology, and micro-biology.

MATH and SCIENCE (Room 1639): The Math & Science Learning Center also opens January 4.  Tutoring is offered for math, computer science, chemistry and physics.

Hours: 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Friday and 1:00 to 5:00 p.m. on Sunday.

This center provides tutoring for pre-college and 100 level math, computer science, physics and chemistry classes. Special group “navigating” sessions are available for students in selected math courses.

WRITING and GRAMMAR (Room 1634): On Wednesday, January 9, PAGE ONE WRITING & LANGUAGE CENTER will open.  Hours: 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Monday through Thursday,  9:00 a.m. until 1:00 p.m. Friday and 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Sunday.

Page One helps with reading, grammar, pronunciation, essays, letters, personal statements, resumes and other college writing. Each day each student can receive two one-on-one 30-minute tutoring sessions, at least 30 minutes apart. Special group “navigating” sessions are available for students in selected English courses.

Separately, from individual sessions three sets of group tutoring sessions also will be available and are aimed at international students and those taking courses in English as a Second Language.  “Talk Time,” held from 2:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. on Tuesdays, practices conversation. “Focus on Vocabulary,” held from 11:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. on Wednesdays, helps students learn English words. “Pronunciation Practice,” held from 2:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. Wednesdays, focuses on learning to make English sounds. All three sessions are conducted by staff tutors.

WORLD LANGUAGES:  Tutoring is available on weekdays for American Sign Language (ASL), Chinese, French, German, Japanese and Spanish.   Hours for individual tutors in specific languages vary through the week.  For details check the printed schedules posted in the lobby of the tutoring center, or read the world language website at:



Working for success, and finding it

MATINA                                                                Matina Kpassira

SEATTLE, WA,       December 30, 2018                            By LARRY LANGE

As long as she can remember, math tutor Matina Kpassira has loved numbers.

Growing up and getting her early education in Togo, West Africa, her favorite things was counting. She would pick up sticks and other objects to do it. She also amused herself by drawing figures like triangles or squares or other rectangles, because she enjoyed them so much.

She studied the usual variety of subjects in school but “I was more interested in doing calculations,” she says. Now “I think numbers rule the world.”

Kpassira came to the United States in early 2016 after winning a U.S. immigration lottery.  She wanted to “go and see what is here, take my chances and have a better education.”

Settling in Seattle, she got a job as a Starbucks barista, something that immersed her in a new culture and helped her polish the very basic English she’d been taught in her first country. But she wanted to attend college. A friend told her about the English as a Second Language program at North Seattle College, so we went for more information and enrolled.

She began taking additional courses at North Seattle College in January of 2017. She took ESL courses her first two quarters and studied English 101, a higher-level discipline, to continue adding to her English skills.

But she didn’t forget math, which became her major. By the fall of 2018 she had completed every math course NSC offers, and began focusing on other areas: psychology, communication and computer science. But she keeps her hand in mathematics by tutoring five mornings each week at NSC’s Math & Science Learning Center.

Unraveling the mysteries of math for others is fun for her. “I just also like the fact that I can help people,” she says. “It’s much easier because it’s something I really like.”

There’s one lesson Kpassira learned first-hand that she uses frequently in her tutoring: failure can be inspiring.

During spring quarter of 2017 she failed her first attempt at completing English 101. It was difficult for her as someone who had been raised in a nation where the dominant language is French.  “I was pretty depressed, to the point of giving up on the whole English thing,” she says. “I finished the course but I didn’t put that much effort into it because I knew I was failing.”

But she picked herself up and made another, successful attempt, using the kind of objective logic she’d learned from studying mathematics: identify the facts and then develop a solution. She went through her stack of classwork, “to see where I had failed…then I made a new plan, to do things better than I did before. Doing math gives you a logical way of thinking about things.”

She took the course a second time during the summer of 2017, finishing with an almost-perfect grade. She moved on to English 102, and along the way her 101 teacher “made me love reading books. I was really happy that I did it again.”

She frequently uses that lesson to help students she tutors. When they’re stuck on problems she can help them reach solutions by looking for new approaches, in the same way she tackled English: she faced her failure and “I made a new plan” in order to succeed.

When math students feel like they want to give up, “I tell my own story about how I failed” but later succeeded. She also tells them about not giving up too soon. She was frustrated for a time with English but “then I thought about it like a math problem…if something doesn’t work we can try other ways.” She does this in her tutoring, sometimes by using visual techniques like drawings to explain math concepts. She advises students to practice math every day, and to see it as “something you can actually get better at.”

Kpassira hopes to transfer to another college, perhaps the University of Washington, to obtain a four-year degree in math (perhaps with a minor in electrical engineering).  Meanwhile, she’s enjoying tutoring as part of her own education. “You learn more than you teach,” she says.























Having a fun life with language


Pearl Klein


SEATTLE, WA,  November 14, 2018                            By LARRY LANGE

Language is Pearl Klein’s life.

She’s one of the newest tutors in the Page One Writing & Language Center but when she started fall quarter she brought writing skills honed over most of a lifetime.

She began writing poetry at the age of 8, and since then has studied and taught English, tutored, acted in films and written and directed plays.  To her, life is open-ended and ready for growth, and she brings this idea to her work.

“I just always liked playing with words,” she says. “It’s fun.”

Born in Indiana, Klein grew up in the Midwest and received a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and literature at the University of Chicago. Her degree included a creative writing senior thesis and came with special honors.

“What I wanted to take was English classes,” she recalled. “What I wanted to do was read books and write about them and talk about them.”

She moved to Seattle in the 1970s with her mother, after her parents divorced. In the meantime, she’d worked a job in a movie theater, where she became a film buff between bites of soda and popcorn.

Film, to her, demonstrated more ways to tell stories.

In Seattle, she completed a Master of Fine Arts degree at the University of Washington, where she focused on creative writing and poetry. While at UW she worked as a teaching assistant and developed an interest in teaching.

While completing her UW degree she taught one English class per quarter, and then taught composition, literature and creative writing at Olympic College in Bremerton and at Shoreline Community College. At Shoreline she also tutored in the writing center and began acting in class productions, at the suggestion of a friend, and she soon expanded from acting into directing.

She loved acting and directing so much she has never stopped doing it.  She has two performance certificates: for stage and screen from the UW and for writing and directing for the camera from Shoreline college. Over the years she has acted in 14 theater productions (her favorite role was playing a member of a family portrayed over a long period of time). She has also directed six plays, including five in which she not only acted or directed but wrote the material. She has had supporting and “extra” roles in six films.

Klein has extended her language skills into a part-time business,, where she helps creative people learn to express themselves through speaking and learning in different ways, including website copy, blogs and presentations.

She’s continually pushing herself, as well, recently writing a one-person play and currently working on a personal memoir, which she calls a “ranting poem, with footnotes…a chunk of my life history.”

But in effect, she has been directing herself and other people in different ways through writing and performing.  As in tutoring, she says, the processes both involve “creating space for learning.”  That’s what she hopes to create for the students she tutors: a place where they can expand their knowledge.

“Always ask the question that’s on your mind,” she advises students.  “Be open to what you don’t know…That’s where the learning comes.”



Love, from the other side of the world


Flowers, sent with love from far away


SEATTLE, WA                                                                 November 6, 2018

This is a presentation written by Frehiwot, a third-year nursing student from Ethiopia. It was and presented in October to her Public Speaking 220 class, taught by Renee DeHeck.

Show and Tell

Hi, my name, is Frehiwot. Today I would like to tell you about the mystery of my nine-year-old dry flower,

  • the curiosity I had that time,
  • why this flower is significant in my marriage, and
  • why I kept this flower so long.

In 2009 my husband went to our country, Ethiopia, for several months.  Sadly, he wouldn’t be with me on Valentine’s Day, which was a month after the day he left.  Before he left he ordered a flower to be delivered to my home on Valentine’s Day.  However, I didn’t know he planned to send a surprise gift to me.

What happen was, a week before the Valentine’s the bill statement came to me and I was thinking this bill came to me by a mistake.  First of all, the flower was expensive it cost sixty dollars.  In 2009 most flowers were cheap, so I was curious about this and about where this flower was supposed to go. Paying sixty dollars for the flower was very special.  Second, my husband didn’t tell me anything about it and if flowers cost this much it must have meant there was something that I was supposed to know.  We usually discussed when we give big gifts like this, but this was unusual.

I called to the flower place and I asked them what the person who order the flower looked like, but they didn’t tell me because they knew that it was a surprise.   I couldn’t believe my husband would buy this flower to give to somebody else.  My first reaction was to jump to a negative conclusion; I thought maybe the gift was for someone else and not me.  I tried to call him many times but he had turned off his phone and I couldn’t reach him.  Because of the time difference between Washington and Ethiopia I would stay awake at night to call him, but he didn’t answer my call for a week. That also made my situation aggravated.  I felt he was just ignoring me. I was burned out and wondered if he had another woman. I decided If he did, I would not take him back.

Finally, on Valentine’s morning the florist delivered the flower to my neighbor’s home.  When my neighbor received it she wondered who sent it to her, because she didn’t have a husband or a boyfriend and there was a card with it. When she opened the card, there was my name on it, and she brought the flower to me.  She questioned me: who sent you a flower after your husband left?

When I opened the envelop I saw that my husband had written me a love letter saying he felt sorry that he was not beside me that day. After I read that I cried and I called him immediately.  He picked up the phone and I told him how much I loved him too.  Also, I told him the truth about how I felt when I saw the bill but didn’t know to whom he gave it. I told him I was especially upset when he ignored my calls and my heart was broken. He said, “I knew that after I paid, the bill will come before the flower. Therefore, I ignored your calls, in order to not discuss about it. I knew also that you would be confused about it, but not negatively. Anyhow, it is good for you to be surprised.”

This was my curiosity. Valentin’s day has a very special meaning in my marriage. I have kept this flower for nine years and I will keep it forever.



Page One’s grand lady of grammar


Rita Smilkstein

SEATTLE, WA,   September 24, 2018                      By LARRY LANGE

Rita Smilkstein has never quit reading or writing.

At age 11 she gave herself the assignment of walking from the waterfront to her family home and then describing the journey.  But by then she was already an experienced writer: she started at age 5 with a kindergarten poem, which she posted on a school bulletin board alongside the standard class notices. Later, another of her poems was published in a teenage-literary magazine.

“I liked thinking about things and putting them down on paper,” she says. “I was always reading. My mother used to come up to my room and tell me, ‘go out and play,’ but I wanted to stay in…I always loved to read and write.”

She still does. After years of teaching college English and having published three books about teaching, it’s possible that someone has used her techniques to teach you what you know about the language. And it’s no surprise that she went on to teach not only students but also teachers.

It’s been a lifelong commitment.

She began teaching at summer camps. Later she developed her English passion into a bachelor’s degree at the University of Iowa, a master’s degree at Michigan State University and a doctoral degree at the University of Washington, all majoring in the language.  For her master’s thesis at Michigan State, she wrote a play that was performed by the university’s drama department.

She had a knack for finding teaching jobs at the right moment. She got one of the first posts at Westchester Community College, near New York City. when it was newly-opened and needed people with her background. When she and her family moved to Seattle for her husband’s new job at the University of Washington, she got a part-time English teaching position at North Seattle College  — just as it was opening up in 1970 and needed staff.

Five years later, when the state legislature approved funding for more fulltime teachers, “I got to be one of those teachers” at NSC, she says.

While she taught, she kept writing.  She wrote “The Successful Student’s Handbook” to help students navigate the college system, something she saw many students were not able to do.

As she worked she noticed that many students didn’t learn well from traditional textbooks. “We weren’t defining the basics,” she says.  So she set about doing just that, focusing on the building blocks of the language, such as subjects, verbs and prepositional phrases, to make sure students learned those so they could improve their writing.

“I gave them sentences to work on,” she says of her students. “I figured out a better way to do it.” Her second book, “Tools for Writing,” gives a series of exercises to help students understand the basics. It includes a quote from a student who said that after using Smilkstein’s methods, “I can see a sentence in little pieces now. That makes it easy to see everything. When it was all in one bunch I couldn’t see what it was.”  The book is still used to teach English at NSC.

Smilkstein continued learning.

As she continued teaching she realized she needed to know more about how people learn. She studied how the brain learns, and obtained a doctoral degree in educational psychology at the UW. Her dissertation was a study of students who learned by her methods and how much they advanced. The thesis for the dissertation was the name of what became her third book: “We’re Born to Learn: Using the Brain’s Natural Learning Process to Create Today’s Curriculum.”

The book’s message is that we all can and do learn. A central point is that as our brains are stimulated and we communicate with others our brain cells multiply and we know more. In the book, Smilkstein writes that her purpose was to “make it possible for students to be the eager, motivated, successful learners they were born to be.”

She’s still reading – often two or three books at a time.  Her most recent ones include biographies of writer Anne Sexton and American revolutionary Thomas Paine. She’s also started reading a volume about Jewish history.

She’s still writing, and still teaching students English.  She retired as a fulltime instruction from NSC  in 1998 but  continued teaching, part-time, at Western Washington University’s satellite campus in Everett. She came back to NSC in 2014, when the Page One Writing & Language Center opened new, larger quarters in the Health Sciences and Student Resources Building.

When she was invited to be a tutor there, she said she was delighted to accept. Now she not only helps students but answers tutors’ questions about the finer points of English.

When students work with her, they can expect to be helped to learn and succeed.

“It’s a great way to spend your time together,” she says.


Books by Rita Smilkstein