About Me

About Me

A very good place to start (Hi, I'm Chris)

I was born and raised in Upstate NY (south Canada for any NYC folks) where I developed my love of the cold and the outdoors. I have two kind, driven, and brilliant siblings who I love dearly, and two amazing parents who are to blame for most of the good and decent things I will ever do. I was a prodigious math student (I’d completed Calculus, Differential Equations, and Linear Algebra by Sophomore year in high school) and a passable musician (if you happen to be fond of violin, trumpet, or tenors who can’t quite hit a high “A”). After high school, I was accepted into Johns Hopkins University and awarded a full academic scholarship to study Biomedical Engineering. For the last 10 years I’ve tutored in and around Washington D.C., and this past June (drawn by the beautiful mountains and the excellent energy) I relocated to Denver and set up shop in Englewood.

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Blood, sweat, and something in my eye

Running or rucking when I have too much physical energy; climbing or playing music when I need clear my head or get focused. I’ve always been a bit of a sled dog. Give me something to pull and tell me to run and I am as happy and productive as can be. But let me wander around a house with nothing to do and there won’t be any furniture or molding when you get back. I’m a big fan of understanding and testing my limits, and a lot of what makes me happy falls into that space. Sometimes that means just trying to breathe normally on top of a 14er (while getting lapped by a child or a septuagenarian: you guys are super inspiring out here); other times it’s about trusting my foot to hold on a tiny granite crystal. As a rule of thumb, so long as my body or my ego gets a little bruised, it’s usually a good day.

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Because I have the best job ever

The impromptu midday text from a student curious about Number Theory and the Null Set. The impromptu 11PM emergency text from a student petrified over her Chemistry final the next day. The delight in the eyes of a student who had been convinced she was “bad at math” when she brought in her report card to show off her “A”. The joy and relief on the faces of two parents when they realized that their son’s test scores meant he qualified for a full college scholarship. The phone call from a student I’ve worked with since he was in Junior High telling me that he’d just been accepted into Medical School. The pictures and stories from the students and families who kept in touch years after we’ve worked together.

At the end of the day, I love my work because I love my students. It is a privilege and a pleasure to be a part of their lives, and I get to do my best to give them the tools they will need to be bright and kind and resilient adults.

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"Several short sentences about writing"

From the Prologue of “Several short sentences about writing” by Verlyn Klinkenborg:

“Everything in this book is meant to be tested over again, by you. You decide what works for you. This is perhaps the most important thing I have to say. Part of the struggle in learning to write is learning to ignore what isn’t useful to you and pay attention to what is. If that means arguing with me as you read this book, so be it.

This is a book full of starting points. Perhaps they’ll help you find enough clarity in your own mind and your own writing to discover what it means to write. I don’t mean “write the way I do” or “write the way they do.” I mean “write the way you do.”

Here’s a starting point. You many have no idea what way you write. I hope this book will help you find out.”

An excellent and earnest book about writing, reflection, expression, and creation. I highly recommend it.

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Richard Feynman (let me explain)

So hear me out. By many accounts, Richard Feynman’s “Introduction to Physics” classes at Caltech were anything but introductory, and in Feynman’s own words, “I don’t think I did very well by the students.” There is a very reasonable argument to be made that Feynman was a pretty poor teacher to the majority of his undergrads. I do not admire the system or coursework that he tried to implement. What I love, however, is his approach to understanding. Feynman, more than any other instructor I have come across, demanded absolute precision from his explanations and metaphors. Once, during a BBC interview, he redirected a basic question on magnetism, saying “I can’t explain that attraction in terms of anything else that’s familiar to you.” He was unwilling to give a understandable explanation that would be even slightly misleading or inaccurate.

Every day, I work with students who have had complex ideas introduced to them by way of simple simile or falsehood: “space-time is like a sheet”, or “you can’t take the square root of a negative number.” While explanations like this might initially allow a student to frame what is happening, they are extremely poor foundations to build on. The result is that many students find themselves struggling against their own intuition and prior (incorrect) understanding. They’re suddenly “bad at math” or “not really a physics person”. One of the great things about my work is that I get to help students wade through that uncertainty and confusion. Complexity becomes an opportunity to learn, and not a trap to be avoided. 

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Because they work hard (because they want to)

I am excellent at guiding students through complicated ideas. Those students (and even other tutors) have described some of my explanations as “beautiful” and “sublime”. I am one of the best at what I do, and I work every day to get a little better at it. But the reason my students are so consistently successful is that they are willing to work hard to cultivate the necessary combination of motivation and grit.

Everyone has ideas that are important to them and goals they want to accomplish. But for many students, the here-and-now is so consuming that they never take the time to figure out what they want for their future. And even for those who do, it’s difficult to connect the work and effort they can put in today to the realization of those goals. So we start with motivation, and once we find it, we train discipline. Everything after that is just details. We trust each other. We learn without fear of the first mistake, but work diligently to avoid repeating it. We are patient with our minds but dogged with our expectations. And we never take anything too seriously.

It’s a strange profession: the better you do, the faster you’re out of a job. But there are few things more rewarding for me than knowing a student is leaving because they can handle the next round of challenges themselves.

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Books I Tell My Students to Read

“Talent Is Overrated” by Geoffrey Colvin

“Mindset” by Carol Dweck

“Choke” by Chuck Palahniuk

“Several short sentences about writing” by Verlyn Klinkenborg

“Grit” by Angela Duckworth

“Factfulness” by Hans Rosling

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Cause I want to change the world too

Project 1: Currently collaborating on a short piece of fiction with a wonderfully talented friend/illustrator. Trying to trick people into being interested in math via an interesting story and a clever heroine.

Project 2: Working to design and code a social media platform that’s either subscription-based or grant funded so we can try forming some digital public spaces that don’t involve personal data collection and targeted advertisement.

Project 3: Trying to learn my way around a camera. Right now I’m just experimenting as much as I can (i.e. taking a lot of bad pictures), but every once in a while I mess up so badly that I accidentally manage a decent shot:

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About Me

A very good place to start (Hi, I'm Chris)

I was born and raised in Upstate NY (south Canada for any NYC folks) where I developed my love of the cold and the outdoors. I have two kind, driven, and brilliant siblings who I love dearly, and two amazing parents who are to blame for most of the good and decent things I will ever do. I was a prodigious math student (I’d completed Calculus, Differential Equations, and Linear Algebra by Sophomore year in high school) and a passable musician (if you happen to be fond of violin, trumpet, or tenors who can’t quite hit a high “A”). After high school, I was accepted into Johns Hopkins University and awarded a full academic scholarship to study Biomedical Engineering. For the last 10 years I’ve tutored in and around Washington D.C., and this past June (drawn by the beautiful mountains and the excellent energy) I relocated to Denver and set up shop in Englewood.

Top

Blood, sweat, and something in my eye

Running or rucking when I have too much physical energy; climbing or playing music when I need clear my head or get focused. I’ve always been a bit of a sled dog. Give me something to pull and tell me to run and I am as happy and productive as can be. But let me wander around a house with nothing to do and there won’t be any furniture or molding when you get back. I’m a big fan of understanding and testing my limits, and a lot of what makes me happy falls into that space. Sometimes that means just trying to breathe normally on top of a 14er (while getting lapped by a child or a septuagenarian: you guys are super inspiring out here); other times it’s about trusting my foot to hold on a tiny granite crystal. As a rule of thumb, so long as my body or my ego gets a little bruised, it’s usually a good day.

Top

BECAUSE I HAVE THE BEST JOB EVER

The impromptu midday text from a student curious about Number Theory and the Null Set. The impromptu 11PM emergency text from a student petrified over her Chemistry final the next day. The delight in the eyes of a student who had been convinced she was “bad at math” when she brought in her report card to show off her “A”. The joy and relief on the faces of two parents when they realized that their son’s test scores meant he qualified for a full college scholarship. The phone call from a student I’ve worked with since he was in Junior High telling me that he’d just been accepted into Medical School. The pictures and stories from the students and families who kept in touch years after we’ve worked together.

At the end of the day, I love my work because I love my students. It is a privilege and a pleasure to be a part of their lives, and I get to do my best to give them the tools they will need to be bright and kind and resilient adults.

Top

"Several short sentences about writing"

From the Prologue of “Several short sentences about writing” by Verlyn Klinkenborg:

“Everything in this book is meant to be tested over again, by you. You decide what works for you. This is perhaps the most important thing I have to say. Part of the struggle in learning to write is learning to ignore what isn’t useful to you and pay attention to what is. If that means arguing with me as you read this book, so be it.

This is a book full of starting points. Perhaps they’ll help you find enough clarity in your own mind and your own writing to discover what it means to write. I don’t mean “write the way I do” or “write the way they do.” I mean “write the way you do.”

Here’s a starting point. You many have no idea what way you write. I hope this book will help you find out.”

An excellent and earnest book about writing, reflection, expression, and creation. I highly recommend it.

Top

Richard Feynman (let me explain)

So hear me out. By many accounts, Richard Feynman’s “Introduction to Physics” classes at Caltech were anything but introductory, and in Feynman’s own words, “I don’t think I did very well by the students.” There is a very reasonable argument to be made that Feynman was a pretty poor teacher to the majority of his undergrads. I do not admire the system or coursework that he tried to implement. What I love, however, is his approach to understanding. Feynman, more than any other instructor I have come across, demanded absolute precision from his explanations and metaphors. Once, during a BBC interview, he redirected a basic question on magnetism, saying “I can’t explain that attraction in terms of anything else that’s familiar to you.” He was unwilling to give a understandable explanation that would be even slightly misleading or inaccurate.

Every day, I work with students who have had complex ideas introduced to them by way of simple simile or falsehood: “space-time is like a sheet”, or “you can’t take the square root of a negative number.” While explanations like this might initially allow a student to frame what is happening, they are extremely poor foundations to build on. The result is that many students find themselves struggling against their own intuition and prior (incorrect) understanding. They’re suddenly “bad at math” or “not really a physics person”. One of the great things about my work is that I get to help students wade through that uncertainty and confusion. Complexity becomes an opportunity to learn, and not a trap to be avoided.

Top

Because they work hard (because they want to)

I am excellent at guiding students through complicated ideas. Those students (and even other tutors) have described some of my explanations as “beautiful” and “sublime”. I am one of the best at what I do, and I work every day to get a little better at it. But the reason my students are so consistently successful is that they are willing to work hard to cultivate the necessary combination of motivation and grit.

Everyone has ideas that are important to them and goals they want to accomplish. But for many students, the here-and-now is so consuming that they never take the time to figure out what they want for their future. And even for those who do, it’s difficult to connect the work and effort they can put in today to the realization of those goals. So we start with motivation, and once we find it, we train discipline. Everything after that is just details. We trust each other. We learn without fear of the first mistake, but work diligently to avoid repeating it. We are patient with our minds but dogged with our expectations. And we never take anything too seriously.

It’s a strange profession: the better you do, the faster you’re out of a job. But there are few things more rewarding for me than knowing a student is leaving because they can handle the next round of challenges themselves.

Top

If I knew then what I know now

“Talent Is Overrated” by Geoffrey Colvin

“Mindset” by Carol Dweck

“Choke” by Chuck Palahniuk

“Several short sentences about writing” by Verlyn Klinkenborg

“Grit” by Angela Duckworth

“Factfulness” by Hans Rosling

Top

Cause I want to change the world too

Project 1: Currently collaborating on a short piece of fiction with a wonderfully talented friend/illustrator. Trying to trick people into being interested in math via an interesting story and a clever heroine.

Project 2: Working to design and code a social media platform that’s either subscription-based or grant funded so we can try forming some digital public spaces that don’t involve personal data collection and targeted advertisement.

Project 3: Trying to learn my way around a camera. Right now I’m just experimenting as much as I can (i.e. taking a lot of bad pictures), but every once in a while I mess up so badly that I accidentally manage a decent shot:

Top

OFFICE

3601 South Huron Street

PHONE

303.834.3583