Libra Learning - Tutoring and Educational Counseling
Our Tutors

Pavel Litvinov
Math and Physics Tutor
Former Math and Physics Teacher at Hackley School

MS in Physics - Moscow State University (1965)

Pavel Litvinov is a lifelong math and physics teacher, a writer, and a former human rights leader.  A physicist by training, Pavel had taught math and physics for 30 years at Hackley, a private college preparatory school in Tarrytown, New York.  Hackley is also a member of the Ivy Preparatory School League.  

Before coming to the U.S. in 1974, Pavel Litvinov taught Physics at Moscow's Lomonosov University of Fine Chemical Technologies.  Pavel was also an active participant in the Soviet Union's dissident movement, publishing an underground magazine and openly protesting against the regime's treatment of members of the political opposition.  In 1968, Pavel became a prisoner of conscience:  he was exiled to Siberia for 5 years for demonstrating against the Soviet regime's actions in Czechoslovakia.

We are honored to have Pavel, a distinguished teacher and man of rare courage and character, be a part of our team. 

Courses Taught:
Mathematics: Calculus, AP Calculus AB, AP Calculus BC, Precalculus, Algebra two and Trigonometry 
Physics: AP Physics B, AP Physics C, any kind of regular physics course including Regents.


Asya Takken, Ph.D,
Math Tutor
Math Teacher at Green Farms Academy in Westport, CT

Advanced Certificate - Mathematics 7-12, The City College of New York (2012)
Ph.D., Statistics, Stanford University, Stanford, CA (2001)
BA with Honors in Mathematics, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, (1992)

Asya was born in Russia, but grew up in Israel and in the U.S. 

She received a B.S. in Mathematics from Harvard and a Ph.D. in Statistics from Stanford.  She worked as a statistician in the finance industry before deciding to go into teaching.

Asya is a certified mathematics teacher for grades 7-12 and has extensive tutoring experience in high school and college math.  She is currently teaching at Green Farms Academy, a private K-12 school in Westport, CT.

Courses Taught:
Math:  Algebra, Geometry, Trigonometry, Pre-Calculus, Statistics, AP Calculus, Multivariable Calculus
Tests:  SAT and ACT preparation.


Nelli Tkach  
English and Humanities Tutor, Academic Counselor  

Certificate in Technical Editing - University of Washington, Seattle, WA (2013)  
Certificate in Editing - University of Washington, Seattle, WA (2010)  
BA in Psychology - University of Washington, Seattle, WA (2002)  
BA in Russian Language and Literature - University of Washington, Seattle, WA (2002)

I am a college coach, an editor, and an English teacher from Seattle, WA.  I was born in Russia and immigrated to the U.S. with my family in 1993. I have a background in psychology and Russian literature, and I have worked in research, social service, and education settings.  I have been tutoring students for the past seven years, both privately and through various local companies.  

I work with a range of traditional and non-traditional learners.  Some of my students come from the gifted programs, some are homeschooled, and some are adjusting to a new language environment.  Some relish their high-school experience, while others want to jumpstart their academic careers through dual enrollment and other college prep programs.  Many of my students hope to get into the Ivies and private colleges, and just as many think of state colleges as their homebase. 

I enjoy helping my students and their parents go through the time-consuming and nerve-wracking steps of the college application process:  the planning and the research, the forms, the personal essays, and the financial aid paperwork. My editing background also brings out my research skills and my detail-oriented personality, both of which are much needed aspects for helping to organize one of the most important processes in the lives of high-school seniors and graduate school applicants.  

If I am not editing documents or explaining the intricacies of the college admissions process, I am probably working with my high-school and college students on all kinds of writing: narrative essays, analysis and research papers, Language Arts and Humanities assignments, AP essays, and Document-Based Questions.  As we write, we learn Greek and Latin roots, read and discuss various texts, and edit jumbled narratives.  We also learn what makes a good thesis statement and a good argument, why comma splices and run-on sentences should be avoided, how to find and formulate supporting points, and how to reference sources.  My students appreciate that I am always available online to explain the homework, answer questions, and work closely with them on developing the essays -- something that their teachers may not have the time for.  The parents are often grateful to have a partner-in-crime to monitor the assignments and "be in the know" about the class.  

I also help my students with the reading, grammar and essay sections of many standardized tests.  

In my other life, I enjoy the standard list of hobbies -- reading, solving puzzles and finding answers to questions, hiking, cooking, traveling, and getting thank-you notes from my students. 

Courses taught:
English:  high-school and college-level courses, including IB and AP courses
Tests:  SAT, SAT II Literature, SAT II World History,  ACT, ISEE, SSAT, AP tests, GRE
College counseling:  applications, personal essays, scholarships

John Cutuli
Science Tutor

Graduate Coursework towards PhD in Paleontology at Montana State University, Bozeman, MT
BS in Geology, State University of New York at New Paltz, New Paltz, NY (2012)

Growing up as a young boy in Westchester, New York, I’d often make trips to the American Museum of Natural History.  Naturally, I was obsessed with dinosaurs.  Now a recent graduate of SUNY New Paltz with a B.S. in Geology, I’m still obsessed with dinosaurs! 

I plan on pursing a PhD in Paleontology to make a career out of something I’ve loved my entire life.  Last summer, I had the opportunity to be part of a month-long excavation in the wilderness of Montana, digging for vertebrate fossils and dinosaur eggs.  After this incredible experience, I took graduate courses at Montana State University and conducted research on Hadrosaurs (the ones with the duck bills).

Although my own professional interests are in ancient life, I have a great appreciation and thirst for knowledge in all areas of science.  And there is nothing I enjoy more than passing on what I have learned!  I have been tutoring students in various science courses throughout my college career.  Now, I am looking forward to tutoring with Libra Learning. 

Courses Taught:

Sciences (high-school and college-level):  Physics, Biology, Earth Science, Geology, Astronomy
Tests:  Regents Earth Science, Biology, Physics; SAT II Biology


Elena Borovitskaya, Ph.D.
Physics Tutor
Associate Professor at Temple University, Philadelphia, PA

Ph.D., Institute of Applied Physics, Nizhnii Novgorod, Russia (1987)
MS in Theoretical Physics, University of Nizhnii Novgorod, Nizhnii Novgorod, Russia (1981)

I started teaching Physics as an 18 year-old physics major.  I was only a couple of years older than my students, and there I was, teaching an advanced physics class at my former high-school. Since then, I have teaching Physics with no breaks for… a lot of years… in different universities all over the world.

But even now, many years later, I remember my “introduction” to Physics. I remember how scary and intimidating the subject seemed to be.  And I am grateful to my high-school teacher, who carefully led us though this new world – Physics. Suddenly, we realized that we could trust this unknown world.  Instead of getting harder, the classes became easier:  after all, physics was already our world.

Since then, I have been trying to follow in the steps of my teacher by showing my students that there is nothing to be scared about when it comes to physics. It is a very friendly, interesting and simple world. As a university professor, I see a lot of students are approaching physics with fear. This fear interferes with their understanding of the subject and consumes a lot of their energy.  Moreover, physics ends up serving as an awful obstacle for these students, an obstacle standing in the path of their dreams. I want to teach because I feel that I know how to destroy this obstacle.  If students succeed in physics, they will have many more possibilities for their dreams.

Courses Taught:
Algebra-Based College Physics I and II
Calculus Based General Physics I and II
Regents Physics SAT and AP Physics
Physics Section of MCAT


Pat Salvatorelli
Science Tutor
Biology Teacher at Cardinal Spellman High School in Bronx, NY

Professional Teacher Certification in Biology for NYS, Grades 7 - 12 (2013)
MA in Secondary Science Education, Lehman College, CUNY, 2012
BA in Biology, Concordia College, Bronxville, NY (2008)

As a young boy growing up in the Bronx, Pat had two loves: baseball and cookies. He very seldom thought about biology. This became very evident during his freshman year of high school as his biology midterm approached rapidly. Pat did not pay much attention during the class, which was the first period of the day. It was too late to study his entire notebook, so he went to the nearest bookstore and bought himself a biology review book. Pat read through the book and, in the end, he received a 91 on his biology midterm. After this, Pat’s friends asked him to help them get better grades in biology. He met with them once a week in the cafeteria and soon, their grades improved.

Next year, he helped other students in chemistry. In college, he continued to tutor students in courses such as microbiology and zoology. In graduate school, he assisted his peers in developing theses about secondary science education and developing creative presentations.

Today, he teaches high-school biology and continues to…well, you get the idea. Pat’s story is one that many students experience: some students have trouble in certain classes, and the only way they are going to get out of that trouble is by working hard to improve their grades. If you need help with your science classes and projects, Pat can help you. Oh, and he still loves baseball and cookies.

Courses Taught: Biology, Living Environment, Anatomy and Physiology, AP Biology, SAT II Biology

Anton Raskin
Math Tutor

BS in Mathematics - NYU-Poly, Brooklyn, NY (Jan 2013)

My name is Anton, but many of my friends call me Math Guy.  
I recently graduated from NYU-Poly with a B.S in Mathematics and minors in Finance and Computer Science. I am also a graduate of the Chemistry program at Saunders Trade and Technical High School.  

In addition to my math and science background, I have been involved in many formal and informal teaching activities.  I started teaching because I happen to have an 11 year-old sister who has gone through the PEARLS math system. I have been her personal tutor ever since she first started school, so I have ample experience with preteens and their stubbornness. While at NYU-Poly, I helped friends by organizing and leading study groups for difficult math courses  

I also served as a teacher's assistant at NYU-Poly, leading classes of students and working with them on a particular subject area. On a side note, I am also a certified swimming instructor, and I have been teaching kids and adults how to swim for the past 5 years at Yonkers’ Mark Twain pool.    

Some of the courses I specialize in include all levels of high school math and the math section of SAT.  In college, I took many Probability courses (including the actuarial exam math). I also achieved high scores on the AP exams (5 in Calculus, 4 in Statistics), the SAT (740 in Math) and SAT IIs (710 on both Math I and II), and Regents exams (98 in Math A, 97 in Math B). Needless to say, math has always come easily to me and I love to help others master the subject through fun examples.   

Some of my hobbies include swimming, ping-pong, chess, and watching sports on TV. I also love stand-up comedy, and I like to make jokes to lighten the class and relieve test anxiety.  My hobbies (especially stand-up comedy) have come in handy when relating math and life for my students.   

Courses Taught: Algebra, Geometry, Pre-Calculus, Calculus, Statistics, SAT (the math section)


Yuri Kavalerchik
Math, Science and English Tutor

BA in Illustration- School of Visual Arts, 2009-2012 Dean’s List
Parsons New School of Design, Illustration Foundation Year, 2008 Dean’s List
School of Engineering at Cooper Union from Fall 2004 to Spring 2007, Full Scholarship

Yuri's family left Belarus when Yuri was three years old, ultimately settling down in Fair Lawn, New Jersey. Despite his protestations, Yuri found himself attending a slew of extra tutoring and test prep programs, which probably contributed to his acceptance to the Bergen County Academies and to his perfect scores on a number of standardized tests. After high school, he studied electrical engineering at Cooper Union for two years before completing a B.A in Illustration at the School of Visual Arts. Yuri has been tutoring for six years now, and has helped countless middle and high-school students excel at classes, extracurricular study programs, and standardized tests. Though his favorite subjects are math and physics, he's ready to help with any challenge a student might be faced with, whether it's a college essay, an upcoming midterm, or a looming standardized test. Yuri wrote this bio himself, so take it with a grain of salt.

Courses Taught:
Math: Algebra, Algebra 2, Geometry, Trigonometry, Pre-Calculus, Calculus
Science: Biology, Chemistry, Physics
English: Essay Writing, Literature

Standardized Tests Taught:
SAT: Math, Verbal, Writing
SAT Subject Tests: Math (IC and IIC), Biology, Chemistry, Physics
ACT: English, Math, Reading, Science, Writing
Regents: Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Geometry, Math A, Math B
AP: Biology, Chemistry, Physics (AB and C), Calculus (AB and BC)


Melanie Perez
Special Education and Elementary School Tutor
Special Education Teacher at Department of Education, Bronx, NY


Graduate Coursework:
PhD in Educational Leadership, Capella University, Minneapolis, MN  6/09 - Present 
M.S. School Building Leadership, Mercy College, Bronx, NY, 9/10 - Present

NYS Inital Teaching Certificate in "Birth-Grade 2 Special Education" (2009)
MS in Early Childhood Birth - Grade 2, Special Education Focus, Mercy College, Bronx, NY (2009)
BA in Behavioral Science; Special Education Minor, Mercy College, Bronx, NY(2005)

When I was a second-grader, I fell in love with school. This love was inspired by my teacher, Ms. L., who walked in every morning with a huge smile, always happy to see the class and to make learning fun. She introduced me to my first chapter book, Matilda, and after that I spent my weeknights and weekends reading. I even started collecting books and created a small library in my bedroom.

Very soon, I wanted to be just like my teacher.  Ms. L gave me a small chalkboard as a gift for being the student of the month. This was the best gift in the world! With my own library and now my new chalkboard, my mini-classroom was complete. I started playing “school” with my younger brother, imitating the way Ms. L taught us. I even created star charts for him and, unlike Ms. L, bribed him with prizes for playing with me.  My brother loved it when I read to him – especially Eric Carle’s “The Very Hungry Caterpillar.”   Since we were learning about the lifecycle of the caterpillar in school with Ms. L, I would bring extra materials home to my little “school.” One afternoon, my brother’s teacher told me that during a field trip to the zoo my five-year old brother had pointed out a cocoon at a caterpillar exhibit and said, “The butterfly is popping out of the cocoon!” I told her that I was the one who taught him about the caterpillar life cycle.  “You have a very special talent,” said the teacher.  I ran home that day to tell my mom that I was a good teacher.  “I’m just like Ms. L.”

Today, I am a certified special education teacher at a New York City public school.  I work with children who have a variety of needs, implementing learning plans and teaching core skills in a group setting and through one-on-one sessions.  I am also trained in Crisis Intervention, Positive Behavioral Intervention Supports System, and Emotional Literacy Curriculum.   Like Ms. L., I am privileged to inspire students and to help them grow up into citizens in their own right.   I am here to help my K-5 students mature and move forward into their future through all-subject support and test preparation.   

Courses Taught:
Elementary School Courses
Elementary School Courses for Special Education Students

Sofia Kozlova, Ph.D.
Chemistry and Math Tutor
Instructor at the Math and Science Resource Center of John Jay College of Criminal Justice, CUNY


Professional retraining program: “The Laboratory Technology using Modern Analytical Methods” College of Staten Island, CUNY. (1997)
Ph.D. in Chemistry. Belorussian Technological Institute, Minsk, USSR. (1988) 
MS in Chemistry, minor in Microbiology.  Belorussian Technological Institute, Minsk, USSR. (1976)

Chemistry became my passion in eighth-grade. Fascinated by the experiments that my chemistry teacher had shown to us, I was overjoyed when I got the chance to follow him and perform the same experiments during my labs.  I made a discovery:  it seemed that the burning of a candle, the rusting of a nail, and the process of cooking food are all an example of a chemical reaction.  It was then that I understood that chemical elements come together to create everything I could see, touch, taste, smell, and even hear. My excitement about chemistry and research still persists, fueled by the curiosity of my students and of my own kids.

Like many of my colleagues at Libra Learning, I switched to teaching after a long career in science.  For over 25 years, I worked as a Research Chemist -- first in the industry and then in academic institutions. As a result of this work, I am an author of more than a dozen scientific publications and patents. I enjoyed my work at Columbia University, where for over seven years I conducted research and supervised undergraduate research projects.  In particular, I worked on chemistry of building materials, fire protection of building constructions, and the beneficial uses of recycling materials.  

At the same time, it was tremendously fun to tutor my son and daughter in chemistry and math.  I enjoyed introducing my kids to natural numbers and Archimedes progressions, and they, in turn, were interested in my inventions and how they worked.   My teaching career started in 2004, and since then I have taught chemistry courses at Lehman College, Yeshiva University, and College of Mount Saint Vincent.  Currently, I work as an Instructor in mathematics and chemistry for John Jay College of Criminal Justice.

Courses taught: General Chemistry, Organic Chemistry, Analytical Chemistry, Algebra, Pre-Calculus

Yulia Kirichenko
Piano and Voice Teacher

I was originally trained as a choral director at Moscow Musical College of Sergey Prokofiev.

For the past twenty years, I have worked as a piano and voice teacher in public schools, after-school centers, and on a private basis. 

My students come from different backgrounds and proficiency levels, and it is my pleasure to encourage each student to discover his or her full artistic potential.   I have been privileged to offer my students two major recitals a year, as well as additional smaller concerts.  I also help them prepare for the challenging New York State School Music Association’s (NYSSMA) examination every spring.  Finally, I organize various volunteer opportunities for my students in Westchester County.

Services provided:

Private piano and vocal instruction
Preparation for NYSSMA examination
Piano and voice recitals - biannually
Organization of volunteering opportunities
Coaching for music festivals, concerts, talent shows, etc.

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