Our Story

Open Door Education was founded in 2011 with the sole purpose of providing smart, compassionate tutoring and test preparation to local students. Running the business from home and tutoring students anywhere and everywhere, Travis Minor and his love of teaching and learning nurtured Open Door in its early days. In 2013, Travis partnered with Matt McNicholas and Erin Webb, co-owners of East Owl Tutoring in Boxborough who are also dedicated, enthusiastic tutors. Together, the trio moved Open Door into its wonderful home at 492 Main Street in Acton.

Open Door Education has since helped hundreds of students to navigate the stormy seas of admissions testing and has helped hundreds more to succeed in the classroom and beyond. Committed to cultivating a love of knowledge, Open Door’s team of exceptional tutors helps each and every student to become more confident and, ultimately, more successful.


Mission Statement

Open Door Education is dedicated to providing exceptional one-on-one educational enrichment and support. We believe in curiosity, connecting with community, and our students. As tutors, we are committed to each and every one of our student’s academic success. As guides, mentors, and advocates, we are committed to fostering a love of learning and an appreciation of hard, thoughtful work.

Our Team


Open Door Education is able to help each student succeed because its tutors and administrators are smart, thoughtful, enthusiastic people who share a passion for education. Please, meet the Team!

Erin Webb


Master Tutor, Owner

Erin took the Praxis exam while violently ill and once commuted three hours to Atlanta to take the GRE on Christmas Eve… so she knows something about the pathos & pitfalls of standardized testing. Her goal now is to share everything she’s learned about staying focused, setting goals, meeting goals, and not taking a test in Atlanta on Christmas Eve.

Erin studied Secondary Education at the Johns Hopkins University and Literature at the American University; she has Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in English. She had the great fortune to learn about executive function disorder, ADD/ADHD, anxiety and neuropsychological assessment from both Dr. Martha Denkla of the Kennedy Krieger Institute and Dr. William Stixrud of the Stixrud Group. In a volunteer capacity, Erin tutored English as a Second Language in her hometown of Knoxville, Tennessee, and taught 6th-grade math and literacy in an under-served community in North Philadelphia. In her spare time, Erin teaches Acton-Boxborough Community Education courses on literature and American culture. She also serves regularly as a professional test proctor.

The buddy system is highly recommended for sky-diving, caving and standardized test-taking. Preparing for the ACT / SAT can be deeply stressful and overwhelming, and that can be the greatest impediment to success. My job, therefore, is not only to provide information about these tests– to teach their content– but to do so in a way that inculcates a sense of assurance and order.

Matt McNicholas


Master Tutor, Owner

From humble beginnings (helping his younger sisters with their math homework), Matt’s tutoring career quickly blossomed in 2005 when he began tutoring students in math, history and writing in his hometown of Acton, Massachusetts. Since then, he has worked as a private tutor and classroom instructor for various subjects, teaching a 6-month ESL program for high school students in Mexico and, more recently, an SAT/ACT prep course for under-served kids in DC’s For Love of Children program. Matt now works full-time as an academic and test prep tutor, helping students in the following areas: SAT/ACT/GRE, Math, US History, Writing, Biology and Chemistry. Matt graduated from Williams College in 2004 and earned a Master’s of International Studies at Johns Hopkins in 2010. In addition to cheering/complaining about his beloved Boston Red Sox, Matt enjoys salsa dancing, cooking and running.

Understanding that people are often most productive when they are comfortable, I try to bring a sense of humor to my sessions. Throwing out a few corny jokes and some self-deprecating humor helps foster a relaxed environment in which students thrive. I’ve also come to realize as a tutor that it isn’t enough to merely present the most relevant strategies and tips to a student; it’s critical to present those concepts/strategies in ways that are tailored for each individual student’s retention and use.

Travis Minor


Master Tutor, Owner

Travis Minor founded Open Door Education in 2011 with the goal of building a smart, compassionate business that helps students to navigate academic challenges on the path to higher education.

Travis, who earned his B.S. in Secondary Education at the University of Vermont and is currently working towards his M.Ed. at Harvard’s Graduate School of Education, began his teaching career in West Philadelphia, where he became acutely aware of the profound impact of enthusiastic, rigorous tutoring. He saw how one-on-one tutoring could teach content efficiently and effectively, but that it could also provide so much more, from mentorship to organization to a deeper understanding of what it truly means to be a conscientious student. As a 2005 graduate of Concord-Carlisle High School, Travis understands the pressures and challenges facing students attending competitive high schools, and he also knows the life-long benefits of learning to rise to overcome these obstacles through patience, grit, and a willingness to ask for help (something he is still working on). He is excited to continue to promote access to education for all students and to share his love of devious geometry questions.

When he’s not at Open Door, Travis loves learning new things (ask him about podcasts!), playing basketball, running, mowing the lawn, and going on adventures with his amazing wife Rebecca and his best friend Dewey, a Bernese Mountain Dog.

One-on-one education has the power to transform a student. It teaches personal accountability, self-reflection, and the benefits of intentional practice, helping young people to grow as students, but also as young adults who will go into the world armed with the skills and the desire necessary to be lifelong learners, leaders, and teachers. One-size-fits-all approaches to education, which are rife in the world of standardized testing, do not accommodate the wonderful reality that every student learns differently and has unique needs, whether they are preparing for a standardized test or seeking help to complete a challenging course of study. Every child deserves access to education that treats them as individuals and responds to their needs, their challenges, and their aspirations.

Lynn Aghajanian


Tutor

Lynn earned her Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Chemical Engineering from Lafayette College and her Master of Education (Ed.M.) from Harvard University. In addition to teaching Chemistry at Algonquin High School, Lynn worked for 8 years in the chemical engineering industry. Now she spends most of her time raising her lovely children and tutoring students in the Concord-Carlisle Regional High School Math Resource Center.

Echoing many others who are dedicated education professionals, I truly believe the student-to-teacher ratio could not be more important, so tutoring one-on-one is the ideal situation. I enjoy the opportunity to engage specifically with each of the individual learning styles I’ve come across in my years of one-on-one tutoring. Additionally, I like being able to use my own experience in the world of professional science to help students fully understand the real life applications of the material we study.

Leann Westin


Senior Tutor

It was in high school that Leann discovered her passion for education: through peer-to-peer tutoring programs and Best Buddies, Leann found that she really enjoyed supporting her peers. She also worked for several years as a subject tutor at Wake Forest University, where she graduated in 2013 with a B.S. in Biology and a minor in Spanish.

Since graduation, Leann has been a zookeeper, rescued abandoned seal pups, and worked as an educator at the New England Aquarium. She began working at Open Door Education in September 2014, and joined the staff as a full-time tutor in July 2016. Her experiences have taught her that life is not a linear path, and she uses that knowledge to reassure anxious students.

In her free time, she enjoys making pottery, crocheting, listening to podcasts, reading and watching science fiction, taking care of her many pets, and volunteering at Stone Zoo.

My tutoring style is high-energy and supportive. It is important to remember that we all need help with something at some point in our lives. I strive to make my students feel comfortable identifying their problem areas, and I often ask them to reflect on their work. As important as the material is, I want my students to think about how they learn, what they already know, and what material they find most difficult. I also encourage my students to practice mindfulness as a method for coping with anxiety and improving attention span.

Lisa Paige


Senior Tutor

Lisa has been a test prep, writing, and math tutor for the past three years, while also coaching organizational skills and writing. She holds her A.B. from Harvard University and her Master’s and PhD from Bryn Mawr College, and has written and edited for magazines, Harvard Business School faculty, and other professionals; she also spent five years fundraising for the Harrisburg, Pennsylvania School District–one of the most impoverished in the nation.

After decades of classroom and college teaching, Lisa now takes great joy from working one-on-one with students, celebrating with them their improved skills and witnessing their growing intellectual curiosity and love of learning for learning’s sake.

Having been an alumni interviewer for Harvard University admissions for more than 20 years, Lisa also is an expert coach for the personal essay and helps students complete all supplemental writing required for their college applications.

In her free time, Lisa travels, especially to Germany as she is fluent in the language, and has recently rediscovered camping; she and her partner Keith have begun hiking the 48 4,000-foot mountains in New Hampshire. She enjoys running with her dog, Remi; yoga; Zentangling; and reading–particularly political science and literary fiction. She obsessively completes Tuesday NYTimes crosswords.

Lisa’s three grown children live in Cambridge, New York City, and Los Angeles.

“Living well means embracing lifelong learning and becoming your best self. Remember–you are not a test score. You are potential to be achieved. I can think of nothing better than learning along with you and watching your eyes light up.”

Paul Chiampa


Senior Tutor

Paul graduated from Bates College in 2011 with a Bachelor of Science in chemistry and a minor in physics. In the coming year he will be working towards a Master of Science in mechanical engineering from Boston University. He comes to Open Door Test Prep with a wide variety of experiences since graduating college. Paul has worked as a college baseball coach, chemist, medical researcher, professional baseball player in Austria (yes, they do have baseball in Austria), English teacher in Costa Rica, and most recently as a high school math and science teacher in the Massachusetts juvenile detention system. In his spare time Paul coaches a baseball team of 15-year-olds, does yoga, and wastes countless hours in fantasy sports leagues.

I see learning as a lifelong endeavor, and I believe that intelligence is truly measured by the greatness of one’s curiosity for learning. Admitting you don’t know something is the first step to learning it. This is the methodology I work under with my students in the juvenile detention system; many of them have failed in their academic settings, but if someone can see the importance in lifelong learning and develop a passion for understanding the things that they don’t know, then anyone can be successful in whatever path they may choose. My main goal in tutoring, outside of delivering the content, is sharing that passion for learning with all my students.

Alec Poitzsch


Senior Tutor

At the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, MA, Alec earned both his Bachelor’s of Science (2013) and his Master’s in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (2014).

Driven by an implacable urge to learn, explore, communicate, and share knowledge with others, Alec offers a unique background and perspective as a tutor. He spent most of his childhood years growing up in Texas, lived abroad for a few years in France, completed high school in New Hampshire, and most recently graduated with undergraduate and graduate degrees from MIT.  Alec has been playing an active role as an educator and tutor for the past several years, administering undergraduate and high school-level courses at MIT and tutoring individual students on (primarily) quantitative subjects: especially math, physics, and computer science. He also tutors SAT, ACT, SAT Subject Test, and AP standardized testing material. Professionally he works in the high tech industry as an integrated circuit design engineer.

Recreationally, Alec is an electronics hobbyist and an avid volunteer in his hometown. He enjoys listening to old-school hip-hop, and he cherishes New England winters.

“Intellectually, education ties in directly with personal growth; with greater knowledge and a greater capacity to reason, a person develops a more robust and capable understanding of the world around him or her.

Practically, education ties in to success. With more knowledge and experience, a student opens up opportunities both for furthering their education as well as productively contributing to society.

My goal as a tutor is to address both fronts, helping the student grow while making his or her success my primary objective.”

Peter Steere


Tutor

Since high school Pete knew he wanted to educate. Learning has always been important in his life and he has always been fascinated by learning new things. Through his years of learning Pete has found many passions including visiting the beach, playing basketball, reasoning through math problems, reading, and writing, or just pondering, about large philosophical questions that most people would rather avoid.

Earning a Masters Certificate in Software Testing, M.Ed.in Secondary Mathematics Education, two bachelor degrees (Mathematics and Philosophy), a Sheltered English Immersion Endorsement, as well as two Massachusetts Teacher Licenses (Initial 5-8, Initial 8-12) has kept Pete busy learning over the past eight years. Throughout this time learning he also gained experience tutoring in Lowell, Lawrence, and Springfield, teaching an MCAS prep class to fourth graders in Chelmsford, and playing on or coaching basketball teams.

To elicit student curiosity and creativity I work to create a comfortable learning environment where questions are encouraged and mistakes are celebrated; knowing you do not understand is as important as knowing you that you do! The ability to articulate why and how you know or do not know a concept is a difficult task and is necessary to demonstrating concept mastery. Gaining understanding of things after being creative and curious will help students to find their passion further motivating their learning.

My passion is learning and I look forward to helping others find theirs.

Frankie Straccia


Tutor

Frankie studied Biology at Denison University and the University of College of North Wales and then Geology at the University of Michigan, where she earned her Master’s Degree; post-graduation she worked for a number of years as a wildcat oil finder and an editor for Shell Oil’s in-house technology magazine. While living overseas, Frankie’s oldest child began his college search, and they could not find an SAT tutor, so Frankie stepped up to the challenge; she found that her academic and work experience gave her the broad range of knowledge and skills to tutor the full gamut of subjects found on the SAT and ACT. Over the next several years, Frankie tutored all three of her kids and many of their peers, inspiring a career as a full-time professional tutor.

Now, Frankie lives in southern New Hampshire with Cheerio, her very cute rescue dog, and Wicked, a tuxedo cat. She has a passion for what she teaches, she is deeply invested in her students, and she lives for ski season.

My tutoring style draws on my background in science, math and writing, and also on the relationships I’ve formed with the students I’ve worked with over the years. My experience has taught me that the key to success is being comfortable with your differences, and I strive to impart confidence to everyone I tutor. One-on-one tutoring enables me to identify an individual student’s strengths and areas for improvement, and we use that information to develop a personal action plan. I firmly believe that this is the best, most cost- effective way to minimize stress for students (and families) and maximize points.

Ellen Neelands


Senior Tutor

Ellen is enthusiastically supportive of a wide variety of learning styles. Her educational experience encompasses public and private settings, and students of many ages and backgrounds. She has earned a Bachelor’s degree in Social Sciences from Towson State University, a Master’s in Integrated Day Education from Antioch New England Graduate School, and a recent second Master’s from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.  Her specialty is working with students with atypical learning styles.  Although Ellen is licensed as a Teacher and Principal in Massachusetts, she prefers to spend her time working face to face with individual students, and writing about her vision for public education.

Ellen investigates her own learning process on a regular basis, which explains her expertise in such diverse areas as costume, international and historic dance, mycology, and local history.  Becoming a grandmother has crystallized Ellen’s certainty that all children are special.

Today’s students require the resilience and knowledge to navigate a rapidly changing world.  The best tool we can give them is appreciation of their own strengths.  The best teaching connects learning in the moment with the future, and includes a healthy dose of celebrating the learner.

Karla Bertrand


Tutor

Karla graduated from Brown University with a degree in Cognitive and Linguistic Sciences. She has loved to tutor since she was a teenager herself; she’s taught everything from writing and math to test prep for the SAT, ACT, and GRE. She previously freelanced and is enthusiastic to be working at Open Door!

In addition to tutoring, Karla has spent almost a decade doing research, data analysis, and editorial work, mostly in the healthcare field. She has worked as a science writer at a policy think tank and a research associate at Harvard. Karla currently focuses primarily on test prep and academic tutoring.

When not at Open Door, Karla volunteers in the ER as an advocate and crisis counselor. She spends her spare time in such eclectic hobbies as folk dancing, juggling, making stained glass, and singing sea shanties.

I love the one-on-one tutoring format as an opportunity to build rapport with a student, and enjoy the challenge of communicating standardized material in a personalized, accessible way. Whatever I am teaching, I try to meet my students where they are–adapting to each student’s individual viewpoint and learning style. My style is warm and relatable; I focus on creating a safe space for all students. My teaching is accessible, inclusive and affirming of personal identities.

Don Lippincott


Tutor

Don still wonders how he became a Classics major at the University of Pennsylvania. He’s even more surprised that he then had the opportunity to teach Latin to underserved students in Philadelphia — in an innovative program that increased students’ reading scores through the study of “classical root” words and grammar. Since that time he has tutored and advised international students trying to get into American universities, and mentored freshman students at Harvard University. He also managed academic programs at Harvard Business School for a dozen years. Don’s graduate degrees are a Master’s in Law and Diplomacy from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts, and an MBA from Boston University.

In his spare time, he is a tennis addict and a collector/fan of 60s vinyl. He and his wife, Laraine, have ushered three kids through the Acton school system, and well understand the many challenges of a highly competitive school systems. Their children have left them with Leo, a sixteen-year-old Cairn Terrier who is a dead-ringer for Toto. In addition to tutoring and competing with Leo for the choicest foods, Don also writes and edits strategic plans for nonprofits.

I believe that “loving to learn” is a concept that all students should be able to strive for. And so, I, too, strive to help students develop academic strategies that will empower them to discover their ideal personal learning style. Though clearly a means to an end, test prep also promotes and hones a special kind of disciplined learning on many different levels. For instance, learning how to take these tests to the best of one’s ability — and attaining the “sweet spot” between laser-like focus and channeled calmness at the ACT or SAT– can make a huge difference in outcomes.

Pam Fleming


Intake Coordinator

Pam’s experience prior to working at Open Door includes a 10-year stint at State Street Bank as an Operations Officer, handling unclaimed securities processing and working as a liaison with state governments. A move to Texas led her to a start-up software design firm where, as part owner, she guided the business in structuring an operational framework and creating its marketing direction. In 2000. she returned to Massachusetts, landing in Boxborough with her husband and first son to begin her next challenge as a full-time mom to 3 sons. Re-entering the workforce as Office Administrator at Open Door, Pam has found a fit for her business skills and her enthusiasm for learning.

As an active member of the Acton-Boxborough community, Pam serves on several local committees and works extensively with the local schools. Photography is her passion and she can be found on many of the local fields snapping sports photos of her sons’ activities. Pam also enjoys sailing with her family, cycling and hiking with her golden retriever, Murphy.

Dewey


As a Bernese Mountain Dog who attended an exclusive puppy kindergarten for Golden Retrievers, Dewey knows what it’s like to not fit in, to struggle to keep up with a fast-paced curriculum, and to perform under the pressure of weekly evaluations. Dewey has fully mastered ‘sit’ and ‘come’ and is currently working on the Quadratic Formula. His interests include walks, tennis balls, and his own tail.

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