Claire Dunnington

Boot Camp teacher Claire has been tutoring with Zinc since 2010 and is now a mentor to new tutors. She graduated from Brown University with honors in English and creative writing and was named to Phi Beta Kappa as a junior. After teaching English in Thailand for a year, she moved to New York for graduate school. She received her MFA in nonfiction writing from Columbia University, where she taught undergraduate writing courses. Claire has published in both print and online magazines and is currently working on a nonfiction manuscript and a novel. In addition to writing and tutoring, she performs as a harpist and plays the drums.

An experienced Boot Camp and class instructor, Claire will be teaching the morning section of this summer’s August SAT/ACT Boot Camp. We asked Claire about college advice, getting through the pandemic, and what’s great about being a teacher.

What do you wish someone had told you when you were going through the college process?

This is something people did tell me, but that I wish I had listened to–sleep is really, really important! I started some of my applications early, but there were nights during the fall of my senior year that I barely slept because I was drafting one essay or another. Even if it’s physically possible to stay awake all night, it isn’t worth it. 

What’s one thing that’s gotten you through the pandemic?

An Aerogarden! You can grow herbs, flowers, and even tomatoes from pods of dirt and seeds under LED lighting. At the beginning of the pandemic I started six pods of lettuce; by the beginning of May I had grown a salad. It was not only satisfying to see the growth each day, but also useful when I was trying to avoid going to the grocery store. Growing your own lettuce means you don’t have to wash it–just reach over and pick some.

What’s one thing you’ve learned from your students?

When I’m interested in something, I want to share it with my students, and I’m equally interested in having them share things with me–tutoring is not a lecture with one active speaker and one passive listener, but a conversation. 

Recently, one of my students introduced me to GeoGuessr and since then I’ve been playing it almost every night–it’s a website that uses images from Google Earth to challenge players to figure out where they are in the world–down to the foot, with 5000 points awarded for guesses that are nearly pinpoint accurate. I play the daily challenge, which is five rounds of three minutes each. You “drive” the Google car around to look for context clues: signs, landmarks, the position of the sun, road markings, flags… anything! No Googling allowed.

Check out Claire’s writing:

“High Tide,” published in Lumen Magazine