Teacher Spotlight: Erin Doherty

Teacher at front of classroom

Teacher Spotlight: Erin Doherty

Teacher Spotlight: Erin Doherty

Throughout the summer, we shine a spotlight on the expert teachers at MEK Review. All of our instructors are experts in their field with years of experience and content knowledge. And we are honored to share their insights with you!

This week, we spotlight Erin Doherty.

Ms. Doherty is an English teacher with MEK Review, who is currently teaching SAT 1400, SAT 1500, SAT Foundation, SAT Core Reading & Writing, and tutors students in ESL, ISEE Prep, and SAT Prep.

The following is an interview between her and our content writer, where she shares what it takes to be a successful SAT Prep student, how to build confidence in test-taking skills, and why Kyoto is her favorite city in the world.

Teaching at MEK

Interviewer: What is your favorite part of teaching at MEK? 

Doherty: Actually, working with MEK is the first time I have taught native English speakers as I previously taught English in Japan for three and a half years. So, this is a new challenge for me, but an interesting one. It’s easier for me to communicate with students and to accommodate their needs versus when I was teaching overseas. 

One other aspect of working at MEK that I enjoy is teaching writing courses. I’ve been able to teach advanced grammar topics, which has always been an interest of mine. It’s fascinating to teach the rules behind grammar and the ways we communicate, especially since we don’t often think about why we speak and write the way we do because we’ve internalized the necessary rules of language.

Teaching in Japan

Interviewer: Teaching in Japan sounds fascinating! What made you choose to teach in Japan?

Doherty: Teaching in Japan was something I was interested in doing after college. I had some jobs in my twenties that made me evaluate what I wanted the next steps in my career to be. I’ve always been interested in Japanese culture and found that there was a good job market in Japan for English teachers. So, I saved up and made the leap.

Interviewer: What inspired you to become a teacher?

Doherty: I was drawn to teaching because I wanted a job where the focus was helping other people. And the best way I knew how to help others was to help them understand and build knowledge in something that I am passionate about, such as literature and writing.

College Days

Interviewer: Where did you go to college?

Doherty: I went to Fairleigh Dickinson University. I majored in English but spent a lot of time on the STEM campus because the English department was so small. The smaller classes were great though because I had better access to my professors. I also did a study abroad program in England, which I loved. It was my favorite semester of college.

SAT Prep Success

Interviewer: When it comes to your classes, what does it take to be a successful SAT Prep student?

Doherty: Students definitely have to pay attention to the strategies they are being given in class. Specifically, students should be able to identify the different question types they’ll find on the test and remember the strategies for answering those question types. As an instructor, I can teach you all the grammar rules, but if you don’t follow specific test-taking strategies for each of the different question types, you’re going to end up wasting time. 

Interviewer: What would you say is the most difficult part of the SAT, and how can students overcome the difficulties of that section?

Doherty: I’d say expression of ideas questions are tough for students who don’t consider themselves writers because you have to think like a writer and how the writer’s ideas progress. It’s all about active reading.

The Importance of Test-Taking Strategies

Interviewer: How do you help students build confidence in their test-taking skills?

Doherty: It’s just about going over the basics. For example, many students think grammar and punctuation are difficult to master. So, sometimes I’ll bring up a Foundation document and just go back to the basics of grammar, especially with the less common punctuation marks since those are not often addressed in schools. When students don’t have the knowledge, instructors need to give them the basics and help them build that foundation.

Interests Outside of MEK

Interviewer: What do you like to do outside of MEK?

Doherty: I like to write fiction, play video games, and travel. 

Interviewer: What’s the best place you’ve traveled to?

Doherty: It’s hard to choose between London and Kyoto, but I might have to say Kyoto. It’s the perfect combination of traditional Japanese culture and modernism. 

Interviewer: Any book recommendations for high schoolers or middle schoolers?

Doherty: I recently read and enjoyed God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater by Kurt Vonnegut, but if I had to recommend a Vonnegut book, I’d definitely have to recommend Slaughterhouse Five.

For younger students, or anyone for that matter, I’d recommend The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry because I love the book’s message about valuing one’s inner child.

Robyn Neilsen

Robyn Neilsen is a Content Writer for MEK Review. She was a dedicated English teacher in the New Jersey public school system for 13 years and is passionate about sharing resources, content, and tips for students and parents.


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