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Mission Statement

We believe that all students can achieve success in the classroom, on tests, and in their future careers by developing efficient and effective study habits, by learning to recognize and nourish both their strengths and their weaknesses, and by developing and pursuing their passions. Our one-on-one tutoring is specifically designed to meet individual students' needs. Our primary goals include helping our students feel comfortable and confident with academic coursework, prepared for standardized exams, and in control of any learning challenges they might face. Furthermore, we strive to prepare our students for the academic challenges that await them in college and the professional challenges that await them in their careers.


Owner & Director—Alex Theoharides 







Alex is a graduate of Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, NY. As an undergraduate, he studied English, psychology, and education. For the past decade, he has helped Academic Tutoring & Testing students of all ages find success both in and out of the classroom, taking pride in his ability to keep his students highly motivated, organized, and prepared for upcoming exams. In his role as Director, Alex consults directly with parents and students to determine the best plan help students achieve success. Based on an initial consultation, he places students with the tutor or tutors who will best fit their learning style and needs. Then, he oversees tutoring and checks in with students, parents, and tutors regularly to ensure that they are making progress and to make any necessary adjustments to the plan. Alex also tutors a variety of subjects, including but not limited to school support, ADD & ADHD coaching, college preparatory skills, standardized test preparation, online high school and college courses, reading and writing skills, AP History, AP English, and math through pre-calculus. He lives in south Minneapolis, where he spends his free time strolling the creek and lakes with his wife Meredeth and dog Sadie—and caring a little too much about the Minnesota Timberwolves!

*Vitrus certified


Academic Support Tutor & College/Career Advisor—Tristan Marklowitz

Tristan graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2016 with a degree in International Relations. He has been a tutor with Academic Tutoring & Testing since the spring of 2019. Over the past decade, he has worked with students across various age groups as a tutor, baseball and basketball coach, Special Olympics organizer, and paraprofessional. He enjoys traveling, playing music, and all things basketball. Tristan works with parents and students to establish consistent organizational and study habits. He also works with students on resumes, college applications, and college essays. He tutors a variety of subjects from elementary to college, including math, science, social studies, English, and standardized test preparation. Tristan lives in downtown Minneapolis with his partner Mai Nou.

ACT/SAT Lead Tutor & College/Career Advisor—Chris Lowry

An accomplished actor who has performed at The Guthrie and gone on three national tours, Chris is an adept communicator, able to demystify standardized tests and connect with students on a personal level. Like all of our tutors, he creates an individual plan of study for each student he works with. In his 10+ years with Academic Tutoring & Testing, Chris has developed specialties in ACT and SAT preparation and assisting with the college entrance process. He is a graduate of the University of Minnesota, where he majored in English, minored in theater, and earned a Bachelor of Science in Secondary Education. He is an incredibly experienced tutor, having spent several years in New Jersey, where he worked as a Premier Tutor for the Princeton Review, a role which included training and overseeing new tutors. Despite him being a die-hard fan of the Green Bay Packers, his students still love him and he gets amazing results!

Academic Support Tutor—Eric Zheng

Eric graduated with honors from the University of Notre Dame in 2017 with a B.S. in Biochemistry and a minor in Poverty Studies. In 2020 he received his Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction at Notre Dame. Originally from Kansas City, Eric loves traveling around the world, exploring downtown Minneapolis, and visiting every restaurant that Minnesota has to offer. With an extensive background in math and science, Eric provides an empathetic approach as he helps students improve their study strategies, comprehend complex topics, and prepare for school exams. In addition to his academic support for STEM students, Eric also works with students on standardized test preparation. Eric moved to Minneapolis in 2020 and has been a tutor at ACA since summer of 2021.

Academic Support Tutor—Jason Hardwig

Jason has a patient and diligent approach to tutoring, as well as a unique ability to transfer his passion for learning to his students. He completed his undergraduate work at the University of Minnesota—Duluth, where he focused on biology and fine art. After graduation, Jason was admitted into The School of the Art Institute in Chicago, where he received his M.F.A. A few years later, Jason took a position as a naturalist at the River Bend Nature Center in Faribault, Minnesota, where he taught students about recycling and the local flora and fauna. Regarding his passion for education, Jason believes that, “in all my education work to date, it hasn't mattered so much to me what subject I was teaching; I just like working with students and seeing the little light bulbs turn on.” He has a great deal of experience tutoring a variety of subjects, including higher-level math and science, study and organization skills, school support, and standardized test preparation. 

*Vitrus certified

Reading and Writing Specialist —Nina Engen

Nina has been a tutor with ACA since 2008. Passionate about helping students of all levels improve their ACT/SAT scores and develop their writing skills, she uses an individualized approach tailored to each student’s unique learning style. When not immersed in ACT/SAT prep and student writing projects, Nina works as a freelance writer and editor. Her varied work has included editing a New York Times bestseller, writing and producing radio documentaries, and helping frazzled students with their academic writing from college papers to doctoral theses.

Founder—Elayne Engler

Academic Tutoring & Testing was founded by Elayne in 1989 and she has dedicated more than 35 years to teaching individuals with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and Learning Disabilities (LD). She is a Certified Learning Disabilities Teacher with a B.S. degree in secondary education from the University of Wisconsin, Madison and an M.A. in industrial relations from the University of Minnesota. Since 1977, Elayne has administered psycho-educational diagnostic evaluations, with particular emphasis on ADHD and LD. She has taught special education in both the public and private sectors, including the Hopkins School Districts, Groves Academy, and private practice. In addition to her extensive experience teaching students with ADHD and LD, Elayne has taught ACT classes through the Hopkins Community Education Program and has served as a board member for Learning Disabilities of Minnesota. Currently, Elayne continues to serve as a key member of Academic Tutoring & Testing, both as tutor for several of our students and as an invaluable resource for our staff. She also works with our psychologist to perform all of our learning assessments. 


Additional Tutors

Academic Tutoring & Testing is privileged to have a number of talented and dedicated tutors on staff whose specialties span a diverse set of subjects and learning styles. This allows us to pair each student with a tutor who best suits his or her needs.

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