The perfect crew — All of our instructors are experts in the fields in which they teach! Like our clients, they have been students themselves, and know what it takes to succeed, culled from top graduate programs. Each instructor is hand-picked for his or her ability to convey complex concepts in a straightforward and easy to comprehend fashion. They are then given comprehensive training in our highly effective methodology. Most instructors are already or have been actively involved as TAs, classroom teachers, and research assistants. They therefore relate to students very well. While all of our instructors have top scores on tests such as the  SAT, ACT, GRE, GMAT, CBEST, LSAT and MCAT and come from some of the best schools in the country, most importantly, they can teach others how to succeed!!  Here is a sample of a few of their profiles...

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Ian Young, Director and Head Instructor

Learning Shack Director, Ian Young teaches over 15 subjects and has worked with thousands of K-12, university, and adult students to help them achieve their academic and professional goals. A teacher and educator with over 15 years of experience, Ian founded The Learning Shack in 2002 after two years teaching SAT and GMAT Test Preparation classes at Princeton Review, where he recognized a pocket of opportunity for individual and small group work. Top of his class at Corona del Mar High School, Mr. Young earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in American Literature (minor in chemistry) from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), and an MBA with a specialization in entrepreneurship and management from the University of Southern California (USC Marshall). With any remaining free time, Ian enjoys relaxing with his family, playing guitar with his band ThinkTank, trading futures, and traveling the world.

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Gail Felner Young, Reading Specialist and Instructor

Gail Young has decades of experience, from having taught elementary school in New York City to children who spoke minimal English, to eventually teaching reading at Harbor View Elementary School. Gail wrote the reading program at Orange Coast College, and taught at Cal State Fullerton in the master’s teaching program that instructs teachers. Her expertise is in working with students who have learning disabilities such as dyslexia, ADD, and ADHD, as well as teaching young children how to read. In her free time she enjoys playing with her grandchildren and animals, doing yoga and meditation, and living a healthy life.


Francisco Mercado, Physics and Math Instructor

Francisco Mercado earned his B.S. in Physics from California State Polytechnic University, Pomona and is currently enrolled in the Physic Ph.D. program at UC Irvine. Francisco has experience tutoring high school and undergraduate level Physics and Calculus and has served as a TA for several Physics courses at UCI. Teaching has become one of Francisco's passions and his experience as a teacher has solidified his goal of becoming a Professor of Physics and Astronomy at a 4-year university. When he isn't teaching or TA-ing Francisco spends most of his time studying the formation of galaxies using computer simulations.

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Erin Bowen, Former Math Instructor

Erin Bowen graduated from Brigham Young University with a B.S. in Mathematics Education. During her studies at BYU she tutored several peers in various math classes and has experience teaching math on the Junior High level. Erin prepared students for the SAT II Math subject tests with The Learning Shack for over 3 years. Erin loves helping people understand math! When not teaching math, she spends her time being active by surfing, playing soccer (and any other sport!), or running.


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Jim Canary, Science Instructor

Jim Canary has tremendous experience as a teacher, manager, and student mentor. After graduating with a BS in Chemistry, Mr. Canary entered the aerospace industry, where he worked as an engineer. Several years later, Jim completed his MA in Educational Technology, initiating a long and successful teaching career at the junior high and high school level. A chemistry teacher and later head of the science department at Corona del Mar High School from 1980-2005, Jim Canary taught and mentored fortunate students and budding minds, such as Ian Young. Currently retired and living in Costa Mesa, Mr. Canary has been generous to offer his time and energy to improve the lives and grades of students in the sciences through The Learning Shack program. We are very pleased to have him when possible!