Casual photo of STEM Tutoring staff of math tutors, chemistry tutors, and physics tutors having fun.
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About Us

Cindy Palmer, the owner and founder of STEM Tutoring.

Cindy Palmer

Director /

Cindy Palmer, M.A., established STEM Tutoring in 2014 after 20 years of personal experience working with high school and college age students in both educational and therapeutic settings. Cindy’s undergraduate education focused on the sciences (Biology and Chemistry). After obtaining her undergraduate training from Miami University, she began her career as the Freshmen Transition Coordinator working with struggling students, a position that sparked her passion for helping students succeed both academically and emotionally.

Cindy then acquired her teaching certificate, qualifying her to teach both Chemistry and Biology. After teaching for 5 years (2 years in Littleton, Colorado and 3 years in the Bellevue School District), Cindy obtained her Masters in Counseling from Seattle School of Psychology and Theology in 2004. She had a private practice as a Mental Health Counselor for adults and adolescents and began meeting with students for academic tutoring as well.

Cindy now dedicates her time to training / mentoring the STEM Tutoring staff as well as providing Executive Function Coaching to students. As a director of STEM Tutoring, her driving mission is the development of leaders who can foster meaningful connections with students. She is also dedicated to providing her tutors with the latest research on all things related to the neuroscience of learning and adolescent development. As an Executive Functioning Coach, she supports students both emotionally and academically to build structures and habits that enable them to successfully engage in academics and life thereafter.

Cindy lives with her family in Bellingham, WA. When she’s not training tutors or meeting with students, she enjoys any excuse to be outside, whether it’s to run a trail, play tennis, camp, or hike.

Bio picture of Zoie Xavier

Zoie Xavier

Zoie holds a teaching certificate and a B.A. in English Literature and Secondary Education from Western Washington University. While attending Western, Zoie also served as an AmeriCorps Team Leader for Civic Leadership and Engagement Corps. During her time as an AmeriCorps Team Leader, she developed curriculum focusing on career and college readiness for students in Title I schools. In addition, Zoie interned as a Student Teacher at a Middle School in Ferndale which further inspired her to pursue a teaching career. Although her degree is in Literature, Zoie enjoys teaching all subjects, with experience tutoring grades K-9 in Math and Science as well as Reading and Writing. Zoie has a passion for helping students succeed in school and has experience working with diverse groups of students. She ensures that students are provided an equitable learning experience through meeting their individual needs.

Aside from tutoring, Zoie works as a substitute teacher and plans to pursue a Master's degree in the near future. In her time outside of work, she enjoys spending time with family and friends, volunteering, reading, and staying active.

Bio picture of Hanna Kodama

Hanna Kodama

Hanna is a senior at Western Washington University, planning to graduate with her B.S. in Biochemistry and minor in Mathematics this upcoming spring. She is currently applying for biochemistry PhD programs and looks forward to furthering her research and teaching experience through graduate school.

Hanna spends most of her time working in a structural biology laboratory at WWU as an undergraduate researcher. Her research involvement and coursework allow her to actively engage in biochemistry, organic chemistry, and molecular biology. She has grown to love these topics through high school and college, but Hanna reserves a special excitement for math. In each of these STEM subjects, Hanna has experienced struggle at one time or another. Because of this, she truly believes that, given the time and resources, anybody can experience the reward of learning, even as content becomes difficult or frustrating. As a tutor, Hanna aims to guide students not only in their ability to grasp difficult concepts, but also in their ability to build study techniques, organizational strategies, and confidence.

Outside of school, Hanna enjoys hanging out with her roommates and her cat (named Goose). She plays the piano and guitar in free time. Some of her favorite spots in Bellingham are Teddy Bear Cove, Café Adagio, and the Sehome Hill Arboretum Lookout Tower.

Bio picture of Rocio Medina-Ovando

Rocio Medina-Ovando

I have been in education for over 10 years, with vast experience in STEM learning including curriculum and assessment development, instructional coaching and teacher-leadership, tutoring, and science teaching. I've worked with students ranging from elementary to high school in addition to graduate-level mentoring for pre-medical and pre-health students in addition to MCAT assessment writing. Graduated from UC Riverside with a B.S in biology, holding a science teaching credential from Loyola Marymount University and continued education studies at UCLA Masters in Urban Education program.

One reason why I enjoy working with students individually is the ability to form relationships and find unique ways to support learning. I believe that students learn best when they feel supported and have trust with their teacher or tutor--laying this groundwork is essential to me and has guided my philosophy in education over the years.

A fun fact about me is that I have two female kitties that I've adopted and rescued from my time in CA, each being 9 and 3 years old. I am also into mushroom foraging (especially during the fall!), gardening, and enjoy going to orchestral concerts when I get the chance!

Bio picture of Rodrick Ryan Danao

Rodrick Ryan Danao

Ryan is a junior at the University of Washington. He was born in the U.S., but has spent most of his life in the Philippines, graduating high school there. Ryan has a passion for computer programming and the study of computational systems. He discovered his love for Math in High School and has excelled in it ever since, participating in his HS math club and Math competitions as well as tutoring younger students in his school.

As he continues to learn more about technological companies from his mentors along the way, Ryan has realized how much he wants to contribute to his home country in terms of its technological advancements, realizing how underdeveloped it is compared to the U.S. After graduating and gaining some experience in the workspace, Ryan intends to return to the Philippines and to contribute to the development of information systems there. Ryan's driving force in the field of informatics is to make lives easier for people from a technological standpoint.

In his spare time, Ryan enjoys hanging out with friends, playing video games, and playing basketball.

Bio picture of Melody Gao

Melody Gao

Melody graduated with honors from Western Washington University in 2021 with a B.S. in biochemistry and minors in psychology and honors interdisciplinary studies. While attending Western, Melody worked as an undergraduate research assistant which inspired her ambition to be a physician-scientist to make positive impacts in both the scientific and medical communities. Currently, Melody is working as a medical scribe at a local clinic as she applies for medical school.

In addition to her strong science background, Melody also has a knack for numbers. She has always enjoyed approaching math from different angles, exploring different methods to arrive at the same answer, all while finding fun connections to the world around us. As a STEM tutor, Melody hopes to provide a fun, safe learning space for her students to explore and be challenged. She strives to build her students' confidence to tackle any problem.

When Melody is not working, you can find her catching up on the latest episodes of the drama or anime she is following. Additionally, she enjoys raising the next generation of service dogs as a Brigadoon Service Dogs puppy raiser.

Bio picture of McKinsey Hill

McKinsey Hill

McKinsey is a fourth-year student at Western Washington University currently pursuing a B.S. in biochemistry, which involves lots of chemistry, biology, and mathematics. Along with their studies, McKinsey is a research student at the university, studying protein structures to provide insight into cellular signaling pathways. In addition to keeping busy with their studies, McKinsey also grade papers for the math department at WWU.

McKinsey is excited to be working with students to help them succeed in their STEM classes. They hope to provide a space for students to learn freely and face challenges without judgement. McKinsey understands the importance of a safe learning space in which the student can feel comfortable and confident in navigating difficult material.

When McKinsey is not studying, they can be found tending to their 63 (and counting!) houseplants, painting, or enjoying the outdoors. They also love spending time with friends, cooking, and binge-watching their favorite shows.

Bio picture of David Jacobs

David Jacobs

David is a senior at Western Washington University, studying Electrical and Computer Engineering with a concentration in Energy. He has completed all sorts of interesting electrical and coding projects, and hopes to one day work as an engineer on a wind turbine or solar panel farm. David has worked as a tutor at Whatcom Community College for three years, tutoring physics, computer science, and all levels of math. He is the person the other tutors turn to when they're not sure how to solve a problem. His favorite branch of math is trigonometry, and his favorite number is the mathematical constant e. David lives in Ferndale, where he enjoys gardening, cooking, biking, spending time with his niece and nephew, and raising chickens!