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Ignite > Academic

more than acadcemic coaching

The mind is not a vessel to fill, but a fire to ignite.


High School Student

Your teaching has meant more to me than I can possibly express. I have never been more excited than when I was learning from you. Thank you so much for the incredible and powerful presence you have been in my life... I truly feel like you and your teaching have changed my life. Thank you for the joy and passion your classes brought me.

DEI Curriculum PD Participant

It was great to enter into your work on this topic—touch into your deep scholarship and practical experiences with curriculum at high school level. I found it fully relevant to our work... Fantastic to be in... conversation on this crucial topic—still pondering. It is a relief to connect with colleagues to pursue this work together.

clients say:

Adult Student

 Robert was amazing! If you need help with an essay you are writing he is the go-to guy... I was absolutely blown away by his level of expertise and knowledge.

College Parent

Outstanding (and brilliant) tutor. My son, now a college freshman, won't work with anyone else. Builds a great rapport, and his techniques and strategies have helped my son become a stronger student...

High School Teacher

Fantastic vibrancy and enthusiasm... impact on the entire high school... was palpable... knowledge in his field (and many other fields) is extensive, but what is most impressive is the passion and care he takes to present these intricate and important pieces... The students... are eager to take up the next question or challenge.

High School Parent

Helping to unlock my child's potential equipping him to be successful... You will not be disappointed... amazing. Highly recommended!

What can tutoring & academic coaching do for you?

The INSPIRE model is a research-based explanation of what great tutors & academic coaches do and why it can be so powerful for students. When I read about it I thought: "Oh yeah, that's exactly what I'm trying to do!"

* Adapted from Wood, W. B., & Tanner, K. D. (2012). The Role of the Lecturer as Tutor: Doing What Effective Tutors Do in a Large Lecture Class. CBE Life Sciences Education, 11(1), 3–9.

Intelligent: Great tutors know and love their subjects, and can pinpoint students' optimal level of challenge.
Nurturing: They come to know and care for their students--their strengths & challenges, hopes & dreams.
Socratic: Great tutors "provide almost no facts, solutions, or explanations, but elicit... by questioning." Students are "constantly thinking, doing, and responding."
Progressive: Great tutors can lead students through an ascending spiral of inquiry, helping them find not just answers, but new and deeper questions.
Indirect: Great tutors know how to offer feedback with impeccable tact. Students always know how they are doing, and never feel judged.
Reflective: Going beyond "getting the right answer," great tutors ask students to articulate their thinking, developing metacognitive muscles.
Encouraging: Always believing in students' abilities, great tutors motivate & bolster confidence.*

Why Tutoring?

All Ages, K-Graduate









Real-world subject-matter expertise:

Who I work with
My expertise

english & writing

We're practitioners, not just teachers: editors, novelists, copywriters, and poets. As Ignite founder and writing coach Robert McKay says: "I've been a writer since I learned to write, and I practice and teach genres from poetry to research papers to op eds. I've taught high school English for five years, was an undergraduate fellow at the legendary Bread Loaf Writers' Conference, and have published dozens of poems and essays in a number of venues. But more importantly, I have a contagious enthusiasm for language that sings, and a zealousness for whittling and polishing away at a piece until it shines."

Social sciences

Our tutors are passionate about world history, politics, and economics, and their importance for tomorrow's global citizens. We've taught our subjects in schools and universities, sure, and even developed innovative curriculum and DEI initiatives. But more importantly, we're engaged citizens of the world: entrepreneurs, investors, activists, and political operatives. We bring real-world wisdom and help students go beyond standard history, civics and economics, which all too often bear little relation to the way people and organizations actually pursue profit, power and policy objectives.

STEM & Coding

Ignite's STEM and coding experts bring impressive teaching backgrounds and industry experience across the hard sciences, quant fields, research, and tech.

At Ignite, we make math meaningful, from pre-algebra through calculus, with enrichment and connections to data science basics, data visualization & presentation skills, beginner to advanced Excel, financial literacy and business math. We also bring practitioners' perspectives on the relevance of science and technology to society, from bioethics to the psychological dimensions of investing ortechnology use.

Test Prep & Admissions

With decades of combined experience preparing students for the SAT, we help you leverage your strengths, manage your weaknesses, and get over testing angst to concentrate on jacking up your scores! We also work with ACT, ISEE, and AP exam prep.

If you're applying to high schools or colleges, we offer full-spectrum support with schools research, application strategy, resume-writing, essay revision, and app deadline management.

We also have experience in a wide range of graduate and professional exams. Check out our Team page to see if we have an expert in what you're prepping for!

time mgmt & study skills

We provide executive function coaching as well as highly personalized solutions for time management. We identify where a student's organizational systems are absent or breaking down, and help them test solutions--from sticky notes to apps--till we find what works. "As a student, I always struggled with time management, organization, distractions, and procrastination," Robert says. "I love sharing hard-won lessons on how to overcome these hurdles, & I know first-hand how helpful a tutor can be with them." 

Find Your Tutor (Team Repeater & Button)

Find your Fire.
Find your Academic Coach.

Antioch University



Middlebury College


Our Founder's Story

I've been an educator of one kind or another since I was in high school myself. I've taught in classrooms, gardens, yurts and theaters -- mostly writing and social studies, but also everything from gardening to theater to financial literacy. I've worked with tweens, teens, college students and adult learners at Fortune 500 companies. I love helping English learners as a language learner myself, and completed my Washington State ELL and Literacy teaching certification. A history autodidact, I added that endorsement with 98% scores on the WEST-E. I have experience with students on the autism spectrum, students with ADHD, and students struggling emotionally with adverse personal circumstances.

A passion for lifelong learning is what I teach by example. I completed M.Ed. coursework from Antioch University with a concentration in Waldorf pedagogy; I graduated cum laude from Middlebury, the nation's #4 liberal arts college, in 2009 (GPA 3.56); and I have perfect 800 SAT scores in reading and writing. Since leaving academia, I've taught myself macro- and microeconomics, value investing, advanced Excel, Spanish and internet marketing.


As a student, though, I struggled with attention, time management, and executive functioning. I've learned to manage these challenges and find the strengths within my learning style, and I know first-hand the crucial role that tutors, coaches, and mentors can play.

I've always loved helping young people discover new things about the world and themselves. And that, for me, is what learning's all about -- acing the next test is just a side effect (which I will absolutely help you achieve).

You know the passion and confidence for learning is smoldering within you or your child. How can I help it burst into flame? 

Robert McKay, Founder, Ignite > Academic

My Story
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