Instructors – Higher Ground Learning

Higher Ground Learning is a team of local educators, graduate students, musicians, artists, athletes, and active community members. Our instructors’ qualifications include university degrees and years of experience in diverse fields, but they all have one thing in common: foundational mastery of the SAT and ACT. 

Our Instructors

Our Instructors

Annick McIntosh

Annick brings many years of test prep experience to her work with students; prior to thousands of hours teaching and creating content for study guides, Annick earned a BS in Molecular Biology from Haverford and embarked on graduate studies at Yale University. Now calling Maine her home, Annick’s specialty is ACT/SAT test prep, both traveling to teach classes and 1-on-1 online tutoring. She approaches each individual with a flexible and adaptable plan custom tailored to their goals. In her free time Annick enjoys rock climbing, trail running, reading, scuba diving, traveling (of course), and laying the groundwork for her own hard cider brewery to stave off the wintry chill of the New England cold.

Colton Wright

Colton grew up in Idaho but was waylaid in Massachusetts at Tufts University, where he graduated with a degree in International Relations. After university, he spent winters tutoring at HGL and snowboarding the gnar at Snowbird and summers fighting wildfires across the American West with the Bonneville Hotshots. In 2016, Colton returned year-round to teach, tutor, and coordinate the logistics of international classes. When he’s not outside with his dog, he’s often gaming online or building fine creations in his woodshop.

Eric Brown

Eric Brown graduated from Princeton University with a BA in Anthropology. He claims he arrived in Utah by car (although legend has it he arrived by bear) and currently enjoys snowboarding, backpacking and volleyball. Eric has spent time teaching youth in wilderness therapy and experiential learning environments. Eric believes that making the interaction between student and tutor lively and interesting is paramount to a successful learning experience; Eric adds that “results will come naturally if the student enjoys the process.”

Gwendolyn DeSilva

Gwendolyn may have been raised in a small community along the Missouri River, but her desire to travel the world was ignited at the age of seven. After graduating magna cum laude with a degree in Public Relations, she set off for a three month back-packing tour of Europe, before settling in England. Based in London, she became the Vice President of Marketing Communications at one of the world’s top investment banks. However, after 14 years in the corporate world, Gwendolyn decided on a career change to teach English as a Second Language, before landing with Higher Ground Learning where she focuses on the SAT and ACT. When she is not teaching her international students, she can be found scouring her latest home city for the best craft coffee.

Jason Topa

As a wee lad, Jason watched “The Blizzard of Aahhh’s” and vowed to move West and ride Snowbird’s tram at least once. En route, Jason earned a BA in Philosophy from Brown University. He gleaned a lot of inspiration from some amazing professors who were skilled communicators that fostered real relationships with students. He believes that establishing a relationship with trust and respect is key to any student-tutor learning process. When not tutoring, Jason enjoys hiking, skiing, running, mountain biking, playing music, and writing.

Kasey Mann

Kasey grew up in Lancaster, PA and studied Economics and Psychology at Yale. Post graduation she worked for Credit Suisse in New York, but one of her many passions is teaching. Kasey pursued research in social psychology and has long been fascinated with how people learn and make decisions. She believes learning should be fun, engaging, and undertaken with a holistic perspective. When she isn’t working or reading, Kasey loves to travel, explore, run, hike (activity is a theme, she was on the Yale swim team), and eat interesting foods (still working on the cooking part)! She’s happiest when she’s trying new things and meeting new people.

Marina Kalliga

Marina graduated from Stanford University with a BA in International Relations and celebrated by driving across the continental USA to Brooklyn, NY, where she is currently based. She grew up in a small seaside town near Athens, Greece, and considers the Mediterranean Sea her home and happy place. While at Stanford, she returned to Europe for two study abroad programs in Madrid and Oxford, and a summer internship in Sarajevo. Marina loves working with high school students, and believes in always treating her students with empathy, kindness, and respect. In addition to swimming, she’s happiest when spending entire days reading books on the beach, traveling, going on long walks in the countryside, and trying new food.

Michael Young

Michael came to Higher Ground from the far flung corners of Orem. He stopped along the way at the University of Utah, earning a BS in Biomedical Engineering and Minors in English Literature and Chemistry. He emphasizes the recognition of the inherent value and beauty in every subject that he teaches, drawing inspiration from science communicators such as Carl Sagan and Richard Feynman. He’s a traveler (Ireland, Spain, France, Italy, and more!), a reader (everything, really, EVERYTHING), and a thinker – currently contemplating whether Free Will is merely an illusion (Sartre would take issue). Michael brings his dynamic interests and experiences to all of his students at Higher Ground; just don’t get him going on about time travel or you may never get him to stop.

Rachel Silva

Rachel was born in Brazil and grew up in Dallas, Texas. She attended Texas A&M University and graduated summa cum laude with a degree in Ecological Restoration and Forestry. Rachel believes that anybody can learn anything as long as they have the right teacher, and she strives to be that teacher for her students. When she isn’t teaching, Rachel enjoys baking cakes, practicing yoga, and trying to approach the family of turkeys that visits her lawn every day.

1 hour
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Your first lesson of 1-on-1 tutoring is completely free of charge

Fill out the form (free). Meet for a consultation (also free). Collect a hour of 1-on-1 instruction with one of our expert tutors (say it with me).
No fine print – just an hour of free tutoring.

Let us know!

We know that everyone’s a bit scattered right now, which means that even schedules designed for a particular school don’t necessarily fit your circumstances – or time zone.

Not to worry!
We have several different options to prep the SAT this fall, including group courses in various time zones. We also offer 1-on-1 tutoring, which is almost infinitely flexible. If you’re having trouble lining up a schedule, please don’t hesitate to reach out; we’ll arrange a (free) consultation to help craft a personalized game plan – whatever your timeline.

If you have any questions about our courses or the SAT in general, please don’t hesitate to contact our International Coordinator at

Planning on taking the ACT as well?

Students in Egypt face some (seriously unfair) obstacles around the SAT. Over the past couple years, students from Egypt have suffered from cancelled exam dates and even cancelled scores – which means many students are proactively planning to take both the SAT and ACT, just in case one exam falls through. 

If you’re hoping to prepare for both exams, consider adding the ‘Online Tutoring Package’ to your enrollment

The scheduled group classes will be geared towards the specific nuances of the SAT, but the majority of the content and strategies for the SAT apply to the ACT as well. As such, students transitioning from the SAT prep course towards ACT preparation are welcome to use the 5 hours of follow-up tutoring for ACT-specific prep. Our tutors are very experienced in both exams and can help students re-apply the concepts from the SAT class towards success on the ACT down the road. Plus, follow up tutoring provides the opportunity to cover ACT-only topics like the “Science” section.

If you have any questions about either exam or about the prep course in general, please contact Colton Wright, our International Coordinator, at

We're prepared.

Like hundreds of schools and businesses around the world, we faced some pretty abrupt changes in Spring 2020. Luckily, we already had a strong background in teaching 1-on-1 test prep online – which meant we were well poised to adapt to all-online programs.

We always strive to provide the most effective prep possible, so moving a course online involves more than a Zoom meeting link. If a course does end up online, we take full advantage of the opportunities created. Free from geographic restrictions, online classes can utilize longer timelines, smaller class groups, and multiple instructors. Our classes this spring are spread over 6 weeks rather than 3 and sort students into classrooms of 5-7 students, providing a more relaxed pace and making sure students can still connect with their instructor – even if they never get to shake hands.  

  We believe strongly that it’s everyone’s responsibility to proactively manage the spread of COVID-19, so we’re prepared to move any course online if necessary. If that happens, we still maintain our flexible refund policy (10 days prior to the originally scheduled start date). 

If you have any questions about our courses or the SAT in general, please don’t hesitate to contact our International Coordinator at