Testimonials A sampling from over the years...






























































Words cannot describe the special place you have in my heart.  For the eight or so years I have known you, you have been an angel in my life, selflessly guiding me through my greatest successes and toughest challenges, and I thank you a thousand times for never giving up on me.  Your passionate curiosity and desire for knowledge have inspired me as have your ceaseless will to help others be the best they can be.  Your own success and perpetual happiness have inspired me to strive for greatness and keep holding on tight to my own dreams and goals.  Not only do I want to thank you for your role in getting me where I am today, but also for the time you spent making me tea, encouraging me to read a good book, filling my mind with fascinating tidbits and ideas between assignments, and picking me up when I was down.  You are a true friend and I am beyond blessed to have you in my life.  I know I may not always do an amazing job of showing it, but I want you to know how truly grateful I am.  I know that the past few years have been filled with assignments and papers and late night college applications, but I want you to know that I will forever cherish the memories of bouncing story ideas off of you and weaving worlds to create new worlds and characters, all while sipping tea and enjoying one of your delicious meals.  I love to tell stories, and having someone equally passionate and also one of the most brilliant and giving people I know is something that I may never be blessed with again.  So I hope we are creating together until we are both in wheelchairs.  Thank you for inspiring a lifetime of stories.


I taught MaCall since she was a little girl, and now she’s nationally recognized in five areas:  writing, rhythmic gymnastics, dance, acting, and social entrepreneurship.  Last year, she spoke at TED.



First of all, I just want to thank you again for the incredible work you are doing with Ryan.  I was getting his writing samples together tonight and reading over his work, and I find I am moved to tears.  His writing is so beautiful.  You are an outstanding writing instructor—the very best!  We are so lucky to have you working with our son, and he is making huge strides.  He is a gifted writer and is really learning his craft with you. 

I am glad I decided on home-schooling Ryan.  This is so much more productive than what he would be getting in a regular class.

Thanks again,


Ryan later became one of the 14 finalists in an international writing-for-TV contest.


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Subject line:  I got into Harvard, Yale, Stanford, and Penn!


Hey Clarissa, this is Brian.

I just wanted to tell you that I got into all my top choices and to thank you for tutoring me this summer.

My essays were awesome. I think they were a HUGE reason why I got in where I did.

Thanks again,


Brian Licorish


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Christmas 2008

Dear Clarissa,

I would like to thank you so much for being a mentor, friend, and even at times, a mother to me.  You’ve always been there for me, supported me, and pushed me, even when I haven’t deserved it.  You have inspired me in every way imaginable, and I am convinced that I wouldn’t be half the writer (or person) today if it weren’t for you.  Everything you are is what I ultimately aspire to be.  You are like a rare jewel that sometimes is found in a sea of worthless rocks. You are to be treasured and never forgotten.  Your life is dedicated to others, and you rarely have any time for yourself.  You have helped me realize what it is like to strive for goals, help others, and achieve ultimate happiness.  You are perfect!!!   So, in a nutshell, thank you for being a golden light that illuminated the right way down my dark path.  This year, I really hope that you can pamper yourself and spend a little time for you.  You deserve it more than anyone I know.  Merry Christmas!


P.S. The abstract star on your card's cover not only represents the star that guided the wise men to Jesus, but also the star with which you have been guiding me in my life. 

*          *          *

As it is with most people, writing was not Matt’s strength when he came to me.  However, after a few years of practice, NYU told him that his was the top screenplay they received.


I just thought I’d let you know about some updates on my poetry.  In the last month I have heard back from several poetry websites.  The American Society of Poets sent me an email informing me that one of my poems, “Friends is such a lonely word,” has been chosen as one of their top 100 love poems, as well as poem of the day about a month ago.  That was pretty cool.  Also, poetry.com sent me an email asking for me to submit another poem (because I have been published with them before), to be put in another book with a one-page biography about me included. AND!  I just finished a new poem.  I'll send it to you when it's finalized.  I hope all is well!


P.S.  As for the Antigone/Doll’s House essay you helped me with...Mrs. K. loved it.  At the end of the rough draft she put “NICE WORK!”  When I went up to her to confirm these words, she responded by saying, “Yes, Matt—it’s correct.  You've got the groove!”  She then performed a little dance for me, which was supposed to illustrate that I “had the groove” apparently.

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From a novel editor at  Scholastic to my student Kendall:
Dear Kendall,

I wanted to write and congratulate you directly on winning a Silver Medal in this year’s PUSH Novel Contest.  The other judges and I were completely enchanted by MISS LAVENDER VENUMN, and were incredibly impressed when we realized it was the work of a seventh grade – your talent and humor surpass that of 99% of the adults we get submissions from here at Scholastic.   


Very shortly, you will hear from the people at the Alliance for Young Artists & Writers, who will let you know about the awards ceremony and other details about winning a Scholastic Art & Writing Award.

Although I can’t offer you a shot at publication right now, I encourage you to keep working on your novel.  When it’s finished, I would be happy to take a look at it.


Once again, congratulations on a remarkable achievement.  I have no doubt that you have a great future as a writer, and am happy to have been able to give it some recognition.




David L.
Executive Editorial Director

PUSH / Scholastic


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Christmas 2009


I hope you have a very merry Christmas!  As you know, I’m so grateful to have you in my life…and I’m very thankful to have someone as positively influential as you guiding me through some of my toughest times.  You are truly a blessing to me, and I thank God often for allowing our paths to cross.  I had a wonderful time traveling Europe with you last summer.  It was so amazing to be able to share those experiences with you, and I’m so fortunate to have had that opportunity.  Your light shines through everything you do, and you are a beautiful person, inside and out.  I hope you understand how much of an inspiration you have been to me for all the time I’ve known you.  Beyond sharing your own light, you have also helped me to see all the light in the world, and that quality is beautiful as well as uncommon. 

Thank you for teaching me how to write. 

Thank you for being a one-of-a-kind mentor. 

Thank you for changing my life.

Merry Christmas!

MaCall xxo

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Hi Clarissa –


It was so nice to hear from you!  I tried calling you back, but apparently I have an old number for you.  I need to get updated contact information from you.


Of course you are welcome to use Whitney’s “Moose” piece.  That is very exciting.  The kids have really grown, and now Ryan is in high school.  The time the kids have spent with you has proven to be one of the very best and most educational in their child development.  They have both grown into confident writers, and what’s more, they really enjoy writing.  They built an important foundation working with you, and now it is paying off for them.  We cannot thank you enough!

It would be great to catch up with you and hear about what you are doing.  Let me know your phone numbers.  The kids say “hi”!




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This e-mail is from Sarah.  I helped her son Andy with his law school applications.


I just got home from a New Year’s party. Your e-mail is the best New Year’s gift I got. Thanks a million.  I wish Andy had come to you sooner.        




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Dear Clarissa,


Thank you so much for meeting with us today.  It was absolutely amazing to see what you were able to coax out of the kids.  As I mentioned, we drove right from class to brunch with my in-laws.  I read them what the children had written and they couldn't believe it!

When I read them Kendall's piece, my mother-in-law said she got goose bumps!!!


Brad and I are so excited to get the kids started in your program.  Better yet, Conor and Kendall are also really excited about the possibilities...


Brad and I feel honored that you have accepted Conor and Kendall into your writing program.   A whole new world is out there and we’re eager to explore it!


See you Thursday.


Barbara Perrin, CFO of Helistream, Inc.


Ten months later, Kendall found herself one of six in the nation to win a medal for her novel at Carnegie Hall in June 2008.


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The following three e-mails are all from the same parent...



Thanks for your lesson last week.  David seemed very inspired. He told me he finally found someone to guide him in a way he understands.  He told me he will eat PB&J sandwiches everyday and not buy any clothing to help pay for the tutoring fee....

I am happy he is motivated and inspired by you.
Thanks! You did a good job!



You are super great!  I like the way you teach. This spirit is what David needs to explore his entire potential....



Thanks for your sharp insight. You pinpoint David’s shortcomings well. He needs your help to guide him to explore his talent.


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Hi Clarissa --


What an impressive flyer! Thanks so much for all the information. There is much more to your tutoring program than I had imagined. I spoke to Sara about working with you and she is very interested. She's not a person to volunteer for extra work, so this is a very good sign.


My husband, Scott, and I also discussed your program. We both feel it would be a perfect fit for Sara at this point in her life, as it would coincide with both her aptitude and interest. She seems to be getting a lot from her English class now, but I know there is much more that could be tapped.




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Dear Clarissa,

It’s been awhile hasn't it? I just wanted to let you know that I got an e-mail from the dudes at Merlyn’s Pen. They said that unfortunately they didn't choose me. But I did get the honorable mention!  I guess the only reason they couldn't use it is because the way it flows makes it more suitable to a movie than a TV series.  They're also going to mention it tomorrow on their website or something like that.  I also wanted to let you know that I'm going to finish this book even if it kills me.



One of the 14 finalists in the world for a writing-for-TV contest.


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Hi Clarissa! 


Thank you! I've enjoyed catching up on reading MaCall’s writing.  I can really see her growth over the years.  Rich and I will always be grateful for all that our children have learned from you.


Rich and Lori Manor

Aircraft Sales, Aviation Marketing Group


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From my student MaCall:

Inspiration Personified

To Clarissa

The most intelligent person I know

The most insightful being I’ve encountered

I can never fully repay you

For giving me a golden skeleton key

That unlocks the doors of my imagination.

And for showing me

How to pull things from another world

Onto paper

For taking me through

Shadowy times I cannot see with my own eyes,

And for giving me knowledge

On everything there is to know

But even more

For helping me apply this knowledge

To my life.

Thank you

You are inspiration personified.


*        *        * 


From the editor of the L.A. Times to my student:


Dear Meaghan,
Just wanted to drop you a note that I received your poetry submission. You should be quite proud of your poems, they are quite beautiful.

Unfortunately, The Kids’ Reading Room is for younger kids. Occasionally, I will publish something written by a 12-year-old, but I am afraid that 13 is out of the age range.  


I know this must be frustrating for you, but I am currently at work researching publishing avenues for older kids. Many older kids are sending me their work and it is disappointing to me not to be able to publish it.

Warmest regards,



*        *        *


From a parent whose son became the second kid in history to get an adult contract with the L.A. Times:



Got it.  So far, we'll be missing Friday the 21st.  Any chance of make-ups (or is there any extra time on your schedule yet)?  Judging from our recent communications, probably not, but maybe I can convince you to re-consider...


When you spent more time with the kids, there was a tremendous amount of growth.  I told you that I consider you responsible for transforming Alex from a reluctant reader into a student who was described (after just 10 months of working with you) as a student whose greatest talent was reading.  I told everyone I knew about you and how you changed Alex's life for the better.  You are the light that brightened Alex's soul (and who began to make Isaac shine).




*        *        *



Thank you so much. 


I always appreciate your comments…straightforward and positive.  I feel better!  Have you considered being a life coach? …






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Hi Miss Ngo,


I want to thank you for the great job you are doing.  I know you have put a lot of time and effort into teaching the girls.  I am especially impressed by your skills in finding leads and getting the girls involved in activities in an expansive yet methodical manner.




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A referral letter from an old student to a new one (who later became a Carnegie Hall winner):



To follow up on our conversation, here is the contact information for Clarissa Ngo.  She helps with Harvard Admissions and is full of great ideas.  She had a great way of teaching, and Ryan and Whitney still benefit every year by what they learned.  In fact, she has been their best writing teacher to date and they have learned more from her than anybody.  I just had her work with Whitney in the summers but was able to have Ryan spend his entire home school year with her as his English teacher.  He won writing contests, had his poetry published and wrote a screenplay and was a top 14 finalist for the BBC’s contest for a new adventure film in India.  Here is her contact information.



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Dear Clarissa,


Thank you very much for all you have done with all three boys. We are so proud of Haitham, and we will order a few back issues tomorrow.


We leave for Europe on Wednesday, returning around August 31st.  Salma will follow up with you regarding next year’s schedule. Enjoy your summer.




*        *        *


From a 12-year-old girl who learned to be proud of herself:


Oh and I forgot to tell you, the Stone Soup people sent me a letter in the mail saying that I am in the MAYBE file.. And the cool thing is that out of all of the people who send then stuff only 5% get in the maybe file... And I'm part of that 5%.  Now they are just telling me to send in my picture and stuff.

I am so proud of myself



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Dear Mrs. C. –

I have just received Haitham’s poetry submissions for the Los Angeles Times’ Kids’ Reading Room feature that runs in the Sunday Comics Part 1.

Please thank him for us. They are quite extraordinary.


Jennifer, Features Editor


*        *        *


Thanks Clarissa!

Isaac is simply glowing with pride!




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From my student Michael at Dartmouth: 

Hi Clarissa,

I haven’t spoken with you in a long time!  How have you been?  Are you still super busy?  How is your family?  I hope all is well.

I wanted to thank you again for all that you've helped me with throughout these recent years. I love it at Dartmouth and don't think I could have gotten without your help. I have benefited greatly from your teaching and still use many of the things I've learned from you.  I bought the book How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie (as you suggested) and started reading it.  I love it so far and truly believe that those who want to succeed should read it.  I recommended it to my girlfriend and after she read the first chapter she went out and bought a copy for herself!  


After working with you, my writing improved dramatically.  For me there was always this hump in writing papers and you helped me get over that hump. I recently wrote my first paper in my first writing class here at Dartmouth, and I think it has traces of your teaching—from the title and thesis to the conclusion.

If it weren't for your teaching, I'd still be writing at the level of a middle-schooler.



Michael, Dartmouth Class of 2010

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Thank you, Clarissa.  You are truly amazing.  The one thing we are sure of is that we want to continue learning with you!



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From my Dartmouth kid:

Hey Clarissa,I got in!!!  Ahhh!!!  Thanks for helping me.  My mom is very excited, btw, cuz I know you're probably gonna ask me that. 


Anyway, just wanted to let you know.  There are some more forms I have to fill out, we can talk about it next time we have class.



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Kevin’s work is truly unbelievable and I am really really proud. I like his “Crash of the World” story and encouraged him to keep it up. We are so proud of his winning the writing contest we bought ten extra copies to give out to our friends, family, and his class.


Yunteng Huang, PhD