Essay Advisors

Jane Twomey

Dr. Jane Twomey obtained her Ph.D. in Communication from the University of Maryland and previously taught at American University and Johns Hopkins University, where she received the 2006 Outstanding Teacher of the Year Award for Communication. She has been teaching SAT, Magnet, and writing classes at APLUS for 10 years. She has been instrumental in designing SAT prep structure. Dr. Twomey is also a Senior Consultant with the Murawski Group, a consulting group specializing in teaching various writing classes to government agencies and corporations. She has been assisting the students with college application essays for two years. Dr. Twomey has served on admission committees at American University and has coached students with admissions and standardized tests, application essays for high school, colleges, and graduate schools.

Jim Gifford

Mr. Jim Gifford has a B.A. in English from Dartmouth College and a M.A. in Teaching from Johns Hopkins University. He has been teaching English in Montgomery County Public Schools since 2005, working with on-level, honors and Advanced Placement classes in 10th, 11th and 12th grade. Before becoming a teacher, he was a journalist for 17 years, writing and editing in various high-technology subjects for internationally distributed publications in print and online. Mr. Gifford understands a parent’s anxiety about college admissions; he has put his own two children through college. In the process, he toured campuses and attended undergraduate admissions presentations at more than a dozen selective or Ivy League schools including Boston U., Brown, Bucknell, College of Wooster (daughter in class of 2014), Cornell, Dartmouth, Drexel, MIT, Muhlenberg, Skidmore, Tufts (son in class of 2016), U. of Pennsylvania, Wesleyan, and Worcester Polytechnic. That experience helps him understand what admissions officers look for in students’ college application essays today. He helps many students fine-tune application essays every year.

Kay LaBanca

Mrs. Katharine (Kay) LaBanca graduated summa cum laude with a B.A. in English & Education from Colgate University and received her Masters of Education in Learning & Teaching from Harvard University, earning top academic honors. She has a wide range of experience teaching Pre-K through adult learners, both in the United States and abroad, specifically in China, India, and South Korea. Since 2007, Kay has been a valued teacher leader in MCPS at the middle school level, as an English teacher, Team Leader, English Content Specialist, Literacy Coach, Reading Specialist, Staff Development Teacher, and AEIST Coordinator. In 2014, she earned Lead Teacher status and continues to be a highly respected teacher and instructional coach. At APLUS , Kay has taught elementary through high school students in reading, writing, speaking, and SAT and Magnet test preparation. She is also an experienced college and graduate school essay coach and advisor.

Delice Williams

Dr. Délice Williams joined APLUS College Advisory in 2013 Fall. She holds a Ph.D. in English from Washington University in St Louis and has taught college level and high school level writing and literature classes for over 15 years. For 5 years she was Associate Director of College Counseling at a private high school in Maryland. She has successfully coached scores of  high school juniors and seniors through the college essay writing and college application process. She is also a writer herself, having published several articles on the Borgen Project Magazine and New Identity Magazine. Two of her academic articles are slated for publication later this year. Dr. Williams enjoys working with students to produce high quality essays that give them the best chance of being admitted to the colleges they hope to attend.

Dominique Parker

Ms. Dominique Parker graduated from Bryn Mawr (B.A., Political Science), New York University School of Law (J.D.) and Johns Hopkins University (MAT, Secondary Education – English). Ms. Parker also studied creative writing at Syracuse University MFA program. She has been teaching at many rigorous academic programs in Montgomery County, including the Humanities and Communications Magnet in one the best middle schools, where she was a teacher leader, and is currently an AP teacher at Thomas Wotton High School. Ms. Parker has extensive experience in assisting students with college and graduate school application essays. In the past, students who received help from her have been accepted to colleges such as Columbia University and California Institute of Technology.