At Novella Prep, each of our highly trained, credentialed educators bring years of relevant experience and insight, positioning them as experts in the field that are prepared to implement our Novella enrichment and college preparation programming in support of your student. Our programs, expertly crafted by founder Dr. Tony Di Giacomo, position each of our students to achieve their best possible outcomes and leave no opportunities unturned. Uniquely, Novella Prep’s programs offer cohesive and comprehensive support throughout your child’s academic career and along their road to college. While others may offer “à la carte,” sporadic, hourly services from less qualified junior staff members, Novella Prep’s team of formally trained and qualified teachers and admissions experts provides unmatched, holistic guidance for your student and family. On their own, each of Novella’s staff members are capable and competent leaders in the world of education. Together, they form an unmatched constellation of experts, joined in pursuit of our mission to share the knowledge and expertise best able to support your student.
Novella Prep motivates and teaches students how to achieve their academic potential with improved grades, increased test scores, and helps them prepare to be considered for admission into and find success at the best-fitting colleges through proven holistic methods. We deep dive into helping students perform at their academic best by starting from the inside — before investing time and resources into academic or test prep tutoring. Our proven holistic method (Retention, Relationships, and Responsibility) empowers students to be the author of their own plan, incorporating smart tutoring in ways that are far more effective and efficient.
Statement of ethics: We believe that the student is the face of the application and therefore stand behind the mindful decision to never contact colleges on behalf of the student. As members of NACAC and IACAC, professional organizations providing standards of best practices, we believe that through their hard work and our guidance, the student can earn and enjoy their own success!
We help students create a custom framework for note taking and studying to know what to remember and how to create processes to remember what matters most; to set goals and identify who in their life can help carry out those goals whether they be planning for grades, milestones, measurement, and longer-term decisions like college selection and application. With cohesive advice, a student can better plan the quarter, organize the week, and live the day on their way to college and beyond.
F. Tony Di Giacomo, Ph.D.
With 20 years of experience working in admissions, development, teaching, and researching Novella Prep founder and educator Dr. Di Giacomo brings a depth of relevant knowledge to students, families, and education professionals.
Dr. Di Giacomo pursued education-focused degrees, first At Boston University, where he majored in Secondary English Education, mastering the domain of English and was trained in teaching. Following his undergraduate degree, Dr. Di Giacomo obtained a masters degree (M.Ed) in Policy, Planning, & Administration where he learned about the intersection of the classroom with leadership and policymaking. Throughout his undergraduate degree and following his masters degree, Dr. Di Giacomo worked for the Boston University Office of Undergraduate Admissions in a number of key roles, where he gained a unique insight into the operations of the admissions program. Following this experience, Dr. Di Giacomo worked for the University of Virginia supporting their growth initiatives and working directly with students.
An application is not a stand-alone exercise that a senior completes. The application should harvest a series of decisions that goes back many years.
F. Tony Di Giacomo, PH.D.
Founder of Novella Prep
These experiences prepared Dr. Di Giacomo for his Ph.D. in International Education Policy at the University of Maryland, where he studied comparative and international education as a foundation for supporting U.S. and international education reform efforts.
Concurrent with his doctoral degree, he worked for an education consulting company founded by a former U.S. Secretary of Education. Dr. Di Giacomo then worked at the College Board, a non-profit that owns and operates, the PSAT, SAT, and Advanced Placement (AP), where he broadened his network in the higher education community. He met and collaborated with most university and college admissions directors and staff, and gained insights into the ever-evolving admissions field. in addition to presenting at numerous conferences, he is published in peer-reviewed journals. He focused his recent work in the Research Department at the College Board, where he led and managed research on the SAT, PSAT, AP, and other programs.
Dr. Di Giacomo founded Novella Prep to meet the holistic needs of students by applying his education expertise and experience working with students from many different cultures, backgrounds, and learning needs. Dr. Di Giacomo is a member of the National Association for College Admission Counseling and the International Association for College Admission Counseling (IACAC).
Novella Psychometric Advisor
Dr. Bethany Fishbein joined Novella as Psychometric Advisor in 2019. An experienced education researcher, psychometrician, and data analyst, Dr. Fishbein specializes in developing psychometric instruments for cognitive and non-cognitive aspects of student learning and development, creating and managing complex database systems, and producing readily-interpretable measurement scales using item response theory scaling and equating methodologies. She holds expertise in using technology to enhance teaching, learning, and assessment, with additional research experience in education policy, developmental psychology, and mathematics learning cognition. Dr. Fishbein works full time for an international study center housed at Boston College’s Carol A. and Peter S. Lynch School of Education and Human Development.
Andrew holds an MPS in Secondary English and Special Education from Manhattanville College and is a graduate of Indiana University – Bloomington with a B.A. in both English and Theatre. Andrew currently teaches 7th grade special education in Westchester, NY where he teaches both English and American history. He has instructional experience with both middle and high school students specializing in study skills and reading comprehension and supports the professional development of other Novella teachers.
Nancy holds a B.S. in Childhood Education/English, an M.S.Ed. in Special Education, and an M.Ed. in Learning & Technology. She has been a special education teacher and family consultant/advocate for over 12 years, working with children of all ages, across various settings, including the home, specialized classrooms, resource rooms, inclusive classrooms, and gifted programs. She currently works to provide special education services and remediation to students, as well as oversee school-wide special education systems and practices. Nancy’s teaching philosophy is that every child can and will succeed when given the right tools, patience, and understanding. Taking all of a child’s needs into consideration and teaching to the “whole child” has inspired her to be a life-long learner.
Outside of the classroom, she has years of experience in tutoring, enrichment, test prep, and academic and executive functioning coaching services, as well as helping families prepare for interviews and private school admissions, including: AABL, ERB/WPPSI, ERB/WISC, NYC G&T, SB, LL ISEE, SSAT, and CTP-4. She is committed to helping families navigate difficult processes so that students can reach their highest potential and experience success – not only in the classroom, but in everyday life.
As a High School Language Teacher, Dawn has 20 years of classroom teaching experience in language instruction. Having extensive training and a working background in special education, Dawn has worked as a Special Education Teacher in all subjects and with all levels of instruction. Her social and emotional training has afforded her the opportunity to focus not only on the academic needs of her students but their social and emotional intelligence as well. Working with a diverse group of students has allowed Dawn to develop affective and cognitive empathy skills, connecting with students and families on a professional and personal level.
Novella College Advisor
Lorelle Babwah Brennen
Lorelle has served as a college advisor for several years, helping students all over the world to find and attend their best-fit university. She began her career in education while still a student herself, serving as a mentor and then eventually director of a college preparatory program for low-income students in North Carolina. Lorelle has worked in higher education for many years since then, serving as an advisor at the University of North Carolina and as the Assistant Director of Student Services for Duke University’s Pratt School of Engineering. Most recently, she spent several years as an American college counselor working with families in the U.K. and on staff at Westminster School and Wellington College.
Lorelle holds both a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a law degree from the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill. She is a published author in the field and completed a graduate certificate in Counselor Education from North Carolina State University. Lorelle is also a certified mindfulness and meditation instructor, specializing in emerging adults. She is a member of the International Association for College Admissions Counseling and the Southern Association for College Admissions Counseling.
Novella College Advisor
Kelly joins Novella Prep with over 20 years of experience in higher education. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree and a Master’s of Education in Adult Education from the Pennsylvania State University, University Park.
Working with and guiding students through the college admissions process. Throughout her tenure in college admissions, Kelly has served multiple roles. During her time as an admission counselor, she guided students through the admissions process for highly selective talent-based majors. Advancing her career as assistant director of marketing and recruitment, Kelly managed a recruitment territory as well as a team of admissions counselors, working with high school students from private/prep schools in New England, upstate New York, and Puerto Rico. Kelly has been a reader for a highly selective honors program. Her most recent career advancement is as director of admissions and enrollment, where she continues to manage recruitment and increase enrollment across 9 highly selective direct admit programs.
Novella College Advisor
Steve brings over 20 years of college admissions and academic advising experience to Novella Prep. He serves as an advisor, instructor, and internship coordinator with the University of Maryland Dept. of Psychology. His selective admissions application experience encompasses seasonal reading work with Washington and Lee University, QuestBridge, and Girls Who Invest.
As a first-generation college student, Steve offers a distinct perspective on the college search process that values the strengths and individuality each student brings to the college planning landscape. He holds a B.A. in psychology and M.Ed in Student Affairs in Higher Education. As a resident of the Washington DC Metro Area, Steve’s passions include biking, comedy writing/analysis, and volunteering with the Smithsonian.