Marla Cunningham

Educational Planning Specialist


  • Academic Support
  • Application Essays
  • Writing



  • Bethesda, MD
  • Remote (Skype, Google Hangout, FaceTime, etc.)
  • Tenleytown, DC


College preparation tutor, Marla Cunningham, grew up in our smallest state and attended the University of Rhode Island where she completed its Honors Program. The R.I. Honors Program has a particular philosophy and requires specific courses that emphasize “enriched rather than accelerated learning, adding dimension and depth to the subject at hand.” Her education there stressed dialogue and active learning. Marla completed a thesis that explored the feminine voice in popular literature and that culminated in a final presentation to faculty and students.

After receiving her bachelor’s degree in English, she worked in non-profits. Marla then made her way across the country where she worked for two years in a private school, teaching special education and inclusion. During that time, however, she discovered that she missed higher education and decided to pursue her master’s. She also missed wearing scarves during the change of seasons, specifically the fall.

It makes sense then that Marla attended UMass Amherst, earning her Master’s in English Literature with a focus on American works. She most enjoyed interdisciplinary work with comparative literature and applying different perspectives (such as artistic layouts) to historical documents.

Marla moved to the DMV area to be closer to a large city, where she became a reading specialist in Prince George’s County and is now an English teacher at a high school in DC.

During her free time, Marla enjoys spending time at coffee shops, reading, and working with her D.C.-based writing group.


Writing is a journey, whether for an academic paper, essay, or fiction for a creative writing class. I love teaching that journey! The college admission essay is especially powerful because of the personal and reflective power it possesses. It allows students to showcase their personalities and accomplishments to college admissions.


I just want to thank you for working with my daughter on her 10th grade English paper/project. She received a B! As you know, this was quite an accomplishment considering that it was graded as a college-level paper. 


Your assistance was extremely helpful during the entire process. Your patience, thought-provoking questions, and willingness to break down each phase really helped her growth as a writer. As we discussed, writing is a learned skill that improves over time with nurturing and practice. I can say, without reservation, that you were a positive influence on her skills and confidence level. 

- NCS Mom