About Us and Our Business


Our mission is to enable our students to achieve the highest possible scores on the SAT, maximizing college choices and merit scholarship options, while greatly enhancing their academic competencies, the quality of their written work and their lifelong strategic thinking and problem solving abilities.

How We Do It

Our students get extraordinary score increases because we help our students to improve their underlying academic competencies and their approaches to utilizing reading, writing, math, and critical thinking skills, while giving them extensive experience with the SAT.

Who We Are:

Eric Goldberg, Program Director & Instructor

Since founding A POSITIVE APTITUDE® in 2005, Eric has tutored over 500 students for their SATs, with outstanding results, helping to solidify A POSITIVE APTITUDE®’s reputation as the premier SAT tutoring service in the Triangle area.  Eric tutors students in the math section of the SAT, and along with Debra Goldberg, trains and supports A POSITIVE APTITUDE®’s affiliated tutors, and runs the business operations. 

Eric co-founded A POSITIVE APTITUDE® after a 29-year career in the computer industry, most recently with IBM, where his favorite role was Training Manager.  To his work with SAT students, Eric brings his expertise in course development and a well honed understanding of how to satisfy the needs of students from widely varying educational abilities and backgrounds. 

Eric holds a mechanical engineering (BME) degree from Georgia Tech and has performed professionally in musical theatre.  Eric reads widely and traveled around the world; this worldliness combined with Eric’s teaching and theatrical backgrounds help him create enjoyable lessons and his enthusiasm for people helps him to engage and to keep the interests of his students. 

Debra Goldberg, Program Director & Instructor

Since founding A POSITIVE APTITUDE® in 2005, Debra has tutored more than 500 students for their SATs, with outstanding results, concentrating on the reading and writing sections of the SAT.  Along with Eric Goldberg, Debra has nurtured A POSITIVE APTITUDE® from inception to its status as the premier SAT tutoring service in the Triangle area of North Carolina.  Debra, who enhanced and developed reading and writing curriculum used by A Positive Aptitude’s tutors,  trains and supports A POSITIVE APTITUDE®’s affiliated tutors, tutors students in reading and writing, and runs the business marketing and communications operations. 

Debra, who reads widely and has traveled extensively including two experiences living-abroad, co-founded A POSITIVE APTITUDE® after a varied career which included many roles as educator, writer, and business professional.  She brings her varied and cross-cultural experiences to her work with her students and to her variety of successes for over three decades as a one-on-one tutor for both children and adults and as a classroom teacher, always using non-traditional, creative and “fun” curricula . 

Debra is a published journalist skilled in producing and writing news and feature stories.  For over 30 years, her work has appeared in newspapers, in journals, on several public television stations, and on state and national radio networks.  Debra holds a BA in journalism and communications from Rutgers University and received graduate level training in writing from the School of Journalism and Communications at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. 

Johnnye Locke, Instructor

Johnnye joined A POSITIVE APTITUDE® in 2007, and since that time, has successfully tutored many dozens of college bound students in all three sections of the SAT® with excellent results.  She has a BA in English from Augustana College in Illinois and started her career as an English teacher, first at the high school and then at the college level.  After doing graduate work in technical writing & computer science at New Mexico State University, Johnnye entered the business world, where her work for software development companies ranged from technical writing and editing to a number of supervisory positions and eventually to program management, negotiating contracts and directing the work of computer scientists and electrical engineers in support of various US Army & Navy organizations.  After relocating to the Triangle area of North Carolina many years ago, Johnnye returned to teaching, tutoring disadvantaged children in reading and math, eventually finding her way to A Positive Aptitude for which she is a senior instructor.   Johnnye loves working with young people and employs A POSITIVE APTITUDE®’s approaches to great advantage in assisting students to meet and to exceed their SAT goals, and in strengthening their preparations for success in college and beyond. 

Carol Vatz, Instructor

Carol has always enjoyed helping students to meet their maximum potentials by figuring out how they learn best and by encouraging them in ways that increase both their skills and their confidence.  Carol’s interests led to pursuit of a masters and CAGS in Counseling and School Psychology from Boston University and a Ph.D. in School Psychology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  She also has an undergraduate degree in Psychology from Tulane University. 

Carol retired from the Wake County Public School System as a school psychologist, with over 30 years of experience working with students in a variety of settings, specializing in specific learning disabilities, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and high functioning autism.  In addition to being a tutor with A POSITIVE APTITUDE®, she is a licensed psychologist, primarily providing assessment and consultation to individuals and schools.

Carol is a North Carolina native who has also lived in New Orleans, England, and Boston.  She loves to travel, enjoys all aspects of the outdoors, and is an avid fan of the Carolina Ballet.  She is married and has two step-children who have successfully navigated college and graduate school.

John Telliho, Instructor

John has a BS in Mathematics from Penn State University where he also worked as a tutor, earning Penn State’s annual “Outstanding Tutor” award in mathematics.  John’s great skill and love of teaching and tutoring has continued ever since his college graduation. Initially, John was able to put his teaching and tutoring skills to use as a high school math teacher in the Baltimore, MD area.  When John moved to Raleigh several years ago, looking for warmer weather and new challenges, he found work as a software engineer for a major investment firm and an outlet for his love of tutoring with A POSITIVE APTITUDE®.  Extremely agile with math and a real people person, John appreciates the great benefits of employing the A POSITIVE APTITUDE® approach in helping students with the math portions of the SAT and beyond.  John has tutored dozens of A POSITIVE APTITUDE®’s students to outstanding results.

Melissa Kindler, Instructor

Melissa loves being able to turn the intimidated student into the confident student and has many years of successes doing just that.  Melissa brings impressive professional credentials to her work with A POSITIVE APTITUDE® as a communications professional, as a high school mathematics teacher and as Chair of the Leesville Road High School Mathematics Department, where she has been a teacher, academic coach and mentor to students and colleagues for eleven years.

Melissa received her undergraduate degree in Communications and Mathematics from the State University of New York at Albany, graduating Cum Laude.  Before her teaching career, Melissa wrote press releases for recording artists at PolyGram Records in New York City.  While pursuing her teaching career, Melissa earned her M.S. in Instructional Technology from the New York Institute of Technology, graduating with distinction.

With sixteen years of teaching and mentoring experience, eleven in Raleigh and five in NYC, Melissa is familiar with the challenges faced by high school students; she thoroughly enjoys helping students turn challenges into successes.  Melissa loves teenagers, has raised two of her own, and is expert in helping all to meet lofty goals.  Melissa tutors reading, writing and math for SATs and offers academic math diagnosis and remediation.

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