MEET OUR

Coaches

NICOLE DALTON

SPEECH & DEBATE COACH

Nicole has been part of the speech & debate community for 18 years. She competed all 4 years of high school in TN, and along with winning numerous local awards, she also earned two State Champion titles, 1st Place at the Emory Barkley Tournament, and a 3rd Place National finalist title in Humorous Interpretation at NSDA. Nicole then went on to receive a scholarship for speech & debate at Seton Hall University. While earning her BA, she competed in college speech and earned a 5th Place National finalist title in Prose Interpretation at NFA along with quarter final rounds in After Dinner Speaking and Dramatic Interp at AFA. 

Nicole went on to attend Brandeis University for a Masters of Fine Arts in Acting. While in Boston, she began coaching a high school team, and discovered her joy for coaching. 

After receiving her MFA, Nicole moved to Los Angeles and began coaching students of all ages, ranging from elementary to college. Over the years, students have gone on to win several final, semi final, and quarter final rounds at the Berkeley tournament, Yale tournament, Glenbrooks tournament, Arizona State tournament, State championships, the NIETOC, and the National Speech & Debate Tournament. Nicole is also proud to be the head coach of the award winning speech & debate programs at Flintridge Preparatory and Westridge School.

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ARTHUR HARRIS

SPEECH & DEBATE COACH & CREATIVE WRITING COACH

Arthur got involved in Speech & Debate in 2013, and has continued to part of the community competing, coaching, or judging for the last 8 years. In high school, he competed in several different event, including Congressional Debate, Impromptu Speaking, Lincoln Douglas, Public Forum Debate, and Extemporaneous. He also participated in several school plays, making him qualified to coach interpretation events as well. Throughout his time in high school, he earned multiple final round trophies in his specialty events: Impromptu and Congressional. In 2017, Arthur competed in the California State Championship Tournament in Impromptu and at the National Speech & Debate Tournament in Congressional Debate.

Arthur's focus shifted from competition to other endeavors after graduating from Flintridge Prep and moving on to Grinnell College. He proudly participated in and took leadership of the DAG organization. Recently, he graduated, attaining his BA in English, with an emphasis in creative writing. Through all of this, his love of Speech Debate never changed. 

Arthur has assisted in coaching at Flintridge Preparatory School, Westridge School, and other after school programs. He has tutored in writing since 2016 and has judged numerous speech & debate tournaments over the past 6 years. He is happy to be working alongside his former coach and the rest of the staff and is excited to share his love of Speech & debate at the Speech & Debate Institute.  

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MAGGIE WOODWARD

SPEECH & DEBATE COACH & CREATIVE WRITING COACH

Maggie has been involved in the Speech & Debate community since 2004. As a high school student, she competed in several different events such as Original Oratory, Duo Interp, and Lincoln Douglas Debate. She attained numerous final round trophies from local and national tournaments around the country. Maggie was the 2008 Tennessee State Champion and a National Speech & Debate Association semi finalist in Original Oratory.

While completing her Bachelor of Arts in Creative Writing & English, she competed in Persuasion and Informative for Western Kentucky University's nationally-ranked collegiate Speech & Debate team. In 2017, she earned her Masters of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from the University of Mississippi, and she is currently pursuing a PhD in Cinema and Media Studies at the University of Southern California. 

During her time in college, Maggie started to explore her passion for coaching. She worked as an instructor and curriculum director at multiple summer forensics institutes, and currently spends her summers as the Director of ISD's Oratory and Informative Speaking division.

Students she have coached have been finalists or champions in events such as Congressional Debate, Original Oratory, Extemporaneous, and Informative at Yale, Harvard, Emory, the Tournament of Champions, Wake Forest, Bronx Science, and the grand Nationals Speech & Debate tournament. Maggie is proud to be an assistant coach at Flintridge Preparatory School in La Canada, CA. 

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SOLON TAN

SPEECH & DEBATE COACH

Solon first joined the Speech and Debate community in 2013 as a freshman in high school. He competed in multiple events such as International and Domestic Extemporaneous Speaking, Impromptu, Congressional Debate, Parliamentary Debate, and Original Advocacy. Solon was a finalist at multiple local and national tournaments and concluded his senior year as a national Semi-Finalist in Extemporaneous Speaking at the National Speech & Debate tournament in June. 

Solon attended the University of California, Santa Barbara, and attained a degree in Political Science and Chinese while working as a legal assistant at the Ferreira Law Group for 3 years. He was also active on campus by serving leadership positions in student organizations and taking on community service opportunities. 

Since graduating in 2021, Solon has coached for several speech and debate institutions with competitive middle and high school students at the local and national levels. He is currently coaching at Sequoyah School, and within 2 months of starting his coaching position at Sequoyah, his high school team won the HSPDP Championship tournament. He is proud to be a part of the S&D Institute coaching staff and looks forward to continuing his career. 

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Frida Ramirez

SPEECH & DEBATE COACH

Frida began participating in Speech and Debate in 2013, when she joined the summer before her freshman year of high school. She competed for 3 years in high school and 2 in college. The events she participated in include Impromptu, Declamation, Humorous Interpretation, Dramatic interpretation, Public Forum, and Lincoln Douglas. In her brief break from speech and debate, she worked as Pasadena City College Vice President of External Affairs where she trained students on analyzing policy and lobbying. In these efforts she traveled alongside the students to Sacramento and Washington DC to advocate for policy that would benefit and improve students educational success. At her time at Pasadena City College she earned 3 Associate Degrees; in Social and Behavioral Science, Humanities, and Political Science. Frida is currently projected to finish her Bachelor's Degree in Political Science at the University of California, Riverside in the Spring of 2023. Since her departure from the competition circuit, she has consistently continued her participation in the Speech and Debate community through judging tournaments. She is excited to help the new generation of speakers find their voices and share with the world around them.

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Aly Hamel

SPEECH & DEBATE COACH 

Aly first joined the Speech and Debate world in 2020.  She began judging tournaments online, contributing to making tournaments possible at the height of the Covid -19 pandemic. Through judging, she gained an appreciation for Speech and Debate. While Aly continues to judge in tournaments and gain more knowledge on Speech and Debate categories through the other staff she is also continuing her education. She has moved to Los Angeles to earn a Bachelor's Degree in counseling.  Aly earned her Associates degree in Child Development while working simultaneously in child care facilities leading up to her last year while she worked as a lead preschool teacher. She has three years of experience in working with young children from infancy to six years of age. Her education and experience with young children makes her a perfect fit for working with our First and Second Grade Speech and Debate Students. 

Aly creates an environment to build confidence and help our youngest group get comfortable with public speaking. She prides herself on her patience and ability to connect with young children to make them feel seen and heard in an educational setting. Aly is continuing to learn and grow with the children she coaches through the support of the Speech and Debate Institute and its more experienced  staff.

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