Jake Ferentz, M.Ed., LGPC is the Director and CEO of LINKZ. He attained his graduate degree as a Master of Education in School Counseling at the nation’s highest ranked program, found at the University of Maryland, College Park, and obtained his licensure as a Licensed Graduate Professional Counselor (LGPC) through Loyola University. He received his undergraduate degree in Public Relations from the University of Maryland, College Park. He is also a graduate of The Ferentz Institute’s Trauma Certificate Programs Level I and Level II. Built from the foundation of bowman educational services, a tutoring agency servicing the Columbia, MD area for over 35 years, LINKZ has been a dream of Jake's since 2012. He has trained in Bowman’s Orton-Gillingham Plus, Visualizing and Verbalizing, Executive Functioning Coaching, MODELosophy, and Writing & Research Methodology. Jake and Liz Riggieri co-developed and co-taught Learning @ LINKZ’s Executive Functioning & Family Dynamics workshop series, and he has developed additional training courses in SAT/ACT test prep and virtual tutoring. While known primarily for his work in S.T.E.M. tutoring and Executive Functioning coaching, he has also worked extensively in advanced test prep (ISEE/HSPT/ASVAB/GRE) and college/career counseling. He has tutored, counseled, and mentored hundreds of students throughout his career, and continues to maintain relationships with families across the country. Through LINKZ, Jake’s mission is to help students and their families find success in the classroom and at home.
Jennifer Wheat, M.Ed. is an Educational Diagnostician, Consultant, and Certified Structured Literacy Dyslexia Interventionist (certified by the Center for Effective Reading Instruction (CERI) in conjunction with the International Dyslexia Association) at LINKZ. She received both her undergraduate degree and Master of Education in Special Education from the University of Maryland, College Park. Jennifer received a graduate Certification in Advanced Studies in Education, specializing in Dyslexia, through Notre Dame of Maryland University in partnership with The Jemicy School. She is also a graduate of The Ferentz Institute’s Trauma Certificate Program Level I. As a former Special Education teacher in Montgomery County Public Schools, she also served on the Educational Management Team, testing and identifying students in need of specialized services and/or accommodations. As a former tutor, Jennifer trained in Bowman’s Orton-Gillingham Plus, Visualizing and Verbalizing, Executive Function Coaching and Writing, MODELosophy, and various written language strategies. Jennifer is a member of Decoding Dyslexia Maryland and the Special Education State Advisory Committee. She has participated as a professional member of the Universal Screening workgroup and as a parent representative on the ELA Elementary Curriculum workgroup in Frederick County Public Schools. When she has free time, she enjoys spending it with her husband and three children, watching them play sports, or playing tennis herself both with her friends and as a Special Olympics volunteer.
Michelle Thieman is the Office Manager and first point of contact at LINKZ. Since 2012 she has been the first person to greet families interested in learning more about our services. She has trained in Bowman’s Orton-Gillingham Plus, and understands the critical need to connect with and support families reaching out for help and guidance during their child’s academic career. She loves sharing the ability and experience of our staff in educating students that have a wide variety of learning styles. Michelle feels privileged to watch our team share knowledge that enables their students to develop both skills and confidence in their abilities to be successful. On a personal note, she enjoys spending time with her husband, daughter, and friends, as well as traveling and making jewelry.
Noah Ferentz, M.A.T. is the Regional Director of LINKZ Midwest. He received his Masters of Arts in Teaching at Goucher College with dual certification as a secondary special education and mathematics instructor. He received his Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from the University of Maryland, College Park. During his undergraduate studies, he also worked for the University of Maryland Athletic Department in the Academic Support and Career Development Unit as an Assistant Academic Athletic Counselor, where he managed a caseload of over 100 student-athletes during his tenure. Noah has taught students between grades 2-12 in the classroom and has been tutoring students from ages 8-22 since 2014. Noah is a trained Executive Functioning coach and specializes in math, writing skills, and standardized test preparation. In his spare time, Noah enjoys practicing and performing stand-up and sketch comedy.
Bonnie Kaczorowski, M.S. is an Academic Specialist at LINKZ. She earned her Master’s degree from McDaniel College and a Certificate in Exceptionalities: Dyslexia, Dysgraphia, and Dyscalculia from Notre Dame of Maryland. An elementary-level teacher for over 18 years, she has trained in Bowman’s Orton-Gillingham Plus and a wide variety of multi-sensory disciplines. Her passion is to teach children and allow them to feel the success and gain the confidence they deserve. She is forever seeking to know better and do better for all children.
Carol Healy, M.S. is an Academic Specialist at LINKZ. Carol earned her Masters in Teaching from McDaniel College and her B.A. in English from Duke University. She is certified by the State of Maryland in Secondary Education and has trained in Bowman’s Orton-Gillingham Plus. Carol worked for 18 years as an English Language Arts teacher at Mount Airy Middle School in Carroll County before retiring in 2021 to become a tutor. She enjoys the one-on-one aspect of tutoring, as well as the opportunity to work with students of all ages. Her goal is to help students believe in their abilities and build the skills to become confident readers and writers.
Carolyn Coletti, M.S. is an Academic Specialist at LINKZ. She received a Bachelor of Science Degree with a dual concentration in Elementary and Early Childhood Education at Florida Southern College in Lakeland, Florida. She next received her Master of Science Degree in Special Education from Hofstra University in Long Island, New York. She lived in Richmond, Virginia for five years and taught Special Education and First Grade in Chesterfield County. She worked as a Special Educator and First Grade teacher in the Howard County School System for three years where she was nominated for the Agnes Meyers Teacher of the Year Award. She has worked for many years in Elementary Education, and is trained, licensed, and certified in Elementary Education (1-6), Early Childhood Education (Infant-K), Special Education (Infant-8), Visualizing and Verbalizing, and Bowman’s Orton-Gillingham Plus. She has also received her Certified Structured Literacy Dyslexia Teacher Certificate (C-SLT) from the Center for Effective Reading Instruction in conjunction with the International Dyslexia Association. Prior to working with LINKZ, Carolyn was an Orton-Gillingham Plus tutor at Glenwood Academy; LINKZ has given her the opportunity to share her love for reading with students of all ages. She believes in providing multi-sensory instruction to make learning engaging and meaningful. She feels the best teachers educate with their heart, not just their minds. Carolyn lives with her husband and three children - Elizabeth, Will, and Leah - in Frederick County, where she also enjoys playing tennis and gardening.
Catherine Nehring Massie, M.A.T. (Elementary & Special Education), AMI (Montessori Elementary Diploma) is an Academic Specialist at LINKZ. Catherine has over 25 years of experience serving children with learning differences—as a tutor, a teacher, a school director, and an inclusion consultant and trainer. Catherine trained in Bowman's Orton-Gillingham Plus in 2004, and in 2005-2006 studied Montessori Elementary education in Italy. Catherine also trained in the Association Method at the Dubard School for Language Disorders at the University of Southern Mississippi. In 2012, Catherine earned a Master's degree in Elementary and Special Education from Mount St. Mary’s University. She holds Maryland teaching licenses in Elementary and Special Education. Catherine has been a tutor for LINKZ (formerly BES) since 2017. Catherine has 4 grown children and 3 grandchildren. She lives in Woodsboro, MD, with her husband and 89-year-old mother. She loves running, traveling, nature and doggies. “When you love what you do, you never work a day in your life!” Catherine finds nothing more enjoyable than working with children.
Christina Case, CRNP, MSN is a S.T.E.M. Specialist at LINKZ. She is a Registered Nurse and has been a Nurse Practitioner for the past 38 years. She received her Bachelor of Science in Nursing at Sacred Heart University, then later acquired her certification as an Adult Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner from the University of Pennsylvania. Her clinical practice is based as a Cardiology Nurse Practitioner currently living in Annapolis, Maryland. She has taught students and professionals - both in the classroom and online - in Graduate and Undergraduate studies for Quinnipiac University, UCONN and Yale University. She has also served as a Critical Care Nursing Educator and American Heart Association BLS and ACLS trainer. With LINKZ, Christina has enjoyed tutoring and coaching elementary, high school, and college students in S.T.E.M., Executive Functioning, and homeschool instruction. Despite her clinical focus, she continues to engage students in biology, anatomy, physiology, and veterinary medicine. In her spare time, she enjoys her husband and twin daughters, her yellow lab “Cooper”, and many sunsets on the Chesapeake Bay.
Christina (Chris) Erd, B.A. is an Academic Specialist at LINKZ. She has a B.A. in English, a Master of Education in Counseling, and has taught Pre-K, 2nd and 6th grade students in the classroom. She has been working with children and families in community and educational settings for 25 years. Chris has been trained in Bowman’s Orton-Gillingham Plus, MODELosophy, and Executive Function Coaching, and has been tutoring students in grades K-12 for more than five years. She enjoys helping students build skills to regain self-confidence and a love of learning.
Cyndi Alder, B.S. is an Academic Specialist at LINKZ. She graduated from the University of Delaware with a B.S. and dual certification in Special Education and Elementary Education. She has trained in Bowman’s Orton-Gillingham Plus and enjoys teaching children (she's worked with them since the age of 16). She has four children of her own, two of whom struggle with dyslexia; her goal is to help others with similar struggles. She loves her family, summer days, and photography, and strives to capture the world around her in her photos.
Diane Mihalik Simms, M.Ed. is an Academic Specialist at LINKZ. She is also a Structured Literacy Dyslexia Specialist through CERI and has worked for over twenty years in the field of dyslexia. Diane was a founding teacher of The Legacy School in Sykesville where she oversaw the tutoring department, developing the treatment plans for each student, mentoring tutors, and providing a summer practicum for tutors new to working with dyslexic students. She currently teaches the 60-hour Bowman's Orton-Gillingham Plus course through Bowman Educational Services, Inc. Diane believes in celebrating each student's unique dyslexic gifts while providing tailored intervention based on each student's strengths and areas of need.
Elisa Lebowitz, B.A. is an Office Manager & Academic Specialist at LINKZ. Elisa has been working with students for many years in both administrative and academic roles. She is trained in Bowman’s Orton-Gillingham Plus and Paragraphology, and has recently taken on the role of Office Manager for LINKZ Midwest.
Elizabeth Hand, M.S. is an Academic Specialist at LINKZ. Beth attended Stevenson University, where she graduated with a degree in Chemistry. She then graduated from Northeast College of Health Sciences with both a Doctor of Chiropractic degree and a Master's degree in Applied Clinical Nutrition. Beth developed a passion for education while educating her patients, and became a teacher at The Legacy School in Sykesville, MD, where she trained in Bowman’s Orton-Gillingham Plus. She has taught Math and Science, in addition to tutoring students with language-based learning differences. Beth believes in the importance of individualized intervention and is always studying new disciplines and content areas in order to better serve her students. When Beth isn’t tutoring, she is teaching yoga, climbing, and getting outside often.
Hope Fetty Pickrel, B.S. is an Academic Specialist at LINKZ. Hope received her B.S. in Elementary Education and Special Education from Towson University. A former classroom teacher, Hope has worked with and supported children of all ages. Hope is trained in Bowman's Orton-Gillingham Plus, and she strives to help students reach their fullest potential through detail-oriented planning, organization, execution, and reflection.
Jack Hirsch is a S.T.E.M. Specialist at LINKZ. Jack began teaching in 2009 when the Berkeley Chess School hired him to assist with its chess program. Since then, he has privately tutored dozens of students in a range of subjects, with a specialty in contest math. He has trained under Zuming Feng (the former USA International Math Olympiad coach) and tutored math at Yale University, Brown University and Phillips Exeter Academy. He ranked nationally in MathCounts, AIME, USAMO and Putnam math exams, and has three articles published in math journals (most recently in Geometriae Dedicata). In addition to math, Jack enjoys tutoring economics, SAT and SAT subject tests, English, and writing. Jack’s interest in journalism led him to serve as editor-in-chief of Exeter’s newspaper; he recently covered local arts events for SF/Arts Monthly. Jack’s passion is helping students realize their potential by creating an accessible learning environment that encourages curiosity. When not at Yale, he enjoys exploring local hiking trails, playing tennis and spending time with his three dogs back home in Oakland.
Jake Nass, M.Ed. is a S.T.E.M. Specialist at LINKZ. He earned his graduate degree as a Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction at the University of Maryland, College Park, and obtained a liberal education at Drury University in Springfield, Missouri. During his undergraduate studies in mathematics and physics, he conducted educational research related to 'social positioning' in large group settings, tutored mathematics and computer science, and rebuilt the Society of Physics Students from the ground up. While in graduate school, he interned at a high-needs high school and researched the way that inclusive language affects students' perceptions of their teacher and the curriculum. Jake is trained in Bowman's Orton-Gillingham Plus, has experience tutoring all ages, and currently works in a co-taught setting with students who have learning differences. Additionally, he teaches many gifted and 2E students involved in the PGCPS Science and Technology Program (S&T). Alongside his passions for education, he enjoys reading philosophical works, golfing, gaming, and writing. His goal in life is to give people access to logic and rhetoric that enable them to thrive in achieving their personal goals.
Julia Arnsdorf-Woodard, M.A.T. is an Academic Specialist at LINKZ. She received her Masters in Teaching at Goucher College and is certified by the State of Maryland in Elementary/Lower School Education. She has trained in Bowman’s Orton-Gillingham Plus and has worked as a Literacy Lab Tutor at Hazelwood Elementary, assisting students one-on-one through various reading interventions. Born without eardrums, Julia received several reconstructive surgeries to attain hearing; as such, her journey with hearing has made her sensitive to all students and their individual needs. Julia believes that every student has within them a world of potential that needs only to be nourished and strengthened. As a tutor, she strives to meet her students wherever they are to help them bloom and grow, both academically and socially.
Kimberleigh Garcia, B.A. is an Academic Specialist at LINKZ. She holds a B.A. in Music and English from McDaniel College, where she earned dual teaching certification and her Master's equivalent in Education, Writing, and Art. She has trained extensively in strategies to serve students with learning differences such as Executive Function Coaching, Bowman’s Orton-Gillingham Plus, ASDEC's Multisensory Math, the EmPOWER writing program, Paragraphology, and differentiation with Carol Tomlinson at the Curry School's Institute on Academic Diversity. She is currently pursuing a Certificate in Learning Differences and Neurodiversity with a Specialization in Executive Function at Landmark College. After teaching Language Arts, Spanish, and Choral Music in public schools, Kimberleigh taught for three years at a K-12 bilingual expeditionary school in the Dominican Republic. For the last 11 years, she has specifically worked with students who have learning differences such as ADHD, anxiety, dyslexia, and ASD, and delights in helping students gain confidence and celebrate their known and unexpected strengths.
Leah Spencer, M.A. is an Academic Specialist at LINKZ. Originally from Pennsylvania, Leah attended McDaniel College to obtain both an Undergraduate Degree in Visual Arts and English and a Masters Degree in Education. She then stayed in Maryland as a teacher in Carroll County Public Schools for over 12 years. She has trained in Bowman’s Orton-Gillingham Plus and Paragraphology. In 2022, she completed her Post Master’s Graduate Certificate in Dyslexia from Notre Dame of MD University. Leah loves all things nature and traveling and is a member of a local hiking club; she is hoping to one day visit all of the National Parks. When not working with students, she can be found exercising through CrossFit, barbell lifting, and yoga; drawing or painting in her studio; or cheering on one of her three boys at their respective sports.
Leslie Rufolo, M.A. is an Academic Specialist at LINKZ. She earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Towson University, where she also did her Graduate Studies in Education. Leslie has been teaching in the Baltimore area for over 30 years, has taught all subject areas in a classroom setting and has extensive training and experience in Bowman's Orton-Gillingham Plus, written language, Executive Functioning, Visualizing and Verbalizing, and academic coaching. She also has a great deal of experience teaching, choreographing, and performing dance. In addition to directing the MAG Program at Chapelgate Christian Academy, which provides support for students with diagnosed language-based learning disabilities, Leslie also serves as a dance instructor and choreographer of musicals.
Lisa Kleeman, M.A. is an Academic Specialist at LINKZ. Lisa earned her Masters in Special Education from American University and graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Mass Communications from Boston University. She is trained in Bowman’s Orton-Gillingham Plus, Paragraphology 1 & 2, and Verbalization And Visualization. She loves sharing her passion for reading and writing with her students and believes that creating a safe and nurturing environment is key to their success. In her free time, she loves hiking with her dog, going to concerts with her husband, and visiting her grown daughters.
Liz Riggieri, B.S. is an Academic Specialist at LINKZ. She earned a Bachelor’s degree in Secondary Education from the University of Rhode Island, and taught in middle school and high school classrooms in several states. She has worked in the field of education since 1994. Liz is also an experienced Professional Developer and Teachers Coach, who worked with EduChange in New York city to assist teachers in developing and executing integrated science curricula. Recently, she and Jake Ferentz co-developed and co-taught Learning @ LINKZ’s Executive Functioning & Family Dynamics workshop series. She is currently certified to teach English and Biology, and is qualified to teach Orton Gillingham. She is trained as a coach in Executive Functioning, Writing & Research, and Visualizing and Verbalizing. Liz has also tutored various levels of middle and high school math, and her clients range from kindergartners to college students. Liz enjoys playing guitar and hunting for antiques in her spare time.
Michael Pasternack is an Academic Specialist at LINKZ. He attended the University of Maryland, Baltimore County before moving to New York City to study photography. There, he worked as a prolific fine arts photographer for nearly a decade, before moving back to Maryland. He has been trained in Executive Functioning & Family Dynamics by Jake Ferentz and Liz Riggieri, and has worked with high school and college students on Executive Functioning, organizational skills, and writing for years. Michael’s passion for and knowledge of literature is vast - he has studied the complete works of Guy de Maupassant, Thomas Hardy, Isaac Bashevis Singer, W. H. Auden, and P. G. Wodehouse. In his spare time, he attempts to finish reading the complete works of A. J. Liebling, Joyce Cary, Shūsaku Endō, Eugene O'Neill, and Susan Sontag.
Natalie Mun, B.A. is an Academic Specialist at LINKZ. Natalie earned her B.A. in Psychology from Carleton College in Northfield, MN, and is currently pursuing her clinical MSW at the University of Chicago. Through her experience tutoring children from the ages of 6-17, she has developed a passion for working with young people. Natalie also played NCAA Division III volleyball for Carleton and continues to find time to be active every day!
Nora Fitzgerald, B.A. is an Academic Specialist at LINKZ. Nora graduated from Stevenson University in 2013, where she majored in Human Services. During her time at Stevenson, she worked at a private occupational therapy practice in Owings Mills, MD. It was there that she found the benefits of early intervention, and discovered a passion for working one-on-one with students. Nora worked at The Legacy School in Sykesville, MD for many years, where she taught and tutored students in decoding, reading comprehension, and writing skills. Nora has trained in a variety of programs, including Bowman’s Orton-Gillingham Plus, Lindamood-Bell's Visualizing and Verbalizing, Margaret Dawson's Executive Functioning, and Jemicy School's Paragraphology. In addition to educating students, Nora also trains and mentors other educators, and helps LINKZ reach communities across the country. Outside of teaching, Nora enjoys crocheting, photography, and attending auto races across the east coast.
Paige McCleary, B.S. is an Academic Specialist at LINKZ. She graduated from the University of Maryland, College Park with a B.S. in Elementary Education. As a former Howard County Elementary classroom teacher, she taught second through fourth grades. She is also trained in Bowman's Orton-Gillingham Plus program; she has three children of her own, two of whom struggled with language-based learning differences. Paige's goal is to support children who have similar learning challenges through multi-sensory approaches, making learning fun and engaging. When Paige is not tutoring, she enjoys spending time with her grandson, traveling, cooking, hiking, biking, skiing, doing yoga and playing with her two dogs.
Stephanie Silverstein, M.A. is an Academic Specialist at LINKZ. Stephanie earned her Masters in Learning Disabilities from American University and graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Special Education from the University of Hartford. She specializes in working with high school and college students who struggle with ADHD and Executive Function challenges by teaching strategies to organize their time, physical belongings, school assignments and schedules. Previously, Stephanie taught elementary age students with special needs in public and private schools in DC, MD, and VA. In her spare time, Stephanie enjoys traveling with her family and cooking/baking with her teenage daughter.
Zak Ferentz, M.A. is an Academic Specialist at LINKZ. He received his Master of Arts in Educational Theatre from NYU, and his Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from the University of Maryland. He has been a Kindergarten teacher since 2016, implementing the Fundations phonics program and Singapore Math teaching methodology to promote the literacy and math skills of our youngest learners. Since 2014, he has spent his evenings tutoring students from ages 8-20 in math, science, history, reading, writing, Executive Functioning, study skills, and standardized test preparation. He is Orton-Gillingham trained by a Fellow in the Academy of Orton-Gillingham Practitioners and Educators, and is also trained in Visualizing and Verbalizing, Mind Mapping, MODELosophy, and Touch Math. He is thrilled to work at LINKZ alongside his brothers, Jake and Noah.
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