Our family

At LINKZ, we have over 40 tutors, educators, testers and office staff.
Click on a name to learn their story.

Leadership Team:

Jake Ferentz, M.Ed., LGPC

Director & CEO

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 Program Level I. 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 for the last decade. He has trained in Bowman’s Orton-Gillingham Plus, Visualizing and Verbalizing, Executive Function Coaching, MODELosophy, and Writing & Research Methodology. He has developed training courses in Executive Functioning & Family Dynamics, SAT/ACT test prep, and Skype tutoring. Jake and Liz Riggieri co-developed and co-taught Learning @ LINKZ’s Executive Functioning & Family Dynamics workshop series. While known primarily for his work in S.T.E.M. tutoring and EF 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.

Educational Diagnostician

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

Office Manager

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.

Regional Director: LINKZ Midwest

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 for over six years. 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.

Academic Specialists:

Asher Baraban

S.T.E.M. Specialist

Asher Baraban is a S.T.E.M. Specialist at LINKZ. Asher is pursuing degrees in Mathematics and Computer Science at Washington University in St. Louis. There, he has gained experience tutoring as a teaching assistant for S.T.E.M. courses, where he enjoys sharing his passion for S.T.E.M. He is also an avid golfer and enjoys playing bridge.

Beth Sweeney, M.A.

Academic Specialist

Beth Sweeney, M.A. is an Academic Specialist at LINKZ. She has an undergraduate degree in Business from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, an M.A. in Intercultural Management from the School for International Training in Brattleboro, Vermont, and a Certificate in Healthcare Administration from George Washington University in Washington, DC. Currently, she is the Program Administrator for Medstar Georgetown University Hospital’s Psychiatry Residency Program. Recently, Beth was certified as an Intrinsic Health and Wellbeing Coach by an NBHWC-approved program, Intrinsic Solutions, International. Beth was trained in Executive Functioning by LINKZ, and enjoys EF coaching, Health and Wellness tutoring, and career coaching for high school students and young adults. Beth’s ultimate goal is to help students develop the organizational strategies needed to successfully complete their educational assignments and responsibilities with tailored, systematic approaches. Beth lives in Annapolis, MD and enjoys being on the water, hiking, biking, skiing and sharing wonderful times with family and friends.

Bonnie Kaczorowski, M.S.

Academic Specialist

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.

Carolyn Coletti, M.S.

Academic Specialist

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. 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.

Catherine Nehring Massie, M.A.T., AMI

Academic Specialist

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 Erd, B.A.

Academic Specialist

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.

Academic Specialist

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.

Elisa Lebowitz

Office Manager & Academic Specialist

Elisa Lebowitz 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.

Academic Specialist

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, B.S.

Homework & Online Learning Specialist

Hope Fetty, B.S. is a Homework & Online Learning 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. She strives to help students reach their fullest potential through detail-oriented planning, organization, execution, and reflection.

Jack Hirsch

S.T.E.M. Specialist

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.

S.T.E.M. Specialist

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. He 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.

Academic Specialist

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.

Academic Specialist

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.

Liz Riggieri, B.S.

Academic Specialist

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

Academic Specialist

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.

Nora Fitzgerald, B.A.

Educational & Outreach Specialist

Nora Fitzgerald is the Educational & Outreach 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.

Rachel Baraban, OTD, OTR/L

Academic Specialist

Rachel Baraban, OTD, OTR/L is an Academic Specialist at LINKZ. Rachel graduated from Princeton University with a B.A. in Psychology, then pursued her Doctorate of Occupational Therapy at Boston University, culminating with a self-directed project on early development for children experiencing homelessness. As a Certified Occupational Therapist with extensive pediatric learning experiences in early development, Executive Functioning, sensory strategies, and self-management, she has worked extensively in early learning and development as well as adolescent transition to adulthood. She has also worked as an academic tutor for many years, educating her students on a wide diversity of topics. She is passionate about facilitating inclusion and fostering self-efficacy.

Stephanie M. Silverstein, MA-LD

Academic Specialist

Stephanie M. Silverstein, MA-LD is an Academic Specialist at LINKZ. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Special Education from the University of Hartford and a Master's degree in Learning Disabilities from American University. Stephanie specializes in working with students at the middle school and high school level who struggle with ADHD and Executive Dysfunctioning. She helps kids improve organization, time management, and writing skills. Her background includes teaching experience in public and private schools in DC, MD, and VA with students in grades K-6 with a wide variety of abilities. In her spare time, Stephanie enjoys traveling, baking, and visiting museums with her husband and teenage daughter.

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