Jake Ferentz, M.Ed. 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. 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, creating LINKZ has been a dream of Jake's for the last decade. While working in the Los Angeles film industry by day, he tutored by night. After moving back to Maryland, he trained in Bowman’s Orton-Gillingham Plus, Visualizing and Verbalizing, Executive Function Coaching, MODELosophy, and Writing & Research Methodology. He has developed training courses in SAT/ACT testing and Skype tutoring. 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. Jake’s mission through LINKZ 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 Literacy Specialist at LINKZ. She received both her undergraduate degree and Master of Education in Special Education from the University of Maryland, College Park. Jennifer is currently taking courses to receive a graduate Certification in Advanced Studies in Education, specializing in Dyslexia, through Notre Dame of Maryland University in partnership with The Jemicy School. 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.
At LINKZ, we have over twenty-five Academic Specialists. Here are some of their stories:
Noah Ferentz, M.A.T. is an Academic Specialist at LINKZ. 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.
Liz Riggieri, B.A. 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. 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.
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 Orton-Gillingham, 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.
Caitlyn OFlaherty, M.A. is an Academic Specialist at LINKZ. She graduated from St. Mary’s College of Maryland with a degree in English and double minors in Religious Studies and Anthropology. She recently attained her Master’s degree in International Communications, with a concentration in Ethics, Peace, and Human Rights. Caitlyn has worked as a Research Assistant in the School of International Service, and in journalism as both a writer and project manager. She is also the Community Outreach and Communications Manager for the Out of Eden Walk, a boot-level exploration of the world. created in partnership with National Geographic and Harvard Education’s Project Zero. Caitlyn is an avid yoga practitioner and a 200- and 500-hour certified instructor. She believes in the role of movement, breath, and mindfulness in both academic success and healthy living.
Carolyn Coletti, M.S. is an Academic Specialist at LINKZ. She graduated from Florida Southern College with a degree in Elementary and Early Childhood Education. She went on to attain a Masters of Science degree in Special Education. 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), and Bowman’s Orton-Gillingham Plus. In her spare time, she enjoys playing tennis, gardening, and traveling.
Katie Applebaum, PA-S is an Academic Specialist at LINKZ. She has been tutoring privately and professionally for almost a decade while remaining active in her own academic pursuits. She received a Bachelor of Science in Biology from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. During her undergraduate studies, she served as a teacher's assistant for Physics I, Calculus I, and Calculus II, as well as a private tutor for the Student Support and Access Center at American University. She also worked as an Advanced Math Instructor at Sylvan Learning Center, where she tutored dozens of students grades K-12. She spent 4 years as a Research Coordinator in Oncology at Johns Hopkins University, where she became a published author in the Journal of Clinical Oncology and discovered her passion for educating and empowering her patients. Most recently, she began the University of Maryland, Baltimore/Anne Arundel Community College Collaborative PA Program, where she is studying to receive both a Master's degree in Public Health and Physician Assistant Certification.