Mindspire™ was founded by Shahar Link, who has been teaching in high schools and tutoring standardized tests for over 18 years. Shahar earned a Masters degree in History from Stanford University, writing his thesis on the history of IQ testing. Ever since, he has been determined to help students succeed on standardized tests and in high school.
Chrissy started teaching immediately after graduating from Princeton University, and she's been helping people learn ever since. As a former Montessori teacher in the public school system, she has unique experience in combining student-led discovery with standardized test prep. Chrissy loves radishes and daffodils, Ang Lee and Lu Xun. She can knit a Möbius strip and a pretty good approximation of a Klein bottle. When she's not tutoring or working on her mini-homestead with her family, Chrissy can most often be found swimming in the Eno, paddling on Jordan Lake, or taking a road trip to visit friends.
Julianna Tauschinger-Dempsey received an undergraduate degree in Social anthropology from Harvard University and a graduate degree in Vocal Performance from the Manhattan School of Music. Her first teaching experience came when at the age of 10, the head of her music school asked her to take on a handful of piano and music theory students. Her love of sharing knowledge and communication skills, building confidence in self-expression and learning how different people see the world has kept her devoted to teaching for nearly 20 years. Julianna began teaching and tutoring the PSAT, SAT and various standardized subject tests in college. And for the past 15 years, she has run her own writing and editing consultancy, which has allowed her to work with a spectacular variety of high schoolers, college and graduate students, university faculty and professionals in the US and Europe. When she’s not extolling the virtues of broadening one’s horizons, deepening one’s skills and following the path of curiosity, Julianna can usually be found teaching or making music or spending time with her three children.
Malik is a Columbia University graduate with a Bachelor's degree in African-American Studies. He has been tutoring one-on-one full-time for the past 18 years with exceptional results. Even as a student in high school and in college, Malik demonstrated his love of teaching by helping classmates, relatives, and family friends prepare for their exams. He currently tutors for the SAT, ACT, SAT II: Math Levels 1 and 2, and PSAT and has instructed students in Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Germany, India, South Africa, Switzerland, and throughout the United States via Skype. As a father of three boys, ages 4 to 15, and a 17 year-old girl, Malik understands that every student is unique. Having taught hundreds of students, he knows the importance of structuring lessons to students' specific needs. In his leisure time he is an amateur chef who likes to pretend he is a contestant on Chopped. He also enjoys bowling, playing pool, and traveling.
Ryan Magee graduated from Duke University in 2012 and, after deciding that 18 years of schooling wasn’t enough, went on to complete his Master’s in Physics. He started tutoring in high school, and since his sophomore year at Duke has worked as a college physics lab instructor. When Ryan's not teaching, he can be found cooking, running, or indulging a serious case of wanderlust!
Marissa is a proud graduate of both Wellesley College and Seattle University, the former where she earned her B.A. in English Language and Literature and the latter where she completed her Master's in Teaching. Marissa began working in SAT prep at Wellesley and spent her time outside of the classroom deeply involved in a non-profit organization that brought free SAT courses to underserved students in the Boston area. Through years of this work, Marissa fell in love both with teaching and with the thrill of helping students put their best foot forward in the college admissions process - she hasn’t looked back since. When she's not working with students, Marissa's likely to be found making her way through the area coffee shops, listening to too much Fleetwood Mac, and cheering on her Pittsburgh Steelers.
Blain Patterson is originally from the small town of Wellsville, Ohio. He earned his B.S. in mathematics education from Youngstown State University in Youngstown, Ohio. Upon graduating, Blain moved to North Carolina to attend graduate school at North Carolina State University. He earned a M.S. in mathematics education and is currently working on his PhD. Blain has been tutoring since high school and has experience teaching students from diverse backgrounds, ranging from those with special needs to the academically gifted. When Blain is not doing mathematics, he likes to spend time outdoors, taking his dog Sophie on hikes.
Born to a pair of high school science teachers, Christine was raised in the suburbs of Boston, with her twin and younger sisters. After high school, Christine received a B.S. in Engineering Sciences from Harvard Universityin 2004and a doctorate in Biomedical Engineering from Boston University in 2011. Christine moved to Durham in 2011 when she accepted a job in the Department of Biomedical Engineering at Duke.
Christine believes that it is possible to provide good learning experiences for all students, even if that requires a little more time and effort. Tutoring happens to be her favorite form of teaching, so she's happy helping with SAT/ACT test prep or any type of math and science.
When she's not teaching, you're likely to find Christine baking, listening to folk music that’s older than she is, taking her Schnoodle, Moose, to the dog park, crafting, reading, rooting for her beloved Red Sox, or spoiling her new niece, Madeleine.
Ian was born and raised in Raleigh, attending high school at Cardinal Gibbons where he was awarded the National Merit Scholarship for his PSAT and SAT scores. After graduating with a BA in Journalism from Elon University in 2014, Ian made the unfortunate decision to move cross-country to Los Angeles in January of 2015. While he had done some subject tutoring while in college and worked as a student mentor with the YMCA Mentor program, it was during this time that he first got involved with SAT and ACT prep for students in the LA area. However this couldn’t last long, as Ian beat a hasty retreat off the West Coast in December 2015, and back to his hometown of Raleigh. Since his return, Ian has been doing SAT and ACT test prep with Mindspire for almost two years, as well as ISEE, SSAT, and other middle school test prep.
Andrew has tutored in essay writing, ACT, and SAT—as well as designed ACT and SAT curriculum—for 7 years. He is a graduate of Westmont College (B.A., summa cum laude) and Duke University (M.T.S., summa cum laude), but his greatest achievement is surviving graduate school at Duke while rooting for the Tar Heels. He currently works in Silicon Valley tutoring students at some of the most prestigious public and private schools in the country; he tutors for MindSpire online via Zoom.
Cristy Carr taught private and classroom music in high school and tutored math and science while earning a B. S. in Biology from Grove City College. After working as a forestry technician and aquatic researcher in the Rocky Mountains and as an ophthalmic technician in Richmond, VA, she returned as a science teacher to her first love: the classroom. In addition to teaching, she loves her family, the mountains, and children’s books.
As the recipient of a National Merit Scholarship, Cristy knows how important college prep tests are in the college application process, and she firmly believes that test scores should not stand in the way of a student’s life goals. It is her delight and privilege to collaborate with students to grow their motivation, knowledge, and test-taking skills…and then watch them meet (and exceed!) their testing goals. Cristy lives in Roanoke, VA and works with Mindspire clients in Central and Southwest Virginia.
Emi is originally from a small town in Northern California. Since moving out east, she has studied at Dartmouth College (BA) and Duke University (MA). She is currently a PhD candidate in Social Psychology at Duke and pursuing a BS in Nursing while completing her dissertation. She has been tutoring for over 8 years on a variety of topics, including math, science, reading, and writing, and has had the honor of working with wonderful students from many backgrounds, from elementary kids to middle-aged prison inmates.
She believes that understanding a student’s individual learning style and background while providing a low-stress, supportive learning environment is vital to helping her students achieve success. When not tutoring, Emi can be found volunteering in the neonatal care unit at UNC or working on a piece of traditional leather-backed beadwork outside in the sun.
Lizzy is originally from the small town of Geneva, Florida; she moved to Boston to attend Harvard University, where she earned an undergraduate degree in Integrative Biology. She moved to Durham to be near family and is currently in the process of applying to medical schools (so she can easily empathize with the woes of the college application process!). She began tutoring English in high school with recent immigrants to the U.S., and has since taught students at Harvard in biology, physics, and psychology. She loves working with students to discover each person's best learning strategy and helping them meet the goals they set for themselves. Outside of work, she likes to spend time rock climbing, reading novels, and playing with her nieces.
Brian and his spouse, Kat, have a rambunctious Siberian Husky, Jax. When he’s not walking her or working, Brian can be found reading, rock climbing, playing basketball, or playing drums.
Bill is originally from the suburbs of Chicago. He graduated from the University of Michigan, and majored in Philosophy with an emphasis on Formal Logic and Rational Choice Theory. After graduating from Michigan, Bill attended and graduated from the University of Alabama School of Law. Bill is currently a member in good standing of the State Bar of Georgia. When not tutoring, Bill is a eDiscovery attorney, and is studying to take the North Carolina Bar Exam. Bill is also an avid football and hockey fan.
Brinnae is currently a PhD student in Biomedical Engineering (Neural Engineering) at Duke University. She received her undergraduate from NC State University in Biomedical Engineering, where she also developed a passion for teaching. She has taught numerous classes, developed curricula, and is a substitute teacher at NCSSM. Her passion for teaching has led her to Mindspire, where she tutors for the ACT, SAT, and AP Exams. After self-studying for 13 successful AP exams in high school, she is very experienced with test prep!
When Brinnae is not in the research lab or teaching, she can be found trail running, rock climbing, racing obstacle courses, and going on adventures with her husband, Ryan, and her two cats, Tater and Tot.
Michael completed two years at Yale University and then finished his undergraduate work at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he majored in religious studies. He has been tutoring since 2002. Through a mixture of careful listening, engagement, patience, encouragement, and explanations attuned to each student, he illuminates both the stark realities and the subtleties and nuances of standardized tests, leading students to a place of greater confidence and mastery. He also composes and records his own music playing guitar, piano, drums, bass, and violin.
Brand Fortner is teaching professor at North Carolina State University , and adjunct professor of physics at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He previously was chief scientist of the intelligence exploitation group of the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab, and is the founder of two scientific software companies. He holds a PhD in astrophysics from the University of Illinois, and has previously held positions at NASA and at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications. Brand serves on several corporate boards and advisory bodies and in 2005 received the distinguished alumni award from the University of Illinois. He is also an instrument rated private pilot, and co-owner of a Piper Archer.
Originally from Manhattan, Vladimir Klimenko graduated with a degree in History from Harvard University. He spent several years working as a journalist in Russia and other parts of the former Soviet Union. After completing work on a PBS documentary about survivors of Stalin's prison camps, Vladimir decided to enter teaching as a profession. Having earned an M. Ed. from the University of Maryland, he went on to teach in the Los Angeles, London, and New York areas. He has been teaching History for over 20 years and is currently a member of the History Department at Hackley School in Tarrytown, NY.
Michael Floyd has found himself tutoring and teaching others since high school- from struggling students, kids trying to learn to play tennis or basketball, or 4th-graders in Sunday-school classes. He brings to the craft of teaching the skills and knowledge imparted by a Bachelor's of Science in Engineering from the University of Illinois, 20 years of classroom experience in three different nations and languages, and an understanding of and love for the hearts of young people. He has years of experience in public schools as a licensed science and math teacher in North Carolina, as well as an aide, substitute, coach, and volunteer. He went on to do his graduate study in a Master's of Education at the University of Illinois, where he read the best and the worst of the history, philosophy, and psychology of education. His tutoring strategy is first to ask questions, to get to know the strengths of his students, and to use those strengths to build confidence and a structure from which to attack the weaknesses. His goal in all things is to coach people towards excellence, from which they gain lifelong skills and strategies, and the vision for how to be self-educators and persevering learners.
Kerry Miller is a sportswriter with a Bachelors in Applied Mathematics from Geneva College. That affinity for mathematics and writing, a background as a teaching assistant in college and an extremely flexible work schedule was the ideal combination for him to become a test prep tutor in 2012. Kerry was awarded the National Merit Scholarship in large part because of a high PSAT score. A subsequent strong score on the SAT didn't hurt matters.
Originally from Pennsylvania, Kerry made a five-year pit stop in the Washington D.C. area before taking up residence in Charlotte, NC, where he lives with his wife, daughter and two corgis. When not writing or tutoring, he is most likely either watching the Washington Nationals, playing disc golf, setting a record time in an escape room, or fruitlessly trying to hang on to his youth by playing a video game.