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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.
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.
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 University in 2004 and 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.
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.
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.
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.
Originally from Palm Beach Gardens, FL, Uri graduated with a degree in Philosophy, focusing on formal logic and moral philosophy. Though he initially planned to study at Duke Law, Uri has decided to focus on tutoring for the time being – leaving the possibility of graduate school open for the future. By working with a broad range of learning styles in both 1-on-1 and group settings over the last 6 years, Uri has become proficient in deconstructing complex ideas and communicating them effectively. When not he’s not working, Uri likes to read, weight train, play chess, and volunteer at the Durham Animal Protection Society.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Katy discovered her passions for writing, art, and teaching as a high school student in NYC, and went on to study Art History, Comparative Literature, and Creative Writing at UNC Chapel Hill. After earning her B.A., Katy had the opportunity to design and teach writing workshops at schools and non-profit organizations throughout the Triangle. Inspired and energized by her students, Katy continued her studies by earning an M.F.A. in Writing at UNC Greensboro. While at Greensboro, Katy taught literature and worked as a tutor at the university’s Writing Center. Following graduate school, Katy worked with an elite private tutoring company in Palo Alto, CA, helping high school students throughout Silicon Valley reach and exceed their test-prep, academic, and college-process goals. Katy loves seeing her students light up as they gain confidence in themselves. Her academic and professional background enables her to give each student the time and attention they deserve and to keep learning fun and collaborative – as it should be! When Katy isn’t tutoring, she enjoys writing poems and essays, practicing yoga, and hiking with her two dogs.
Nate Diehl is a Clemson University and Calhoun Honors College alumnus with a BS in Biochemistry and Genetics (summa cum laude). Nate discovered his passion for research and medicine early in his undergraduate career, which led him to join the MD/PhD program at the University of North Carolina in 2015. He started tutoring early in college, working with students in biology, organic chemistry and physics. After completing his first two years of medical school and USMLE Step 1, he has continued tutoring 1st and 2nd year medical students as they prepare for their coursework and licensing exams. In addition to working on his PhD and tutoring medical students, Nate spends his time training for triathlons, renovating his home, and exploring the mountains and beaches of North Carolina with his wife.
Sadie earned her bachelor’s degree in Environmental Science from Northeastern University, where she was a National Merit scholar and an active member of the Honors Program. After graduation, she worked in environmental education for years, including jobs designing field trip programs in Oahu, running educational activities in a museum butterfly garden, and guiding hiking trips for students in multiple national parks. She enjoyed teaching so much that she returned for her Master’s of Arts in Teaching at Meredith College. Sadie is now a middle school science and social studies teacher as well as a coach for her school’s MathCounts and Science Olympiad teams. In her free time, she can be found improving her kayak rescue skills, advocating for better bike lanes in Raleigh, and hammocking in her favorite downtown parks.
Growing up in Cary, North Carolina, Ryan has tutored students in the Triangle area for nearly 10 years. He graduated summa cum laude from NC State University with a degree in biomedical engineering, where he honed his teaching skills by leading study groups and sometimes even stepping in for a professor. After working in R&D for several medical device companies, Ryan decided to further his design skills and pursue a masters degree in industrial design from NC State University. As a Cary Christian School alumnus, chances are he played your school in basketball or soccer! When not in the shop or lab, Ryan can be found with his wife, Brinnae, doing things that makes his muscles tired like obstacle course racing, ninja competitions, trail running, and rock climbing.
Molly grew up on a small farm in Alaska, where she received her B.S. in Mathematics at University of Alaska Anchorage. She then moved down to North Carolina and completed her Master’s degree in Math Education at NC State. Molly has been a math tutor for the past 8 years, and started working for Mindspire in 2017 as a SAT and ACT tutor. Molly believes that every student can be successful in their education. She is especially passionate about helping students with math and test anxiety become confident in their abilities to succeed.
Marc grew up in Lenexa, Kansas before moving to Colorado and studying Physics at the University of Colorado, Boulder, earning a B.A. with honors and achieving membership in the Phi Beta Kappa academic honor society. He then worked as an actuary with Berkshire Hathaway for 3 years, where he developed a passion for photography, eventually deciding to pursue a Ph. D. in Optical Sciences and Engineering at the University of North Carolina, Charlotte, where he’s currently in his second year. When not doing school work or tutoring, he enjoys reading books, watching movies, and listening to music.
Originally from the San Francisco Bay Area, Alex moved to North Carolina to attend Duke University, where he received his BA in English Literature (Highest Distinction) while following a premedical track. Teaching has long been a passion of his; from high school through the present, he has carved out time to work with highly motivated, goal-oriented students, and looks forward to continuing to do so with Mindspire. Through the grueling process of self-studying for standardized tests – most recently for the MCAT – he is well-acquainted with the importance of effectively using time, both before and during an exam. He looks forward to sharing his experiences and skill sets with his students. In his spare time, you can find him listening to music (often dusty hip-hop and even dustier jazz), playing pickup basketball, or curled up with a good book.