Jacqui Byrne • Founder
Jacqui is the visionary behind FlexSchool, learning communities for gifted and 2e students. She loves all of the creative, quirky, asynchronous minds and figuring out how to reach each child is very satisfying to her. Jacqui has deep experience in education, teaching, counseling, and writing. She is the co-founder of the widely respected Ivy Ed college preparation and counseling firm. Jacqui developed her own verbal test prep curriculum and also wrote a test prep book for McGraw-Hill. She is an acknowledged expert in education: training school district guidance counselors, speaking at college parent nights throughout New Jersey and presenting at professional conferences. Prior to founding Ivy Ed, she taught creative writing to gifted students at Milton Academy, completed an operations management training program on Wall Street, and started a boutique marketing company. Jacqui earned a B.A. from Yale and has children who are twice-exceptional and gifted.
Heidi Molbak MS, NCC, CEP • Co-Founder
Heidi is nationally recognized as an expert on schooling options for gifted and 2E students. She is the founder and president of Seed Starter Educational Consulting, a school placement consulting firm specializing in gifted and twice-exceptional children. Heidi is past chair of the Independent Educational Consultants Association Schools Committee and a member of the Strategic Planning Committee. Heidi also trains residential therapeutic programs and traditional schools on the unique challenges of gifted students and parents. Heidi’s teaching experience includes a one-room, multi-age school of 30 students, homeschooling and a small middle school she ran from her home in Kansas City. Heidi is a former Board Member of SENG (Supporting Emotional Need of the Gifted). She presents frequently at national conferences on the education, social-emotional and treatment needs of gifted and twice-exceptional children. She holds an M.S. in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Loyola University New Orleans and an A.B. in English from Stanford University. She is the recipient of the Oehmig Award for Excellence in Counseling. Heidi believes in flexible schooling opportunities for all people and in that context has used independent day and boarding schools, home school, online schools, the self-directed Beach High School, public magnet and public charter foreign-language immersion schools as well as her one-room, multi-age school. Heidi has one 2e and two gifted sons who have attended sixteen schools in seven states and three countries, including the small school Heidi ran from home.
Stephen H. Chou, Psy.D. • Co-Founder • Director of 2e Assessment and Research
Licensed Clinical Psychologist
Stephen H. Chou, Psy.D. is a licensed clinical psychologist and Director of Training at the Summit Center. He is also the owner of and a licensed clinical psychologist within his private practice in Burlingame, CA and Boulder, CO. Dr. Chou is a former adjunct professor at the Alliant International University – California School of Professional Psychology at the San Francisco Bay Area campus, and current adjunct professor at the University of Denver. He has specialties in Family/Child and Multicultural/Community counseling and neuropsychological assessment, especially within the field of giftedness/2e/multi-e. Dr. Chou has been delighted with the myriad of fascinating mind, heart, and soulful presentations of gifted and talented children, youth, and their families; not only with their intelligence but also with their unique socio-emotional development over the lifetime.
Dr. Chou graduated from the University of California at Berkeley with a BA in Integrative Biology and a minor in music, Johns Hopkins University with a BS in Nursing, and from Alliant International University – California School of Professional Psychology with an MA and PSYD in Clinical Psychology.
Rich Sorkin • Co-Founder
Rich Sorkin is a pioneer in the technology business, creating over $1 billion in value during his twenty-year career in Silicon Valley. Sorkin cofounded and/or drove early scaling of FlexSchool, Zip2, Creative Labs, Jupiter Vision, Raptor Intelligence, Zeus Analytics, Kairos Aerospace, Ignited Networks and Kaggle. As CEO of Zip2, he built the company to over $20M in revenue in three years. While General Manager at Creative Labs, he grew businesses under his leadership from $80M to nearly $1 billion in three years. Companies he’s led or advised have been acquired by HP, Verisign, AOL, Intel, and others. Rich currently advises a broad range of technology companies including EEME, a startup focused on teaching science and electronics with hands-on kits and videos. He is the parent of a twice-exceptional student. Rich started his career at Bain and Goldman Sachs, after graduating from Yale and the Stanford Business School.
Kyle Kahuda • Head of School, New Haven
Transformed by gifted programs and unconventional teachers during his own education, Kyle has devoted his life to creating challenging and safe environments for students. He takes particular pride in having helped many who struggled in the more traditional schools in which he has worked. Kyle is an educator and administrator with deep and varied experience building school communities, developing curricula, and supporting holistic student development. He has worked in independent schools since 1999 as a science teacher and department chair, program coordinator, college counselor, dean of students and residential director at Chatham Hall in VA, and then as Head of Upper School at Chase Collegiate School in CT. Kyle has established and sustained programs and cultures that provide an empowering balance of challenge and support for learners of all abilities, interests, and personalities. He believes strongly in the power of experiential and student-directed learning, and grounds his work with learners, faculty, and parents in authentic and collaborative relationships. Kyle earned his B.A. in Biology from the University of Richmond, and an M.Ed. in Administration and Supervision from the University of Virginia. Deeply concerned with finding the best school environment for each of his own two unique children, Kyle identifies strongly with FlexSchool parents.
TJ Gavor, MSW • Head of School, Berkeley Heights
TJ Gavor has devoted his entire career to the academic growth of twice exceptional students and others who have had a difficult time finding their way in the conventional education system. As the first in his family to put himself through college and then graduate school, he reflects on his own experiences in school and knows he was fortunate to find mentorship and support along the way. After earning a BA in Sociology and Psychology at Rider, TJ pursued an MSW at Kean and graduated with distinction. He has deep administrative experience and has been asked to serve on many all-school committees. He has a profound knowledge of special education law for gifted and 2e students, and an in-depth understanding of IDEA and FAPE. TJ works tirelessly to ensure that each student is afforded the opportunity to thrive and be successful.
When TJ takes off his advocacy superhero cape, he enjoys reading Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons with his children and playing golf.
Tom De Trolio MEd, MSW • Assistant Head of School, Berkeley Heights
Tom De Trolio, MEd, MSW is a teacher, creator, artist, and carpenter who brings a wealth of experiential, emotional support and curricular experience to our students. He was the Experiential Education Supervisor and Program Supervisor at Pacific Quest in Hilo, HI before becoming the Academic Director of Surf House in Puerto Rico. In addition, Tom loved his time as a Research Associate at the United States Capitol Historical Society in Washington, DC. His specialties include program development, operations, staff training and supervision, support for families and educational consultants, case management, classroom management, and experiential education. Tom has an MSW from Boston College and a MEd in Education and a BA in history, both from Fairleigh Dickinson.
Lisa Phillips • Assistant Head of School, Berkeley Heights
Lisa Phillips has a long history in education. Post an undergraduate degree (BFA, Film and Theater), Lisa ran rape-prevention workshops, arts programming for gifted students in art and founded Youth Ensemble Stage, a summer theater arts program combining local artists with at-risk kids to develop and perform their own show about their lives. After finishing her Masters (Ohio State: Education, Design and Feminist Epistemology), she worked with Neil Postman at New York University in the field of Media Ecology and Adolescent Psychology. There, she created and ran a summer abroad graduate course with the University of London, examining international approaches to media literacy. She left her Phd studies at NYU to become Founder and Director of the Media Workshop New York, which trained New York City public school teachers on how to critically incorporate media into their courses. She spent two years as Director of Education and Public Programs at the Whitney Museum of Art creating digital access for teachers, families and the community at large to the Whitney’s content. During the 2000s Lisa focused on her own family while creating a start-up interactive cell-phone world for tween girls (she was too early). After designing family educational content for International Expeditions, she then worked 18 trips to the Galapagos Islands and Peruvian Amazon as an educator and has done freelance travel consulting since. She also found time to get her 25-year pin with the Girl Scouts and worked as an educator with Girls Leadership Institute, an organization dedicated to fostering strong communication skills and sense of self. She co-created Camp So Cool, a summer program for gifted/talented kids finishing up its 8th summer, She is certified for K-6 general education as well as 6-12 social studies. She is thrilled to join the Flex school as its first Director of Curriculum. Her cat’s name is Seriously.
Susan Hemingway — Director of Technology
Susan comes to FlexSchool from private IT consulting where her 30 year career included systems analysis, programming, project management and running customer service at a software start-up, heading marketing for a health care consultancy and finally going out on her own. The common thread in her career has been bridging the gap between creative types and deadlines and she looks forward to bringing that skill set to a new and more rewarding domain as Directory of Technology. Susan has a degree in French Language from Oberlin College and is the parent of a 2e daughter.
Stacia Taylor – Director of Marketing & Communications
Stacia brings over two decades of experience as a respected marketing strategist to FlexSchool. She has been a strong advocate for and works with the gifted and 2e community. Stacia founded Texas Parents of the Profoundly Gifted in 2005, the first state support group for profoundly gifted families. She has served on the Parent Advisory Board for National Association for Gifted Children; served as the Texas liaison for SENG; served on the Parent Board of Directors for Texas Association for the Gifted and Talented; and served on the Advisory Committee for #GTCHAT, the global Twitter chat for gifted advocacy. Stacia was awarded the Parent of the Year award from Texas Association for the Gifted and Talented. Stacia is the mother of three gifted daughters, one of whom is 2e.
Nicole Oringer, MA, EdM • Founder
Nicole Oringer has a 27 year record of guiding students to schools that suit them well academically and socially, and she brings all of that experience to the students at FlexSchool. She has helped place hundreds of happy students at colleges and universities across the country. Visiting hundreds of colleges, Nicole offers her insights about college counseling to the many counselors she has supervised and trained. She is also a frequent presenter at state and national conferences. She opened up her private practice in 1994 and subsequently became a founding partner of Ivy Ed and then a founder of FlexSchool. While Nicole is no longer involved in running FlexSchool, she remains a champion for gifted and 2e students. She is a member of IECA, NACAC, NJACAC, and HECA and is a New Jersey Certified School Counselor.