Our Team

 

Leadership Team

Jacqui Byrne • Founder • Head of School, Berkeley Heights NJ

Jacqui is the visionary behind FlexSchool, a learning network 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 • Head of School, New Haven CT

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. As of September 2016, Heidi will be the opening Head of the new FlexSchool in New Haven where she will work closely with the inaugural student body as the school is established after which she will appoint a permanent Head. 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

richRich 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.

Carolyn Kottmeyer, M.S. Computer Science • Advisor

Carolyn Kottmeyer is a leading international figure in giftedness as the founder and director of the powerful 1,100 page gifted resource website, Hoagies’ Gifted Education Page and Hoagies’ Kids and Teens Page where she manages a parent and teacher community over 35,000 followers. A software engineer by training, since 1998 she has written for gifted newsletters and journals around the world, including Our Gifted Children, Gifted Education Communicator, The SENGVine, and a variety of state and local gifted newsletters. She is the winner of the NAGC (National Association for Gifted Children) Community Service Award and Annemarie Roeper Award, the SENG (Supporting Emotional Needs of the Gifted) Service Award and the PAGE (Pennsylvania Association for Gifted Education) Neuber-Pregler Award. Carolyn frequently speaks at conferences including World Gifted Council, National Association of Gifted Children, Pennsylvania Association for Gifted Education, New Jersey Association of Gifted Children and many other state and local gifted associations, National Association of Gifted Children in Malaysia, and others. Carolyn earned a B.S. in Computer Science from Shippensburg and an M.S. in Computer Science from Villanova. She is the parent of two profoundly gifted adult daughters.

Helen Waldron, M.Ed. • Advisor, Twice Exceptional (2E) Cognition • Faculty Training

Helen is a seasoned school leader and consultant with a background in administration, curriculum development and faculty coaching. She has a longstanding passion for working with 2E students. As the Associate Head of School and Director for the Institute for Cognition & Learning, Helen served the Forman School by building a forward thinking, research grounded learning curriculum. This work included a robust professional training program for faculty. Helen has 27 years of experience in independent schools helping students become effective and efficient learners and also helping teachers create successful learning environments for a variety of learning needs. She has a BA in Psychology from the University of Connecticut and an M.Ed. in Special Education with a focus on learning differences from the University of Hartford. She is a credentialed professional developer in the Strategic Instruction Model for the Center for Research on Learning at the University of Kansas and a facilitator for the All Kinds of Minds program. She maintains active relationships with university researchers working in the fields of education, neuroscience, and leadership.

Susan Hemingway — Director of Technology

susanSusan 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

staciaStacia 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 • Director of College Counseling

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 FlexSchool. Nicole supervises FlexSchool’s college counseling and essay and application programs. She is a member of IECA, NACAC, NJACAC, and HECA and is a New Jersey Certified School Counselor.

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 an MEd in Education and a BA in history, both from Fairleigh Dickinson.

Jennie Brown MEd • Dean of Students, New Haven


Jennie Brown, MEd is a Connecticut native who has a passion for working with students. She graduated from the University of Massachusetts Amherst with a BA in Theater Production, Design, and Management with a focus in Stage Management. After spending many years working in various regional theaters, Jennie returned to school and received her MEd with a focus in Language Arts from the University of Bridgeport in Connecticut. Since then, Jennie has worked as a teacher, curriculum writer and Junior Program Coordinator for an ESL program for international students at Yale as well as served as a Classroom Coordinator and Youth Director. Throughout her career, she has worked with both middle school and high school-aged student both inside and outside of the classroom and has taught ESL, Language Arts, Creative Writing, Pre-Algebra, Algebra I and Backstage Technical Theater.

Teaching Team

Stefanie — English and History

FlexSchool_Academic_Director-StefanieStefanie most recently worked at Rutgers University where she earned a Master’s degree in Literacy Education. She graduated with a B.A. from the University of Virginia and then studied at universities in Italy, taking courses in Italian language, literature, and art history. Stefanie also worked at a large test prep and admissions company where she spent several years teaching SAT and TOEFL courses and managed various high school and graduate classes. She is certified to teach English at the secondary level.

Stefanie really appreciates the freedom of FlexSchool. Since it isn’t a traditional school, staff and students can change the environment.


Matt — Philosophy/Debate, Analytical Writing, Latin & Senior Seminar

FlexSchool_Teacher-MattMatt grew up in Idaho. He has a BA in Classics (ancient Greek and Latin) from the University of Oregon and a PhD in Comparative Literature from Princeton University. His dissertation is a global study of oral poetry and music in ancient and traditional cultures. He has taught a wide range of literature, language, and writing courses at St. Peter’s College, Deep Springs College, Rutgers University, and Whitman College. He translates Latin poetry and Italian academic prose.

Matt has taught in a lot of big and small universities and likes the size here at FlexSchool. “We are making it work as we go. We are inventing every day, not shackled by bureaucracy or politics or unions. We are teachers, kids, and parents making a happy place of learning for our students.”


Bob — History

FlexSchool_History_Teacher-BobBob has an undergraduate degree in history with a minor in literature and a masters in European history, all from Rutgers. Bob was a member of ROTC during college and then an officer in an elite Army Ranger Paratrooper unit. He has been a history teacher, detective, and horse farmer, in pretty much that order.

He comes from a family of teachers: his father was a university professor, his mother a high school teacher and grandfather a renowned scientist and professor. Though he has worn many hats, those professions came back to instructing, training or advising young people. FlexSchool is the perfect place – with freedom to teach in an unencumbered way.


Betty — Math

FlexSchool_Math_Teacher-BettyBetty has been teaching high school mathematics for more than twenty years. She earned her bachelor’s degree in mathematics and secondary education from San Pedro Nolasco University in Argentina, where she also worked for many years writing math curriculum for high school and adult education. Throughout her lengthy teaching career, she has taught everything from pre-algebra to calculus and statistics.

Betty sees FlexSchool as a place where learning and academics are taken seriously and are the priority.
“We have seen kids change and become better, and it’s all done in a safe and warm environment.”


Robbie — Math

FlexSchool_Middle_School_Head_Teacher-RobbieRobbie graduated from the University of Western Ontario with an honors degree in Developmental and Educational Psychology. She then attended Teachers College at Columbia University, where she graduated with a MEd. Robbie supervises Ivy Ed’s elementary and middle school homeschooling programs and prep school admission test division.

Paul—Math/Computer Science and Italian/French

FlexSchool_Teacher-PaulPaul tutors all levels of math, French, Italian, economics, and computer science from middle and high school through college. Paul grew up in the Wallonia (French-speaking southern region of Belgium) and graduated from the University of Mons, also in Belgium. Later, he pursued graduate business studies at Michigan State University where he worked as a teaching assistant in French.

Arpit — Science and Computer Lab

FlexSchool_Teacher-ArpitArpit earned dual Bachelor’s degrees in Biological Sciences and Chemistry at Rutgers University in 2013. He has researched bacterial photosynthesis and is currently pursuing teaching degrees in Biological and Physical Sciences. Arpit is also converting some of the teachers to tea drinkers.

For Arpit, the students are the whole reason he’s here and he admires how the school provides an environment for them to thrive: being taught to critically analyze data, fathom holistic ideas and apply them. Naturally, he feels we’re just as rigorous as other institutions, if not more so.


Patricia — Learning Specialist

Flexschool_learning-consultant-PatriciaPat’s Ph.D. is in Human and Organization Development Systems from Fielding Graduate University. She has a BS in Education from Boston University and an MA in Communication Disorders, Learning Disabilities and Special Education from Montclair University. She also studied French for one semester at the Université de Montpellier in France. Pat worked for part of her career in business, where she headed up Training, Quality, and Change Management in three different companies. Her years teaching and serving on Child Study Teams as a case manager and Learning Disabilities Teacher Consultant are the other half of her work. Pat enjoys nothing more than seeing students relax and enjoy building their strengths and self-esteem, loving life and its possibilities.


Jen – Studio Art

IvyEducationFaculty-JennJen has an undergraduate degree in Graphic Design from the School of Visual Arts in New York City. In her free time, she loves making art for her friends, ranging designing her own glasses and dishware to helping design holiday cards. One of her many favorite artists is Andy Goldsworthy, and she loves showing students a side of art they can use in their everyday studies.

Jen thinks FlexSchool is appropriately named because it’s very flexible to each individual student. Instead of just sitting at an average school desk, the students can get up and walk around (in the classroom) as a way to help them think better and express their minds.


Karen – Mandarin

FlexSchool Mandarin teacher KarenKaren is a native Chinese language speaker. She started teaching Chinese both in Chinese schools and privately since 2009. Outside of teaching her interests include hiking and traveling and writing two blogs in Chinese.

Karen likes the need to tailor their curricula to each student’s needs and her favorite time of the year is the end of the school year when everyone can they all see the big progress they students have made through their hard work.


Rohith – Algebra 1, Introduction to Computer Science

FlexSchool teacher RohithRohith was born in India and moved to New Jersey when he was in the fourth grade. He graduated from Rutgers with dual bachelors degrees in engineering, Mechanical-Aerospace Engineering, and Electrical-Computer Engineering, and a minor in Mathematics. Rohith is currently working toward a Masters degree in Mechanical Engineering. For the last two years he has been the lead researcher for creating an artificial elastomer based larynx capable of producing a sound similar to how a human does. Starting this fall his research topic will change and he will be working on habitable structures on the Lunar surface.

Lisa – ESL, Creative Writing, Advanced Psychology

FlexSchool teacher LisaLisa holds a BA in Theology/Media Studies from Fordham University and an MFA in Dramatic Writing from Tisch School of the Arts of New York University. She is a recipient of a New Jersey State Council on the Arts fellowship in Playwriting and has taught English as a Second Language, Creative Writing (Prose, Poetry, Drama), Public Speaking and Verbal Test Prep for many years. She enjoys traveling, reading, writing, sewing, and doing companion animal charity work.

Karen – Music

FlexSchool Music teacher KarenMaestra Karen Pinoci holds a Doctorate in Conducting from the American Conservatory of Music in Chicago. She serves as Music Director/Conductor of the New Sussex Symphony (NSS) and the Essex County Summer Players Orchestra (ECSPO). Other engagements as Guest Conductor have led her to conduct performances with the Huntington Symphony (West Virginia), the Springfield (Illinois) Symphony, the Vermont Symphony, the Bronx Symphony Orchestra, the Brooklyn Heights Orchestra, the New York Symphonic Arts Ensemble and the Millennium Chamber Symphony in New York. Co-founder of the New Philharmonic of NJ, she served as its Associate Conductor for many years. For the 2013-14 season she was the guest-conductor for the Summit Symphony, and also became the first conductor of the String Orchestra for NJIT’s first-ever music program.

Daniel – Creative Writing, Philosophy, Music, Art

“FlexSchoolDan is a dedicated educator who has nineteen years of teaching experience. He graduated from Hamilton College with a BA in Creative Writing and a minor in Art History. Then he moved to New Haven in 1992 and earned his master’s degree in Theological Philosophy from the Yale Divinity School. After deciding to make New Haven his home, he became active in the art and music community. He began teaching as a poetry instructor at a magnet school where he ran Creative Writing workshops for high school students. Then he worked in a 19th-century style, multi-age classroom where he taught all subjects to elementary students. He established an interdisciplinary, project-based curriculum intended to connect events from the past to the present. On the high school level, Dan has taught American History, World History, and English Literature. He believes in teaching with passion, humor, and encouragement.


Ibtsam – Arabic, Computer Science

Ibtsam received her Bachelors and Masters in Computer Science, College of Engineering, from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, USA. Upon graduation, she worked as a Software Engineer at Cisco Systems for 9 years, where she was promoted to a Technical Leader. She then switched careers to teaching. Over the past 7 years, Ibtsam has taught all grades from Kindergarten to college students. She taught Computer Science, Mathematics, SAT Math Prep, Personal Finance and Arabic. She is currently teaching part-time at Manchester Community College in the department of Technology, Engineering and Computer Science. Ibtsam is a proud parent of 3 children. When she is not working, they keep her busy.

Jesse – Science

FlexSchool science teacher JesseJesse is currently a Ph.D. candidate at Syracuse University in Science Education/Exercise Science. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Exercise Physiology from State University of New York and a Masters in Exercise Science from Syracuse University. When Jesse is not teaching, he enjoys weight lifting, strength training, and outdoor activities. He is currently investigating how to use genetics to predict athletic performance and his current reading material is how various stimuli can impact genetic expression or repression.


Join Us

Part-Time Teachers

Our goal is to help bright middle and high school students achieve their academic, emotional and social potential in an accepting community where learning is awesome. We hope you will want to join our team of subject experts. If after reading our website, our approach and philosophy resonate with you, please send your resume and a cover email to jacqui@flexschool.net. Come join our great teaching team!