Our Academic Coaching Associates Team

At ACA, we pride ourselves on our exceptional team of highly trained, experienced academic coaches who all hold Master’s degrees in education or related field

Susan V. Schaefer, M.Ed., M.A.T, Founder & Owner, Academic Coaching Associates and Launch Career Coaching

Susan Schaefer Academic Coaching Associates FounderSusan Schaefer holds a Master of Arts degree (M.A.T.) in Teaching and a Master of Education degree (M.Ed) and has completed the Career Coaching Mastery Certification Program through C.T.A. (Coach Training Alliance). With a proven record of improving academic success for students both nationally and internationally, Sue is committed to helping students realize their potential and reach their goals through her successful companies, Academic Coaching Associates (ACA), and Launch Career Coaching for young adults. Sue’s expertise is focused on teaching students better study skills based on individual learning styles and strengthening executive function skills including organization, time management, pre-planning, and self-advocacy. One of the reasons for Sue’s success is her gift for forming positive, lasting connections with her students.

Sue is also a sought-after speaker who trains education, psychology, and life coaching professionals to become successful academic coaches. She has also been a featured speaker on numerous educational subjects and speaks each year at the SpEd CT (Special Ed Connecticut) Annual Conference, was Keynote Speaker at the commencement at Lincoln College, and speaks regularly at schools and various venues across Connecticut including the Connecticut Guidance Counselor Symposium, King Philip Middle School, Bristow Middle School, Farmington CT Library, and many more. She has published many articles on education, wrote a weekly education column for Patch.com that was nationally distributed, appeared on Huffington Post Live and the WXLM radio show. Sue was recently featured in Innovation Destination Hartford as an entrepreneurial success story. Prior to opening ACA, Sue was a classroom teacher and holds teaching certificates in both Connecticut and Illinois.

Sue is a volunteer mentor for Untapped Potential, a non-profit organization that helps women who have opted out of the workforce for a period of time to raise their children to opt back in and make a smooth re-entry.

For more information about academic coach training or to book Sue to speak at your event, please email her at sue@academiccoachingassociates.com.


Academic Coaches-College Students


Andrea Marshall, M.Ed., C.T.A. (Certified Life Coach), Director of College and Career Coaching

“Andrea is doing a super job keeping Ryan on track, and most importantly, acting as the liaison between Ryan and us in terms of his academic experience.  I feel much better knowing that Andrea is coaching Ryan and reminding him of deadlines, encouraging him to use his time more wisely and basically keeping him on track. I am very pleased with Andrea’s work with Ryan and having her as Team Leader for Team Ryan.”

Andrea holds a Master’s in Education (M.Ed.) in General and Athletic Counseling and is a certified life coach. Andrea has been helping students at the University of Hartford for 21 years in the areas of Academic and Personal Counseling. For the past 5 years, Andrea has been Associate Director of the Student Success Center and Orientation where she meets individually with students who are struggling academically or personally. She also teaches a course each semester for students who are undecided about their majors and career path.

Andrea is the director of our College Program including the Career Exploration Program and is certified in Typefocus, a cutting-edge assessment tool that helps students chose a viable college major and career path. As an Academic Coach with ACA, Andrea uses her wealth of experience to help college students focus on the process of learning including examining their learning style, organization abilities, self-advocacy, problem-solving strategies, and life skills that will lead them to academic success.

Andrea lives in West Hartford, Connecticut and has a college-age daughter. She is the “outdoorsy” type and enjoys cross-country skiing, hiking, and iPhone photography.


Dave Woolever, M.A., Ed.D., College Academic Coach
Dave earned his Master of Arts degree in Education from East Carolina University, a Master of Arts degree in History from the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, and his Doctorate in Education from Liberty University.
Currently, Dave is a professor in the College of Arts & Sciences at Johnson & Wales University’s Denver campus, where he teaches a variety of undergraduate history and ethics courses and also serves as a student advisor. In addition, he provides academic coaching and online teaching support for struggling students at the University of Texas. Previously, he had the honor of teaching at the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs as well as Maxwell AFB.
Dave is actively engaged in volunteer activities within the Denver community, where he volunteers in the Prescription Pet Therapy Program at Children’s Hospital-Colorado with his dachshunds, Nestor and Parker, and he serves as a trainer in the program, certifying both handlers and dogs for the hospital. Through his volunteer experience at the hospital, Dave developed a passion for writing children’s picture books, and he has now published multiple books. 
Dave’s love for coaching goes beyond academics.  He is a Special Olympics coach and established and coached the Men’s and Women’s Cross Country programs at Johnston & Wales, Denver. As an outdoors guy and an avid skier, it’s easy to see why Dave loves living in Colorado.

Shayne Koplowitz, M.A., College Academic Coach

Shayne has worked in higher educations in several public universities over the past six years, including CCSU, Stony Brook University and Fitchburg State University. She holds a Master of Science Degree in counseling with a focus on student development in higher education from Central Connecticut State University. Her experiences are primarily working with students who have executive function weaknesses in learning assistance programs, as well as working with student-athletes.

In her current role, Shayne is working as an Academic and Career Coach. She provides individual and small group academic support to undergraduate and graduate students from diverse academic backgrounds. As a coach, Shayne takes pride in supporting students to achieve their academic and life goals. She is enthusiastic about providing a transformative experience for students who may be struggling and hopes that the students she works with feel their thoughts and ideas are heard and validated. When she is not coaching she is day-tripping around New England, baking or crafting.


Christine Riley, M.A., College Academic Coach & Career Coach

Chrissy holds a Master’s degree in Clinical Counseling and a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and is currently an adjunct psychology professor and Assistant Director of Admissions at the University of Hartford. She was also an Academic Coach in the Student Success Center where she provided academic, emotional and social assistance to struggling students.

Chrissy has been a senior counselor for a therapeutic social skills summer program where she implemented clinical interventions to assist individuals with Autism, Asperger’s Disorder, and PDD-NOS. Her belief is that by providing a positive and supportive environment, she can create a culture that brings out the best in her students; cultivating their strengths and empowering them to improve holistically. She is passionate about people and her goal is to be a catalyst for her students to succeed in school and in life.


Nick Delaney, M.Ed., College Academic Coach

Nick earned a Masters of Education in Elementary and Special Education from Westfield State University, and a Post-Masters Certificate in Post-Secondary Education and Disability Services from the University of Connecticut. He is currently completing his doctorate in educational leadership (Ed.D.) with a focus on higher education at the University of Hartford. Nick worked in K-12 in special education before transitioning to higher education in 2013. He currently works as an Academic Advisor at the University of Connecticut and has worked in academic administration, mentoring and academic coaching both at the School of Fine Arts and the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences in Storrs.

In his free time, Nick loves watching and playing basketball, going to concerts, and playing guitar and bass. He is a diehard fan of all New England sports and wishes the Hartford Whalers were still a team. Nick also plays in a rock band called GreenHouse that frequently plays shows throughout the Northeast.


Amanda MacTaggart, B.S. (2), M.S, College Academic Coach

“Amanda, I just wanted to thank you again for working with Sam this Spring.  He just got his final grades and they are high enough to allow him to keep the merit scholarship. I’m sure that his grades would have been much lower without your help (and he probably would have lost the scholarship). Thanks again and Sam will see you at the start of next semester.” -Ben

Amanda has worked and taught in higher education across private and public universities and colleges for over 10 years.  After training in the International Coaching Federation model, Amanda worked for the last 7 years as an Academic Coach at the University of Connecticut and Southern New Hampshire University.  To further support her work in academic coaching, she has completed advanced training in motivation, emotional intelligence, supporting students on the autism spectrum, and transitional resilience.  Additionally, Amanda has presented at both regional and national conferences focusing on students in transition and academic success models. As a coach, Amanda strives to help every student recognize the unique strengths and skills they each possess, leveraging them in support of achieving personal and academic goals.


Shoshana Armington, B.S., M.S, College & High School Academic Coach

Shoshana holds a Master’s degree in Educational Psychology from the University of Connecticut and earned her Bachelor of Science in Human Development and Family Studies with a minor in Psychology, also from the University of Connecticut.  Over the course of her 11 years of experience, she has helped high school and college students in a variety of education settings serving high school, and college students improve academic performance and develop life skills.

Shoshana currently works as an academic advisor at the University of Connecticut where she advises engineering students with course selection, degree planning, and career enhancement. She works one-on-one with first- and second-year students to develop positive academic habits, learn about campus resources, and transition successfully to college. In her role as an advisor, she assists students in making academic decisions and teaching them strategies to improve executive functions such as problem-solving, self-advocacy, study and test-taking strategies, and time management. Prior to her current position, Shoshana worked as a school counselor in Litchfield, CT, and Avon, CT.

Shoshana is fiercely committed to helping her students reach their academic goals by tailoring coaching strategies to meet her students’ individual needs. In her spare time, Shoshana enjoys dancing, Zumba, and DIY crafting, and plays a mean round of golf.


Andrew Linscott, B.A, M.A., College & Career Coach

Andy earned his Master’s degree at Gordon College and is in the process of completing his PhD at Boston University.  Currently, he works as an Academic and Career Coach at Fitchburg State University.  Prior to  Fitchburg State, Andy was in graduate admissions at Boston University.

As an Academic Coach, Andy is passionate about equipping students with the mindset, executive function skills, and study strategies necessary for academic success. He enjoys working with students to set realistic academic goals, develop the ability to concentrate without getting sucked into distraction, manage time and responsibilities, and to overcome procrastination by working to cultivate the right mindset. Andy is dedicated to partnering with students of all ages and abilities in order to help them identify and overcome obstacles to Academic Success.

When he’s not working, Andy enjoys spending time with his wife and children, hiking the woods of New England, and reading poetry and literature.


Academic Coaches-High School and Middle School Students


Ashley Cassello, B.A., M.S., M.A., Academic Coach

“Ashley is the difference between being able to keep Zach in public school, and having to send him to private school.  We are so grateful for all she has done for him.”   -Kim

Ashley holds a Master’s degree in special education from the University of Saint Joseph, and a second Master’s degree in educational technology at Central Connecticut State University.  She has been a high school special education teacher for the past 4 years and works to teach her students how to manage their time, improve their study skills, and become independent learners. She is dedicated to teaching these skills to her academic coaching students to help them reach their academic potential. In the summers, she switches gears and teaches kindergarten for an extended school year program.  Ashley likes to say she gets the best of both worlds; teaching teens who will be heading to college and her “little guys” just beginning their educational journey.

In her free time, Ashley loves spending her time with her ‘fur babies’ and telling stories of their adventures.  Summer is her happy place and in the rare moments when she is not teaching or going to classes she can be found at the beach with a good book.  Ashley’s boundless energy and humor make her a favorite among ACA students


Kaprece Smith, M.ED., B.A., Academic Coach
Kaprece holds a Master of Education from the University of Lynchburg in School Counseling, and a Bachelor of Arts in Secondary Education, also from the University of Lynchburg.  She holds Connecticut state certificates in both School Counseling and Teaching (grades 7-12).  With 15 years experience in a variety of education settings serving both high school and college students, Kaprece is one of our most well-rounded academic coaches. 
 
Presently, Kaprece is the Coordinator of Early College Programs at Goodwin College where she works with students individually and in groups to ease the transition to college by teaching constructive academic habits, self-advocacy/using campus resources, and higher education expectations. This includes coaching students on the consequences of academic decisions, problem-solving, self-advocacy, study and test-taking strategies, and time management.  Prior to her current position, Kaprece was a teacher at Cheshire Academy, The Nichols School, and Lake Forest Academy. At each school, Kaprece taught history and social studies and both freshman and senior seminar classes. At Lake Forest Academy she was also the Dean of Students and Director of Multicultural Affairs. 
 
Kaprece is dedicated to facilitating the academic success of her students.  Her warm and engaging personality, as well as her love of sports, makes her a student favorite. 

Hilary Ben-Ami, M.S., Certified Life Coach and Academic Coach

“The teachers said a lot of great things about her and how much she has grown and taking the initiative to communicate with them. They’re excited to see so much personal growth and confidence.You have worked miricles with Rhyka, and for that I am forever grateful”     -Jen

Hilary holds a Master’s degree in Education and a Bachelor’s degree in Secondary Education and Speech from Hunter College in New York City.  She has a myriad of teaching and academic coaching experience with students aged middle school through college.  She was a holistic learning specialist in the private sector where she worked with students and adults on goal setting, accountability, and motivational tools, as well as academic coaching. Hillary has also developed many workshops and seminars including Student Coaching and Simple Pleasures intended for positive empowerment and goal attainment.

Currently, Hilary is the lead literacy teacher at a middle school, in addition to an inspiring, motivating academic coach.  She has two grown children and lives with her artist husband and sweet spaniel, Maya and is a certified yoga instructor.


Josh Pelletier, M.S., Academic Coach

“Josh, thank you again for your hard work with John.  Last night after your session, John just matter-of-factly said to me, without prompting, “I think working with Josh is really helping me”.  I was thrilled to hear that and I can tell that John is more confident, less anxious and is taking his work more seriously.” -Beverly

Josh holds a Master’s degree in Secondary Education from the University of Bridgeport, as well a Bachelor’s degree in English from Central Connecticut State University. In addition, he has worked hard to receive his state coaching and teaching certification and has been working in Connecticut school systems since 2009.

Josh finds his pleasure teaching with a great deal of enthusiasm and energy to reach a wide variety of learners, which makes him an excellent academic coach. Having a passion for writing and reading, Josh takes great pride in coaching students in developing literacy skills vital to learning as well as developing executive function skills and strategies. Through building confidence, self-esteem, and pride in one’s work, it is obvious that Josh cares deeply about his students and their success. Currently working as a sixth-grade language arts teacher in CT, Josh is continually honing his skills as an educator and academic coach.

Having been a high school rowing coach, Josh is out on the rivers of Connecticut every chance he gets. Josh is a big fan of outdoor activities and has a passion for hiking and exploring new paths and trails around Connecticut.


Beverly Yirigian, M.S.W., M.B.A, Academic Coach

“Beverly  is covering a lot of ground and doing a fantastic job. Love her style. Her therapist is thrilled with Beverly’s work with Tarryn and said so yesterday. We are grateful to have Beverly in Tarryn’s life.”   -Stacy 

Beverly is a Connecticut Certified Professional Educator and Licensed Clinical Social Worker with over 20 years of experience working with youth in school and clinical settings. She holds a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Psychology from Trinity College; a Master’s of Business Administration from The University of Connecticut and a Master’s of Social Work degree from The University of Connecticut. Beverly works with high school students in the West Hartford Public Schools as a Teacher, School Social Worker, and Home-to-School-Liaison; specifically working with struggling students to improve their school performance and develop lifelong strategies for success.

Bev’s happy place is Cape Cod where she spends her summers with her husband, son, and daughter, along with extended family.


Ariel Ursitti, M.S., Academic Coach

“Dear Ariel – I just wanted to drop you a note and thank you for the positive results Morgan has achieved thus far with academic coaching. This is the first academic growth spurt Morgan has had in years!” -Mark

Ariel holds a Master’s degree in School Psychology from Southern Connecticut State University.  She is currently pursuing a Specialist degree in School Psychology and was both nominated and selected by the NASP (a national organization in this discipline). Ariel graduated as a Presidential Scholar and a College Park Public Leadership Scholar from the University of Maryland with a dual Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Social Justice Communication.

Ariel’s experience as a school psychologist allows her to continuously stay abreast of the newest supports, strategies, and interventions available to students to support their academic, social-emotional, and executive functioning skill development. Due to her extensive training in both counseling and comprehensive assessment, Ariel is able to utilize these techniques to identify students’ underlying areas of need and develop a plan to assist students in acquiring the skills needed to be increasingly successful in their academic endeavors.

As an avid traveler, Ariel has spent time exploring destinations both near and far. Ariel resides in Colorado and embraces the outdoors through hiking, camping, rock climbing, and yoga. However, when the weather encourages indoor activities, she enjoys curling up with a good book and a mug of hot cocoa. Ariel’s explores her creative side by sewing, crafting, and upcycling.


Heather Toyen, M.S., Academic Coach

” I just wanted to drop a note and tell you how grateful we are that we found you and your team! Charlie is thriving in school.  Heather is an amazing coach and he is taking great pride in his work.  As we battle the school to get him the help and accommodations he needs, we are so thankful that he is working with Heather.” -Suzy

Heather is a Connecticut certified high school counselor with over 20 years experience working with middle and high school students. She holds a Master’s and 6th Year degree in counseling from the University of Hartford.  Heather takes pride in boosting students self-esteem and confidence by helping them overcome academic obstacles such as organization, time management, pre-planning, accountability, and follow-through.

A large part of Heather’s current responsibilities involves individual counseling to assist students in achieving greater academic success. She
believes that lifelong learning is important for everyone and is passionate about assisting students to become excited to learn and grow.
 
Heather enjoys spending her free time running, reading, and relaxing at the beach.  She has a rescue cat named Dorsey who spends her days lounging on the couch and napping in the sunshine.

Erica Abrams, M.Ed., Academic Coach

Erica earned a bachelor of science (B.S) in Special Education from Towson University. Erica also holds a Master of Education degree (M.Ed) and a reading specialist certification in the state of New Jersey. In addition, she is certified in both regular and special education and is trained in many specialized instructional programs such as Wilson Reading and Orton Gillingham methodology.

For the past fifteen years, Erica has worked as a resource room teacher with students with learning disabilities, as well as with students with multiple disabilities during extended school year programming. In these roles, Erica holds responsibilities for writing and executing individualized education plans (IEP’S) as well as developing and implementing meaningful learning styles and curriculums. From this, she has acquired great experience mentoring and guiding students through educational chalenges and responsibilities.

In her free time, Erica is a runner and can often be spotted jogging through the streets of Philadelphia, shopping, and traveling to anyplace warm with a beach and sunshine.


Paul Henning, M.A.T., Math Tutor

Paul holds a Bachelor’s degree in Mathematics from Brown University and a Master’s of Arts in Teaching in Secondary Mathematics Education from Rhode Island College.   In addition, he passed a rigorous series of exams to become an Associate of the Casualty Actuarial Society and has worked as an actuary for many years.

As a Math Tutor For ACA, Paul guides his students to focus on the fundamentals: arithmetic, numerical fluency, and logical thought.  By building a strong foundation, his students become more confident and are better prepared for the challenges of the high school and college years. Paul has the ability to build confidence and strengthen skills in even the most “math challenged” students

When he’s not tutoring, Paul likes to relax with a crossword puzzle or a history book.  In the warmer months, he can often be found on a bicycle, exploring the scenic back roads of the Nutmeg State.


Corinne Byrne, M.S., Academic Coach, Math Coach

Corinne holds a Bachelor’s degree in Mathematics from the University of Saint Joseph, and a Master’s degree in Mathematics from Central Connecticut State University. She has 10 years of experience in the classroom in both a traditional high school and currently in an alternative high school where she works with at-risk students.  As the Vice President of the Connecticut Association of Alternative Schools and Programs, Corinne expands her dedication to her students from the classroom to the state level.

When she is not working, Corinne enjoys trying new DIY projects, playing volleyball and basketball and exploring all the interesting and diverse areas of Connecticut with friends.


Carter Caldwell, M.A., Academic & Writing Coach

“We are in love . . .. . . with Carter Caldwell, the best writing coach ever! Garrett felt very comfortable and loved the way he explained things (great analogies). Can’t wait to work with him again!” -Susan

Carter holds a Bachelor’s degree in English (cum laude) from Yale University, and a Master’s degree, also in English, from the University of California at Berkeley. For the past eight years, he has taught composition and literature at the college level. He has extensive professional writing and experience in print journalism, public relations, and for various sites on the Internet as well.

As ACA’s Writing Coach, Carter emphasizes the fundamentals of grammar, sentence structure, paragraph organization, research, and logical argument. By helping his students master these essential skills, his students are well prepared for the demands of high school and college. Carter’s gift of patience, as well as his ability to effectively teach students at all levels of the writing process, make him a perfect fit at Academic Coaching Associates.

When he’s not teaching and coaching writing or working on his own projects, Carter can be found in the stands at minor league baseball and college basketball games, and in the audience at movies and plays across the Greater Hartford area, and beyond.


Brenda Barrows, B.S., Office Manager

Brenda holds a Bachelor of Science degree (BS) in Finance from Lehigh University.

If there were an award for “Most Organized Person on the Planet,” Brenda would win it. She takes care of all the behind-the-scenes work to make sure everything runs smoothly and efficiently.

Brenda spends her free time hanging out with her husband and two children. She enjoys watching her son’s basketball and baseball games, attending her children’s concerts, and volunteering her time in their schools. When not at the ACA office or watching her kid’s games or concerts, Brenda can be found reading on the beach where nobody can ask her to drive them to the mall or do the monthly student scheduling.


 

Tootsie, Official Mascot

Although Tootsie did not graduate from puppy kindergarten (she failed “stay”), with the proper coaching, patience, and love from Sue’s family and students, Tootsie has become an integral part of the Academic Coaching Associates team.

Her duties have included making even the most stressed out, reluctant student relax and feel at home immediately upon entering Academic Coaching Associates by crying with excitement and enthusiasm, and, if the student is especially lucky that day, giving one of her dazzling smiles. Tootsie shows her support to each student by laying at their feet and either snoozing or protecting them from squirrels outside or giving them a turn with her ball, should the student feel the desire to throw something.

Although she is not especially fond of cats, Tootsie is fine with “cat people.” Her three favorite activities include chasing balls, chasing balls, and chasing balls, followed by a long nap.  At almost 14, Tootsie is no longer able to be at the ACA office but loves hearing stories about the progress and antics of our ACA students.