Our Team

Our Leadership Team

A key part of our success is the amazing team working behind the scenes to ensure we continue hiring high quality tutors and find support that fits the needs of our students and families. To continue growing Connections Tutoring and Consulting into the best source of academic support, enrichment,and development for students and families across the Cincinnati area we are excited to announce that as of January 2016, we have two new roles within our leadership team. Kelly Thakkar will serve as our Communications Coordinator and Ashley Morgan will serve as our Mentoring Coordinator.

Founder and Owner, Amanda Vaughn

Amanda Vaughn, founded Connections in the fall of 2013, after 6 years in the classroom and 5 years of independent tutoring. Amanda’s goal has always been to provide the highest level of professionalism and communication while being confident she has the best team working to provide all levels and areas of academic support. As the business has grown (many thanks to our clients for sharing Connections), the commitment to comprehensive communication and academic support has not changed.

In order to maintain our current levels of support, Amanda determined a team approach was necessary. In the fall of 2015, we began working on a plan to maintain our high level of expectations for Connections and a leadership team was established. Ashley Morgan accepted the role of Mentoring Coordinator and Kelly Thakkar accepted the role of Communications Coordinator.  In the spring of 2017, we added a second Mentoring Coordinator, Joy Becker.

Amanda’s primary goal is to work directly with your family in identifying current needs and areas of strength to develop a customized tutoring plan with mutual goals and match a tutor specializing in that area. This personalized process is the key to our success in ensuring students receive individualized instruction to build on their strengths and promote success academically and personally. She will speak with you over the phone, communicate with you via email, or come to your home to complete an initial consultation before you begin tutoring. Amanda will use that information to create a custom tutoring plan and match your child with a tutor who is a great fit for your student.

Communications Coordinator, Kelly Thakkar

Kelly Thakkar joined the Connections Team in 2015 as a study skills tutor providing support to students who may be struggling with organization, time-management, and studying. Previously, Kelly was a research coordinator and primary counselor for a multi-school federally funded study providing direct instruction, consultation and mentoring support, study skill development, and organizational strategies in middle-school students with behavioral and academic needs through Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. She has used these skills to benefit students and help train other tutors in these evidence-based strategies to promote academic success! In addition, Kelly opened Thrive Home and Business Solutions in early 2017 as a way to provide organization solutions and workflow management for homes and small-businesses.

Mentoring Coordinator, Joy Becker

Joy graduated from Taylor University with a degree in Elementary Education and a Master’s in Education from Indiana Wesleyan University.  She taught first grade for 8 year, both in Chicago and Connersville, Indiana.  During her last 4 years of teaching she loved her role as a literacy coach for a K-6 elementary school in Connersville, Indiana. She resigned from coaching in the summer of 2016 when her family moved to Cincinnati, and I has been staying home full time with my two young children while continue to help Connections grow.  She now helps faciliate training for our tutoring team as well as provides trainings and professional development opportunities at area schools in the areas of Literacy Developement, Intergrated Literacy Programming, Guided Reading, and her personal passion and expertise Writer’s Workshop.  Personally speaking, my passions are cooking, eating really good food, teaching Zumba, blogging, and reading.


 Our Tutoring Team

Steven Ankney

Steven joined Connections in the fall of 2017 as he was entering his final year at the University of Cincinnati majoring in Aerospace Engineering. Because of Steven’s engineering degree, he has developed a serious love for math and science! Upon graduating in 2018, Steven will begin a full time job as an Applications Engineer. In Steven’s free time, he loves camping, hiking, and cheering on the Cincinnati Reds!

Samantha Bramlage

Samantha graduated from Ohio University in 2009 with a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish and Sociology and went on to earn a Master of Education from Clemson University thereafter. She currently holds a Ohio license in Middle education and works as a 7th and 8th grade Social Studies teacher at Walnut Hills High School.

From 2013-2016, Samantha lived and taught at an American school in Madrid so while Social Studies is currently the content-area she teaches, she greatly enjoys tutoring students in Spanish. And, needless to say, she is a strong advocate for bilingual and multicultural education. In her free time, she enjoys traveling and delving into new home and garden projects. A fun fact about Samantha is that her fiance is from Pamplona, Spain and they speak Spanish at home!

Kelly Cappelletty

Kelly joined Connections Tutoring in the Spring of 2017. She received her bachelors in elementary and special education as well as a master of education from Xavier University. She is also working toward a second Masters in Gifted Education. Kelly comes to us with a plethora of experience and knowledge but thoroughly enjoys tutoring social studies, reading, and writing. In her free time, Kelly spinning class, running, and trying different arts and crafts projects.

Kate Clarisey

Kate joined Connections in fall 2016 with a whole heap of experiences after teaching at Milford Exempted Village Schools for over 35 years! During her time as a full-time teacher, Kate mostly taught 5th and 6th grade language arts, science, and social studies. Currently, Kate is teaching part-time at Country Hills Montessori in preschool and prekindergarten rooms. In Kate’s free time she enjoys reading and being active in outdoors activities such as hiking, biking, and gardening.

Amy Dean

Amy has a Bachelors of Arts in English Literature from Miami University, a M.Ed. in Secondary Education from Xavier University, and a current Ohio teaching license for Adolescence to Young Adult (grades 7-12) in Integrated Language Arts.

Previously, Amy was a high school English teacher focusing on the development of reading comprehension and writing skills. Currently, Amy works as a Publicity and Editorial Assistant for Blue Manatee Press, and as the Events Coordinator for Blue Manatee Children’s Bookstore – both positions that highlight the real-world application of reading and writing skills!

Amy truly has a passion for assisting students in learning the value and enjoyment of reading and writing. When Amy is not working, she can generally be found reading a book, watching an old movie on Turner Classic Movies, or taking a walk around the neighborhood.

Gavin Diehm

Gavin joined Connections in spring of 2017 as a secondary education major through the University of Cincinnati. In addition to providing tutoring support, Gavin is currently a math teacher at a local school district.  In his free time, he enjoys playing board games, trying new breakfast places, and planning activities for his church.

Josh Dooley

Josh joined Connections Tutoring and Consulting in the spring of 2014 after working professionally as an analytical chemist. He then decided to transition from the professional realm and become a chemistry teacher to share his passion for and knowledge of math and science with today’s youth. He’s currently working towards obtaining his teaching license and is gaining as much classroom experience as he can through substituting at several area schools.

Josh is an avid runner and coaches both cross-country and track at Madeira High School. In his free time, he enjoys spending time with his three nieces and experimenting in the kitchen with different cuisines.

Sam Dunker

Sam joined our team of math and science tutors during the Spring of 2017 while working towards her bachelors degree in industrial management from the University of Cincinnati. After graduation, Sam plans to attend graduate school to receive a dual-masters in industrial engineering and business administration. In Sam’s free time, she enjoys playing sand volleyball, reading, and running.

Melissa Fornes

Melissa received a Bachelor’s of Science in Education from Ohio University and is currently a licensed Intervention Specialist for grades K-12 at Blanchester Local School District in their 6-8 Grade Multiple Disabilities Classroom. In the near future, Melissa hopes to further her education and obtain a degree in Speech and Language Pathology. Outside of the classroom, Melissa enjoys playing sand volleyball, watching her favorite teams (Cleveland- Cavaliers, Indians, and Browns), and spending quality time with friends and family.

Sara Garrison 

Sara began tutoring with Connections Tutoring and Consulting in 2013. Prior to that, she taught mathematics full time at a public high school in Cincinnati for seven years. Sara has a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics Education from Taylor University and her Masters of Education in Curriculum and instruction with an Educational Technology focus from Ohio Dominican University. She is also certified to teach mathematics in grades 7-12.

Sara has a passion for seeing students enjoy mathematics, whether by mastering a difficult skill or realizing the real world application. To this end, she has developed mathematics lessons in cooperation with professional land surveyors, engineers, and biologists.

Outside of work, Sara enjoys spending time with her husband, son, extended family, and friends. Besides mathematics, Sara’s interests include food, crossfit workouts, and European culture.

Katherine Hansen

Katherine_HansenKatherine graduated from Columbia University with a Master’s in Educational Policy. She worked with Teach for America before completing her Master’s in Education. She taught 8th grade Math for three years in Covington, Kentucky and is certified to teach grades 6-9. She has extensive experience working with students in grades 5-9. In college, she spent three years tutoring on the campus’ Writer’s Workshop and was promoted in order to manage the Workshop during my third year.

Lauren Hope

Lauren has a Bachelors of Science in Education as well as a Master’s of Education in Sports Administration and Special Education. Lauren completed her Bachelor’s degree in physical education at the University of Dayton and her Master’s at both Xavier University and the College of Mount Saint Joseph. Currently, she is a full time intervention specialist at St. Teresa of Avila and is currently working to complete the program to become a reading specialist and obtain dyslexia certification.Lauren enjoys helping students achieve their fullest potential and believes that by including a variety of teaching strategies all students can be successful. Outside of school, Lauren is very active in outreach activities through her church community spending much of her free time tutoring inner city students, collecting items for those in need, and traveling abroad. Additionally, Lauren enjoys staying physically active by participating in local races at a variety of distances.

Katie Howarth

K. Howarth - headshotKatie is currently a 10th and 11th grade English teacher at Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy. She graduated from Miami University in 2014 with a Bachelor’s degree in Integrated English Education. She is currently working towards her Master’s in the Ohio Writing Project through Miami University. This August, Katie started her third year of teaching. To date, most of her teaching experiences include AP Language and Composition, Honors English 10, Honors English 11, Honors English 12 and various college preparatory English courses.

Katie enjoys tutoring English and Language Arts as well as ACT/SAT prep and college writing. In her free time, she loves spending time with her husband and dog, Daisy. She also enjoys reading, shopping, and binge watching Netflix.

Amy Kerr 

Amy joined Connections Tutoring in the Spring of 2017. She received her bachelor degree in elementary education and a master of education from Xavier University. Currently, Amy is working full-time at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital in the Reading and Literacy Discovery center. In Amy’s free time, she enjoys reading, cooking, Pilates, and exploring new places. Amy has even been on a Safari TWICE in Afrcia!


Kacie Kotnik

Kacie joined Connections in Fall 2017. She received a bachelor degree in Mathematics and Statistics and loves how math enables people to think strategically. She plans to pursue a career in data analytics. To relax her mind after staring at numbers all day, she loves to spend time cooking, being outside, and playing board games with friends. A fun fact about Kacie is that she lived in Croatia for two years after graduating from college!

Connie Leinberger

Connie obtained her Bachelor of Arts in Education from Morehead State University and her Kindergarten/Elementary Education endorsement from Miami University and the University of Cincinnati. At the time of her retirement in 2014, Connie had tallied 30+ years in the classroom with a majority of her teaching time spent on teaching Reading/Literature. In addition, Connie has a wide variety of individual private tutoring experiences under her belt. Currently, Connie spends her time substitute teaching as an instructional aide for 7th and 8th grade students.

During her free time, Connie likes to reading, taking walks with her walking club, visiting her condo in Florida and spending quality time with her grandsons and family.

Kirsten Linnabary

Kirsten began tutoring for Connections in the Spring of 2017 while working towards her bachelors degree in biomedical engineering from the University of Cincinnati. Kirsten provides support in all math concepts, biology, and English.  In her free time, Kirsten enjoys swimming, baking, and writing.

Shealan McAlister

Tutors-1Shealan McAlister received her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from the University of Cincinnati. During her undergraduate studies, she worked in a pediatric cognitive psychology research lab.  Currently, Shealan works as a research coordinator focusing on adolescent sleep behaviors at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital.  From her many years of pediatric exposure, both professionally and personally, Shea believes every student is capable of success by strengthening the skills they already have and by finding alternative study methods to help the gain further understanding. In Shealan’s free time she enjoys painting, visiting art museums, and spending time outdoors.

Brooke McDonald

Brooke McDonald joined Connections in the fall of 2017 while also entering her final year of study at the University of Cincinnati majoring in Neuroscience. She is very passionate about science, specifically Biology, and enjoys reading. Outside of school, she volunteers at a local public school and plays basketball with friends.

Erin Moorman

E. Moorman -headshot for websiteErin Moorman joined the Connections team in 2016 after graduating from Purdue University with a Bachelor of Science in Psychology.  Erin currently works as a Research Coordinator at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital in the division of Behavioral Medicine and Clinical Psychology.  She hopes to pursue a doctoral degree in Pediatric Psychology in the future.

Erin worked as a child care specialist at Purdue’s Behavior Management Clinic for two and a half years. The clinic’s primary focus is to assess and treat children with attention deficits and conduct disorders.  She was also a mentor for at-risk 6th graders in an after school program.  Erin loves finding unique ways to make learning fun and effective.  She provides tutoring in Language Arts, History, organization and study skills, and writing.  When Erin is not working she enjoys spending time with friends, traveling to new places, crafting, and baking.

Amy Ostrem

Amy, originally from Iowa City, moved to Cincinnati to earn her Bachelor’s degree in mathematics from the University of Cincinnati. She is expected to graduate in May of 2018 and then plans to study public health in graduate school. Amy joined Connections in the spring of 2017 in hopes of sharing her many math tricks with our students. In Amy’s free time, she enjoying listening to music, exploring local Cincinnati favorites, and watching Netflix.

Jamie Phillips

Jamie Phillips for websiteJamie obtained a Bachelor’s Degree in the area of Business Administration from Bowling Green State University. When her children entered school she began volunteering in various school settings and her love of education began. After working as a teacher’s aide, Jamie obtained her Certification in Special Education and her Masters in Teachers as Leaders from Northern Kentucky University.

Jamie has worked as an Intervention Specialist focusing on students with specific learning disabilities individualizing instruction and applying modifications.  Additionally, Jamie has worked with students in Algebra I and II and has taught self-contained classes in Integrated Math II (Geometry), Integrated Math III (Algebra II) and Environmental Science. Jamie enjoys working with students to show them alternate ways of learning.  Jamie likes to collaborate with parents, teachers and the student to allow the students to be as successful as possible and to prepare for careers. In her free time, Jamie loves traveling to see family, playing with her grandchildren, weaving and sewing.

Meghan Pollock

M.Pollock headshotMeghan joined the Connections team in the summer of 2015 after graduating from Xavier University with a Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood Education. While attending Xavier, she taught eighth grade at Breakthrough Cincinnati, a summer program for high achieving, junior high students in the Greater Cincinnati area. Meghan was also involved with after-school mentoring and tutoring programs throughout her four years of undergraduate study at Xavier.

Currently, Meghan is teaching fourth and fifth grade at St. Joseph Villa Academy in Monfort Heights. She is also working towards a Master’s Degree in Special Education, as well as an Ohio Reading Endorsement. Outside of school, she loves cooking, running, and exploring fun places throughout the Cincinnati area. Meghan is a loyal Cleveland sports fan and frequently can be spotted at Xavier basketball games.

Montana Puterbaugh

Montana joined Connections Tutoring in the Spring of 2017 in hopes of spreading her love for math and science. She is expected to graduate from the University of Cincinnati in May of 2018 with a Bachelors in Aerospace Engineering. Montana thoroughly enjoys learning and tutoring all areas of math, as well as physics and chemistry. Despite Montana’s serious job at Wright Patt Air Force Base, she has a fun and creative-side too! She used to work at a Harry Potter summer camp, and in her free time, she enjoys camping, hiking, and reading.

Hannah Salmon

Hannah is a third-year mechanical engineering student at the University of Cincinnati. As part of the process engineering department she has completed two co-op rotations at Mubea TRB in Florence, KY and plans to return there again in the summer of 2017. During her fourth-year, Hannah plans to complete her last two co-ops in Germany in collaboration with UC’s International Co-op Program.

To date, the majority of Hannah’s tutoring experience has been through her local church. She thoroughly enjoys learning and teaching math, physics, and basic chemistry. In her free time she enjoys reading, watching Netflix or Ted talks, working out, spending time with friends, and being active in various clubs on campus.

Allyson Schuler

Ally graduated from the Eastman School of Music and University of Rochester in 2013 with Bachelor degrees in Music Performance and Economics. She received her Master’s in Music from the University of Delaware where she served as the teaching assistant for the horn studio. She studied French for five years and has a strong background in math. Since moving back to the Cincinnati area she has started her own horn studio teaching beginner and intermediate horn lessons. Ally joined the Connections team in the fall of 2017 and hopes to share her love of mathematics, French, and music theory.

A fun fact about Ally is that before she started her Master’s degree, she spent a year playing abroad with the Sarajevo Philharmonia in Bosnia and Herzegovina. During her travels, she learned to crochet and now she enjoys making hats that she donates to chemotherapy centers.

Laura Simon

laura_photoLaura joined Connections in 2015 and handles written communication and blog entries. For the past fourteen years, she has taught English at a public high school and worked as an adjunct instructor for two local universities. Laura holds degrees in education and English from Miami University; she also holds a gifted endorsement from the University of Cincinnati. She specializes in the teaching of writing, and provides support for Connections students as they work through major papers and college essays. She is currently taking a break from full-time teaching in order to focus on homeschooling her three children and building her career as a freelance writer.

Paige Sumser

Paige joined Connections in the Spring of 2017 in hopes of spreading her love for math, science, and English with students learning new content. Paige is busy working towards her bachelors degree in biomedical engineering from the University of Cincinnati, but in her free time, she enjoys painting, photography, and hiking.

Emily Theobald

Emily graduated from Xavier University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Early Childhood Education and is currently teaching third grade. She joined Connections in March of 2017, and plans to begin graduate school in 2018 to complete her Masters. Emily is passionate about helping kids learn how to become lifelong readers. When Emily is not teaching or tutoring, you can find her cheering on the Xavier basketball team.

Colton Thomas

Colton joined the Connections team in the summer of 2017. He is currently pursuing his Bachelor’s degree in Music Education at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, and teaches in many schools around the city. In addition, Colton teaches group and individual classes at Apple, where he has been thoroughly trained in presentation and on-the-spot application of content with learners. Among the many subjects he enjoys tutoring, study skills is one of his favorites! When Colton is not tutoring, he enjoys listening to live music around the city and playing video games with his roommates.

Catherine Whitacre

Catherine joined Connections in the winter of 2015. She is currently a Clinical Research Coordinator in the division of Behavioral Medicine & Clinical Psychology at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. Her research projects focus on sleep behaviors in adolescents and improving pain levels with teens who suffer from chronic pain. She graduated from University of Cincinnati in 2011 with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology.

Catharine enjoys tutoring ACT/SAT prep as well as study skills, science and math. In her free time, she loves spending time with her dogs, Kramer and Charlie. She also enjoys hiking, yoga, and trying new restaurants.

Alyssa Whittle

Alyssa is expecting to graduate from the University of Cincinnati in the Spring of 2018 with a bachelors degree in mechanical engineering; in the meantime, she joined Connections to share her bountiful math tricks with our students! Alyssa excels at trigonometry, geometry, algebra, and calculus – just to name a few! In her free time, Alyssa enjoys cooking, trying new workouts, and exploring the outdoors.

 Kat Mapes

Coming Soon…