Our Staff

Melissa Smith, Ph.D.
Director of  Testing, Tutoring, and Counseling

Dr. Melissa Smith is a clinical psychologist trained in individual, group and family therapy for children, adolescents, and adults, as well as comprehensive psychological and psycho-educational evaluations. Previously, she was the Director of Well-Being at Monument Academy Public Charter boarding school, where she developed the well-being program for the school. In this role, she oversaw a team of clinicians, a psychiatrist, and outside service providers in the delivery of well-being interventions for middle school youth in or at risk of being in foster care. She also developed universal and tertiary well-being programs, including mindfulness and yoga activities for youth, while also creating crisis intervention procedures for clinicians, teachers and other staff. In addition, she provided therapy and conducted assessments for children at the school.

Dr. Smith received her Ph.D. from the Catholic University of America, with a concentration in Children, Families, and Cultures. She has worked in multiple schools and outpatient settings, including The Kennedy Krieger Institute; The University of Maryland Parent Consultation Clinic; Kimberly Brooks, Ph.D. & Associates; The Milton Hershey School and the Washington Jesuit Academy, treating children with developmental disabilities as well as those exposed to traumatic life experiences.

A director, Dr. Smith will continue to increase visibility to the Testing, Tutoring and Counseling Department, while also highlighting the amazing expertise of the individuals who work here. She’ strives to fulfill TLC’s mission of improving lives and expanding possibilities for individuals with special needs and serving the community.


 

Kristin Olsen, Ph.D.
Psychologist

Dr. Kristin Olsen is a clinical psychologist who has been licensed in the state of Maryland (License # 04107) since July 2005.  In terms of training, she received her doctoral degree from the University of Virginia.  In her education and clinical experiences at the University of Virginia Curry Programs in Clinical and School Psychology, she received extensive training in counseling with children, adolescents, and families, as well as in the assessment and diagnosis of learning disabilities and attention disorders.  This included coursework and clinical experiences specifically related to learning disabilities and ADHD, cognitive and academic assessments, evaluations conducted under supervision at the program clinic, and a year-long practicum in the schools.

Dr. Olsen’s predoctoral internship was at the Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, D.C.  During this full-time training year, she conducted a number of evaluations in various settings related to diagnosing and making recommendations related to learning disabilities and ADHD.  She completed a post-doctoral fellowship at Children’s National Medical Center, in the Child Development Program, conducting evaluations of young children and receiving further training in neurodevelopmental disabilities such as autism.

Dr. Olsen has now been working as a psychologist at The Treatment and Learning Centers since 2005 and has conducted over two hundred evaluations of children, adolescents, and adults with learning or attention difficulties, as well as social or emotional concerns, often needing to diagnose learning disorders and make appropriate recommendations for home, school, and testing accommodations.  Throughout her time working at TLC, she has continued her education in the areas of learning disabilities, attention and executive functioning concerns, anxiety and autism by attending a number of conferences and workshops, as well as reviewing the latest research.


 

Sarah Towne, Psy.D,
Psychologist

Dr. Sarah Towne has been licensed in Maryland (License #: 04834) since July 2010.  In terms of training, she received her doctoral degree in 2008 from Argosy University in Arlington, Virginia.  Her clinical training included coursework in therapies and assessment, with a specific focus on children and families.  Her clinical experiences included an externship at in the Center for Autism Spectrum Disorders at Children’s National Medical Center, a one-year internship at the Watson Institute in Sewickley, Pennsylvania specializing in the assessment and therapeutic treatment of children with Autism Spectrum Disorders, and a two-year post-doctoral residency at the Kennedy Krieger Institute in Baltimore, Maryland.

In the first year of her post-doctoral residency program, she engaged in specialized training in the neuropsychology department conducting psychological assessments for learning disabilities, Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, intellectual disability, and mood/anxiety related issues for children and young adults (ages 4-21).   In her second year of residency, she trained at the Center for Autism and Related Disorders (CARD) Program and became proficient in the administration and interpretation of assessment measures often utilized with young children with intellectual disabilities and autism spectrum disorders, including the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS), Bayley Scales 3rd Edition, Differential Abilities Scales (DAS), and Vineland Adaptive Scales, 2nd Edition.

In her work here at TLC, Dr. Towne conducts psychoeducational and developmental evaluations of children, adolescents, and adults with learning, attentional, and social difficulties.  She also sees children, adolescents, and young adults for counseling.  Dr. Towne has taught graduate level course work at The Chicago School in Washington, DC, instructing doctoral candidates in the areas of intellectual assessment and developmental disabilities, and is currently the primary supervisor for our graduate externship program.


 

Julie Buddensick, Psy.D
Psychologist

Dr. Buddensick is a clinical psychologist licensed in the state of Maryland since 2014 (License #05410) and the District of Columbia since 2013 (License# 1000837).  Dr. Buddensick is trained in individual, group, and family therapy for children and adolescents.  She received her doctorate from The George Washington University in 2010 with a specialization in child clinical psychology.  Throughout her clinical training, Dr. Buddensick worked in outpatient clinics, schools, and an inpatient psychiatric hospital for children and adolescents.  Since 2015, Dr. Buddensick has been training in the DIR/Floortime model, a multi-disciplinary developmental model of treatment for children with Autism and developmental delays.  She received her Professionals Certificate in this model in 2016 and her Fellows Certificate in January 2020 through Profectum.  At TLC, Dr. Buddensick works in the Interaction Groups as well as the preschool program at The Katherine Thomas School providing Floortime and DIR-based therapy.  Dr. Buddensick also provides counseling services to children and adolescents who are struggling with anxiety, depression, attentional difficulties, sensory sensitivities, and challenging behaviors.  She provides family therapy and parent consultation as well.


 

Robyn Davy, MA, BC-DMT, LCPC-S

Robyn E. Davy is the newest therapist to join The Testing, Tutoring, and Counseling department at TLC. Her past educational experience is unique in that she received a Master’s degree in both Dance Movement Therapy and in Counseling; therefore, she has developed both verbal counseling skills and Dance Movement Therapy skills, with a specialization in the field of Psychotherapy. She believes that movement can provide a great outlet for individuals to express their needs. Dance Movement Therapy (DMT) is a modality, which she believes, provides true corrective emotional experiences. Such therapy also provides the context of the human connection, demonstrating how relationships can be healing. Her experience has shed particular competency in working with children and adults with severe emotional disorders, anxiety/mood disorders, trauma, crisis prevention, attachment, and parent-child relational issues. Specifically, she has been trained extensively in using Dance Movement Therapy as an approach and modality for healing and alternative methods of expression. In working with children and adolescents in an alternative setting for over five years, she has developed a particular proficiency in facilitating group therapy augmented by dance movement therapy techniques and theory. As a therapist, her style is achieved by being playful and firm, challenging and nurturing, and ready to leap into the moment with her clients, joining their journeys. It is a goal of hers to always bring inner needs, thoughts, feelings, and impulses back to the body, thus balancing verbal with nonverbal methods. Robyn Davy, takes a whole centered approach to working with children of all ages, within their family systems. 


Tutors

Ginny McDonald
Tutoring Supervisor

Ginny McDonald earned a BS degree in business administration from George Mason University. She has tutored at TLC for 19 years. Ginny is certified to teach the Phono-Graphix reading system. She also uses Visualizing & Verbalizing, TouchMath, and other programs as needed. She teaches preschool through middle school reading, writing, math, and study skills. Ginny has worked with students with diagnosed learning differences in math and reading (dyslexia), ADHD, executive functioning difficulties, and autism spectrum disorder.


Andrew Barrett

Andrew Barrett has a B.A. from LaSalle University and a MA.Ed from Eastern University in St. Davids, PA. Andrew has been teaching for the past 19 years with 17 of those at the middle school level. He is certified in communication and middle school math in PA and Middle Years Math in Maryland. Andrew currently teaches Middle School Math in Prince George’s County Public Schools. Andrew tutors math from middle school to mid-high school Level. Andrew has been a tutor for many years in various positions as well as a coach for sports teams with teens.


Faith Beltran

Faith Beltran received her International Montessori Certification for Primary age students from University of California, Irvine. She taught in Montessori schools in both California and Maryland for pre-school, pre-kindergarten, kindergarten and first grade for twelve years. In 2013, she received her Masters of Arts in Teaching in Elementary with a focus in Special Education from University of Southern California. She has been employed with MCPS for the last seven years as a third and second grade teacher teaching in an inclusive classroom. She currently tutors in the areas of reading skills, writing, and math skills for students of all ages and disabilities and is also experienced with teaching study skills, executive functions, and other attention/ time management needs. Faith believes that all children are capable of learning if given the proper motivation, interest, experiences, time and repetition.


Sara Bristor

Sara Bristor specializes in teaching reading and writing to children in elementary school through high school. With an undergraduate degree in English Literature from the University of Pittsburgh, Sara worked for ten years as an English teacher at a private school. During her tenure there, Sara obtained her Masters in the Art of Teaching from Johns Hopkins University. Additionally, Sara developed a fascination with grammar-based writing approaches and multisensory writing techniques, so she took courses, attended conferences and reviewed curriculum to find the best ways to meet the needs of her students. Consequently, she developed a philosophy of teaching writing and an approach that relies on systematic modeling and coaching. Sara now works for Montgomery County Public Schools as an English Composition Assistant and has obtained her Wilson Dyslexia Practitioner, which enables her to help struggling readers as well. She is thrilled to share her knowledge with the wonderful students and families at the Treatment and Learning Center.


Jennifer Joseph

Jennifer Joseph received her BA in English Literature from the University of Maryland. She has worked as a tutor for TLC for 15 years. Jennifer works with middle and high school students as well as adults in reading comprehension, grammar, spelling, and writing skills. In addition, she teaches time management, organizational and study skills, as well as test preparation for the Verbal and Essay portions of the SAT and ACT exams and the English/Verbal and Reading portion of Montgomery College’s Accuplacer Assessment Test. Jennifer has worked with students and adults with ADHD, dyslexia, executive function difficulties, and autism spectrum disorders.


Stephanie Lewis

Stephanie T. Lewis began her journey with TLC in 2005. At the time, she was an undergraduate student in the summer camp program of six and seven year olds as a Teacher Assistant and one-on-one with a child with Autism. Fourteen years later, she returned to TLC and had the privilege to work as the Special Educator in the Little Friends Summer Camp (ages 3-5) in 2019. Stephanie earned her B.S. and M.S. degrees in Communication Sciences and Disorders from Howard University. Additionally, she earned a M.A. degree in Early Childhood Special Education from The George Washington University. She is dually certified in General and Special Education (Grades Pre-K to Grade 3). Tutoring is one of her passions, especially with the early childhood population. She enjoys helping children with phonics, phonemic awareness, pre-literacy skills, reading comprehension, and basic math concepts. She began tutoring with TLC in September 2019.


Taqwa Mahdi

Taqwa Mahdi is an experienced Special Educator with a background in Speech Language Pathology/Audiology and Deaf Studies.  She graduated from Towson University and is Maryland State certified to teach Special Education, (Infant-Adult), ESOL (Prek-12) General Education (Elementary-Middle) and Early Childhood Education. Taqwa is a National Trainer for the Center for Teacher Effectiveness specializing in Classroom Management and Student Engagement & Motivation.  She is also an educator with Montgomery County Public Schools and the former Director of one of the oldest Cooperative Schools in the Washington DC area. Over the past 15 years she has empowered youth through leadership training and mentoring; led academic programs for students with special needs; and facilitated professional development for school staff and administrators. Taqwa enjoys facilitating learning through play and creating engaging lessons.  She believes that every student has great potential and is committed to guiding them to achieve their personal best!


Ria Mahendrepersad

Ria Mahendrepersad received an MA degree in Applied Linguistics at the UNAM (Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico) in 1999 with a major in Spanish. She received teacher certification in Spanish and Special Education in the USA and teaches Spanish at KTHS and Montgomery College. At KTHS she has been teaching Spanish to students with learning differences since 2008. In 2018 she started tutoring Spanish at TLC. As in her regular classes, she approaches teaching in a structured setting, creating a friendly and welcoming environment for her students. When teaching Spanish, the focus is not only on the subject matter but also on study and organizational skills.


Jeanie Motsinger

Jeanie Motsinger has a B.S. degree in Psychology/Marketing from Texas A&M University.  She began her tutoring career at TLC and is returning after years of private tutoring in the area.  Jeanie enjoys working with students in elementary, middle and high school.  She tutors in the areas of math, reading, writing and organization skills.  The greatest reward in tutoring is watching a student progress and gain confidence in their abilities.  It is always a bonus to hear the words “Oh, now I get it!”


Charlotte Rest

Charlotte Rest received her B.S. from the University of Illinois, Champaign/Urbana and her tutoring certification from The Kingsbury Center in Washington, D.C. She has 10 years tutoring experience focusing on middle school, high school, and adult students. Ms. Rest’s area of expertise is mathematics, including statistics and pre-calculus. She also tutors for school admission tests and executive functioning coaching.


Edythe Runett

Edythe Runett has a B.S. in Education from the University of Maryland, and a Masters Equivalency. She has taught elementary school in Baltimore County, Montgomery County, and overseas for the Department of Defense Overseas Dependent Schools. She teaches all ages in reading, using phonics-based reading programs including the Wilson Reading System, Explode the Code, and Primary Phonics. Edythe has been with TLC for 22 years.


Adam Vogel

Adam Vogel went to Towson University where he graduated with a degree in History. He currently works with high school students with special needs at the Katherine Thomas School. In particular, he teaches social studies and career development at KTS. Adam has years of experience working with individuals with various disabilities, ranging from fifth grade through adulthood. He specializes in tutoring social studies and reading comprehension for middle school and high school students. Additionally, he has worked with students on in test-taking strategies and skills, as well as executive functioning techniques.