Faculty and Staff
Head of School
Kathy Chumas, Head of School. Kathy received her Bachelor of Science in Physical Education/Health and Fitness from Frostburg State University and completed her Master of Science in Occupational Therapy at Shenandoah University. She is a registered and licensed occupational therapist (M.S. OTR/L). Kathy began working at The Diener School in 2007 and has served in a variety of roles at Diener including Occupational Therapist and Director of Admissions and Therapeutic Support. In pediatric clinical settings, Kathy has performed assessments and developed occupational therapy treatment plans for children with a variety of diagnoses including sensory processing disorders, developmental delays, and communication disorders. Kathy has attended various workshops on cutting edge treatment strategies for children diagnosed with ADD/ADHD, visual processing disorders and language-based challenges. A sample of trainings include: Learning without Tears, Zones of Regulation, Social Thinking, and Executive Functioning Strategies for Educators. Kathy has been at Diener for 12 years. Contact Kathy
Kim Hiller, Director of Education and Student Services. Kim holds a Bachelor of Business Administration in Finance from the University of Miami and a Master of Special Education with a concentration in Learning Disabilities from University of Maryland. Kim began working at The Diener School in 2007. She has served in a variety of roles including Learning Skills Specialist, Director of the Upper School and is now Director of Education and Student Services. Kim taught as an Inclusion and Resource Teacher in MCPS. She also ran her own tutoring company, Tutor Rx, providing private tutoring to students who were experiencing learning difficulties, in need of strategy instruction, remediation, or curriculum-based support. Additional course study and certifications include: Atlantic Seaboard Dyslexia Education Center; Multi-Sensory Math Course I and II; Multi-Sensory Writing Instruction; Wilson Fundamental Reading Program; Character Education; Kingsbury Tutor Training; and Safety Cares. Kim has been at Diener for 12 years. Contact Kim
Kristine Manlove-Casa, Director of Curriculum and Instruction. Kristine received her Master’s in Education, Special Education, in 2011 from Kaplan University, Chicago, Illinois. She also received a BS in Business Administration in 2009 from Wesley College in Delaware. Kristine started at The Diener School in 2010 and has served in a variety of roles including Lead Teacher, Learning Skills Specialist and now Director of Curriculum and Instruction. Kristine is also a certified Phono-Graphix Tutor and continues to attend workshops on Orton Gillingham, Executive Functioning, Kinesthetic Learning, Teaching the Anxious Child, Effective Ways to Deliver Reading Comprehension, Teaching Phonics and Spelling for Beginning and Transitional Readers and Foundations of Number Sense. Prior to her employment at Diener, Kristine was both a Lead Teacher and Assistant at The Spectrum Center in Washington DC and Tutor at the Literacy Council. Kristine has been at Diener for 9 years. Contact Kristine
Laurie Aaronson, Director of Operations and Development. Laurie attended University of Maryland University College, studying for her Paralegal degree. She began her career at Diener as the Office Manager and most recently, expanded her role to Director of Operations and Development. Laurie runs all administrative tasks such as payroll, insurance and is the liaison between our Board Treasurer and Accountant. Laurie also organizes activities and events at Diener including after school enrichment, Bullis Buddy visits, field trips as well as school and community events and fundraisers. She is committed to building and fostering relationships with parents, alumni and the greater community while creating mutually beneficial relationships with new donors to support Diener. Laurie has been at Diener for 10 years. Contact Laurie
Lois McCabe, Admissions and Marketing Coordinator. Lois earned her Bachelor’s Degree from American University and her Law Degree from Temple University. She worked for the Office of the Corporation Counsel Washington D.C. Criminal Division. Lois, mother of three, has been advocating for special needs children throughout her entire career. She became a Special Education Advocate for Children in the D.C. Superior Court Family Services where Lois managed cases which involved advocating for children with special needs through school visits, IEP meeting, school placement and due process hearings. Lois then co-founded SpecialNeeds SpecialKids LLC, a special education company that provides professionals and parents with pragmatic information regarding the ever-changing needs, issues, and options facing the special needs population. She also worked for 2 years for SOS Educational Consultants. Lois became the Director of Admissions at The Diener School when we opened our doors in Fall 2007. She then stepped into the role of Head of The Diener School from 2013-2016. She recently returned to The Diener School part time in 2019 to take on her current role as Admissions and Marketing Coordinator.
Jenni Cook, Lead Teacher. Jenni obtained a B.S. in Elementary Education from Pennsylvania State University in 2000 and completed her Master’s Degree from Johns Hopkins in Early Intervention Special Education in 2009. Jenni has worked with a variety of learners ranging from preschool to middle school. She has been a part of the Diener Team since 2009, where she began as a lead teacher. She then spent two year in the role of Learning Skills Specialist, and three years as the Director of the Lower School, where she provided strong mentoring to lower school teachers. Two years ago, she returned to the classroom to work more directly with students and to capitalize on her considerable skills as an educator.
Danielle Oakley, Teaching Partner. Dani earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Special Education and Elementary Education from Indiana University in 2019. She grew up in the Potomac area and has worked at Bullis Summer Programs the past two summers. This is Dani's first year at Diener, and she is so excited to join our family!
Deanna Davis, Lead Teacher: Deanna received her Master of Science degree in Special Education from Johns Hopkins University in December 2014. She also holds a Bachelor of Music degree from Westminster Choir College. Prior to joining Diener, Deanna worked with students with special needs at a local preschool and also taught music lessons. Deanna started out as a teaching assistant at Diener in 2008 and after two years, became a lead teacher. Deanna currently serves as a mentor teacher and is trained in Phonographix, Multi-sensory Math and CPI Non-violent Crisis Intervention. She is also a talented musician who shares her musical skills in afterschool clubs for Diener students.
Olivia Hill, Teaching Partner. Olivia received her Bachelor of Science with a concentration in Education from Trinity College. She also holds a Bachelor of Theological Education from West Coast College. Prior to joining Diener, Olivia traveled internationally as a curriculum developer and has worked for six years as a Lead Teacher with students with special needs at an elementary and high school level in Thailand, Florida and now, as of two years ago, in the DMV area. Olivia has attended various workshops on treatment strategies and on learning enhancing technology. She is excited to be part of this dynamic Diener team.
Katie Smith, Lead Teacher. Katie received her Master of Science in Special Education from Johns Hopkins University in 2009, and earned a Bachelor of Arts in Human Development from Sonoma State University in California. Before coming to Diener, Katie taught at the Woods Academy, where she worked with preschool to grade school age children. Prior to becoming a teacher, Katie worked for AmeriCorps and as an assistant in a occupational therapy camp. Katie is looking forward to this new year and is excited to join the Diener School family.
Brian Belstock, Teaching Partner. Brian received his Master’s in Elementary Education from the University of Colorado at Denver. He comes to Diener with over 20 years of teaching experience in the independent schools. Prior to Diener, Brian spent 3 1/2 years at The Auburn School teaching exceptional students with autism spectrum disorder and other learning disabilities. Brian also spent 10 years at Washington Episcopal School where he taught first, second and third grade as well as coaching different sports. He has extensive experience working collaboratively with students and their families as well as other members of a child’s academic team. In his free time, Brian enjoys spending time outdoors. Brian is excited to be a part of the Diener School family.
Susan Nolan, Lead Teacher. Susan attended Lenoir-Rhyne University right after graduating high school and received a bachelor’s degree in elementary education. She then continued to earn an elementary education master’s equivalency at Hood University. Susan taught for Montgomery County Public Schools for 11 years. She also taught Saturday School and tutored students after school and during the summer months. Prior to joining Diener, Susan was teaching preschool at a private school in Damascus for seven years.
Shannon Terranova, Teaching Partner. Shannon received her degree in Special Education and a minor in Theater from Eastern Mennonite University. Shannon also worked on her Master's and ABA certification at George Mason university. Shannon was a lead teacher at the Diener School from February 2010- August 2013, when she left following the birth of her second child. Shannon has a passion for teaching children with learning differences and is excited to be back at Diener. Learning through movement is at the core of Diener, and Shannon is excited to use her love of musical theater and dance in her teaching instruction. Shannon is trained in Verbal Behavior Therapy, Applied Behavior Analysis, Positive Behavior Intervention Systems, and Crisis Prevention Institute. She is so excited to be back at Diener!
Jem Waldman, Lead Teacher. Jem received an undergraduate degree (BA) in Psychology at Swarthmore College. After college, Jem worked at the University of Pennsylvania Medical Center as a research assistant for the departments of geriatric psychiatry, neuropsychology, and psychopharmacology. Jem then attended the Graduate School of Education at the University of Pennsylvania, earning an M.S. Ed with a specialization in psychological services in education. Prior to coming to Diener, Jem worked as a children's therapist in a community mental health care center serving at risk children in Philadelphia, as well as serving as lower school counselor at the Kingsbury Day School in Washington, DC. This is Jem's 7th year at Diener.
Tatiana Francisco, Teaching Partner. Tatiana graduated from the University of Maryland in 2017 earning her Bachelor of Science degree in Family Science. Prior to Diener, Tatiana worked in Montgomery County public schools as an intern with the Special Education programs. She completed a semester externship at The Diener School in the fall of 2017. She is currently working on obtaining her Master’s degree in Special Education/ Human Development. She is excited to be a part of The Diener School this year.
Nicole Tanjutco, Lead Teacher. Nicole graduated from Towson University with a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education in 2014. She worked in both Baltimore County and Montgomery County Public schools for two years prior to joining Diener Nicole started as a teaching assistant in the fall of 2015 and after a year was appointed to a lead teacher position. Recently, Nicole has attended extensive training in executive functioning strategies, Phonographix and Orton Gillingham Plus. She is also trained in CPI Non-violent Crisis Intervention and took on a new role as Camp Director during the summer of 2019.
Katelen Muriel, Teaching Partner. Katelen earned a Master’s degree in Multicultural Special Education and a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from the College of Mount Saint Vincent. Prior to starting at the Diener School, Katelen lived in New York City working as an ABA therapist at the Center of Autism and Related Disorders. She has over 4 years of student teaching experience in elementary schools throughout the Bronx New York. Katelen also has 2 years of experience applying behavioral analysis principles with children/adults who have ASD. Katelen is extremely excited to join the Diener family.
Elle Baskin, Science Teacher. Elle holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Hearing and Speech Sciences from the University of Maryland, with minors in Linguistics and Early Childhood Development and Education. Prior to Diener, she worked with various populations across multiple settings, including the Arc of Montgomery County, Montgomery County Public Schools, LEAP Preschool, and Learning Together Early Intervention Services. Elle started at the Diener School in 2010 and has served in a variety of roles, including Teaching Partner, Tutor, Director of Summer Camp, and Science Teacher. She currently teaches science to the whole school, a small-group math class, and a small-group language arts class for students with Dyslexia, using the Orton-Gillingham Plus program. Elle has been trained in Applied Behavior Analysis, Verbal Behavior Therapy, Floor Time therapy, Positive Behavior Intervention Systems, CPI Non-violent Crisis Intervention, The Character Education Virtues Project, Zones of Regulation, Social Thinking, Sarah Ward’s Executive Functioning Techniques, Kinesthetic Learning in the Classroom, Multi-sensory Math, Phono-Graphix, Read Naturally Fluency Program, and Orton-Gillingham Plus. Elle has been at Diener for 9 years.
Sean Strumpf, Teaching Assistant. Sean earned an Associates of Arts degree from Montgomery College in 2012. He worked as a special education para-educator for Montgomery County Public Schools from 2014-2016. In addition, since 2015 to present, he works at Changing the Lives of Children with Autism (CLCA) as an intensive individual support technician. He holds multiple certifications, which include: Non-violent Crisis Intervention; Prevention and Management of Aggressive Behavior (PMAB); Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) and Automated External Defibrillator (AED); and First Aid.
Caroline Pressman, Teaching Partner. Caroline earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in American Studies from American University in 2016. During college, Caroline worked as a dog walker and childcare provider for families in the DC area. This is when she realized she wanted to continue to work with children. After college, Caroline began working at a private Jewish day school in DC. Caroline has been a Teaching Partner at The Diener School since 2018 and looks forward to working on a master’s degree in the near future.
Behavioral and Therapeutic Team
Dr. Joy Kolb, Licensed Psychologist. Dr. Joy Kolb has been consulting with families and schools for over 20 years. She is a licensed psychologist and board-certified behavior analyst in private practice in Gaithersburg, MD. Dr. Kolb’s treatment focuses on providing evidence-based strategies and manageable recommendations that can be applied to each setting. Her treatment emphasizes realistic interventions that are individualized to the unique needs of each student. Dr. Kolb’s clinical interests include individual treatment as well as providing trainings for caregivers and school staff.
Colleen Simpson, M.S, BCBA, LBA, Behavior Analyst. Colleen is a Board Certified and Licensed Behavior Analyst practicing in Maryland. Over the years, Colleen has obtained experience in schools, private practice, and clinic-based settings. Colleen has been working in the field of education for over 10 years. Ms. Simpson has held positions within the classroom as a paraprofessional and as a lead teacher in multiples roles. Outside of the classroom, Colleen has supported teachers and school staff as a behavioral consultant. As a behavior analyst, Colleen values collaboration with other professionals across various fields to meet the ever-changing needs of her clients. Colleen thoroughly enjoys working as a behavior analyst in academic settings. Her specific interests include collaborating with teachers and families to develop function-based interventions that can be applied to the school and home environments.
Faith Saxton, Behavioral Assistant and Social Skill Support. Faith received her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology: Human Development and Counseling from Liberty University in 2015 and earned a Master’s Degree a year later in Human Services Counseling with a concentration in Crises response and Trauma. Before joining Diener, Faith worked as an In- Home Case Specialist with children ages 5- 17 with extreme behavioral issues, where she developed and implemented treatment plans to assist with building healthy social skills. Faith worked within the special education and Life Skills population at Charles County Public Schools as a substitute teacher, a one to one camp counselor at Melwood Recreation Center, and as a case worker contracted with Maryland Dept of Health and Mental Hygiene and DDA waiver services. Faith has a huge passion for children and assisting them in building healthier and stronger connections with each other and the community.
Emily Cross, Speech and Language Pathologist. Emily completed her Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology at SUNY Brockport in Upstate New York. She then moved to North Carolina where she earned her teaching license in special education before completing her Master’s in communication Disorders from NC Central. Before coming to Diener, she spent 3 years working in a therapeutic treatment program for children with emotional disabilities in Washington, D.C. She is currently licensed as a speech-language pathologist in Maryland, Virginia, D.C., and North Carolina and holds the American Speech Language and Hearing Association’s Certificate of Clinical Competence (CCC-SLP). Emily has worked with children of all ages, from preschool to high school in various settings including in-home, clinic, and public and private schools, but is especially excited to be apart of the Diener School team this year!
Lauren Clark, Occupational Therapist. Lauren earned a Master of Science degree in Occupational Therapy from Trinity Washington University in January of 2018 and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology from the University of Maryland, College Park in May of 2010. She is a registered and licensed Occupational Therapist (M.S. OTR/L) in the state of Maryland. Lauren initially joined the Diener team as a teaching assistant in the fall of 2012. After spending three years in this role she decided to pursue her Masters degree in Occupational Therapy. She maintained her relationship with Diener as a substitute teacher while completing her masters program. Lauren gained experience in the pediatric setting in her clinical internship with KIPP DC, a public charter school where she provided Occupational Therapy services to students ranging from PreK to 8th grade with a variety of diagnoses.
John Soares, Adaptive Physical Education. Coach John graduated from the University of Maryland in 2007 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Nutrition Food and Sciences. He continued his education at Montgomery College to pursued an advanced degree in Early Childhood Education. John is employed by MoCo Movement as a Center Movement Coach and brings his creativity and enthusiasm to the Diener team. John is very active in the community, serving as a Community Therapist for CLCA (Community Learning for Children with Autism) and is a dedicated soccer coach for the MSI Soccer League.
Jyoti Dhibi, Art and Yoga Instructor. Jyoti received a Bachelor of Arts degree from George Washington University in 2004, with a combined major in Art History and Fine Art and a minor in French literature. She received a Master’s degree in the Art of Teaching from the Corcoran College of Art and Design. Jyoti has also studied at the American University of Paris. In addition to her talents in art, Jyoti hold multiple certifications as a yoga instructor including Integral Yoga Basic, Integral Yoga Intermediate, Integral Yoga Prenatal, Raja Yoga, Yin Yoga, Baby Yoga and Toddler Yoga. Jyoti joined Diener in the spring of 2016 and has since dazzled parents and staff with the artistic skills she pulls from our students. In addition to providing yoga to Diener students, she also runs her own private Yoga studio.
Frankie Lydon, Art Instructor. Frankie began working at Diener as a teaching assistant and gradually moved into the field of art education. Friankie’s passion for art design was evident and she took on the role as Art Instructor for several years. After 6 years, Frankie took a break from teaching to concentrate on her own artwork. She has happily returned to Diener and is excited to be back at Diener working with these great kids and the amazing team of teachers and staff.