Founder, Director, & Lead Instructor of Brain Power Enrichment Programs Ltd.
Karine Rashkovsky, Honours B.Sc., B.Ed., M.Ed., Ph.D. (Education Policy)
Karine is well-known for her passionate, quirky, and inspiring teaching from the heart, as well as her extensive knowledge in a variety of academic fields. At Brain Power, Karine brings her passion for writing, public speaking, literature, textual analysis, philosophy, and the humanities to our programs, where she sees it her duty to inspire a love of learning, especially in terms of critical thinking.
Karine has co-authored Brain Power’s math and problem solving textbooks, an advanced grammar and classical literature textbook, and research that has appeared in peer-reviewed journals such as Educational Leadership and Urban Education. Karine’s research interests include education policy, critical thinking education, and curriculum, teaching, and social justice. She is often a key-note speaker at local, and international education events and conferences, including the Association for Bright Children of Ontario. Additionally, Karine is part of an ongoing research collaboration with York University’s Faculty of Education: Using Place-Referenced Approaches to Extend Youths’ Problem-Solving Abilities and Literacy Engagement (a project which explores a pedagogical response that can provide relevant academic support to students) – the results of which were recently presented at a symposium with the prestigious Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences in Stockholm. As an experienced and expert teacher, Karine has taught teacher-training courses at York University’s Faculty of Education and has provided professional development training for private school educators.
In addition to her above contributions, Karine is also the official Education Expert for Vaughan’s SRC community and an Ontario Mentor for select top youth startups through the Vaughan Business Enterprise Centre (VBEC). As well, Karine has received multiple awards and nominations for her work at Brain Power from organizations such as the Royal Bank of Canada’s Women of Influence, Notable’s Social Entrepreneur of Ontario, the Stevie Awards (National & International), and the Order of Vaughan.
Besides specializing in preparing Brain Power students for various gifted programs and entrance examinations, Karine also encourages her students (and their parents, too!) to participate in Brain Power’s social-justice book club, as well as extra-curricular opportunities such as essay and poetry writing contests, theatre experiences, guest speakers, and CBC radio events. Finally, Karine ensures that Brain Power’s brilliant students continue to network and remain in meaningful contact post-graduation through alumni events.
Associate Instructor & Operations Manager
Jason Boulet, Honours B.A. (Minor in Classics), M.A. , Ph.D. (English Language and Literature)
Jason completed his undergraduate degree at Mount Allison University and his master’s degree at Queen’s University. He then completed his doctoral studies at Queen’s, where his research was funded by a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) Canada Graduate Scholarship. For his graduate studies, Jason chose to specialize in Victorian literature (c. 1832-1901), with an emphasis on poetry, Pre-Raphaelitism, aestheticism, and decadence. Jason has published academic articles and book reviews in peer-reviewed journals, including the Journal of Pre-Raphaelite Studies, Victorian Poetry, and the University of Toronto Quarterly. In his time at Queen’s University as a teaching assistant and instructor, Jason acted as full instructor in courses at the first-, second-, and fourth-year levels, in areas including British literature from 1790 to the present, Romantic poetry and poetics (c. 1790-1832), Victorian literature and culture (c. 1832-1901), nineteenth-century constructions of selfhood, Gothic fiction and monstrosity, fin-de-siècle literature and culture (c. 1885-1900), and gender studies.
Jason is a dedicated and passionate teacher, who believes in taking an interdisciplinary approach that connects the cultural riches of the past to the everyday experiences and concerns of his students. He encourages them to develop (or simply to deepen) a genuine enthusiasm for the arts and humanities, improving their critical thinking, reading, and writing skills in the process.
Joel Benabu, Honours B.A. (English and Theatre), Ph.D. (Renaissance Theatre in England – Shakespeare)*
Dr. Joel Benabu is a Lecturer at the Department of Theatre at the University of Ottawa, Canada. His research interests include English Renaissance drama (Shakespeare’s stagecraft, specifically), theory of drama and performance, and Ancient rhetoric. Recently he has been researching Jewish Canadian Theatre as well as Israeli/Palestinian Theatre. Among his publications are: “’Shakespeare’s Technique of Opening: ‘Strands of Action’”, Theatre Topics, The Johns Hopkins University Press; “Shakespeare and the Rhetorical Tradition: Towards Defining the Concept of an “Opening”, Rhetoric Review, Routledge; “Shakespeare’s Stagecraft in Constructing an Opening: Macbeth”, The Shakespeare Newsletter; and “Shakespeare’s Macbeth: The Challenge of Reading a Theatrical Opening”, Mediaevalia. Joel’s book manuscript, A Playwright at Work: Shakespeare and the Construction of Openings, has recently been prepared for press review. Joel has acted in and directed for the theatre.
Over the years, Joel has taught a broad variety of university courses in the humanities as well as courses in academic writing, critical thinking, and oral presentation. Closely aligned with Brain Power’s mandate, Joel’s pedagogical philosophy maintains that students thrive best in a learning environment that challenges and empowers them. Consequently, his teaching method is less about imparting information and more about giving students the tools to forge their own pathways of knowledge. This can be achieved most effectively by helping students build a diverse skill set and confidence over time. In order to do so, all of Joel’s courses at Brain Power will work with creative pedagogical tools (developing new ways of engaging students) and assess the pedagogical tools developed in order to improve learning objectives over time. Joel’s overarching goal as an instructor at Brain Power is to make students realize their full potential to make a difference in their own lives as well as the lives of others in their community.
*This is a unique stream of direct-entry to Ph.D. (post B.A.) for the top 2% of students in the country.
Oscar Jarzmik, Honors B.A., M.A., Ph.D. (History – Middle East Studies)
Oscar earned his undergraduate degree from York University (Toronto, ON) and his M.A. and Ph.D from the Department of Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations at the University of Toronto. As a graduate student, Oscar specialized in the history and politics of the modern Middle East (Eastern Mediterranean). More specifically, he concentrated his studies in the Humanities on: a) the intellectual formations of state/colonial rule in the Middle East; b) how “power” is inscribed into the built and cultural environment of cities.
As a graduate student, Oscar lectured and instructed sessions at the University of Toronto and Ryerson University. Over the years, he has also been involved in several social justice, educational, and community-building initiatives both locally and internationally. Oscar is an enthusiastic educator who believes in using an interdisciplinary, interactive approach to help students develop their interpersonal and critical thinking skills. Brain Power is so fortunate to have a brilliant language arts instructor who places great value in conscientious learning coupled with inspiring bright students to exceed their potential.
Cassandra Chapman, Honours B.A., M.A. (Linguistics), Ph.D. (Cognitive Science of Language)
Cassandra earned a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Ottawa where she majored in Linguistics and Spanish. She then completed a Master of Arts in Linguistics from the University of Ottawa. The results of her M.A. Major Research Paper were published in the Canadian Journal of Linguistics.
Cassandra earned her Ph.D. from McMaster University, and the focus of her doctoral studies was on the Cognitive Science of Language. Her doctoral degree was funded by a prestigious Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) Canada Graduate Scholarship. Cassandra’s dissertation investigated how sentence structure (syntax) and sentence meaning (semantics) affect reading times in language processing. She has presented the results of her doctoral work at both national and international conferences.
Cassandra has taught undergraduate linguistic courses at McMaster University and communication courses at Sheridan College. During her Ph.D. studies, she took courses on teaching through the MacPherson Institute for Leadership, Innovation and Excellence in Teaching at McMaster. In 2017, she completed the Teaching and Learning Foundations Certificate of Completion offered by the MacPherson Institute. As an educator, Cassandra recognizes that all students enter the classroom with unique backgrounds, experiences, and learning styles. She embraces this diversity in her teaching and utilizes a variety of teaching methods in order to make the material accessible to as many students as possible. In the classroom, Cassandra aims to inspire her students to improve on their writing each week. Cassandra is thrilled to be joining the dynamic and enthusiastic team of educators at Brain Power!
Associate Instructor & Admissions Ambassador
Jenn Chenkin, Honours B.A. (Minor in History), M.A., Ph.D. (English Literature)
Jenn completed her Honours B.A. in English and History at the University of Toronto before relocating to England to complete her M.A. and Ph.D at Queen Mary, University of London. Her dissertation was fully funded by a Queen Mary Overseas Research Student Award and a Queen Mary Principal’s Studentship. As a course convenor, lecturer, and teaching assistant for undergraduate and graduate students, Jenn has over 10 years’ experience at the university level, teaching at both Queen Mary and Goldsmiths Colleges at the University of London. Her research interests include book history, the theatre, letter-writing, satire and rhetoric, Romanticism, the Gothic, the Victorian novel, literary coteries, and spectatorship. A versatile and knowledgeable teacher, she has taught literature ranging from the medieval period to the 20th century, as well as critical theory and research methodology. Jenn has published reviews and done peer review for journals such as The London Journal and The Journal for Eighteenth-Century Studies, as well as organized an international conference called “Text and Trade: Book History Perspectives on Eighteenth-Century Literature” in 2012.]
Jenn believes that a teacher should be caring, invested, and enthusiastic and brings this attitude with her every day to the classroom. She has always been interested in promoting student engagement and fostering a lifelong love of learning, and she has been known to organize reading groups and scholarly outings for her students, broadening the scope of education to make it fun and accessible. For this reason, Jenn has also participated in student outreach programs designed to make higher education more accessible to youth from less privileged backgrounds.
Adam Richter, Honours B.A., M.A. (History), Ph.D. (History and Philosophy of Science and Technology)
As an undergraduate student at Glendon College, the bilingual campus of York University, Adam earned a Specialized Honours bachelor degree in History. After completing a Master’s degree at Dalhousie University, he earned his doctorate at the University of Toronto’s Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science and Technology. Adam’s research focuses on the history of science in seventeenth-century England, particularly the relationship between science and religion in that period. He has received numerous academic awards, including the prestigious Nathan Reingold Prize, which is awarded by the History of Science Society for the best essay by a graduate student. Adam’s research has been published in prominent academic journals including Notes and Records: The Royal Society Journal of the History of Science, for which he also served as guest co-editor for the December 2018 issue.
Adam’s teaching is informed by the wide range of experiences and interdisciplinary training described above. He has instructed three courses at the University of Toronto and given numerous guest lectures at U of T and elsewhere. Most recently, he taught a course on the history of astronomy at the University of Toronto Mississauga. As a teacher, Adam strives to create a stimulating, humorous, and accepting classroom environment for all students. He is particularly passionate about encouraging students to become stronger writers and speakers. Whether they need to work on fundamentals or advanced techniques, students can count on Adam’s help to hone their communication skills.
Ana-Maria Jerca, Honours B.A., B.Ed., M.A., Ph.D. (Cand.) Linguistics
Ana-Maria is a Ph.D. candidate in linguistics at York University, where she also completed her M.A. and B.A. She has presented sections from her Major Research Paper (the capstone of her Master’s degree) at academic conferences in three countries. Currently she is in the process of publishing more of her doctoral work in academic journals and applying for scholarships with which to fund her research.
Besides her research, she is deeply passionate about teaching! Thanks to her bachelor’s degrees, Ana-Maria has taught at multiple levels in a variety of settings (from young students to university undergraduates and almost everywhere in between). She loves opening her students’ minds and helping learners understand material in new ways. Her teaching philosophy can be summed up in a simple quotation: “Education is about inspiring one’s mind, not just filling one’s head.”
Kaitlin Ruether, Honours B.A., M.F.A. (Creative Writing)
Kaitlin earned her B.A. from the University of Victoria and an M.F.A. from the University of Guelph’s competitive Creative Writing program, where she focused on fiction and playwriting and completed a novel as her thesis. Her writing addresses themes of environmental impact, Canadian identity, and nostalgia in our era of the internet. Kaitlin’s work has been published in literary journals across Canada and the United States, and her plays have been produced in Victoria, British Columbia. In her spare time she works as a freelance journalist for the Canadian media publication, Exclaim!
When teaching, Kaitlin believes in creating an environment where students feel safe and excited to share their ideas. She fosters enthusiasm about the material and works to see inspiration thrive. As a life-long learner, Kaitlin is thrilled to be a part of the stellar team at Brain Power and to be working with the incredible students!
Vivi Shi, Honours B.A (Minor in Geography), M.A. (English Language and Literature), B.Ed, OCT
Vivi completed her Concurrent Education degree and Master of Arts in English Language and Literature at Queen’s University. During her studies at Queen’s, Vivi was a teaching assistant for an undergraduate course on Renaissance poetry and prose. Vivi’s interests include Social Justice Education, supporting English Language Learners, Renaissance Literature, Romantic Literature, Children’s Literature, Chinese Canadian Literature, and Contemporary Literature. Vivi currently teaches for both York Catholic and Toronto Catholic District School Boards.
Vivi aims to foster student curiosity and bolster growth mindsets. Vivi believes in the importance of listening to her students, using their interests as a means to fuel their appreciation for learning, as well as their sense of responsibility and ownership of their own education. Vivi’s goal as an educator is to build enriching learning communities where students experience continuous achievement through discourse, feedback, individual work, group work, and hands-on experiential learning. Fun fact: Vivi is a Brain Power alum!
Sasha Ioffine, Honours B.B.A, M.A. (English), M.I. (Cand.)
Sasha completed his undergraduate degree at the Schulich School of Business at York University before pursuing an M.A. in English at the same institution. In the program, he studied modernism and contemporary literature and won a prestigious essay prize. He is currently pursuing a Master of Information at the University of Toronto.
Sasha has extensive experience in a variety of pedagogical settings — both one-on-one and in a classroom environment. He has particular expertise in gifted testing programs, namely the John Hopkins University SCAT test for gifted youth.
Sasha believes that a teacher should inspire critical thinking and cultivate students’ imagination. By these means, Sasha works to improve his students’ mathematical reasoning, reading comprehension, vocabulary, and grammar.
Associate Instructor & Admissions Ambassador
Hannah Merchant, Dip. E.C.E., Honours B.C.D., M.Ed.
Hannah completed her Masters degree in Education at York University, also obtaining a graduate diploma in early-childhood education. She has been a keynote speaker for the Association of Early Childhood Educators of Ontario on the topic of “Practitioner Self-Image and Advocacy for the Field.” She has also traveled to a developing country, where she provided workshops for teachers and educators who live and work in marginalized communities. Most recently, Hannah has provided workshops on pedagogical documentation for childcare programs in York Region. Over the last decade, Hannah has also organized and participated in various fundraising events that have benefitted the York Region Community, such as those for the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the Markham Stouffville Hospital.
Pairing her love for learning with her passion for teaching, Hannah utilizes a “strength-based” approach when working with children and their families. She believes strongly that each child and family bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to the classroom, and that these strengths should be recognized, celebrated, and respected. Outside the classroom, Hannah has many years of experience working with domesticated animals. She enjoys reading and writing, travelling, scuba diving, and is learning how to paint.
Meena Tadrisi, Honours B.A. (French), B.Ed.
Meena completed her International Honours Bachelor of French Studies at Glendon, York University, and her Bachelor of Education at the University of Ottawa. In addition to her teaching position at Brain Power, Meena is a teacher in the York Region District School Board, where she specializes in the primary and junior grade levels.
Meena fosters a love of learning in her students and helps them achieve their highest academic goals by creating a dynamic classroom where learning is celebrated. She has a passion for languages (she speaks English, French, Farsi, and Spanish), and she is currently learning her fifth (Italian)! Meena also loves history, whether it be Canadian or world history, believing that an understanding what happened in the past can lead to a better future. In her spare time, Meena likes to read, spend time with her dog, and learn new things.
Founder – Math & Problem Solving Program
Reuven Rashkovsky, B.Sc., M.Sc., M.Ed., Ph.D. (Mathematics)
Dr. Reuven Rashkovsky received his Masters degrees in Mathematics and Teaching from the University of Odessa, former USSR. Reuven worked on post-graduate studies and Ph.D. research in Mathematics at the Hebrew University, Jerusalem, Israel, and at the Sorbonne University in Paris, France. Reuven has been a successful and sought-after teacher of Mathematics in four countries around the world as well as in Canada, specializing in math olympiad training and working with bright and gifted students. Reuven is well-known as Brain Power’s originator, as well as for his unique old-school-meets-new-school teaching style. Reuven has also been the driving force behind Brain Power Enrichment’s math workbook
Associate Instructor & Admissions Ambassador
Ron Heichman, B.Sc. (Engineering & Mathematics), M.Sc., Ph.D. (Cand.) Applied Quantitative Methods
Ron’s area of expertise and passion is aerospace engineering, with a focus on applied math and uncertainty quantification in structures. His degrees include aerospace engineering, mechanical engineering, and mathematics. In academia, and as president of a professional engineering club, Ron has fostered a learning community focused on pursuing academic excellence through research and professional development. Ron has also been actively involved in educational outreach (via university institutions), with a focus on encouraging youth to enrol in university and pursue science, technology, engineering, and/or mathematics-oriented careers.
Ron has extensive teaching experience in math, physics, computer programming, and engineering. As part of his teaching philosophy and vision, Ron focuses on cultivating a deeper understanding of mathematics with the hopes of motivating students to explore, learn about, and solve complex problems with elegance and rigour. Outside of the classroom, Ron is an avid rock climber and outdoor enthusiast. In the kitchen, he likes to apply his engineering and math acumen towards making the best food he can!
Bahar Amani, Honours B.Sc., M. A. (Developmental Psychology), Ph.D. (Cand.) Neuroscience
Bahar completed her HBSc at the University of Toronto in Neuroscience and Psychology, followed by an M.A. in developmental psychology at Wilfrid Laurier University. While there, her research focused on educational psychology and the role of early learning environment. Due to her passion for the field, she chose to work for a community services organization as both a mentor and tutor to children who faced significant adversities, and this has led her to pursue a Ph.D. in the Neuroscience Graduate program at McMaster University.
During her academic career, she has presented her research at multiple conferences, guest lectured on numerous occasions, and worked as a teaching assistant for many undergraduate courses in psychology and neuroscience. Bahar is committed to ensuring that her students are exposed to a dynamic and supportive learning environment that fosters achievement.
Olga Fridman, B.Sc., B.Ed., M.Ed., M.Sc. (Mathematics – Differential Geometry)
Olga Fridman holds Masters degrees in Mathematics and Education (Honours Specialist in Gifted Education) from the University of Toronto. She is an experienced mathematics teacher with nearly three decades of teaching in the Toronto District School Board.
Olga’s love of educating bright young minds is evident in her student-centred and inspiring approach to teaching; she is excited by critical thinking and creative problem-solving techniques, and shares her passion for mathematics with gusto. Olga is thrilled to bring her expertise in both teaching and mathematics to Brain Power.
Ella Gutin, B.Ed., M.Ed. (Mathematics)
Ella Gutin has a B.Ed, M.Ed and Mathematics Degree, she has taught in three different countries where she received many teaching certifications. Ella began her career in Russia, where she taught in an elementary school. Later she moved to Israel, where she taught mathematics in grades 1-10 and received teaching certificates from the Ministry of Education and Culture of Israel. She has also received training and implemented special education programs for gifted children and for children with learning disabilities. Upon coming to Canada she received her teaching certification and has been teaching continuously. She experienced all three-education systems and gained great knowledge and experience dealing with different students, situations, expectations, and curriculums. She is passionate about math and her goal is to inspire young minds to see the beauty of math.
While working in all three countries she always tried to develop and implant programs and methodologies to students of different levels, she strengthen her expertise in classroom management, student relations and learner retention as well as gaining in depth knowledge of children’s developmental psychology. Ella is always researching and implementing new techniques and methods to create better and more effective lesson plans.
Justin Bimbrahw, B.A.Sc. (Engineering Science), M.Eng (Electrical Engineering)
Justin completed his B.A.Sc. and M.Eng. from the University of Toronto, where he earned a President’s Scholarship. He has designed and implemented a mathematical model to perform highly accurate biometric heartbeat identification, and he has also developed a mathematical model to describe the behaviour of photoconductors used for medical imaging (Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre). Justin has also worked on mathematical projects to optimize workflows in the urban rail industry (Thales) and on artificial intelligence and computer vision.
As an educator, Justin encourages students to develop a balance between conceptual comprehension and problem-solving skills. He identifies everyday applications of mathematical fundamentals, making concepts relatable, memorable, and fun. Outside of teaching, Justin’s interests include meditation, reading, music, and writing.
Ariel Sosnovsky, B.A (Actuarial Mathematics), MBAN (Business Analyst).
Ari completed his undergraduate degree in Actuarial Mathematics at York University, and his Masters in Business Analytics from Schulich school of business. During his undergraduate program, he was an active member of the university, taking part in mathematical modelling competitions (MCM Meritorious Winner, Top 8%), becoming the president of the Actuarial Society, and running an Actuarial Exam Preparation classrooms for his fellow classmates.
Ari has worked with students for over 9 years, helping them learn programming languages and perform better in school and on standardized exams. He is a passionate teacher who uses his experience and expertise in applied mathematics to bring new ideas and ignite interest in his students that will push them forward to success.
Associate Instructor & Admissions Ambassador
Ilya Kreynin, BASc (Industrial Engineering/Bioengineering)
Ilya received his degree from the University of Toronto, having previously attended the University of Toronto Schools (UTS). He has engineering design experience in a wide variety of fields and for many different companies, including Disney, Arup, and RBC. He teaches problem solving to individuals and teams, and he has extensive public speaking experience, including national debate championships, leadership training, 1000+ person audiences, and a TEDx talk. His love of math has been consistent from his time as a Brain Power student, through his national placement in high-school math contests, to his honours performance in a top engineering school and his work in professional settings.
Ilya’s teaching methodology is focused on taking students from first principles to independent application. He believes that true learning comes from answering two questions: “Why does this work?” and “How do I use this?” He employs an interdisciplinary approach to teaching, using links between different fields to strengthen connections and make the process fun. Whether he is teaching leadership, design, public speaking, or math, both Ilya and his students enjoy it from start to finish. Outside of teaching, Ilya enjoys many hobbies, including wrestling, reading, running, urban exploration, rugby, and programming.