Kelly Farrell, B.A.H, OCT
Founder & Executive Director
Kelly Farrell is the Founder and Director of Oak Learners circa 2016. She is dedicated to supporting learners of all ages and abilities reach their goals and love the learning journey. Kelly’s philosophy of education is based in the understanding that every child has the capacity to excel and succeed when they are given the tools and taught the skills to help them on their journey.
Kelly is an OCT Certified teacher and has worked in classrooms and alternative learning environments since 1996 and as a certified teacher since 2004, working with students from Kindergarten through Grade 12. Kelly has a passion for empowering students to develop confidence through building on their strengths to support their difficulties, particularly those with learning exceptionalities, including Learning Differences, ASD, social emotional needs, and anxiety. Kelly subscribes to the tenants of Montessori, Reggio-Emilia and Constructivist methods of teaching and is always looking for ways to bring these strategies into the 21st Century through technology and environmental education.
Throughout her teaching careers, Kelly has been teaching, leading, and connecting students and staff with a global community of educators leading the way in 21st century personalized learning. In 2014, Kelly was awarded “Project of the Year” at the Water Docs @School Film Festival for her Inquiry-Based Learning project, “Kids Against Road Salt“. This project has been used to train new teachers on the benefits and processes behind inquiry-based learning. Kelly’s teaching was also featured in Owl Magazine on the “Cool School” page in 2014 for a unique publishing project undertaken by her Grade 7/8 class that year.
Kelly has also founded Teach Me Social in 2012, a social media marketing agency and training organization which continues to empower entrepreneurs to brand themselves online and share their messages through social media. Her experience in business and educational leadership lends Kelly a unique approach to technology training. She offers business owners a different perspective on technology, gaining participation in her sessions by energizing participants and inspiring them to dive into the Social Media world whilst also providing valuable skills, tips and strategies they can use to construct their online presence at their own pace.
Our Administrative Team
Arlen Atanasiu, B.A. Hons
Office Manager & Program Support
Arlen has been a member of the Oak Learners staff since 2017. With a B.A. in Honours Psychology and Sociology, she has been working with a range of students since her graduation in 2016. She understands and supports all kinds of behaviour and unique needs, and tailors her students’ learning experiences around those needs.
When she’s not at work, Arlen enjoys outdoor activities, reading, animals, and spending time with friends and family.
Jenn St. Denis
Admissions & Communications
Jenn has been a member of the Oak Learners staff since 2020. With over 30 years of experience working with children, our office manager Jenn is the one to call! Her passion for communication influences her hardworking attitude, and her behind the scenes work is what allows Oak Learners to communicate with its families in a productive manner. We encourage any and all questions to be sent to Jenn, as she is always the one with the answers!
When she is not at work, Jenn enjoys spending time with her family and pets, planning exciting adventures!
Kristina has been a member of the Oak Learners team since 2022. She is working at the Lake Shore Campus in the office, helping set kids up for success daily! Additionally, she teaches music and encourages creativity.
Sara Absher, OCT
Tutoring, Camps & Extra Curricular Coordinator
Sara has been a member of the Oak Learners staff since 2022. Sara is an OCT certified teacher with qualifications in the Primary/Junior/Intermediate divisions, and more than twenty years of experience working with children in a variety of settings. Prior to joining the team at Oak Learners, Sara was a classroom teacher for 12 years, teaching grades 3, 5, 7, and 8. She has extensive experience tutoring both in person and online, as well as teaching art classes and coordinating a summer camp. She also spent a year in Japan teaching English to adults and children.
Teaching and art are Sara’s passions. When she’s not teaching, Sara enjoys spending time with her family, arts & crafts, baking, and cake decorating.
Our Day School Staff
Harmeen Madan, B. Ed
Harmeen Madan is an experienced educator with a passion for working with children with learning disabilities and behavioral disorders. She is well versed with ABA,PRT,DIR, Floor-time and other techniques of imparting therapy to students. With a profound knowledge of differential types of learners, child psychology, infant mental health and other domains of behavioral disorders, she aspires to design child specific lessons and focus on all-round development of children.
Bringing about a positive change in the children with her love and support, she strives to work closely with families as a team to achieve their desired goals with regards to their child’s growth and development.
Josie Bonadie, BA
Josie joined the Oak Learners team in 2023. She has twenty years experience working with children of all ages and abilities! She enjoys engaging students and encourages growth through their interests.
Mishka Khilnani, OCT
Mishka Khilnani has been a teacher with both public and private schools since 2010. Her first interest in alternative and holistic education sparked through professional development in her Masters of Education course of study. She is eager to bring her experience and natural love for learning to the students at Oak Learners. She is a mom of two, and fur-mom of two, too!
Olesia Malysheva, M.Ed
Olesia joined the Oak Learners team in 2022. She has been working with kids for 12+ years! She brings lots of creativity and excitement to the classroom, and enjoys creating activities to engage her students interests.
Our Child Specialists
Andrea Morrison, CYC
Andrea has been a member of the Oak Learners staff since 2023. Andrea holds a Child and Youth Worker Diploma and a Child and Youth Care Bachelor’s degree from Humber College. Andrea has always loved working with children and youth and has many years of experience in a variety of environments including private schools, day cares, after-school clubs, babysitting, and summer camps!
Andrea enjoys building strong, meaningful relationships with the children and youth she works with. Andrea strongly believes in being able to meet them where they are at and support them in a holistic way.
When Andrea is not at Oak Learners, you can find her outdoors hiking, swimming, bike riding or looking around for the next best photography spot! Andrea also enjoys sending time with her cat Leo!
Daniela Urbina, BA
Summer Camp Supervisor
Daniela has been a member of the Oak Learners staff since 2022. She grew up in Colombia; she is a Psychologist from La Sabana University. She also took Homeschooling and Child Neurodevelopment, Neuroeducation and Neuropsychology courses at Ceenford and a study at the Queensland University of Technology about Inclusive Education: Essential knowledge for success. She co-founded a non-profit foundation, where she developed and implemented some social impact projects, gave speeches, and created dynamic activities. She has experience working with kids between 15 months to 15 years old.
She loves cycling, being active, learning daily, reading books and accepting new challenges. She believes the learning process should be fun and dynamic and that the student needs to know how to apply the knowledge to their lives. Teaching is her passion, and she tries to transmit this love to her students.
Katy Hawrylak, CYC
Katy has been a member of the Oak Learners team since 2022. She brings enthusiasm and energy when working with students of all ages!
Lauren Halliday, BA
Summer Camp Supervisor
Lauren is a dedicated and passionate educator at Oak Learners, bringing several years of experience working with children.
Lauren graduated from York University in 2022 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology and a Minor in English. She is now currently enrolled in the Bachelor of Education program at York University on her way to become a certified Ontario Teacher in the Primary and Junior Division.
As a Teacher and Summer Camp Supervisor at Oak Learners, she fosters a love for learning by incorporating hands-on activities and always strives to motivate children to reach their full potential.
In her free time, she loves to read, cook and spend time with her closest friends!
Summer Murphy, CYC
Summer Camp Supervisor
Summer has been a member of the Oak Learners staff since 2022, and as a placement student in 2020. Summer graduated with an Advance Diploma in Child and Youth Practitioner from George Brown College. She has spent several years working with young children and youth. She enjoys being with children and youth, playing games, reading, and overall getting to know the kids and their needs.
In her free time, she loves to paint, read, reading tarot, doing yoga, spend time with loved ones, walking her dog, and spending time with her cats and dog.
Our Extra-Curricular Team
Aaron De Melo
Tutor and Music Teacher
Aaron has been a member of the Oak Learners team since September 2023. He studied at McMaster University and the University of Toronto. Aaron also received a certificate from the Institute for Orton-Gillingham Educators. Before then, he trained professionally in voice at The Royal Conservatory of Music. Aaron has many years of experience working with children of all ages, ranging from 4 to 16. His work has enabled him to develop and implement the Orton-Gillingham Approach, Direct Instruction, and JUMP Math. When he is not working, he enjoys reading, being in nature, getting involved in community outreach and spending time with family and friends.
Aaron is currently accepting students from K-10 in math; K-4 in early literacy; and voice, piano, and guitar students.
Adam has been a member of the Oak Learners staff since 2021. Adam is a professional drummer/percussionist with a strong passion for music and teaching, He has over 10 years of playing experience in multiple styles (Rock, Funk, Jazz, Latin etc.) and have been teaching music for 7 years. Adam believes a great teacher is one who can assess not only a student’s current musical ability, but determine what style of learning the student thrives in. He is passionate about helping his students develop their individuality as artists.
In his free time, Adam continues to practice his own musical skills and has impressed many other Oak Staff with his amazing covers!
Adrianna has been a member of the Oak Learners staff since 2021. Adrianna is currently in the Concurrent Education program at Queen’s University. She is working towards a major in psychology and a minor in English, and she is also taking a concentration of courses in Indigenous Studies. She enjoys working with kids and has done so as a soccer coach, swimming instructor, and respite care worker. Adrianna is also passionate about mental health work and advocacy and she pursues volunteer work in this field.
In the future she hopes to combine her love for working with youth with mental health work so that she can support youth and foster their overall development and well-being.
Anna Brooks, OCT
Anna has been a member of the Oak Learners staff since 2021. Anna is an OCT certified teacher who has worked for the publicly funded system for more than 18 years, teaching Kindergarten to Grade 2.
Her qualifications include special education and teaching English as a second language.
In her free time, she loves quilting, reading and being outdoors!
Julia Taylor, OCT
Teacher & Tutor
Julia has been a member of the Oak Learners staff since 2020. Julia is an OCT certified teacher with qualifications in English, History and Special Education. Before coming to Oak Learners, Julia worked as a camp staff at Autism Ontario Niagara, a one-to-one clinician at a private reading clinic and as an assistant language teacher in an international high school in Japan.
When she is not working, Julia enjoys reading, painting, biking, swimming and cooking.
Joseph Wentworth, B.A. Hons, PGCE
Joseph has been a member of the Oak Learners staff since 2022 when he moved from London, UK to Toronto. He joined as an Elementary Teacher and was the 2022 Summer Camp Director. Joseph brings almost a decade of experience of teaching and developing program curriciulum in the UK and is passionate about teaching Physical Education and inspiring his students to excel.
In his free time he enjoys watching and playing football (soccer), along with exploring new places!
Katie Hartford, B.Sc.H., MBA
High School Tutor, Math & Science
Luxmy began teaching at Oak Learners in 2023. They previously completed a degree in Honours Life Sciences in Origins of Disease, with a minor in history. Currently, they attend Humber for the Addictions and Mental Health program where they hope to work with marginalized youth in the future.
Luxmy has an adaptable teaching style to accommodate various student needs, whether such needs are formally identified or discovered along the way. They believe that teaching and learning is an collaborative process, where students and teachers can work together to get the best outcome!
Outside of tutoring, Luxmy loves crocheting, painting with watercolours and gouache, reading, and spending time with loved ones!
Natalie has been a member of the Oak Learners staff since 2021. She has been teaching music lessons and hosting classes for Little Rebels and holds two post-secondary diplomas in Musical Theatre and grew up studying classical music (RCM). She has been teaching for the last 10+ years in many different capacities and is an active stage and screen performer. She has spent a lot of her life caring for children as a nanny, and brings an empathetic, patient and holistic approach to teaching. Nothing makes her happier than seeing a child’s confidence and instrument flourish!
She is offering drama, voice & piano studies.
Richard Crooks, MSc, PhD
Upper Level Math & Science Tutor
Richard has been a member of the Oak Learners staff since 2022. Richard is a biological scientist with a PhD in protein chemistry and an MSc in clinical bioinformatics. Before moving to Canada, he worked in universities and hospitals in England, where he is originally from, and also volunteered at an orphanage for disabled children in Armenia. He is extremely knowledgeable about biology and chemistry. He has an enthusiasm for science that he loves to share, and tries to find exciting ways to explain complicated topics.
In his spare time, Richard enjoys learning languages, playing guitar and canoeing.