Christa Ehmann Powers, Ph.D.

Vice President & Chief Education Officer

Christa Ehmann Powers is a leader in the development of online tutoring and instructional services in the United States and internationally, having headed the education department of Smarthinking since its founding in 1999. She initially developed the unique protocols and mechanisms for online tutoring, and thereafter implemented the operational systems to manage the growth of Smarthinking, which now tutors hundreds of thousands of students each year.

Christa earned her Master’s and Doctorate degrees from Oxford University and has taught and worked worldwide in the field of online tutoring and education. Involved in various non-profit education organizations, Ehmann Powers has also sat on the Washington D.C. board of directors of Learning Ally—a nonprofit organization dedicated to giving individuals equal access to learning by making reading accessible for all K-12, high school, college and graduate students, veterans and lifelong learners with blindness, visual impairment, dyslexia or other learning disabilities through digital recordings and assistive technology devices.
See Christa’s published works


Allyson Fetterhoff Tearnan, Ph.D.

Executive Director, Writing and Humanities

Allyson Fetterhoff Tearnan is responsible for setting education-related quality, strategy, and policies for all Writing and Humanities products and services. Before joining Smarthinking, Allyson taught Composition and Literature at the University of Maryland where she also coordinated arts programs for one of the University’s outreach centers. She received her M.A. and Ph.D. in English from the University of Maryland. She specializes in American literature, modernist fiction, and narrative theory.


Kirk Benningfield

Kirk Benningfield, Ph.D.

Vice President, Education Operations

Kirk Benningfield has his Ph.D. in Mathematics from the University of Houston and has taught the subject there and at McNeese State University for the last ten years, while scoring AP® Calculus exams for the last 13. Kirk joined Smarthinking in 2000 and launched the mathematics online tutoring program, playing a vital role in developing the operations, designing the technology platforms, and expanding a strong team of academic managers. Kirk leads education operations, directs Smarthinking platform development efforts, and focuses on expanding Smarthinking services and enhancing tutor platform features.


Linda Bush

Linda Bush, Ph.D.

Executive Director, Mathematics, Science, Nursing & Allied Health, and Program Development

Linda Bush directs STEM tutoring, including Nursing & Allied Health, after joining Smarthinking in 2004 as a Chemistry tutor. She also pursues strategic development and growth opportunities for Smarthinking. Linda has 11 years of experience developing and teaching remedial through advanced level courses in Chemistry at both Salisbury State University and Knox College. She has consulted for NASA, the American Board for Certification of Teacher Excellence, Cengage Learning, and the American Heritage Dictionaries. Linda earned her M.S. and Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry at Yale University.



Amy Stuber, Ph.D.

Director, Writing and Humanities

Amy Stuber manages Smarthinking’s writing tutors which includes overseeing tutor quality, working with clients to ensure user satisfaction, and assisting with development of new programs. Prior to Smarthinking, Amy taught Writing, Literature, and Creative Writing at Roger Williams University, Haskell Indian Nations University, and the University of Kansas. Amy received her Ph.D. in English from the University of Kansas where she specialized in short fiction and American literature. She has published fiction in numerous national magazines.



Courtney M. Poullas

Senior Manager of Program Development

Courtney M. Poullas has been teaching and tutoring for nearly ten years and began her career at Smarthinking in 2010. Courtney obtained both her B.A. in Professional Writing & Editing, with a focus in children’s/young adult literature, and her M.A. in English, with certification in the Teaching of Writing from Youngstown State University, an urban research institute, where she performed extensive research regarding writing center theory and practice.

She has presented research at the Northeast Ohio Writing Center Association conference and College English Association of Ohio conference, and has served on Youngstown State’s Council of Teaching and Learning. Her work with Smarthinking includes extensive program research and development as well as tutoring and team oversight. She is also a Pearson Brand Advocate.