Founder of Academic Pathways and long-time learning center industry leader, Mary Koles has guided countless students toward academic success.

Our founder, Mary Koles, is 100% dedicated to her students. She has demonstrated this time and again, first as a high school teacher in Nashville and Philadelphia, then as an academic consultant in Seoul,  South Korea.  Her work in recent years has been helping the acclaimed SpiderSmart learning centers grow. It's fair to say that Mary's life for the last 10+ years has been about teaching and her students above all.

Mary opened SpiderSmart of Bethesda in 2009, then later moved to Rockville and continued operations there. She has run SpiderSmart of Rockville since 2011, then SpiderSmart of Kensington since 2015. In 2016, Mary officially added an online dimension:  her personal and professional editing company, Ink200. The latest extension of her academic business family has been Academic Pathways, opened in fall of 2017.

Affectionately known to her students as "Miss Mary," she has an MFA from American University, a B.S. in English / Secondary Education from Vanderbilt University, and is a recipient of UPENN's Fellowship for ESOL Educators. She has been published in The Virginia Quarterly Review and The St. Petersburg Review, among other reputable journals.  She won the Gerald Stern Poetry Prize in 2009, and the Mississippi Review Poetry Prize in 2012.  Her own writing and editing further fuels her passion for the writing workshops at her centers.  She loves what it feels like to see kids fall in love with words, and to discover their true passions as they evolve over time.  

“It was such a great pleasure to get to meet you in person. Thank you for such a wonderful energy and love for kids' learning. I was so touched when you were out getting the books. I have to say we were a bit frustrated by the inertia in public schools after we moved here. We are lucky to have you to show us the opposite.”