About Winning STEP®

Mission for Successful College & Career Transition

Our mission is to provide high school students and adults with the information, tools and skills they need to make a successful transition to independence through our step by step Student Transition and Entry Preparation (STEP®) publications and programs. Winning STEP® research-based publications and programs are created by Winning Way System, LLC to prepare individuals academically, emotionally and practically to become self-advocates and to successfully transition to college, careers and independence. Winning STEP® is dedicated to assisting you in preparing for and charting your future - whether it is simply a life change, choosing a career, or entry into college, technical training or the workforce.

College & Career Direct Instruction Programs in Maryland

Winning STEP® takes pride in providing ongoing revision and updating of our publications and programs to ensure that they are in keeping with best practices and current research. We test-drive our texts and curriculums through our home office learning lab and area community programs, as well as in nationwide online pilot programs. If you are interested in receiving direct instruction for any of our college and career programs in Maryland, please Contact Us for more information today.

Research Basis for College & Career Publications and Programs

The skills, topics and information provided in our Winning STEP® college and career entry publications and programs are based on extensive research. We work to continually update and revise our texts and curriculum to keep them current. In addition, all of our texts and curriculums have been designed to support national and state educational initiatives. Winning STEP® publications and programs are in line with the goals and standards of

  • Federal No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB)
  • National Career Development Guidelines
  • National Educational Technology Standards
  • Maryland Technology Literacy Standards
  • National Standards in K-12 Finance Education
  • National Standards for English/Language Arts
  • National Health Education Standards
  • National Standards for Arts Education
  • National Visual Arts Standards
  • National Ready by 21 Initiative
  • States Career Clusters Initiative
  • 2009 Maryland State Plan for Postsecondary Education
  • Code of Maryland Regulations (COMAR)

Partners and Affiliates

Choo Smith Enterprises, LLC

Winning STEP® is proud to be the educational arm of Choo Smith Enterprises (CSE), based in Baltimore, MD. A former Original Harlem Globetrotter, "Choo" Smith established CSE with the goal of providing products and services that change communities. Choo Smith Enterprises is committed to being a forerunner in youth issues. For more information, visit their website.

The United States Tournament of Dance

Winning STEP® is pleased to be a partner sponsor of The United States Tournament of Dance, providing two Step Up to Your Future Scholarship Awards to high school freshman, sophomore, and/or junior students at every USTD Regional Competition. Additionally, college bound high school seniors have a unique opportunity to win cash scholarships at USTD Nationals as part of this new and exciting program. Winning STEP® is proud to be working with USTD to support young dancers; one of our former Comprehensive College Entry Preparation Program participants is the current USTD Miss Dance of the United States. For more information about USTD, visit their website.

Alliance for Career and Education, Inc.

In order to make our programs available to disadvantaged youth and adults, the founders of Winning Way System, LLC established a non-profit organization, Alliance for Career and Education, Inc. (ACE). Through ACE, Winning STEP® programs have been provided to students in the Baltimore area through community organizations such as Paul's Place. Visit our ACE website for more information on our non-profit educational programs in Maryland.

College & Career Publication and Program Testimonials

"People take it for granted that students have these skills, but there is a real need to teach them the steps to be successful in life. I had been actively looking for programs like this and kept striking out until I found the Winning STEP® programs."
- Jennifer Bernhard
  Youth Programs Coordinator, Paul's Place,
  Baltimore, MD

"I love the Career Entry Preparation Program because it gave me a variety of careers I'd be personally good at due to my skills, interests and more. It's a good source of information for anyone who's trying to make a decision on which career to choose."
- Daniel Wilson
  High School Senior
  Baltimore City Public Schools
  Paul's Place 3-7 Academy

"The Comprehensive College Entry Guide presents a thorough view on how students should apply for college financial aid. I think this book is a must-read for college bound students and their parents."
- Robert Williams
  Certified Financial Planner
  Baltimore-Washington Financial Advisors, Inc.

"I would definitely recommend the Comprehensive College Entry Preparation program to others because it gives one a head start as to what to expect from senior year and in college. The most useful lesson was the section on financial aid and needs. This to me was the most important section because it gave me the ins and outs of what I need to do to get money for college and fully prepare myself."
- Kendall Smith
  High School Junior
  Bishop McNamara High School, Washington, D.C.

"Having worked in pre-college programs and college enrollment management for over ten years, I must say that this is the most comprehensive, family-centered college preparation program I have seen."
- Tom Butler
  Executive Director, Project GRAD
  Philadelphia, PA

"I believe all the information was very useful. I found the goal and career lessons helpful because they helped me realize what I really want to major in when I go to college. The organizer was the most useful text because when I went on college tours I was able to write down the different answers and now I am able to go back and look at what is different from the colleges I have chosen. I would recommend this program because it helps you get ready for your senior year and for college."
- Megan Cameron
  High School Junior
  Prince Georges County, MD

"After reviewing the College Entry Preparation, Career Entry Preparation, and especially the Transition Readiness Preparation texts, I feel that these programs will be a definite benefit to high school juniors, seniors and their families."
- William Ekey
  Student Development/Instructional Support Specialist
  Harford Community College, MD
  Former High School Principal/Director of Secondary Education
  Harford County Public Schools, MD

"All of the information was useful, especially the sites for helping me figure out what major and what college are best for me. The Financial Aid lessons helped me get a sense of what the whole application and process is like and what needs to be done. The College Entry Organizer and Journal was the most helpful text, because it helped get things organized. I think the program is great!"
- Frankie Ortiz
  High School Senior
  Littlerock High School, CA

Professional Staff

Ira D. Greene, Executive Director and Managing Member of Winning STEP®, has nearly 30 years of experience working in the senior care industry. His hands-on expertise includes planning, design, fundraising, development, recruitment and management of projects and facilities. Mr. Greene received a Bachelor's Degree in Community Psychology from Antioch College. While in college, he worked 18 months as a Child Care Assistant at Linwood School in Ellicott City, an institution for autistic children. It is from this early involvement with special needs children that he developed his commitment to educating and preparing youth for future success. Mr. Greene is in charge of human resources for Winning STEP®.

Frank Luca, Director of Operations and Managing Member of Winning STEP®, has more than 21 years of educational experience. He worked in the field as a teacher, coach and athletic director, and then served as the Director of Career Services for Family Advocacy Services, Inc. In addition, Mr. Luca spent seven years in Non-Public Level V Special Education and two years with adjudicated youths at risk. Mr. Luca received a Bachelor of Science degree from Towson State University and completed postgraduate work at the College of Notre Dame for an advanced professional certificate in Education Administration. Mr. Luca oversees operations and marketing for Winning STEP®.

Lydia Whitney, Director of Curriculum & Instruction for Winning STEP®, has more than 18 years of experience in teaching secondary English and language arts for students of all ability levels and backgrounds in grades 6-12. Ms. Whitney has a Bachelor of Arts in English Education from the University of Delaware and holds a Master's Equivalency and an Advanced Professional Certificate in Maryland. Ms. Whitney oversees the creation and development of all Winning STEP® publications, curriculum and programs, and provides customization for individual students and/or groups.

Aaron E. Thomas, Director of Career Services for Winning STEP®, has over ten years of business management expertise. His career includes six years as the Director of Student Services for All State Career. He has placed students with organizations including the Bank of America, the Washington Post and the Prince George's County Police Department. Mr. Thomas has a Bachelor of Arts in Administration from Rutgers University and an Associate of Arts in Business Management from Camden County College. In addition, he has completed postgraduate studies at Columbia University. Mr. Thomas is in charge of developing career training and placement programs for Winning STEP®.

Joseph Long, Director of Community Programs for Winning STEP®, has over thirty years of experience in business, employee coaching and project management. Mr. Long serves on the Baltimore County Public Schools Master Plan Oversight Committee, and has been President of two private school boards. He has a strong history of community advocacy and received Bell Atlantic's National Volunteerism Award in 1996. Mr. Long holds a BA from University of Maryland (UMBC) and a Masters Certificate in Project Management from ESI/George Washington University. Mr. Long is in charge of community outreach and directs the sales team at Winning STEP®.

Iris Hirsch, Operations Coordinator for Winning STEP®, served as a testing coordinator, instructional specialist and data coach, as well as department coordinator and chairperson for Prince Georges County Public schools in Maryland. She has 23 years of classroom experience. Ms. Hirsch has a Bachelor of Arts in Speech and Drama Education, as well as a minor in English from the University of Maryland. She also holds a Master's Equivalency and an Advanced Professional Certificate in Maryland. Ms. Hirsch coordinates operations and marketing for Winning STEP®.

Melissa Pop-Lazarova, Text Editor for Winning STEP®, works from home part-time while homeschooling two young children. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English literature from the University of Delaware. Her professional background includes computer software development as well as various literary ventures. Mrs. Pop-Lazarova has edited multiple texts, specializing in educational guides and curriculums.

Consultants & Associates

Dr. Donald McBrien, PhD, has 42 years in education as both teacher and school guidance counselor. He served as a supervisor for Baltimore County Public Schools Office of Guidance and as the Director of Pupil Services for both Baltimore and Howard County Public Schools. He is presently an adjunct professor at John Hopkins University in Counselor Education. Dr. McBrien has a Bachelor of Science degree from Towson State Teachers College. He earned his Master's in Education and his Doctorate from the University of Maryland. He is also a National Certified Counselor as well as a Certified Professional Counselor.

Dr. Magalie Piou-Brewer, CEO of MPB Group, Inc., an outpatient mental health clinic (OMHC), served as a college admissions recruiter while pursuing her advanced degrees. Dr. Piou-Brewer graduated from Loyola College in 1993 with an undergraduate degree in Communications. She earned a Master's degree in Pastoral Counseling in 2000. After pursuing doctoral studies in Clinical Psychology at The George Washington University, she earned her PsyD in 2004.

Dr. Ted Etling, PsyD, served as a Therapist providing individual and couples counseling in a private practice before becoming a Forensic Psychologist and Neuropsychologist working with the Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice. His experience also includes residencies and internships at JFK Medical Center in Edison, NJ, Miami Valley Hospital Rehabilitation Institute of Ohio, and Ellis Institute in Dayton, OH. Dr. Etling earned a BA in Business Administration before pursuing his Doctorate in Psychology from Argosy University.

William Sarangoulis, President of American Academic Services, has more than 36 years of educational experience. He was an educator in both Baltimore County and Howard County Public Schools. He served as a chairman of Guidance for the Howard County Public School System and was the principal and founder of College Connections, a private college counseling service. Mr. Sarangoulis received a Bachelor of Music Education and a Master of Music Education degree from Peabody Conservatory. He has a certification in Counseling from Western Maryland College and holds an Advanced Professional Certificate from the Maryland State Department of Education.

Yolanda H. Brown, Executive Director of the Florence Bertell Academy, supervises the management team of an Intensity V school for adolescent males (SED) aged 14-20. Ms. Brown was a teacher for the Baltimore City Schools for over 15 years. She developed instructional programs and curriculum for students to promote reading for inner city children. She also has over 10 years of management experience with inmate higher education programs for the Coppin State College Inmate Extension Program. Ms. Brown has a Bachelor's of Science in Education from Morgan State University and a Masters in Applied Psychology from the University of Baltimore.

James Bradley has 29 years experience teaching secondary English and related language arts. He is designated a Master Teacher within his field. Mr. Bradley holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree from the University of Maryland and a Masters of Education Degree with a concentration in reading from Johns Hopkins University. He has served as a member of his school's professional development team working with Towson University in training new teachers.

Bobbie Lowe taught in the Harford County Public School System of Maryland for more than 27 years. Her subject areas have included Algebra, Geometry, Consumer Math, General Math, and Computer Science. Mrs. Lowe has served as mathematics department chairman at Joppatowne and North Harford High Schools. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in French and History as well as a math teaching certification. Her Master's Degree is in curriculum development.

Lacye J. Shank has 29 years of experience in education ranging from the middle school to community college levels teaching English and speech. She is a professional author of children's stories and teaches for the Carroll County Public School System. Ms. Shank received a Bachelor of Education from Shippensburg University, Pennsylvania.

Richard L. Dolon had 23 years of teaching computer science, electrical and instrument technology and software training. He was a WICAT minicomputer network systems administrator and a systems administrator for Fantastic, Novell and Windows NT networking system. He was also a Master Instructor for the US Army and a flight line electrician for Hughes Helicopters. Richard attended the University of Maryland for business management and career technology education. He completed postgraduate certification in technology education and computer science. He served as Coordinator for the Career and Technology Center and as site manager for computer network systems at Family Advocacy Services.

Nina Gilman has worked in the education field for 9 years. She is currently the Upper School Office Manager of an independent school for grades 3-12. She assists with college counseling, standardized testing, scheduling and overall office management. She has toured, interviewed and processed admissions candidates for lower, middle and upper school students. Ms. Gilman holds a bachelor's degree in music from the University of Maryland.