PSC Coaches

Michelle Horton

Michelle is our original coach who assisted in developing the Spelling Coaching Program with Linda Tarrant. She has been coaching students using our system since 2008. She had been writing and editing Hexco products for several years before that. Prior to working with Hexco, Michelle coached all three of her children using Hexco products, and they together spelled at the National Bee a total of seven years. Michelle’s youngest, Mary, ultimately tied for fifth place at the NSB in her final attempt, and Jonathan, her oldest speller garnered the sixth place win. Michelle is an expert grammarian who holds a Bachelor's degree in Secondary Education with a specialization in Chemistry. As head coach, she has developed instructions for approaching the spelling of words in various language families beyond what is in Hexco's Spelling Rules Book and has added multiple lists for many language families and beyond. Currently, Michelle is expanding the Personal Spelling Coach Program to include new areas for mastery by working with students in our coaching programs and in a new, unique approach to coaching very young spellers in our Beginning Track program. Her positive attitude helps build excellent rapport with students as she continues to receive stellar reviews from customers who have had the opportunity to benefit from her coaching, many of whom have made it to the higher rungs of the National Spelling Bee.

Linda Tarrant

Linda is the president of Hexco, Inc. and the primary author of most of the company's advanced spelling products and other high‐level academic study materials. All three of Linda's daughters participated at the NSB in 1987, 1989, 1992, and 1993. Linda manages and organizes Hexco's PSC program by assisting coaches, reviewing and systematizing word lists, screening potential PSC candidates, and consulting with parents to help individualize a long‐term spelling strategy for coached students. Her direct interaction with students is limited, though Linda continues to play a key role in the coaching process.

Roshini Asirvatham

Roshini is a freshman at the University of California, Berkeley. She attended the Scripps NSB twice in 2010 and 2012 after winning the SE Minnesota Regional Spelling Bee and participated in the North South Foundation National Spelling Bee every year from 2006-2012. She earned 4th place at both the 2012 North South Foundation National Bee and the 2012 National South Asian Bee.

Gokul Venkatachalam - UNAVAILABLE

Gokul is a sophomore in high school. He competed in the NSB four times, placing 10th, 19th, 3rd, and eventually becoming a co-champion in 2015. He is also a champion of the South Asian Spelling Bee. He has a deep passion for language patterns and roots and uses his knowledge to help his students become the best spellers they can possibly become.

Meera Suresh

Meera has been involved in the spelling bee world for five years now, participating in the CBS San Francisco Regional Spelling Bee all five years. She went to the NSB in 2015 and tied for 50th place. She will be entering her freshman year at Cupertino High School in the fall of 2016.

Snehaa Ganesh Kumar - UNAVAILABLE

Snehaa has nine years of experience in spelling bees, starting from kindergarten and continuing through eighth grade. She competed in the Scripps NSB, tying for 4th place in 2015 and becoming the runner-up in 2016. Snehaa has demonstrated a great mastery of language during her studies for the NSB and is looking forward to sharing her expertise with spellers who are excited to participate in Scripps bees. Coaching is her way of giving back to the spelling community and working with spellers in an area of her life that she loves. Read Snehaa's story.

Jonathan Horton

Jonathan participated in the NSB in 2005, 2006, and 2007, achieving a nationwide placement of 22nd, 6th, and 8th place in each respective year. Since then, he has been coaching for Hexco for several years and has successfully coached several students to the upper echelons of the NSB. He has obtained a Bachelor of Science from George Mason University as a double major in Applied Mathematics and Computer Science. He is currently working as a developer with a prominent company in Champaign, Illinois, while coaching students for Hexco in his time off. His love and knowledge of words and their languages is deep. He enjoys working with his students by sharing his knowledge base and teaching them effective strategies that will help them build theirs.

Navya Murugesan 

Navya has been fascinated by words ever since she can recall. She has been highly involved in the spelling world for six years. She competed at the 2014 NSB and tied for 47th. She is the champion of the 2016 National Beta Club Spelling Bee. She also tied for 7th at the 2016 National South Asian Spelling Bee and tied for 6th at the North South Foundation National Spelling Bee. She won the 2018 District Literary Rally Spelling Competition in the parish. In Navya's opinion, in the spelling world, words are strings from the mind to the rest of the world, and spellers are the weavers of those strings. Navya started coaching following her own spelling success and was one of Ananya Vinay's (2017 NSB champion) coaches. Navya also coached two other students who previously placed 4th at regionals, and with her coaching, they both qualified for Scripps. One of those students was Shrinidhi Gopal, who as a first-timer, tied for 7th place at the 2017 NSB; the other student was Sharanya Pastapur. From previous experiences, as much as Navya loved competing, she has a passion to coach spellers. She looks forward to sharing her knowledge, strategies, and concepts with more spellers. Coaching is her way of staying involved with the spelling community. Navya is currently a junior in high school, and as much as spelling is important to her, she values academics too. She is also taking college-level classes in propaedeutic preparation for the future. Navya values the lessons spelling has taught her and applies them to her life in every way possible. She hopes to inspire many others and instill a passion for spelling into young minds.

Arushi Kalpande

Arushi is a rising sophomore in high school. She participated in her first spelling bee when she was six years old, and spelling quickly became her passion. She eventually made it to the Scripps NSB, where she placed 47th in 2014 and 22nd in 2015 and 2016. She has also competed in the South Asian and NSF spelling bees several times. Arushi is excited to continue to be a part of the spelling community and share her love of words with her students.

Nikhil Lahiri

Nikhil from Painted Post, NY, started participating in school spelling bees in 5th grade. Every year, he enhanced his repertoire of words and took pride in representing his schools at Scripps regional spelling bees. Inspired by his personal experience at other national-level competition in 2016 and watching the championship NSB runs of friends on ESPN, he decided to target the big stage at NSB. Leveraging the Fast Track, personal coaching, and other Hexco products, he rapidly accelerated his personal learning pace in his first and final attempt at NSB in 8th grade. With this solid spelling foundation and an incredible amount of hard work, he developed his own master study plan and was rewarded with a placement of 23rd at the 2017 NSB. As a Hexco coach, he is looking forward to sharing his learning experiences and helping highly motivated students achieve their goals.

Akshra Paimagam

Akshra won her very first spelling bee competition in second grade, and that victory encouraged her to pursue the ultimate prize: competing at the Scripps NSB. She had her first opportunity in 2015 when she not only made it to the NSB but tied for 39th place and made it into the semifinals on her very first attempt. A setback in 2016 spurred her to even deeper study. With determination, she used the PSC program and her own personal study to earn her berth at the NSB in 2017. In the 2017 NSB, she surpassed her previous placement and placed 23rd. She also placed 9th in the highly competitive North South Foundation Spelling Bee. Akshra is excited to share her love and knowledge of spelling to new spellers in Hexco's coaching program.

Aditya Rao

Aditya is a college freshman at the University of Pennsylvania. He plans to major in Biological Basis of Behavior, the neuroscience program, in addition to minoring in Linguistics, Classical Studies, and possibly Mathematics. In addition to being selected as a member of the Student Committee on Undergraduate Education, PennScience, the Penn Bioethics Journal, and the Penn Undergraduate Law Journal, he currently holds a research position at the Children's Hospital of Pennsylvania. He competed in spelling bees since elementary school but began to prepare seriously as a speller at the end of seventh grade, when he started with Hexco's PSC program. He qualified for the Scripps NSB in 2013, making it to the semifinals and placing 19th.

Mitchell Robson

Mitchell is a rising high school junior. He has always had an interest in words and became an avid reader at a young age. Mitchell follows in the footsteps of his grandfather and uncle, both of whom shared a passion for tutoring. Since the fourth grade, Mitchell has tutored math, and he has expanded to spelling in later years. Mitchell participated in the 2014, 2015, and 2016 Scripps NSBs. After missing the semifinals by one point in 2015, he decided to increase his studying exponentially, which paved the way for his tie for 7th place in the 2016 NSB. Mitchell believes firmly that almost anyone has the potential to become an elite speller with proper coaching and dedicated study time. As a speller and a coach, Mitchell chooses to balance some memorization techniques with an advanced understanding of linguistic patterns to ensure that students are well-equipped to piece together words and successfully spell on stage, even when hearing a word for the first time. As a freshman, Mitchell took a college-level AP Calculus class, was the only freshman in his high school to receive the Brother Linus merit award that covers full tuition for one year, and has aspirations to make a positive difference in this world. Read his Boston Globe article.

Deborah Horton

Deborah participated in the NSB circuit for several years, ultimately attending the NSB three times. Deborah holds a Bachelor of Science degree in History, has a strong science background, and graduated with a 4.0 GPA. She loves reading, writing, watching movies, playing video games, and being outdoors in nature. She understands the dedication, perseverance, and determination required to reach the echelon of the NSB and looks forward to working with spellers in their quest for excellence in spelling. She is currently assisting the head coach in word work for spellers in the program.

Alice Liu

Alice is a freshman in high school. She has been involved in spelling bees since 2016. In 2017, she placed 12th, in 2018, she placed 34th, and in 2019, she placed 10th. In addition, Alice has placed 2nd in a 2020 national writing contest. Her solid spelling background and passion for words propel her to effectively instruct spellers using language patterns and etymology.