Faculty and Staff


Kevin J. McCloskey

Kevin J. McCloskey is president of Direct Learning Systems, Inc. (DLS), a Lehigh Valley, PA, based distance education publishing company, which he founded in 1999. DLS owns Blackstone Career Institute (BCI) licensed by the PA Depart of Education, and MGS Trade School (MGS) approved by the DE Department of Education both providing an Internet-based distance learning curriculum. BCI and MGS are nationally accredited by the Accrediting Commission of the Distance Education Accrediting Commission, Washington, D.C. and regionally accredited by Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools CESS, Philadelphia, PA. In addition, DLS owns and operates The Institute for Children’s Literature, The Institute for Writers and 123ce.com.

Kevin’s previous experience includes over 15 years in senior management. He was Vice Chairman and managing partner of NLKK, Inc. the former operator of K12 owned Keystone School, a nationally accredited Internet-based secondary school with an enrollment of over 15,000 students. In 2000, he orchestrated the sale of NLKK, Inc. to KinderCare Learning Centers, Inc., a publicly traded firm. Prior to that time, he held various senior management positions in the medical equipment field. Kevin was primarily responsible for marketing, sales, business development and strategic planning throughout this period. He holds a BA degree from Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania.

Professionally, Kevin is active within the Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC), served on the Business Standards Committee (Vice Chairman), and was Chairman of the International Marketing Workshop of the DETC in 2000. Other professional affiliations include membership in the Mid-Atlantic Association of Career Schools and the Coalition for Student Opportunity and Success. He is currently on the finance committee at St. Thomas More Church and spent several years on the school board as fundraising chairman.

Zeke Stout

Zeke Stout is a certified firearms specialist with IFSA (International Firearms Specialist Academy) and a Uscca certified firearms instructor. To share his gun knowledge and expand his reach, he started one of the most popular podcasts in the firearms industry, He went on to help build one of the largest online gunsmithing schools as an Executive Vice President. In that role, he was certified through the DEAC as a Higher Education Professional in leadership and became an armorer in several platforms, including the 1911 and Penn arms grenade launcher.  He was also the host and gunsmithing subject matter expert for the Discovery channel show Master Of Arms.

In 2021, Zeke brought his expertise in firearms to Modern Gun School. As Director, he provides direction and oversight of the school while maintaining the creative consciousness and ensuring proper coordination with other companies in the firearms industry. Mr. Stout also oversees the development and execution of marketing strategies to ensure they align with the MGS mission and goals.  In keeping with accreditation standards, he recommends firearms programs and products to enhance student performance and benefit the industry as a whole.

Valerie L. Behrle
Director of Education

Valerie joined DLS as the Director of Education in 2001. Prior to joining, she worked as a teacher, tutor, and reading specialist with students in various educational settings. With over 30 years of experience, she has devoted her career to assisting students to increase their skill set through site-based and distance education.  As the Director of Education, she oversees program research, educational policies, and branded marketing strategies related to educational offerings along with the internal and external faculty. Valerie holds a Master’s Degree in Education and a Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary Education.

Philanthropically, Valerie supports Mercy School For Special Learning whose mission is to provide all children and young adults with special needs the best opportunity to reach their utmost potential, both academically and in life, and Cay Galgon Life House whose mission is to provide shelter for homeless pregnant women and their newborns and offer them counseling and education opportunities leading to lives of self-reliance. This charity work reflects some of her core values, which are rooted in supporting community, education, and collaboration to make the world a better places.

Donnita Fisher
Accounting | Finance Manager

Donnita is the Accounting/Finance Manager and joins DLS with over 25 years of experience. A graduate of Franklin University with a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration with a concentration in Accounting and a Minor in Finance, her professional experience and educational background enables her to coordinate the financial needs and human resources development at Direct Learning Systems, Inc. She is a member of the National Association of Certified Accounting Paraprofessionals (NACAP), Pennsylvania Institute of Certified Public Accountants (PICPA), and the National Association of Tax Professionals (NATP).  In addition to being certified in desktop QuickBooks and QuickBooks online, she is also a certified public notary. Outside of work, Donnita spends time with her cats.

Jacque Irizarry
Manager of Business Operations and Growth

Jacque earned a B. A. in Graphics and Media Arts from Southern New Hampshire University. Since joining Direct Learning Systems in 2015, she has taken advantage of the opportunity to gain knowledge about most areas of the business from Shipping to Student Services, and IT Project Manager to Graphic and Web Design. She is a proponent of self-growth and the building blocks of learning at work and in life. Jacque seeks opportunities for students, coworkers, and community members to have their unique skills, interests, and histories fostered, understood, and celebrated.

As the leader of business operations, she oversees the culture, community work, day-to-day operations, technology, student data, and compliance, to support our mission. Her passion is rooted in leading a team that is fostering change and helping individuals reach their highest potential.  Jacque loves playing basketball, working with craft breweries, traveling, and volunteering within the Lehigh Valley.  She also enjoys photography, painting, and other forms of creative arts.

Faculty and Staff

Harry “Skip” Walters III
Master Gunsmith | Instructor

A graduate of the Pennsylvania Gunsmith School, Skip has worked as an engineer, Technician, Model-maker, and Gunsmith for over 30 years. In addition to his role at MGS, Skip also works as a gunsmith for Sarco, Inc., one of the world’s largest suppliers of gun parts, kits, and accessories.
With his extensive education and real-world, experience, Skip provides MGS students with unique insights into what it takes to be a successful gunsmith. Have a question about your course or the firearms industry? Skip’s experience and expertise in the firearms industry is an invaluable resource.

Maggie McCloskey
Director of Marketing and Development

Maggie brings several years of experience in Customer Service, Management, Brand Awareness, Marketing, Project Management, Strategic Lead Generation, and Administration to DLS. After earning a BA in Mass Communications from the University of South Florida, Maggie spent two years at a law firm in New York City, working in account management & brand research. For the next three years, Maggie worked for Warby Parker, in their CX headquarters in Nashville, as a Customer Experience Lead. She supervised a team of 15 advisors who engaged with nationwide customers to provide solutions and seamless experiences. In her role at DLS, Maggie directs brand, content, design, advertising, and social media managers on their day-to-day projects. In an effort to achieve company growth goals, she collaborates with department directors to develop and strategize business improvement projects, from ideation to implementation.

Stacy Feifel
Director of Academic Programs

Stacy has been with Direct Learning Systems since 2007 in various administrative and educational capacities. She holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Telecommunications from Kutztown University and a Masters’ Degree in Education with a specialization in Instructional Design and Technology from the American College of Education. Her responsibilities include assisting the Director of Education, leading the educational and development team to construct and revise various educational material for the school, and working with the school’s administration to ensure that educational programs meet accreditation standards. She is also the administrator of the school’s online learning management system. Stacy also provides educational assistance to students with a special concentration on our veteran, military, and military spouse population.  In her free time, Stacy enjoys reading, traveling, and spending time with family.

Michele Long
Director of Regulatory and Compliance

Michele joined Direct Learning Systems as Director of Regulatory & Compliance working with the management team maintaining and ensuring compliance with licensure and accreditation standards. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree from Pennsylvania State University, a Diploma in Network Engineering Technology Administration credentialed as a Certified Network Administrator (C.N.A.) and Certified Network Engineer (C.N.E.), and a Master’s Degree in Higher Education with a concentration in Strategic Leadership from Messiah University. Michele has held various positions in higher education, responsible for national and programmatic accreditation and compliance, online and residential program development, and leadership of several major programs at a regional college. Michele created a student enrichment program that received national recognition by the College Board and was awarded Educator of the Year by the Optimist Club. Outside of work, Michele enjoys spending time with her family, watching the Phils, and traveling to Cape May, New Jersey.

Anthony Germani
Admissions Advisor | Student Services Lead

Anthony is a Penn State graduate where he majored in Education. Professionally, he has worked in both education in sales.  At Direct Learning Systems, Inc., he collaborates with marketing and student service teams to improve prospective student communications. As an Admissions Advisor, he offers guidance and assistance regarding course offerings, career paths, military benefits, payment plan options, and the enrollment process. Anthony also answers questions about the school, accreditation, and certification to help potential students decide whether the school is a good fit for them. Outside of work, Anthony enjoys spending time with his family and enjoys playing/watching sports (especially basketball and golf).

Christine Molnar
Student Services Representative

Christine is a graduate from Southern Connecticut State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Communication. She began with The Institute for Writers in 2005 as a Student Services representative and Admissions Advisor, and then joined DLS in 2020. Christine maintains an expansive customer service background and has assisted innumerable students and prospects with program guidelines to support motivation, independent learning, and goal achievement. She considers herself to be a jack-of-all-trades within the organization; from facilitating daily operational tasks to copy writing, editing, design, and collaborating within IFW brand Marketing and Social Media teams. Outside of business hours Christine enjoys running, photography, hiking, and quality time with her friends and family.

Madeline Erk
Student Service Representative

Madeline graduated from Liberty University with a major in Strategic Communication and minors in Graphic Design and Business. She was a member of PRSSA while in college. Madeline interned full-time at Clear Channel Airports as a Marketing & Creative Intern in the summer of 2022. At Direct Learning Systems, Inc., her role involves writing and editing content as well as assisting students. On the weekends, Madeline enjoys volunteering in children’s ministry, hiking, and spending time with family.

Shannon Jacobs
Social Media & Advertising Manager | Student Services Representative

Shannon is a 2021 graduate of Kutztown University with a bachelor’s in Social Media Theory & Strategy with a minor in communication studies. She also earned an associates in graphic design from Lehigh Carbon Community College (LCCC). Shannon’s role in her internship at WebFX in Harrisburg was a social media specialist – account manager. There she managed multiple client accounts, created content designs, brand awareness, content calendars, and social media strategies. In Shannon’s free time, she enjoys the gym, listening to music, painting, and spending time with friends.

Tammy Kromer
Mail Room Manager | Student Services Representative

Tammy has over 20 years of experience in customer service and began at Direct Learning Systems in the fall of 2001.  As a seasoned Student Service Representative, Tammy serves as a mentor to the staff.  Her responsibilities include processing student enrollments, exams, payments, assignments, and graduation documents.  She also assures each student has the appropriate course resources. Tammy assists in various duties including finances. Outside of work she enjoys playing games, knitting, and spending time with her family.

Cameron Kilpatrick
Shipping Associate | Student Services Representative

Cameron is a graduate of Lehigh Carbon Community College with an associate degree in Liberal Arts. Currently working on his bachelor’s degree at Bloomsburg University, he is studying to be an Anthropologist. Professionally, he has worked at Staples, Inc. in both sales and customer service. At Direct Learning Systems, Inc., Cam’s administrative role includes processing student exams, assignments, proof of education, and student surveys. He also assists in the mail room, processing student shipments and letters. Outside of work, Cam enjoys camping and exploring nature, specifically geology, minerology, and herpetology.

Richard Scutt
Firearms | Shipping Associate | Student Services Representative

Richard, a Military & Iraq war veteran, brings Direct Learning Systems his hands-on experience in management, logistics, and customer service. While serving in the Army, he was awarded several service and combat medals. He used the GI Bill to attend Lincoln Technical Institute, where he studied electronic engineering. Richard leveraged his military experience and education to secure a position in international shipping at Access Global Logistics Limited. Remaining in the transportation and warehouse industry, Richard took a manager position at National Acoustics. He has also worked for both UPS and the United States Postal Service. At DLS, Richard’s role includes working in two different departments – Student Services and Shipping. In his spare time, Richard volunteers at nursing homes and supports autism charities. In addition to spending time with family and friends, he enjoys traveling.

Denise Di Bernard
Digital Production & Print Specialist

Denise studied Elementary Education at West Chester University and later pursued an Associates degree in Graphic Design at Delaware County Community College. She has many years of experience in print and design. At DLS her duties include printing student learning materials, maintaining warehouse inventory, shipping and receiving. Denise enjoys cooking, craft beer, kayaking, biking, running, and gardening and also volunteers as a trail steward with the National Park Service.

Morgan Laney
Graphic + Web Designer

Morgan is a Marshall University graduate where she majored in Fine Arts with an emphasis in Graphic Design. At BCI, her responsibilities include graphic + web design and assisting our Marketing Department with design assets. Outside of work, Morgan enjoys spending time with her family, including her two Boston Terriers, going to the movies (especially the drive-in) and painting.