Philosophy and Support
In Stevenson School’s lower and middle divisions, we believe that how we teach is equally as important as what we teach. We prepare students for continued academic success; kindle their delight in learning, and help them shape a joyful life.
Based on a continuous and in-depth review of best practices in the educational field, Stevenson’s lower and middle divisions use a balanced classroom assessment system that is effective in measurement and purposefully planned to maximize student learning.
Erica Herro, our director of curriculum and instruction, works alongside teachers to increase support for small-group literacy and math instruction in PK-8 classrooms and offers additional small-group support during the middle-grade study strategies class.
Until recently, when a student needed more intensive individual support, we referred families to work with well-respected specialists outside of school hours and often off campus. So we’re happy to share that families are now able to schedule one-on-one services directly with a handful of these independent providers working with students at school. While our relationships with these professionals are not new, we welcome them into our community of learners. Time will be allocated into the daily schedule for students in each grade to receive one-on-one support while other students are receiving small-group instruction, as well as during office hours and after school. Interested families are encouraged to reach out now to find out more about these professionals, establish a relationship with them, and reserve space for the school year. We strive to support confident learners with a broad range of options.
As an extension of the Social Thinking curriculum that we teach, Grades 1 and 4 students have the opportunity to participate in Social Thinking lunches with speech and language therapist Brittany Kalinowski. In a small-group setting, students eat their lunch together, then work on social and friendship skills in a fun and engaging way. Grade 5 students, too, have the opportunity to participate in Social Thinking with speech therapist Stephanie Madrigal who designed the curriculum for Social Thinking and has established a program that integrates social attention and awareness with language development and practice. We’re truly fortunate to have this wonderful guidance, made possible, in part, by the sponsorship of generous Stevenson families.
Please contact Erica Herro, director of curriculum and instruction, at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.
- Offering parent education nights
- Collaborating with teachers about curriculum and instruction, materials, assessments and optimizing student outcomes
- Coordinating appropriate learning support for individual student needs
- Considering best practices in teaching and learning to support professional development for teachers, curriculum for all learners, and assessment to support an engaged learning environment
- Considering accessibility in curriculum (executive functioning tools, audio books, screen readers, voice typing)
- Overseeing study strategies, standardized testing (MAP), and office hours
- Offering parents a forum to communicate about their children's individual learning needs
- Providing educational testing and monitoring accommodations
- Offering dedicated educational support and advocacy with parents, teachers, and standardized testing agencies
- Referring families to private tutors as needed
Erica Herro, MA, BCET is director of curriculum and instruction and educational therapist. She has a BA in sociology from UCSC, a MA in psychology from Chapman University, and is a board certified educational therapist. She has post-graduate training in marriage, family, and child counseling, early language development, Orton Gillingham Reading Instruction, Handwriting Without Tears, Making Math Real, Social Thinking, Feuerstein Instrumental Enrichment, The Alert Program, executive functioning, and assistive technology. Erica provides early literacy screenings, diagnostic instruction, learning disability evaluations (at a reduced cost through the school), and parent consultations in the Lower and Middle Divisions. Her strength lies in the integration of information from pediatricians, psychiatrists, psychologists, speech therapists, occupational therapists, administrators, teachers and parents to create a unified plan from which the team can make educated decisions. Erica has published several articles and provides national and international trainings on best practices in evaluation, early intervention, curriculum, instruction, assessment, and teacher training to support a better understanding of neurodiversity and differentiation.
In addition to teaching Middle Division mathematics, Jessica Gentry is an educational therapist and provides academic strategy support to students in the Middle Division. She graduated from UCSD's Revelle college in 3 years with a BA in human development and went on to CSUN for graduate school specializing in mild/moderate disabilities. She has a CA specialist credential and worked as a special education teacher at The Frostig Center for six years before transitioning into educational therapy and classroom teaching. She is trained in Cogmed, Lindamood-Bell, RAVE-O, Read Naturally, 5 Minutes to Better Reading, V/V, Seeing Stars, Great Leaps, and Making Math Real.
Michelle Scheid provides early literacy support to the Lower Division, in addition to teaching PK-4 Spanish. Michelle has her BA in elementary education from the University of Maryland and her MA in bilingual and multicultural education from the University of Colorado. Prior to her time at Stevenson, she taught bilingual kindergarten and first grade in Colorado for seven years. She also has experience working as an early childhood special educator and early childhood literacy coach. She has been trained in Reading Recovery, Descubriendo la Lectura, and Handwriting Without Tears. She shares a wealth of experience supporting students beginning to learn to read and write, students with language delays, as well as students with English as a second language.
Andrea Ibsainne has a Bachelor of Arts in French Literature, a Masters in Teaching English and now is close to completing a Doctorate of Education in Reading and Literacy. Her doctorate dissertation brings her to Stevenson School’s Lower Division because of her need to research a successful and innovative early literacy intervention program. Stevenson provides her with the framework of a thriving literacy program because of its inclusion of all learners, differentiated teaching models, embedded professional development and a school culture of lifelong learning. She plans to use Stevenson's successful and empathetic approach to literacy learning as an evidenced based model for her dissertation. Andrea has over 20 years of language teaching experience and is currently teaching at CSUMB. She is thrilled to learn and reflect with a school that is so dedicated to the unique learning of each child.
Sylvia Gattas graduated from Pepperdine University in 2017 and moved to Washington D.C. to join the Math Brain Lab at Georgetown. During her undergraduate studies, she majored in Psychology with an emphasis in Neuropsychology and minored in Nonprofit Management. At Pepperdine, Sylvia taught a preschool class and worked as a research assistant for two labs. The first, a child clinical lab with a focus on body image development, and the second, on learning, memory and cognition. She also had child subjects research certifications from both Pepperdine and Georgetown. Sylvia is passionate about understanding the ways in which different educational techniques can impact child development. In particular, her research focuses on the neural and behavioral precursors that allow for the acquisition of symbolic systems, and how cognitive control and emotional factors affect child brain development. Born in Egypt, Sylvia moved to the Monterey Peninsula with her family when she was 10 years old. Sylvia is collaborating with Stevenson to use concepts and tools from psychology and cognitive neuroscience to further understand how humans acquire, use, and teach numerical and mathematical concepts. She will provide the school with individualized student reports for each child and classroom in PK-Grade 2 that will improve math education from the onset of schooling.
Elisa Gensberg, M.S.O.T., OTR/L, C/NDT, SIPT certified, earned her MS in occupational therapy from the University of Puget Sound and has extensive experience providing pediatric-based occupational therapy in a wide-range of settings including in schools, homes, and clinics. Elisa embraces a child and family friendly, developmental approach to treatment. She holds certifications in Pediatric Neuro-Developmental Treatment (NDT) and Sensory Integration Praxis Test (SIPT). She has advanced training and experience working with children with difficulties with self-regulation, poor executive functioning and organizational skills, fine motor delays, handwriting difficulty, feeding delays, autism spectrum, and developmental delays. Elisa loves working with teams and families to best support each child. She has recently returned to Monterey and she is so excited to be back home.
Michelle Handel, an experienced educational therapist, received her BA degree and teaching credential at San Diego State University and continued in education at UC Berkeley and UC Santa Cruz. She enjoys researching, studying, and discovering skills and strategies to help students breakthrough barriers that are keeping them from learning, improving school work, and reaching their potential. With that aim, she became a licensed HeartMath trainer to help students and families reduce stress, anxiety, improve focus, long term/short term memory, reading, and math. She is trained in Feuerstein Instrumental Enrichment, several Orton Gillingham instructional methods, Lindamood-Bell Visualizing and Verbalizing, and Making Math Real. She values working as a team with parents, teachers, and various support services to unlock each child’s potential.
Brittany Kalinowski is a speech-language pathologist with Monterey Bay Social Language Center located in Monterey, CA. Brittany attended the University of Colorado Boulder where she received her BA degree in speech language and hearing sciences and psychology in 1998. She received her MA degree from the University of Washington in 2003. With over 15 years of experience, Brittany specializes in social cognitive individual and group therapy to support students with improving self-regulation, holding reciprocal conversations, using flexible thinking, and finding social clues to have successful, cooperative peer interactions and strong executive function skills. Brittany also uses compassion and humor to connect with students to address articulation, speech sound, stuttering and voice disorders, language processing disorders, and expressive and receptive language delays. She believes in a team-based approach that includes communication between teachers and parents to provide consistent, relevant support. Brittany grew up in Carmel and lives in Carmel Valley with her husband and two daughters, ages two and five. She is grateful for the opportunity to serve families in the community where she grew up.
Stephanie Madrigal, M.A., CCC-SLP, is a speech-language pathologist specializing in working with students with social learning differences. She is co-owner of Growing Social, a farm-based program for students with a variety of social learning differences, which she co-founded in 2013, in Watsonville, CA. In addition to direct therapy, she also provides ongoing parent and teacher support across the Santa Cruz County. Prior to launching Growing Social, Stephanie worked alongside Michelle Garcia Winner at the Social Thinking Clinic in San Jose for 13 years, where she created the internationally recognized children's learning concept “Superflex: A Superhero Social Thinking Curriculum." Her roles at the “Social Thinking”™ clinic included training teachers, parents, and professionals both nationally and internationally on “Social Thinking”™ methodologies, product and curriculum development, and school-based support. She also closely supervised and trained other professionals in “Social Thinking”™ treatment and assessment. Stephanie loves her work, and is grateful for the ongoing opportunity to work with students and their families.
Natalie Sanders, OTR/L received her BA in occupational therapy and psychology from St. Catherine’s University and is anticipating her doctorate in occupational therapy from the University of Utah June of 2018. She has experience in private practice, hospital and school settings. Natalie specializes in pediatrics and provides support for fine motor skills, strength, coordination, balance, improved attention, executive functioning, social skills, motor planning, self-care skills, visual motor integration, handwriting, sensory integration, and oral motor skills.
Linda Popp is an educational therapist who has been working with students for over 15 years. Her passion is helping students who struggle with learning. She believes that all children can learn and enjoys figuring out how your child learns best to change their educational trajectory. She has a MA in reading and a postgraduate certificate in educational therapy. She has received extensive training in multi-sensory language and math instruction including Orton-Gillingham, Wilson Reading, Structured Word Inquiry, Handwriting without Tears, and Making Math Real. Additionally, for the past three years she has been studying orthographic linguistics to better understand the English writing system. She believes the very best reading instruction is a solid understanding of our spelling system. Her goal is to build your child’s confidence in learning in a nurturing, fun environment which meets their individual needs and follows their interests through inquiry based learning.
Support for fine motor skills, strength, coordination, balance, improved attention, executive functioning, motor planning, self-care skills, visual motor integration, handwriting, sensory integration, and oral motor skills.
On campus providers include:
Support for receptive and expressive language skills including vocabulary, listening comprehension, following directions, social skills, oral and written expression.
On campus providers include:
Support for phonemic awareness, phonological awareness, encoding, decoding, sight word recognition, reading fluency, and reading comprehension. Support for learning strategies, time management, and academic coaching.
On campus providers include:
- How were the specialists selected?
- How do I schedule an onsite session for my child
- If I schedule sessions for my child during the school day, will they miss out on any learning in the classroom?
- Will my child's progress be tracked and with whom will the information be shared?
- If my child works with a specialist who is not on the list, can I arrange for him/her to come on campus as well?
Each of the specialists selected for this initial phase of the program have a longstanding relationship with the school. Many of our past and current families already have established relationships with them, and all underwent an extensive review of references from local professionals in pediatric fields. They are each certified in their area of expertise, have been vetted through the school’s background check process, and are excited to be a part of this effort to support student needs on campus. Additionally, each specialist has committed to attending on-campus faculty planning sessions to ensure an integrated working relationship with the school and to better understand the Stevenson pedagogy.
Time will be integrated into the daily schedule and after school for students to receive this one-on-one support. Our established model of classroom-based, small-group, instruction for all learners allows for specialists to work alongside teachers without classroom disruption. There is specific time built into the PK-4 schedule when Erica Herro, Michelle Scheid, and specialists may provide additional support in the classroom under the guidance of the teacher. Students in Grades 5-8 will be able to receive additional support from Erica, Jessica Gentry, and specialists in the classroom during their Learning Strategies and Computer Use classes. If a quiet space is needed, specialists can meet with students in a free space on campus.
If more time is needed than the class schedule can allow, parents can work with Erica and Molly Bozzo to determine an appropriate solution.
Regular planning and frequent communication between the specialists and faculty is an important part of this effort. Teachers in PK-4 will track progress using Stevenson’s comprehensive framework of skills and progress will be passed from one grade to the next. Specialists will provide additional information to teachers from their one-on-one work and observations of students. If this model of progress monitoring is successful, we will expand the framework of skills to Grades 5-8. Advisors will communicate with specialists who are working with their advisees and with the student’s other teachers.