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 '90, our director of curriculum and instruction, works alongside teachers to increase support in PK–8 classrooms.
When a student needs more intensive individual support, we work with families and a handful of independent providers to schedule one-on-one services on campus during the academic day. While our relationships with these professionals are not new, we welcome them into our community of learners. Time is allocated into the daily schedule for students in each grade to receive one-on-one support. Interested families are encouraged to reach out now to learn more about these professionals, establish relationships 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, students have the opportunity to participate in Social Thinking lunches with speech and language therapists in a small-group setting. Students eat their lunch together, then work on social and friendship skills in a fun and engaging way. 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 email@example.com 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 standardized testing
- 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 and teachers
- Referring families to independent service providers 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.
Stevenson wants to give every student the opportunity to succeed. We will work with students and parents to create an Accommodations Plan for students with documented learning differences and/or any other diagnosed disabilities that impact learning.
As students progress through our PK–Grade 12 program, documentation is needed to apply for accommodations on standardized testing (i.e. College Board and ACT).
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 is 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 and other 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 in the classroom and from other specialists outside of the classroom during non-academic blocks.
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–Grade 8 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 and parents from their one-on-one work and observations of students.
Learning Differences and Accommodations
If your child has a diagnosed learning difference or medical condition that affects learning or presents other life challenges, please provide the relevant documentation to Erica Herro before the opening of the school year.