Meet the Learning Specialist Teams

 
McLean is home to 15 full-time specialists, with a wide range of professional expertise. They include Learning Specialists, a Reading Specialist, a Writing Specialist, Math Specialists, Occupational Therapists, Speech-Language Pathologists, Digital Literacy Specialist, Technology Integration Specialists, and an Academic Coach.
 

List of 3 items.

  • Lower School Specialist Team


    In addition to the attention afforded by the extremely small class sizes at McLean, Lower School students (with a ratio of 6 students to 1 teacher) benefit from the wide-ranging expertise of Lower School specialists. 

    Lower School Learning Specialist, Marie Marino, MS,
     
    brings over 10 years of early childhood experience in providing expert advice and support to teachers in understanding students’ strengths, areas of need, and designing appropriate, differentiated instruction. Marie works with teachers and students in the classroom as needed to accelerate outcomes in all areas of academic need and giftedness. Marie is certified in Orton-Gillingham, Phono-Graphix, Learning Wise, Social Thinking, Lindamood Bell Visualizing and Verbalizing, as well as Handwriting Without Tears. She has led a variety of presentations to educators and parents on topics related to the success of all learners. Marie has attended numerous seminars on ADHD, Anxiety, Executive Functioning, and Learning Disabilities, and has completed trainings related to Mentorship and Special Education Advocacy in order to help support teachers and families.
     
    Master Teaching Coach and Lead Reading Specialist, Sara Hines, PhD believes that schools hold the responsibility to figure out and meet a child’s needs, not the child’s need to fit the curriculum. She strongly believes in individualized instruction based on a real knowledge of the child’s interests and learning strengths. That’s why she was drawn to McLean; these are the school’s values.” Figuring out what each child needs to succeed in school is the “puzzle” that has fascinated Dr. Hines's throughout her career. As the research shows, the earlier schools remediate, the more effective their work is. Her career started on a very different path. She received my Masters degree in Speech and Drama from Catholic University as well as a stint as an acting teacher at the Studio Theatre in Washington, DC. She has many years experience as a classroom teacher and Director of Tutor Training at the Lab School of Washington; elementary school Learning Specialist at Sidwell Friends School; college professor and researcher in special education at Hunter College in New York City. She has also published studies of early childhood literacy development and techniques of classroom support for students with academic challenges.
     
    Reading Specialist, Beverly Stryker, MA works with teachers and individual students to improve reading outcomes. She works individually and with small groups of students to provide instruction in areas of phonemic awareness, decoding, vocabulary, spelling, and comprehension. Beverly is certified in and utilizes with students the following research based programs: Phono-Graphix, Orton-Gillingham, Wilson Reading Program, Handwriting Without Tears, Lindamood Bell Visualizing and Verbalizing, Write Track Writing Program, Spell-Links Learning by Design Spelling Program, Responsive Classroom.  As a member of the International Reading Association, International Literacy Association, and SOMIRAC, Beverly has attended countless workshops and seminars related to Learning Disabilities, Executive Functioning, ADHD, Anxiety, Dyslexia, and literacy.
     
    Math Specialist, Sarah Baxter, MEd works with teachers and students to provide support as needed. She keeps abreast of best practices in mathematics instruction, as well as cutting edge approaches to maximize math achievement for students at, above, or below grade level.  Sarah most recently attended a symposium on dyscalculia and shared her findings with the Lower School Faculty to better support students who may struggle in acquiring number sense.  Sarah received departmental High Honors for her thesis on how children learn economic concepts.  One of Sarah’s most notable achievements at McLean so far is her grant from the NCTM (National Council of Teachers of Mathematics) for Using Music to Teach Mathematics.  Sarah works with students 1-1 and in small groups to provide multi-sensory instruction in a fun and meaningful way.
     
    Occupational Therapists (OT), Erin Magnotta, MS, OTR/L and Erin Wright, COTA/L provides fee-for-service individualized therapy for students who need OT services.The OT team also provides keyboarding support and instruction to all students in grades 3 and 4, as well as Adaptive PE for our youngest students in kindergarten. The OTs also serve as consultants to classroom teachers in meeting students’ sensory-motor and fine-motor needs. All new students in kindergarten through grade 6 are screened for OT needs.
     
    Speech-Language Pathologist, Eileen Goldschmidt, MA, CCC-SLP in addition to providing fee-for-service on an individual basis to students needing individual intervention, also provides school-wide support to teachers in meeting students’ speech and language needs, as well as phonemic awareness instruction to all students in need of such remedial work. In addition to screening students for SLP needs, the SLP along with the Reading Specialist screens students for phonemic awareness intervention.
     
  • Middle School Specialist Team

     
    In Middle School, students continue to benefit from an individualized Student Learning Profile™, while simultaneously learning to take increased ownership of their learning, as is developmentally appropriate. Teachers implement the individualized strategies and accommodations recommended for each student, in their regular classroom setting.

    Reading Specialist, Hope Tucker, BSEd, has over 30 years of teaching experience.  A gifted educator, Hope brings a wealth of expertise in reading to the Middle School.  Her strong Orton-Gillingham background enables her to build decoding skills in struggling readers through multi-sensory instruction.  Additionally she is certified in Phonology/Project Read and Phono-Graphix,  Hope continually seeks to build her knowledge set in working with diverse learners, having attended numerous workshops on the topics of Brain Based Learning, Responsive Classroom, ADHD, and Learning Disabilities.  
     
      
    Math Specialist, Sarah Baxter, MEd works with teachers and students to provide support as needed. She keeps abreast of best practices in mathematics instruction, as well as cutting edge approaches to maximize math achievement for students at, above, or below grade level.  Sarah most recently attended a symposium on dyscalculia and shared her findings with the Lower School Staff to better support students who may struggle in acquiring number sense.  Sarah received departmental High Honors for her thesis on how children learn economic concepts.  One of Sarah’s most notable achievements at McLean so far is her grant from the NCTM (National Council of Teachers of Mathematics) for Using Music to Teach Mathematics.  Sarah works with students 1-1 and in small groups to provide multi-sensory instruction in a fun and meaningful way.
     
    Middle School Learning Specialist and Middle School Curriculum Coordinator, Susan James, MEd routinely visits classrooms and dialogues with instructors to ensure curricular standards and consistency across the Middle School curriculum. In collaboration with teachers, Susan creates individualized strategies to assist student learning, ensures the implementation of individual accommodations, and provides consultations and trainings to teachers and parents. Susan attends and presents at national and local conferences on learning differences regularly. Most recently, she’s presented at the NCTM (National Councti for Teaching Mathematics) on teaching diverse learners, and at the AIMS (Association of Independent Maryland Schools) Teacher Retreat on integrating technology in the classroom.
     
    Brett Alice Kluetz, MA, CCC-SLP, has been a certified Speech-Language Pathologist for 15 years. Her areas of specialty include language-based learning disorders, speech sound disorders, and stuttering. Ms. Kleutz has taught phonological awareness/early reading, comprehension, and pragmatic (social) language classes, and will work closely with our teachers to help support students. Additionally, she has been trained in the following programs: Visualizing and Verbalizing, Social Thinking, Phonographix, Wilson Fundations, Step Up to Writing, PROMPT (for speech sound disorders) and in various approaches to stuttering therapy.
     
     
  • Upper School Specialist Team

     
    Upper School students at McLean are empowered learners. In addition to the support they receive from exceptionally devoted, well-trained faculty members, they also benefit from a Learning Specialist and Academic Coach.
     
    Learning Specialist, Karen Hundal, MA meets with students on-on-one to address academic needs, bolster study skills, improve executive functioning, and strengthen reading comprehension, and writing skills. Karen evaluates students’ academic needs for strategies and accommodations, along with reading and interpreting evaluative information from student files and psycho-educational testing to maintain Student Learning Profiles. A critical aspect of the Learning Specialist’s role is her connection with our faculty. By summarizing relevant student information for faculty so they too can be aware of each student’s learning needs, providing professional development, and presenting on various topics surrounding learning differences, executive functioning, ADHD, and study strategies, our faculty are able to effective support and challenge our students. By working with faculty our Learning Specialist is able to ensure that the curriculum and co-curriculum remain accessible to and address the needs of a diverse group of learners.
     
    Academic Coach, Debbie Meisgeier BA is available to work directly with students 1-1 to support the student’s specific academic needs. This ranges from all aspects of executive functioning (time management, organization of materials, organization of owrk on a page, note taking, test taking, etc) to direct academic support. Debbie communicates tirelessly with parents and teachers to have a complete picture of the student’s understanding and progress in specific classes so her work is best tailored to the individual needs of each student. Debbie has over 24 years of teaching experience with a strong background in special education, along with high school math and science.
     
Have you seen the new Rhyme to Read beginning Reading app?
 
The co-author of the books is our very own educator, Sara Hines. Rhyme to Read is a beginning reading program for young children.

Watch Fox 5 feature on Rhyme to Read here

K-12 College Preparatory School Supporting Bright Students’ Individual Strengths and Challenges.

McLean School is an independent, co-educational, K-12 day school serving Maryland, Washington, and Virginia. McLean has for over sixty years been helping students realize their full potential by providing a comprehensive college preparatory program that emphasizes small classes and differentiated instruction. We embrace both traditional learners and ones with mild to moderate learning challenges – dyslexia, dysgraphia, dyscalculia, ADHD, and challenges related to anxiety and executive functioning. Many of our students excel in some areas while benefiting from support in others.
 
8224 Lochinver Lane, Potomac, Maryland 20854  301.299.8277  admission@mcleanschool.org