Student Resources and Support
There are multiple resources within the Lower School for student support, which is a partnership between a student's teachers, parents/guardians, and the support staff listed below.
Academic support in the Lower School is offered through the Center for Learning and Teaching (CLT). Laura Duke, Lower School Literacy Support Specialist, holds a B.S. in Physical Education from Pacific Lutheran University, a M.A. in Education from St. Catherine University, and certifications in Reading Recovery and the Wilson Reading System. In her role as Literacy Support Specialist, her experience as both a classroom teacher and as an interventionist informs her connections with students and colleagues in the Lower School in meeting the literacy needs of our diverse student body.
For more information about the work of the Center for Learning and Teaching in the Lower School, contact CLT Director Karen Rassmussen.
The Lower School Counselor, Ally Youderian, is a resource for both Lower School students and their parents. Ms. Youderian works with students to reach their academic and social-emotional potential. Ms. Youderian earned a B.A from University of Wisconsin - Eau Claire and an M.Ed. in School Counseling from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Ally joined the SPA community in 2020 after serving as a school counselor in New Richmond, Wisconsin for 7 years.
Mrs. Youderian may provide time-limited, 1:1 or small group support for students who have difficulty with self-regulation, managing strong emotions (i.e. worry or anger), grief and loss, coping with change/transitions, family changes, or friendship/social skills. . An outside evaluation may be required when a child's functioning is impaired due to internal or external issues affecting relationships and learning. Following an evaluation, a Learning Plan will be formulated when warranted and shared with parents to address the student needs in the classrooms, the ways in which the school can support the student without placing undue burden on the school, and recommendations for additional supports outside of school that may be necessary for the student. The counselor may support students directly within the classroom setting to support the development of therapeutic strategies with the goal of facilitating student independence in employing the strategies with reduced support over time.
diversity and identity development
Dr. Naomi Taylor, Director of Intercultural Life, serves as a resource for Lower School teachers and families on matters of positive racial identity development, gender and sexuality inclusivity, cultural and religious diversity, and socioeconomic diversity. Her work with Lower School students may include lessons on diversity topics within the classroom, individual support for a student, and facilitating the student of color affinity group, Common Ground Junior. Dr. Taylor is a part of the Lower School Student Support Team and provides ongoing education and professional development for faculty and for parents.
Lower School student health staff includes Bernette Finley-Drawe, a registered nurse (RN) provided by the St. Paul Public Schools to provide oversight for our student health program and records. Bernette splits her time between the Goodrich and Randolph Campuses, and is assisted in the Lower School by Tina Akervik, the full-time Goodrich Campus Health Assistant. Tina assists Lower School students with routine health care procedures and act as a liaison between the RN, student health and wellness faculty/staff members, and parents/guardians relating to health care issues and maintaining related health records.
Due to the increased health concerns during COVID-19, the Goodrich Campus has two dedicated Health Offices, one of which is a dedicated space for students exhibiting symptoms of illness (the "symptomatic" Health Office) and the other for students with daily medical needs, such as medications (the "well student" Health Office). On the Goodrich Campus, the symptomatic space is adjacent to the Converse Auditorium, and the well-student space is across the hall.