Student Resources and Support
We care very deeply about the health and well-being of all members of our school community, and we recognize that the Middle School years, in particular, have their own set of challenges. In addition to a student's teachers and advisor, student and family support is offered through the staff and resources below.
Academic support in the Middle School is offered through the Center for Learning and Teaching (CLT). Karen Rassmussen, the Director of the CLT, oversees the arc of student support, programing, academic tutoring, and policy development across the three divisions. Karen and her team work to provide support and professional development for faculty around best practices in teaching, and how to apply current research to better improve practices in the classroom. Karen joined SPA as the Director of the Center for Learning and Teaching in 2018, and prior to SPA she worked as the Learning Specialist at St. Thomas Academy for 13 years. Karen holds a bachelor’s from the University of Minnesota, and a master’s from the University of St. Thomas. She also holds certifications in Autism Spectrum Disorders and Orton-Gillingham teaching.
Middle School Learning Specialist, Jay Rainville supports students in their academic endeavors and helps them navigate the intellectual changes that are characteristic of the Middle School years. Jay provides direct academic support to Middle School students both individually and in small groups, and teaches the Grade 6 Compass class, which is required of all students and focuses on developing strong academic habits. Jay holds a bachelor's and master's in Instruction from Saint Mary's University, and is also a licensed reading specialist.
For more information about academic tutoring, learning differences, or the work of the Center for Learning and Teaching, contact CLT Director Karen Rassmussen.
Jennifer Prestegaard joins SPA after a very successful career in the Stillwater Area Schools District where she served as both a Middle and Upper School Counselor, as well as an AVID coordinator. During her time with the Stillwater District she served on multiple committees addressing various social-emotional needs of students, and served as the advisor for the International Exchange Club and Students Promoting Asian Awareness diversity club. Jennifer earned her master’s in Educational Psychology from the University of Minnesota.
diversity and identity development
Dr. Naomi Taylor, Director of Intercultural Life, serves as a resource for Middle 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 Middle School students may include lessons taught through Compass classes on interracial dialogue, positive identity development, the use of language, and shared community values with regard to equity and inclusion. Dr. Taylor organizes Middle School assemblies on topics of diversity, professional development for Middle School faculty, and ongoing educational opportunities for Middle School families. Dr. Taylor oversees the range of affinity and student interest groups in the Middle School, which include MS Common Ground (i.e. students of color affinity group); MS Mishpacha (Jewish student affinity group); MS Black and Brown Males; MS Muslim Student Alliance; MS HerSpace (female empowerment affinity group); MS Neurodiversity Interest Group for students who have neurological differences (such as autism, ADHD/ADD, dyslexia, anxiety, sensory processing disorder, etc.); MS Intercultural Club (a student interest group open to all students; and the MS Gender and Sexuality Alliance (a student interest group open to all students).
Our Middle School student health assistant is Tina Akervik. Tina assists students with routine requested care such as the administration of prescription medications, maintains student health records, and is a liaison between the school and parents/guardians regarding health concerns, questions, and resources. Tina has over sixteen years of experience in healthcare and has served as a Health Services Associate in the Bloomington Public Schools. Tina is certified as an Emergency Medical Technician and in Basic Life Support with the American Heart Association.