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.
The Middle School Counselor, Sara Mairs, helps support the individual well-being of every student and the overall health of the Middle School community. Sara holds a B.A. in psychology from Amherst College and an M.A. in counseling psychology from the University of St. Thomas. She is a member of the American Psychological Association and the American Counseling Association and is a Minnesota State licensed psychologist. Sara is available to all Middle School students, individually or in groups, for discussion of their emotional well-being, social adjustment, academic motivation, conflict resolution, or any issue important to the student. She is committed to providing a safe, nonjudgmental setting where students can explore and engage their wonder, worries, joys, pain, wisdom, and humor, too! In addition to her counseling work, Sara co-teaches the Grade 6 and 7 Compass classes, and coordinates the grade 8 wellness seminars. Sara is also available to meet with Middle School parents about any questions or concerns they have for their child, and can help identify out-of-school resources as well.
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 Male Affinity Group; MS Muslim Affinity Group; MS HerSpace (female empowerment affinity group); MS Neurodiversity Affinity 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).
The Randolph Campus has a dedicated Health Office, located on the first floor of Old Main just west of the Schilling Center. The Health Office is staffed by full-time Middle School Health Assistant Tina Akervik; Tina has served as a Health Services Associate in the Bloomington Public Schools and is certified as an Emergency Medical Technician, as well as Basic Life Support and Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support. Tina assists Middle School students with routine requested cares such as the administration of prescription medications, and is a liaison between the school and parents/guardians regarding health concerns, questions, and resources.