Student Resources and Support
There are multiple resources within the Upper School for student support, which is most often a partnership between a student's teachers, the advisor, and the support staff and resources listed below.
Academic support in the Upper 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.
For more information about academic tutoring, learning differences, or the work of the Center for Learning and Teaching, contact Karen Rassmussen.
Adolescence is a time of enormous change and growth, and we recognize the need for social and emotional support for all of our Upper School students (and their parents) as they navigate the teenage years and the transition to college.
Heidi Lohman joins SPA as an Upper School Counselor. She will predominantly work with students in the classes of 2024 and 2026 and serve as the primary resource for these families as they move through our Upper School. She will additionally co-teach the grade 10 wellness classes. Heidi earned her master’s in Education and School Counseling from Lewis & Clark College and has her Initial Level II School Counseling License. Additionally, she earned her bachelor's in Criminal Justice from the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee. She has been a school counselor for the past 12 years, working in both middle and high school settings, and has also served as an Adjunct Professor in the Graduate School of Education at Lewis & Clark College in the School Counseling department. She comes to SPA most recently from the Early College High School in Portland, Oregon where she was the School Counselor for the past six years.
Laura Pejsa joins the Upper School as the Upper School Learning Specialist. She will oversee the development and implementation of Learning Plans for students with documented learning differences and provide counsel and support to students, parents, and teachers around the evaluation process as well as classroom support. Laura will work directly with students to support them in their development of strategies and routines that may improve success in and out of the classroom. Laura earned her Ph.D. in Educational Policy and Administration—Evaluation Studies from the University of Minnesota.
Josie Zuniga is joining SPA in the role of Upper School Counselor and will predominantly support grade 9 and 11 students, faculty, and families. Josie earned her bachelor’s in Clinical/Community Psychology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She also holds a master’s degree in School Counseling from Loyola University. She comes to SPA most recently from Glenbard North High School in Carol Stream, IL, where she completed an internship in school counseling.
diversity and identity development
Dr. Naomi Taylor, Director of Intercultural Life, serves as a resource for Upper School students and families with questions, concerns, or a special interest in topics of diversity, equity, and inclusion. Dr. Taylor works closely with the Upper School counselors and the Administrative Team to oversee the student experience at school through the lens of equity and inclusion; her work includes the development of programming specific to Courageous Conversation about Race (CCAR), and expanding the toolkit of all students in fostering a community dialogue that empowers healthy communication across difference. Dr. Taylor co-facilitates many of the Upper School student affinity and special interest groups, developing leadership skills in the oldest students and building bridges from one division to the next among these student groups, which include Common Ground (i.e. students of color affinity group); Mishpacha (Jewish student affinity group); Black Male Affinity Group; Muslim Affinity Group; HerSpace (female empowerment affinity group); Intercultural Club (a student interest group open to all students; and the Gender and Sexuality Alliance (a student interest group open to all students).
Our Upper 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.
Tina staffs the Randolph Campus Health Office, located on the first floor of Old Main just west of the Schilling Center.
Emily King serves as the Administrative Assistant for the Center of Learning and Teaching. Emily came to SPA from Hastings High School where she taught various subjects in Grades 10-12, and worked on academic data tracking and interventions as a lead behavioral and academic intervention specialist for Grades 5-6 students. In the Center for Learning and Teaching, she works with middle school students during quiet study hours, and upper school students in areas of organization and time management. She also assists with communication between teachers and families and SAT/ACT testing accommodations.