Student Resources and Support | Upper School
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.
In the Upper School, Learning Specialist Amy Stoks, coordinates direct service to students with documented learning differences and provides counsel and support to students, parents, and teachers around the evaluation process as well as classroom support. Amy works directly with students, helping them understand how they best learn, how their brain is wired, and suggests various strategies and routines that may improve success in and out of the classroom. Amy earned her bachelor's degree from the University of Colorado at Boulder and graduated with honors from the University of San Diego. Amy is a National Certified Counselor, a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor with the Board of Behavioral Health in Minnesota, and has completed additional training in Maternal Mental Health, Special Education, and Integrative Clinical Mental Health.
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.
Emily Barbee serves as the Upper School counselor for Grades 9 and 10, and is available to all students and parents as a resource, guide, and sounding board. Emily works closely with the Upper School Principal and Dean of Students on a broad range of issues related to student mental health and community well-being. Emily joined SPA in 2018, having previously served for five years as a Middle School Counselor at the Harker School in San Jose, California. Prior to her time at Harker, Emily served as a treatment coordinator/adolescent therapist, a mental health clinician, and a school-based therapist. Emily earned her bachelor's from Carleton College, and her master's studies were completed at the California Institute of Integral Studies in San Francisco.
Susanna Short serves as the Upper School counselor for Grades 11 and 12, and is available to all students and parents as a resource, guide, and sounding board. Like Emily, Susanna works closely with the Upper School Principal and Dean of Students on a broad range of issues related to student mental health and community well-being. Susanna Short has worked in counseling and advocacy for two decades. Prior to joining SPA in 2010, she served as the school social worker for Tartan High School and Skyview Middle School in Minnesota district 622, where she provided support, crisis intervention, and consultation to students and their families. She has also held positions at Valley Crossing Community School, Centennial High School, and the University of Minnesota. She holds a bachelor's from Albion College and earned her master's from the University of Michigan.
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 staff includes Monica Garrido Mejia, who serves as the school's Lead Health Assistant and full-time Randolph Campus Health Assistant. Monica assists Upper School students with routine health care procedures and works with student health and wellness faculty/staff members, and parents/guardians on health care issues and maintaining related health records.
Due to the increased health concerns during COVID-19, the Randolph 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 Randolph Campus, the symptomatic space is in the Huss Center (in the former dressing room space) and the well-student space is on the first floor of Old Main just west of the Schilling Center.
Monica 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.