An independent day school serving grades K-12 | St. Paul, MN

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

  Karen Rassmussen 

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. 

Autumn Offerdahl-Joyce joins the Upper School for the fall semester 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. Autumn 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. Offerdahl-Joyce earned her master's in Special Education from the University of Saint Thomas and her bachelor's in History from Beloit College. She holds a MN Teaching License in the area of Emotional and Behavioral Disorders and is completing her licensure as an Academic Behavioral Strategist this fall. 

For more information about academic tutoring, learning differences, or the work of the Center for Learning and Teaching, contact Karen Rassmussen.


Counseling services

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. 
 

 Amy Stoks 

Amy Stoks has been with SPA for the past two years, most recently serving as the Upper School Learning Specialist. During the Fall semester, Amy will serve as an Upper School Counselor for the classes of 2023 and 2025 during Ms. Barbee’s maternity leave. She will additionally co-teach the grade 10 wellness classes. Amy earned her bachelor's from the University of Colorado at Boulder and graduated with honors from the University of San Diego. She 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.

 

  Emily Barbee
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Emily Barbee will rejoin the SPA Counseling team in January 2023. Upon her return, she will serve as the Upper School counselor for the classes of 2023 and 2025, and is available to all students and parents as a resource, guide, and sounding board. 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. Additionally, Emily has completed her licensure in MFT (Marriage and Family Therapy) and PPSC.

 


diversity and identity development

   Dr. Naomi Taylor

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).


Student health

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.


ADMINISTRATIVE SUPPORT

Emily King

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.