WHAT IS EDUCATIONAL THERAPY?
Educational Therapy takes place within specialized, one-on-one sessions that are tailored to meet the specific academic needs of the individual student. Various methods are used to optimize the student’s strengths so that they may subsequently be utilized to fortify his or her weaknesses. Because many students need to have concepts broken down into manageable “chunks,” the educational therapist approaches sessions with methodical organization and structure. Educational therapy also focuses on teaching a student compensatory strategies that provide clarity and thereby allow the student to experience success in the classroom and beyond. In addition to academic remediation and the strengthening of the sub-skills that comprise learning, educational therapy can also improve a student’s underlying processing skills so that learning new material can be facilitated.
Educational Therapy sessions are one-on-one, with the educational therapist and student intensively working together for 50 minute sessions. Although it is recommended that a student meets with the educational therapist for a minimum of two sessions per week, each student’s plan will be discussed on a case-by-case basis during the intake session.
Who needs Educational Therapy?
All children have the innate desire to be successful in school. As Mel Levine (a guru in the field of special education) remarks, “laziness is a myth” and “everybody yearns to be productive.” When a child continues to struggle despite parent-teacher interventions or private academic tutoring, he or she should be evaluated for underlying learning deficits by a licensed neuropsychologist or clinical psychologist who specializes in learning issues. Instead of placing blame on a student for not performing in school, it is imperative that the student is evaluated to discover what is thwarting his or her progress. Unfortunately, children do not “outgrow” learning problems, and it is important to begin intervention as soon as possible to mitigate and potentially prevent self-esteem problems and unnecessary daily stress.
Educational Therapy vs. Tutoring vs. Classroom Teaching:
Educational therapy addresses underlying learning skills such as visual and auditory processing, attention and focus, and memory skills. Academic skills such as reading and writing are remediated by teaching strategies necessary for learning to read, write, calculate, and problem solve. An educational therapist has been to graduate and oftentimes post-graduate school in preparations for working with all types of learners.
Tutoring focuses on re-teaching academic subjects and helps with homework. A tutor can be the high school student next door or anyone who is proficient with the subject at hand.
A teacher is responsible for educating a large group of students with varying learning abilities. Although he or she would like to individually work with students who may be having difficulties, time and resources usually do not enable the teacher to do so.
MEET ANDREA CHERNIN - M.ED, ET
Educational Therapist / Founder & Executive Director
Welcome! My name is Andrea Chernin, and I am a Professional Educational Therapist and the Clinical Director of Illuminate Educational Therapy Group - a private practice located in both Santa Monica and in Calabasas, California.
I grew up in Calabasas, California and graduated from Calabasas High School. I attended college at UCLA (Go Bruins!) and majored in Psychology with a minor in Public Policy. During college, I was an English Composition, English as a Second Language, and Psychology tutor for my peers at the Academic Advancement Program for historically underrepresented students. I enjoyed the rewarding experience of working one-on-one with students so much that I began my own tutoring private practice.
It was at that point in my life in which I realized that my true passion lies within the realm of education. Thus, I went on to earn my Multiple-Subject Teaching Credential and my Masters degree in Cross-Cultural Education, enabling me to teach 4th grade at Round Meadow Elementary School (the elementary school that I actually went to!) While teaching, I had several students in my class who seemed to learn differently than the other students. I was intrigued by their self-taught compensatory strategies, yet I felt somewhat frustrated that I did not always have the proper metaphorical “tools” to help these learners. Therefore, even though I was extended an offer to continue teaching within the Las Virgenes Unified School District during the following year, I instead decided to further my education by immersing myself in a subset of special education in a field called Educational Therapy.
I finally felt as though I found my ideal niche as I worked toward earning my Post-Masters Certificate in Educational Therapy. In conjunction with my graduation from California State Northridge’s Educational Therapy Certificate Program, I became Bridges Academy’s first Educational Therapy Intern as I worked alongside a well-known educational therapist in the field named Marcy Dann. This invaluable experience combined with my education-rich background primed me to step into a private practice as an Educational Therapist in 2007.
Since then, I have been an active Professional Member of the Association of Educational Therapists and have enjoyed continuing to develop professionally alongside my incredible colleagues. In 2018, our practice has expanded to a second location in Calabasas! I can honestly say that I love what I do, and I look forward to many, many years in the field.
MEET KIM - MA, ET
Hey there I'm Kim, and I have been working in the field of education for 10 years while focusing on educational therapy for the past five.
I grew up in Sherman Oaks, California and currently live there with my husband and
two young sons. After graduating from high school, I attended college at CSUN, majoring in Psychology. Once I completed my BA in Psychology, I worked in the behavioral therapy field where I frequently found myself in special education classrooms working with a variety of students with multiple needs. During this time, I realized that working with students with learning disabilities was my passion. As such, I enrolled in the CSUN’s Michael D. Eisner College of Education, where I earned my Special Education Teaching Credential.
Part of my training as a teacher was spent at Chime Middle School in Woodland Hills, which is highly acclaimed for the development and implementation of a unique model of inclusive education.
Although I thoroughly enjoyed working with the special education population and found the work to be rewarding and invigorating, I felt that I would be able to benefit students on a deeper level if I provided one-to-one therapy. In order to pursue this, I once again returned to CSUN to complete my Masters in Educational Therapy. I also worked at the Kaiser Watts Counseling and Learning Center as an Educational Therapy Intern where I had the unique opportunity to help incredible clients from the community at no cost who might not be able to afford educational therapy services otherwise. My time spent at Kaiser was rich in many ways and helped to refine my remediation skills to therefore approach each client in a multifaceted, skilled manner.
As a Professional Member of the Association of Educational Therapists, I continue to engage with each student utilizing patience, optimism, and enthusiasm, and am always eager to learn about new and valuable approaches to better meet the needs of my students.
MEET ANEL - MA, ET
Hi, my name is Anel, and from an early age, I knew that I wanted to work to improve the lives of children. After earning a Bachelor of Arts in Child and Adolescent Development from CSUN, I was then afforded the opportunity to become a home visitor for underserved children and promote school readiness within families in a one-on-one instructional setting. As a team leader, the overhead goal was success of the whole child. In my work with these children, I understood that each mind is completely unique, that their families are multifaceted, and that every child learns in a different manner. To continue to adequately support children and their families I earned my Master of Arts in Special Education with a focus in Educational Therapy at CSUN. During the program, I completed two Educational Therapy internships under the supervision of Marcy Dann, a revered Educational Therapist in the field. Additionally, I became an Associate Member of the Association of Educational Therapists to stay connected with colleagues and to always be continuing my education. I am trained in and capable of implementing several math, writing, and reading remediation programs, including Lindamood-Bell’s Visualizing and Verbalizing, the Orton-Gillingham Reading Approach, the Barton Reading and Spelling System, and Step-up to Writing. And as a trained Executive Functioning coach, I enjoy supporting students as they develop skills in areas such as planning, organization, and time management.
I believe wholeheartedly that every child is capable of reaching success when given the opportunity to understand him or herself as a learner. I feel so fortunate to be able to engage in my work with kids each day, helping them realize their potentials by strengthening their stretches, helping them build a growth mindset, teaching them about self-advocacy, and utilizing a breadth of strategies and tools that will help them be the best version of themselves as autonomous learners.
MEET SARAH - MA, ET
After graduating from The George Washington University with a Bachelors of Arts in English, I began my career traveling the world with Ringling Bros. Barnum & Bailey doing marketing, sales, and running the show in different arenas before returning to school for my Masters in Education and Teaching Credential from Pepperdine University. I went on to earn my certification in Early Childhood Education from UCLA so that I could teach preschool at Kehilat Israel in Pacific Palisades. Seeing how my students developed in such distinctive and experiential ways showed me the limitless possibilities to be able to teach and engage each child depending on his or her own individual needs. Craving even more knowledge about the way children learn, I matriculated at CSUN's Special Education Program to become an Educational Therapist. As an Educational Therapist, I work to strengthen the learning profiles of students with dyslexia, ADHD, ASD, executive functioning weaknesses, processing disorders, writing difficulties, and students who need general academic support.
As an Educational Therapist, I am able to fulfill my dream of being a lifelong learner, continually seeking new and exciting ways to capture the attention of my students. On a daily basis, I apply my vast education and unique experiences to help each student reach his or her own potential. I also encourage learning in a fun and stress-free environment using my creativity, charisma, and fun-loving personality.
MEET LISA - JD, MAED Psych.
Educational Therapist + Executive Functioning Coach
Hey there, I'm Lisa! I have extensive experience working with students from pre-school age to adult. I graduated from the Pepperdine Graduate School of Education and Psychology with a Master’s in Educational Psychology in 2012. Having volunteered in LAUSD classrooms for many years, I noticed deficits that disproportionately affect students with learning differences in traditional classrooms. After several years working with diverse learners as a one-on-one and small group instructor, I witnessed the increased level of growth students can achieve with specialized instruction tailored to the student’s specific strengths and challenges.
My educational approach focuses on facilitating pro-social emotional regulatory strategies that allow students to be most available for learning. I have experience working with childhood and adolescent trauma, Autism Spectrum Disorder, Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADD/ADHD), Bipolar Disorder (BD), Emotional Disturbance (ED), Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD), Depression, grief, Williams Syndrome, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorder (PANS/PANDAS), Pervasive Developmental Disability (PDD), Dyslexia, Agoraphobia, Anhedonia, visual/spatial/auditory processing delays, anxiety, self-injurious behaviors, and foundlings. I am trained and certified in the SCERTS Model for individuals with social and emotional challenges. I've completed university coursework in English, Political Science and History, as well as graduate coursework in Law and Psychology which I enjoy tutoring in. Furthermore, I support students in the areas of written expression, mathematics, reading decoding and comprehension, and overall academic support based on the individual's learning needs.
Regardless of whether I am presenting to professionals or working one-on-one with K-College students, I share in the success of my students and find our work together very rewarding. I stay up to date on Best Practices in Education and participate in annual professional development opportunities. I have well developed practices for teaching remedial, organizational, executive functioning, social and emotional regulation skills.
I take pride in highly individualized support, educational therapy, curriculum development, student advocacy, social skills groups, remediation, homeschooling and subject-based tutoring services.
MEET GINA - M.ED, ET
Hello! I'm Gina. I have over a decade of experience working in the field of education with students ranging from three months through middle school age. I have worked as a teacher in both general education and special education, a tutor, and an educational therapist. Most recently I was working at Ivy Academia where I was the case manager and resource teacher for students who qualify for special education and am continuing to do the same work at Larchmont Charter.
I came into this work serendipitously. While trying to figure out what direction I wanted to take in college I began volunteering at my old elementary school. I worked with students who were struggling and helped them build foundational skills in reading. I fell in love with this work and took any opportunity to continue this work. As a teacher I am committed to making education accessible and equitable for all students. I meet my students where they are and I make learning relevant, relatable, and meaningful.
I attended California State University Northridge. There I earned a BA in Child and Adolescent Development with minors in Art and Psychology, a Multiple Subject Teaching Credential, an Education Specialist Credential, and an MA in Educational Therapy. My education at CSUN focused on creating inclusive learning environments and reimagining how to access learning.
When I am not teaching I love soaking up the sun by being in nature or sitting on the beach. I enjoy going on walks around the city, rock climbing, cooking, photography, drawing, and playing board games and card games. I like listening to music and slam poetry and love going to live shows and open mic nights.
MEET MANNY - MA. SPED., ET
Educational Therapist + Executive Functioning Coach
Greetings! My name is Manny, and I am a Professional Educational Therapist. I started working with students who have special needs in 2001 while studying at Pasadena City College. In 2006, I earned my Bachelors Degree from The University of California at Santa Barbara in Political Science and Education with an emphasis in Applied Psychology. My education classes were my favorite, and I knew then that I wanted to work with students toward bettering their academic lives. In 2007, I began to focus my attention on behavioral interventions, independent living, and transitional support. After working consistently with students who needed extra support in and out of the classroom, in 2017, I received my Masters in Special Education - Educational Therapy from Cal State Northridge which empowered me with the tools to better serve my students with learning differences.
I have been fortunate to work with several diagnoses and various abilities. I have experience working with Autism Spectrum Disorder, Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, Dyslexia, Down Syndrome, Emotional Disturbance, Oppositional Defiant Disorder, Depression, Anxiety Disorders, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Processing Disorders, and Seizure Disorders. I have also worked with individuals who engage in self-injurious behavior and those who display defiance, and have found that I thrive in supporting those with complex learning and emotional profiles.
I enjoy creating a strong rapport with my clients while guiding their development in areas such as planning, organization and time management. I am in LOVE with the work I do, and I am strongly committed to creating positive, measurable differences with all of my students.
MEET MARTIN- M.ED, ED.D
Learning Specialist + Executive Functioning Coach
Hello, I’m Martin! I have served as an educator for over 20 years, spending the last 12 working in higher education as a Learning Specialist. I earned my B.S. in Biology from USC and moved on to work as a middle school science teacher for 10 years. I returned to USC for graduate school and earned a Master’s degree in Post-Secondary Administration and Student Affairs in 2010, and completed my Doctorate in Education in 2013, in which my research focused on cross-cultural competency and learning development.
As a Learning Specialist, I work to empower my students through a person-centered approach aimed at fostering confidence and self-regulation. Working with students spanning from K12 to the graduate school level, I aim to guide them through the learning process, implementing strategies and interventions through the use of individualized academic support plans. I value the opportunity to work with students, particularly emerging writers, and my goal is always to meet them where they are in the process by building rapport and creating a space where they can develop their writing skills and find their own voice.
I have worked with students across a spectrum of backgrounds, abilities, and needs, including students with learning differences, executive functioning challenges, and disorders of written expression. I am especially blessed to have spent the second half of my career in education working with twice-exceptional learners as well as particularly highly-skilled and elite student athletes, who I find are as amazing off the field as they are on it. I genuinely believe that the value of a Learning Specialist rests in the ability to empower young learners and introduce them to the skills and strategies that will help them succeed far beyond the classroom.
MEET RACHEL- MA.T, LS
Learning Specialist + Executive Functioning Coach
Hello everyone, I’m Rachel! I have nine years of experience within the field of education working with students ranging from kindergarten to college in a variety of subject matters. I grew up in West Los Angeles and knew in high school that I wanted to work in education following volunteering with children at local libraries during summer reading programs. Inspired by my amazing and creative history teachers for as long as I can remember, I attended UCLA where I was able to further delve into my passion for the world we live in and how it came to be. I received my BA in History, and graduated summa cum laude in 2008.
Knowing that I wanted to go into teaching, I spent two years getting valuable elementary classroom experience as a teaching assistant before pursuing a Masters in Teaching with a secondary Social Studies Credential from USC’s Rossier School of Education in 2011. Following graduation, I taught grades K-5 at Fairburn Avenue Elementary School in the school’s first math intervention program, which I founded to help support struggling math students. I also taught reading, comprehension, speaking, and writing in an after school English Language Development program at Fairburn with students from all over the world. From 2014-2019 I taught History and English, grades sixth through eighth, at Wise School and Parras Middle School. In and out of the classroom, I have developed learning strategies and curriculum across the grade levels to help students reach their educational goals, while having an expert understanding of students with learning differences and their specific needs.
Following my years of classroom teaching, I decided that one-to-one instruction was where I could make the greatest impact within the field of education. Each day, I strive to help build a strong academic foundation for students and help meet academic needs that may not be met in the classroom. I therefore became a Learning Specialist, in which I have put together my past experience as an educator to impart, teach, and develop fundamental skills such as executive functioning, organization, time management, and study skills for any subject matter. I also enjoy working at a deeper level with students to strengthen academic sub-skills that are the building blocks for their daily schoolwork. I firmly believe that all students have the ability to access their curriculum with proper scaffolding that I can provide in an encouraging and motivating one-to-one environment.
MEET SEAN - M.S., LS
Learning Specialist + Executive Functioning Coach (Specialty in Twice-Exceptional Learners)
My name is Sean, and I have sixteen years of experience in education, both here in the US and in Ireland. After graduating with a B.Sc in 2003 from the National University of Ireland, Galway, I spent seven years teaching medical students (doctors/nurses) while at the same time researching an M.Sc in Anatomy with a focus on tissue engineering.
Since 2010, I have worked in Los Angeles in a broad spectrum of educational settings requiring a high level of compassion and awareness, from performing arts charter schools to orthodox religious schools. Since 2015, I have worked solely at Bridges Academy, a school dedicated to twice-exceptional students with moderate to severe learning differences, and I now serve as their department chair for all of science and math. I consistently collaborate with other teachers and allied professionals to create an inclusive, engaging, and interactive science and math learning environment. Furthermore, as a STEM Learning Specialist and Executive Functioning Coach, I aim to help students with a variety of learning profiles use strategies, tools, and hacks to deepen learning, thrive in their educational settings, and remain true to themselves. Additionally, I take pride in teaching them communication and self-advocacy skills so that their intellectual uniqueness can be appreciated by all.
I am endlessly interested and excited by the process of guiding students to develop the skills necessary to make connections and enjoy the learning process. and find that with the right techniques, rapport-building, and compassionate support, any student’s academic life can be greatly enhanced.
MEET MORGAN - M.Ed
Reading/Literacy Specialist + Executive Functioning Coach
Hello! My name is Morgan and I am a Reading/Literacy Specialist and Executive Functioning Coach. I have worked with children for over 10 years, as a nanny, preschool teacher, and tutor.
In 2010, I graduated from San Diego State University with a Bachelor’s degree in Child
and Family Development. In 2018, I graduated with my Master’s degree in Education,
with an emphasis in Reading and Language Arts. I enjoyed my program very much and
knew it was the right fit for me. My program included extensive literacy research, developing
lesson plans, creating extensive curricula, and curating original, individualized resources for my students.
I work with emerging readers as well as those who are struggling, implementing targeted reading interventions depending on the student’s specific learning profile makeup. Additionally, I have experience working with English Language Learners. When beginning my work with a student, I conduct specific literacy assessments in order to understand a student’s strengths and weaknesses. Using the assessment results, I procure and develop intensive materials and lesson plans based on learning needs and psycho-educational goals. My teaching focuses and experience include alphabet knowledge, phonemic awareness, phonics, the writing process, reading comprehension, and vocabulary/oral language development. I believe that reading is critical for a student’s achievement in school in all subjects, and I think every child should have the opportunity to become a successful reader.
Furthermore, I integrate Executive Functioning strategies and techniques into my sessions by helping students with time management, organization, prioritization, task initiation, study skills, chunking of assignments, and other skills that students are expected to know but are usually not explicitly taught in school. I enjoy using hands-on learning, and feel that the best learning occurs when allowing the child to feel at ease. With patience and kindness, I encourage resilience, flexibility, and adaptability in order to best facilitate student learning and progress. I currently live in Burbank with my husband and our big goldendoodle. I love to hike, go to the beach, and be outside with my dog. I am originally from San Diego and can’t imagine ever leaving Southern California!
MEET DANIT - M.P.H., C.M.F., ET
Educational Therapist, Mindfulness + Executive Functioning Coach
I graduated from the University of Chicago with a Bachelor's in Anthropology (Honors Distinction) and an emphasis in Medical Anthropology. I then went on to receive a Master's of Public Health in Global Health and Human Rights from the Boston University School of Public Health. Since my post-graduate years, I have worked in the field of health and education in a variety of capacities: as an elementary school English teacher in Mexico, a teaching assistant for multiple graduate seminars at Boston University, and as a tutor and Executive Functioning Coach for students from elementary grades through the college years, focusing on students with various learning differences. Many of my students have profiles that include ADHD diagnoses and Executive Functioning deficits, and I excel in helping students who are struggling with school-related emotions and test-based anxiety. In addition, I am a Certified Mindfulness Facilitator, having completed my intensive training through UCLA's Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior. I have become well-versed in supporting students with mindfulness strategies for anxiety, stress reduction, and emotional regulation; these techniques help students with their academic lives and throughout their adulthood.
As an Educational Therapist, I focus on supporting students with learning differences in math through Pre-Calculus, English, reading, and writing through the graduate level, Life Sciences, and standardized test preparation for the ISEE. I am also a trained Executive Functioning Coach and enjoy supporting students as they develop skills in planning, organization, and time management. Further, I am trained as a Step Up to Writing instructor, able to provide structured and systematic writing support to students of all grade levels. What I love most about this work is scaffolding students on a deeper level, and helping them to experience successes by better understanding, embracing, and building on their own unique learning styles and strengths. In my free time, I love spending time with my loved ones, dancing, cooking, traveling, and doing anything outdoors.
MEET KEELY - M.S., LS
STEM Learning Specialist + Executive Functioning Coach
Hello, I'm Keely! I obtained my B.S. in Microbiology from Purdue University in 2010, followed by an M.S. in Microbiology, Immunology, and Molecular Genetics from UCLA in 2013. I served as a tutor and a Teacher’s Assistant throughout my time as an undergraduate and graduate student, and developed a passion for helping students develop the skills they needed to reach their goals in notoriously challenging science and math classes. Following graduate school, I worked as a test preparation tutor helping students get ready for the SAT and ACT; this experience led to me to deepen my knowledge of teaching reading, writing, and study skills, as well as working with students with learning differences. In the years since, I have taught many students with a variety of learning profiles across academic subjects, working both as a Learning Specialist as well as in the classroom. I truly enjoy working with students who may be considered multi-layered in their abilities and differences, those with ADHD/Executive Functioning needs, and I especially love supporting twice-exceptional learners and witnessing their brilliance firsthand.
Throughout my work with a variety of students over many years, I came to recognize the incredible luck I had as a student in happening to learn in a way that fit easily with how I was taught, which we know is unfortunately not the case for many kids. This discrepancy fed my curiosity and propelled me towards a lifetime as an educator and life-long learner who holds the strong belief that every student has a right to the support he or she needs to have the same opportunities to find inspiration and success in academic pursuits rather than just frustration. Therefore, I have made it my mission to meet students where they are at academically and emotionally, and I create a safe and collaborative space to develop the skills they need to succeed in their schooling lives and beyond.
MEET NAOMI, MA., LS
Hello, there! My name is Naomi and I have been an educator for the past 16 years. I have a Masters degree in Clinical Psychology, with an emphasis in Child Development. I am also a Balanced Literacy Specialist trained at Columbia University, Teachers College. Additionally, I am a trained Educational Therapist. My background in both psychology and education have provided me with a unique understanding of children and adolescents. I am extremely passionate about helping children with learning differences, and I believe wholeheartedly in taking an eclectic approach when working with my students. I am a member of the Association of Educational Therapists and value being a lifelong learner in the field of Educational Therapy.
In my work inside and outside of the classroom, I have experienced great successes and accomplishments in enhancing children’s lives emotionally as well as academically. As a Learning Specialist, my goal is to help the students I work with become autonomous learners. When a child has a learning difference, it is my hope to give him or her the tools and strategies needed to find true academic success and reach his or her full potential. I am a big believer in the notion that a child should be able to access the full curriculum by using different teaching methods that make learning more accessible. I am trained in Lindamood Bell’s Seeing Stars and Visualizing and Verbalizing, The Barton Reading and Spelling Program, and the Orton-Gillingham Approach.
Furthermore, I enjoy helping children with all different types of learning profiles including but not limited to ADHD, dyslexia, dysgraphia, executive skills deficits, and test anxiety just to name a few. I am here to be your child’s advocate and supporter. I will make sure to communicate with your child’s teacher and school as his or her case manager to ensure that your child’s learning needs are met. I look so forward to unlocking the potential in every learner!
MEET APRIL, ET
Educational Therapist, NILD Standard Licensure
Hi, I’m April! I’ve had the wonderful experience of working with students who have diverse learning needs, including ADHD, ADD, ASD, dyslexia, dyscalculia, and dysgraphia as a trained Educational Therapist through the National Institute of Learning Development (NILD).
Additionally, I have had the privilege of teaching junior high and high school students using the classical model with an organization called “Classical Conversations.” In addition to being in private practice with Illuminate, I also work at a private school assisting students with learning disabilities and other neurodivergent needs.
With the benefit of my training in educational therapy, I understand how to help students with learning challenges unlock their full potentials on their learning journeys. By strengthening deficit areas, I fully believe that a student can improve his or her own functioning and regain not only confidence, but a lifelong love for learning.
My Educational Therapy training through NILD equips me to create a unique, individualized learning plan and psycho-educational goals for each student. Using techniques designed to
engage and challenge deficits in visual-motor integration, phonological processing, math skills, memory, and executive functioning, the student practices flexible thinking and problem-solving skills while strengthening abilities in the core areas of reading, writing, and math.
I am passionate about Educational Therapy because I have seen that it truly has the power to change a person’s life. As a student who struggled in school due to undiagnosed dyscalculia, I understand the emotional struggles that come with having a learning challenge. My goal is to create a relationship of strong mutual trust and to cultivate a space where the student feels comfortable, but is also constantly being challenged to keep thinking and growing.
When I have free time, I love to play the banjo, bake, or do DIY projects. I’m a SoCal native and would go to Disneyland every day, if I could!
MEET BRIAN, BA.
STEM Learning Specialist/Executive Functioning Coach
Hi there, I'm Brian! I graduated from Pomona College where I received my B.A. in both Mathematics and Psychology. During my time at Pomona, I worked as a Psychology research assistant, working with adolescents in a research lab and also shadowed as a tutor/mentor at a progressive elementary school.
Currently, I specialize in tutoring all STEM topics, including Math through AP Calculus and AP Statistics as well as working with 2E (Twice-Exceptional) students. I have worked with a wide range of students with various learning differences, including dyslexia, dysgraphia processing weaknesses, and ADHD.
I also enjoy teaching Executive Function skills, including time management, planning and chunking work, managing test anxiety, and study skills. I pride myself in helping students learn how to learn, scaffolding them toward success, and breaking complexities down into accessible units of information.
In my spare time, I enjoy backpacking, rock climbing, video games and am an avid Bay Area sports fan.
MEET AISHA, MA.T, ET
Hi, I’m Aisha. I have been working in the field of Education since 1995, having taught elementary, middle, high school, and adults. I have worked as an Academic Instructor, Teacher, Educational Support Specialist, Educational Advisor, Resource Specialist, Counselor, Case Manager, Qualified Mental Retardation Professional, and Educational Therapist. I earned my Bachelor of Arts degree in both Communications and Ethnic Studies from California State University, Fullerton, in 2004. In 2010, I obtained my Masters of Arts in Teaching, specializing in Teaching and Learning in a Global Society, from National University.
Additionally, I hold a clear California Teaching Credential in Adult Education, from the University of San Diego, and a certificate in Educational Therapy, which I earned from the University California at Riverside. In addition to working as an Educational Therapist at Illuminate, I also work as an Educational Therapist at a private school serving school-aged students with learning differences and those diagnosed with special needs.
My focus and goal is to increase self-advocacy and support educational programs that empower people who are affected by unequal and inequitable boundaries.
MEET MAGGIE, M.SPED, LS
Hi, I’m Maggie! I graduated summa cum laude from Pacific Oaks College, earning my Master’s degree in Special Education, as well as a teaching credential authorizing me to work with students in grades kindergarten through 5th with mild to moderate disabilities. In addition, I hold authorizations to teach students with Autism Spectrum Disorders, as well as students who are English Language Learners. I hold an additional authorization to administer and interpret educational assessments. In an effort to further hone my expertise working with struggling readers, I have completed supplementary graduate-level coursework in reading instruction.
My experience in the classroom spans working with students who have a wide range of learning profiles. I have worked in Special Education settings, as well as in general education settings, including in intervention classes. I have experience teaching students struggling with academic, social, and emotional issues, including dyslexia, ADHD, dysgraphia, Autism Spectrum Disorder, dyscalculia, Oppositional Defiant Disorder, executive functioning weaknesses, poor working memory, visual and auditory issues, slow processing speeds, and more.
I take a very systematic approach to teaching that is based on educational research and backed by years of success. I build an educational profile for each student, from which I am able to create a tailored curriculum and plan for remediation that is geared toward the exact needs of each student. In order to help students succeed, it is critical that their specific areas of weakness are illuminated, and therefore addressed and remediated. I see the innate goodness and desire to succeed in each child, and I work diligently and creatively to help all students grow and reach their potentials.
I have a unique perspective working with students with learning issues, as I am a mother of two children with special needs. I have a daughter who struggles with academic and social/emotional challenges stemming from high-functioning autism, and a son with profound dyslexia, dysgraphia, and dyscalculia, as well as ADHD. As my children become young adults, I see how their challenges have contributed to their characters and have instilled in them unique traits that are at the core of their self-images. Character traits of perseverance, diligence, resilience, compassion, and an incredible work ethic are evident in both of my children. I believe strongly that it is paramount that parents, caregivers, and educators share with these children the amazing and often unforeseen gifts that accompany many of their challenges.
MEET MELISSA, ET
Educational Therapist. NILD Standard Licensure
Hello! My name is Melissa, and I am so excited to share my journey of becoming an educational therapist with you. I received my undergraduate degree from Pepperdine University in Music Education in 2007. I taught music in the classroom for seven years and had the opportunity to work with all age groups from Kindergarten to 12th grade. I also taught private piano lessons one-on-one to all ages for 15 years. Simultaneously, I was a nanny for a little boy with high functioning autism for 10 years. Through these experiences, my passion and interest in helping kids with learning differences on a one-to-one basis began to grow.
I began to pursue graduate level training through the National Institute for Learning Development (NILD) in 2013 and subsequently began working as an educational therapist at a private school. My training specifically focuses on students with a variety of learning differences such as dyslexia, dyscalculia, dysgraphia, visual processing disorders, auditory processing disorders, ADHD, high-functioning autism, executive functioning issues, and Specific Learning Disabilities (SLD’s). The interventionist methods I use help to target specific educational deficits and strengthen a child’s ability to be a more effective and efficient overall learner. I see each student through a unique lens, and tailor my sessions to support learning profiles by fortifying relative weaknesses and scaffolding strengths. By teaching compensatory strategies and engaging techniques for learning, my students truly grow and thrive.
I am very comfortable working with both teachers and parents to find the best collaborative solutions for your child to succeed in and out of the classroom environment. Being an educational therapist is the most rewarding experience I have ever had, and I can’t wait to be a part of your child’s learning team!
MEET DOWNIE, MA.SPED, ET
My name is Downie, and I am a Professional Educational Therapist and Learning Specialist. As an undergraduate, I knew I wanted to take a career path in the field of education. I completed the Integrated Teacher Education Program (ITEP) and simultaneously earned a Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Studies with a specialization in Mathematics and Preliminary Multiple Subject Teaching Credential at the California State University, Northridge. My experiences in general education school settings made me realize how much I enjoyed helping students who were experiencing difficulties on their educational journeys. I then went on to earn a Master of Arts in Special Education with an option in Educational Therapy which prepared me to provide an individualized approach with a variety of strategies and tools when working with students. I have experience working with students with different learning profiles, including those with learning disabilities, suspected learning disabilities, Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), and challenges in executive functioning. Further, my specialization in Mathematics has allowed me to understand how to effectively teach math skills to learners of all abilities and to those with dyscalculia. Knowing that math is an area of stretch for many students, I love helping to break down concepts into manageable parts in order to relay the reasoning and processes behind math instruction.
As a lifelong learner, I continue to be committed to adding to my repertoire to best meet the needs of my students. Recently, I became trained as an Academic Life Coach through Coach Training EDU, an International Coaching Federation accredited program. One of my areas of specialization is working with students who are bridging from high school to college. As a Learning Specialist on a college campus, I work closely with college students to help them manage their courses, to develop higher-level studentship skills, and to be successful in their demanding university classes. I also have extensive experience working with at-risk Division I college athletes from diverse academic, socioeconomic, cultural, and ethnic backgrounds in the areas of reading, writing, study-skills, note-taking, test-taking, and goal-setting. These studentship strategies are also applicable and transferable to when a student graduates from a formal education, enters the workforce, and needs intact “life skills.”
What I enjoy the most about my role as an Educational Therapist is helping students become independent and successful learners. I believe in a holistic and strengths-based approach when working with students to develop academic skills and solid executive functioning skills. I love helping students identify their strengths and learning styles, while also helping to demystify their learning challenges. Working holistically with students, I also love helping students overcome other barriers that may be impeding learning such as motivation, lack of confidence, and a fixed-mindset. I look forward to continuing to build positive relationships with my students while guiding them to fulfill their goals. Seeing them grow and be successful in many aspects of their lives is always quite exciting and rewarding for both myself and my students.
MEET MIA, BA
Early Learning Specialist/Foundational Literacy Specialist
Hi! My name is Mia. I grew up in Brentwood, LA, and recently moved back from NYC after a year working as a teacher at the Montessori Preschool in SoHo. I have a BA in Early Childhood Development from CSUN and am planning on obtaining my Masters in Educational Therapy at CSUN in the Fall of 2021. I decided to pursue the Educational Therapy path, as I thoroughly enjoy working one-on-one with kids and have a true passion for making a difference in children’s lives.
My passion for working with kids who have special needs began after my summer internship at Elements preschool in NYC. During my time there, I had the pleasure of working closely with a 3-year-old girl who has visual impairments. We quickly grew close, and created a very special and meaningful bond. After that internship, I became intrigued with learning more about kids with various differences. Since then, I have worked as an Educational Coach assisting a 7-year-old girl with ADHD with her online schooling. Additionally, I have cared for a young child with Autism. Working with children who have learning differences has shown me that with the right fit in personality and skill-set, any child can thrive academically.
My specialty is working with children in preschool through 3rd grade, helping to strengthen foundational literacy skills and other academic areas that may need attention. During my sessions, I utilize Foundations in Sound, the Barton Reading and Spelling Program, and Lindamood Bell’s Seeing Stars Program. I am also Orton-Gillingham certified, as I believe that multi-sensory, systematic, phonics instruction is incredibly powerful for kids with dyslexia and reading disorders.
When I am not working one-on-one helping kids reach their full potentials, I enjoy playing the guitar, boxing, practicing yoga, and traveling the world.
MEET MATTHEW, MFT
Executive Functioning + Life Coach
Hi there, I’m Matthew. I received my Bachelor of Arts in Human Environmental Studies at Southeast Missouri State University while playing Division 1 Football in 2013. After completing my undergraduate education, I moved to Chicago and received my Master of Arts in Marriage and Family Therapy from Adler University, and am currently in the process of earning my Psy.D. at Chicago School of Psychology.
I have positively impacted diverse populations including adult seniors, children, families, couples, individuals with special needs, and specialized group work. I’ve also worked in private practice, hospitals, schools, and in-home. In 2010, I began serving individuals with learning differences, as well as those who were transitioning to college and the workplace. I quickly realized that working with this population is a passion of mine.
My main focus is enhancing life skills and supporting overall growth of the individual, helping to develop his or her executive functioning skills both in an academic context as well as with life as a backdrop. I specialize in transition services for high school, college, and post-college clients. Services are based on individual needs and may include transition planning, advocacy, organization, time management, and family support. I value and acknowledge that each person has his or her own unique dynamics, and I strive to ensure that my support is tailored to best serve the situation at hand.
My goal is to convey to all clients that with grit, determination, and perseverance, academic and personal goals are absolutely attainable.
MEET JULIE, M.Ed.
Bridging Learning Specialist +Executive Functioning Coach
Hi, I’m Julie! I bring nearly two decades of experience to working with college-age, and near college-age students to help them thrive. I have a combination of experiences in the following realms: coaching, learning support and development, and working with students with learning differences. I believe that each and every student possesses a unique set of gifts to contribute to the world and that there are multiple pathways to unearthing them!
As a Learning Specialist, my areas of expertise are executive function skill development, academic skill development (such as reading and note-taking) and preparing for the successful transition from high school to college or university. Together, the student, their support network, and I will develop a strength-based approach designed to help them meet their goals. I look forward to creating a new and enlivening academic experience for you!
MEET KRISTIN, MAT, PCET
NILD Educational Therapist + Executive Functioning Coach
While studying abroad in Greece in 2012, I began voluntarily teaching English to refugees, and realized that education is my passion. That year, I graduated with a Master of Arts in Management, but immediately enrolled in a Master of Arts in Teaching program.
A year later, while working as an ESL instructor and literacy intervention specialist, I discovered the joy of being an advocate and coach for those who face significant challenges, and I found that one of the most rewarding experiences is witnessing the incredible changes that can happen in the life of a student with learning disabilities when he or she finally receives the right support. Thus, I pursued a post-graduate certification in Educational Therapy through the National Institute of Learning Differences (NILD) and began working as an Educational Therapist.
In addition to being in private practice at Illuminate, I am also concurrently working as an Educational Therapist at a private school and have enjoyed my sessions with students in 2nd through 12th grade. It is my goal to strengthen deficits caused by specific learning disabilities, to manage students' struggles with executive functioning support, and to equip students for academic success with personalized intervention plans. I have seen tremendous changes while working with students with ADD/ADHD, Dyslexia, Dysgraphia, and Dyscalculia. Students who formally would not even attempt to write a paper, are now writing 5 pages with ease and confidence. Students who were failing in math were able to strengthen their foundational conceptual knowledge in a way that allowed them to finally thrive in their math classes. Students who struggle with executive functioning are now excitedly showing me their schedules for the week and sharing with me their newfound strengths in taking charge of what is on their plates.
My desire is for everyone to have the opportunity to pursue his or her dreams, no matter what learning obstacles may face a person; using one’s strengths to fortify stretches, a student can truly overcome any barriers. I firmly believe that you can do anything with the right support, and I am excited to give my students the tools they need to succeed.
MEET NINA, MA.T, M.Ed-EL, ET
Hello, I’m Nina, originally from Arkansas. I have extensive experience working with learners of varying racial, cultural, and socio-economic backgrounds. I’ve received my Master of Arts in Teaching and Masters of Education in Educational Leadership at Harding University, and Educational Therapy training from the University of California at Riverside. These programs of study have afforded me the unique skill-set to implement innovative strategies and tools to students of various learning styles and abilities.
I began my educational career as a reading intervention teacher almost two decades ago.
I’ve had various teaching roles during my tenure as a classroom teacher, but I’ve always gravitated towards small classes or one-on-one settings. Specifically, I absolutely love being able to provide individualized support to help my students with learning difficulties.
For the last several years, I’ve been working with students needing support with executive functioning, early literacy, and learning disabilities such as ADD/ADHD, dyslexia, and processing disorders. With educational therapy, students get the unique advantage of having learning plans individually tailored to address their academic needs, personal interests, and learning styles. Using a holistic approach, I help students utilize their strengths and creativity in order to achieve their full potential. It is highly rewarding when I get the privilege to witness their academic growth and true increase in their confidence levels.
Throughout my career as an educator, I have embraced Howard Gardner’s multiple intelligence theory. His quote, “It’s not how smart you are- it’s how you are smart,” resonates with me and speaks to the theme of understanding one’s own “genius” as it relates to an individual’s strengths, gifts, and abilities. I look forward to sharing impactful strategies for success, and also working with you and your genius!
MEET LARA, MA SPED
Hello, I’m Lara, born in Florida, and grown in Nova Scotia, Canada. I moved to Los Angeles with my husband two years ago, and feel completely at home. I’ve been teaching children with diverse educational needs for 13 years now, and have yet to see any two students who learn the same way. I enjoy creating a specialized approach and educational support that boosts their strengths and confidence in themselves, while applying all learning to the real world.
I have a Bachelor of Arts, Honors (2001), Bachelor of Education, Elementary Specialization (2008), a Master of Education, Special Education (2011).
As a literacy specialist for the Halifax School Board, I worked with students who were struggling to learn how to read. By working together daily, discussing books, engaging in conversations about what the characters were like, how we thought the book was going to end, and our opinions about the story, I created interest in reading, while teaching effective word decoding strategies and reading fluency. In my four years in this position, 90% of my students increased their reading levels by 3 grades over three months, bringing them to grade-level standards.
As an elementary classroom teacher, I brought a sense of whole learning to my curriculum, combining many standards and skills together into one creative learning project, creating strong working relationships and a feeling of community and trust.
As a high school Learning Specialist, I taught executive functioning skills; specifically, I supported my students in organizing their thinking, making an effective plan for their upcoming projects, papers, and exams, and teaching them how to work smarter, not harder.
I have specialized training in literacy, Reading Recovery, LindaMood Bell’s LiPS and Seeing Stars programs, as well as executive functioning skills, phonemic awareness, reading comprehension, expressive and receptive language skills, and Handwriting Without Tears. I have advanced skills in mathematics support, study skills and meta-learning. I am qualified to administer KeyMath, Prime, WRMTIII and other formal evaluations, and am skilled at quickly evaluating the gaps in a student’s learning, and filling those deficits with teaching strategies to boost strengths and achieve academic success while also having fun.
Educational Therapy Dog
Woof! I'm Ruby! I'm a Mini Bernedoodle that likes snacks, walks, snacks, cuddles, and did I mention snacks.
I love coming to the office with my mommy, Andrea, and keeping her company. Things get exciting when I get to see all of her super cool students and they give me all the pets.
Sometimes when a student isn't in a great mood, I like to bring him or her a tennis ball to throw so I can fetch it and bring it back. By the second throw, he or she is already feeling better, and that makes me feel like my mommy - helping her students be the best versions of themselves.
Meeting new humans is the best! I hope we can play together soon!
"My son has been seeing Andrea on a regular basis and her caring and compassionate guidance helps me sleep at night. My child shows little interest in school or his homework except in Andrea's magical presence. He is enthusiastic about his studies when he is with her. She has boosted his self-confidence and his grades have improved. She capitalizes on his strengths and he is happy when he leaves her office. She keeps him organized and sends me regular reminders and educational tips to help him. She sees his brilliance when the school system does not and, as a mother, I am heartened by her achievements with him. We are lucky to have her!"
"I have been a student of Andrea's since I was in the 4th grade. She has helped me through elementary, middle, and high school. I don't think I would have gotten through elementary school, much less graduated high school if it wasn't for her. Andrea truly cares about her students and works to see them succeed in both academic and personal life. She has pushed me when I thought I couldn't go any further and proved to me that if I really want something, I can achieve it. Andrea is a compassionate, caring, devoted teacher and friend who I will strongly suggest to anyone seeking an educational therapist. I have seen Andrea twice a week, every week for the past ten years, and it will be very strange next year not seeing her at my regular appointments when I am in college. Andrea truly helped me achieve my goals and has been an amazing friend along the way. I am truly blessed to have her in my life."
"For over 5 years Andrea was my daughter's educational therapist. She saw her raw strengths and nurtured them. Andrea was aware of her range of skills, helped her navigate through her weakness, set high and realistic expectations and validated hard work. My daughter grew and flourished under her guidance. Andrea is knowledgeable about various learning styles and employs appropriate modalities to support her students. My daughter was always given words of encouragement and was rewarded with praise. Now as a college student, she views Andrea as a mentor and envisions working in a similar profession. As a parent, I found her to be a extraordinary communicator and collaborator."
"One of my boys has ADHD, the other is high-functioning on the Autism Spectrum. They would not have made it through middle and high school without Andrea's guidance and coaching. They both saw her for 6 years and she was a lifeline. She kept them focused on homework, projects and deadlines and took the pressure off of me. The boys looked forward to seeing her each week and I was surprised how much they accomplished in an hour; she really kept them on task. I highly recommend Andrea Chernin to anyone looking for an experienced educational therapist."
“Dear Andrea, Happily, my daughter has been doing so well this year, not just academically, but socially and emotionally. She has been such a joy to be with this year. I think that among other factors, her work with you has given her the stability and confidence of getting her organizational and time management skills working better as well as her reading and writing skills. I think, too that because she feels you are so much on her wavelength that you can function as a confidante which means that you are her ally and there is never any conflict about coming to see you. That hasn’t been true of many other appointments that she was “forced” to keep. Ultimately, I have been able to stay out of her homework and out of her face about her homework (unless very occasionally asked for help) and she has been doing exceptionally well. Her midterm grades (which I should copy for you) showed a current 96 or 97% in core! Imagine that a year or two ago! She is very ho-hum about the grade because it isn’t final, but I reminded her what a remarkable accomplishment it is in itself. She smiled a slow wide smile as she recognized the truth of it. So thank you for all your work and support .”
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andrea [at] illuminateedtherapy.com
(747) 888-3330 office
(310) 861-1995 fax
4768 Park Granada Suite 106
Calabasas, CA 91302
610 Santa Monica Blvd. Suite 221
Santa Monica, CA 90401