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. In order to support emergent readers, for example, I am trained in the Orton-Gillingham approach which strengthens their decoding, fluency, and reading comprehension skills. 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 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 RYLIE, I.P. ET
Hello, my name is Rylie! I knew from a young age that I wanted to support students with learning challenges because my brother, Zachary, is on the Autism Spectrum.
I graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication Disorders and Sciences (Speech-Language Pathology) from Cal State University, Northridge.
While completing this program, I fell in love with studying phonology, phonetics, theories of cognitive development, and literacy. During this time, I also worked as a behavioral intervention specialist and inclusive education assistant across various educational environments. These combined experiences made me realize that providing one-on-one academic support is my passion.
I have extensive experience working with individuals with a range of needs, including Autism Spectrum Disorder, ADHD, executive functioning deficits, visual and auditory processing deficits, dyslexia, specific learning disabilities, and developmental disabilities such as Prader-Willi and Noonan Syndrome.
I am currently finishing my Master of Arts in Educational Therapy where I am building my skill-set of remediation techniques and intervention strategies.
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 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 DANIELLE, M.SPED.
My name is Danielle, but most people call me “Dani.” I bring five years of teaching experience to Illuminate Educational Therapy Group, in addition to many years of working with children as an academic tutor, camp counselor, and Hebrew school teacher. As a University of Michigan alumna and 2017 Teach for America Corps member, I also received my Master’s in Special Education from the Relay School of Education.
My approach to teaching students with learning differences is that I adhere to a data-driven and individualized approach to education, carefully considering each student’s profile and aligning my teaching style to his or her learning style. I am trained in Fundations and the Wilson Reading Program, and all of my curated, individualized curriculum aligns with the Common Core State Standards that students often see in the classroom. In addition to working one-to-one with neurodivergent learners, I also have experience as a special education middle school teacher, a general education elementary school teacher, and as a volunteer reading tutor for Avalon House, a non-profit program for students from low-performing schools in Detroit. Apart from my passions in the field of education, I enjoy exercising, traveling, and playing with cute dogs.
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 MICHELE, M.AT, I.P. ET
Hello, my name is Michele. I have 20 years experience in the field education, and have provided my services in after-school programs, supplemental education, teaching, tutoring, and Educational Therapy. I earned my BA in Liberal Studies from California State University, Northridge, and then went on to attain my Masters of Science in Advanced Teaching Practices at National University. Loving classroom instruction, I currently spend the school day as a 6th grade Math and Science teacher in DTLA, while concurrently working toward my Educational Therapy certification from the University of California Riverside and seeing Illuminate Students for Learning Specialist sessions.
My breadth of experience includes working with students in a whole group classroom setting, small group intervention, and 1:1 support. Specifically as a teacher and Learning Specialist/Educational Therapist, I have been able to modify curriculum to accommodate all learning modalities. In my work with students, I utilize multiple means of representation such as manipulatives, multisensory instruction, hands-on objects, realia, visuals, technology, reteaching, providing explicit instruction, and showcasing examples to guide the learning process. In all of my years in Special Education, I have found that accommodating various learning differences in and out of the classroom is an individualized experience for each student; additionally, what may work for one student may not necessarily work for another student. My ultimate goal when working with any student is to accommodate individualized learning styles with care, attention, and the fostering of self-confidence. I am passionate about working with children and enjoy providing a personalized and targeted educational approach for our students.
MEET CHRISTIE, M.AT, ET
Educational Therapist, NILD Standard Licensure
Hi, my name is Christie, and I have been an educator for over eight years. I am a former teacher and a certified NILD Educational Therapist. I earned my BA in English from UCLA and later received my Multiple-Subject Credential and Master of Arts in Teaching from the University of San Francisco.
I have always had diverse learners in my classes, and although teaching was very rewarding, I was disheartened to see some children fall through the cracks. I eventually decided to work one-on-one with students instead of teaching in a large classroom. It became my passion to help children who were facing learning challenges. As an Educational Therapist, I assist students who struggle with executive functioning disorders, dyslexia, dysgraphia, dyscalculia, ADHD, autism spectrum disorders and other specific learning differences. My lessons are tailored to fit the unique needs of every student. By focusing on strengths and improving areas of weakness, students can become more competent and confident learners in the classroom and in life.
I truly believe that all students can succeed with the right tools, encouragement, and a growth mindset. Educational Therapy has opened doors for many children, and I am thoroughly enjoying seeing the joy of measurable progress and improvement right before my eyes in sessions.
I live in Calabasas with my husband, son, and daughter. In my spare time, I enjoy playing the piano, traveling, hiking and spending time with my family and our dog, Toby.
MEET KEVIN, BA
Learning Specialist/Executive Functioning Coach
I.P. Education Specialist Credential in Mild/Moderate Disabilities; Mathematics Single-Subject Teaching Credential
Born and raised in Altadena, CA as the son of two music teachers, I grew up not only with a love of the arts but also a strong fascination with science (due in part to my childhood hero, Bill Nye). However, it wasn't until a year after finishing my undergraduate studies at Oberlin College, with a double major in Mathematics & Psychology, that I finally caught the teaching bug myself, working for a year at an after-school program in Arcadia. With a newfound enthusiasm for education, I spent the next three and a half years teaching Middle and Upper School Math, Science, and SAT/ACT Test Prep at Fusion Academy in Pasadena; the following three years, I taught Upper School Math at Westmark School, a private school in Encino that primarily specializes in serving students with dyslexia, ADHD, ASD, processing disorders, dyscalculia, dysgraphia, and difficulties with executive functioning. After seven years of teaching full-time in private education, I am now in my second semester at Cal State University Northridge, pursuing a dual credential in Special Education and Secondary Math instruction, excited to make a difference in bringing more equitable educational access to all students, including kids with disabilities and other learning differences. My central drive as an educator and learning specialist is to motivate students to think critically; to be curious, to question; and also to discover a deep sense of joy in learning so that they will continue to seek knowledge and teach themselves about the world around them. I also believe strongly in differentiation throughout the learning process, and seek to play off of the individuality of each student; in doing so, this allows me to approach lessons from multiple perspectives. Specifically when it comes to mathematical concepts, I teach a multitude of ways to problem-solve and arrive at various solutions. Further, I believe in utilizing research-based, multi-modal differentiation strategies aimed towards language-based learning disorders and executive functioning difficulties. While I aim to demonstrate traditional methods and highlight their value, I also encourage students to expand upon their own individual thought processes, learning styles, and modes of communication to foster innovation and personal growth.
Outside of work and school, I pursue multiple varied hobbies, though most often can be found with a musical instrument in my hands; as an avid multi-instrumentalist, composer, and producer, I am involved with multiple projects, including as a solo recording artist and as the guitar/keyboard player of my current band, The Skariginals. I also spend my free time practicing sleight of hand and close-up magic. A self-proclaimed geek with diverse interests, I am always happy to talk about obscure albums, philosophy and/or big bang cosmology, my love of stand-up comedy, or the often torturous and ill-fated life of being an LA Dodger fan.
I look forward to the opportunity to work with you and support the academic growth and success of your learner!
MEET JEANINE, BA&S, STC
Learning Specialist and Educational Interventionist
Hello! I am Jeanine. Originally from the Midwest, I have been living in Los Angeles for almost seven years and been working in education for even longer. As a native Hoosier, I received my BAS in Journalism and Secondary Teaching Certification from Indiana University. I spent my final semester of college teaching English/ Language Arts and Journalism courses on the Navajo Reservation in Nenahnezad, New Mexico (where I also learned to cook fry bread and attended the Gathering of Nations!) I moved to California in 2015, and have been teaching, remediation tutoring, and providing targeted educational intervention for students with learning differences in a 1:1 setting ever since. I work with neurodiverse learners of all ages, including those with ADHD, executive functioning disorder, dyslexia, dyscalculia, processing disorders, written expression weaknesses, reading comprehension difficulties, and more. I am trained and experienced in several educational remediation and enrichment programs, including: Lindamood-Bell’s Visualizing & Verbalizing and Seeing Stars, Step Up to Writing, Read Naturally, Building Thinking Skills, Processing and Cognitive Enhancement (PACE), On Cloud Nine, and HearBuilder.
Reading and writing are my passions, and when I am not working with students, I am likely doing one or the other. In my spare time, I am a freelance writer and avid cryptoquip solver. I also have two ragdoll Siamese cats named Lewis and Clark. They are brothers from the same litter of kittens that serendipitously came into my life because of a flat tire (I've never been happier to have a flat tire).
MEET ANALEE, M.Ed
Reading & Learning Specialist
Hello, my name is Analee, and I have a deep passion for helping all children succeed. As a Learning Specialist and Reading Specialist, my goal is to help your child thrive. I have over a decade of experience working with children with various learning profiles as a classroom teacher, tutor, and educational specialist. I hold a Multiple Subject Teaching credential and a Masters of Education from UCLA, as well as expertise in various programs to meet the needs of all learners.
During my time teaching Kindergarten and First Grade, I developed a passion for early literacy. I was fascinated by how kids learned how to read and write. I wondered why some kids succeeded right away while others struggled for years. I began attending a variety of workshops and trainings on Balanced Literacy, Phonological Awareness, and Phonics. I became a leader at my school site- serving as the Early Language and Literacy Designee. In this role, I helped hundreds of struggling readers by running intervention groups and leading staff trainings to help other educators grow in their knowledge base. Nothing made me happier than watching kids grow in their own confidence as they became vastly improved readers and writers. I also led the school-wide implementation of a new math program- Eureka math- applying what I had learned as a literacy leader to curate multisensory math instruction. I used targeted intervention to fill in the gaps and help my students build foundational mathematical skills.
Along the way, I worked with students from a wide variety of backgrounds. Many of my students were English Language Learners and many had Individual Education Plans and 504 Plans. I have always found it important to custom tailor my approach to reach students with a variety of learning differences. I worked hand in hand with administration and other educators to make sure all kids got the support they deserved. As the Early Language and Literacy Designee, I helped teachers customize their learning to support students with dyslexia, ASD, ADHD, processing disorders, generalized anxiety, and more.
After having my own children several years ago, I took my intervention skills out of the classroom and into working with students 1-1. I have found working with children in a 1-1 setting to be extremely rewarding, powerful, and impactful.
MEET RACHEL, MSW, ET
Hello, I’m Rachel. I have been a Learning Specialist for almost ten years in the Los Angeles area where I live with my husband and three children. After graduating from UCSD with a Bachelor’s in History, I attended Howard University in Washington, DC where I received my Master’s in Social Work. I eventually found that my true calling was working one on one with students with learning difficulties, and went back to school to get my certificate in Educational Therapy from UC Riverside. I have also been trained in the Wilson Reading System which is a systematic, focused, intensive literacy program that helps those with dyslexia (and struggling readers) become confident in their decoding and encoding skills.
As part of my portfolio in working to better the lives of all children, I was the Director of Inclusion at a summer camp for many years, supporting children of all ages to be a part of an experiential learning environment. Currently, I primarily work with children in Kindergarten through eighth grade in fortifying reading skills and remediating math. I help support students in their learning journeys by teaching them how to become independent and successful students. I hope to empower my students to understand their learning profiles, to advocate for themselves, and to grow into the best version of themselves.
MEET IAN, M.Ed.
Learning Specialist/Executive Functioning Coach
Hello, I’m Ian! I’ve been an educator for close to 20 years, teaching mostly social studies courses. I’ve helped high school students with different skill sets and personal challenges achieve their goals in a diverse array of settings, from private school to art school to large public school. My particular specialties include helping learners who struggle with vocabulary development with strategies such as using cognates to teach English language learners, creating graphic organizers or picture cues on flash cards to assist visual learners, using props and physical movements to help kinesthetic learners, etc. I’m also quite skilled at employing a learner’s prior knowledge, even from other academic disciplines, to build new connections to novel situations. I currently serve as an academic coach for my current school, and I’ve spent much time crafting custom pacing plans for my learners with executive functioning weaknesses that are tuned to maximize their strengths. That might mean chunking assignments into smaller, easier to digest pieces so as not to intimidate learners stricken with anxiety, or selecting the assignments that best reflect the main idea of a given unit while eschewing the rest to help students with attention deficits focus their efforts better.
I believe personal connections with students are critical components to academic success. That’s why I take the time to check-in with each of my learners multiple times a week in addition to the face-to-face time that I spend with them - sometimes to share important reminders regarding assignments or projects, but other times just to say hello and build rapport. Learners can’t properly engage academic material unless instructors are appropriately engaged with learners.
As for me, I’m an avid lover of organized sports. I’ve coached varsity basketball and soccer for both boys and girls. I’ve also served as moderator for a number of activities, including the Gaming Club, Mock Trial and Moot Court teams, as well as a variety of drama productions. In my spare time, I enjoy weight training, reading graphic novels, sci-fi, and nonfiction, and watching documentaries. My wife runs an animal hospital, so in addition to our two kids, we have two dogs, two indoor cats, two outdoor cats, an ever-growing amount of guppies in our fish tank and a lobster. Yes, that’s right - a lobster.
MEET DARYL, IP M.ET
Hi! My name is Daryl! I have been serving neurodiverse children in schools and in homes since 2010. I received my Bachelor's degree in Psychology from Arizona State University in 2014. I worked as a lead teacher in fully inclusive 2nd and 3rd-grade classes before deciding to go back to school. In 2018, I received my Bachelor's in Communication Sciences and Disorders (speech pathology).
While I pursued this degree, I was working as a 4th-grade teacher, where I was able to implement various instructional practices and interventions to support my students with extensive support needs in accessing general education content.
Since 2020, I have been working as a Learning Specialist while pursuing my Master's in Educational Therapy. In this role, I am able to support neurodiverse students with a range of learning profiles, including students who have dyslexia, dysgraphia, dyscalculia, ASD, ADHD, and more. While I specialize in literacy instruction and intervention, I also provide intervention across all academic subjects as well as executive functioning support. Aside from literacy intervention, math is my favorite area to provide intervention for!
As a Learning Specialist, I aim to minimize barriers to student success and promote access to learning. I help students build their skills and their confidence both in and out of the classroom by academic and executive functioning goal setting, metacognition, and taking practical steps toward reaching both self-selected goals and psycho-educational goals established at the start of working together.
I am trained in phonetic reading instruction as well as in Wilson Reading Systems programs including Wilson intervention, Fundations, and Just Words. Additionally, I am trained in and regularly implement Universal Design Learning, which emphasizes promoting access to learning through multiple means by capitalizing on student strengths and interests.
I look forward to supporting your students and breaking down the learning process during our sessions together!
MEET APRIL, ET
Educational Therapist + Learning Specialist, PCET
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 Professionally Certified Educational Therapist (PCET)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 RYAN, M.Ed., IP ET
I have been an educator for over 20 years. I began my teaching career in Los Angeles and have taught around the globe, including South Korea, China and the Middle East. I hold a Master’s degree in Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment, and am currently completing my Educational Therapy Post-Masters Certificate. Having taught in several private schools throughout Los Angeles and throughout the world, I have vast experience with diverse learners, including students with ADHD, Executive Functioning Disorder, dyslexia, dysgraphia, dyscalculia, and processing disorders.
My teaching practice is deeply committed to developing relationships with students and cultivating safe, comfortable, and inclusive spaces for children to learn. I am skilled with understanding curriculum, administering/interpreting assessments, and using this information to inform and guide my personalized, targeted instruction based on a student’s learning profile.
Furthermore, I have extensive experience teaching reading, writing, math, and social studies, and am adept at making learning accessible for all students. I also hold several mindfulness certifications, and often utilize mindfulness principles to help students navigate stress and anxiety surrounding their academics. When I am not working with children, I enjoy hiking, reading, practicing mindfulness and spending time with my wonderful family.
MEET MAXWELL, M.Ed
Executive Functioning Coach + Math/Science Learning Specialist
Hello, my name is Max, and I have been tutoring/mentoring/coaching students for the past 5+ years. I grew up in Northridge, and graduated from Granada Hills playing football, baseball, and track. I then continued my educational and football career at the University of Puget Sound. During my time in college, I earned All-American and All-Academic Team honors, and graduated with a B.S. in Exercise Science.
After graduating, I started to expand my support services for students and have been working with middle and high schoolers of all abilities and levels in mostly math and science-based subjects. During this period, I also interned with the Seattle Seahawks in their Strength and Conditioning Department and with various physical therapy clinics around the Tacoma area. In order to further my education and to gain more tools to work with neurodivergent learners, I attended Mount Marty University and graduated with a Master’s in Education: Emphasis in Coaching and Leadership. During my time in graduate school, I worked as a GA/TA, and I was responsible for teaching Exercise Science classes such as Exercise Physiology, Anatomy, and Motor Learning; I was also the Head Strength and Conditioning Coach of three scholarship programs, Basketball, Cheer/Dance, and Track.
During my time as a college instructor and tutor, 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 in multiple subjects. Furthermore, my time as a college instructor allowed me to gain significant experience in teaching and assisting students who came to America for college and had language barrier difficulties with communication and comprehension. In fact, I enjoy identifying any barriers to success and helping students overcome them with a belief in their unique abilities.
In my off time, I enjoy coaching and engaging in athletic performance training, as well as tending to my aquariums!
MEET JESSICA, B.A., IP ET
Hello, I’m Jessica! I’ve devoted the majority of my professional life to providing recreational and academic services for children since graduating in 2006 from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo with a B.A in Communication Studies. I began my journey guiding students with special needs in the town of Mammoth Lakes where I worked as a Speech Therapy Paraprofessional, primarily helping ELL students, children on the Autism spectrum, and children with processing challenges. Additionally, I have extensive experience with homeschooling, and enjoy fostering nontraditional learning environments for students who participate in alternative education modalities.
After moving back to Los Angeles, I began working with an incredible 30-year veteran Educational Therapist, who provided me with mentorship in various programs, including the SMARTS Executive Functioning approach, remedial math concepts, and reading methods composed by Lindamood-Bell and Orton-Gillingham. I then attended an Orton-Gillingham training to advance my knowledge, and specialize in teaching reading to both emerging and struggling readers. I am currently enrolled in the Educational Therapy Certificate program through UC Santa Cruz, and am eager to continue supporting students who face learning difficulties at any level.
“You can’t judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree.”
I believe that each individual has a specific style of learning, and the often fast-paced mainstream classroom is not able to cater to all needs. I am passionate about utilizing a multi-sensory teaching approach, helping students understand their learning styles, and guiding them to become more at ease with the writing process. I meet my students where they are at with care and understanding, while providing an appropriate level of challenge. It is exceedingly rewarding to witness the growth of a student and, even more so, the confidence that goes along with it!
MEET DANIEL, MA, IP Ph.D
Learning Specialist/Executive Functioning Coach
Hi there, my name is Daniel. I’ve worked in education for the better part of a decade, and in varying capacities. In the states of Texas and Washington, I taught ELA, English Language Learning, and Special Education while instructing a diverse student body. Most of my teaching revolves around middle, high school, and college-aged groups. I have also coached students/ adults one-on-one in developing their executive functioning skills.
When it comes to teaching, I try to implement student-centered approaches to instruction. I believe students can bring a lot of knowledge and depth to their learning, so empowering them through that process stands as a priority. I also believe in equitable teaching practices and curriculum, particularly where culture and identity are concerned. Lastly, I believe in helping students develop critical-thinking skills through inquiry-based lessons and self-reflective activities.
In addition to my work in Special Education, I am also passionate about music. As such, I am a doctoral student at the University of California, Riverside where I study ethnomusicology, or the anthropological study of music. My current research relates to music’s role and function in schools and communities affected by conflict and violence. I plan to conduct fieldwork next year as a teacher.
MEET ZACH, BA
Executive Functioning Coach
Hello! My name is Zach, and I hold a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Human Development from Pacific Oaks College, and a teaching certification from UCLA Extension. I have always been deeply interested in Developmental Psychology, and how students can learn effectively. I have almost 10 years of experience working in education.
My past educational undertakings include working in special education, LAUSD, charters, private schools, at-home environments, and in clinical settings. I have worked with students with specific learning disabilities, dysgraphia, Autism Spectrum Disorder, ADHD, Executive Functioning weaknesses, and emotional and behavioral disorders. One of my specialties is providing services for students on the autism spectrum at home and in the school context at different locations across Los Angeles. In this role I utilize Applied Behavioral Analysis to assist students with cognitive, and physical disabilities in building independent living skills and achieving success in the classroom and beyond.
I truly enjoy focusing on social-emotional learning/training as well. I find that students with Executive Functioning difficulties are incredibly bright and capable, but need to be taught studentship skills explicitly and in the way they can understand them. This hidden curriculum, not taught in the classroom, is something I enlighten my students about, and seeing their “aha moments” when our work clicks is extremely rewarding and fun.
I am skilled at building rapport with students with various learning challenges, and across differing levels of impact. I am also adept at reaching different learning styles in the way I communicate/teach as I help students gain a solid understanding of academic content. Students with learning differences require one-on-one attention and individualized support that can be underserved in the busy school environment. Therefore, I value providing a meaningful educational experience for students, and engaging them in an inclusive learning process. I believe in the overall power of education, and the untapped potential of student learners. I strive to build confidence in students and to help foster self-advocacy amongst those in my caseload.
When I am not working with students, I enjoy playing basketball, going to the beach, and reading several books at a time.
MEET VIBHA - - MST, COI, PhD
Executive Functioning Coach/ Writing Coach
Hi there, I’m Vibha. I have worked in Education for over 10 years and am obsessed with the English language in all its intricacies, and with time management and tasking!
I grew up in the United Kingdom and moved to the United States as a teenager. I attended college in New York City, majoring in English Language and Literature for my Undergraduate degree and continued my studies to pursue a Master’s in Education. Realizing that I had so much to reflect on with my own educational journey, I then went on to complete a doctorate in International Education. My dissertation, a comparative analysis of the impact of
standardized testing on cognitive rigor and instruction between the United States and the United Kingdom, was published in an International Education Journal. I am also a published author in several academic peer-reviewed education journals and remain an active writer in education.
Throughout my Master’s program and for six years thereafter, I taught at Pace University supporting students with Autism Spectrum Disorders, ADD/ADHD, and various neurodivergent presentations in Executive Functioning, Writing, and Composition. I enjoyed working with students 1:1, forming relationships, and supporting them in achieving success in their college journeys. I further enhanced my training by transitioning to the public school
environment while pursuing my doctorate. I realized that many of the skills that I acquired in supporting students with neurodiverse challenges prepared me for the wide array of learning styles in the middle and high school arena. I taught in the NYC Public School System for seven years, obtained tenure, and developed my skills to become an instructional coach and writing coordinator. Most of my teaching experience was centered on supporting students
with learning disabilities, Autism Spectrum Disorders, and English Language Learners. I continued teaching remotely throughout the Pandemic and became a Certified Online Instructor (COI), to further enhance my instructional pedagogy.
With experience as a Certified Online Coach combined with years of experience as a writing coach, I can break down prompts, engage in brainstorming sessions, and develop essay outlines using a collaborative approach - all of these aspects of the writing process embedded with an individualized learning approach have resulted in learners feeling more comfortable and successful in accomplishing their writing goals. I am passionate and driven in providing an authentic coaching experience for all learners by executing a framework of personalized coaching. The journey of growth and development starts with meeting learners where they are - I strongly value and embody this process of building from the ground up.
I believe rapport-building is key to connecting with students and enhancing their social-emotional learning skills. My strengths include personalizing instruction, building relationships, and collaborating with students. I believe that we all have our idiosyncrasies and once we tap into our behaviors and how we best learn, we can be on the
road to success while optimizing ourselves.
MEET SARAH, Multiple-Subject Teaching Credential, Post-Graduate Degree in Special Education
Learning & Reading Specialist
Hi, my name is Sarah! My passion for education started when I went to Albania to teach English to a group of young children over 20 years ago. This experience completely changed my career path as I pivoted and decided to go into teaching instead of public relations. Although Californian born and bred, after graduating from the University of Arizona and my life-changing teaching career in Albania, I moved to London where I received my teaching credential and began my career as an educator. I worked for several years in a diverse inner-city school in east London- an incredible experience for a new, young teacher. I then relocated to Los Angeles where I taught at Corpus Christi School in the Pacific Palisades until I had children of my own. My family returned to London in 2013 where I was Head of Special Education at a private prep school in central London for seven years. I am glad to be back in sunny Southern California! I currently work as a Reading & Math Specialist at a private school for kids with learning differences in Los Angeles.
I specialize in teaching students with neurodiverse learning profiles, and specialize in both reading and math. Additionally, I help support students with ADHD and strengthen their Executive functioning skills. Many of my students have dyslexia, and I utilize the amazing Wilson Reading System, which is an intensive, multi-sensory, structured literacy program that is Orton-Gillingham based. It has been life-changing for my students who have language-based learning disabilities. I strongly believe in multi-sensory, systematic teaching methods in order to reach learners on a deep, meaningful level and in the ways they best acquire knowledge.
I have two amazing children (Emmy is 14 and Will is 12), you can find me at the beach, doing yoga, cooking or playing tennis in my free time. I enjoy traveling, adore my family and friends and love my job! I look forward to meeting more wonderful children as a Learning Specialist with Illuminate!
MEET JULIE, MA
Learning Specialist/Executive Functioning Coach
Born and raised in Los Angeles, I earned my B.S. from Baylor University in Waco, Texas, and my M.A. in Sports Management and Human Performance from the University of Alabama. I currently work at an all-boys high school in Los Angeles as their Director of Academic Support and helped build their full-time comprehensive Student Support department. I serve a wide variety of students, cultures, learning styles, and learning disabilities. I truly understand the impact learning differences have on students, and the way executive functioning impacts all areas of one’s life. I enjoy the challenge of working collaboratively to turn each student’s challenges into strengths and tools they can use to thrive in the classroom and beyond.
With over thirteen years of experience working in both high school and collegiate athletic academic settings, I have developed a unique understanding of the importance of providing students with an environment where they are challenged to learn and grow within a supportive, encouraging, and consistent community.
I love surrounding myself with friends and family, cooking, sports, animals (especially my dog, Winnie), spending time outdoors, water sports, and traveling.
MEET RUBY, D. Pu.P
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."
“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 .”
"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."
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"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."
All I regret about Andrea is that I did not find her earlier! All I know is that Scott has been working with one of her tutors for a bit over a year twice a week and his progress report was outstanding, his parent/teacher conference glowing. He comes home, he takes off his shoes/mask/bookbag and puts them away, and starts his 30-40 of homework with excitement; prior he threw his stuff everywhere and I was yelling at him to write 1 paragraph. He reads because he LOVES it. He asks me to order books. This was a kid that I was begging to read. He will do football/baseball/tennis and after going to whomever’ s house after the sport and before dinner with them, asks if he can have 30 minutes of time in a room alone to get his homework done before eating dinner with them. Do you understand how HUGE this is? And more importantly, this ed therapist has not changed the vibe of Scott – still charming, a people person, all about relationships, funny, witty and can think out of the box -- same amazing Scott, but with a passion and direction for school. He sees the point of school. A Scott that can advocate for himself if he doesn’t understand something or needs more time. A Scott that doesn’t just guess at a test and rush through it, a Scott that takes his time, thinks about what he’s learned, shows his work and checks his work. No way can a parent or tutor achieve that. No way.
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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