Student Support Services

ASL offers a variety of support services for students who meet the school’s selective academic admissions requirements. Services focus on individualized approaches to learning and social-emotional development. Our aim is to support, guide and teach students to reach their full potential with services geared to help students with different learning needs. An underlying tenet of our programs is the focus on a growth mindset aimed at fostering resilience. By gaining self-knowledge and building self-advocacy skills, students are able to become productive, confident individuals and more resourceful lifelong learners. The SSST programs are designed to support students for success in the mainstream classroom. Academic support lessons aim to teach a variety of skills and strategies as a foundation to accessing our challenging curriculum. Specialists collaborate and consult regularly with classroom teachers for the benefit of all students.

Overview of services

Students best suited for admission to the School and its support services are motivated and are of at least high average ability. Support services are offered for students who have documented mild to moderate specific learning difference (SLD program). Literacy and language support are available to all students in the Lower and Middle schools. Counseling services are available for all students in each division.

The services provided within each division vary in style and delivery.

The Student Support Services provided are as follows:

  • Early intervention in literacy, K2-Grade 2
  • Flexible (‘Flex’) academic support, Grades 1-4
  • Speech therapy, K1-Grade 2
  • Language therapy, Lower and Middle schools (K1-Grade 7)
  • Specific Learning Difference (SLD), Grades 3-12
  • Counseling and external referrals – Lower, Middle and High schools
  • Diagnostic evaluations and external referrals – Lower, Middle Occupational therapy/Physical therapy referrals- Lower, Middle, and High schools

Description of services

Reading support: LS

Reading support is provided to students in Grades 1 and 2 who need extra help in order to gain independence and competence in the development of literacy skills. Identified students meet with a specialist in small, flexible groups on a regular basis.

Flex support: LS (Grades 2–4)

Flex support services may be offered to students with weaknesses in specific academic skills. These services are designed to target specific areas. Flex support services supplement a student’s core curriculum. The program of instruction is determined by specific student need and is delivered in a small group setting and are short-term in duration. The goal of Flex support is to provide early specific target intervention, the response to which is closely and regularly monitored.

Language therapy: LS, MS (K1–Grade 7)

Students who are experiencing difficulties in their comprehension and/or expression of language, including appropriate social use of language, are supported in the Language Therapy program. Support services include assessment, teacher consultation and, when necessary, direct intervention. 

Speech therapy: LS (K1-Grade 2)

Speech therapy is provided for students in K1-Grade 2 who demonstrate significant articulation, voice, and/or fluency difficulties.

Specific Learning Difference Program (SLD): LS, MS, HS

The SLD program is designed to provide support for students who meet the school’s admission criteria, have been identified as having a Specific Learning Difference, and/or ADHD, and need a program which addresses their unique learning styles. The aim of the program is to maximize each student’s potential and to develop compensatory skills, which will allow him/her to perform at the highest possible academic level. The learning specialists work closely with mainstream teachers.

Counseling and referrals: LS, MS, HS

Counselors are available to help students address some of their personal concerns. Counselors offer a safe and private placefor discussion and problem-solving. Students may refer themselves to a counselor or may be referred by SST, a teacher, parent or a concerned friend. The counselors can also assist with referrals for external, private individual or family therapy.

Diagnostic evaluations and referrals: LS, MS, HS

The educational psychologists works closely with teachers and specialists to review and advise regarding student needs. The educational psychologists conduct triennial re-evaluations of students formally enrolled in the SLD program. At the recommendation of SST, s/he conducts formal diagnostic evaluations or assists with external evaluation referrals. The educational psychologists will conduct screening for ADHD and, as appropriate, refer out to a psychiatrist for confirmation of that diagnosis. All testing referrals go through SST and that team determines whether the testing should be carried out internally or referred out to private psychologists. Any testing conducted by the school’s psychologists requires written parental consent. There is also a fee for any initial diagnostic psycho-educational evaluations conducted by the school’s psychologists.

Occupational therapy screening

Should concerns arise regarding a student’s fine or gross motor skills, a referral may be recommended to a private occupational therapist for screening or evaluation.


What do I do if I have a specific academic concern about my child?

In the Lower School, you should first contact your child’s class teacher. S/he may contact the grade-level liaison, who may, in turn, recommend a referral to the Lower School Student Support Team.

In the Middle School, you should contact the subject teacher and the advisory teacher. S/he may, in turn, contact the relevant grade-level learning specialist, who may make a referral to the Middle School Student Support Team.

In the High School, you should contact the subject area teacher and advisor. S/he may, in turn, contact the grade-level Dean or college counselor, who may present the issues to the High School Student Support Team.

Who would I contact if I suspect my child has a learning difference?

You should contact the relevant professional described above. You may also contact the divisional educational psychologist.

What do I do if I have a specific emotional concern about my child?

You should contact the divisional counselor and/or advisor.

What is the Student Support Team (SST)?

The primary focus of each divisional SST is to identify students at risk academically, socially and/or emotionally. The team problem-solves collaboratively to devise an appropriate plan of support that might include specific strategies and interventions. Referrals to the SST are made from a variety of sources, including teachers, parents, administrators, the educational psychologists and counselors. The composition of the SST varies slightly within each division, but includes SLD learning specialists, educational psychologists, counselors, administrators, health personnel (as needed), advisors and teachers (as available in the Lower and Middle schools). The reading specialist, language specialist and EAL specialist may also attend, depending on the needs and divisional resources. In the High School, the SST includes grade-level deans, as well as college counselors as needed.

What types of recommendations might the SST make?

A variety of classroom-based interventions may be recommended. The opportunity to meet with in-school counselors may be suggested. In addition, referrals for out-of-school private counseling, psychological and/or medical evaluations may be recommended. All decisions regarding psycho-educational and language assessment and entry into any of the school’s various support services are made via the divisional SST. However, it is important to note that not every referral made to the SST warrants or results in a full evaluation or referral.

How is the information discussed in SST handled?

All information shared at SST meetings is treated as confidential. The plan of action devised at the SST meeting is communicated to appropriate subject area teachers, relevant school professionals, including relevant SST members and the advisor. The information is also entered into the K-12 Student Support Services Team database.

How are parents advised of SST meeting decisions?

A designated SST representative and/or the classroom teacher/advisor will be appointed to follow up with parents regarding any suggested plans of action.

Should my child need to be tested, what can I expect?

An assessment may be recommended to determine if a specific learning difference or other issue is affecting the student’s academic achievement and performance in school. A formal psychometric evaluation is needed to diagnose a specific learning difference and to determine if further educational intervention is required. A language evaluation may also be required in order to learn more about receptive, expressive and language processing skills. Should such an evaluation be required, parental permission for testing is sought by the educational psychologist or language specialist, depending upon the type of concern. Alternatively, an independent evaluation by private educational or clinical psychologists may also by conducted if it is wished by the parents and/or if recommended by the Student Support Team. All private evaluations would be at the parents’ expense, as are all internal psychometric evaluations. Financial aid may be available. It is important to note that decisions as to whether a diagnostic evaluation is done in school are made by the SST and based on need and availability. All diagnostic evaluations must be carried out by a qualified psychologist. The evaluation must be comprehensive, including cognitive, memory, academic achievement, information processing measures, as well as screening of executive functions and social-emotional development. In some cases, a medical and/or neurological assessment may also be recommended to diagnose attention defecit disorders.  Evaluations by an occupational therapist are also sometimes recommended. Psycho-educational evaluation results are valid for three years; therefore, students with diagnosed specific learning difference who are receiving school services and/or accommodations are typically re-evaluated every three years.

Those students formally enrolled in the SLD program will be offered such re-evaluations by the school's psychologists. 'Accommodation-only' students will need to obtain such reviews privately. ADHD diagnoses are typically reviewed annually by the consultant, child and adolescent psychiatrist. Copies of evaluations are kept in the student's school file. A copy may also be kept in the psychologists' or language specialists' files. Please see information on confidentiality below.

Please contact your divisional school psychologist with specific questions about the recommended evaluation and process.

How does the SST determine whether my child should receive services?

SST members review the results of the evaluations and determine appropriate interventions, which may include entry into one of the school’s support services. These recommendations will be shared and discussed with parents.

The admissions committee, in consultation with divisional principals and relevant SST specialists, may make a recommendation for program entry prior to admission.

What fees are charged for services?

Various fee structures are in place, depending upon the division, program or level of intensity of support students receive. Parents will be notified accordingly, and billed in the spring for the forthcoming academic year. Should a student qualify for a program midyear, fees will be prorated to coincide with the student's start date in the program. Financial aid may be available for service fees.

How might my child qualify for SAT, ACT or ERB testing accommodations?

Students in the SLD program, as well as those who meet documentation requirements, may be eligible for the same special testing accommodations on tests such as the Educational Records Bureau (ERB) exams, Scholastic Assessment Test (SAT) and Advanced Placement (AP) exams, as well as the American College Test (ACT). However, there is no guarantee that either testing service will grant a student the same accommodations they use at ASL. Only accommodations granted by ASL and utilized for school-based assessments on a regular basis are considered when applying for accommodations on standardized tests. Students should use their in-school accommodations for at least four months prior to submitting a request for accommodations. The four months of usage is most important for students newly diagnosed with a learning difference or ADHD and having no history of using in-school accommodations. The two testing services have distinct criteria, procedures, and documentation requirements when requesting accommodations. In addition, the accommodations vary between the two services; therefore, a student cannot assume that accommodations granted by one testing service will also be granted by the other. For more specific procedural queries, please contact the school’s services for students with disabilities (SSD) coordinator. Documentation requirements for the two testing services can be found at the following websites:

At ASL, written parental consent is obtained before testing accommodations are formally offered to eligible students in the Middle and High schools. In the Lower School, prior to the ERB administration in the spring, parents of students in the SLD program will be informed by their child’s learning specialist or classroom teacher that the child will receive accommodations (time and computer use) as documented in the current psycho-educational evaluation.   

Students applying to university need to contact their university of choice as soon as possible to determine what documentation is required. Additional testing may be required prior to enrollment.

How are students’ progress monitored?

For students in the Speech and Language and Specific Learning Difference programs, an Annual Individual Educational Plan (AIEP) is developed by the language and/or learning specialist in consultation with parents, the classroom teacher, and any other additional service provider (as appropriate). The AIEP is an individual “plan in progress,” specifying academic goals and objectives for the year services are to be received. Parents receive a written narrative and ratings of progress in goal areas at the end of each semester. As indicated above, psycho-educational assessment results are valid for three years; therefore, students who are currently enrolled in the SLD program and/or are receiving accommodations are typically re-evaluated every three years to review progress and determine needs.

How does the next division learn about my child’s needs?

Careful planning is done to help students and their families transition from one division to the next. Transition meetings or individual case conferences are held in the spring of each year. These meetings inform teachers at the next grade level of the learning needs of the incumbent grade of students and inform the EAL specialist and the Learning Specialist(s) at the next division of each student’s academic support program that will need to be implemented.

Parents of students enrolled in the SLD program also meet with the Learning Specialist towards the end of the academic year to review AIEP goals. Every effort is made to include a Learning Specialist from the next division.

Do students ever leave (exit) support services?

As noted above, student progress is monitored in the Language and Specific Learning Difference programs each year. Once a student has attained all the goals and objectives specified on educational plans, s/he may be considered ready to exit the support program. Using formal and informal assessment, classroom work and observation, the student support specialist, in consultation with parents and teachers, makes a recommendation regarding changes in support. Final decisions about exiting a program are made by the SST. After leaving a support program, some individual support and/or monitoring may be recommended. Parents should be advised that as the curricular expectations increase at each grade level, it is possible that students who no longer need academic support at earlier grade levels may be in need of this support once again at later grade levels.

What protections are there to ensure confidentiality?

The counseling and medical staff will respect student confidentiality, except on the rare occasion when, having failed to obtain a student’s consent to release information, the counselors or medical staff consider it in the student’s best interest, or necessary for the safety of the student and/or the wider school community, to break confidentiality. When it is necessary to share such information with other members of staff (e.g., faculty, student support team), this information is also shared in confidence. Anyone receiving such information is also bound by a duty of confidence, whether or not they have contractual or professional obligations to do so.

Copies of psycho-educational, neurological, language and psychiatric assessments are not routinely sent to other professionals or academic institutions without prior written consent of the parents. Typically, such evaluation reports are posted, rather than sent electronically. The SST also maintains a confidential database with information about evaluations, diagnoses, accommodations, services and supports. Any information regarding services, accommodations, AIEPs and needs may be shared with relevant school personnel in person or via email.

Are there any limitations to ASL’s academic support programs?

Prior to application, parents considering ASL as a school that might support the needs of their children with learning issues should carefully consider that there are restrictions to the type of students best served and limitations to the scope of the School’s support programs.

In all three divisions, services for students with multiple needs are extremely limited. Students with marked attention difficulties and significant language processing difficulties may find the highly stimulating and verbal curriculum overwhelming, and may not be well supported in this setting. As the curriculum demands and expectations increase with the advancement of each grade level, fewer services are offered and families may be advised to find alternative school settings, which are better suited to their child’s needs. Please also be aware that the school's support programs are limited to certain specific disabilities. ASL does not have a comprehensive Special Needs/Education department.

Though some curricular modifications occur in the Lower School, very few program modifications are offered to SLD students by middle school. Some students may be exempt from world language courses in the Lower and Middle schools; applications for a world language waiver in high school are rare but are considered after a period of language study. No modifications are offered in the High School. Limited accommodations are available in all three divisions, and although testing accommodations are available to qualified students in the High School, all such students are expected to meet graduation requirements.

What parental resources are available at ASL?

The Parent Educational Resource Committee (PERC) is a unique, informal group sponsored and supported by ASL’s Parent Community Association (PCA). Parents gather to discuss both educational and parenting issues. PERC provides a forum for open discussion and the exchange of ideas. PERC offers lectures and parent-to-parent support group meetings. PERC works closely and collaboratively with the ASL faculty and the K-12 Student Support Services Team. For further information about PERC, please contact the relevant lower, middle or high school representatives, the PCA or the K-12 Student Support Services department head. PERC also has a helpful webpage.

What if my child requires additional care?

We have a qualified counseling team who is up to date on research regarding mental health and what interventions may be put in place to help support a student academically, emotionally and socially. We believe these three areas of functioning are not separate, but interconnected aspects of students’ lives that can impact each other. We can provide limited in-school counseling for typical life stressors and short-term low risk issues. For moderate to high risk students who need more intense care, the counseling teams carefully refers families to therapists and psychiatrists we feel are exceptional in their fields. We communicate with and refer to external professionals on a regular basis, working to provide a continuum of care for students who need extra support.


Accommodations are formal classroom and testing adaptations that allow individual students to access the curriculum. They do not alter the learning objectives that students are expected to achieve. Accommodations include, but are not limited to, the following categories: timing, scheduling, presentation of material, response and/or setting.  

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a complex disorder characterized by three core symptoms of inattention, impulsivity and hyperactivity. Althoughall children display these behaviors to some degree, children with ADHD have far more significant symptoms than other children their age. Because these symptoms are pervasive, they tend to interfere with the child’s behavior at home, in school and among peers. (Based on NASP publication)

ACT (American College Test)
A standardized test used to determine a high school student’s preparation for university-level work.

AIEP (Annual Individual Educational Plan)
Annual Individualized Education Plans are used in all divisions. This document includes a list of the student’s cognitive and academic strengths and weaknesses. It also delineates the goals and objectives that will be implemented during the academic year. Many middle and all high school students are active participants in the development of the AIEPs.

Articulation therapy
Therapy provided to students (K1-Grade 2) to improve their overall speech intelligibility, should it be behind developmental norms for their age.

AP (Advanced Placement) exams are standardized examinations provided by the College Board that occur in May. Grades earned may lead to advanced standing when a student enters college or university.

Science related to hearing different levels and frequencies of sounds.

Differentiation includes the provision of activities that address the multiple learning styles of students as they work towards the same learning objectives as their peers. Differentiation in the classroom is the responsibility of every class teacher.

Early Intervention
Specialized services provided to early elementary students who might be at risk for, or showing signs of, development delay.

Eligibility for Services
Representatives from the SST consider the individual needs of a student and determine whether the student is eligible for student support services or related services.

English as an Additional Language (EAL)
Non-native English speakers who require additional language support in order to assist with integration into the mainstream are enrolled in the English as an Additional Language program.

ERB (Educational Records Bureau)
Standardized battery of tests administered annually to groups of students in the Lower and Middle schools. The ERB writing test (WrAP) is also administered to students in Grades 3-10.

The process of collecting and analyzing psychological, medical, sociocultural and educational information for a child so that the Student Support Team can determine if the student is eligible for support services and in what specific areas.

Support services offered in Grades 2-4 to students with weaknesses in specific academic skills. The goal of flex support is to provide targeted intervention so that the child’s academic levels are commensurate with those of classroom peers.   

IEP (Individual Education Plan)
Individualized Educational Plan is a document that includes a list of strengths and weaknesses, services provided, and individual goals and objectives for the year. Please see AIEP above.

Inclusion support/“Push-In”
Support services provided within the student’s mainstream classroom.

Modification of instruction and assessments change the learning objectives. The resulting student product is not equivalent to that of a student who does not receive modifications. ASL does not routinely offer course modifications.

OT (occupational therapy)/PT (physical therapy)
Therapy that evaluates and treats numerous adaptive and physical conditions to restore or develop fine and gross motor movement and skills to help students function more independently.

PERC (Parent Educational Resource Committee)
Subgroup of ASL’s Parent Community Association (PCA) focused on discussing educational issues and providing a network of parental support.

PSAT (Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Tests)
The PSAT is usually taken in Grades 10 and 11. It is a predictor of future SAT scores.

Psycho-educational evaluation
An evaluation conducted by a certified educational, school, or clinical psychologist of an individual’s intellectual, academic, memory, processing, executive functioning and social-emotional development.

“Pull-out” support
Support services provided whereby explicit instruction is provided to students in a separate setting from their mainstream classroom.

A review evaluation to determine current levels of functioning and needs. The updated information is used to decide continuing eligibility for student support programs. Re-evaluations are typically required every three years.

Informing the SST that a student may have special learning needs. A referral to the SST can be made by a parent, a teacher, or any faculty member who has worked with the student. Referrals are also offered by counselors and psychologists to private professionals for additional services.

SATs (Scholastic Assessment Tests) are usually taken in the spring and fall of Grades 11 and 12. The SAT tests verbal and math reasoning skills. There are also SAT subject tests that test specific subject knowledge. SAT results usually become part of the college application.

SI (Sensory Integration) therapy
Therapy related to the neurological processes involved in the relationship between sensation and movement.

SLD (Specific Learning Difference)
A disorder in one or more basic psychological and neurological processes involved in understanding or in using language spoken or written, which may manifest itself in an imperfect ability to listen, speak, write, spell or do mathematics. A specific learning difference diagnosis can include the delineation of dyslexia, dyspraxia and/or dyscalculia.

Speech and language therapy
Therapy to help students with communication impairments evidenced by difficulties comprehending or expressing language. Therapy may also address voice, articulation or fluency issues that are significantly delayed in comparison to other students of the same age.

SSD (Services for Services with Disabilities)
The body that determines eligibility for standardized testing accommodations (e.g, College Board.)

SSD coordinator
The person who takes care of all non-standard testing for external tests and who communicates with the College Board and ACT offices.

SST (Student Support Team)
A group that consists of learning specialists, teachers, advisors, deans and other who meet to problem-solve as a collaborative group to recommend additional strategies, identify and carry out services to support students in need of further academic and/or emotional interventions.

Student support services department head
The person overseeing policies and programs developed by K-12 Student Support Services personnel. This person liaises with parent representatives of PERC and with the administration.

Student Support Services
The range of K-12 grade programs offered to support students in need of extra assistance outside of the regular classroom curriculum.

The counseling team

Helen Jackson is an experienced school psychologist who has been part of the ASL community for over 20 years. She is a core member of the Student Support Team (SST). Helen conducts psychometric evaluations as recommended by the SST, assists in the referral process for external evaluations and therapy, and consults with parents, teachers and administrators about student learning profiles and needs.
Heather McIntyre is an experienced school psychologist who joined the ASL from Montgomery County, Maryland. She is a core member of the Student Support Team (SST). Heather conducts psychometric evaluations  as recommended by the SST, assists in the referral process for external evaluations, and consults with parents, teachers and administration about student's learning profiles and needs.
Stephanie Oliver, MFT is a couples and family therapist hailing from Portland, Oregon. She brings with her many years of experience working with families in a variety of settings including schools Boys & Girls Clubs and homeless shelters. Before earning her Master’s from Lewis & Clark College, Stephanie received a Naturalist Fellowship and worked with children to form connections to the natural world and to foster environmental stewardship. Stephanie's approach to counseling is one of liberation-based and community-based healing with a strong social justice perspective.
Kelley Reid, MSW is the school counselor and health teacher for Grades 7 and 8. Kelley received his degree from the University of Washington in 1979. He has taught health promotion and counseled adults and children in Washington State and at ASL for more than 40 years.
Jess Spector is a nationally certified counselor who obtained her M.S. in counseling at the University of Rochester in upstate New York. She began her career in Human Services in the U.S. and transitioned to international settings shortly thereafter. She has lived in Germany, Switzerland and Finland, working as a school counselor and dance teacher/choreographer. She is a facilitator for The Virtues Project utilizes the virtues in her solution-focused approach to working with students in one-on-one, small group and classroom environments.



Lower School

Micah Sims

LS Student Support Team Leader; Language Specialist: Grades K1-2

Annabel Smith

Language Specialist: Grades 3-7 (part time)

Claire Murphy

Language Specialist: Grades K1-2 (part time) (maternity leave)

Kristin Howe

Learning Specialist: Grade 2

Shaun Andress

Learning Specialist: Grade 3

Karen Richardson

Learning Specialist: Grade 4

Gila Shaw

Learning Specialist: Grades 1/2

Carole Crimeen

Reading and Literacy Specialist

Nanette Pakula

EAL Specialist: Kindergarten

Darryl Phelps

EAL Specialist: Grades 1-4

Heather McIntyre

Educational Psychologist – Grades K1-6  

Kevin McKee




Middle School


Angela Riggs

MS Student Support Team Leader; Learning Specialist: Grade 8

Erin LaMarca

Learning Specialist: Grade 7

Leah Duggan

Learning Specialist: Grade 7 (maternity leave until March 2019)

Jess Yarow

Learning Specialist: Grade 6

Emily Cacciapaglia

Learning Specialist: Grade 5

Patricia Elsea

EAL Specialist

Heather McIntyre

Educational Psychologist: Grades K-6

Helen Jackson

Educational Psychologist: Grades 7-12

Annabel Smith

Language Specialist: Grades 3-7 (part time)

Jess Spector

Counselor; Health Teacher Grades 5/6

Kelley Reid

Counselor; Health Teacher Grades 7/8



High School


Fay Wheatley

SLD Department Head; Learning Specialist; A/O Point Person

Terri Moyer

Learning Specialist; Grade 11 + 12 A/O Point Person

Heather Statz

Learning Specialist (maternity leave until March 2019)

Rebecca Ong

Learning Specialist; Grade 9 + 12 A/O Point Person

Daniel Russell

Learning Specialist; Grade 10 + 12 A/O Point Person

Patricia Elsea

EAL Specialist

Helen Jackson

Educational Psychologist: Grades 7-12

Stephanie Oliver


Joy Marchese

Health (On Leave)

Bambi Thompson






Amy Curtis


Tori Haynes


Adam Bonnington


Sharon Armon

Administrative Assistant, K-12 Student Support Services Team