Keys to Identifying Student Strengths
Identify & acknowledge abilities
Encourage & support outside thinking
Allocate time to nurture strength
Provide alternative ways of acquiring information
--Yale Center for Dyslexia & Creativity
North Bridge Academy is an independent school that meets the specific educational and social emotional needs of high potential students with language-based learning differences, such as dyslexia. Recognizing the unique strengths and natural gifts of each student, the program enables them to reach their academic and personal potential and empowers them with a sense of confidence and mastery.
North Bridge Academy believes that our students are capable of levels of achievement they previously have not been able to demonstrate. We recognize that to educate them effectively, we need to take into account multiple factors that are not typically addressed in conventional K-8 settings. Grounded in these beliefs, we teach students in ways they were meant to learn by using multi-sensory, sequential, phonics based instruction tailored to meet their individual learning profiles.
Dyslexic learners have many talents and unique abilities. They often possess abundant creativity, strong reasoning skills, curiosity, visual spatial thinking capabilities, and a keen conceptual ability to see the “big picture.” These are essential 21st century skills. The world needs them, and it needs them to think in ways that come naturally to them. Project based learning, a multi-sensory curriculum, an integrated enrichment program, strong social emotional instructional support and the space to thrive in an environment that understands their needs is best for our students’ ways of learning. We believe that in the hands of qualified teachers, these approaches combined with consistent assessment of learning progress levels the playing field between our students and their neuro-typical peers.
Small class sizes and personal attention are vital. Individual attention provided to each student allows teachers to customize instruction to identify a student’s individual academic needs, to support their learning styles more thoroughly, and to promote their social development. As well as maximizing opportunity for individualized attention, small class sizes provide opportunity for discovery, allowing students ample time for creative expression, thoughtful deliberation and inquiry. These opportunities promote confidence, self-advocacy and a sense of belonging to our community.
These values inform our commitment to students and the community, to the curriculum, and to the assessment of student learning.
Accountability and responsibility is shared among our community members for educational outcomes, the protection of our physical environment and the school culture we want to create. We model responsible behavior and hold all accountable for shared values of honesty, respect and open-minded collaboration.
We encourage and support students to self-assess their own academic and social needs and to develop their ability to self-advocate. We guide our families who would like to become stronger advocates for their children’s best educational interests.
Grounded in a foundation of respect and open exchange of ideas in peer –to- peer and peer- to- teacher project collaboration, we promote processes among stakeholders that welcome a diversity of opinion from board, staff, students and the community at large.
We actively create opportunities for inquiry, discovery and innovation. We champion students when they want to know ‘why,’ encouraging them to seek collaborative and innovative solutions over conventional ones.
We provide the tools for academic and social success. We expect students to use them to the best of their ability in class, on the playground, and in community interaction.
Respectful discourse and respectful action is expected all the time, every day and from everyone.
Annie Crowder, Head of School - Bio coming soon!
Priya Tjerandsen, Head Learning Specialist - Priya Tjerandsen shares with NBA nearly twenty years of experience working with students with learning differences. She has been a classroom teacher for many of those years as well as a consultant to teachers and families. Priya has also worked with teams that provide assessment and diagnostic work to individuals with a variety of learning challenges. Her areas of expertise range from language-based learning differences (Dyslexia and Dysgraphia) to working with students who have attentional and/ or Executive Functions weaknesses. She is trained in Slingerland and Wilson methodologies as well as Making Math Real. Priya holds a Master’s Degree in Special Education and has worked with students in a classroom setting as well as doing individual and small group work. When not working, Priya enjoys spending time with her family, hiking and traveling.
Hannah Grace Porter, Homeroom Teacher - Hannah Grace is a grade 4/5 teacher. She has been working with students with learning differences for the last 6 years. Prior to joining North Bridge Academy, Hannah Grace taught grade level subjects to students with dyslexia at two renown schools, Charles Armstrong and Jemicy School in Baltimore. Hannah Grace holds a degree in Special Education from the College of Charleston with certification in Learning Differences. Hannah Grace has a breadth of experience working with various Orton-Gillingham methodologies including Slingerland, Wilson, and Projects Read and Write. She also is trained in Making Math Real and Stanford's Mathematics Mindset course. In addition to her teaching expertise, Hannah Grace brings a love of music, the outdoors, ceramics and history to her classroom.
Heather O'Connor, Middle School Math and Science - Heather has worked at both upper elementary and middle school levels in the classroom, in small groups, and one-to-one. Heather holds a Master’s Degree from Bank Street College of Education, and focused, for many years, developing project-based curricula for science. She is trained in Readers-Writers Workshop, Montessori Math, and Making Math Real. Heather is currently in training as an Educational Therapist. When not designing curricula or working in the classroom, Heather likes to be outside spending time with her family, hiking, gardening, and exploring.
David Klemas, Middle School English and Language Arts Teacher - David is a 6/7/8 teacher focusing on English and History/Social Studies, with a little PE mixed in. David moved to California two years ago and could not be happier living in Fairfax, CA. Prior to joining North Bridge Academy, David taught for six years in New Jersey, and spent the last two years teaching in the Ross Valley School District. David is excited to join the team at North Bridge Academy, bringing with him a love for words and literature. Outside of the classroom, you can find David on the ice as an avid hockey player, in the kitchen cooking up something delicious, or out seeing live music.
Nicole Sachar, Learning Specialist/Director of Transition - Nicole brings 15 years of knowledge and experience working with all types of learners and families. Nicole is trained in various multi-sensory structured approaches to learning, such as Making Math Real, Project Read, and Structured Word Inquiry. She holds a Dual Masters degree in both Education and Special Education and is certified as both a Dyslexia and Slingerland Practitioner. In addition to maintaining her private practice as an Educational Consultant and learning specialist, Nicole has had the opportunity to work in Independent, Private, and Public Schools throughout New York City and the San Francisco Bay Area. For over a decade, Nicole has worked with students ranging from elementary to High School and specializes in serving students with language and math-based differences, as well as executive functioning and self-advocacy coaching. Outside of the classroom, she has coached and played soccer at elite levels and loves to dance.
James Brunner, Science/STEM Teacher - Over the last four years, James has fine-tune his curriculum into a STEM program that fosters creative confidence in students. He teaches a similar program at Cascade Canyon school in Fairfax. He first time at Bayside STEM Academy in San Mateo for five years, where he taught science, programming, robotics, and 3-D printing. James trained in design thinking at Stanford university's "D school" and developed curriculum for teaching design thinking using technology may popular through the maker movement. James has a BS in life science from Penn State University and holds credentials for teaching biology and chemistry.
Daisley Kramer, Middle School Art Teacher- Daisley is an artist and freelance art writer and editor. Prior to moving to the Bay Area, she spent 15 years working with contemporary art institutions in New York and Asia. She came to NBA three years ago through her dyslexic daughter who attended third and fourth grade here. Throughout her career, she has worked with students from kindergarten to college level and believes that exposure to and experimentation with a broad range of media, styles, and cultural and historical references enables the development of visual literacy, an active aesthetic consciousness, trust in curiosity and creativity, and a lifelong appreciation for the role of art in everyday life. Daisley holds an MFA in studio art from Claremont Graduate University and a BFA in art history from Vanderbilt University
Sherry Sachar, Learning Specialist - Sherry Sachar has been working with students, grades 4-8 for over twenty years. She has been a lead teacher in NY York and SF Public Schools and Brandeis-SF. An establish learning specialist, Sherry has an extensive career working with students with dyslexia. In addition to her multi-subject teaching credential, she is trained in many of the most effective interventions employed by learning specialists including Slingerland (level 3), Orton-Gillingham, Project Read, Language!, Making Math Real, and Structured Word Inquiry. Sherry lives in San Francisco. She enjoys deli food, Italian food, traveling and walking her dog, Nelson
Grace Fisher, Mindfulness Coordinator - Grace Fisher is a Marriage and Family Therapist in private practice in Marin. She also teaches at Spirit Rock Meditation Center. She began teaching meditation to teens in 2002, and currently leads a weekly women's class, different daylong workshop, and is the Resident Staff Dharma teacher. Grace is supporting North Bridge Academy in developing a school-wide mindfulness program. She's a member of the board at North Bridge Academy, and has a daughter at our school. Grace is also a former lawyer with a Masters in Curriculum Development from Stanford.
Kelli Azevedo, School Administration - Kelli serves as the Operations Manager at North Bridge Academy. She brings with her four years of administrative experience and is currently enrolled at College of Marin for a degree in psychology. Kelli is passionate about helping our teachers, parents and children in a variety of her duties. On her free time she enjoys hiking and being active.
Adele Maze, Lower School Art Teacher - Adele is an art and educational therapist in private practice in Mill Valley. She is a visual artist, poet, and calligrapher with a deep appreciation for image and word. Adele received a BA in Interdisciplinary Studies and a MA in Intuition Medicine. She is also a certified herbalist, teacher, and hang gliding instructor. A life long learner, Adele has studied with sculptor, Robert Arneson, the “Father of Funk Art”; painter and author of Creative Revolution, Flora Bowley; calligrapher and choreographer, Jenny Hunter Groat; and poet and author, Naomi Shihab Nye. Outside the classroom, Adele loves to travel, attend house concerts, and cook for friends.
Grace Fisher - Grace Fisher is a Marriage and Family Therapist in private practice in Marin. She also teaches at Spirit Rock Meditation Center. She began teaching meditation to teens in 2002, and currently leads a weekly women's class, different daylong workshop, and is the Resident Staff Dharma teacher. Grace is supporting North Bridge Academy in developing a school-wide mindfulness program. She's a member of the board at North Bridge Academy, and has a daughter at our school. Grace is also a former lawyer with a Masters in Curriculum Development from Stanford.
Matt Kropp, Board Member – Matthew brings fifteen years of business experience to his position as Treasurer. Currently, he is a partner at Boston Consulting Group, advising for-profit and not-for-profit businesses on strategic planning and technology. In addition to his business acumen, his background in computer programming and content delivery will guide the technology integration planning process. In addition to his professional skills, Matt is the father of a dyslexic son.
Andrew O'Donnell, Board Member - Drew brings to the board valuable experience in both business leadership and real estate. Drew works at LinkedIn helping to build and grow the LinkedIn Learning business and is passionate about creating life-long learners. Drew gives a generous portion of his volunteer time coaching youth soccer in Marin and helping North Bridge Academy in various capacities. As the functional head of our facilities committee, he is responsible for ensuring that our facility meets school needs, both for current and future growth. Drew provides significant guidance on shaping and communicating the school mission and philosophy to fellow parents of dyslexic children and to the general community. As a father of two North Bridge Academy students, a boy in 4th and a girl in 6th, he has a wide lens that affords deep insight into the parent community. Advocating for dyslexic learners has been a part of Drew's life as his mother was a reading specialist at the Benchmark School outside of Philadelphia for 30 years. Drew holds a BA in English Literature from the University of Virginia.
Dr. Nancy Cushen-White - Clinical Professor at the University of California San Francisco, Department of Pediatrics, a teacher, and a learning disabilities specialist