Jonas Allen

Wheaton College BA; Licensed Social Worker for 15 years at Spurwink Services; Executive Skills Coach with years of experience working with, and advocating for, students with more intensive social, emotional, developmental, and behavioral needs; Extensive experience collaborating with parents, schools, and community providers to improve student outcomes. I believe that all children want to do well. That may not always be apparent as they can wrap themselves in all sorts of protective layers that often present as not caring, shutting down, a negative attitude, or even concerning behaviors. However, in my 20 years of working with children as an educator, coach, and social worker, I have yet to meet a child who does not respond to consistent positive reinforcement. My philosophy is that you have to first meet students where they are so that they feel heard. I build foundations with each student based in trust, safety, and caring. Once that has been established, it is amazing how hard children are willing to work and to accept some of the skills and approaches that I have to offer. At STARS I have the luxury of working one on one with my students, which allows for the type of relationship building that is needed for me to learn about their goals and what motivates them. All children make choices everyday about who they want to be as people and as students. My job is to help them make healthy choices that benefit them today and for years to come.  

Edith Aronson

AB in British History at Harvard College; MEd. in Adolescent Psychology/Risk & Resiliency at Harvard Graduate School of Education; Licensed K-8 Maine teacher; 12 years teaching middle school students and currently working with AP History students. I was fortunate enough to have lived and travelled abroad as a child, which instilled in me an appreciation for experiential learning. When actual experiences are not possible, I still believe that it is always possible to help students relate their own experiences to whatever they are studying. I love to learn through travel and have been to 6 of the 7 continents, the exception being Antarctica (probably because winter in Maine is enough for me).

Beth Bussiere

BA from Earlham College in chemistry; MA in Applied Behavioral Science from Whitworth University; completed USM’s graduate teacher program (ETEP); Maine Teaching Certificate: Physical Science 7-12. Past work includes biochemistry research, hospital employee relations, and private practice as a work coach and career counselor. Recently retired after fifteen years teaching high school chemistry, physics, and biology at all grade levels. Coached students to identify their strengths and apply them to learning strategies and coping skills. Eight years teaching AP Chemistry. Helped juniors and seniors to transition to college-level writing, math, lab reports, and study skills, as well as stress management and test-taking strategies. Many years as a guided study teacher working with struggling students to provide additional help with content, organization, metacognition, and self-advocacy. Science can be hard because we need to use all our academic skills; I see it another way. I see the process of learning science as an opportunity to grow in all areas because we now have a context to learn and a place to put to use seemingly abstract subjects like math.

Leah Danoff

B.A. in Psychology with Education minor from American University;  MA in Special Education: Learning Disabilities from American University; Orton Gillingham and Read Naturally trained; Executive function skill training; Worked at the Lab School of Washington, an arts based school for students with Learning Disabilities; Learning Specialist at Bay Farm Montessori Academy in Duxbury, MA; Started a toddler through grade 7 school in Ongwediva, Namibia which focuses on hands on learning. I am currently tutoring students with diverse learning needs, including Learning Disabilities and Executive Functioning challenges, and support elementary and middles school students using Lynn Meltzer’s SMARTS Curriculum. I also support elementary students in reading and math. My goal is to build relationships, instill confidence, and help develop a toolbox of skills for a child to access in different learning environments.

Dorothy Eckhardt

Tufts University BS in Early Childhood Education; Johns Hopkins University M.S. in education with a concentration in Reading; Taught grades 1-5 in independent schools in Ohio and Maryland for thirteen years; Recently worked in the Cumberland School District (MSAD 51) as a long term and per diem substitute for many years; Tutor independently and with STARS, focusing on elementary and middle school curriculum and executive functioning skills. Currently working as an Executive Skills coach using Lynn Meltzer’s SMARTS curriculum. I have attended local seminars for professional development led by Chris Kaufman, Sarah Ward and Peg Dawson. I really enjoy working with students in a one on one setting. I try to keep our sessions light-hearted and fun, while keeping the students focused and engaged. In the older elementary and middle school grades, many of the students I work with are feeling the pressures of testing scores or adult expectations. With my students, I do my best to make sure they are relaxed and comfortable as I know the best learning happens when students are stress-free.

David Elliott

BS in Math with a minor in Physics from the University of Arizona; MBA from Boston University; Taught math and physics at the high school level; Tutored students in both subjects for decades. It gives me pleasure to watch a student grasp mathematical concepts and to use the concepts in the sciences.

Mercedes Grandin

BA in English from Bates College; M.Ed in secondary education English from Harvard University; Maine Teacher Professional Licensure for English (7-12) and ESL (K-12). My focus is supporting students’ academic literacy skills, including reading comprehension, writing, critical thinking, and analytical reading and writing skills. I also work with students on Executive Functioning skills, college essay development, SAT Reading/Writing, and targeted reading interventions, including the Lindamood-Bell reading programs (Seeing Stars, Visualizing and Verbalizing, LIPS). I have 7 years of experience teaching students in middle and high school and over 10 years of professional experience as a writer and editor. I currently teach English language learners at North Yarmouth Academy, in addition to tutoring and freelance writing/editing. I love helping students become more confident readers and writers and develop solid foundational and academic literacy skills. I also enjoy measuring tangible progress working 1:1 with students over time, and serving as a bridge to help parents understand their child’s learning profile and assessment data to better inform their learning goals and measure concrete results. 

Kate Hanavan Ross

BA in Theatre Arts Education from Emerson College; Degree in Early Childhood Education from San Francisco City College; Seventeen years of teaching experience both in the classroom and as a private tutor; Directed summer volunteer programs abroad for international high school students with the organization Global Leadership Adventures; Lead summer youth outdoor educational programs through the UC Berkeley program Cal Adventures; Work with students of all ages on executive function skills development, all levels of math instruction, writing skills support, and general organizational and study skills. I bring my enthusiasm for learning and a commitment to creating a more meaningful school experience both academically and socially to all the students with whom I work.

Jill Heuss

BA in History and Asian Studies from Hobart and William Smith College; MS in Elementary Education from Syracuse University; CAGS in Literacy Leadership from University of Southern Maine; Certified Literacy Specialist with over 25 years of teaching and literacy leadership experience. As a literacy teacher leader in the public schools, I have worked closely with Columbia University’s Teachers’ College Reading and Writing Project supporting best practices in literacy and participating in a think tank for writing development with Lucy Calkins. I am delighted to be working with STARS, offering literacy tutoring tailored to students’ particular needs. I have extensive experience working with students in reading and writing, including multisensory phonics, reading comprehension, writing composition, and spelling. I look for opportunities to help students understand how they learn best, build strategies for becoming more confident learners, and celebrate their successes.

Stephanie Hogan

Guilford College, Greensboro, North Carolina, BA Interdisciplinary Studies, Education, Art, Psychology. One year working at the Gifford School in MA, as a learning specialist. Three years teaching English at the Rumsey Hall School in CT. Ten years specializing in preparing students to sit the SSAT and SAT. One year managing a full international homeschool curriculum for two elementary school students, with a focus on social emotional growth, dyslexia, and high ability learning. Familiar with the Susan Barton system for reading and writing and the Orton Gillingham system for supporting students with dyslexia. Positive Discipline Classroom Educator and Parent Coach; supporting teachers, students, and parents through social emotional guidance and effective, positive discipline strategies and tools. Camp Agawam Waterfront Director in Raymond, Maine and American Red Cross Instructor. Former varsity field hockey coach and ski racer. Owner and operator of a successful Portland, Maine business, which feeds my entrepreneurial spirit. Six years under my belt of raising two boys, and relishing in being a mom. I am committed to supporting the whole child through one on one and small group instruction. My approach is never the same; it is tailored, thoughtful, methodical, joyful and intentional in order to provide each student with the optimum learning environment based on their often busy and dynamic lives.

John Wensman

BA from the University of Minnesota in English & French, Master of Arts in Teaching from Brown University in English; five years teaching middle school reading and writing; seventeen years teaching high school language and literature in public, independent and international schools, and five years leading experiential, place-based education programs in France with Oxbridge and in Freeport at Coastal Studies for Girls semester school. My goal with each student is to foster connection, help them develop their skills and voice, and support confident, joyful learning. I aspire to help reluctant writers and anxious test takers through effective planning and positive approaches. 

Heather Woods

Heather received her BA in Comparative Poetics from Kenyon College, an MFA in Writing from the University of San Francisco, and an MFA in Teaching/ Writing from San Francisco State University. Heather has fifteen years of experience as a classroom teacher at both public and independent schools, teaching students from kindergarten through college, specializing in writing and literature. For the past decade, she also ran her own tutoring company in California, offering students compassionate one-on-one guidance toward reaching their highest potential. During these varied experiences, Heather developed incisive skills in special needs and twice-gifted learning. Embracing holistic education, Heather joyfully joined the Maine Coast Waldorf School this past year assisting in student support. At STARS, Heather assists students in discovering the thrill in all areas of writing while developing steadfast executive function skills with an inspired sense of self-reliance and insightful resilience. While most of her expertise is in writing and literature, having taught kindergarten through college, Heather is familiar with important benchmarks in learning, and tutors students in fundamental core subjects. Heather also offers preparation tutoring for ISEE/ACT/SAT tests, and assistance with applications to independent schools and colleges. I seek to help my students embody the essential knowledge they need in order to enter the world as fully integrated, self-reliant beings. 

Linda Hunt

BA University Maine Orono; Classroom teacher for 26 years in SAD 6, teaching Algebra 1 and Geometry; Worked for 3 years on implementing a K-12 math curriculum for the district; Taught adult education for about 10 years, helping to prepare adults to go back into college or start college for the first time after having been out of school for a number of years. I am not a mathematician but a teacher of mathematics. For many students math is a painful mystery, I love trying to help them unravel that mystery and be able to say with confidence “I am good at math!”

Tanji Johnston

Tanji is a Master’s level Social Worker, with thirty years of experience with children, adolescents and families.  She was a public school administrator for special education programs for sixteen years. She has worked in hospitals, schools and nonprofit agencies, and currently works in a public school as a school social worker.  Her areas of expertise include holistic health and nutrition, special education, and mental health.   She is a certified professional yoga and advanced Pranayama (breath work) teacher as well as a certified Integrative Nutrition Health Coach.   I am especially excited about the growing body of evidence-based research supporting the benefits of yoga, nutrition and mindfulness for managing stress related illness, emotional and physical regulation and many mental health concerns. Most importantly, I am excited about the opportunity to support children and families in making small changes that  enhance and expand overall well being; I am passionate about introducing the benefits of yoga and mindfulness as part of a healthy lifestyle in fun and accessible ways. 

Zoë Romano

MFA in Creative Writing from Queens University, BA in Spanish and International Studies from University of Richmond; 8 years of experience tutoring Spanish, SAT prep, reading and writing, math, and executive function skills. I've taught at public and private schools, small-group and one-on-one instruction, summer camps in Italy, and currently coach public speaking. I recently completed a Rotary Fellowship which brought me to Patagonia and Buenos Aires for two semesters of teaching English. My approach to tutoring emphasizes curiosity, discovery, and positive reinforcement. I really believe that we are all - students and teachers equally - capable of more than we realize, and I'm drawn to the 1:1 support environment because of the way it brings out this human potential. I try to let this concept guide me as often as possible; I've run alone across the US and am the first person to run the Tour de France course.  

Kate LeRoyer

BS Biology, Colgate University; K-8 Certification, USM; M.Ed. School Counseling, USM; Environmental Educator with Maine Audubon Society and Maine State Park System at Wolf Neck Woods State Park; Classroom teacher in math and science at Pownal Elementary School; 6-12 math teacher at Waynflete School; Math teacher at Freeport High School. I love working with young people and especially enjoy helping them learn to believe in themselves. My specialty at STARS has been in the area of mathematics. Creating an environment that is friendly and safe for learning is my first goal towards unlocking the mysteries of math.  

Karen Messick

BA in Elementary Education from Westminster College; MEd in Language Arts from Widener University; Fifteen years working in public schools in Pennsylvania - grades 3-7; Sixth grade English and geography teacher at North Yarmouth Academy for 13 years. I  will finish my certification in Orton Gillingham in May. I am currently tutoring students with Dyslexia and  Executive Functioning challenges, I am retiring from NYA in June and my greatest desire is to work with students one on one to develop skills so they can become successful learners.

Mary Jo Moore

BA in English from UNH; MA in Elementary and Secondary Teaching from UNH; 30 years public school teaching, mostly in Yarmouth, Maine in grades 3-6; completed many courses and workshops in science, math, literacy, and social studies, including a fellowship at Georgetown University. Currently working as an Executive Skills coach using Lynn Meltzer’s SMARTS curriculum. I am delighted to have the opportunity to work one-on-one with elementary students at STARS. For me, it is very satisfying to develop individualized experiences that help students to understand their strengths and needs as learners. I believe every student can learn strategies to master skills and content, and also to become a more efficient and creative thinker.  I’m excited to be working at STARS because it is a collaborative environment with resources and methods that promote the exchange of ideas and problem-solving.

Beth Ann Nickerson

B.A. in Special Education from George Washington University;  M.S. in Exceptionality from Univ. of Southern Maine;  K-12 Special Education teacher certification;  K-12 Special education consultant certification; Special Educator at Mt. Ararat Middle & High Schools for twenty-nine years; Chair of Bowdoin College Community Host Program;   SPIRE training; Wilson & Language workshops; Executive Functioning Skill training; Woodcock-Johnson Achievement Assessment training; working as an Executive Skills coach using Lynn Meltzer’s SMARTS curriculum.  I specialize in assessing students’ reading decoding, fluency and comprehension skills, educating young people about their skills and working together to improve their skills. In the area of writing, I work with students on organizing their ideas, putting their ideas onto paper, and implementing the writing process.  I enjoy supporting young people in identifying their strengths, challenges and ascertaining ways to embrace these to achieve their goals.  In working with elementary, middle school and high school students, it is my belief when given support and “tools”   students can achieve their learning goals and reach their potential.  

Joanne James Roark

BA in Special Education K-12 from Eastern Michigan University; EdM in Early Childhood Learning Disabilities from Oakland University; Fifteen years working in the public schools in Michigan K-12, in classroom, resource and consultant positions, worked extensively sustaining support for students who presented challenges with emotional regulation and executive functioning; Fellow at the Bay Area Writing Project, collaborating to create a comprehensive writing curriculum for a public school district; Managed a Title 1 paraprofessional learning resource program and worked successfully to apply the use of video feedback in training; Served nineteen years in independent schools as a classroom teacher K-4; Certified in Orton Gillingham and Wilson Fundations and as a mentor, delivering staff development; Traveled the US facilitating professional development in All Kinds of Minds to help teachers understand and share creative ways to accommodate learning diversity; currently working as an Executive Skills coach using Lynn Meltzer’s SMARTS curriculum. I recently retired from the classroom and moved to Maine where I tutor students with reading challenges. I remain a voracious reader, a learning facilitator and educational consultant/advocate to families.

Deb Shaw

BS in Political Science; MEd in literacy from Univ. of Maine; Reading Recovery trained; Extensive work in Wilson Reading Systems; Trained in Lindamood Bell Programs (LIPS, Seeing Stars); Classroom teacher; Title 1/RTI specialist; Academic coach; Team leader; Literacy specialist. Currently working as an Executive Skills coach using Lynn Meltzer’s SMARTS curriculum. I love to teach all learners how to improve their literacy skills by using various methods and techniques.

Christine Van Alstine

University of Maine Farmington, BS in Early Childhood Education; Tufts University, MA Child Development, specialization in developmental psychology and counseling; Six years teaching elementary school; Multiple years homeschooling my own children; Three years as a primary school librarian in Yarmouth; Currently teaching Study Skills/Executive Function Skills classes at STARS & working as a learning strategist at a ski academy in VT; Recent professional development includes seminars by Chris Kaufman, Peg Dawson, Sarah Ward, Ellen Braeten & completion of Landmark School’s Outreach course entitled “Learning Based Language Disabilities: Strategies for Success” & The Telling Room’s Summer Institute on Writing. One of my favorite inspirational quotes is from Maya Angelou: "I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel."  I aspire to help my students feel good about themselves, feel successful, and feel capable of advocating for themselves and their unique learning style.