Empowering students with language-based learning differences
Private Tutoring with Professional Teachers
Welcome to Siena Tutors
Siena Tutors provides individual virtual instruction with experienced teachers to students throughout the United States in grades K-12. Siena Tutors is an initiative developed by The Siena School, a leader in educating students with language-based learning differences. Siena Tutors allows us to expand our service to students anywhere who would benefit from working one on one with experienced teachers who use research-based, best practices to help students learn.
We focus on each student’s unique needs and potential for growth in core academic subjects including reading, writing, math, science, and Spanish. All students can benefit from Siena Tutors, and our instructors specialize in working with students who have language-based learning differences, such as dyslexia. We also specialize in students who need extra support with executive functioning.
Siena Tutors provides virtual instruction as well as in person instruction for those in the Washington, DC, metro area. Currently, all instruction is virtual for public health safety.
Tutors: Juliana Bondor, Allee Burka, Peni Critchell, Stefanie Hjalmervik, Meredith Shinners, Meredith Skeath
Reading is taught using multisensory methods, cementing sound to symbol relationships and building awareness of the morphological parts of words. Teaching literacy by providing individualized reading/language remediation through explicit, systematic instruction in the five essential skills of phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary and comprehension. Methodologies are used to strengthen decoding, spelling, comprehension and fluency.
Tutors: Kimberly Dunn, Carly McClelland-Richards
Tutors will work with students to help maintain a positive outlook on education through distance learning. Students will have guided instruction while completing work given by their teachers. Through individualized, multisensory instruction, students work to develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills and acquire the tools and strategies needed to become successful and independent learners building confidence and self-advocacy skills. Tutors will also give extra support and instruction in areas as needed.
Tutors: Maya Kratzke, Mimi Pham, Ariana Podesta
Students will enhance their reading comprehension and written expression skills through creative, evidence based practices. Tutors will cover topics based on student need and can include grammar and sentence structure, essay writing, creative writing, poetry, and literature. Writing is honed through the Step-up-to-Writing program where students learn to not only compose expository and persuasive writing but peer review, revise, edit, and publish their work. Grammar is taught using multisensory techniques. Students practice with assistive technologies such as Read & Write (reading/writing) and Mindomo.
Tutors: David Bonner, Amy Burgener, Kimberly Dunn (Grades 6-8), Justin Kanka, Abigail Marconi, Joel Mercado
Tutors will help students grasp the mathematical concepts from their courses by allowing them to think through their thoughts aloud, using virtual whiteboards to show work and practicing with online manipulatives.
Tutor: Kimberly Dunn (Grades 3-8)
Executive functioning refers to the mental steps individuals take allowing them to plan, organize, and accomplish tasks. Students are provided with tools and strategies to help them acquire and refine these regulatory skills. Tutors will work with students to maintain strategies to help form routines within the new structure of online learning. Topics covered can include scheduling, prioritizing tasks, managing workloads, organization, and goal setting.
Tutors: David Bonner, Kimberly Dunn (Grades 6-8)
Tutors will help students with understanding content, vocabulary, and study strategies.
Tutors: Kimberly Dunn, Ariana Podesta
Students will enrich their historical knowledge of the United States and the world through the use of critical thinking skills, discussion, and the utilization of both primary and secondary sources. They will gain a greater comprehension of past events, cultures, and trends.
Tutors: Amanda Davis, Joel Mercado
Tutors will help students with understanding content, vocabulary, studying, speaking/pronunciation, and listening strategies.
Our Teaching Model
Siena’s virtual tutoring program uses the same teaching methods that are used at The Siena School. Our experienced teachers are committed to ensuring that every child builds on their unique strengths and capabilities while developing strategies for success. Siena Tutors are dedicated to:
Siena tutors focus on each student's strengths and gifts, giving them the opportunity to explore their interests and excel.
Siena tutors work one to one with each student providing highly individualized and personalized instructional attention.
Siena tutors use research-based multisensory instruction such as visual, auditory, and kinesthetic techniques.
Siena tutors use appropriate curricular accommodations and adaptations to allow all students to access a rigorous curriculum of high standards.
Siena tutors use the very best research, resources, strategies and staff to be a national model for educating students with language-based learning differences.
Siena tutors honor each student’s creativity and self-expression. The Arts are infused into every aspect of life at Siena.
Learn About Our Tutors
Siena Tutors are educational leaders and professionals with extensive backgrounds in a variety of teaching methods. Many are current teachers at The Siena School, and all have undergone intensive training and are accustomed to individualizing lessons to each student's needs. Many of our tutors hold advanced degrees in their areas of expertise. They are passionate about keeping kids engaged in learning, building on their strengths, and ensuring that they meet their potential.
Juliana Bondor, Reading, Language Arts, and Math Tutor, recently started with Siena after 6 years teaching at The Windward School, a school for children with language-based learning differences. Juliana holds a B.A. in Religious Studies from Syracuse University and an MAT degree from Smith College in Elementary Education. Earlier in her teaching career, she worked as an Academic Intervention Teacher at a public school in Massachusetts. While at Windward, Juliana received extensive training at the Windward Institute in Preventing Academic Failure (Orton-Gillingham), Expository Writing, and various multisensory methods for teaching mathematics. She has completed additional coursework on research-based practices for teaching children with anxiety, ADHD, dysgraphia, dyscalculia, and language-based learning differences. Juliana earned a teaching certificate from the International Multisensory Structured Language Council in 2019 and has been tutoring children with diverse learning needs since 2013.
David Bonner, middle and high school science teacher, is in his 7th year at Siena. He holds a B.S. in Biology cum laude and a Master's Degree in Science Education, both from the University of Georgia in Athens, Georgia. He has worked in a variety of public and private schools in Georgia, North Carolina, and the D.C. area for nearly twenty years, teaching and developing curricula for Biology, Chemistry, Environmental Science, and International Baccalaureate Physics. Prior to joining The Siena School, he also served as Librarian, Director of Technology, and JV Tennis coach at The Field School in Northwest DC, where he was actively engaged in multicultural work. Mr. Bonner was awarded the Presidential Award and a degree from the professional culinary program at L’Academie de Cuisine in Gaithersburg, MD.
Amy Burgener, math teacher, joined Siena in 2019. She earned a B.A. in Mathematics at the Integrated Science Program from Northwestern University and received her M.A.T. in secondary mathematics education from American University through the Math for America DC program. She has experience teaching math from 8th grade through college levels. In her free time, Amy enjoys cycling, math puzzles, sewing, and baking. See her Siena faculty profile page here.
Allee Burka, Reading, and Language Arts Tutor, started with Siena after 15 years of one-on-one and small-group literacy education, primarily working with students in grades K–8. During that time, Allee spent 10 years working in public and private schools as both a classroom teacher and reading specialist. Allee specializes in working with students with reading, language, and attention disorders such as Dyslexia, Attention Deficit Disorder, Dysgraphia, and Languages Processing Disorders. Allee is an Associate of Orton-Gillingham and holds a Masters in Literacy from the University of Georgia and a Bachelors of Science in Elementary Education from Elon University.
Peni Critchell, Reading Tutor & Reading Teacher, has been with Siena for seven years. She earned a B.A. in American Studies from the University of North Carolina and a M.A.T. from George Washington University. She is certified as an LD tutor through the Lab School of Washington. Ms. Critchell has worked in education in the metropolitan area for over 30 years; she began her career as a classroom teacher at Georgetown Day School and has most recently worked as a learning specialist at St. Patrick’s Episcopal Day School and as a tutor at the Lab School of Washington Summer Camp.
Amanda Davis, Spanish teacher, has over twenty years of teaching experience in Spanish, French, and English. Ms. Davis holds a B.S. in education (English and Spanish) from the University of Kansas and an M.A. in Spanish from Middlebury College, Madrid campus. She received her French certification at Sorbonne University in Paris, France. Ms. Davis was a recipient of a foreign language fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities and developed curriculum based on the history of the Saint James Way in France and Spain. Her professional experience in education includes work as a world language teacher in Montgomery County, MD, and as a translator and English teacher in Casablanca, Morocco.
Kimberly Dunn, elementary and middle school teacher, has over 29 years of elementary and middle school teaching and administration experience in both the public and independent school settings in South Carolina, Virginia, and Texas. She holds an M.Ed from the University of Charleston and The Citadel. Kimberly has taught 1st, 2nd, 4th, 5th, and 7th grades and has experience in elementary and middle school administration. She is a qualified Responsive Classroom trainer in social-emotional learning and is a certified Gurian trainer in brain-based, research-driven strategies on how students learn. Kimberly enjoys reading and outdoor activities like kayaking. She and her husband relocated to Northern Virginia this year.
Stefanie Hjalmervik, reading teacher, received her B.A. in Elementary Education at the University of Iowa, her M.Ed. in Reading Education at Georgia State University, and a Master's Certificate in Dyslexia and Language-Based Learning Disorders from Landmark Outreach Program. See her Siena faculty profile page here.
Justin Kanka, high school internship coordinator and middle school math/science teacher, joins Siena with 7 years of teaching experience and a love for helping students find their passion for learning. He graduated with a B.A. in Italian Studies from the Honors Program at Providence College in Rhode Island. See his Siena faculty profile page here.
Maya Kratzke, English Tutor, High School Dean of Students, Summer Academics Coordinator, and Middle School English Teacher, has been at Siena since 2017. She holds a double-B.A. in Creative Writing and Literary Studies from Beloit College and an M.S. in Secondary Education from Johns Hopkins University. Ms. Kratzke spent two years teaching high school special education English in Baltimore before discovering Siena. In her free time, Ms. Kratzke enjoys writing short stories, baking, and spending time with her two dogs.
(Revised bio forthcoming)
Carly McClelland-Richards, Reading, Language Arts, and Math Tutor for elementary, started with Siena Tutors after teaching at the Chartwell School, a school for children with language-based learning differences in Seaside, CA. Carly holds a B.S. in International Affairs from Georgetown University and an M.S. in Elementary Education from Johns Hopkins University. She is currently pursuing her doctorate in Curriculum and Instruction with a concentration on Leadership in Literacy at the University of Virginia. Previously, Carly worked as an interventionist school leader and district leader in Hawai’i. While at the Chartwell School, Carly received extensive training in Preventing Academic Failure (Orton-Gillingham), The Writing Revolution (expository writing), and in various multisensory math methods. Carly earned a certificate in Orton-Gillingham and Morphology from Orton-Gillingham International in 2015 and has been tutoring children with diverse needs since 2014.
Joel Mercado, math department chair and middle & high school math teacher, has been with Siena since 2016. He joined us as a graduate of the local university in Takoma Park, Washington Adventist University. He received a B.S in Mathematics and worked as a professor for 2 years after graduating. Mr. Mercado enjoys staying active with cycling and soccer and assists Siena's soccer team as a coach.
Mimi Pham, high school government and English teacher, is in her second year at The Siena School. She teaches English, Writing, and History. She previously spent two years at Fusion Academy as a teacher/mentor, where she taught students with dyslexia, ADHD, and language-based learning differences. Ms. Pham holds a B.A. in Economics from the University of Virginia and is working towards her M.A. in Political Science from the University of Illinois-Springfield. At UIS, she is a member of the Pi Sigma Alpha honor society for political science. In her free time, she enjoys reading, cooking, and hiking.
Ariana Podesta, elementary and middle school humanities teacher, is a recent graduate of Bard College's 4+1 Master of Arts in Teaching program. She holds a B.A. in History and Africana Studies and an M.A.T. in Secondary History Education. While at Bard, she tutored college writing classes with the Bard Learning Commons, as well as worked at Bard's preschool for three years. She has additional experience with elementary, 8th, and 10th grade students. Ariana joins the Siena team full-time after supporting our summer school program for four years.
Meredith Shinners is a dedicated and experienced educator who has spent her entire teaching career at schools designed for students with language-based learning differences. Meredith began her teaching career at Delaware Valley Friends School in Paoli, Pennsylvania, where she primarily taught middle school English and language arts in addition to facilitating many student organizations like the Environmental Club and Eye to Eye. Most recently, Meredith was a sixth-grade reading, writing, and math homeroom teacher at The Lab School of Washington, DC. She earned a B.S. in education from Penn State University with a focus on middle and high school English. Meredith is also a Certified Academic Language Practitioner (CALP) through the Academic Language Therapy Association specializing in the Orton-Gillingham method and trained in Judith Hochman’s Writing Revolution.
"It is clear that Siena's approach to learning and the very specialized training the teachers receive is very beneficial for any student. I've worked with many tutors for my children over the years and the Siena approach to tutoring is far superior to any I've seen."
– Siena Tutors Parent
“My tutor helped me gain confidence and helped me see that I could do it. I went from struggling to being one of the best in my class.“
– Siena Tutors Student
“I saw the lightbulb go on during the first tutoring session and the student had a smile on his face for the rest of the lesson! As a teacher, it is a great feeling to see this happen.”
– Siena Teacher
The Siena Tutors service is currently 100% virtual. After the public health situation is clear, tutoring will also be offered in-person for anyone who would prefer it, after 4 p.m. ET on weekdays at The Siena School in Silver Spring, MD.
No, the Siena Tutors program accepts any student who would benefit from The Siena School’s unique teaching methods. Siena Tutors are trained to work with students with language-based learning differences, who may have IEPs, 504 plans and other evaluations, but these are not a requirement.
The length of time a student needs support varies by the individual student and is determined by the parents and the tutors. When first engaging with Siena Tutors, there is a minimum requirement of four weekly, one-hour sessions.
After your inquiry form is received, the Director of Tutoring will contact you to answer further questions you may have, and to set up an Intake Meeting. This meeting is a 20-30 minute conversation where you let us know about your student and the tutoring goals you have in mind. After learning about your child and the areas where they need support, an appropriate teacher from our tutoring staff is matched with the student.
Tutoring sessions are held after school, evenings and weekends as mutually agreed upon between the parent and tutor. During the summer, day-time hours are also available.
Tutoring sessions are one hour long at a rate of $125/hour. Sessions are held 1-2 times per week.
Payments are accepted by ACH payment or credit card* through our secure online payment site. Sessions are held on a prepaid basis only.
* Please note that a 2.85% transaction fee is charged for credit card payments. There are no additional charges for ACH payments.
Tutoring expenses may be tax-deductible as a medical expense for a student with a diagnosed learning disability. Individual circumstances will vary, so please consult your personal tax advisor about whether you will be eligible.
Treatments for learning disabilities require a Letter of Medical Necessity (LMN) in order to be reimbursed through consumer-directed healthcare accounts - FSAs, HSAs and HRAs. Please consult with your benefits administrator for details.