Empowering students with language-based learning differences
Welcome to Siena Tutors
Siena Tutors provides individual instruction with experienced teachers to students throughout the United States in grades 3-12. 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: Leslie Holst, Peni Critchell, Meredith Shinners
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: Edie Schutz
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: Mimi Pham, Jabari Sellars
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: Anna VanderLugt, Joel Mercado, David Bonner, Martha Silk
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.
Tutors: Anna VanderLugt, Martha Silk
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, Anna Vanderlugt
Tutors will help students with understanding content, vocabulary, and study strategies.
Tutors: Madeline Grimm
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: 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.
David Bonner, middle and high school science teacher, is in his 5th 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 D.C., 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.
Peni Critchell, Reading Tutor & Reading Teacher, has been with Siena for six 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.
Madeline Grimm, Social Studies and English Tutor, received her B.A. in history from the College of William & Mary and an M.Phil. in history from the University of Cambridge. Madeline taught high school and middle school humanities courses at Siena from 2016-2018. She then returned to graduate school and received an M.A. in history from UCLA in 2020. She currently works as a writer and editor in New York City and enjoys exploring the city in her free time.
Maya Kratzke, English Tutor, Middle School English Teacher and DEIB Committee Chair, 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.
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 first 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.
Jabari Sellars has been with The Siena School since 2018. Before moving to California in 2021, Mr. Sellars taught English and History at Siena for three years; he now uses his decade of teaching experience as a virtual tutor. Mr. Sellars holds a B.A. in English Literature from Guilford College, an M.A. in Secondary Teaching from Duke University, and an M.Ed. in Language & Literacy from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. A proud nerd, Mr. Sellars is an avid lover of comics, video games, and anime! Mr. Sellars also facilitates Siena's Summer Writing Workshop.
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.
Martha Silk, reading teacher and tutor, has been tutoring students with dyslexia, language-based learning differences, dysgraphia, dyscalculia, ADHD, and reading comprehension challenges since 1997. Ms. Silk has worked with students from age six through adult, and has special expertise in auditory processing issues, math, dysgraphic issues in print and cursive, strengthening working memory, reading comprehension, and directional language. Her extensive training includes coursework with William Stixrud & Associates, Stevenson Skills, LIPS and VV and ASDEC. She has earned certification (CERI) The Center for Effective Reading Instruction and certification as a Structured Literacy Teacher from the international Dyslexia Association. Ms. Silk holds a B.S. in mathematics from Spring Hill College.
Anna VanderLugt, Math, Science, and Executive Functioning Tutor, is in her 12th year as an educator. She earned her B.S. in biology with honors from Sonoma State University and her M.S. in Animal Sciences from the University of Hawaii at Manoa. She has been teaching math and science to middle and high school students for over twelve years, including students with language-based learning differences. Mrs. VanderLugt earned certifications in multisensory math through ASDEC and classroom management training through Developmental Designs.
"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.