Our elementary grade summer school is run like a high school.
We believe in teachers who specialize in a single subject and know how to teach it well across a range of grades. Each lead teacher is supported by an assistant (or two), so that there are never more than twelve students for every adult in the classroom. For the core curriculum remedial math and literacy classes, the ratio is 8:1, and for speech and language intervention 3:1.
Single-subject specialist teachers bring unique expertise, and can be very efficient with both their prep time and classroom time. And elementary grade students really like the daily routine of moving to a different classroom every hour, like the big kids do in high school. They enjoy interacting each day with 8-10 different adults, each with special skills.
For kids, a change is as good as a rest.
Michael Farmer, teaches all the multisensory literacy skills classes in the morning and also the sports classes during the afternoon. Known as Mike to adults and Coach to kids (please don’t call him Mr. Farmer), he is a dyslexic learner, son of a dyslexic father, and father of a dyslexic son.
Mike is an enthusiastic practitioner of the philosophies and methods of Beth Slingerland, though he does stray from her orthodoxy here and there, having also been influenced by more contemporary multisensory approaches. He did his first-year Slingerland course in San Francisco with Nancy Cushen White, then his second and third-year Slingerland courses at Charles Armstrong School of Belmont, California with John Osner.
Mike started our summer school in San Francisco in 2006, when 18 students spent four weeks with us. During the summer of 2012, we hosted 70-75 kids per day for each of the eleven weeks of San Francisco’s summer vacation. Last summer, our first in New York, we hosted 26 students for four weeks.
Before that, Mike ran after-school programs at two San Francisco schools, Sunnyside Elementary and The Laurel School, while serving as a morning literacy skills remediation teacher at both schools. Prior to becoming a teacher in 2001, Mike had a 22-year career in commerce, as general partner of the boutique market research firm McEvoy & Farmer.
Colleen Uscianowski earned an M.S.ed in Childhood Learning Disabilities from Hunter College and a B.A. in Language and Mind from New York University. She is currently a doctoral student at Teachers College Columbia University, where she conducts research on math and science learning.
Colleen cultivated her passion for teaching math while working in public, private and charter schools in New York City. Most recently, she served as a fifth-grade head teacher at the Churchill School. She is certified to teach both special education and general education to elementary and middle school students. Colleen is well versed in various learning strategies and multi-sensory programs that enable struggling learners to improve at mathematics.
Colleen also served multiple years as an adjunct lecturer in the Graduate School of Education at Hunter College and served as both Instructional Advisor and Manager of Courses at the Relay Graduate School of Education. In both these roles, Colleen presented methods that enabled teachers to execute strategies for math and reading remediation, assessed mastery of pedagogical skills and provided feedback on instructional techniques demonstrated by her graduate students. Most recently, she founded a company called Luminous Learning that develops math materials for elementary-aged students with learning disabilities.
Cathleen Edwards is our New York speech-language pathologist. Cathy is currently an SLP at The Child School on Roosevelt Island, where she provides speech and language therapy to children in the 1st through 5th grades with a variety of communicative disorders including those on the autism spectrum with language learning disabilities, pragmatic and social language, academic and writing difficulties, and receptive and expressive language delays.
For most of the last twenty years, Cathy was either confronting flat midwestern vowels in the Winnetka and Libertyville, Illinois school districts or battling Southern California mellowspeak on behalf of the Ojai school district. She moved to New York just last year. In addition to her work at The Child School, she also provides speech and language consultation and therapy to children in the home with parental involvement.
Margaret Dresher will be our science specialist this summer. Originally from South Carolina, she attended the College of Charleston and majored in Journalism with a minor in International Studies. After taking a mission trip to work at an orphanage in Nairobi, Kenya, she decided to return to school for an education credential. Margaret received her Master’s in Childhood Education, Grades 1-6 from Hunter College in 2009. Since then, she has been teaching first grade at St. Brigid’s Catholic School in the East Village. Margaret has tutored students ranging from 3 years old to 8th grade. She is currently enrolled at Mercy College in order to receive a Literacy Certification, Birth- Grade 6 at the end of 2013.
Vanessa Solomon is our art teacher in New York. Vanessa is the director of City Sculpting, a creative visual arts children’s program with a specialized focus on sculpture. Vanessa Solomon is an accomplished sculptor and sculptural technician as well as a children’s art teacher. She is a native of Tzaneen, South Africa. She completed her Masters in Fine Art (Sculpture) in 1991, at the University of Cape Town, South Africa.
During the political uprisings of the 1980s, Vanessa taught children art, working with the Community Arts Project (CAP) in Woodstock, Cape Town, and the children’s organization Molo Songololo. She also worked at the Ulwazi Center, as Art Coordinator/Teacher, in the Langa Township, in Cape Town, S.A. Through art education she taught youth-orientated sessions counteracting gang violence.
In 1991, Vanessa was the Curator of a South African Children’s Art Exhibition in, Greenwich, London, UK. The art reflected experiences of township violence. The Exhibition garnered international acclaim, traveling for several years to various European countries. Vanessa’s sculptures have been exhibited in the US and internationally, notably at the United Nations, NYC, and in the permanent collection of the South African Embassy in London.
Alexandra Gardiner is our science teacher in Manhattan. She has taught at Drake Bennett for two summers and thoroughly enjoyed teaching science last summer. Teaching about roller coasters and how to make ice cream was particularly exciting! Currently, Alexandra is a graduate student at Bank Street Graduate School of Education and is pursuing a Master’s in General and Special Education for Grades 1-6.
Alexandra graduated from Georgetown University in 2010 and received a Master’s in Art History and Archaeology in 2012 from NYU Institute of Fine Arts. She has experience tutoring students in Latin and English and participated in the program DC READS while at Georgetown. Alexandra is passionate about community service and human rights, and she has enjoyed volunteering with the program Free Arts NYC, which provides free art experiences to underserved youth. In addition, she has volunteered in the Education Department at the Morgan Library and Museum. She has also helped children learn how to ice skate as a coach at Southfield Ice Hockey Camp.