Learning Specialists
 
Park Day School works to create a supportive educational environment for a diverse community of students. Because we know that our students represent a wide range of learning profiles, interests, and talents, we have developed key structures and methods for supporting student learning across the range of learners.
 
We emphasize community-wide awareness and education about learning differences, and classroom teachers collaborate with our staff of Learning Specialists to serve students across our grades. 
 
Sara Mohn - K-1 Learning Specialist Sara
Sara holds a Masters Degree in teaching from Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, VA, and is currently enrolled at Holy Names University (three classes left!) to obtain her Master of Education Therapy degree. She has seven years' experience teaching, including one in Japan. She has taught grades 2-4 as a self-contained classroom teacher, and has been a reading support teacher for third-graders, as well as an intervention tutor while completing her ed therapy work. She has training in Orton-Gillingham reading methodology and is training with the Slingerland Institute for Literacy this summer. We are very happy to add Sara to our staff, and she will be here 80% time, up from Ilya's 50% time. Outside of her professional life, Sara likes to spend time with her husband and two young daughters, take long runs on trails, and playing fetch with her furry pup, Millie.  
 
Noreen Axelson - Learning Specialist: 2nd - 5th Gradesnoreen
Noreen graduated from UC Berkeley with a BA in Psychology and Social Welfare. She put those skills to work in the practice of corporate finance law for several years and began a family before returning to her college passion to earn a Certificate in Educational Therapy and a Masters Degree in Education at Holy Names University. She has worked as a learning specialist and educational therapist for the last 10 years. She joined Park Day School as our learning specialist for grades 2-5 in the Fall of 2012. Noreen has three daughters who are rapidly taking wing and leaving the nest. She lives in Berkeley with her husband (a lawyer and certified yoga instructor), her youngest daughter, two cats and a turtle, and spends her free time reading and experimenting with edible gardening and gluten-free cooking.
 
Amber Balquist - Learning Specialist: 6th - 8th Grades amber

Amber first worked with students with special needs as a swim teacher while attending UC Santa Cruz. At UCSC, she studied Sociology with an emphasis in Environmental Justice. After the swim instructor job, Amber knew she wanted to become a special education teacher. She received her teaching credential and Master's Degree in Education at San Francisco State University, completing both programs with honors. She was a classroom teacher at Children's Learning Center in Alameda for twelve years, then developed and ran the Middle School Resource Program at Oakland School for the Arts. She joined the Park Day School team in the Spring of 2013. She has attended many trainings and certification programs including BICM (Behavioral Intervention Case Manager), Certificate in Autism Studies, Making Math Real, and Otter Creek Institute workshops. Beyond teaching, Amber is the co-owner of Oakland Floats, a floatation tank business that she and her husband began in 2012. She also enjoys creating adventures with her two young children as well as urban farming, seeing live music, taking ceramics classes, traveling and vegetarian cooking.

 
 
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