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A Coeducational, College Preparatory School for Ages 3 Through Grade 12

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Student Support

I am as unique and as precious as my desires, my needs, and my ideas. - ESD Manifesto

At ESD, we believe that in order to succeed, each student must be thoroughly supported both academically and emotionally. The Advisory Program, a cornerstone of student life since ESD’s founding in 1974, is the heart of our student support system. Through this long-standing program and a strong team of support specialists, our students are able to soar and reach their highest potential.

Advisory Program

ESD Advisories: The Cornerstone of Middle and Upper School Life

More than four decades ago, as Father Swann was formulating the kind of school ESD would become, he believed strongly that children feel assured that they would not be anonymous – that they would not “fall through the cracks.” He believed that within a larger community, there should be small, intimate groups where everyone felt accepted; where the power of cliques is minimized; where an adult could shepherd and guide. Thus, the ESD advisory system was born.

Through the years, the concept has evolved. Today, our advisory system is a cornerstone of the day-to-day life of the Middle and Upper School students at ESD. It is a continuation of the warmth and care found in homerooms at the Lower School. Every morning, each advisory, comprised of eight to ten same-grade students, attends Chapel together. During lunch, every day in the Middle School and twice a week in Upper School, the advisory sits together at the round tables in the Daryl Johnston Family Dining Commons. Advisory also includes community service projects, special programming, one-on-one meetings between the advisor and the advisee, and group activities at Wolf Run. These experiences allow the advisor to get to know these young people in a way that transcends academics.

About Advisories: Meg Fahrenbrook '01, Assistant Head of Middle School

As an alumnae and a teacher, I think that the advisory system plays a huge part in creating the unique and special community that ESD has. It gives each child a sense of security of knowing there is an adult at school they can rely on to help them organize, talk to teachers, and deal with social issues. It also provides the parents with one primary contact at the school who knows their child and will serve as a conduit for information between the parents and the students' teachers.

Emotional Wellness

ESD incorporates a variety of emotional wellness programming into the curriculum.

We are fortunate to have licensed psychologists and counselors on staff and available to our students, parents, and faculty/staff. The primary responsibility of our counselors is to provide emotional and social guidance and support for the school community in an effort to promote an exceptional environment for learning, social responsibility, and childhood development.

Developmental differences among students help to define the roles and responsibilities of counselors at each division level, but the primary responsibilities of the school counselor include (1) provision of direct, short-term counseling services, (2) consultation with administration and faculty, (3) wellness education for students, faculty/staff, and parents, (4) serving as chairperson of the ABC (Addressing Behaviors of Concern) team, a multi-disciplinary team whose efforts focus on assisting and supporting students with specific challenges, and (5) serving as a liaison amongst the school, students, parents, and outside professionals in order to help each student achieve his or her full potential at ESD. 

Learning Support

Support by a Team of Professionals: Learning Specialists, Psychologists, and Certified Language Therapists

To develop the unique potential in each student, we provide support services to address the individual learning needs of students to help them successfully meet the demands of the school’s rigorous curriculum. A team of professionals (e.g., learning specialists, psychologists, and certified academic language therapists) works with students, teachers, parents, administrators, and outside professionals to identify and address the specific learning needs of each student. Each division has a designated Learning Specialist who works to enable students to reach their full potential and participate as fully as possible in the intellectual opportunities of the school community as they strive to become independent learners.

Any student experiencing academic difficulty is eligible to receive support, consultation, screening, and referral services.  Students with diagnosed learning disorders, in particular, are encouraged to seek services and may qualify for specific academic accommodations. These students will have a formal written plan on file outlining eligible accommodations; this plan is implemented and monitored by the Learning Specialist for each division. As an academically rigorous, college preparatory school, the School has determined which accommodations best fit the academic mission of the School. Please see the Guidelines for Psychoeducational Assessment for information regarding specific accommodations as well as the documentation requirements for consideration of such accommodations.  

Emotional Wellness and Learning Support Team

Maricela Aquino, LMSW

Maricela Aquino, LMSW

Middle School Emotional Wellness Counselor
Melissa Crosby

Melissa Crosby

Academic Language Therapist
The Rev. Amy Heller

The Rev. Amy Heller

Senior Chaplain, Chaplain: Beginners - Fifth Grade
Hilary  Hodgson, Ph.D.

Hilary Hodgson, Ph.D.

Upper School Learning Support Counselor
Cara Holmes, Ph.D.

Cara Holmes, Ph.D.

Counselor/Learning Specialist, EWLS Team Coordinator
Ashlyn Hudson

Ashlyn Hudson

Upper School Learning Support Counselor and Field Hockey Program Director, Ninth and Tenth Grade Advisor
Adam Jones

Adam Jones

Middle School Learning Specialist and Crew Program Director, Sixth Grade Advisor
The Rev. Tim Kennedy

The Rev. Tim Kennedy

Chaplain, Middle and Upper School Chaplain, Middle School Religion Teacher
Amanda Sherman

Amanda Sherman

Middle School Emotional Wellness Counselor
Merredith Stuelpe

Merredith Stuelpe

Upper School Emotional Wellness Counselor
Barrett Van Zandt

Barrett Van Zandt

Academic Language Therapist