Learning Support Team

CMS Learning Support Team (LST)

Gretchen Felopulos, PhD - School Psychologist (gfelopulos@cambridgemontessori.org)
Amy Carpineto, MAT - Learning Specialist (acarpineto@cambridgemontessori.org)

Special Services, Screening, Evaluation
If parents have concerns about their child’s development in any area (e.g., speech, language, motor, sensory processing, and/or academic skills - as well as physical, emotional or social development), they should contact the Learning Support Team (LST) for assistance. No question or concern is too small! 

The LST includes a Learning Specialist, licensed psychologist, your child’s teacher, and you!  We are dedicated to providing your child with specialized academic assistance and social/emotional support here at CMS.  Our services complement the educational concepts taught in Montessori classrooms by providing small group instruction in a variety of areas.  We have a primary goal of teaching strategies to students to support their self-directed learning and social/emotional well-being, as well as helping you understand your child’s learning style and behavior.  

Background:

In September, 2012, the Learning Support Team formally the Learning Center was first implemented as a new way to provide students with extra academic, social, or emotional/behavioral assistance.  Prior to this time, CMS provided such help to students, though the academic support was not covered by school tuition.  Thus, a primary improvement in the new Learning Support Team model is that small group tutoringis now covered by tuition.  Likewise, social skill groups, led by the School Psychologist, are a cost-included service, as is any needed 1:1 counseling or consultation to parents or teachers.

If a teacher, parent, or any CMS staff member has concerns about a child’s development, the person should fill out either the Parent Request Form or the Teacher Referral Form. Once the form is received, the LST will contact both the child’s parent(s) and teacher(s). These forms are available in the main offices of the Primary and Elementary buildings. 

Currently the following services are offered. This list may expand to meet the needs of our students. 

Parent/Teacher Consultation:

When you or your child’s teacher has questions or concerns about any aspect of her/his functioning at school – learning, behavior, attention skills, social skills, anxiety, etc. – the option of requesting a consultation is available through the LST.  With parental permission, the Learning Specialist or School Psychologist will observe your child during school at a time that makes the most sense given the specific questions/concerns.  As both of these staff are frequently in all of the classrooms for various reasons, observation sessions are not noticeable or unusual to the students, nor would the child being observed have a sense that he/she was the focus.

After an observation, the Learning Specialist or School Psychologist will talk with the teacher and parents, making suggestions as to what steps to take next, if any.  Possible ideas include: an academic or attention screening for the student by the LST; obtaining an outside evaluation; making small changes in the classroom to help the child focus or stay on task; or simply monitoring the given skill or behavior over a few more weeks to see if concerns continue.  Often, the consultation is the first step in the process of having your child involved in direct services from the LST, which may be small group academic support, setting up a behavior plan for home and school, or participating in a social skills group.

Academic Skills Support:  

In keeping with the Montessori method and yet adapting to the needs of our students, the Learning Specialist will work with students in the classroom and assist the teacher in using specific strategies to promote the areas in need for them.  The goal is for the education specialist to transition out of the class, allowing the students to resume independent learning with a new set of strategies to help them thrive in school.  Small group instruction may also be provided outside of the classroom if needed but the goal is the same.

Some of the small group academic support services available for all ages include:

  • assessment/screening of academic skills
  • multisensory reading instruction (Orton-Gillingham/Wilson)
  • alternative spelling instruction
  • help with math skills
  • organization/study skills assistance
  • help with written expression/writing skills


If the Team (which includes you!) finds that your child isn’t getting enough of a benefit from small group instruction and seems to need individual tutoring, we have excellent private tutoring resources available, coordinated with your child’s school day or offered before- or after school on campus.  While the small group instruction is covered by school tuition, individual private tutoring is not.  If you agree to private tutoring, your child’s tutor will work out a payment schedule with you, with rates that are consistent with other area professionals. 

Should your child already have a private tutor or you choose to find a tutor on your own, the Learning Support Team will collaborate with any outside providers to maximize the benefit for your child here in school. 

Social Skills Training:  

While CMS has a school-wide social skills curriculum based on the Montessori principle called “Grace and Courtesy”, some students will need more focused support in this area.  These students may participate in weekly Social Skills groups, where children are matched by age range and specific social goals.

Individual Counseling:  

We know that at times, students will go through challenges that may cause emotional stress or behavior concerns.  Stressors such as divorce, loss of a loved one, identity issues, and peer conflict may lead to problems in school. As a service of the LST, students may be provided with 1:1 or small group counseling with the School Psychologist, as some personal support for the student in the school environment can be quite helpful.  Counseling does not serve the same purpose as psychotherapy, which is sometimes recommended in addition to, or in lieu of, school counseling if the child’s needs are more than can be supported by counseling at school alone.

 
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