Experience Education

Support Services

Supporting the Whole Student

The Bush School K-12 Support Services team provides support to individual students, small groups, classes, and families, focusing on student wellbeing, social-emotional learning, and academic needs. Learning Specialists and Counselors in each division work together to meet students’ goals and needs and, when appropriate, connect families with outside resources for additional learning or therapeutic support.
Student academic and social-emotional support at Bush is holistic, developmentally appropriate, and interdisciplinary, connecting learning specialists, counselors, the School Wellness Coordinator, teachers, administrators, and families in a network of support to keep students safe, provide opportunities for growth, and meet students’ academic goals from Kindergarten through Twelfth Grade.

List of 4 items.

  • Learning Support

    Learning Support at Bush is an accommodations-based program supporting students with disabilities who qualify under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Accommodations are one of a variety of ways to support students with different learning needs. Students with and without disabilities under the ADA can encounter academic struggles, and some students with disabilities might not need accommodations to access the academic program. Accommodations at Bush provide access to our academic program but do not alter or modify curriculum nor do they change what a student is expected to master in the class content.
    The learning communities at Bush are strengthened by a diversity of learning styles, creative and divergent thinking, and a recognition that each member of a classroom community has different challenges, growth edges, and strengths.
  • Counseling

    The Counseling program at Bush supports social-emotional learning inside and outside the classroom and also offers individual support and crisis response in a safe and confidential space. The counselors in each division are trained mental health professionals who are experts in the developmental, emotional, and psychological needs of students in each age group. The Bush School sees counseling and mental health as integral to the overall health and success of our students.
  • Student Wellness

    Supporting students’ emotional, social, and physical health and wellbeing is a priority at The Bush School. This approach informs decisions around daily schedules, curriculum and programming, and parent/guardian education and support resources. School Wellness Coordinator Happy Salinas-Santos, ARNP, works with the Senior Leadership Team, the COVID response Health Panel, and divisional teams to ensure a holistic approach to wellness through all stages of child development at The Bush School.
  • Therapy/Facility Dog Program

    The Bush School has been using certified facility and therapy dogs in our counseling program for over six years. A facility dog is a dog who is trained and certified to work in institutional settings, such as schools. A therapy dog is a dog that is trained to provide affection, comfort, and support to people in settings such as hospitals, retirement homes, schools, and libraries. Incorporating a facility or therapy dog into a school environment creates both physical and emotional opportunities for stress relief, and The Bush School has had great success incorporating facility/therapy dogs in the Upper and Middle Schools.

    The program is now comprised of two dogs, Starsky and Yoshi, who primarily work in the counseling areas of the Upper and Middle Schools. The dogs are on-leash when not in these areas. 

Lower SchoolWhat We Do

The Lower School support services team offers an additional layer of student support outside of the classroom for our youngest community members. Key areas of focus include:

  • Helping students identify and build their social-emotional toolkit
  • Supporting students as they navigate community relationships
  • Family support navigating the Lower School developmental stages
  • Collaborating with classroom teachers to identify student needs and strategies for intervention
  • Screening assessments for academic areas of focus
  • Connecting families with outside resource support including tutors, OTs, Speech and Language Pathologists, and related support services
  • Reading intervention

List of 2 items.

  • Lower School Learning Support

    Learning Support in the Lower School aims to serve the needs of our diverse community of learners by working collaboratively with teachers and providing support to students and families as they journey from Kindergarten through Fifth Grade. There is a dedicated Lower School Learning Specialist as well as a Reading Specialist providing this support.

    Lower School Learning support encompasses:
    • Acting as a liaison between teachers, families and outside professionals in support of student academic and behavioral needs
    • Short-term individual and small-group student support
    • Assessment coordination:
      • Administration of limited diagnostic screening assessments – both universal and individual 
      • Oversight of universal screening and progress monitoring assessments
      • Implementation of ERB testing for Third - Fifth Grade
    • Coordination of outside services such as tutoring, speech and occupational therapy 
    • Professional development for faculty regarding learning challenges as well as exploration of best curricular practices
    • Development and implementation of small-group reading support program in Kindergarten - Fifth Grade
    • Assisting students in understanding their individual learning profiles and patterns of strengths and challenges
  • Lower School Counseling

    The Lower School Counselor is a resource for students, families, faculty and staff in support of social-emotional and developmental growth, conflict resolution, and community building. Additional programs supported by the Counselor include:
    • Small-group student lunches to build connection and community
    • Neurodiversity Affinity Groups for students beginning in Third Grade to celebrate diverse ways of thinking, identify tools they find useful, and share strategies for success
    • Identity work with students and teachers around gender, race, ethnicity, and sexuality
    • Conflict resolution using Responsive Classroom techniques, community-building talking circles, and restorative dialogue

Our Team

List of 3 members.

  • Photo of Leah Brown

    Leah Brown 

    Lower School Counselor
    (206) 326-7720
  • Photo of Heidi Kestelyn

    Heidi Kestelyn 

    Lower School Reading Specialist
  • Photo of Shannon Salverda

    Shannon Salverda 

    Lower School Learning Specialist

Middle SchoolWhat We Do

The Middle School support services team works to meet the specific needs of Middle School students during the changes, growth, challenges, and joys of the middle school years. Key areas for Middle School include:

  • Identity work and social support to build strong communities;
  • Self-advocacy skills, study skills, and organizational strategies to promote students’ independence before Upper School;
  • Safe risk-taking in supportive environments;
  • Meet students’ personal and academic needs from Sixth to Eighth Grade.

List of 2 items.

  • Middle School Learning Support

    The middle school learning specialist is available to all middle school students to provide subject specific, study skills, organization and/or self-advocacy support. Meetings can be scheduled during students’ Blazer Block, lunch, break or before and after school. This support is limited to short term intervention. The learning specialist may also engage with grade levels or small groups to offer lessons on study skills and organization. Additional responsibilities include: 

    • Monitor student progress at weekly kid-talk meetings
    • Assess individual students as parents or teachers request to inform our understanding of their learning profile and to guide intervention
    • Support students with a diagnosis to understand their learning profile
    • Short term, one-on-one support, in the areas of self-advocacy, study skills, executive functioning, assistive technology use and time management
    • Support students as they use and advocate for accommodations
    • Oversee administration of the ERB CTP 5, coordinate student accommodations and review and interpret test scores with faculty and families
    • Begin to advise families on ADA compliant documentation to support a student’s needs for accommodations.
  • Middle School Counseling

    The Middle School Counselor is available to all students, families, and faculty in support of social-emotional and behavioral needs, as well as community wellness. Middle School Counselor Gayle Gingold also supports and serves as faculty advisor of the Q Group, the Middle School Affinity Group for queer and questioning students and allies.

    Specific areas of focus in Middle School include:
    • Peer relationships and community-building 
    • Student wellness and safety support for off-campus retreats and wilderness trips
    • Mental health resources for students and families
    • Short-term crisis management for mental and emotional health emergencies 
    • Connection to outside resources as appropriate for student mental and emotional needs

Our Team

List of 3 members.

  • Photo of Robin Christy

    Robin Christy 

    Part-time Middle School Learning Specialist
    (206) 326-7745
  • Photo of Gayle Gingold

    Gayle Gingold 

    Middle School Counselor
    (206) 326-7746
  • Photo of Betsy Wandasiewicz

    Betsy Wandasiewicz 

    Middle School Learning Specialist
    (206) 326-7762

Upper SchoolWhat We Do

The Upper School Support Services team works to meet the personal and academic needs of students as they journey through high school and into young adulthood. Key areas for Upper School include:

  • Developing coping strategies to navigate difficult topics and situations
  • Exploring layers of identity and working together to create a strong community
  • Building skills to encourage student voice and create opportunities for self-advocacy
  • Promoting student independence and leadership opportunities
  • Cultivating critical thinking and problem-solving abilities
  • Developing students into empathic community members who listen to and respect the diversity of voices within the community

List of 2 items.

  • Upper School Learning Support

    The Bush Upper School Learning Support program works with students to ensure that they are developing self-awareness, building confidence in their accomplishments, forming positive relationships with teachers, and advocating for themselves. Bush Upper School students are most successful when they are able to acknowledge their need for support and actively seek it out. limited individual support to students, coordinate with faculty and outside professionals, study skills, executive functioning, self-advocacy
    • Guide students, families and teachers towards the goal of students taking charge of their own learning.
    • Meet with students to offer short term, one-on-one support in the areas of self-advocacy, study skills, and executive functioning, in order to troubleshoot areas of challenge, coach them on communicating with teachers, and connect them with resources.
    • Support students as they use and advocate for their accommodations.
    • Advise students and families on maintaining ADA compliant documentation to support a student’s needs for accommodations beyond high school.
    • Consult and collaborate with Upper School counselors and administrators on practices and policies that ensure student wellness.
  • Upper School Counseling

    The Upper School Counselors are trained mental health counselors with education and expertise in delivering counseling services in a school setting. At The Bush Upper School, the role of Upper School Counselor is to provide for the emotional and psychological well-being of the student body as students experience and navigate a variety of emotional and psychological issues in the course of adolescence. The school setting is a logical and natural setting for these issues to present themselves. Counseling services support students and their families in the context of the educational mission of the school.

Our Team

List of 5 members.

  • Photo of Sinead Coleman

    Sinead Coleman 

    Upper School Learning Specialist
  • Photo of John Ganz

    John Ganz 

    Upper School Counselor
    (206) 326-7730
  • Photo of Katie Holmes

    Katie Holmes 

    Support Services Coordinator
  • Photo of Maria Mathiesen

    Maria Mathiesen 

    Upper School Counselor
    (206) 326-7732
  • Photo of Brit Pauser

    Brit Pauser 

    Upper School Learning Specialist
    (206) 838-8811

Frequently Asked Questions

List of 6 items.

  • Does The Bush School offer IEPs or 504 plans?

    Unlike a public school we do not offer Individualized Education Plans (IEP’s) or 504 plans, but in order to provide equitable access to The Bush School’s curriculum, we coordinate and provide formal accommodations for eligible students which are:
    • specifically recommended by an outside professional through a comprehensive assessment which meets our documentation requirements, AND
    • approved by the Support Services Team as reasonable and appropriate as described through the signed Formal Accommodations Plan, AND
    • requested by the student.
    Formal Accommodation plans are developed together with the student, parent(s)/guardian(s), and learning specialist through an interactive and individualized accommodations process.
    Families may submit a pre-existing IEP, 504 plan, or psychoeducational evaluation to the Admissions Office during the admissions process or to the divisional learning specialist(s). Evaluations must be current within 5 years and completed by a licensed professional, to provide the most relevant information in supporting your student.
  • What kinds of accommodations are available to students who qualify?

    An Accommodations Plan for a student with a diagnosed learning disability is created by the divisional learning specialist(s) in partnership with the student and family. The learning specialist will create a learning profile summary and accommodations plan that includes the student’s interests, strengths, areas of challenge and strategies for support. An accommodations plan will include those accommodations the school approves and can offer. Examples may include extra time on a test, quiet room testing, breaks as needed, use of computer for writing, and access to a notetaker.
  • What is the social-emotional learning program?

    Students in the Lower School are introduced to the RULER approach to social emotional learning, developed at the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence. RULER offers students tools to Recognize, Understand, Label, Express, and Regulate their emotions as a means of developing emotional intelligence, resiliency, and community-minded social awareness.

    All Lower School classroom teachers are trained in Responsive Classroom, a student-centered, social and emotional approach to teaching and discipline. Responsive Classroom techniques aim to create learning spaces where all students feel a sense of belonging and purpose. Some elements in practice at Bush include morning meeting circles, team building experiences, and discipline practices that include reflection, meditation, and a focus on repair between students when conflict occurs.  
    Students K-12 are offered developmentally appropriate tools to deal with emotions, anxiety, depression, school stress, boundaries, and health peer relationships. This work is done in coordination with the counselors, classroom teachers, and faculty advisors.
  • Does Bush have a study skills class?

    The Bush School does not offer a formal study skills class as part of a student’s academic program. Instead, self-advocacy, executive functioning, and organizational skills are taught across departments at all division levels. Additionally, divisional learning specialists work with individual students to increase their skills in these areas and meet specific goals. This support could be accessed as a short-term intervention or learning specialists will work with families to identify outside resources for ongoing study skills support.
  • What is the Bush Therapy Dog Program?

    Bush has two therapy/facility dogs on campus.. The dogs, Starsky and Yoshi, work with the Middle and Upper School counselors to support students' emotional and mental well-being across all divisions. Research shows that therapy dogs in schools increase students’ self-esteem and self-confidence, build empathy, offer important socialization benefits, and provide physiological benefits such as lowering heart rate and blood pressure.
  • What forms of support are available for neurodiverse learners outside of formal learning plans and accommodations?

    Affinity group spaces for neurodiverse learners are available to students beginning in Third Grade. These affinity spaces offer students the opportunity to be in the majority and celebrate their diverse ways of thinking, identify tools they find useful, and share strategies for success. The Upper School neurodiversity affinity group, Blazing Neurons, also offers mentorship and leadership to younger students. A family affinity group is also available for parents/guardians. 
The Bush School is an independent, coeducational day school located in Seattle, WA enrolling 715 students in grades K–12. The mission of The Bush School is to spark in students of diverse backgrounds and talents a passion for learning, accomplishment, and contribution to their communities.

3400 East Harrison Street, Seattle WA 98112    (206) 322-7978
The Bush School does not discriminate in matters of employment, recruitment, admissions, or administration of any of its programs on the basis of race, color, creed, religion, national or ethnic origin, disability, gender, or sexual orientation. In addition, The Bush School does not discriminate in matters of employment on the basis of age or marital status.
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