"We prepare students to engage in the world that is and to help bring about a world that ought to be."

Learning Support

Our mission is also to be compassionate and fair, especially as a community that cultivates equity and commitment to diversity — including neurodiversity — which includes diverse ways that students learn best. Friends Seminary complies with The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) that requires reasonable accommodations be made available to students with physical and emotional diagnoses as well as learning disabilities. All students in the community are regularly monitored through faculty and grade-level team meetings in each division as well as through the advisory program to highlight and assess each student’s overall growth and progress within the School’s disciplines of silence, study, and service. These meetings uncover students’ strengths as well as relative weaknesses and potential needs for support or enrichment. When patterns or problems arise that require attention, a plan is discussed and implemented to provide the necessary academic or social/emotional support.

Lower School

At the beginning of each school year, all classroom teachers assess each child’s strengths and weaknesses in the core areas of reading, math and writing. The assessment tools used have been developed in collaboration with classroom teachers and learning specialists. 

In Kindergarten, a learning specialist observes and monitors a child’s progress in the classroom. During the spring semester, kindergartners in need of additional support meet with the learning specialist in the classroom and/or in a small group. 

Grades 1 and 2 students who needed additional support in Kindergarten continue working with the learning specialist as necessary. Following the classroom formal assessment, teachers may identify additional children who are in need of support and the learning specialist will conduct further screening for the children referred. 

In Grades 3-4, a grade level Gates-MacGinitie Reading Test is administered to all children. Following this assessment, and in conjunction with teacher assessments or any evaluation that might be on file, students are identified for individual or small group support. Moreover, it assesses if grade specific curriculum, as developed by grade level teachers, is being implemented consistently across classrooms. 

The mathematics specialists are also responsible for supporting effective K–6 mathematics instruction and student learning. Specific roles and responsibilities vary according to the needs of each teacher and their students. At the classroom level, specialists teach mathematics to students in one or more grade levels or work with particular groups of students to provide remediation or enrichment support services. At the school level, specialists work with K-6 teachers, colleagues in the Grades 5-12 mathematics department, and administrators on the development of curriculum, assessment, and parent outreach. For teachers, specialists work with them in a professional development capacity to help strengthen their understanding of mathematics content or help them develop more effective instruction or assessment. At the department level, specialists work with colleagues to streamline and improve the overall K-6 mathematics curriculum and assessment process. 

Additionally, the Guidance team, including the division head, psychologist, learning and math specialists, director of diversity and inclusion, and nurse meet regularly to discuss any child or family in need of intervention and support. Classroom teachers may also be included and a classroom observation may follow in the decision-making process.

Middle School & Upper School

Middle School small group support is based on the recommendation of the prior year’s academic team, including division head, teachers, and specialists or at the recommendation of an evaluation. The academic team continues to monitor student strengths and weaknesses as they progress, and determines whether or not the student should continue to receive support.

The Comprehensive Test Program is administered in Grades 4, 6 and 7, and the results are used as comparative data relative to a student’s performance in class and to the core curriculum. The data is maintained as part of a student’s academic record.

Academic Workshop is offered for small group support led by a learning specialist available to students in Grades 5 and 6 who need scaffolding with organizational skills, reading and writing. In Grades 7-12, Skills class and/or drop-in sessions are offered for those who need additional help with executive functioning, i.e. planning, organization, time management, self-monitoring, and advocacy.

Students in Grades 7-12 may utilize the support services of the Academic Center, which provides more subject-specific help or enrichment as well as peer tutoring.

Rates of progress and the effectiveness of intervention are assessed on an on-going basis. When outside tutors are utilized in Lower School, they are expected to report to teachers and specialists consistently. In Middle & Upper School, families are encouraged to have tutors contact teachers and advisors in order to monitor content collaboration and student progress.  

Sometimes, if there is more than one issue at play or if it is unclear what may be getting in the way of a student’s success, achievement, or ability, a comprehensive neuropsychological evaluation may be recommended which can help elucidate the student’s needs and target necessary support.


Salvatora Barker
Lower and Middle School Learning Specialist
(212) 979-5035 ext. 4319

Hilary Berliner
Lower School Math Specialist
(212) 979-5035 ext. 4308

Megan Fenstermaker
Middle and Upper School Learning Specialist, Grades 7-12
(212) 979-5035 ext. 4333

Jennifer Gandasegui
Lower and Middle School Learning Specialist
(212) 979-5035 ext. 4421

Ruthie Shaw
Lower School Learning Specialist
(212) 979-5035 ext. 4395

Monica Witt
Lower School Math Specialist 
(212) 979-5035 ext. 4412
Friends Seminary actively promotes diversity, equity, inclusion, and anti-racism in all its programs and operations, including admissions, financial aid, hiring, and all facets of the educational experience. To form a community which strives to reflect the world’s diversity, we do not discriminate on the basis of race or color, religion, nationality, ethnicity, economic background, physical ability, sex, gender identity or expression, or sexual orientation. Friends Seminary is an equal opportunity employer.

Friends Seminary — the oldest continuously operated, coeducational school in NYC — serves college-bound day students in Kindergarten-Grade 12.
222 East 16th Street
New York, NY 10003
P: 212-979-5030
F: 212.979.5034