Learning Support

The cornerstone of Catlin Gabel's educational approach is understanding individual learning in order to enhance teaching and learning outcomes across all four divisions of the school. The Learning Center facilitates understanding of student learning by providing a variety of services for students, teachers, and parents.
Catlin Gabel Learning Services—How we Support Students in Preschool to Grade 12.
Catlin Gabel School seeks to provide an appropriate learning environment which allows all students to meet their individual learning potential and to achieve the curricular goals outlined by the school.
Accommodations and modifications in the Beginning and Lower School are made on an individual basis, depending on student need and available resources. In addition, differentiated instruction in the classroom and small group remedial literacy and math support is provided.
The Upper and Middle Schools provide appropriate learning environments for students through differentiated instruction, classroom accommodations, and course load adjustments. Modifications to curriculum and learning objectives generally are not provided.
Referrals are given to parents who seek individualized tutoring, outside therapists (e.g. Speech and Language Pathologist or Occupational Therapist), or a psycho-educational evaluation with a licensed psychologist. Team communication with students, parents, classroom teachers, learning specialists, and outside support providers is an essential component to our support process.

Teaching and Collaboration

Learning Specialists provide ongoing teaching and consultation. The Lower School Learning Specialist provides small group remedial instruction based on need, in class accommodation support, and informal assessments and screens. The Middle School Learning Specialist provides small group instruction based on need, oversees classroom accommodations, and teaches a study skills class to all 6th grade students. The Upper School Learning Specialist provides individualized student consultation and teaches foundation skills to all incoming freshmen.

In collaborative discussions with parents, teachers, and students, the Learning Specialists make recommendations to support the learner in school and at home. Recommendations include strategies for teachers, parents, and techniques for the student to use independently. These conversations also help determine the advisability of future evaluations and/or support services from outside resources.

The Learning Specialist stays in touch with students, parents, advisors, and teachers to help monitor and address student learning needs. They attend parent-teacher conferences, initiate informal check-ins, meet with counselors and division heads, work with students outside the classroom, help set up future programs, and guide future educational decisions.

Learning Specialists in all divisions meet weekly to coordinate processes and procedures to foster alignment and create effective transitions for students. The Learning Specialists and Counselors from all divisions meet monthly as part of the Student Support Team to discusses common issues and occasionally present parent information programs.

Response to Intervention Process

Response to Intervention Process: The Learning Services’ tiered process of exploration, planning and intervention to assess and support student need. The purpose is to create a more uniform and systematic approach to the intervention, screening and referral process to allow for consistent support across divisions.

Tier 1: Exploration Phase

Tier 2: Planning Phase

Tier 3: Finalized Intervention Phase

Ongoing Team Assessment - Are interventions working? Is the student making steady progress (though still lagging behind the classroom average)? Are skills being transferred independently? Is more information needed through screens or informal assessments? Further outside supports or psycho-educational evaluation is considered. 

Psyco-Educational Learning Evaluations

Through continuous progress monitoring and assessment, the school team may recommend an outside psycho-educational learning evaluation to get more information on a students' learning. Learning Specialists provide referrals and an explanation of the process, whether it is completed through the public schools or through a private psychologist.

This process can help parents and teachers understand more about a student's strengths and challenges and it can lead to developing strategies and techniques for optimal learning and instruction. This is done through a synthesis of the evaluation and creation of an Educational Learning Plan. A Learning Plan could include strengths, challenges, accommodations, recommendations for strategies, and a support plan with goals and remediation services to be provided. A student team is formed once a learning plan is created. The plan is shared transparently with teachers, families, and students.

Consultation and Outside Support Services

The Student Support Team provides referrals and consultation with outside resources.

Outside Support Services: Services to meet specific needs that Catlin Gabel does not provide. These could include: Speech and Language Pathology (SLP), Occupational Therapy (OT), Tutoring (for remediation or subject support), Physical Therapy (PT), Vision Therapy, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), and/or outside Counseling support (Psychological or Psychiatric).


Executive Function Resources

Getting Organized and Good Work Habits from All Kinds of Minds - includes tables of important aspects of executive functioning, common problems, clickable links to deeper discussion of what's going on, and strategies for both parents and teachers to support someone who is struggling with that specific issue.

Edutopia – Judy Willis, MD
Brain-based teaching strategies for supporting executive function

National Resource Center on ADHD

Sarah Ward’s Executive Functioning Website

Executive Skills in Children and Adolescents by Peg Dawson and Richard Guare

Smart but Scattered by Peg Dawson and Richard Guare

Brain Rules: 12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home, and School by John Medina

Attention Deficit Disorder: The Unfocused Mind in Children and Adults by Thomas E. Brown, Ph.D.

Understanding Girls with ADHD by Kathleen Nadeau, Ph.D., Ellen B. Littman, Ph.D., Patricia Quin, M.D.

Learning Differences Resources

Learning Disabilities Online
A good all-around website on learning issues for all ages from young children through adults.It covers dyslexia, learning disabilities, A.D.H.D. and some of the attending issues that can go with these difficulties with learning.Good search tool and parent tips.

Understood: for Learning and Attention Issues 
Tailored to parents – provides resources to support children with attention, learning, and sensory challenges.Walks parents through the process of getting services, managing in different situations, a good parent toolkit, and where to go for help.

National Center for Learning Disabilities 
Helpful information about learning disabilities—checklists, guides, videos, podcasts, FAQs, and "Ask the Experts" section.

Literacy Resource Page


The Yale Center for Dyslexia and Creativity:






The Dyslexia Empowerment Plan by Ben Foss

Contact us

Questions? Please reach out.

Kristy Marling, Beginning and Lower School Learning Specialist - 503-297-1894 x2010

Carley Leins, Middle School Learning Specialist - 503-297-1894 x3105

Cindy Murray, Upper School Learning Specialist - 503-297-1894 x4105

Jeffrey Silverstein, Upper School Learning Specialist - 503-297-1894 x4105