Learning Support

The cornerstone of Catlin Gabel's educational approach is understanding individual learning in order to enhance teaching and learning 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.

Teaching and Collaboration

Learning specialists provide ongoing teaching. The Lower School learning specialists provide small group instruction as needed and informal in-house assessments. The Middle and Upper School learning specialists teach study skills classes.

In collaborative discussions with parents, teachers, and students, learning specialists make recommendations to support the learner in school and at home. Recommendations include strategies for teachers and parents, and techniques for the student to use independently. These conversations also help determine the advisability of further evaluation from an outside resource.

The learning specialists stay 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 work with classroom teachers and families to coordinate extra help. The learning specialists and counselors meet quarterly in all divisions as members of a student support team that discusses common issues and occasionally presents parent information programs.

Learning Evaluations

Parents, teachers, and students themselves sometimes have questions about academic performance, learning, memory, or processing skills. The learning specialists can help determine if the issues are best addressed through consultation with parents and teachers, small group instruction, tutoring, or evaluation.

The learning specialists administer preliminary learning assessments and screen for learning difficulties and possible disabilities. This can help parents and teachers understand more about a student's learning, academic performance, and processing strengths and weaknesses.It can lead to developing strategies and techniques for optimal learning and instruction.

Consultation & Outside Referrals

If our on-campus learning specialists conclude that more information is needed about a student's learning, we will work with parents to find appropriate specialists, e.g. educational psychologists, occupational therapists, or speech and language therapists.

The outside specialists' recommendations provided in these evaluations are most applicable, practical, and realistic when the provider knows what students experience in their classes at our school.

Through the school's system of team meetings or staffings, the learning evaluation is reviewed and appropriate strategies and recommendations are agreed upon.These are put into place and periodically evaluated for effectiveness.

Financial Assistance Form

Options for Extra Help

Occasionally a student will benefit from help provided through one-on-one work with a teacher, after school homework clubs, study halls, peer tutoring, or professional tutoring.

Teachers are available for extra help. These sessions are arranged during common free periods in the Upper School, advisory in Middle School, and before or after school in the Lower School.

Scheduled Group Sessions

Lower School ­- Homework club is on Tuesdays for 4th grade and Thursdays for 5th grade.

Middle School - "SPARK" Combines fitness and study. Spark Study Hall includes a 45-minute aerobic/strength training session, followed by an hour in study hall. This offering is based on the research in John Rattay's book, SPARK, with the concept that exercise is a way to enhance learning and focus.

Upper School - Writing Lab (US lunch period) Writers in ALL CLASSES of ALL STAGES are welcome in the writing lab, which is staffed by 12 knowledgeable, helpful, eager senior student tutors.

Student Tutors - Another option for Middle School students is Upper School study buddies. Scheduled through the Learning Center, this is an alternative to formal tutoring. Upper School study buddies can help in specific subject areas or with general study skills and organization. Middle Schoolers tend to enjoy the mentoring relationship with Upper School students. Upper School study buddies work for your family and are expected to communicate with Middle School teachers.

Professional Tutors for All Grade Levels

Sometimes expert tutors are best suited for remedial assistance. Tutors work collaboratively throughout the process with students, parents, learning specialists, and teachers. Tutors are independent contractors, employed by families.

Financial Assistance Form


Executive Function Resources

Short article from The National Center for Learning Disabilities about the difficulties presented by weak executive functioning and strategies for support.

More thorough booklet from the same organization - Executive Function 101 – downloadable pdf - 28 pgs.

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.

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

Building Brain Power: executive function and young children – Penn State Extension PDF

Learning Differences – online 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.

All Kinds of Minds

Their Learning Library provides insights into the learning challenges that students face. It takes a close look at what's involved with school tasks and common obstacles that students may encounter. They offer hints and suggested activities to help students minimize or overcome their differences in learning.Organized by topic, such as "Thinking with numbers" and "Getting thoughts on paper"

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.

An independent preschool through 12th grade day school in Portland, Oregon
8825 SW Barnes Road,
Portland, Oregon 97225 |
503-297-1894 |

Explore why Catlin Gabel is a national leader in progressive education.

We welcome more than 100 new families annually to our inclusive community from the Portland area and beyond.


A demanding and engaging program in which each student is the unit of consideration

Playing sports involves life lessons in determination, grace, and resilience. We invite everyone to be part of a team.

Extensive support ensures our students are successful.

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