Speaker/Attendee Biographies S-Z

Bios as submitted by attendees. Please send any changes to Bridges 2e Center: admin@2esymposium.com 🙂

Carl Sabatino has served as the Head of School at Bridges Academy since 2005. Carl was Head of the Upper School and Director of College Guidance at Lawrence Woodmere Academy in Woodmere, N.Y., on Long Island from 1994- 2005. Prior to LWA Carl served in a number of teacher and administrative roles in Honolulu, San Francisco and Los Angeles, that included most importantly work with adjudicated students, students as risk, adult learners, and Vietnamese refugee ESL students.

Niki Saccareccia, ERYT, is a yoga therapist and mindfulness expert who has developed a curriculum for sustainable behavioral change borrowing from her work as a Behavioral Therapist in special-education and at-risk youth organizations. Her work has been studied at Van Nuys Medical Magnet High School and brought to USC’s Novus Think Tank for Social Change, and Loyola Marymount’s Masters of Yoga Studies programs. Her mission is to bridge the gap between our good intentions and the lifestyle change required to make sustainable change happen. She does this with accessible, empirically supported protocols that can be used alongside current curriculums for students and their caregivers.

Lorena Salazar
So pleased to be in the Bridges Graduate School Doctoral Program. I am returning to the field of education following a three year creative break, and ten year break from academia.

Over the past three years, I have had the joy of pursuing my avocations; Building out a Film Festival, Producing for Public Radio, Writing and Seeking Grants to support Arts & Culture Programming.

I hold a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and a Master’s Degree in Mild to Moderate Disabilities. Also, 60 graduate doctoral program units, in Learning & Instruction. I have taught in all aspects of the Special Education Classroom, before moving into Program Administration, Educational Research, and University Adjunct teaching.

Myra Salinas is the Director of Student Support Services of Larchmont Charter School. Originally from the Philippines, Myra immigrated to Los Angeles when she was eleven. She is fluent in Tagalog and can converse in Spanish. Myra received her BA and MA in Education from the University of Southern California. As an educator, she served as Director of School and Program Compliance for Camino Nuevo Charter Academy from 2003 through 2007. From 2002-2003 she served as co-Principal for the Camino Nuevo Charter Academy – Harvard site. Before that Myra worked in LAUSD at the Foshay Learning Center as a middle school teacher, testing coordinator, and reading coordinator. She helped develop and implement a 6th Grade Reading Program at Foshay, which boosted 6th Grade Reading scores. Myra also serves as the Board Chair for Alma Fuerte Public Schools, a public charter school in Altadena, CA.

Robin Schader holds a doctorate in Educational Psychology with a focus on talent development and the role of parents. She was the National Association for Gifted Education (NAGC) Parent Resource Specialist for 10 years. Prior to graduate school, she was founder and director of Music House, a non-profit “home away from home” for highly gifted pre-college music students at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. She has served on the boards of several public and private institutions, including the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, the Neag School of Education Advisory Board, the Berkshire Hills Music Academy, and Apple Computer’s National Dealer Advisory Board. She currently serves on the Bridges Academy Board of Trustees, as well as Bridges 2e Center for Research and Professional Development.

Laura Serper has vast experience conducting children’s choirs as a community-builder through music programing. Ms. Kakis Serper received her degrees from the University of the Pacific Conservatory of Music as well as attended Westminster Choir College, and Aspen Music Institute. She has performed for many years as a soprano soloist and in operas and musical theatre. Her Greek heritage inspired the name of the Kairos and its choruses and her folksong choral arrangements have been sung by choirs world-wide, including at Carnegie Hall. She is also the Director of Choral Music at The Crowden School. Her choirs performed with the San Francisco Symphony for three seasons, most recently Orff’s Carmina Burana. Ms. Kakis Serper was recognized at the California State Senate for over twenty years of excellent musical community service through Kairos Choir programs. She is dedicated to helping children find their voice for life through the art of singing.

Carmen Sevilla is in her seventh year as the Middle School Director at Bridges Academy.  She previously taught mathematics and reading in a school enrichment center environment as well as athletics, varsity sports, and media technology for over 15 years in independent schools before moving from the classroom to administration. Being a teacher and administrator at Bridges has given Carmen the perspective of the 2e child and the 2e family from the admissions process to graduation to life after Bridges. Carmen has many areas of interest including the socio-emotional development of children through curriculum integration and a specialty in technology and instruction. 

David Shore
Originally from Canada, and a former lawyer, David Shore has been writing and producing television for more than 20 years. He currently serves as Executive Producer and Showrunner on the hit ABC drama “The Good Doctor.” Prior to that, he created the groundbreaking medical drama, “House,” which ran on Fox for eight seasons. Shore’s work on “House” earned him several Emmy nominations for Producing and he won the Emmy Award for “Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series,” as well as the Humanities Prize and the Writers Guild of America Award.

Shore’s additional producer credits include “Sneaky Pete,” “Battle Creek,” “Hack,” “Family Law,” “Beggars and Choosers,” “Law & Order” and was part of the writing team for the Emmy Award-winning first season of “The Practice,” most recently, Shore received a second Humanitas Prize for the pilot episode of “The Good Doctor.”

Ann Smith
Ann founded Gifted Support Center in 2011 as a direct response to the lack of services and support available for gifted learners and their families in the San Francisco Bay Area. Ann spearheaded the creation of Leave Your Sleep for Education, an interdisciplinary language arts curriculum that uses poetry and music as stimuli to learning across disciplines for PreK through 8th grade students. She serves as past-president for the California Association for the Gifted, on the advisory board for the Belin-Blank Center for Gifted Education and Talent Development, and on a public policy committee for the Institute for Educational Advancement. Ann is passionate about finding solutions to support diverse gifted learners. She currently works in her local community, at the state level, and at national levels of advocacy to support gifted learners and their families.

Melissa Sornik, LCSW
Melissa Sornik is a New York-based psychotherapist and consultant. Her clinical practice and programs focus on the social, emotional and academic needs of twice-exceptional children and adolescents, providing support to individuals, families, and schools. Melissa is also the co-founder and president of Twice Exceptional Children’s Advocacy (TECA) and has been working with 2e children and their families since 2003 with the goal of promoting and expanding awareness, community and consistent use of best practices for 2e identification and support. Melissa has authored several articles on the subject of 2e and is a consultant for school districts, private schools and clinical practices throughout the New York Tri-state area. She is an adjunct professor at Molloy College on Long Island where she teaches undergraduate social work students a systems approach to working with children with special needs and their families. Melissa has raised her own twice-exceptional son.

Kim Southerland
Kim Southerland, M.A. is an educational therapist with over 20 years experience. In 1996, she received her Master’s Degree with Distinction in Educational Psychology.  Since then, Kim has worked in schools, learning centers, hospital settings, and private practice. Grounded in a traditional background of scientific research and evidence-based programs, Kim has devoted her career to developing an integrative approach that helps children to reach their full potential, live authentically, and embrace life-long learning. As a mother of a two, 2e children herself, Kim has sought out a multitude of integrative therapies over the past ten years, including certifications in sound healing, creative expression and trauma-based writing programs.  She specializes in a wide-range of different learning abilities, with a special focus on highly sensitive and twice-exceptional children.

Debbie Steinberg Kuntz is a licensed marriage and family therapist and founder of Bright & Quirky. Her mission is to help ease the struggle for 2e kids and to help them thrive.

Jamie Teigen
Jamie is the Assistant Director at Arete Academy. As a member of the school’s leadership team, she is leading the school’s accreditation efforts, professional development program, and works to support teachers and students to create the best environment for 2e learners. She believes in life-long learning and enjoys the challenges and rewards of trying new things. She is especially excited about Arete’s enrichment program and helping students find what brings them joy and success.

Jamie also works with students by using creative strategies to teach reading and writing. She uses an individualized approach to literacy intervention and caters strategy development to the unique needs of her students. Her goal is to help every student find something they enjoy reading and to build student confidence in the area of writing.

Nicole A. Tetreault, PhD is a neuroscientist, author, meditation teacher, and international speaker on topics of neurodiversity, neurodevelopment, creativity, mental health, and wellness. Dr. Tetreault received her PhD from California Institute of Technology in biology. She founded Awesome Neuroscience and is dedicated to translating the most promising neuroscience and positive psychology. Dr. Tetreault has authored and co-authored numerous academic papers on intelligence, autism, brain evolution, neuroinflammation, brain development, and behavior in journals including Annals in New York Academy of Sciences and Intelligence. As a Milton and Rosalind Chang Career Exploration Prize recipient from Caltech, Dr. Tetreault is creating Beyond the Cell, a transformative program to rehabilitate incarcerated women through teaching guided meditation, neuroscience, literature, and expressive writing. Her forthcoming book, Insight into a Bright Mind, explores groundbreaking research examining the experiences of unique and creative brains, while advocating for new directions of neurodiversity. For more about Nicole, please visit nicoletetreault.com.

Jeff Thomas, a US Navy veteran, former medical technician, novelist, and now an elementary school special education teacher, has been involved in 2-E education for seven years. He is most interested in instructional innovations that scaffold psychosocial development as the foundation for individual success.

Kim Vargas received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Southern California Rossier School of Education. She began her teaching career as a bilingual first grade teacher, before leaving to study under noted Gifted and Talented expert, Dr. Barbara Clark at California State University, Los Angeles, where she completed her Master’s Degree in Special Education for the Gifted and Talented. Kim taught in the South Pasadena Unified School District for 26 years. She recently attended Cal Poly University, Pomona to acquire a special education teaching credential for mild to moderate learning disabilities. In addition to her work in admissions and outreach at Bridges Academy, Kim is the site administrator for the 2e Center. She is also part of the first cohort at the Bridges Graduate School.

Chris Wiebe, PhD studied philosophy and literature before spending seven years in print journalism. He began teaching high school English in 2008, developing an interest in multimodal literacy and curriculum design. He received his doctorate in education in 2016 and has been the high school director at Bridges Academy for five years. His paper comparing technology policy and teacher belief was a finalist for an AERA “Best Paper” award in 2016 and he is a co-author of a book chapter about twice-exceptional education. 

David Wildkress, who is trained as a learning specialist, is currently working on the Bridges faculty as the assistant high school director. In this capacity, he heads the school’s Young Expert program, a highly personalized learning model, and provides academic support to students as well coaches faculty on intervention strategies. He also assists Chris Wiebe (high school director) with the day to day operations of the high school. His professional interests involve program design and the demystification of learning interferences to students, teachers, and parents.

Caitie Wilson
I am a current teacher at Bridges Academy while also a student in the Bridges Academy graduate program!

Dr. Karen Wilson is a Clinical Neuropsychologist, owner of a private practice in Los Angeles, California, and she is a Professor, Graduate Coordinator, and Chair of the Department of Psychology at California State University, Dominguez Hills. She is also a Voluntary Assistant Clinical Professor in the Medical Psychology Assessment Center at the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Behavior at UCLA.  

Dr. Wilson has given a number of presentations at national conferences, and she has published abstracts and articles in national journals.  She has received funding from both the National Institutes of Health and the Canadian Institutes of Health to conduct research.  

Dr. Wilson is also the founder of ChildNEXUS.com, a web application that provides information to parents who have children who struggle with neurodevelopmental or social-emotional issues.  It connects parents with professionals who can provide services to children and adolescents and connects professionals with each other for cross-disciplinary networking and sharing of ideas, information and referrals. 

Alisha Wilt
Hello, my name is Alisha Wilt and I live in Portland, Oregon where my husband and I are raising our three children. Our oldest child, our son Will, is a bright and quirky 2E kiddo. Mainstream schooling isn’t a great option for Will so I’m attempting homeschool and hope to keep up with him! I absolutely love my son’s deep curiosity and intense (always thinking) brain, he amazes me and makes me laugh out loud daily, I am also honest and open to discussions around how challenging it can be raising a 2E child. I’m always searching for ways to educate myself in order to better support Will, I have found Portland a difficult area to find resources and support and I’m hopeful this symposium will be a great resource.

Dr. Catherine Wormald lectures in gifted and special needs education at undergraduate and post-graduate level at the University of Wollongong. Catherine was the first in Australia to undertake research in the field of Twice Exceptionality. With Dr Michelle Bannister-Tyrrell from the University of New England she conducted the first Australian National Research project studying teachers’ understanding and knowledge of Twice Exceptional students. She has written a number of articles and book chapters as well as presenting regularly at state, national and international conferences. Catherine’s research focus is on students who are twice exceptional, students with special needs, gifted education and underachievement.

Jordan Yost is a Psychotherapist practicing out of Golden, CO in private practice (The Joyful Path). She specializes in providing therapeutic services to gifted children, their families, and school collaboration, offering play therapy, parent coaching and family support. Jordan obtained her graduate degree in Transpersonal Counseling Psychology from Naropa University. She studied under Lisa Dion, training in Synergetic Play Therapy. She offers mindfulness and awareness techniques to clients and families, while integrating neuroscience and attachment, all with a gifted lens to guide children and their families into a more balanced way of being.

Lisa Zaretsky is a NYS licensed social worker and teacher certified in elementary, special, and reading education. She specializes in the educational, social-emotional, mental health, and the overall well being of cognitively diverse populations with expertise in 2e, gifted, and special needs.

Lisa’s multidisciplinary background also informs her presentations at national conferences, panels, developing and teaching continuing education courses, webinars, and workshops. She is a doctoral student at the Bridges Graduate School in Cognitive Diversity, Lisa is a member of the 2e subcommittee of The Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates (COPAA). Her writing is featured in Auditory Processing Disorders: Assessment, Management, and Treatment (Geffner & Ross-Swain, 3rd Ed) After raising three 2e children and through her professional life, Lisa works to expand best practices within education and mental health.