Learning Specialist Program

committed to the academic success of every student

Community School offers a rich and challenging pre-kindergarten through twelfth grade curriculum and is committed to the academic success of every student enrolled at the school.

Our students bring a range of learning styles and capabilities, and our history demonstrates that every Community School student is capable of academic success here and in college.

We recognize that the achievement of some students may be affected by a learning difference or a gap in a specific academic skill. Teachers work hard to understand the unique needs of every student and apply strategies to ensure the success of each student.

In cases where a student's needs extend beyond classroom strategies, teachers partner with learning specialists and parents to determine the best course of action. An action plan may include one-on-one time with a learning specialist, guided study halls, collaboration with classroom teachers, communication with specialists outside of school when applicable, and tutoring after school.

If a student plan includes entering the Learning Specialist Program, the Director of Learning Support Services will guide families through the structure and cost of the program.

Meet the Learning Specialists

Lauren Marziliano

Lauren Marziliano joined Community School in 2016 and currently serves as an Upper School Learning Specialist, provides support to the Middle School Learning Specialist Program, and is a member of the Diversity Council.

Prior to joining Community School, Lauren was a teacher and program coordinator for the Waskowitz Environmental Leadership & Service Program in Seattle, Washington.

Lauren holds a BS in biology from Berry College, a MEd in natural sciences and science education from Western Washington University, and a teaching certificate from Pacific Lutheran University.

Lauren was drawn to Community School by "the significant role of the Outdoor Program, the small class sizes, and the opportunity to use my years of teaching experience to work with students who have learning differences."

In her work with students and faculty at the school, Lauren says, she is "always in awe of the passion and commitment of the faculty and staff," and she "loves the sense of humor and adventure that is encouraged in the student body."

Beyond her teaching work, Lauren is a Rites of Passage guide and facilitates culturally relevant initiations into adulthood for youth, as well as Adult Vision Fasts.

Jill Perkins

Jill Perkins joined Community School in 1989 and currently serves as Learning Specialist Department Director.

Jill holds a BS in education from the University of Wisconsin, Eau Claire.

Prior to her current position at Community School, Jill taught in schools in Wisconsin for five years.

At Community School, Jill finds inspiration in the students and in her colleagues. "The students inspire me every day with their perseverance through a challenging curriculum, their spontaneity, and their joy," she says, "and my colleagues inspire me to seek continued growth as an educator—and make me laugh when a laugh is needed."

For Jill, time away from school is dedicated to her family. "My biggest passion is to love life with my husband, Don, and my daughter, Hope. They are my world beyond school, and time with them means everything to me," she says. She also enjoys listening to audio books, hiking local trails with her husband and her shelter dog, Cosmos, and spending time in her garden.

Jill and Don's daughter, Hope, is a 2016 graduate of Community School.

Sarah Thompson

Sarah Thompson joined Community School in the winter of 2017 and serves as a learning specialist in the Elementary School.

Prior to joining Community School, Sarah worked as a reading interventionist for the Carroll School in Waltham, Massachusetts. Before that, she taught fifth grade at Ross Elementary School in Ross, California and established her own private tutoring business for students in grades two through eight, including a summer writing camp.

Sarah holds a BA, summa cum laude, in elementary education and Spanish from Boston College Lynch School of Education and an EdM in language and literacy from Harvard’s Graduate School of Education. She is also an Orton-Gillingham associate. 

Of her work as a learning specialist, Sarah says, "I love being able to work with students one-on-one. It provides an amazing opportunity to connect on a more personal level and to help students develop a greater awareness of their learning strengths. Professionally, I appreciate being in a field that is constantly innovating; the brain research in this field is exploding and finding ways to put that research into practice with children is fascinating."

Sarah and her husband, Aaron, have three sons, two of whom attend Community School: Avery (K), James (age 2), and Brooks (age 1).

Heather Town

Heather Town transitioned to Elementary School Learning Specialist in the fall of 2018. She also serves as the school's Greenhouse Coordinator.

Heather has been a member of the Elementary School faculty since 2004, most recently serving as a classroom assistant. Prior, she also served as a substitute teacher for long-term absences.

As a certified Phono-Graphix instructor, Heather was instrumental in the implementation of the school’s phonics program four years ago. Her skill set, calm demeanor, magnetism, and creative approach to learning have proven invaluable to her students in the classroom and will transition to her role as a learning specialist. Her work has spanned grades Kindergarten through fifth.

Heather earned her B.A. in Interdisciplinary Studies from Western Governors University and is currently working toward her degree in Special Education.