Beth Samuelson, Director

Beth Samuelson HeadshotBeth Samuelson’s work in educating and supporting teens, young adults, and parents spans more than 25 years, including the development of the unique SOS4Students model of one-to-one student coaching as well as workshops, advocacy, teacher training, parent workshops, and on-site school programs.

As the founder and director of SOS4Students, she is a frequent and sought after presenter at conferences, schools and educational institutes, former co-host of the radio show "Your Teen Matters," and columnist for Bay Area Parents of Teens magazine. Teens with ADD, learning disabilities, and executive functioning challenges are amongst those who have found academic success utilizing Beth's techniques.

Working with Beth and SOS4Students students and their parents develop customized strategies that help students stay engaged and focused in the process of learning. They become motivated, taking on their studies with confidence and independence. They learn to plan, prioritize and multi-task. Schoolwork that once seemed so overwhelming becomes manageable. Grades improve, frustration fades, and stresses at home and at school disappear.

Angela Tomada

Angela 320x320Angela is a Bay Area native, born in Walnut Creek, and graduated from College Park High School in Pleasant Hill. Angela lived outside the Bay Area for only 4 years, to attend UCSB and earn a B.S. in Physiology. Angela found her later years of high school, and all 4 years of college, exceedingly difficult. She realized during her freshman year at UCSB that some of her peers seemed to have knowledge of study and writing methods she had not been exposed to in her K-12 education. Angela made it her mission to seek help from these students in order to hone in on study skills that would work well for her to get her through her B.S. program. Angela returned to the Bay Area after college with an intention to complete a medical degree, but while working in a physical therapy clinic before enrolling in grad school, she found that her true passion is to help people to learn and to self-advocate. Angela completed a single-subject teaching credential in Biology through Chapman University and taught high school science locally for 10 years. In her teaching experience, Angela found that most of her students who struggled with science were actually struggling with organization and the learning process itself. In addition to calling upon her own experiences as a struggling student, she began to research learning and brain development in order to find strategies to further help her students. She is very passionate about helping students find their "academic groove" earlier in their educational career than she did so that they will get more out of school and have a better time with it! A few years ago, Angela left the classroom to pursue coaching and motherhood.

When Angela is not "nerding out" on learning theory, brain development, and developing curriculum and support systems for her students; she enjoys boating, water-skiing, riding motorcycles, attending local sporting events, and playing with her little girl, Anna.

Cara Locke

Cara LockeCara was born and raised in the Midwest, and after teaching high school English in Chicago, Turkey and Scotland, settled in California. She is still discovering the treasures of the Bay Area and spends much of her free time attending events involving art, literature, politics, and history. She also loves the outdoors - hiking, camping, kayaking, and biking and feels privileged to have finally landed in a place where she can count on the weather.

After twelve years of teaching English, Cara returned to school is working on her masters in clinical psychology; she plans to be a school psychologist. While teaching, Cara gained an insight into the challenges of accommodating a classroom of students with various learning styles, learning challenges, and levels of physical and emotional development. Through experience and training in programs like AVID, a college prep and study skills elective class, and The Bay Area Writing Project; Cara has learned best practices that serve students individual needs.

Hailey Laws

Headshot of coach Hailey Laws Hailey has been with SOS4Students since 2014, serving students from early middle schoolers to college bound seniors. She earned her Master’s Degree in Education from SFSU in 2012, and has an Education Specialist: mild/moderate teaching credential. Hailey currently teaches full time as a reading teacher at Raskob Day School, serving middle school students with a variety of learning styles and needs. Before working at Raskob, Hailey worked as a Resource Specialist/IEP case manager and teacher for three years through Aspire Public Schools.

Being a family advocate for students with IEPs continues to be one of her favorite roles to play in this work. Hailey identifies as a professional development nerd, and enjoys attending workshops, and staying as fresh and relevant as possible in the field. She has received intensive training in the Slingerland method, learning research based strategies to teach students with language based learning challenges how to become strong and independent readers and writers. Hailey loves working one-to-one with her SOS kids, sharing strategies, celebrating their successes, tackling challenges, and building their confidence as scholars.

Jean Fagin

Headshot of Jean FaginJean was born and raised in Chicago, IL and just recently moved her family to Walnut Creek.  She is a career special educator who has recently moved into special education administration.  Jean is excited to stay connected to students as an academic coach for SOS.  Her 14 years as a special education teacher has provided her experience with students ranging in age from 3 years to 22 years of age.  Jean continually looks to expand her practice and considers herself a lifelong learner.  She is trained in Orton-Gillingham multi-sensory reading program and has implemented it both in the classroom as well as in tutoring sessions.  Jean strives to help each student become independent, self-advocates.  When not working in the field, Jean spends her time and energy as the proud mom of three youngsters.  She and her family love exploring all of the beauty that California has to offer.  

Jenny Budke

Jenny Budke headshot with tree trunkJenny is a Lamorinda native. A graduate of Miramonte High School, she graduated from UC Davis with a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Design and a minor in English. Jenny entered the single subject tract at Cal Poly to earn her teaching credential, completing it at Chapman University.

Jenny spent summers coaching swimming in Lafayette, and continued coaching with both USS clubs and adult masters' teams. This was the beginning of her passion for working with teens. She is a firm believer that consistent involvement in sports and activities during this busy period of the teen years prepares students for the workload demands in academics and life beyond.

Jenny has taught fine art for elementary and high school in Walnut Creek. She has also taught home economics for middle and high school in both Walnut Creek and San Jose. She created tutoring program for middle school students in math, and applies hands-on and visual learning as much as possible.

Currently, she works in San Francisco for a small boutique accounting firm during the week and continues her passion for working with students on the weekend. She has been with SOS4Students since 2007 coaching and teaching workshops as well as mentoring new coaches.

In her free time she enjoys cooking, skiing, exercising and spending time with her husband and three children.

Jessica Wynn-Grant

Jessica Clarke head shotJess was born in England, but identifies as a Bay Area native at heart. She has been with SOS4Students since 2014 and has coached elementary schoolers to college students across the Bay Area in all three of our office locations. She hires and trains new coaches, as well as, completes intake calls for families interested in services.

In 2014, she earned her Master’s Degree in Special Education and teaching credential from Loyola Marymount University and it wasn’t until she had this expertise that she was able to define her lifelong struggles with dyscalculia, a math-related learning disability. She uses her personal experiences to relate to her students and make her coaching fun, accessible and practical.

Jess spent four years as a Special Day Class teacher and Department Chair of a wide-range of special education programs at a public high school in Oakland, where she gained a deeper understanding of the intricacies of Special Education Law and skills to be a case manager and advocate. She is currently getting a Master’s Degree in Social Work, with a concentration in Community Mental Health, to be able to serve students’ social and emotional needs, as well as academic.

When Jess is not coaching or in the classroom, you can find her running Bay Area trails, teaching yoga or practicing her Spanish language skills!

Julie Thi Underhill

Julie Thi Underhill head shotJulie has been a West Coast transplant since arriving in Washington State in 1994 to pursue her B.A. in Liberal Arts at The Evergreen State College. In 2009 she graduated with her M.A. in Ethnic Studies from UC Berkeley. She then taught at UC Berkeley for six years, first as an assistant and later as a specialized Writing/Composition lecturer. In 2016 she began lecturing at the California College of the Arts in Writing & Literature, Critical Studies, and Diversity Studies. In 2017 she began lecturing at San Francisco State University in Asian American Studies. She’s skilled in curriculum development, classroom instruction, workshop facilitation, and one-on-one mentorship.

Julie has taught hundreds of students how to read carefully, think critically, and write persuasively while strengthening their executive functioning and college study skills. Julie’s dynamic teaching philosophy includes a holistic focus on each student. She prioritizes mutual trust and honesty, creating custom agreements for respectful communication and two-way opportunities for humor and improvisation. She accommodates differences of ability, personality, privilege, experience, confidence, and enthusiasm. 

As an artist, Julie primarily works in photography, film, essay, poetry, and performance. She belongs to two writing collectives and sits on the Advisory Board of the Diasporic Vietnamese Artists Network. She also loves films, books, music, hiking, camping, and creative collaboration. 

Rachel Kotok

Rachel HeadshotRachel Prizant Kotok has taught English language, literature, and literacy since 1997. She earned her M.A. in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages with K-12 ESL certification from the School for International Training and a B.A. in World Religion from Smith College. Rachel's teaching philosophy is based on interactive, learner-centered instruction. She believes people can actualize their aspirations through individualized learning that respects diverse life experiences, social-emotional needs, identities, and abilities.

Rachel has taught elementary and middle school and has worked with high school students in various summer programs including an international exchange program and a camp for teens with Down Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy, and Autism. Since Rachel moved to Oakland from the East Coast in 2006, she has taught academic English and composition at UC Berkeley, California State University East Bay, and at a two-year business college in San Francisco where she received the Teacher of the Year award. In 2017, she was a fellow at the Bay Area Writing Project summer institute at UC Berkeley.

Rachel has worked abroad in Chile, Perú, Guatemala, and México. In addition to coaching, she teaches English online to international learners and in UC Berkeley’s Summer English Language Studies program. Rachel writes short fiction, palindromic poetry, and is currently coauthoring a middle-grade novel.

Tessa Eckenfelder

Headshot of coach Tessa EckenfelderTessa is a Bay Area native who attended CSU Long Beach and received a BS in Biology with a concentration in Zoology and a minor in Chemistry. While at CSULB, she was able to take a summer abroad to work with the wildlife in Australia at the Cairns Tropical Zoo as well as perform research in the tropical rain forest of Costa Rica. After her amazing experience as an undergrad, she went to Sonoma State University and received her teaching credential in secondary education with a concentration in science.

Tessa has taught Biology, Chemistry and Zoology for the past 7 years and has been certified in specializing education in academic instruction in English for long term English learners. This helped her realize her calling to help struggling students and focus her teaching to reach those students who may otherwise fall through the cracks. Teaching has been a life-long passion of Tessa’s and she has been fortunate enough to work with students of all abilities and help them gain success in their education and build confidence in their ability to become high achieving adults. In her spare time, Tessa loves to travel and experience different cultures.

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