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 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 in 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 has been teaching 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 education than she did so that they will get more out of school and have a better time with it!

When Angela is not "nerding out" on learning theory, brain development, and developing curriculum and support systems for her students, she enjoys boating, waterskiing and riding motorcycles. Angela recently welcomed her first child into her family and is thoroughly enjoying motherhood!

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.

Elaine Pettler

elaine-160x160Elaine was born in Southern California and raised in Walnut Creek. She attended Las Lomas High School and went on to study statistics at California Polytechnic University, San Luis Obispo. It wasn’t long before she realized she preferred the sciences and ended up graduating with a B.S. in ecology and systematic biology and a minor in environmental studies. Elaine discovered through an elective course that she had a passion for teaching. Upon graduation from Cal Poly, she entered a credential program back in the Bay Area and completed her single subject credential two years later.

Elaine taught life science, earth science, health and biology for five years in Concord and Sacramento. Elaine’s favorite aspect of teaching is the positive relationships she forms with her students. Aside from teaching Elaine loves to be outdoors, entertain friends, cook or read a good book. She is also relatively new to motherhood and feels parenting has provided her with infinite opportunities to learn.

Hailey Laws

hailey-160x160Hailey grew up in Los Angeles, California, and has since happily relocated to the Bay Area. She has been working with youth continuously, teaching, tutoring, and mentoring, since she was about 15 years old. She received her BA from Oberlin College in African American studies in 2009, and in 2013 received her Master's in Education with an emphasis on Equity and Social Justice from SFSU. Hailey has spent most of her career teaching middle schoolers in Oakland and Richmond, translating their core work into using study strategies to guide students in addressing homework challenges. She developed and taught classes such as Fashion Design, Art, and Food Justice. She recently began work as a full time Classroom Aide at Aspire College Academy in East Oakland, supporting students with learning differences, and ensuring that teachers are equipped with the tools they need to be successful on behalf of their students.

Hailey's teaching style prioritizes building trust and making strong connections with her students, being socially accessible, being nerdy and proud, guiding through humor, and setting firm but loving boundaries.

She is honored to hold the role of student advocate, and to be able to push her students towards academic confidence, and ultimately, academic excellence.

Jenny Budke

Jenny Budke as studentJenny was born in Berkeley and 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.

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 adolescents, specifically working individually to set goals and fine tune techniques and training practices. Jenny is a firm believer that consistent involvement in sports and activities during this tumultuous period of the teen years prepares students for the victories of hard work in academics and life beyond.

Jenny has taught fine art for elementary and high schoolers in Walnut Creek. She has also taught home economics to middle and high schoolers 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.

Jenny is grateful for the ability to work two diverse fields: financial/accounting and education. She also is employed as an archivist and special projects aficionado of a small dynamic company, which appeals to her logical and interpersonal learning styles. SOS allows her to utilize her visual and kinesthetic skills. She believes that being in two distinctly different fields is a healthy balance and allows her to understand the kinds of organizational skills required of students once they graduate.

In her very limited spare time, she does indoor rowing and is looking forward to trying her luck with some racing soon. She enjoys playing with her young daughter, Elyse, and then spending a quiet evening with her husband!

Jessica Clarke

Jessica Clarke head shotJess was born in England and grew up in the beautiful Bay Area. In high school, she volunteered through Key Club, played soccer and held several tutoring jobs. Jess majored in Sociology and Anthropology at Lewis & Clark College in quirky Portland, Oregon. In college, Jess volunteered as an aide for a boy with learning disabilities and became passionate about social justice work in education.

Jess received her Masters in Special Education and her mild-moderate Multiple Subject credential from Loyola Marymount University, where she gained a deeper understanding of the intricacies of learning differences and the challenges and opportunities that arise with teaching! Jess is currently an English and History Special Day Class teacher and Department Chair in Oakland where she pushes her high school students with learning differences and emotional traumas to exceed their prior expectations of themselves.

When Jess is not in the classroom, she loves running and rollerblading Bay Area streets and trails, trying new yoga poses and cooking for family and friends.

Jonathan Twena

jonathan twena 160x160Jonathan attended UCSB, with studies abroad in Alaska, New Zealand, and India, and received his degree in Geography.  Jonathan began tutoring math in high school and has always enjoyed teaching and working with students.  As a substitute teacher, he worked at over 20 schools in the Bay Area, private and public, and saw the need for more individualized education.  Jonathan led an after-school math program at Oakland Tech and began his own tutoring business in the East Bay which was successfully built on referrals.  He then left the Bay Area to travel for a year, visiting Eastern Europe, Hawaii, and South America, as well as working as a multi-state wilderness trip leader. Upon returning to the Bay Area, Jonathan began working as a teacher/mentor at Fusion Academy in Walnut Creek. In his work as an educator, Jonathan has seen the importance of helping students strengthen their executive functioning skills and empowering them to take ownership of their education.  As a teacher and coach, Jonathan shares his love for growth and learning with his students.    In his free time, he enjoys writing music, dancing, and being outdoors.

Scott Pullman

ScottPullman 160x160Scott is a New York Native and recent transplant to the Bay Area. He likes that the weather and the basketball team are better, but not the bagels. He received a Bachelor’s Degree from Tufts University and a Masters in Teaching from Teachers College, Columbia University. His inspiration to teach came from leading an SAT preparatory class.

He spent ten years teaching at the Bronx School of Law and Finance, a college preparatory public school. With a background in humanities, he taught mostly humanities classes but also English. His most enjoyable class was study skills, where he helped students improve organization skills and executive functioning. He enjoys helping students come up with strategies to improve their ability to process knowledge and concepts. Before moving to Oakland, Scott was the assistant principal at his school. He enjoyed being able to take his students to a Supreme Court oral argument and a matinee of the musical Hamilton, with the original cast.

When not working, Scott enjoys exploring the Bay Area with his wife and two young children. Any tips on fun outdoor activities or amazing Mexican food would be highly appreciated.

Stephen Smith

Stephen Smith soccer photoStephen was born and raised in the suburbs that bridge the gap between the Rust Belt cities of Cleveland and Akron, Ohio. Realizing that Stephen had an abundance of energy all of the time, his parents enrolled him in a number of extracurricular activities. One such activity, soccer, was the impetus for his interest in teaching. He starting coaching at 15.

Stephen attended James Madison University in Harrisonburg, VA, where he spent the first two-and-a-half years majoring in Health Sciences with a concentration in Pre-Medicine. During his third year, he altered his academic focus to the discipline of Studio Art. After graduating, he moved to Shenzhen, China, where he taught English at the Shenzhen Institute of Information Technology while pursuing a career as a professional soccer player.

Thirteen months after moving to China, Stephen applied to Oakland Teaching Fellows to become a special education teacher. Since his acceptance to this program, he has earned his Multiple Subject and permanent Education Specialist teaching credentials. He is in the process of completing his Master's degree in Education. Stephen is in his fourth year of working as a resource specialist for Oakland Unified School District.

In his limited spare time, Stephen plays soccer, makes art, treks the Bay Area with his dog, or hangs out with his family.

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