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.

Beli Acharya

loralewis 160X160Beli was born in Bhutan, a small country located in the Himalayas but was raised in New York City.  She went to an International school for her primary and secondary education where she learned how to speak Spanish and enrolled in the International Baccalaureate program.  Beli attended The George Washington University in Washington, DC and studied finance and business administration.  She loves analyzing data and found that her background would serve as a great asset as a Math Teacher.  She has taught middle and high school math for the past 6 years.  She has a Masters in Mathematics Education and Mathematics Special Education and has taught students with learning and socio-emotional disabilities.  Beli has a deep understanding of the common core and helped build the algebra I and geometry curriculum while teaching in Washington, DC.  She specializes in project-based learning and thrives to make math relevant and interactive for her students. When Beli is not supporting students, you can find her cooking up a wide range of dishes from around the world and in her garden; her new found passion!

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

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.

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. 

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.

Sharon Berber

Sharon Berber HeadshotSharon is a school psychologist who was born and raised along the North American east coast.  She received her Bachelors in Psychology at James Madison University and her Masters in School Psychology at George Mason University (both in Virginia).  As a school psychologist, Sharon works with both general education and special education students in ensuring their success academically, socially, and emotionally.  She believes in practicing with integrity and authenticity, and a little bit of fun, too!  Sharon is fluent in Turkish and conversational in Spanish, and plans to reach full tri-lingual status over the next few years.

Outside of working with students, Sharon enjoys cooking, reading, hiking, practicing yoga, and spending time with her family and dog!

pict groupofkids