Staff

Our caring and professional staff are passionate about teaching students with reading challenges. They are California-licensed teachers, experienced in dyslexia screening, consultation, and remediation, as well as parents of children who are overcoming dyslexia.

Anna Cencioso
Anna CenciosoLead Teacher
Early in my career, I earned a tenured position in the Palo Alto School District. I was drawn to teach at a magnet school that mainstreamed students with learning challenges from all over Santa Clara County. It was a rewarding experience that fueled my passion to reach students who might otherwise be left behind by traditional methods.

The path that led me to this field of teaching was very personal. About a decade ago, my son wasn’t catching on to reading. Five years had passed, while I waited for traditional reading instruction to make sense to him. I was prepared for him be a “late reader” because his father faced reading challenges as a boy. I assumed that when he was ready, reading would click. At the age of ten, he still struggled with simple text, and I was worried. I took him to a reading specialist. She told me that he fit the profile of a classic dyslexic student; that he needed frequent, structured, Orton-Gilligham tutoring. I accompanied him to the tutoring sessions, and watched him finally experience tangible progress. Observing those sessions inspired me to change the focus of my teaching. I wanted to help students who struggled to unlock the mystery of reading. Eight years have passed since I began private teaching for students who contend with dyslexia. What started with one student, has blossomed into a small learning community of eight. I love the work I do and consider it a privilege to teach, guide and support an amazing group of independent thinkers.

  • CLAD* Certification: Stanford
  • California Teaching Credential, two-year graduate program: University of CA, Santa Cruz
  • Bachelor of Arts in Independent Studies (Language, Literature, History): University of CA, Santa Cruz

*Cross-cultural Language Acquisition and Academic Development Program

 

Emily Lowe
Emily LoweTeacher
Emily is a veteran teacher with 15 years of experience. She has worked with both elementary and middle school students, many of whom had learning differences. While working as a teacher for homeschooled children, Emily had the opportunity to work with another community of students with learning differences. She appreciated that homeschooling allowed them a more individualized approach to learning, under which many of them thrived.

Emily is thrilled to be working with the students at Touchstone Learning. “For me it is the perfect combination of a classroom environment and individualized instruction. The creativity, determination, and enthusiasm of our students amazes me every day.”

  • B.A. Anthropology, UCLA
  • M. Ed. San Francisco State University
  • California Teaching Credential, San Francisco State University
  • Trained in Making Math Real

 

Eva Weppner
Eva WeppnerTeacher

After completing my Master’s Degree in Business and Multicultural Studies at the University of Passau, Germany, I moved to the US and worked in marketing for seven years before becoming a stay-at-home mom for my three children, born in 2004, 2006, and 2009. All three children attended Orion Elementary School, which is a parent participation school. While assisting in the classroom in different capacities, I discovered my passion for teaching, and decided to go back to college (Western Governors University) to become an elementary school teacher.

During this time, I also worked as a substitute teacher and quickly realized how many students struggled with reading. In order to find ways to help them, I started reading about dyslexia, talking to parents with dyslexic children, and then began volunteering at Touchstone Learning. I am now a credentialed K-8 teacher and feel very fortunate to be teaching at Touchstone and to help create a supportive environment for students with reading challenges. The student-to-teacher ratio allows us to individualize instruction to meet the needs of all of our students.

Heather Descollonges
Heather DescollongesTeacher

 

While working to complete her undergraduate thesis in studio art, Heather worked as a substitute elementary school teacher, at one point doing so full time for four months in a third grade classroom in Blue Hill, Maine. Upon graduation, Heather worked in the photography/media departments at National Geographic and then Discovery Channel. She simultaneously taught violin lessons in a private studio before returning to school to earn a master’s degree in education from Harvard University. She then continued her graduate work at Stanford University, where she earned her PhD in education. Upon graduation, Heather worked for two years at a Waldorf inspired school as lead teacher in a classroom for Pre-K/K children.


Abby Kirigin
Abby KiriginAdministrative and Advancement Director

Abby has a son currently enrolled at Touchstone, and lives with her family and two rambunctious dogs in Redwood City. In addition to her work at Touchstone, Abby is the Logistics Coordinator for the Common Ground Speaker Series, a Peninsula-wide parent education consortium. She has served on and chaired the Woodland School Parent Association, and has been an active member of Woodland’s Advancement committee. She has previously co-founded a venture backed startup, and worked as an Interaction Designer for startups, large companies, and the government.

Abby is excited to begin work towards a Doctorate in Education in ‘Cognitive Diversity in Education’ at the Bridges Graduate school, a 2E school in Los Angeles, in summer 2020. She has a Master’s degree in Human Computer Interaction from CMU and an undergraduate degree from NYU in Computer Science & Philosophy. Abby is thrilled to be part of the Touchstone team!