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 her career, Anna earned a tenured position in the Palo Alto School District. She 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 her passion to reach students who might otherwise be left behind by traditional methods.

The path that led Anna to this field of teaching was very personal. About a decade ago, her son wasn’t catching on to reading. Five years had passed while she waited for traditional reading instruction to make sense to him. She was prepared for him be a “late reader” because his father faced reading challenges as a boy. Anna assumed that when he was ready, reading would click. At the age of ten, he still struggled with simple text, and she was worried. Anna took him to a reading specialist. The reading specialist told Anna that her son fit the profile of a classic dyslexic student; that he needed frequent, structured, Orton-Gilligham tutoring. Anna accompanied him to the tutoring sessions, and watched him finally experience tangible progress. Observing those sessions inspired Anna to change the focus of her teaching. She wanted to help students who struggled to unlock the mystery of reading. Twelve years have passed since she began private teaching for students who contend with dyslexia. What started with one student has blossomed into a small learning community of fifteen students. Anna love the work she does and considers 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 a Master’s Degree in Business and Multicultural Studies at the University of Passau, Germany, Eva moved to the US and worked in marketing for seven years before becoming a stay-at-home mom to 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, Eva discovered my passion for teaching, and decided to go back to college (Western Governors University) to become an elementary school teacher.

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

Heather Descollonges
Heather DescollongesTeacher
 Heather has a long-held passion for education. She gained her first teaching experience when she took a gap year and worked as a preschool teacher. She continued teaching while working towards her undergraduate degree, working as a substitute elementary school teacher, including a full time position for four months in a third grade classroom. Upon graduation Heather worked in the editorial photography and media departments at National Geographic and then Discovery Channel. She kept a hand in teaching, maintaining a private violin studio, and ultimately returned to school to pursue graduate work in education.

Heather has experience working with students of all ages. She has been the lead teacher in a Pre-K/K classroom at a Waldorf inspired school; she has taught literature to middle schoolers; she has been the teaching assistant for numerous courses for graduate students; and she has developed and taught parent education classes for Challenge Success. Heather has also served as co-executive director of the Common Ground Speaker Series and co-chair of Nueva School’s Innovative Learning Conference.

Heather believes she has gleaned her greatest insights from being a mom to her own two kids, as she has learned about their learning differences and navigated their school journeys. She is fascinated by individuals’ unique learning profiles, and she relishes the opportunity to work with the students at Touchstone.
  • B.A., Studio Arts and Art History, Wesleyan University
  • M. Ed., Arts Education, Harvard University
  • Ph.D., Education, Stanford University

Abby Kirigin
Abby KiriginAdministrative and Advancement Director

Abby’s bright and quirky twice exceptional son is in 5th grade at Touchstone. A lifelong learner and passionate advocate for parent education in her community, Abby has set out to understand all there is to know about how to parent and educate a 2e child. That journey has led her to the Bridges Graduate school where she is currently a Doctoral student of Cognitive Diversity in Education.

Before pivoting to education, Abby was an interaction designer with many years of experience both working at and founding technology startups. Abby received her Master’s degree in Human Computer Interaction from Carnegie Mellon and an undergraduate degree from NYU in Computer Science & Philosophy. Abby also serves on the Woodland School Board of Trustees. Abby is thrilled to be part of the Touchstone team!