Our caring and professional staff are passionate about teaching students with reading challenges. They are experienced in dyslexia screening, consultation, and remediation, as well as parents of children who are overcoming dyslexia.
Anna Cencioso, Founder and Director
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
Heather Descollonges, Teacher
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, Administrative Director
Abby is a Doctoral student at Bridges Graduate school 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. She also serves on the Woodland School Board of Trustees. Abby has two children at Touchstone, in 2nd and 5th grade.
Emily Lowe, Lead Teacher
Emily has been teaching at Touchstone Learning since 2017. Prior to that, she had 15 years of experience as a public middle school teacher and as a teacher with a K-8 online learning/homeschool program. She enjoys being part of the Touchstone community and finds it to be the perfect balance of individualized instruction and classroom environment. Emily especially enjoys working with upper ele