A Rich Mixture of All Kinds of Minds

At TDS, the faculty recognizes and appreciates that students learn differently and are at a variety of readiness levels.

Student Success Team

Our TDS Student Success Team is made up of our Learning Specialist, Literacy Specialist, Math Specialist, and School Counselor. This team of professionals works closely with one another to serve our students and teachers by supporting learning needs both inside and outside the classroom. Through pulling small groups, consulting with teachers, meeting with students individually, and more, this team works to ensure that all students have the opportunity to fulfill their academic potential.

Liddy Stewart
Liddy StewartLearning Specialist
Our TDS Learning Specialist collaborates with teachers and families to help students excel academically, providing or facilitating the necessary services to help our students thrive. Students with educational testing on file will receive a Student Learning Plan, which is written and regularly updated by our Learning Specialist to reflect testing results and recommendations for learning.
Jenn Phillips
Jenn PhillipsLiteracy Specialist
Working predominantly in the Lower School, our Literacy Specialist supports students and teachers in the areas of reading, writing, and word study. Working with students in kindergarten through fifth grade, they provide extra instruction and support for students in small group and one-on-one settings. The Literacy Specialist also helps oversee our literacy curricula to ensure that students and teachers have what they need to build a strong literacy foundation in all of our students.
Demetrice Via
Demetrice ViaMath Specialist
This position was designed to provide support across the wide range of mathematical needs, from remedial instruction to a need for an enriched and more challenging experience. Our math specialist pushes into classrooms and pulls small groups of students to provide the necessary support in order to keep students proficient, confident, and engaged in their mathematical thinking.
Casey Villarreal
Casey VillarrealCounselor
Knowing that academic struggles may overlap with emotional needs, our counselor works closely with this team to provide our students with further tools or resources they may need in order to achieve academic and emotional success at school.

Lower School Classroom Differentiation

Most of our Lower School instruction is taught with the workshop model in mind. This means there is about 10-15 minutes of explicit teaching time, and the rest of the blocked time is spent with students actively collaborating and working (individually or in small groups). During this student work time, the teachers meet with students to tailor and bolster the instruction as needed. This allows for regular differentiation to be woven into almost everything we do. Some specific examples include:

  • Spelling and Vocabulary

    Our Word Study program is tailored to meet students exactly where they are in their spelling journey and grows with them across grade levels. Students master phonetic patterns in small groups and work with the same format and program across grades K-5. After they master the phonetic skills, students may move to a more specific vocabulary focus, studying roots and origins to help them decipher unknown meanings.

  • Writing

    Our Writing Workshop model allows students to master writing skills at their own pace and is carefully designed to allow for fluid growth in writing. Expectations and goals are set for the students on an individual basis, and while all students are expected to craft multiple drafts of writing throughout the year, our teachers work to ensure that the students have the support they need to reach their personal goals and potential.

  • Reading

    In K-2, the students read in carefully crafted guided reading groups to allow them to work with classmates at their reading level. As the students enter 3rd-5th grades, our Reading Workshop model allows for tailored individualized instruction through teacher conferences, paired reading, and book clubs.

  • Math

    Our teachers provide enrichment opportunities for students seeking more challenging work, as well as remedial instruction for those who may struggle with new content. Students may receive modified assignments based on their needs and mastery of specific content.

Middle School Classroom Differentiation

In middle school, each subject area has a different teacher and a unique approach to differentiation. Some specific ways that differentiation may occur in each subject area include:

  • Writing

    Expectations for writing assignments may be different, depending on the level from which the student has started. Additionally, there is a focus on growth in the writing curriculum, with students being given the opportunity to receive feedback and make revisions on their writing assignments.

  • Vocabulary

    5th-8th grade students use Membean, an individualized vocabulary program that generates unique word lists and assessments for each student.

  • Reading

    Independent reading books for individual students and works of literature between reading groups are different, depending on the readiness level of the student.

  • Science

    In middle school science, students are frequently given choice projects, where they are able to choose how they are assessed on their knowledge of a given topic.

  • Math

    The middle school math curriculum features two different pathways: one group begins middle school with Sixth Grade Math (leading to Pre-Algebra in 7th and Algebra in 8th) during their sixth-grade year, while the other begins middle school with Pre-Algebra (leading to Algebra in 7th and Geometry in 8th). Additionally, these pathways are flexible based on the needs of our students, and we have created alternate pathways for groups of students as needed.

  • Social Studies

    Social Studies projects and assignments are frequently differentiated, with different texts and a variety of options for how students can show their learning.

  • Additional Support

    Middle school students who need additional support are given the option to take a Resource period in place of a foreign language class