Sarah Abercrombie, Director of Students Services
Sarah earned a B.A. in Child Psychology from the University of Massachusetts/Amherst, a M.S. Elementary Education from Duquesne University. She worked as a Social Worker for 10 years, a classroom teacher for 20 years. Sarah is currently a certified teacher by the FLDOE. She also holds certifications as a Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) coach and ADHD coach. Sarah has devoted the past 30 + years to helping children and families. When she sees a child, it is through the eyes of a mother of a child with complex learning needs, a classroom teacher, an educational consultant, and a counselor. She understands the frustration, the pressure, the exhaustion, and also the intense joy and sense of wonder that accompany parenting a child with complex, unique learning needs.
Olivia Haynes, Learning Specialist
Olivia holds a B.S. in Spanish and Education with a minor in psychology from Russell Sage College in Troy, N.Y. In addition, she has 60+ graduate credits. Olivia Haynes has been with The Thinking Center for twenty years. Before moving to Sarasota, she taught in Fairfax County Virginia Schools for thirty years. During her career she taught Spanish, preschool, first grade, fifth grade, sixth grade, and seventh/eighth grade math. Olivia’s strength is supporting struggling and reluctant learners feel loved and capable of learning. She helps them develop confidence in their ability to learn and succeed. Her specialties are in reading decoding, comprehension, paragraph and essay writing, and handwriting.
Valerie Butler, Learning Specialist
Valerie Butler has been a teacher and a learning specialist for over 30 years. She was a math and science teacher for the Gap School in Sarasota for 16 years and has been with The Thinking Center for over 20 years. Miss Valerie is one of our most versatile and well-trained teachers. She is trained in multiple programs including: PhonoGraphix, PACE, Master the Code, Read Naturally, Handwriting Without Tears, EyeQ Reading Program, and HANDLE, a program that supports neuro-developmental differences. Miss Valerie also provides strategies for students preparing for PSAT, SAT, ACT, FSA, and PERT assessments. Miss Valerie is an expert FLVS, (Florida Virtual School), teacher and provides services both virtually and in person at The Thinking Center of Sarasota. She uses many different methods and strategies to help her students improve their ability to learn and raise their confidence. Miss Valerie is a dedicated, passionate teacher whose strength lies in her ability to understand and reach every student.
Caleb Dean, Learning Specialist
“Bachelor of Science Psychology – University of Central Florida
Bachelor of Arts Sociology University of Central Florida
Thinking Center Homeschool Director – 5 years
Caleb works with students who need assistance in English, Creative Writing, History, and much more. Caleb can help with SAT/ACT, FLVS, and any unique homeschooling situation. He also loves helping students submit college applications and prepare for their first big step into independence. Outside of his work with The Thinking Center, Caleb has been involved in the sale of antiquarian books for the last 15 years.”
Also, Amy asked for an updated headshot of me last year to add to the website. I emailed it to her, but I don’t think it ever got put on the website. I have attached them here in case you would like to use them.
Steve Howard, Learning Specialist
Hi. I’m Steve Howard. My students call me Mr. Steve. My specialty is teaching mathematics at all levels, though I spent most of my career teaching high school. I taught at a private school in Washington, DC; the Indianapolis Public Schools; the Paterson, New Jersey Public Schools; the Rialto, California Unified School District; and in the Red Clay School District of Wilmington, Delaware (for 23 years). My total teaching experience spans 33 years. I’ve also taught instrumental music, but mathematics has been my specialty in education.
I have a bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in music education from American University and Indiana University (Bloomington, IN). I went to night school for 5 years for mathematics education at Prince Georges Community College (MD), Bowie State College (MD), William Paterson College (NJ), California State University (San Bernardino), and the University of Delaware (Newark).
I am comfortable with elementary through early college mathematics. I’ve taught every level of mathematics imaginable at the high school level. I have taught subject matter, such as basic math skills, algebra, geometry, precalculus, and calculus out of different texts, so I am familiar with a variety of approaches to mathematics content. I am sure that I can follow any method that a teacher presents to his/her students, so that I can effectively tutor my students. I am confident that, if I can understand something, that I have the ability to find a way to impart the necessary knowledge to my students. I’ve been on statewide mathematics standards committees and have been involved with preparing students for numerous types of standardized tests (i.e., SAT, ACT, GRE, FSA).
The Thinking Center is a wonderful place to learn and to grow. I have never worked at a place that has been more enriching for my students and for me.
Rose Connor, Office Manager
Rose raised two boys and a girl. Both of her boys were diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder, (ADHD), when they were 6 and 9 years old. She worked in the medical industry for 30 years before realizing she wanted to focus on working with children and families. What she enjoys most about her job is alleviating stress in families’ lives and interacting with the children. Since Rose is from New England, and her children and grandchildren live up there, the students she sees every day bring her lots of joy. Because she always knew that her children would find a way to be successful despite their learning issues, Rose firmly believes that every child can learn. She loves watching our students realize how smart they really are and how their confidence soars after just a short time at The Thinking Center of Sarasota. Rose has been our office manager for over a year and a half.
Debra Dziadik, Learning Specialist
Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science, University of New Haven.
Master of Business Administration with a Concentration in Human Resource Management, University of New Haven.
Licensed Florida Educator, Certified in ESE K-12, Prekindergarten/Primary PK-3, Reading Endorsement, and ESOL Endorsement.
Debra has devoted the past 16 years to enthusiastically engaging students in fascinating lessons that address each child’s unique learning style. She imparts a passion for learning while providing each student with an educational environment that is both encouraging and positive. Debra goes the extra mile for all children and works hard to foster each student’s individual talents. Her goal is to give all of her students the confidence they need to embrace their dreams and reach their fullest potential.
Rebecca Murdock, Learning Specialist
BSEd Early Childhood Education, Ohio University
Becky is a certified Florida Department of Education Teacher in PreKindergarten/Primary Education (age 3-grade 3) with specialized endorsements in teaching both Reading and English Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL). She was a classroom teacher in Manatee County for 12 years until deciding to stay home with her two young boys, ages 5 and 1. She approaches each session with the mindset and knowledge of a classroom teacher, the compassion of a mom, and the appreciation that, at The Thinking Center, we can focus 100% on where each student is and build from there.
Dr. Noelle Delacruz, Licensed School Psychologist (Psy.D., M.A., NCSP, CATP)
Dr. DeLaCruz is a Licensed and Nationally Certified School Psychologist and Certified Child & Adolescent Trauma Professional. She earned her Master’s degree in School Psychology from the State University of New York, University at Buffalo in 2007 and her Doctor of Psychology degree from Fairleigh Dickinson University in Teaneck, NJ in 2016. She graduated with honors from both programs. Dr. DeLaCruz worked in New York State public and private schools for 8 years. She was also an Associate Instructor for the Crisis Prevention Institute. In 2015, Dr. DeLaCruz relocated to Florida where she continues to work in a public school district servicing multiple school sites. She is also a crisis team leader for one of the district’s crisis teams.
Dr. DeLaCruz has extensive experience working with children of various exceptionalities. Her training has included clinical work with children diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Conduct Disorder, Oppositional Defiant Disorder and Anxiety Disorders as well as intervention programming and research with children on the Autism Spectrum. These experiences provided in-depth knowledge in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT), direct social skills training, and research methods. Through participation in two practicums, two years of internship, and over a decade of work experience, Dr. DeLaCruz has also developed proficiency with an array of assessment tools that allow her to thoroughly evaluate a range of psychological disorders.
Please visit Dr. Delacruz’s website for additional information regarding her background and services she can provide: https://childpsychsolutions.com/
Michele Messina, Licensed School Psychologist
Michele has fifteen years of experience in education, working in a variety of settings, including: public schools, alternative education and residential. Within this capacity, she has worked as a school psychologist, education team leader and supervisor of student services. She has experience working with students of all ages who have academic, social/emotional and behavioral difficulties. Prior to entering the field of education, Michele worked in the field of substance abuse treatment and family and youth mediation.
Earning an undergraduate degree in Social Work from Our Lady of Elms College, Michele continued her education and received a Masters of Arts and Certificate of Advanced Graduate Studies in Educational Psychology from American International College. She is licensed by the Florida Board of Health in School Psychology and Certified as a School Psychologist by the Florida Department of Education. Michele is a member of the National Association of School Psychologists and the Florida Association of School Psychologists.
Michele is skilled in administering psycho-educational assessments of intelligence, academic achievement, cognitive processing, social development, emotional regulation, adaptive functioning, school readiness, executive functioning, and attention/concentration. She provides a range of counseling services to address the needs of students and their families and is a Certified Child & Adolescent Anxiety Treatment Professional (CCATP-CA). Michele is trained in the dynamic approach to the treatment of anxiety developed by Lynn Lyons, LICSW, Internationally Recognized Anxiety Treatment Expert. This approach focuses on teaching children how to access internal and external resources that will boost their confidence and foster adaptive thinking. An integral aspect of this approach is working with parents and guardians on how to support positive results in their child. Michele also provides counseling supports to parents, guardians and couples to meet the demands of parenting a child with with special needs.
Please visit Michele’s website for additional information regarding her background and services she can provide: https://psychedservicesofswfl.business.site/?utm_source=gmb&utm_medium=referra