Student Support Team

In support of Breck’s Mission and Values, the school is deeply committed to providing developmentally appropriate support for students’ academic growth, physical health, and social emotional wellbeing PK-12. Division-level and/or grade-level teams meet regularly to discuss student needs. Plans are developed to address identified needs in collaboration with families throughout the process.

If you have a question or concern about your Lower School Student, we ask you to contact their homeroom teacher as a first step. Classroom teachers have the most direct and consistent contact with your child. They will connect with other members of the teaching and support team to discuss your concerns and respond in a timely manner. rt.

If you have a question or concern about your Middle School Student, we ask you to contact their advisor as a first step. Advisors have direct and consistent contact with your child. They will connect with other members of the teaching and support team to discuss your concerns and respond in a timely manner. Please note that middle school students are encouraged to engage in increasingly independent self-advocacy in seeking support.

If you have a question or concern about your Upper School Student, we ask you to contact their grade level dean as a first step. 9th Grade - Dr. Susan Graham, 10th Grade - A.J. Colianni, 11th Grade - Stacy Tepp, 12th grade - Chris Ohm. They will connect with other members of the teaching and support team to discuss your concerns and respond in a timely manner. Please note that upper school students are expected to engage in independent self-advocacy throughout their 9th-12th grade years.

Explore the Get to Know the Student Support Team section to learn more about the Student Support Team (SST) in all three Divisions at Breck. If you are unsure where to begin, please reach out to Cathy Preissing, Student Support Team Department Chair by email: cathy.preissing@breckschool.org or by phone: 763-381-8111. 

Get to Know the Student Support Team

We realize that all students will access support at some point during their Breck journey. When a student needs physical, social-emotional, and/or academic support, our team (the SST) specializes in providing developmentally focused and holistic assistance.

All School

Cathy Preissing, Student Support Team Department Head

Cathy has undergraduate degrees in both Special Education and Elementary Education and a Master’s Degree in Teaching and Learning with an emphasis in how the brain learns. This educational foundation and her experience with children in a variety of settings have contributed to her keen interest in helping each student understand him/herself as a unique learner. Cathy has held a variety of roles at Breck, beginning as first grade teacher during the 1991-1992 school year, a Language Arts Resource Instructor, Lower School Learning Consultant, Lower School Dean, and now the Department Chair for the Student Support Team (SST) and Lower School Learning Coach. Working with a talented team of counselors, learning coaches, resource teachers, tutors, and our Licensed School Nurse inspires her continued desire to grow as a lifelong learner.

Beck Orpen, Licensed School Nurse, Breck Health and Wellness Center Coordinator

Becky is a Licensed School Nurse with more than ten years of nursing experience in a variety of fields including: school nursing, mental health, eating disorders, and public health.  She works closely with families, the medical community, and teachers to keep Breck students safe and healthy. As a nurse, she creates individual health protocols for students when there is a medical need such as food allergies, concussions, diabetes, etc. She also works closely with other medical agencies on disease surveillance and the prevention and management of communicable diseases. Throughout the year she provides ongoing training and consultation to staff and faculty. In addition to providing for medical needs, Becky is looking forward to broadening her role into “wellness” education by encouraging students to make healthy choices in all aspects of their lives from exercise and food, to being aware of ways they can prevent or reduce the severity of common illnesses such as colds and viruses. Becky’s personal life provides her with an insider’s perspective in relating to treatment of allergies, food sensitivities, and anaphylaxis.  She strives to live a balanced life and outside of work enjoys running, cooking and spending time with her family.  Becky can be reached by email:  becky.orpen@breckschool.org or by phone at 763-381-8241.  

Lower School

Lower School Academic Support:

Julia Kugland, Literacy Resource Instructor

Julia is one of two Literacy Resource Instructors at Breck. Working in each first grade classroom, she is part of a team of three teachers who provides tailored small group instruction during their guided reading, word work, and writing times. Julia offers individual and small group literacy support to second grade students in the classroom and/or in her resource room. Julia also works with classroom teachers to assess students’ skills and develop plans that address the strengths and needs of first and second graders. Her passion for reading and writing was honed through 16 years as a primary classroom teacher and ten years as a literacy instructor. She can be reached by email: julia.kugland@breckschool.org or by phone 763-381-8226.

Maura Roby, Literacy Resource Instructor

Maura works with individuals or small groups of students in grades 1 or 2 who demonstrate a need for differentiated instruction beyond the classroom curriculum in the areas of reading, writing, or spelling. She also can be found co-teaching with first grade teachers during the guided reading portion of the grade 1 literacy block. Assessing students and consulting with classroom teachers is another of Maura’s roles, as is collaborating with the faculty in the evaluation and development of our language arts curriculum. With a degree in Special Education and Elementary Education licensure, Maura is passionate about finding the right combination of tools to open the doors to literacy for all of our youngest learners. Maura can be reached by email: maura.roby@breckschool.org or by phone 763-381-8420.

Kris Simonson ‘82, Math Resource Instructor, STEAM Co-instructor

Kris works with classroom teachers to develop differentiated lessons within  the Math in Focus curriculum to meet the math needs of a wide range of students in the classroom. She also works as a grade level math instructor for students who require an accelerated program. In addition to math, Kris assists with development and integration of the STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and math) curriculum in the Lower School.  With a degree in geology and a background in teaching math and science at various levels. she is committed and enthusiastic about helping students become mathematical problem solvers in life.  Kris can be reached by email:  kristine.simonson@breckschool.org or by phone 763-381-8160.

Cathy Preissing, Lower School Learning Coach

Cathy’s role as a Learning Coach is to work with teachers as they incorporate research-informed practices into classroom instruction. Additionally, she helps Lower School students, teachers, and families gain insight into using strengths when developing tools and strategies to support areas of challenge. Her position on the LS guidance team, consultation and collaboration with key adults in the child’s life, and student observations are instrumental in the process. She creates and maintains accommodation plans for students with diagnosed learning differences, coordinates tutoring for LS students, and serves as a Hopkins Public Schools liaison for services accessed through their speech and special education departments. Cathy can be reached by email: cathy.preissing@breckschool.org or by phone 763-381-8111.

Lower School Social-Emotional Support:

Lisa Heurung, Lower School Counselor

Lisa supports students, faculty and parents through her work as Breck’s Lower School Counselor. All students will get to know Lisa during their journey through lower school as she teaches lessons in each classroom, preschool through fourth grade. These lessons focus on mindfulness, growth mindset, character development, friendship, and bullying. She also works with students both individually and in small groups as they learn to navigate the “bumps in the road” that naturally occur while growing up. Lisa collaborates with faculty to best meet the social/emotional needs of each child so that they can reach their greatest potential. Lisa works with parents through educational opportunities, individual consultations and by sharing outside resources/referrals when necessary. Lisa has enjoyed teaching and counseling since earning her bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education in 1991 and her Master’s Degree in Counseling in 1997. Lisa can be reached by email: lisa.heurung@breckschool.org or by phone 763-381-8377.

Middle and Upper School

Middle School and Upper School Academic Support:

Jay Rainville, 5th, 6th, & 7th Grade Learning Coach

Jay serves as the Learning Coach for students in 5th, 6th, & 7th grade. Jay teaches two courses - Study Skills for grades 5-7 and Language Arts for grades 7 and 8. As a Learning Coach, he helps students explore and discover strategies to help them flourish academically. Additionally, he provides classroom content support for his students. Jay works to share strategies and support with parents and faculty. Jay is a K-12 Reading Specialist, holds a Master’s Degree in Instruction, and is a 5-12 licensed social studies teacher. Jay has a passion for exploring issues of equity within education and has served as a guest speaker to graduate programs throughout the Twin Cities on issues of inclusion in the classroom. Jay can be reached by email: jay.rainville@breckschool.org or by phone 763-381-8191.

Jessica Wanless, 8th, & 9th Grade Learning Coach

Jessica serves eighth and ninth grade students, parents, and faculty in an effort to bridge the Middle and Upper School divisions. She strives to empower students to grow in their understanding of themselves as learners while providing scaffolded support in self-advocacy, learning strategies, and organization. Through daily or weekly meetings, Jessica provides classroom content support as well as assistance related to time management, and study skills. She holds a Masters of Arts in Teaching and has worked at Breck since 2013. Jessica can be reached by email: jessica.wanless@breckschool.org or by phone 763-381-8150.

Claire Blanchette, 10th, 11th, & 12th Grade Learning Coach

Claire is the Learning Coach for grades 10-12 in the Upper School. A Licensed School Psychologist with an Education Specialist degree, and a Master’s Degree in Counseling, she has been at Breck since 1997, and before that worked in the Minneapolis Public Schools and Abbott Northwestern Hospital. Claire’s work involves all aspects of academic support for students in grades 10-12. She believes that fostering self-discovery helps students reach their potential. Claire meets regularly with students, teachers, and parents and can be reached by email: claire.blanchette@breckschool.org or by phone 763-381-8165.

Middle and Upper School Social-Emotional Support

Katy Pearson, Middle School Counselor

Katy Pearson has been the Breck Middle School counselor since 2007.  She is certified in K-12 Special Education and holds Masters degrees in Educational Leadership and Counseling.  Prior to working at Breck, Katy has worked in the field of education for the past 30 years as a special education teacher, an Outward Bound instructor, and a counselor at the University of Minnesota. In her role at Breck, Katy works with students, parents and faculty to facilitate problem solving, life balance, conflict resolution, and life skills, She has extensive knowledge of the dynamics of adolescence and is a reassuring presence and resource for students, parents and teachers.  Katy oversees the Be a Mustang program, which encourages and enhances a positive community culture within the Middle School. Her career passion is the study of resilience.  She enjoys leading workshops on this topic, helping parents foster these traits in their children and aiding students discover their own strengths. Katy can be reached by email: katy.pearson@breckschool.org or by phone 763-381-8149.  

Staci Prior, Upper School Counselor

Staci Prior is the counselor for the Upper School. She has served the Breck community in this role since the 2011-12 school year and is the proud parent of two Breck graduates. Staci’s background includes over 25 years in education with a Master’s Degree in School Psychology and Counseling. As a school counselor, her role is to help students access their education. Staci accomplishes this as she meets individually with students, offers support for families, consults with teachers and mental health professionals, and contributes to team meetings. Her role is primarily to support students in their emotional, social, and mental well being. Staci can be reached by email: staci.prior@breckschool.org or by phone 763-381-8245.