Kelly Checo, M.Ed.
INTEGRATED CURRICULUM DIRECTOR
In 2001, Kelly discovered the joy of working with children with ASD while completing her Bachelor’s in Psychology at Sonoma State. She was trained in the DIR/Floortime approach and began her career in early intervention, working with verbal and non-verbal preschoolers. Her work continued through elementary and middle school grades in both special and general education schools. After years as a school aide and part of a home program team, Kelly became head teacher in a classroom of students with ASD and other developmental and learning differences. She obtained a special education credential and a Master’s degree in Education and spent the past seven years as an Inclusion and Learning Specialist, adding support for students with Dyslexia, Dyscalculia, and attention and executive function challenges. Other areas of Kelly's training include Social Thinking by Michelle Garcia Winner, the SCERTS model, executive function, Making Math Real, Orton-Gillingham and Lindamood-Bell processes.
Kelly is passionate about maximizing each child’s potential, as well as her own. She believes she can learn as much from each student as they learn from her. She teaches from a developmental perspective and values the importance of relationships in order to appropriately challenge and support students in achieving success and independence.
Liz McDonough, M.A., MFT/RDT
Liz is a Marriage and Family Therapist (MFT) and a Registered Drama Therapist (RDT) who specializes in working with t'weens, teens, and young adults on the autism spectrum and their families. Liz has a B.A in Drama from New York University and an M.A in Counseling Psychology with a Concentration in Drama Therapy from the California Institute of Integral Studies. Liz has taken trainings in Sensori-motor Psychotherapy, DIR Floortime, PRT and Mindfulness in Psychotherapy and Education. Of her 18 years of clinical experience, she has spent the past 12 specializing in autism and providing direct service, training, supervision, and consultation in both private practice and school settings.
Liz was the Lead Therapist and Clinical Supervisor at Oak Hill School and the former Clinical Director of Autistry Studios. She is an Adjunct Professor at the California Institute of Integral Studies and gives day-long workshops across the country, training providers who work with children and teens on the spectrum. As a therapist, Liz uses a combination of drama therapy, mindfulness and somatic approaches to help children and teens navigate their emotions, build strong relationships and develop pride in their unique gifts. Her greatest joys are around working with families and empowering ASD students to advocate for themselves.
Carly Tegt, M.Ed.
HEAD TEACHER and ACADEMIC SPECIALIST
Carly came to The Helix School from Omaha where she worked as a Special Education teacher at a Title I school, serving on the Intra-Leadership Team and co-chairing the Positive Behavior and Supports committee. She received her Master's in Special Education from the University of Nebraska- Lincoln, with an emphasis on ASD and Emotional/Behavioral disorders. Prior to working with Omaha Public Schools, Carly worked as a Summer Program Coordinator for Wediko Children's Services, a Boston-based organization dedicated to bettering the lives of children with ASD and/or EBD coupled with learning disabilities. There she served as a Summer Program Coordinator for two years and Vice Principal for the Wediko Summer School for one year.
As an educator who is passionate about reaching children, Carly feels it is her job to facilitate trust between the teacher and student, providing a positive atmosphere in which learning can occur.
Zach Morris, BFA
HEAD TEACHER and MUSIC TEACHER
Zachary holds a lifetime Education Specialist credential and a B.F.A. in Music and Jazz Performance from California Institute of the Arts. In 1995 he began his career teaching at a music store in Santa Rosa. In 2007 he began working at Cypress School for Autism and earned his teaching credential from Sonoma State University. During his time at Cypress School, he helped develop programs for transitional plans, recreational activities, functional life skills, music, and social emotional communication. Zachary understands that a holistic and individualistic approach to education can guide students and children into becoming strong and independent individuals. He believes in supporting and utilizing every student’s strengths and interests and encourages all students and children to build on those discoveries.
Zachary’s other interests include art, claymation, surfing, hiking, jazz and hip-hop education, digital arts and world music. He feels inspired every day by the students at The Helix School. On any given weekend, you might spot Zach on stage, drumming with some bands he plays with.
Alexa Tangalos M.A. Ed., C.B.T.
Alexa obtained her Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from the University of San Diego and her Masters in Special Education at Arizona State University. Alexa has dedicated herself to helping individuals with ASD through the understanding and practice of Applied Behavioral Analysis and Floortime®. She worked as a Behavioral Interventionist for Easterseals of Southern California, where she was recognized for her clinical judgment and ability to “think behaviorally.” At one of her trainings, Alexa was granted the Easterseal of Approval award by the company’s Regional Director for demonstrating leadership and creating a discussion based learning environment.
At The Helix School, Alexa provides integrated behavioral support for the students. She develops curriculum based on the individualized needs and learning styles of each student. She conducts student observations and develops Emotional Regulation behavior goals. Working closely with a team of speech and occupational therapists, Alexa enjoys evaluating teaching methods and ensuring progress for each student.
Keena Melville, M.S.
ASSISTANT TEACHER & ART TEACHER
Keena embarked on her career in education in September of 2007, when she taught preschool while working towards her Master of Science in School Counseling. Throughout her career, Keena has been a Teacher, Assistant Teacher and Guidance Counselor. Each of these positions deepened her understanding of working with children and the different aspects of helping children with self- regulation, a key component to being able to learn.
Keena is delighted to facilitate each student's creative journey, from idea to final product. The creativity of each one of our students is often expressed by their unique sensory experience: some enjoy the smells or the textures while others are drawn to the the patterns and the visual aspects of their composition. The outcome is an original and authentic design. Rather than the finished product, Keena honors the process and the experience of creating. Student's are stretched in their work by being exposed to techniques, lessons, and inspiration from other artists.
Keena has a vision to combine art and language arts to magnify learning, self-expression and regulation. She has a Bachelor of Art in English Literature and a Master of Science in School Counseling. She is currently undertaking her Ph.D. in Literacy, with a concentration in Special Education.
Jennifer Smith, M.A.
Karen Murphy, M.A., MOTR/L
Jennifer has a Bachelor of Arts in Global Studies and French from UC Santa Barbara, and a Master of Arts in Global Studies from a joint program with University of Leipzig, Germany and University of Vienna, Austria. She is level 1 certified in Pivotal Response Treatment. Jennifer has complete classes in the Making Math Real program (Overview; The 4 Operations & the 400 Math Facts; and Games). She has also completed the Lindamood-Bell On Cloud Nine workshop. She is currently attending SF State to get another Master's in Special Education and a Special Ed teaching credential.
At The Helix School, Jennifer teaches mathematics using our individualized curriculum, going from the concrete to the abstract so students can generalize what they learn to the outside world. She utilizes Making Math Real, Lindamood-Bell On Cloud Nine, and Common Core standards while implementing a fun and hands-on approach to math. Besides traditional math skills, Jennifer focuses on day-to-day executive function skills, such as money management and shopping, understanding elapsed time and schedules, measuring, etc.
Jennifer began her career in education while studying abroad. She taught English in France to middle and high school students. After returning to the Bay Area in 2013, she became a multiple subject tutor for K-8 students. She also worked as a special ed paraeducator for the Marin County Office of Education, where she realized her passion for working with children on the spectrum.
Karen Murphy received her MA in Occupational Therapy from Samuel Merritt College in 2001, graduating as a member of the National Occupational Therapy Honor Society. While completing her BS in Kinesiology at San Francisco State University (1998), Karen completed additional study in the Holistic Health department and received her certificate in massage therapy to provide a natural foundation to her future work as an OT. Combining these fields, Karen and her husband opened Kidzpoint (2010), specializing in combining Traditional Chinese Medicine and Occupational Therapy for children.
Karen has worked with children of all ages across multiple settings including home based early intervention (GGRC), SI clinics, and school settings (regular education, special education, and private schools). She spent two years serving on the North Bay Regional Center’s CAD clinic’s collaborative team to provide evaluation and diagnosis of children with suspected Autism. She worked as an adjunctive off site teacher for Dominican College's OT program in 2002 and 2003 and spoke alongside a panel of OTs specializing in SI and Autism for the Marin Autism Lecture series (2005). Karen brings to The Helix School her passion for building a strong neural sensory foundation from which to layer higher skills. She draws from a rich background of brain-body-based interventions
Sarah Saven, M.A., OTR/L
Sarah earned her M.S. in Occupational Therapy at Springfield College in Springfield, MA before relocating to the Bay area in 2015. She received a Bachelor's degree in Psychology with a concentration in Marketing and Business from Villanova University. Sarah has experience working with children with ASD in both school-based and private practice settings. She operates with a holistic approach to support each child in reaching their potential through building individual strengths and collaborating with family members, teachers, and professionals who are involved in the development of the child. Sarah is thrilled that her students at The Helix School have the opportunity to incorporate occupational therapy strategies throughout their school day as a key component toward developing their skills and increasing their personal independence.
Sarah is certified in the Keyboarding Without Tears program and has done advanced training in the Handwriting Without Tears Program. She is also certified in Brain and Movement Foundations - Rhythmic Movement Therapy, Bal-A-Vis-X, MNRI, S'cool Moves, Handel, and level 1 certification in Pivotal Response Training.
Erin Allen, M.A., SLP/CCC
SPEECH and LANGUAGE PATHOLOGIST
Erin is originally from Oregon and earned her bachelor’s degree in Developmental Psychology at St. Mary’s College of California. After a short stint as a special education teacher, she earned her Master’s in Speech-Language Pathology from Loyola University in Baltimore. She received her Certification of Clinical Competence (CCC) from the American Speech-Language Hearing Association in 2006 and is licensed by the California Speech-Language Hearing Association.
Erin has worked in special autism day schools, public schools, home-based early intervention, and outpatient clinic settings. She has provided assessment and treatment of children with a wide variety of diagnoses including ASD, Expressive/Receptive Language impairments, Apraxia, Phonological disorders, and Down Syndrome.
Erin’s main interest is working with children in schools and in a clinical setting. She has experience working with all ages, including transition planning to early adulthood. She enjoys working with children and their families, concentrating on effective verbal and non-verbal communication. She has experience with Augmentative Alternative Communication in low-tech and high-tech form. She believes in working closely with families to find the most functional form of communication for home and school.
Erin lives in Mill Valley with her husband and two daughters. She enjoys cooking, exercising, hiking, and riding horses.