Helping Everyone Thrive in Schools – School Interventionists

If a student seems disengaged or even presenting behavioral problems in class, a teacher may call on the help of an interventionist or literacy coach. 

Specialized knowledge about external and cognitive variables that impact a student makes a school interventionist the most qualified school professional to help a student to success. 

A school interventionist determines issues that impact the behavior and performance of students and provides strategies for improvement. They create unique techniques to help the student open up and meet students where they are academically. Typically they gain basic skills they may not have mastered in a whole class setting during specialized group time. 

At Choice Schools our interventionists are content-specific (math or reading). They provide expertise and intentional support to students who express need. Choice’s Carrie Paddock, Literacy Coach and Curriculum Specialist, leads the way and provides tools and strategies so that identified students are meeting standards and making gains. 

“With the final component of the Ready by Grade 3 law coming into effect, they are ‘living the law’ out in the buildings,” Paddock commented. “I want our teachers to be equipped with all the skills they need to build literacy education in our kids. We meet with all literacy coaches about once a month and talk about what we should be doing to make sure it’s happening at their schools. I create and supply each building with materials for the Read by Grade Three Law (IRIP, Read at Home plan for parents, letters to parents, etc).”

“In order for interventionists to be effective, they need 30 minutes of intensive intervention four days a week,” Nicole Tuinstra, Choice’s Special Education and Curriculum Coordinator, said. “The curriculum team is working really hard to help schools create schedules that align with best practices so that our students can reap the benefits and thrive in school.”

This is hard work and our interventionists and literacy coaches do it with passion and desire to change kids’ lives. They want every student to thrive and break down barriers so they are able to learn more effectively. 

Let’s hear from some of our amazing interventionists at our schools. 

Tara, Kristi and Jessica
At Three Oaks Public School Academy, Kristi Johnson, Jessica Adams and Tara Triezenberg make up the Response to Intervention (RTI) team. They work together to identify and create strategies to meet their students where they are. Located in the same room, they each have a schedule and lesson plan that they follow based on the different groups they meet with. 

“We serve a community with a lot of needs, but I can only work with so many kids at a time. I wish I could help every single student who is struggling,” Johnson said. “I love getting to know the kids individually – Watching them grow and develop a deep sense of pride in their growth as readers.”

“It is so rewarding seeing kids who thought they were hopelessly bad readers make significant gains and get to grade-level reading,” Adams said. “These are the moments that I treasure with each kid.”

Thelma and studentsThelma Caldwell’s smile and compassion is obvious for the students that she works with. She focuses on making a change in the lives of students so that they can be successful. She tries to make parallels with what her students are learning to the things that they experience in the world. This can be as simple as the correlation between math and grocery shopping. 

She is the math and reading interventionist for the middle school and meets with various groups four days a week. She sees students for math on Mondays and Wednesdays and reading on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

“The progress that students have during the intervention is fabulous. Some of the students progress farther than expected, too. It is so rewarding when this happens,” Caldwell said. 

West Michigan Academy of Environmental Science has been busy with their interventionists and has been building a new infrastructure to meet the needs of their students. This year, they have added Extended Learning Time (ELT). This allows time for students to get specific help in targeted areas where they may be deficient. 

In the elementary building, the team consists of Tara Baxter, Marlo Silveira and Angie Otterbein. Baxter and Silveira focus on reading and Otterbein focuses on elementary math.

Marlo and tara“I love seeing students read and enjoy what they are reading. In my position, I get to dip deeper with kids about what it means to find a book that meets them at their academic level,” Baxter commented. “But, I also like being part of creating a positive and nurturing culture at WMAES. I love that I get to be part of creating a library and love being part of the dynamic community of staff, parents and students at WMAES.” 

Angela“I enjoy building the foundation of math skills in order for them to be able to apply thinking to higher-level math skills. The small group focus and individualized lessons are tailored to each students’ learning. It makes for a safe, inclusive and fun learning environment,” Otterbein said. 

All of these teachers make incredible strides for our students to reach their fullest potential. We are grateful for the change they make in students’ lives so that they are able to thrive in their schools. 




Below are the names and titles of our amazing interventionists and literacy coaches. 

Battle Creek Montessori Academy

  • Karen Reeves, Reading Interventionist, K-2
  • Lorie Nierman, Literacy Coach

Benton Harbor Charter School Academy

  • Thelma Caldwell, Math and Reading Interventionist, middle school
  • Melanie Mannix, Teaching Assistant/Interventionist, elementary
  • Shaya Helbig, Literacy Coach

Bradford Academy

  • Wendy Jidas, Elementary Reading Specialist 
  • Natasha Rondeau, Elementary Reading 3-5th
  • Angela Farless, MS Math Interventionist
  • Karen Birr, MS Reading Interventionist
  • Diane Turner, High School Reading Interventionist
  • Janice Voss, High School Reading Interventionist

Creative Montessori Academy

  • Michael Schmittou, Title I Aide & Intervention

Dove Academy

  • Shermone Wade, Literacy Coach
  • E’Shaun Caine, Instructional Coach
  • Tamara Burkes, Instructional Coach

Four Corner Montessori Academy

  • Kimberly Geis, Interventionist – Reading (Literacy Coach)
  • Lorie Arcand, Interventionist – Math (504 Coordinator)

Macomb Montessori Academy

  • Vanessa Carter, Literacy Coach 
  • Marilyn Schmid, Math Interventionist

Muskegon Montessori Academy of Environmental Change

  • Becky Jonas, Literacy Coach 

New Branches Charter Academy

  • Heather Neper, Literacy Coach, Reading Specialist

Three Oaks Public School Academy

  • Kristi Johnson, Response to Intervention Interventionist (RtI)
  • Jessica Adams, Response to Intervention Interventionist (RtI) 
  • Tara Triezenberg, Literacy Coach

West Michigan Academy of Environmental Science

  • Marlo Silveira, Elementary Literacy
  • Bryan Algra, Math Specialist 5-8th
  • Angela Otterbein, Math Specialist K-3rd
  • Tara Baxter, Literacy Coach and Reading Specialist

Will Carleton Academy

  • Michelle Carpenter, Literacy Coach