Student Support Services

At MICDS, we recognize that the social-emotional lives of our students are inextricably linked to their academic lives. Therefore, each division is served by a counselor, learning specialist, and nurse who support the MICDS mission to prepare students to think critically, act responsibly, and live virtuously and compassionately. They work to create a culture recognizing the importance of both an appreciation for learning and the continued development of strong moral character and personal responsibility. The learning specialists, counselors, and nurses work in close consultation with each other as well as with other faculty members, administration, and parents to help all students reach their true potential in intellectual character and responsibility.

Current MICDS parents can refer to the Student Services Community Group on the portal for further information and resources available from all student services areas. 


How does the Counselor provide support within the school?

By forming a team with parents, MICDS faculty and administration, the Counselor provides a support system for dealing with issues that affect the emotional well-being and academic success of the students in our community. The Counselor is committed to the promotion of positive personal growth in all students, and will remain devoted to serving as an effective catalyst for the realization of each student’s potential and for the consequent positive development of the MICDS educational community.

What is the role of the Counselor?

The Counselor is committed to the promotion of positive personal growth, emotional wellness and healthy development among students, families, and faculty in the MICDS community.   Each division has a School Counselor. At the Upper School, this person is in addition to the College Counselor. If you have any concerns about your child’s social, emotional, or psychological development, your divisional Counselor is an appropriate person to contact.

The School Counselors:

  • implement developmentally appropriate counseling programs to educate all students about emotional health and wellness;
  • meet individually with students to address concerns or challenges in their personal, social, or academic lives;
  • respond to school concerns or crises affecting the psychological well- being of students;
  • refer to resources on campus and in the community for specialized support of students’ developmental or mental health needs;
  • consult with teachers, parents, and school staff on topics related to the emotional development and mental health of youth;
  • develop nurturing, trusting relationships with students which provide a basis for support, advocacy and guidance.

Learning Specialists

The Learning Specialists use their specialized training in psychology, assessment, and education to support a student’s entire learning process, which includes collaboration with faculty, academic leadership teams, parents, students, and outside service providers.

Our Learning Specialists:

  • Support and train our faculty as they strive to differentiate their curricula in order to meet the needs of all students  
  • Are part of the academic leadership teams – providing consultation, updated research, and understanding of best practices for student support/intervention
  • Help students better understand themselves as learners by identifying and addressing their areas of cognitive and academic strength and weakness
  • Provide feedback on learning strategies, developing strong organizational habits and effective ways in which to seek teacher support
  • Serve as resources for parents as they explore how to better support their child at home 

If, as a parent, you have a concern about your child’s academic progress, the Learning Specialist is an appropriate person to contact.  If your child needs specialized support, the learning specialist may provide an appropriate referral to an outside professional, service provider, or evaluator.  Often, support can be arranged to be provided at school in the Wetterau Learning Center or other areas in each division. 

What other resources are available through the Learning Specialist?

The Learning Specialist can serve as a resource for parents to answer questions about supporting learning at home and recommend books/articles that can help support all levels of learners.  As a resource to faculty, the Learning Specialist keeps teachers aware of the most up-to-date research based information to address their students’ needs and learning, consults concerning learning concerns, and develops support strategies when needed.  In addition, the Learning Specialist also provides referral information for support so that students can receive one-on-one help from a professional who specializes in a specific area of concern, including tutoring, enrichment activities, or other outside specialists.  Often, support can be arranged to be provided at school in the Wetterau Learning Center or other areas in each division. 

Health Services

Professional school nursing at MICDS provides a comprehensive, multidisciplinary, and collaborative approach to promoting wellness within the school community, with the primary goal of maintaining optimal student health, attendance and learning ability. As professional school nurses, we believe in:

  • Ensuring all students have access to medical care and treatment.
  • Supporting students to become independent advocates for their own health care.
  • Coordinating nursing care for students with family, school staff, and outside agencies.
  • Providing health counseling and education for individual and group/classroom settings.
  • Maintaining state-mandated school health records on every student at MICDS.
  • Advocating for student health needs within the school environment.
  • Supporting teachers by interpreting the impact of a student’s health condition on learning.
  • Delivering public health nursing services through maintenance of immunizations records, communicable disease prevention and monitoring.
  • Providing collaborative assessments of mental health needs.
  • Collaborating with health resources in the community for referrals and public health issues.
  • Collaborating with special services to provide nursing services and support.
  • Promoting staff wellness through health education, counseling, and wellness activities.
  • Collaborating with administration and Building and Grounds personnel to maintain a safe and healthy school environment.
  • Utilizing appropriate and current technology to enhance school health services.
  • Enhancing professional development through professional school nurse organizations and continuing education opportunities.


Highlighted programming and education with parents, students, and faculty in these areas included:

  • Paul Tough, author of How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character
  • Dr. David Walsh, author of Why Do They Act That Way? and Smart Parenting, Smarter Kids
  • Partnership with NCADA to provide drug and alcohol awareness and education at each division
  • Online safety and digital citizenship education
  • Prevention and intervention for relational aggression and other social issues

MICDS Counseling Team

List of 4 members.

  • Victoria Thurman 

    Director of Student Services
    (314) 995-7452
    Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville - Specialist (MS+30)
  • Kara Friedman 

  • David Hotaling 

    Washington University in St. Louis - MSW
    Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University - BS
  • Ashley O'Toole 

    Lower School Learning Specialist/Counselor

MICDS Learning Specialists Team

List of 3 members.

  • Kathryn DePung 

    Upper School Learning Specialist
    University of Missouri - St. Louis - Master of Education
    Fontbonne University - B.S.
  • Ashley O'Toole 

    Lower School Learning Specialist/Counselor
  • Mead Ploszay 

    Middle School Learning Specialist
    Bucknell University - BS, MS

MICDS Health Services Team

List of 2 members.

  • Michelle Fox 

  • Lise Olson 

    LS/MS Nurse