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Stellar Academy employs a diverse collection of education professionals, to teach strategies, discover and develop strengths, and foster success for children with dyslexia.  Each teacher at Stellar Academy (and several of the support staff) has completed intensive postgraduate work in the Slingerland® approach.



Head of School

Heather Leyva has a BA in Humanities with an Emphasis in Education, from New College of California, San Francisco. An AA in Liberal Studies (Hons) from Vista College, Berkeley, and an AA in Early Childhood Education with an  Emphasis on Administration in School Age Care from Ohlone College, Fremont. And completed the IDA & IMSLEC accredited Slingerland® Level 1 course last summer. Ms. Leyva has a passion for helping families not just survive, but thrive and has presented several workshop seminars on different aspects of parenting. As the proud parent of a now-independent, dyslexic, young adult, the mission of Stellar Academy is personal. It’s her wish to see our program flourish and grow until every dyslexic child in the East Bay, and beyond, has the opportunity to maximize their true educational potential.




Anne has taught at Stellar Academy since 2006. Prior to Stellar, she taught at the California School for the Deaf for 14 years. Mrs. Roberts is fluent in American Sign Language. She holds a MA and a special education credential along with a California teaching credential, extensive IDA & IMSLEC accredited Slingerland® training, and utilizes Making Math Real® - based strategies and methods in her teaching.



Teacher, ELA, Mathematics

Melinda holds a BA (Hons) from Monash University and a Ph.D. in Cultural Studies/Critical Theory and Analysis from the Australian National University.  She has presented papers and been published in her field and has taught students from university level through to elementary classroom, individualized homeschooling and tutoring.  When her own children struggled in school because of language processing disorders and ADHD, Melinda re-dedicated her own passion for education to becoming trained in the academic and social-emotional needs of intelligent children who learn differently.  After completing IDA & IMSLEC accredited Slingerland® Multisensory Structured Language Teaching Level 1, Melinda joined the team at Stellar Academy in 2017.  She has since completed Level 2 and is the process of fulfilling the rigorous requirements for Slingerland certification. Over the past four years Melinda has completed nearly 300 hours of instruction in Making Math Real® to incorporate Making Math Real® based strategies and methods for primary grades through middle school.



Social Studies

Marlene is a graduate of San Jose State University with a B.A. in Social Science. She joined the Stellar Staff in 2001. Mrs. Castillo is Slingerland trained completing levels 1 & 2. During her time at Stellar, she has also taught language arts and math. Currently, Mrs. Castillo teaches Social Studies for all grade levels, and says the students here at Stellar make her job most gratifying.




Valerie Healy holds a B.S. in Biology and is IMSLEC & IDA Slingerland® Multisensory Structured Language Teaching Level 1 certified. After experiencing the struggles of her own two dyslexic children, Valerie worked to support her own childrens’ learning styles. It was during her daughter’s final year at Stellar Academy that she joined the staff. Valerie has always been passionate about art from a young age, continues to create, and encourages others to gain a deeper understanding of art.


Anna Rutchena

Physical Education / Slingerland Support

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Office Manager

Brenda has over 12 years of customer service experience. She enjoys interacting with other people and helping them. Brenda likes working with numbers and has experience with managing finances. This is her dream job because she gets to combine her love of customer service with her interest in finances and accounting.

Stellar Academy, In utilizing Making Math Real® (MMR®) methods, is in no way affiliated with, a member of, or employed by the Making Math Real Institute (MMRI), and does not represent or reflect MMR® or David Berg in any way whatsoever. Neither the MMRI nor David Berg has trained, certified, licensed, monitored, endored, recommended, or sponsored Stellar Academy. MMR® is a clinical methodology, not a program or a curriculum, and neither the MMRI nor David Berg monitors, endorses, or accounts for the quality of services provided by Stellar Academy.

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