Support every step of the way


Ancona provides both academic and social/emotional services to students in all grade levels. The Student Support Team (SST) actively works with students, teachers, parents and outside specialists to create a  support system that is student-centered and holistic. The Ancona community can seek advice from the SST for additional support both inside and outside of school. We make recommendations for tutors, additional programs or therapeutic services. As a partner with Chicago Public Schools, we are able to collaborate and advocate for families and students while going through the process of creating a 504 plan or an Individualized Education Program (IEP).

It is our ultimate goal to ensure that all students at  Ancona are being supported during their experience at Ancona and that students are achieving their short term and long term goals. We work with families using a team-based approach in order to determine the type of assistance a student may need. The SST is not a disciplinary department, but rather a group that the Ancona community can go to for assistance.


Ancona has three Learning Specialists that serve students in grades K-8. Learning specialists work collaboratively to provide support across the school, and all decisions are team-based. They offer academic support to students with diagnosed learning or developmental differences and assist teachers in making appropriate curricular adaptations for those students. We know that there is no “one size fits all” program for any student. As such, support is provided on a case-by-case basis, always prioritizing the individual student’s needs. 


Ancona has a full-time School Counselor who assists with social and emotional needs across all grade levels. The School Counselor meets with both small groups of students and individuals to address needs they have in their school and home life. Small group topics include navigating through Ancona, cultivating relationships, changing families, and dealing with the pressures of growing up. Groups are offered year round. Additionally, the School Counselor supports teachers and helps families to find outside support specialists. To maintain a strong school-home connection, the School Counselor communicates with specialists outside of the school building, making sure that all members of the team are cohesive. In addition to the School Counselor, Ancona hosts counseling interns that work with students and support the efforts of the Counselor. 


 Jacki Neistat, Dean of Student Services. Jacki is in her sixth year at Ancona and works to facilitate the Student Support Team as well as co-teaching in the middle school grades. Over the past six years, she has been dedicated to building a school-wide support system. She has a degrees in Special Education and Elementary Education and will complete her masters degree in December 2017. Jacki is the coordinator of student services for all students at Ancona and co-teaches 7th and 8th Grade students. 

Kathy Yates, Learning Support Specialist. Kathy is in her fourth year at Ancona. Here, Kathy works with the younger students to assess, teach, and collaborate with teachers in the areas of reading, writing, and math. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education, an M.A. in Education from the University of Chicago and is certified as a Reading Specialist—Kindergarten through 12th grade. Kathy coordinates student services for Preprimary – 2nd Grade students. 

Rachel Bomher, Learning Support Specialist. Rachel is in her second year at Ancona and supports kids in both the intermediate and middle grades.  She earned her undergraduate degree from Marquette University, double majoring  in elementary education and history. She went on to receive her master’s degree in Special Education from DePaul University, where she also earned her Learning Behavior Specialist (LBS-I) certification. Rachel coordinates student services for 3rd – 6th Grade students. 

Tony Gleason, School Counselor. Tony is in his fourth year at Ancona. He has reshaped how we support student’s emotional challenges and has helped faculty to be more effective on how they build relationships with students and work with behaviors that arise. Tony has an educational background in psychology, a masters in counseling from Argosy University and holds additional certifications in psychodynamic child psychotherapy, crisis intervention, and clinical supervision.