Washington: Children, Adolescents, and Young Adults
Kristin Kajer-Cline, MA
Kristin Kajer-Cline leads the Washington office. For more than two decades she has focused on understanding and assisting children, adolescents, and adults struggling with emotional, social, behavioral, learning, or mental health challenges.
Having earned her M.A. in Education with a focus on At-Risk Youth from the University of Washington, Kristin has developed three key areas of expertise and experience:
- Assessment of individual social, emotional and academic needs
- Evaluation of academic and treatment systems and direct intervention, and
- Communication with adolescents, young adults, and their families.
Kristin is a professional member of the Independent Educational Consultants Association and served on its Therapeutic Committee for two years. Kristin feels passionately about providing comprehensive, holistic, collaborative and caring support to each family who reaches out for guidance. She is also the very proud mother of two young adult children.
Vashti Summervill, MM, PCI Certified Parent Coach®, Certified Teacher
Vashti is based in Boise, Idaho. She joins the Educational Connections team as the young adult specialist. She regularly tours and evaluates therapeutic programs for young adults to gain a deeper understanding of who they best serve.
She understands how challenging it can be to find the right services, both in times of crisis or after years of being very stuck. She also understands that it can difficult for a young adult to choose to go to treatment. Vashti’s areas of expertise include:
- Assisting parents in looking at ways they might inadvertently be allowing the young adult to remain stuck.
- Guiding parents to create conditions that will help their young adult make healthier choices. This includes setting and holding life-giving boundaries and communicating in ways that foster greater capability and resilience on the road to independence.
- Vashti is also skilled at building rapport and trust with the young adult as she helps them consider opportunities that could have a lasting impact and help them shift their current trajectory.
She produced the podcast “Teen Connectivity” - a show dedicated to helping parents navigate the wilderness of the adolescent. Much of the content is applicable to the young adult years too.
Vashti currently serves as co-chair of the St. Luke’s Pediatric Family Advisory Council representing families with children hospitalized due to a mental health crisis and has served on the Idaho Suicide Prevention Coalition Board. She is trained in Youth Mental Health First Aid, ASIST (Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training), and is a QPR Instructor (Suicide Prevention Gatekeeper Training). She is currently in the process of becoming a Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) teacher through the Mindfulness Center at Brown University.
Vashti is an individual member of the National Association of Therapeutic Schools and Programs (NATSAP) and working towards an Associate Membership of the Independent Educational Consultants Association (IECA).
Vashti is also a musician. In her spare time, she is composing, rehearsing, recording, performing and occasionally still mentors young musicians. She is also the proud mom of two girls who are still navigating the teen and young adult years.
Michelle is the Intake Coordinator at Educational Connections Washington. She has been a member of the Washington team for over five years and provides compassionate, thorough and prompt support to each family. Years after Kristin placed her then 14 year old son in a therapeutic wilderness program and therapeutic boarding school for his struggles with anxiety, Michelle was driven to support other families through similar healing, therapeutic and life-changing experiences. Her son’s treatment was life changing for him and the whole family, and being in a role where she can share that hope with other struggling families is what brought her to Educational Connections.
In her role, Michelle talks to parents who are just beginning to consider this journey for their own struggling children and helps them understand and begin the process. She assists in interviewing adults who know the child in order to gain more insight into the student prior to placement. She also coordinates resources and school placement for the student upon their return home from treatment – engaging with parents and providing support throughout the year-long relationship.
After graduation with a B.A. in Public Relations in her home state of Ohio, Michelle lived in Texas, Toronto and Florida - with stints ranging from marketing for an organ donation non-profit, to selling Microsoft tech-support to corpoate customers. After that, she started the hardest and most fulling job ever, being a stay at home mom to her two kids. Michelle is an empty nester who loves hiking, Orange Theory, reading about personal development, and living fully. Thanks to Kristin and the effectiveness of wilderness therapy, her son is living his best life as a junior Economics Major at TCU in Texas, and her daughter is on her way to NYC as Coordinating Producer for Amazon Music’s Wondery podcast studio.
Courtney works as a Consultant Assistant with Educational Connections, helping with the intake process as well as connecting with families and local therapeutic programs. Although Courtney is new to the team this year, she is not new to the world of mental health. She has her MA in School Counseling and was an elementary counselor for 5 years. Prior to that her BA was in Language, Literacy and Culture with an emphasis on Education, Sociology and Psychology. She taught elementary school locally and abroad, and has also worked with Western Washington University as a teacher, mentor and supervisor of teacher candidates.
At her core, Courtney is a caregiver and an advocate. In addition to her time in Education, she has worked as a homeless youth advocate as well as a caregiver for persons with disabilities. She cares deeply about the social, emotional and behavioral health of youth, and engages in all her work through a holistic, person-centered lens. She loves supporting families and helping them navigate mental health for their children and within their home. She is grateful and honored to be part of the team and looks forward to connecting with families in the Educational Connections Community. She is also the proud and busy mom of an active toddler.
More About Kristin Kajer-Cline, MA
Prior to her 10 years working with Educational Connections, Kristin was integrally involved in a number of research projects concerned with assessing the social, emotional, and academic needs of individuals. Most recently she worked collaboratively to assess the impact that mental health and substance abuse problems play in people’s lives. As part of this project she conducted extensive interviews with individuals struggling with severe chemical dependency and mental health issues and documented how these challenges impact physical and emotional health, education, employment, legal status, and family relationships. In another project at the University of Washington, Kristin assessed the needs and progress of high-risk students by conducting interviews, ascertaining students’ overall emotional needs, and determining their predisposition for suicide. In a third study, Kristin examined how students’ mental health and substance abuse issues impact their school involvement and academic success. Finally, she facilitated parent and community focus groups with Southeast Asian parents in order to understand parenting styles and thus determine the most appropriate educational services for these families.
Kristin has also been involved in the research and evaluation of academic and treatment systems. For example, she worked collaboratively on a research team concerned with understanding the degree to which the Oregon Health Plan adequately serves individuals in need of substance abuse or mental health treatment and how monetary and service cuts impact quality of care. In another study, Kristin evaluated the extent to which school-based teen health centers serve students’ mental health and emotional needs and considered the ways in which other school supports are frequently inadequate in addressing these issues. In both of these studies, Kristin conducted in-depth interviews with a variety of individuals including students, parents, teachers, counselors, principals, and teen health center staffs in order to understand program strengths and weaknesses.
Kristin has worked directly with struggling youth and their families providing interventions, support, and informed recommendations. She has served as a liaison and advocate in schools and in mental health programs. For example, as part of the Redirecting At-Risk Youth Research Project, Kristin conducted interviews with struggling adolescents to determine suicide risk, often obtaining first-time disclosures of potentially harmful intentions and thoughts. At the close of each therapeutic interview she provided direct feedback and helped students to identify and utilize appropriate coping skills. Further, she facilitated communication between students and their parents helping students to disclose the pressures and problems they faced as well as harmful thoughts and actions. Finally, she worked to connect these previously isolated students with school counselors, teachers, school administrators, and other appropriate resources. As Skills Training Facilitator within this same project, Kristin taught coping and support skills to suicide vulnerable adolescents and documented improved student progress based on extensive professional team evaluations.
Prior to discovering her passion for understanding and working with struggling students and their families, Kristin taught French to middle and high school students in Washington. She also spent two years with the U.S. Peace Corps, teaching English as a foreign language to high school students in Guinea, West Africa. Though most of her upbringing and education took place in Minnesota, she was born in Kenya and attended private, public, international, and boarding schools in England, Sri Lanka, India, and France. Kristin is the mother of a 20-year-old daughter and 17-year-old son.
Our Washington office is located just east of Seattle in Bellevue.
Arbor Building, 1621 114th Avenue Southeast, Suite 222, Bellevue, WA 98004