Spiral Skills Tutoring and Academic Coaching was founded in 2019 by Diane Talbot – a former teacher frustrated at her inability to provide the services that her students truly needed to be successful in a classroom setting.

After 13 years in public and private schools, Diane took the plunge and opened a full-time tutoring center. The need for services quickly outstripped Diane’s capacity, so she began the search for amazing tutors to further our goal of helping kids and young adults be successful. Read about our team of highly trained exceptional tutors below.

At Spiral Skills, providing individualized instruction and support for students is our passion. We provide private tutoring and academic coaching at our Boulder, CO office or online. We provide creative, flexible, individualized and assessment-based, research-based, multi-sensory, explicit, and emotionally sound methods to teach children with learning difficulties.

Spiral Skills creates a safe and affirming space for all learners. We actively partner with individuals and families from all cultural, social, ethnic, racial, and religious backgrounds. We celebrate and support children, teens, and adults who are members of the LGBTQIA community.

Click here to learn more about the services we offer.

Our Tutors

Diane Talbot, MA – Founder

My name is Diane Talbot. I have 15 years of experience working with special needs, twice exceptional, and gifted students. I am LGTBQ affirming.

I can provide enrichment for gifted and curious students who need a challenge, twice exceptional students, and students who are struggling academically for whatever reason. I support students who need help organizing academic belongings, assignments, and adjusting to a new setting (such as high school or college) as well as with study skills. I can help them access the resources available on campus.

I specialize in working with bright, creative children and young adults who have/are:

  • Dyslexia
  • Dysgraphia
  • Dyscalculia
  • Learning Disabilities
  • Autism Spectrum Disorders
  • Twice Exceptional
  • Gifted and Talented

I also work with students who struggle with math anxiety, low number sense, poor handwriting, difficulty organizing their writing, and executive functioning challenges.

I provide professional development for teachers and tutors. Some of my recent credits include:

  • “Project-Based Word Study” – Literacy Nest Online Conference, 2021
  • “Digging Deep into Decodables: Mining Rich Words for Study” – Climbing the Ladder of Reading Success Conference, 2021
  • “Systematizing Word Study into your Orton Gillingham Sequence” – ALTA, 2021
  • “Advanced Online Tutoring Skills” -Tutor Success Academy Member’s Club, 2020
  • “Systematizing Word Study into your Orton Gillingham Sequence” – Literacy Nest Online Conference: Building Readers for Life, 2020
  • “Online Tutoring” – Guest presenter-Tutor Success Academy Member’s Club, 2020
  • “Supporting Students and Families during COVID” – Ladder Learning Services, 2020
  • “Adding Word Study to your Orton Gillingham Lessons” – Literacy Nest Online Conference: Building Readers for Life, 2019
  • “A Short History of the English Language” – Ladder Learning Services, 2019

I have also been been a guest Blogger for The Literacy Nest and Castle Rock Online Tutor. You can learn more about my work on my YouTube channel. I produce and sell word study products that align with Orton Gillingham methods at https://metamorphicwordstudy.com.


  • MA in Education, Western State Colorado University, emphasis in literacy
  • Graduate Coursework in Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Education
  • Associate Level certification with AOG (Orton-Gillingham Academy)
  • Certified Academic Language Practitioner (CALP) level with Academic Language Therapy Association (ALTA)
  • Certified Structured Literacy Dyslexia Interventionist with Center for Effective Reading Instruction (CERI)
  • Math Interventionist certificate from Adams State University
  • Reading Specialist Endorsement from Colorado Department of Education
  • Special Education Generalist from Colorado Department of Education
  • Lindamood Bell LiPS trained
  • Kagan Cooperative Learning Trained
  • Board Member Colorado Council for Learning Disabilities (2013)

I am committed to continuous professional development and individual learning. Here are a few of my ongoing efforts and affiliations:

  • 50 hours of Certified Level of Academy of Orton Gillingham Practitioners and Educators (AOGPE) coursework and is working on requirements for Certified Level.
  • Working toward becoming a a Certified Instructor with Institute for Excellence in Writing
  • Completed Coursework in Multi-sensory Math through ASDEC
  • Completed Reading Simplified Academy Main Course and Advanced Coursework.
  • Studies Structured Word Inquiry with a variety of teachers and mentors, including Latin for Orthographers 1 and 2, Greek Transcription, Greek for Orthographers, Understanding How to Read Lewis and Short, The Suffix -<-ic>, Lexical Doublets, and Real Script taught by Michel Rameau of Real Spelling.
  • Administrator of Word Study Investigation Facebook group
  • Professional Member of the International Dyslexia Association
  • Member of Academic Language Therapists Association (ALTA)

On a personal note, I am the mother of five gifted and/or twice exceptional adult children and the grandmother to four. I am a ceramic artist, gardener, and yogi. I love to read and often surpass my Goodreads reading challenge goal of reading 50 books each year.

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Suzanne Smith, MSW, EdS – Managing Owner

My name is Suzanne Smith. I am dually licensed as a special education teacher and school social worker. This allows me to concurrently facilitate academic success, social-emotional wellness, and enhanced executive functioning in my student sessions.

I am completing my twentieth year working in general and special education in Colorado public schools. I have always found working with students who are out of the box thinkers and those with unique learning styles to be the most rewarding. My greatest successes have come working with students with diagnosed or suspected learning differences, gifted and talented students, and students who are twice exceptional.

My students have taught me how effective, individualized, multisensory instruction allows them reconnect with their strengths and confidence as learners. There are few experiences as rewarding as watching one of my students realize there are instructional methods that meet their needs and that they can succeed in unlocking their individual talents.

The investment in private tutoring allows students whose learning styles aren’t always valued in traditional educational settings to restore their belief in themselves and their ability to achieve their greatest hopes and dreams.

My students and their parents say my greatest strength is my ability to create individualized lessons that are both truly joyful and uniquely effective.


  • Ed.S. in Educational Leadership, University of Colorado, Denver
  • M.S.W. in Clinical Social Work, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
  • B.A. in Economics, focus on special education, Boston College, Chestnut Hill
  • Montessori Leader Training, Montessori Education Center of the Rockies, Boulder
  • General and special educator, Colorado public schools, experience in K-12, 20 years
  • Colorado teacher license, special education and gifted and talented endorsements
  • Orton Gillingham (OG), Levels I and II, 80+ hours
  • Orton Gillingham Math Trained, 20+ hours
  • Executive Functioning Skills, Sarah Ward based, 10+ hours
  • Teacher of the Year, Eagle County Education Foundation, 2003

I have been providing professional development to teachers for more than 10 years. I am an enthusiastic lifelong learner and invest each year in professional development to bring the best evidence based techniques to my students. Here are a few of my professional presentations and teacher trainings:

  • Multisensory Math, teacher trainings, November 2021 and March 2022
  • Special Education Best Practices in Montessori Schools, May 2021
  • Teacher Evaluations that Inspire Excellence, CLCS Conference, February 2017
  • Effective Induction: Increasing Teacher Retention, CLCS Conference, May 2016
  • Developed CDE Approved Teacher Induction Program, CCA, August 2015

I am personally and professionally committed to anti-racist and anti-bias actions in the world. My two passions in this area include celebration of the LGBTQIA community and full inclusion of neurodiversity in all areas of our society.

When I’m not teaching I enjoy hiking, biking, backpacking, and camping. One of my favorite jobs was teaching skiing at Beaver Creek. I have a passion for equine assisted learning and training therapy/reading dogs. My last dog tested at the highest level and was registered through Denver Pet Partners.

Katherine White, MA

Hello! My name is Katherine White. My interest in education began after college
when I worked as a children’s ski instructor in Telluride, CO. I loved the enjoyment
that the children experienced when they felt confident and were willing to try new
things, even if it was challenging.

I earned my Teacher Certification and Master’s Degree in Elementary Education from CU, Boulder. I have been an elementary classroom teacher in public schools for nearly 25 years. My experience has allowed me to work with students of all abilities, including those with special learning needs such as dyslexia, ADHD and TAG.

I begin by getting to know your unique child’s interests, personality, strengths and learning style. Creating a positive, encouraging, trusting relationship allows us to work on developing the skills necessary to be a successful and confident learner. I believe that learning should be engaging, accessible and fun!

I am in support of creating a society that is free from racism, bias, gender inequality
and is inclusive of persons identifying as LGBTQ.

In addition to teaching, I enjoy the outdoor lifestyle, such as hiking, backpacking,
paddleboarding, biking and gardening. Nature is my happy place. I also practice
meditation and yoga. I am passionate about traveling the world to experience other
regions and cultures. I have been fortunate to visit every continent except Antarctica.
It’s on my bucket list.


  • MA in Education, CU Boulder, with a focus on Multicultural & Bilingual Education
  • Classroom teacher in Eagle County School District for 2 years (2nd grade)
  • Classroom teacher in BVSD for 23 years (kindergarten – 3rd grade)
    • Taught all subject areas including literacy, math, social studies and science
    • Continually adding to my repertoire of best practices in teaching
    • Deeply believe in building positive relationships with students and families
    • Focused on fostering the social and emotional well-being of students
  • Innovative Curriculum Design, Dominican University, CA
  • Orton-Gillingham Classroom Educator Training
  • Orton-Gillingham Associate Level Training
  • Working towards Certified Level of the Academy of Orton Gillingham Practitioners and Educators (AOGPE)

Professional Development:

  • Culturally and Linguistically Responsive Teaching
  • Kagan Cooperative Learning
  • Sitton Spelling Inservice
  • Advantage+Math
  • Count Me In Too! (math)

Patience Thomas, MA

Hello, my name is Patience Thomas. My lifelong career as a teacher of reading is that books become friends when reading is taught with enthusiasm and a systematic approach which leads to enjoyment and endless possibilities.

I am a special education teacher specializing in dyslexia. I have 35 years of experience with students ranging from first grade to adults. I have taught in public and private schools as well as three University of Maine campuses which has provided me with the opportunity to help educate a wide spectrum of students and help meet their unique needs.

I inherited my love for reading from my parents, especially my Mom, who later became a 1st grade teacher. I remember her becoming frustrated when she taught large classes of children from a low income housing project before the days of “special education”. I observed how hard she worked and how frustrating it was to meet their needs. I had the opportunity to continue my passion of literature at Brown University, during which time I tutored children from inner city Providence. After graduating, I taught English and reading in Vermont and Maine. My focus of teaching was underserved and undereducated students in both rural and inner city schools. I taught the gamut as a teacher of Gifted and Talented students in elementary schools, English and Latin in high school, basic reading and high school equivalency classes on two American Indian reservations, and English as a Second Language to Indochinese refugees under the auspices of the Maine Department of Education.

Throughout these years of teaching, I endeavored to fill gaps in learning which hindered individual students’ success in life. I earned my Masters in Special Education at the University of Maine specializing in what was then referred to as “Learning Disabilities”. After graduate school, I taught special education students in high schools, elementary schools and an alternative school in Augusta, Maine for students who were in an adolescent detention facility.

I took a break from traditional teaching and worked as the Environmental Education Director at the Pine Tree State Arboretum in Augusta, Maine. I went on to receive an appointment as a tenured Assistant Professor at the University of Maine Cooperative Extension. In that capacity of a “youth educator”, I did research, grant writing, and program development for elementary school-based Afterschool programs. I retired 7 years ago and moved to Colorado where I have continued tutoring elementary and middle school students privately and recently with Spiral Skills Academic Tutoring.


  • Wilson Language Program – Dyslexia Practitioner
  • Orton-Gillingham – Comprehensive Plus Certificate
  • Institute for Multi-Sensory Education
  • Linguistic Remedies
  • Classroom Teacher K-12, 25 years
  • Director of Environmental Education, Pine Tree State Arboretum
  • Assistant Professor, University of Maine Cooperative Extension

Carl Vickery

Hello, my name is Carl Vickery. I became interested in tutoring after college and began tutoring at the university level. I have been a tutor for 15 years at the middle school, high school, and university levels. During this time, I discovered that I have a unique way of explaining material that is successful for students with a wide variety of learning styles. I am passionate about ensuring students’ success by presenting concepts in a variety of different ways to find the ways that work best for each individual student.

As a tutor at Front Range Community College (FRCC), I worked with students with a wide range of abilities. I was successful connecting with students with learning differences and students who were self admittedly “just not interested” in academics. I received the Tutor of the Year award at FRCC.

The best part of tutoring is getting to see students succeed and grow exponentially. I begin by getting to know my students individual learning styles. A positive relationship and trusting environment are essential for motivating students. As I develop a greater understanding of where they are academically, I use this knowledge to help them grow and move to the next level. I know learning can be fun when students, believe they can succeed, and receive instruction at the right level of challenge!

I bring five years of experience as a youth counselor to support my students social and emotional learning. During these summers, I worked with students in challenging situations such as high ropes courses. This allowed me to support students in learning coping skills and how to take their skills to the next level.

Outside of tutoring, I enjoy hiking, climbing 14ers, playing pickle ball, and biking. I love traveling and getting out in nature. I have travelled in Europe and Mexico. I spent six months abroad while attending UNC. I love experiencing other cultures and genuinely appreciate the natural diversity of our world.


  • 15 years of tutoring experience
  • Tutor of the Year, Front Range Community College
  • Math tutoring, algebra and geometry to calculus
  • Spanish tutoring, middle school through university levels
  • Bachelor of Arts in Spanish with minors in business and history; University of Northern Colorado, Greeley, Colorado