redwood seed student

Foundational Courses

Many students with intellectual disabilities are segregated during junior high and high school. They are not given a rich academic environment and many academic opportunities are pushed aside in favor of “life skills”. We believe that students with intellectual disabilities deserve access to academics for their entire lives. The six foundational courses in the Redwood SEED Scholars Program are designed to build, develop and further important skills that educational research tells us are crucial to success in employment and independent living. These courses are built with the idea that the courses will serve as an on-ramp to success in the audited UC Davis courses that the Redwood SEED Scholars will take in their area of interest later in the program.


There is no more important skill for success in employment and life than literacy. Being able to read, comprehend and respond to text is crucial. Additionally, being able to support your ideas in writing; being able to communicate effectively in writing and being able to process your thinking, emotions and dreams in writing are all vital as well. This course will meet students where they are with their literacy and move them forward.

Instructor: Dru Cullison 

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Dru Cullison's teaching career spans over 22 years. She has taught a variety of grade levels specializing in the differentiation of reading instruction and development. Mrs. Cullison's most recent teaching experience was as an elementary school teacher at St. James School in Davis.


    Understanding banking, budgeting and financial planning are crucial to living an independent life on your own terms. Our math class advances these skills and builds others. Students will be equipped with mathematical knowledge, skills and tools to guide decision-making and understand the world around them. Students will work to develop problem-solving and logical thinking skills and advance their ability to explain step by step solutions in detail.

    Instructor: Al Mendle 

    al mendle headshot

    Now retired, Al Mendle was a Lecturer at UC Davis from 1993 to 2021. Working in the School of Education, he has taught Mathematics Methods and Educational Technology. He has contributed to books for the College Preparatory Mathematics and Activity Resources Publishing companies. Having 25 years of teaching experience at the elementary and secondary levels in public schools, he has also served as Director of the University of California at Davis Mathematics Project. His presentations internationally have extended to the Peoples Republic of China, and have also included speaking engagements at the annual conferences of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics as well as California Mathematics Council.



    Redwood SEED Scholars will be taught about digital tools, effective communication and presentation skills. They will become adept with email communication and a variety of communication and technology tools like: Google Calendar, Gmail, Outlook, Canvas, Slack, Google Docs, Internet Safety, including phishing and spam, Google Slides, and Google Drive. Students will learn academic and workplace skills that can be used anywhere.

    Instructor: Gary Eisenberg 

    gary eisenberg portrait

    Now retired, Gary Eisenberg was an Elementary School Teacher for the Vacaville Unified School District. During his tenure, Gary had the opportunity to create the school’s first computer lab and teach computer skills. Gary is the parent of a most amazing autistic son, who is now a developmentally different abled adult. Gary delights in helping his son with his PACE Zoom classes. Other professional highlights for Gary include being a Master teacher, Mentor teacher, BTSA instructor, Presenter at CMC Asilomar Conferences, National “Box it or Bag it Math” workshop leader, and National Seminar leader for the Bureau of Education and Research. Gary is also the creator of the “Come With Me Science” video series on YouTube.

      Sexual Health

      Healthy relationships with family, friends, and partners can be an indicator of meaningful adulthood. Students will understand that there are many factors to relationships. Sexual health will cover consent, intimate behavior, as well as rights, and responsibilities.  

      Students in this course will increase their awareness of sexuality, intimate/private behaciors, and strategies for preventing sexual abuse, as well as learn to communicate about these topics and identify strategies for developing & maintaining relationships. Knowledge and understanding of sexual health will increase independence.

      Instructor: Lisa Yamasaki 

      lisa yamasaki headshot

      Lisa Yamasaki has been a special education teacher/inclusion specialist in Davis for 24 years and is now Assistive Technology specialist for Yolo County Office of Education.  She also volunteers her time with Team Davis and CalTASH. Her free time is spent skiing, surfing, glass blowing and being creative.



      Being able to accurately identify and regulate your emotional state is tied to being able to achieve your goals both big and small. Students will learn how to correctly recognize emotions in themselves and others, and they will learn the thoughts, behaviors, and sensations that accompany both pleasant and unpleasant emotions. They will gain new strategies for responding to strong emotions in themselves and others. The knowledge and skills developed in this class will help students work towards their professional and social goals.

      Self-Regulation 1 Instructors: Dr. Jennie Singer and Scott Weintraub 

      jennie singer portrait

      Dr. Jennie Singer is a licensed clinical psychologist, and she has worked with adults as well as children, teens, and families for the past 27 years. Her favorite population to work with is young adults. She was a professor and researched offender rehabilitation at Sacramento State for 16 years as part of the Criminal Justice Division. Dr. Singer retired last year to focus more on her clinical work with clients at Emerge Center for Social and Emotional Learning. She is also very passionate about prison reform, and she works with defense attorneys to help those caught up in the criminal justice system. She loves to go to musicals, swim, travel, play with her grandson, and hang out with her family and their four dogs when she has time to relax.  

      scott weintraub portrait

      Scott Weintraub is an Associate Marriage and Family Therapist practicing at the Emerge Center for Social and Emotional Learning in Davis, working primarily with adolescents and young adults. He is a graduate of the Wright Institute in Berkeley as well as UC Davis where he worked closely with college students for over a decade. Scott is very excited to work with Dr. Singer to help the first-year cohort deepen their abilities to better understand themselves and others.

      Self-Regulation 2 Instructor: Nicole Mank

      nicole mank headshot

      Nicole Mank is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT) that has been working with children and families for over 25 years in various capacities.  As a mother of 2 neurodivergent teenagers, Nicole has developed a passion for using her skills to advocate, educate and support the disabled community.  Nicole also teaches at Sacramento State University in the Family Studies & Human Development Department and enjoys supporting young adults in their pursuit of social service positions within the community.  As an alumni of UC Davis, Nicole is excited to be back on campus in this new role! 


      Civics/Social Justice

      Civic engagement at all levels - from voting to holding public office - is key to making changes that will promote the visibility and participation of people with disabilities in our democracy. Understanding the levers of governmental power and the opportunity to influence it is an important part of being an informed citizen. This course will introduce students to the structure of government, models of advocacy and issues of social justice and human rights.

      Instructor: Nora Roos 

      nora roos portrait

      Nora Roos is an attorney and a graduate of UC Davis King Hall School of Law School. Her previous work includes advising and representing people with disabilities at Legal Services of Northern California. Prior to that she worked as a Legal Editor at Continuing Education of the Bar. Nora is passionate about increasing access to justice and empowering people with disabilities to become effective self-advocates.