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 begin able to process your thinking, emotions and dreams in writing is 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: Julia Gladding 

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    Julia Gladding is thrilled to be the instructor for the Math/Budgeting course of the Redwood SEEDS Scholars Program! She is passionate about helping every student learn, grow, and achieve success in math and in life. Her favorite thing about being a teacher is creating relationships with students and staff. Julia also teaches Geometry, Algebra 2, Trigonometry, and college math support classes at Fortune Early College High School in Elk Grove. She earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Mathematics (‘18) from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo then, much to the delight of her Aggie alumni family, returned to her hometown of Davis to earn her Teaching Credential (‘19) and Master’s in Education (‘20) from UC Davis. When she’s not at school, you might find Julia in a picturesque spot near the ocean, being a foodie at a delicious restaurant, or cheering on the San Francisco Giants.



    Redwood SEED Scholars will be taught about digital tools, effective communication and presentation skills. They will become adept with email communication, business tools like spreadsheets and powerpoint, and learn academic and workplace skills that can be used anywhere.

    Instructor: Jennifer Wolfe 

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    Mrs. Jennifer Wolfe also works as an AVID Project Specialist for the Sacramento County Office of Education and taught and supported technology in her middle school ELA, Reading, and AVID classes for 30 years in Davis, Woodland, and Sacramento, California.

      Sexual Health

      Having healthy relationships and friendships is a key indicator of a happy and successful adulthood. This is your life and we want you to understand the factors of sexual health.   Students in this course will not only learn about sexuality, sex and sexual abuse but students will also learn their rights and responsibilities and strategies for developing & maintaining relationships. Knowledge and understanding of sexual health and what it takes to be healthy and happy is important in any post-secondary program.

      Instructor: Lisa Yamasaki 

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      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.

      Instructor: Johnathan Bystrynski 

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      Jonathan Bystrynski is a postdoctoral fellow in the Developmental Behavioral Pediatrics division at the UC Davis MIND Institute. He obtained his doctorate in psychology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and he completed his clinical internship year at UCDMC through the CAARE Center and the MIND Institute. His professional interests include trauma, NeuroDevelopmental Disabilities (NDDs), and developmental psychopathology, and he has previously designed and delivered programming for adolescents and young adults focused on emotion regulation, identity development, and the transition to college.


      Civics/Social Justice

      “Nothing about us without us” is a rallying cry of the disability rights movement. 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. The course will be the foundation for internship opportunities at the California state capitol in Sacramento.

      Instructor: Pam Cohen 

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      Pamela Cohen is a Senior Attorney Mediator with the California Department of Fair Employment & Housing, the state's civil rights agency. She has more than thirty years’ experience representing people with all types of disabilities on legal issues involving discrimimination and mental health law. She has taught as an adjunct professor at New York Law School and Stanford Law School, as a clinical lecturer at the University of Chicago Law School, and as a Visiting Scholar at Sophia University in Tokyo. Pam is also the founder and Executive Director of Purple Tree Cafe, a Davis nonprofit that employs people with disabilities to make and sell vegan baked goods, and co-leader of the Team Davis Singers, a disability-inclusive music group affiliated with the local Special Olympics organization. Pam welcomes the Redwood SEED Scholars to Davis, and is looking forward to working with them.