Who We Are
The Academy of Physical and Social development was founded in 1954 to help young students in Newton and throughout the surrounding area gain mastery, self-esteem and confidence through social, psychological and physical competence. Consistency, competency, caring and connection serve as the foundation of everything we do -- from social skills group programs and individual counseling to parent collaboration, school-based service and more.
Each student is unique. We pair your child with the ideal services for their needs based on an initial interview with you both as well as information that you share in your ‘About My Child’ questionnaire and other forms. For our group programs, instead of organizing students by age, placement is dependent on physical skill, developmental level and cognitive abilities as well as social and emotional maturity.
We help children and adolescents overcome the various challenges that they face, hone new skills and sharpen existing strengths. Establishing self-confidence, improving communication, developing positive social skills and effectively assessing personal behavior are just a few of the benefits that we help students at The Academy realize. The techniques that your child learns at The Academy can be applied in school, social, family and professional settings as well as many other aspect of their lives.
Our faculty at The Academy is comprised of elite professionals with extensive academic and professional experience. In addition to facilitating group programs during the school year and over the summer, we also offer individual counseling services. Our counselors specialize in autism spectrum, attention deficit, learning differences, anxiety, depression, grief and loss, emotional regulation, behavior management, self-esteem and more.
Our services are so effective, public and private elementary, middle and high schools rely on us for staff education pertaining to the behavioral, social and emotional issues of their student body. This can include ongoing training, plan development and support for teachers as well as supervision of and coordination with special education staff. We also provide student and community-facing services such as counseling outlined by IEPs, discussions with parent groups and other roles typically filled by school adjustment counselors and social workers.
The Academy of Physical & Social Development team is comprised of passionate professionals with diverse areas of specialization and years of experience. Learn more about our staff members and their unique qualifications by browsing their brief biographies below.
Ken Barringer is the Director of the Academy. He has been with the Academy since 1981. Ken earned his degrees from Clark University and Lesley University. He is an adjunct faculty member at the Lesley University Division of Counseling and Psychology. Ken also is the Director of H.E.A.L.I.N.G. a grief and loss support program and hosts the podcast Grief in Brief.
He is a member of the American Counseling Association, Mass. Mental Health Counselors Association, Association for Counselor Education and Supervision, Association for Multicultural Counseling and Development and The Association for Death Education and Counseling.
Jessica Capone is the Chief Operating Officer for the Academy. In this capacity, she is responsible for managing the daily operation and supervision of the Academy Group Program in addition to serving as Director of the Academy's Summer Programming. On top of her role as COO, Jessica currently maintains a patient-oriented therapy practice at the Academy focusing on individual therapy, group work, and consultation/behavior management. She has experience in training staff/interns and consulting within the public/private school sector. Jessica is a current member of the Massachusetts Mental Health Counselors Association and the American Counseling Association and has both a Bachelors in psychology and a Masters in Counseling Psychology from Boston College. Jessica is licensed as a Mental Health Counselor by the Board of Allied Mental Health and Human Services Professions by the state of Massachusetts.
Otto has his B.S. from the University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee in elementary education and his Masters and Certificate of Advanced Graduate Study from UMass-Boston in school psychology. He has taught 2nd and 3rd grade for 13 years before shifting his careeer to school psychology. Otto is currently a school psychologist at the Walsh Middle School in Framingham and is a Nationally Certified School Psychologist.
Andrea Maxwell received her M.S. in Counseling and School Psychology from the University of Massachusetts Boston. Before her time at the Academy Andrea taught theatre in elementary schools and worked as a preschool teacher in the Boston area. She has experience in Early Intervention which focuses on children birth-to-three years old. She studied as a graduate intern at the Academy in 2011-2012, and began work as a full time staff member in 2012. Andrea runs social skills groups, provides professional development trainings, and provides individual therapy services. Andrea is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor.
Jessica Kruss is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor who provides both individual and group therapy services at the Academy. She a received her Master's degree in Mental Health Counseling and Behavioral Medicine from Boston University's School of Medicine. Jessica has been a staff member here at the Academy since her graduate internship year in 2011-2012. In addition to her mental health training, Jessica also has taken course work in Sports Psychology and worked with Freshman Athletes at Boston University's Student Athlete Support Services.
Janae Sernoffsky graduated with her M.A in Mental Health Counseling from Boston College in 2015 where she completed her internship at the Academy of Physical and Social development. Prior, she received her M.S in Sport Psychology from Miami University and her B.S in Kinesiology and psychology from the University of New Hampshire. Janae currently works as a masters level clinician at one of JRI's residential programs where she provides trauma-informed individual and group counseling to adolescent females and their families. She has a range of experiences working with children and adolescents including assessment work at McLean's Anxiety Mastery Program.
Scott began at The Academy of Physical & Social development as a graduate intern in the fall of 2016 and is excited to continue his work with children and families in the community. Prior to working at The Academy, Scott provided support to children and families in Cambridge at The Boys and Girls Club. While working within this setting, Scott was a program specialist, designing cooperative and educational games for children. As an undergraduate, Scott studied mental health counseling at Lesley University and interned for agencies such as Arlington Center for The Arts and All Care Hospice. Scott is now an adjustment counselor at O’Donnell Middle School in Stoughton.
Maura received her Masters in School Counseling Psychology in addition to her B.A. in Psychology with a minor in Economics from Boston College. Maura started at the Academy as a part-time graduate intern in the fall of 2018 while she interned in Newton North High School’s counseling department. She has continued her work at the Academy as a part-time staff member & staff member of the Academy’s Summer Program. Maura is currently a School Counselor at Reading Memorial High School.
Kayla Trutt received her M.A. in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Regis College. She completed her graduate internship at the Academy of Physical and Social Development and became a staff member in 2021. As a staff member, her responsibilities include leading groups, both at the Academy and through local schools, individual counseling, and providing training for graduate student interns. Kayla obtained a BFA in Contemporary Dance Performance from the Boston Conservatory at Berklee in 2019.
Daniela received her Master’s in Mental Health Counseling: Child & Family Health and Wellness from Boston College. She received her B.A. in Applied Psychology & Human Development with a concentration in Special Education and Music from Boston College as well. Daniela began working at the Academy in the fall of 2021 as a graduate intern. She is excited to return as a staff member and be able to continue working with children and their families at the Academy. Currently, Daniela is accruing the necessary hours to become a Licensed Mental Health Counselor. She works as a Clinician in a Residential and Educational Program.
Annika Sheehan received her Masters in School Counseling from Boston University in 2023 and obtained her B.A. in Sociology as an undergrad from Lafayette College where she also played Division I soccer and ran track. She started at the Academy as a graduate intern in the fall of 2022 and will be starting as the Lower School Counselor at Boston Collegiate Charter School this year. She is excited to continue working with children and families at the Academy!
Vanessa is thrilled to be joining the team at The Academy of Physical & Social Development. She recently received her Master’s in Mental Health Counseling at Lesley University in 2022. Prior to working at The Academy, she interned at HRI Hospital in the Evening Intensive Outpatient Program for adults experiencing a variety of mental health challenges. She also interned at Community Therapeutic Day School where she is currently a support staff teacher. She has worked at a number of schools as a teacher and coach. She often enjoys incorporating her athletic background within her therapeutic approach.
Denise Goguen has been the bookkeeper at the Academy since 1996. She carries an associates degree in accounting and has been a bookkeeper for 28 years. In addition to the Academy, Denise maintains positions with Running Brook Day Camp and the Windsor Press.
Kate earned her Bachelor of Science degree in accounting from Bentley University and her Master’s in Accounting degree from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. While at Bentley, she was a Scholar All-American swimmer, team captain, and Special Olympics volunteer. Kate is a certified public accountant and enjoys being a part of The Academy team and supporting the program’s mission.