A distinctive program, truly unique to Holy Family Catholic School among our local schools, is the GAINS (Getting Ahead In School) program. Students in every grade who learn differently than their peers are able to receive one-on-one instruction (small group instruction in the middle school) with a trained GAINS tutor twice a week, providing the children with specialized reading and spelling skills that directly lead to greater success in the classroom. The tutors use The Barton Reading & Spelling System which is an Orton-Gillingham influenced approach to reading and spelling. The latest scientific reading research supports the Orton-Gillingham methodology as “best practices” when teaching reading to these learners.


In striving for academic excellence, Holy Family School takes the individual needs of all of our students into account. Through the GAINS Program, we are better able to reach our students who learn differently and provide them with skills which allow them to be more successful in the regular classroom setting.


  • To give support to students, teachers, and parents
  • To identify and provide early intervention to students who lack proficient reading, writing and spelling skills (Barton Reading and Spelling Program)
  • Give 1-1 instruction a minimum of 2 times per week (Reading, Gr.1-8) and/or small group instruction 2 times a week
  • Identify minor adjustments for student success in the classroom
  • Educate and support parents in ways to help their child be more successful
  • Annual 1st-grade reading assessment to ensure all students are on target with reading acquisition
  • Tri-annual reading assessment in grades K-3 to assure every student is on target to meet grade level benchmark goals.

The International Dyslexia Association website is a great resource for parents looking for more information about identifying and supporting students who learn differently.

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Director of Gains: Dianne Ciulla (P’11, P’12, P’16) – I am a 2nd generation Angelino and a product of a Catholic education having attended St. Dominic’s Catholic School in Eagle Rock and
then Mayfield Senior School.  I continued my education at Purdue University where I graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology. After toying with the idea of becoming a psychologist, I decided education was where my heart was and has been ever since.   I have a California Clear Multiple Subject Credential (K-12) as well as a Language Development Specialist Certificate.  I taught for the Los Angeles Unified School District for 10 years where I developed a passion for literacy. My entire public-school career was dedicated to teaching ESL students to read and write. I temporarily “retired” from teaching while my 3 children were young and then returned 13 years ago as a volunteer tutor in the GAINS (Getting Ahead in School) program. Holy Family was the perfect place to start my 2nd teaching career as it was so very near and dear to my heart. I loved being a part of the school community as a parent and I was thrilled to be able to give back and share my passion for reading as an educator.  For the past 9 years, I have been a GAINS teacher and took over as the program Director in 2018. I love all things Italian and when I am not at school, you can find me on the tennis courts!!

“They may forget what you said, but they will never forget how you made them feel” -Carl W. Buechner

Teacher: Sheila Laco (P’08, P1’11) – Holy Family School is a second home to me.  My husband and I have been parishioners for 31 years and both of our children attended Holy Family School.  I have a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Notre Dame and a Masters in Educational Administration from California State University, Los Angeles. I received my California Clear Multiple Subject Teaching Credential (K-12) from the University of California, Santa Barbara. I have enjoyed experiencing many roles as a educator.  I began my teaching career in the Pasadena Unified School District as an elementary school teacher.  I have served as a Mentor Teacher and I have directed a Gifted and Talented program.  After I left the classroom, I supervised student teachers in the Education Department at Occidental College.

I have felt incredibly fortunate to be involved with the GAINS program since its inception in 2004 when Jeanine Cochran, the first Director of the GAINS program, asked me to pilot the program with her as a teacher volunteer.  It was through this volunteer work that I found my true calling as a teacher.  I witnessed first hand how GAINS positively changed the life of countless students, including my own daughter who participated in the program as a student at HFS.  I am now privileged to work in GAINS as a Reading Resource Teacher.  I love teaching children and I am passionate about helping to unlock the key to learning to students who struggle with reading.

Here are some other links you might find helpful: