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About The Diener School


Welcome | Mission

To teach through experience, stimulate academically, prepare socially and create a successful educational journey that motivates minds and inspires capabilities for a lifetime.

Why The Diener School is Unique

The Diener School’s unique outlook began with Jillian Copeland’s own personal journey. After surveying Washington D.C. area schools that support students who have language, learning, and social deficiencies, Jillian determined that the metropolitan area lacked a program that would offer a solid academic experience while, at the same time, providing students with meaningful and practical social and developmental growth. With a strong educational background and a particular expertise in the special needs arena, Jillian explored the best practices of programs throughout the country, studied past and present research and worked with educational and developmental experts to create “Diener Pyramid of Learning for the Whole Child,” a comprehensive structure of learning that became the foundation of The Diener School and its success.

The Unique Journey

The Diener School believes that learning comes from experiencing. Daily, we take our students on The Diener Journey, a journey to different environments, both inside and outside of the classroom. These journeys for the whole child create opportunities that enhance academic and social learning and encourage life experience.

Academic and social learning: The Diener School believes in an integrated approach to academic and social learning. Daily activities, whether academic, therapeutic, artistic or physical, are connected as part of thematic units.

This integrated approach allows Diener students to see meaning and purpose in each and every activity. The students will feel stimulated and confident as their learning allows them to make connections, generalize information and apply their skills inside and outside of our classroom walls. As such, The Diener School created “Peer Buddies,” a program that allows students to use the social skills and pragmatics encouraged in the classroom to create, build and sustain relationships with students from neighboring schools. In addition, our bi-weekly thematic based field trips offer students an opportunity to learn experimentally and integrate into the community.

Values and character: The Diener School believes that teaching values and building character is integral to its program. Therefore, virtues, positive reinforcement, community responsibility and outreach are part of the Diener day. Many students partake in a school “contract” enabling them to earn positive incentives for hard work and appropriate behavior. As a vehicle for learning, understanding and developing empathy as well as understanding the gifts of giving and thinking responsibly, Diener students conduct “hands-on” community projects and are encouraged with positive incentives for hard work and appropriate behavior.

Mind-body connection: The Diener School believes in the mind-body connection. In furtherance of the connection between movement and learning, the Diener day includes daily sensory exploration, movement breaks, brain-gym exercises, physical education with fitness experts, yoga and after school sports.

Board of Trustees

Advisory Board/Board of Trustees

  • Dr. Gerald Boarman, Head, The Bullis School
  • Jen Berzok, Diener Parent
  • Matt Berzok, Partner, Ryan, MacKinnon, Vasapoli and Berzok, LLP
  • Jillian Copeland. Board Chair, Founder of The Diener School
  • Scott Copeland, Board Treasurer, Principle RST Development
  • Beth Freedman, Former Diener Mom, Attorney, Silver, Freedman & Taff, PC
  • Mark Jacobsen, President & CEO, Promontory Interfinancial Network, LLC
  • Lois McCabe, Diener Interim Head, ex-oficio Board Member
  • Rodney Schmidt, Former Diener Dad, CEO Northrise Energy
  • Mike Warsaw, Partner, Ernst and Young, LLP

Pyramid of Learning


Learning at Diener


The Diener School follows the curriculum standards put forth by the Maryland State Voluntary Curriculum. Additionally, our holistic curriculum provides social skills, speech and language, sensory, movement and the arts thereby providing our students the opportunities for therapeutic input, creativity, purposeful movement and reflection. Students participate in daily fitness, language, sensory and movement activities, weekly art, drama, music as well as afterschool clubs which emphasize fine arts, art history, hands on science, cooking and inventing.

The Diener School seamlessly integrates therapeutic strategies into our full curriculum. Our therapists and academic tutors meet with teachers regularly to discuss academic goals, themes and lessons. Therapists are in classrooms each morning infusing sensory, language and motor exercises within our student’s academic classes.


Staff like no other!

As part of our journey and to accomplish our mission, The Diener School and staff will provide:

Collaborative, multi-disciplinary and research-based holistic teaching methods in small academic classes that focus on student abilities and gifts thereby enhancing cognitive functioning, problem solving and global, independent thinking.

The Diener School’s instructional/therapeutic professionals

  • 1 Classroom Teacher per classroom
  • 1 Trained Classroom Assistant per classroom
  • 3 Academic Assistants
  • 1 Speech Therapist
  • 1 Occupational Therapist
  • 1 Learning Skills Specialist
  • 1 Adapative PE Instructor
  • 1 Yoga Instructor
  • 1 Dance Teacher
  • 1 Developmental Music Therapist
  • 1 Developmental Art Teacher
  • 1 Behavior Psychologist
  • 1 Drama Teacher
  • 1 Science Teacher

The Diener School

tel: 301-299-4602
fax: 301-299-4603
email: info@thedienerschool.org
11510 Falls Road
Potomac Maryland 20854

Lois McCabe
Head of School

Kathy Chumas, MS OTR/L
Director of Admissions and Therapeutic Services