Abigail Bargende and Ned Sullivan first encountered one another as elementary school classmates at the Foster School in Hingham. “We met in second grade, started dating in college, and have been together ever since,” recalls Abigail. “He was one of the good guys.”
Flash forward two decades, and Abigail and Ned are now Cohasset parents of two elementary school-aged daughters of their own.
The two close high school friends “sparked” romantically during a college summertime break and maintained a long-distance relationship between Gordon College and UVA. After graduation, they settled back in Boston, buying a condo together in Brookline.
The couple was married in 2012 at the Larz Anderson Auto Museum in Brookline, where the two parents now bring daughters Isla and Fiona back to visit their favorite spots: the park, Otto Pizza and the Brookline Booksmith.
They returned to the South Shore in 2015, settling in a house on Pleasant Street in Cohasset to be closer to family.
“Our brothers both live in Cohasset, too,” Abigail says. “Even though we grew up in Hingham, all three of our households settled here within a year of each other.” Their siblings have mainly stayed local, making for festive holiday gatherings and weekend family dinners. “Most weekends involve some family event, which is really special… and then all the birthdays!”
The Sullivan Family, which includes Malcolm, a 11-year-old Cockapoo, enjoys game night, Sandy Beach, tide pool exploring at Rocky Beach, the Farmer’s Market, and attending Hingham’s Fourth of July parade. Isla loves stopping by The Barrel in Cohasset for slushes and blow pops, while Fiona misses the grilled cheese at Anchor & Sail.
Ned works in finance in Boston, while Abigail followed her mom into teaching as a classroom teacher, a reading specialist, and then a private tutor. In February 2020, she took a leap of faith and opened the Cohasset Learning Studio, which offers private tutoring in reading skills. Abigail credits the influence of her father, owner of Hingham's Faneuil Kitchen Cabinet. "That entrepreneurial spirit was passed down, for sure," she says.
“There was no doubt that it was going to be successful,” agrees husband Ned. “You could see that network expanding organically. It always felt like it was bound to work.”
“My interest in child development and children’s literature came from my mom,” explains Abigail. “My daughter Isla wants to be a children’s book writer and illustrator, and Fiona wants to be a teacher.”
“The walkability from our home to the Village is one of our favorite things about Cohasset," she says. "I have so many neighbors I can count on. That’s a perk of our spot in town."
"At first, we thought, maybe in a couple years we’ll move back to Hingham – No...” laughs Abigail. “We never looked back. We are now very deliberate Cohasset people.”
Learn About Cohasset Learning Studio
STROLL COHASSET asked Cohasset resident and owner Abigail Sullivan Ed.D. to teach us more about her learning studio.
What services do you offer?
Our tutoring center specializes in literacy, but is also equipped to support students in many academic areas. There are three branches to the business: preschool enrichment, private tutoring, and speech and occupational therapy.
The team is made up of 30 teachers and therapists (5 who live in Cohasset!) dedicated to improving the lives of their students. Many tutors have advanced training and certifications which prepare them to work with students with dyslexia, dysgraphia, and AD/HD. This includes Orton-Gillingham, Wilson, Fundations, Lively Letters, Handwriting With Tears, Lindamood-Bell, and more.
Most important of all, studio tutors are trained in mastering the details of each child’s unique learning profile and designing an intervention plan to meet their needs. We are not selling education promises - instead we commit to knowing each child deeply and communicating about their progress.
- Little Learners: for preschool children (ages 3-4) 1-2 hour weekly enrichment classes focusing on early literacy and number sense
- Kickstart for Kindergarten: for preK children (ages 4-5) 1-2 hour weekly enrichment classes focusing on early literacy and number sense
- Private Tutoring: for K-8 children (specialized tutoring for dyslexia, AD/HD, math, general support, or middle school homework help/study skills)
- Speech Therapy: for preschool and elementary school students struggling with articulation and/or language development/usage
- Occupational Therapy: for preschool and elementary school students struggling with fine motor skills, visual-perceptual integration, pencil grip + control, letter + number formation, posture, and bilateral hand coordination
- Summer Programs: weekly ½ day camps to prepare for the next school year or remediate academic difficulties
How can a preschooler join a class?
Sign up for Little Learners or Kickstart for Kindergarten directly on our website. Sign up is rolling and you can join at any time in the school year. You can join a class that is posted online or request to launch a new class at a time that works for you. Just grab a couple of friends and we will book you a weekly class time with a teacher. We can even extend the class length to make it a lunch-bunch group.
Our preschool classes are very small so that lessons can be effective. They are perfect for children who are showing the earliest signs of struggle as well as those who are eager to learn to read. Families receive progress reports related to letter knowledge, phonemic awareness, and fine motor skills each season. We love customizing groups or plans, so reach out if you have an idea in mind.
What if my child needs tutoring?
Many families reach out to us with a specific academic problem. They are concerned about the lack of progress, growing frustration with homework, or poor scores on progress reports and classroom testing. The first step is setting up a call with Dr. Sullivan to explain your child’s education history and outline your concerns.
Most families book an academic assessment to comb through their literacy and math skills. This process takes 60-90 minutes, depending on the age of the child. The assessment scores and notes are written up into a thorough report explaining a child’s learning profile and the root of their struggle. The report also includes an outline of the proposed tutoring plan and next steps with school or a pediatrician.
Next, children are matched with a tutor and the intervention launches. The tutor will write personalized lessons each week based on the parents’ initial concerns and the findings from the assessment. As the child meets their goals, new goals are determined and the intervention shifts accordingly. Our lessons are targeted and systematic. We know that remediating academic challenges takes wisdom about learning difficulties, skill in planning effective instruction, and creativity to keep the session engaging and warm.
Most families stay with us for a couple of years as they work through multiple academic goals. Other families are with us for just 6 months for a short-term boost. Some families have been our clients since we opened in 2020 and have no plans to move on! We can support your child through the challenges of each new school year and grow the plan right along with them through 8th grade.
What if my child might need speech or occupational therapy?
Start by booking a phone call with Dr. Sullivan. This conversation will allow you to share your concerns, your child’s history, and any prior testing that has already been completed. The studio does not offer full speech or OT evaluations at this time. Instead, we either read through outside testing that has already been completed or conduct a screener on the first day to establish a baseline and outline the needs and goals.
What can parents who sign up expect?
Dr. Sullivan, or Ms. Abigail as the students call her, will coordinate with you to make sure you feel comfortable with the class, tutoring, or therapy plan. She can also help you review school testing, proposed IEP goals, and outside testing from a neuropsychological evaluation. Dr. Sullivan specializes in dyslexia, dysgraphia, and literacy struggles. Clients of the studio can rely on her to share the reality of their child’s learning profile and explain the path they are on. The studio tutors have knowledge of the public and private schools in the area, how to navigate the special education process, and how to talk to your child about their learning differences.
Your tutor or small group teacher will become a trusted person in your child’s life. We use our first names with students to signal a comfortable relationship with mutual respect. The studio space was thoughtfully designed to be warm and inviting to children. Many kids who come to us are struggling. They deserve to feel heard, understood, and empowered as they work on improving their academic skills.