Rachel Leja, M.S.

Educational Counselor

Rachel brings her wealth of experience as a special educator of students with a wide range of learning, emotional and behavioral challenges to her school and college planning work at McMillan Education. Families love working with Rachel because they are immediately taken by her combination of genuine warmth and consummate professionalism. Rachel considers herself on a mission to help students find the learning and social environments that both address their needs and allow them to experience success. Nothing has brought Rachel more satisfaction than hearing the transformational stories from her students and families after they’ve found their best fit educational or therapeutic environment.

A trained learning specialist, Rachel has deep experience working with students with a wide range of learning disabilities. Beginning her career at The Landmark School in Beverly, Massachusetts, the country’s premier language-based learning disabilities program, Rachel taught across the language arts, skills and writing curriculum. She then went on to join the faculty at The Cedarhurst School operated by the Yale University School of Medicine’s Department of Psychiatry, where she worked closely with students with a wide range of learning and developmental challenges, including specific learning disabilities, attentional and executive deficits, and autism spectrum disorder. While at Cedarhurst, Rachel held various positions, including English teacher, College Counselor and Head of Curriculum Development. Cedarhurst’s mission of serving students with emotional, behavioral and learning challenges supported by Yale’s research and resources had an immeasurable impact on Rachel’s professional understanding of the best interventions and treatments for this population of students while also widening her expertise to include assessing effective placements for students presenting with mental health impairments.

Rachel earned her bachelor’s degree in professional writing at Champlain College in Burlington, Vermont. She then went on to complete her master’s degree in special education at Simmons University in Boston, Massachusetts. Rachel has also presented at professional conferences on behavioral issues in the classroom, worked in an afterschool program for young learners and provided individual tutoring for learning disabled students.

A native of Massachusetts, Rachel lives in the New Haven, Connecticut area with her husband Sean and their cats Walter and Murray. When not working, she enjoys anything outdoors: hiking, kayaking, biking, and camping in particular. She also loves listening to podcasts, riding her Peloton, and yoga. Rachel also happens to be the daughter of the amazing Carolyn Nelson, also a gifted learning specialist (it runs in the family!) and a treasured member of our team.

Where Rachel comes from


Cedarhurst School

Yale University

Landmark School


Learning Specialist, English Teacher, College Counselor, Head of Curriculum Development


Simmons University

M.S., Special Education

Champlain College

B.A., Creative Writing

Rachel's Insights

There are many things I get from my mother, but a green thumb is not one of them. While my mother can nurse a sickly plant back to life with just the...
Visiting college campuses is often the first step students take in taking the abstract concept of college and translating it to the real world. These initial visits serve as an introduction to...
5 things to Know about Neuropsychological Testing for Students A neuropsychological exam can be administered proactively, or in response to challenges a student may be facing in the classroom and/or at home....
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