top of page

Melissa Nolan: Building a Successful Private Practice

Updated: Apr 29, 2022

Melissa Nolan is the founder of Assessing Kids. She started out as a school psychologist, worked in school administrations, and branched off into her own private practice where she works as an advocate for students and assesses kids with learning disabilities.

Committing to her vision and attracting mentors who aligned with it

It’s important to be aligned with your vision and values. Melissa has a vision in her mind of what she wants to practice and commits to it. If things don’t go her way, she makes sure to reflect and think about how she can do it differently to be aligned with her vision.

Melissa finds that she respects and admires people who are willing to push the limits, do things differently, and go against the culture. Because of this, she was able to attract people/mentors into her life whose visions aligned with her own.

While a school psychologist, times arose for her where people would recruit her and offer opportunities. Melissa is a risk-taker and accepted opportunities that came to her. This allowed her to expand her network and build great relationships that she still is connected with to this day.

Melissa is able to keep aligned because she has developed these great relationships and takes care of her health. She is able to go to the people who she trusts and get honest feedback. She also prioritizes her health and self-care, keeping up with exercise and nutrition to keep her mental and physical health in check.

Be kind to yourself -- The growth process is not linear

Melissa realizes that mistakes are guaranteed to happen, so being kind to herself and approaching mistakes as an opportunity is very important to her. She also knows that she does not know everything, and it is okay to not know everything. But the ongoing desire to learn is essential and an important practice.

Keeping organized with clients -- Writing everything down

Melissa keeps organized by documenting all communication with clients. She writes down what was accomplished with the client and what the next steps are. Everything is written down, it doesn’t stay in her head.

When Melissa has a new client, she writes down what the goal from the client is and refers back to it frequently, reminding clients what their goal is. Another important part is responding to clients as quickly as possible to relieve the client’s anxieties.

Building a successful private practice -- Hard work and Luck

In order to keep clients coming back, you have to do outstanding work. You have to have the experience in your younger years so that you can accelerate in your own private practice.

Melissa attributes her success to hard work. Learning never came naturally to her, she had to work really hard and be disciplined. Luck came into her life through her relationships and opportunities that came to her. But, she had to take risks and accept these opportunities.

Find out more about Melissa and her work at


Sean McCormick 0:01 This week on Earn More Tutoring, I talk with Melissa Nolan about her 25 years of experience going from working in education to private practice, how to advocate effectively for children, and how going against the grain can be exactly what families need sometimes. Melissa Nolan 0:16 The people that I found that I really respect or those that are extremely student centered, are willing to go above and beyond, are willing to push the limits, are willing to do things differently, are willing to kind of go against the culture. And those are the people I've always sought out. Sean McCormick 0:38 Welcome to Earn More Tutoring, the number one education entrepreneurship show. My guest today is Melissa Nolan, founder of Bay Area advocate and assessing kids. Welcome, Melissa. Melissa Nolan 0:50 Thank you excited to be here. Sean McCormick 0:53 Yes, I'm thrilled to have you on. And so just to get started, I'd love for you to share what your different ventures are, what your what your business is, and the different people you serve. So please just share a little bit about that. Melissa Nolan 1:06 Okay, I started as a school psychologist and worked in school administration for many years, and then worked with two different developmental pediatricians in the Bay Area. And then from there, I branched off onto my into my own private practice. And right now I have a private practice in Walnut Creek. And through that private practice, I do two main things. I work as an advocate with parents who have students who have special needs, help them to understand the IEP process, the section five of our process, how to get services for students, what to do if their student is not succeeding in a typical school, and what other possibilities are out there. And then I also do assessments, psycho educational assessments with some neuro psych to it as well. And those assessments, so I specialize in dyslexia assessments, as well as dysgraphia dyscalculia, and executive functioning, and ADHD. Sean McCormick 2:07 Such important work. And I'd love to know how you got into I know, you mentioned, you've worked in the past in schools. But before that, like, Did you always know you wanted to work in assessment? And, you know, education? Or how did you even make your first jump into the education field. Melissa Nolan 2:24 I had no idea what I wanted to do. So went to college and just started taking some I was a psych major as an undergrad, really liked my courses, and then started taking some education classes, and just enjoyed what I was studying. And then from there, I went on and got my master's degree. And then when I was in my first master's program, it was about assessment, it was about being becoming a school psychologist. I wasn't sure if I wanted to be a school psychologist, I was just really actually not really thrilled about the assessments. And so started kind of thinking, what else would I want to do? So I did start working as a school psychologist, but then just opportunities came my way, I think that that's what happened is that people presented different options for me. And I took advantage of them. Rather than just kind of doing the same thing that everybody was doing, I would always take risks. And so it just things just evolved, where people would recruit me, I would say, Okay, I'm going to do it. And then I would study further, whatever area it was. So we started in School Psychology, and then pretty quick, people were kind of thinking, Oh, you might, you would be good for administration. And so went back and got another Master's in administration. And then with that, just found that I was meeting great people. And through those people, I was thinking, oh, gosh, this is really what this is, I want to go in a different direction. So administration came around. And then after doing administration for a while, I started talking with some developmental pediatricians and different people in the community and found Well, you know, what, I really want to go into private practice. And then again, those opportunities came up and worked with different practices privately. So I would say how did it happen is your original question, things just evolved, I took advantage of, of options that were out there. I love learning. And so always going back and studying and not being kind of afraid to jump into something that I really didn't have a background in, and just connections, making connections with great people. I had a lot of really wonderful mentors that helped guide my kind of path. And it brought me to where I am today. And those connections have lasted for you know, I've been doing I've been in the field about 30, almost 30 years, and they've just lasted and brought me to you know, meet great people. Sean McCormick 4:45 I think a lot of people don't understand or realize the value of great mentorship and relationships. So I previously worked in public schools...

Check out the full interview below!

Want to hear more?

Head to your favorite podcast listening platform and get inspired by entrepreneurs and educators who have experienced it all!

7 views0 comments


bottom of page