Benchmark Presents

Coming Out of COVID: What Parents Need to Know About Supporting Kids Emerging from the Pandemic School Year

Thursday, May 27, 12-1 p.m.

We hope you enjoyed our Benchmark Presents inaugural series event entitled "Coming Out of COVID: What Parents Need to Know About Supporting Kids Emerging from the Pandemic School Year."

You can watch the recording on this event. You will  hear our panel of experts answer parent questions about how to help children thrive emotionally and academically as we move into this summer and the next school year. 

Meet Our Panelists


Amber B. West Buller, PhD

Dr. Amber West Buller is a clinical psychologist and the founder of POJ Solutions.
After graduating from Benchmark School in 1984, Dr. Buller attended The Episcopal Academy, the University of Arizona where she earned a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, and Palo Alto University where she earned a Ph.D. in clinical psychology.
Dr. Buller has worked extensively with children, young adults, parents and caregivers as a licensed psychologist in Pennsylvania and Delaware. Dr. Buller has experience in individual therapy, family therapy, educational support and coaching. With a background in pediatric neuropsychology, her work today focuses on assisting individuals, families, and schools. She is a member of the National Register for Psychology, the Pennsylvania Psychological Association, and the American Psychological Association.


Y. Lily Higgins, MD, MBA, MS

Dr. Lily Higgins is the Market Chief Medical Officer for Keystone First and AmeriHealth Caritas Pennsylvania. She was recently appointed to the Delaware County Board of Health with the goal of establishing the county’s first health department.

Dr. Higgins is a board certified pediatrician with thirty years of clinical experience. Her education includes a Bachelor of Arts in Biology from Cornell University, a Master’s Degree in Nutrition from Columbia University of Physician and Surgeons, a Medical Degree from Drexel University School of Medicine, and a Master of Business Administration in Medical Services Management from Johns Hopkins University.

Most of her clinical career, she has served the multicultural pediatric populations in Philadelphia. She emigrated with her family from China as a young child which has given Dr. Higgins a unique understanding of the diverse health care challenges and needs of the Medicaid members, as well as an understanding of the challenges for providers who serve this population.

Dr. Higgins is a Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics. She is a proud mother of a Benchmark alumna.


Thomas K. Hurster, MSS, LCSW, CGP

Mr. Tom Hurster is a clinical social worker on the Child and Family Support Services team at Benchmark School,  a clinical social worker in private practice, and an Instructor in Social Work at Bryn Mawr College Graduate School of Social Work and Social Research. Mr. Hurster's tenure at Benchmark School began in 1981. 

Mr. Hurster completed his undergraduate degree at Beloit College and earned his MSS at Bryn Mawr College, Graduate School of Social Work and Social Research.

Mr. Hurster has been providing counseling and therapy services to youth and their families for 40 years and primarily works with children, adolescents, young adults, and their families. He has experience addressing anxiety, depression, impulsivity, excessive anger, self-esteem erosion, and relational difficulties, and has particular expertise in working with the emotional consequences of struggling with learning differences.
He is a Fellow in the American Group Psychotherapy Association, and national co-chair of the American Group Psychotherapy Association (AGPA) Child and Adolescent Special Interest Group, and serves on the board of the Philadelphia Area Group Psychotherapy Society (PAGPS).


Barbara Kraus-Blackney

Ms. Barbara Kraus-Blackney has been the President of the Association of Delaware Valley Independent Schools (ADVIS), a regional association of 130 independent schools from Delaware, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Maryland, for 22 years.

Ms. Kraus-Blackney earned a B.S. in Human Resources from the University of Delaware and holds a Certificate in Fundraising from the University of Pennsylvania and a Certificate in Board Governance from BoardSource. 

She has served on the boards of two area preschools and Leadership + Design, a national education thought-leadership and strategy consulting organization, as well as on the planning committees for the 2013 and 2020 National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) Annual Conferences. Barbara was honored to be selected by the Economy League of Greater Philadelphia to participate in its 2013 Greater Philadelphia Leadership Exchange. She is the mother of three independent school graduates who have all gone on to work in the field of education and related social services. 



Benchmark's Head of School Chris Hancock moderated "Coming Out of COVID: What Parents Need to Know About Supporting Kids Emerging from the Pandemic School Year."

He holds a B.A. in Economics from Haverford College and an Ed.M. in School Leadership from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. He is currently pursuing a Doctorate in Educational Leadership at the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education. Mr. Hancock has been leading Benchmark School since June 2020.