Who We Are

A place for children who need extra support in the classroom.
Person on a playground with a rainbow in the distance over school buildings

A New Type of School

Some students need extra support to thrive in a classroom setting. The Burkard School provides these children with the ideal environment to allow them to be their best selves socially, emotionally, and academically.

The Burkard School is a K-8 school like no other in the Bay Area. We start with a small class size – no more than 10 students through fifth grade and 12 students in the middle school – and dedicate both an experienced educator and behavior specialist to each class. This formula allows us to maintain a high level of academic rigor while targeting the social-emotional learning, self-regulation, and executive functioning of each student. The teaching team creates an environment where the child is focused, regulated, and ready to learn, ensuring that each student reaches her academic potential.

At The Burkard School, students are given the supportive environment they need to shine.

A small independent K-8 school for bright children who need extra support with self-regulation, executive functioning, and/or social-emotional learning in the classroom.

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Contact us to find out more information about The Burkard School.

Meet Our Team

Leadership

Agapi Burkard

Agapi Burkard

Head of School

Juris Doctor
University of California, Hastings College of the Law

Bachelor of Science, Economics
Santa Clara University

Agapi has drawn upon her legal training and 10 years of experience as a full-time mother and advocate of an amazing, engaging, and challenging child to create The Burkard School. The Burkard School is her labor of love, commitment, and passion.

Michelle Benham, MA, BCBA

Michelle Benham, MA, BCBA

Director of Behavior.

Board Certified Behavior Analyst

Master of Arts, Psychology, Emphasis in Applied Behavior Analysis

California State University, Fresno

Bachelor of Arts, Psychology

San Diego State University

Michelle brings to The Burkard School a wealth of experience, proven effectiveness, and deep expertise in behavior. During her 9-year career as a behavior analyst both in-home and in classroom settings, she has designed and implemented programs and treatment plans, managed specialized classrooms including developing curriculum, and trained faculty and staff in behavior and social skills interventions. Before joining TBS, she was a Program Director for FirstSteps for Kids, where she oversaw 12 treatment teams. Michelle elevates our program with her passion for maintaining the highest integrity in our data collection, implementing our interventions with consistency, and ensuring our interventions are responsive to our students’ needs. Just as importantly, Michelle approaches behavior with a fun but steadfast presence that is calming to her students and creates a strong bond. Our students love being around her!

View Michelle Benham's Interview

Cooper Zak, MEd, School Leadership

Cooper Zak, MEd, School Leadership

Director of Academics

Master of Education, School Leadership
University of San Diego

Bachelor of Arts, Politics
University of California, Santa Cruz

Cooper joins the Burkard School Leadership Team with over 9 years of experience as a humanities teacher, vice principal, and curriculum developer at schools dedicated to neurologically diverse students. As Director of Academics, Cooper’s main goal is to prepare students with the critical thinking and communication skills necessary for academic and career success. He views self-advocacy, self-efficacy, and digital literacy as important tools for navigating the world of education. Cooper encourages students and teachers to draw upon their cultural funds of knowledge and experiences in class discussions, cross-curricular group projects, and individual assessments. His favorite part of working in education is seeing students’ self-efficacy improve. A native San Diegan, Cooper enjoys swimming, playing music, and hiking.

Educators

Jeremy Boado, MA

Jeremy Boado, MA

Grades 2/3 Educator

Master of Arts, Education
Eastern Oregon University

Bachelor of Science, Psychological & Brain Sciences
University of Santa Barbara

California Multiple Subject Teaching Credential

Jeremy is a passionate teacher with experience developing and implementing diverse curriculums covering various subjects. He is highly skilled at motivating students through positive encouragement and reinforcement. He recently completed his Master’s of Education and Multiple Subjects credential with a 3.9 GPA. Jeremy prides himself on his ability to construct, plan, and execute lessons and instructions using many modalities to fit the individual. In his previous work at Trivium Charter Schools in Santa Barbara, Jeremy has experience working with students with divergent learning styles and implementing learning plans with care and fidelity.

Jennifer Davidson

Jennifer Davidson

Grade 4 Educator

Bachelor of Arts, Elementary Education Instruction
Notre Dame de Namur

Masters in Education and Teaching Credential, In Progress
National University

Jenn Davidson is proud to be joining the TBS team as our fourth grade teacher. She is a Bay Area native and received her bachelor’s degree in Liberal Studies with a focus on education. She has spent the past five years as an assistant teacher in third and fourth grade. Jenn is currently working towards her multiple subject credential with a masters at National University. The masters she is working towards focuses on inspired teaching practices which helps her learn how to bring the most effective classroom management techniques and assessment procedures into the classroom. Jenn has a true passion for teaching and strives to create a community that nurtures growth in a fun, and positive environment.

Kami Kodama, RBT

Grades 4/5 Humanities Teacher

Bachelor of Arts, Cognitive Science
University of California, Berkeley

Kami is a dedicated Behavioral Interventionist with extensive experience in providing behavior-analytic services to children on the autism spectrum. Previously, as a Behavioral Interventionist at Cortica in San Rafael, Kami provided both one-to-one and group therapy, documenting progress and communicating with families and clinical teams. Additionally, as an Instructional Support Specialist at Chabot Elementary School in Oakland, Kami supported students with individualized education plans and classroom management. A Registered Behavioral Technician, she holds a B.A. in Cognitive Science from the University of California, Berkeley with a 3.9 GPA. Kami is recognized for her strong communication skills, work ethic, and problem-solving abilities.

Joanna Calpotura-Wagner

Joanna Calpotura-Wagner

Grade 5 Educator

Bachelor of Arts, Business Management
University of the Pacific

With over a decade of diverse teaching experience, Ms. CW brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to The Burkard School community. As a teacher with various experiences, including specializing in students with dyslexia, growing her skills in creating tailored curricula, and implementing the Wilson Reading System program for language instruction, Mrs. CW’s commitment to differentiated instruction is evident in her ability to lead small groups, design hands-on lessons aligned with California standards, and foster a sense of belonging through daily Morning Meetings that prioritize community-building activities. Moreover, Ms. CW’s impact extends beyond the classroom to leadership roles and community involvement. She has also worked as a Learning Specialist where her primary focus was supporting and advocating for students and ensuring personalized support for academic growth. Qualified with a BA in Liberal Studies and specialized training in child development and mindfulness, Mrs. CW embodies a holistic approach to education, nurturing young minds academically, socially, and emotionally.

Robert Lohrer

Middle School Humanities Teacher

Bachelor of Arts, History
Princeton University

Robert is a distinguished professional who made the transition from an impressive journalism and editorial career to the field of education. With over 15 years of editorial experience, Robert served as President and Editorial Director at RLL Associates, Inc., and Editor-in-Chief at Fairchild Publishing in New York. Building on his editorial expertise, Robert embarked on his teaching journey in 2018. He has since made a significant impact as an ELA teacher at St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception and St. Lawrence the Martyr. His responsibilities included curriculum development, writing instruction, and high school preparation guidance for graduating students. Robert’s educational background at Princeton University and his hands-on teaching experience uniquely position him to inspire and educate the next generation in English and humanistic studies.

Arob Sulieman

Middle School Math Teacher

Master of Arts, Mathematics Education
University of Haifa

Teaching Certification
Oranim College of Education, Israel

Arob brings over 15 years of extensive experience in teaching mathematics to students in both classroom and private settings. Most recently, as a mathematics teacher at Gideon Hausner School in Palo Alto, Arob specializes in Algebra and has a proven track record of creating engaging, effective lesson plans that align with her students’ varying needs. Her professional journey includes roles such as a math tutor, a teacher examiner, and a teacher instructor. Arob holds a Master of Arts in Mathematics Education from the University of Haifa, where she graduated with distinction, and a Teaching Certification from Oranim College. Fluent in Arabic, English, and Hebrew, Arob excels in classroom management, individualized instruction, and fostering positive learning environments that encourage problem-solving and critical thinking. Her passion for education and diverse teaching background make her an excellent addition to our team and an invaluable asset.

Classroom Behavior Specialists

Rebecca Maliano

K/1 Classroom Behavior Specialist

Bachelor of Arts, Psychology
University of California, Los Angeles

Master of Social Work in progress
Northcentral University

Rebecca earned her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from UCLA and is currently advancing her education as a graduate student in Social Work. With a rich background in behavioral therapy, she has made significant contributions to the field, particularly in supporting individuals with autism. Rebecca’s roles as a Program Manager and Behavior Therapist saw her providing in-home therapy, overseeing staff, and conducting vital parent training sessions. Rebecca employs advanced ABA techniques and meticulous data analysis to enhance care quality and track client progress. Known for her strong communication and leadership abilities, Rebecca’s empathetic and problem-solving approach makes her a wonderful addition to our team. Her dedication and passion for social work drive her continuous pursuit of knowledge and desire to make a positive impact.

Leanna Arriola, MA, ABA

Leanna Arriola, MA, ABA

Grades 2/3 Classroom Behavior Specialist

Bachelor of Science, Human Biology
University of California, Merced

Master of Science, Applied Behavior Analysis
Florida Institute of Technology

Registered Behavior Technician

Leanna is a passionate and highly skilled behavior specialist with a Masters’s degree in Applied Behavior Analysis and 4 years of experience. As a Classroom Behavior Specialist for Grades 2/3, she brings a calm and analytical approach to handling behaviors, creating a safe and supportive environment for her students to flourish. Her intuitive nature and unwavering dedication to her students’ success make her a wonderful advocate for her students.

Brandon Carlton

Brandon Carlton

Grade 4 Classroom Behavior Specialist

Master of Science, Applied Behavior Analysis, In Progress
National University

Bachelor of Science, Psychology
San Francisco State University

Brandon stands out as a dedicated behavioral specialist with significant expertise, particularly evident in his work at Esther B. Clark School, where he served from 2010 until 2020. Collaborating with various mental health agencies, he has developed individualized education protocols, Positive Behavior Intervention Plans, and comprehensive treatment plans for both in-home and school settings. His extensive experience includes supporting students with learning disabilities, ADHD, Autism, and other challenges, ensuring they can access the general education curriculum effectively. A certified Pro-Act Assault Crisis Trainer, Brandon possesses an intimate knowledge of crisis protocols and has actively managed challenging and crisis behavior. As a leader in behavior management, he has overseen classroom specialists and conducted a wide range of staff training. Additionally, his work on the Children’s Health Council’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion task force, coupled with his pursuit of a Master’s Degree in Applied Behavior Analysis, emphasizes his continuous drive for professional growth and a commitment to creating an equitable environment for all.

Danielle Apfelbaum, RBT

Grade 6 Classroom Behavior Specialist

Associate of Arts, Psychology
University of California, De Anza College

Bachelor of Arts, Psychology in progress
San Jose State University

Danielle is a seasoned Senior Behavior Therapist with a strong background in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) and over a decade of experience working with children on the autism spectrum. Previously a Lead Behavior Therapist at Autism Living Leisure and Education Nurturing Inc., Danielle models behavioral reinforcement techniques for school staff and provides comprehensive therapy. At Trumpet Behavioral Health, she developed social stories, recreational therapies, and tailored protocols for individual client needs. Danielle’s extensive experience includes private home therapy, classroom management, and training new staff. She holds an AA in Psychology from De Anza College and is pursuing a BA in Psychology from San Jose State University. Certified as a Registered Behavior Technician, Danielle excels in crisis intervention, case management, and curriculum development, consistently striving to make a meaningful impact on her community.

Cameron Douglas

Cameron Douglas

Assistant Behavior Specialist

Bachelor of Science, Social Psychology
San Jose State University

Cameron Douglass has been providing exceptional behavioral support for elementary school classrooms since 2021 and has been in the ABA field since 2017. With a background in ABA and extensive experience working with children who have autism and behavioral challenges, Cameron collaborates closely with fellow staff personnel to ensure students have access to excellent support and guidance. His commitment to enhancing the lives of students shines through in his compassionate approach and dedication to implementing effective strategies tailored to individual needs. Cameron’s professional journey is complemented by his academic background, holding a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from San Jose State University. With a holistic approach to success, Cameron is passionate about nutrition and exercise.

Support Staff

Anthony Curiel, RBT

Anthony Curiel, RBT

Administrative Assistant

Bachelor of Science, computer science (in progress)
California State University San Francisco

Registered Behavior Technician

Anthony has 6 years of experience in ABA as an RBT, most recently as a registered behavior technician with EBSI out of Morgan Hill focusing on health and nutrition with varying medication and food allergy considerations with the adult disabled. Prior to rejoining the field of behavioral science, a break was taken to join the United States Army and serve from 2010-2014. After serving his focus shifted to aiding more regarding health and nutrition alongside his behavioral science scope. He encourages student’s questions about cuisine and how you can elevate any dish from simple and plain to robust and elegant all while maintaining proper nutritional balance through clean eating. He enjoys an active lifestyle outside of work taking part in a wide array of activities from Skateboarding, Surfing, and Hiking to list a few.