Who We Are

A place for children who need extra support in the classroom.

 

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 ten students – and dedicate both a highly-trained educator and a behavior specialist to each class. This formula allows us to address the individual education of each student with expertise and precision. The behavior specialists target social-emotional learning, self-regulation, and executive functioning and create an environment where the child is focused, regulated, and ready to learn. This in turn allows the educators to teach effectively and ensure that each student reaches her academic potential.

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

Meet Our Team

Directors

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.

Scott Thompson, MS

Scott Thompson, MS

Assistant Head of School

Masters of Science, Educational Leadership
California State University East Bay

Bachelor of Arts, Elementary Education – Specialization in English Literature
San Diego State University

Scott joins The Burkard School with a decade’s worth of experience in school leadership and twenty years of experience as a classroom teacher. He spent his illustrious career at Woodland School in Portola Valley, serving as a classroom teacher, then Middle School Dean, and finally Dean of Students. Social-Emotional Learning is a special interest of Scott’s: he created the 5th grade Executive Function curriculum at Woodland and was a part of the Middle School Advisory Program which set up cross-grade cohorts for intentional SEL and executive functioning learning. Scott is a passionate educator and leader who strives to make lasting differences in the lives of his students. He has dedicated his life’s work to partnering with families to inspire students and develop a lifelong love of learning. As an administrator, he is committed to creating a collaborative, caring, and inspiring environment for teachers and students alike. 

Leanne Spagnola, MA, LMFT

Leanne Spagnola, MA, LMFT

Director of Social Emotional Development

Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist
California

Master of Arts, Counseling Psychology, Marriage and Family Therapy
University of San Francisco

Bachelor of Arts, Psychology
University of San Francisco

Leanne is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, wellness
consultant, and educator. Leanne was trained in psychodynamic attachment-based play therapy at UCSF’s Infant-Parent Program and has since spent 6 years working as a bilingual mental health clinician helping schools and families foster healthy relationships and build new skills. During her time serving schools in San Mateo County, Leanne collaborated with teachers and school directors to address the emotional and relational needs of students. She has found Social Emotional Learning to be a foundational necessity to give students and school staff a language with which to express their internal experience and connect with those around them.

Leanne facilitates family workshops in the community around separation and divorce, parental stress management, and teaching young people to find and harness the power of their voice. Leanne enjoys teaching yoga and incorporating movement and playfulness in all that she does. She is passionate about the healing power of community, and is dedicated to empowering young people to thrive.

Educators

Kerri Maloney, MS

Kerri Maloney, MS

Grades K/1 Educator

Master of Science, Education
Dominican University

Bachelor of Science, Social Welfare
University of California, Berkeley

California Multiple Subject Clear Credential

Kerri has over 35 years of teaching experience, with the bulk of her illustrious career teaching 1st and 4th grades. Kerri is a dedicated master teacher who has worked extensively with bright students to help them reach their full potential. She is passionate about teaching a rigorous academic program in a way that is fun and accessible to all her students, and is expert at subtly differentiating her instruction. After having spent 35 years teaching at the same school in Marin, we were lucky to have her join our faculty as our K/1 teacher! Kerri is warm, kind, extraordinarily patient, and extremely skilled at making a connection with her students and bringing out their very best.  

Michelle Malashevitz

Michelle Malashevitz

Grades 2/3 Educator

Bachelor of Arts, Elementary Education
Thomas More College, Crestview Hills, Kentucky

4 Year Resident Educator Early Childhood (P-3) Licensure with an endorsement of Early Childhood Generalist (4-5)
State of Ohio Department of Education

Michelle is a dynamic and brilliant new teacher who is passionate about igniting the spark of learning in her students. She comes to us after having completed her first full year of teaching a class of 3rd grade inner-city students in Dayton, OH, where she had ample experience dealing with a range of behaviors and educational needs. Michelle has also student taught fifth grade and first grade, and has spent the summer tutoring. Michelle’s love of teaching shines through, as does her knowledge: at Thomas Moore College, she made the Dean’s List all four years. Michelle’s teaching acumen, unflappable nature, and her sunny outlook make her an invaluable member of our team.

Harvest Radich

Harvest Radich

Grades 3/4 Educator

Bachelor of Science, Education
The Ohio State University

Harvest, a recent Ohio transplant, is a teacher’s teacher. In obtaining her Bachelor of Science in Eduction from The Ohio State University, she was awarded the Provost Scholarship, the Sankey Family Scholarship for Future Teachers, the Hathaway Education Scholarship, and made the Dean’s List. Harvest enjoys teaching inquiry-based and project-based lessons. Her calm yet engaging demeanor makes her beloved of her students.

Alexandra Sylvester

Alexandra Sylvester

Grades 4/5 Founding Educator

Bachelor of Arts, Liberal Studies
San Jose State University

California Multiple Subject Clear Credential

Alexandra Sylvester has 8 years of experience in project-based, experiential learning in the independent school setting. She is passionate about engaging students with creative and hands-on lesson plans that cultivate life-long learners through focus, interest, and curiosity. Her interdisciplinary and project-based approach has her students clamoring to learn more. A dedicated proponent of growth mindset, you will find her celebrating challenge opportunities daily in her classroom. Alex is a master at teaching the whole child, and incorporates social-emotional learning into everything she does. Her focus on developing children into self-sufficient, independent, critical thinkers who can navigate the real world draws out the best in our students, who rise to the occasion under her care. Alex’s students thrive under her dynamic style of teaching. She makes learning fun, and her students love school!

View Alexandra Sylvester's Interview

Carter Peterson

Grades 4/5 Middle School Math & Science Educator

Masters in the Art of Teaching
Relay Graduate School of Education

Bachelor of Arts in Sociology
Wesleyan University

New York Generalist Teaching Credential
New York Special Education (7-12) Teaching Credential

Vermont Special Education (K – 8) Provisional Teaching Credential
Carter has more than 5 years of experience teaching in both the mainstream classroom setting and in special education. Carter is new to the west coast, having lived and taught in New York and, most recently, Vermont. He has a passion for finding ways to reach all students with a wide range of learning styles. He enjoys teaching inquiry-based lessons that also include factual practice. He holds high expectations for students while also prioritizing joy and relationship building. His favorite part of teaching is the light-bulb moments that happen when a student achieves a new and exciting mathematical understanding.

Laura Puras

Laura Puras

Music Teacher

Bachelor of Arts, Music Composition
Superior Conservatory of Music of Salamanca, Spain

Masters in Music Writing – Composition
Associated University of Brussels, Belgium
Koninklijk Conservatorium

Masters in Neuropsychology and Education
International University of La Rioja, Spain
Education Department

Private Music Tutor Certification
Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music, UK

Laura joins The Burkard School with deep experience in music composition, performance, and teaching. In addition to her wealth of knowledge in Music, Laura has a Masters in Neuropsychology and Education and has recently spent two years teaching Methods of Sensory and Primitive Reflexes Integration and Auditive Therapies to those with learning disabilities. The combination of Laura’s musical expertise, her background in neuropsychology, and her patient and encouraging style makes her an extremely effective music teacher. She has a wonderful connection to our students and has developed a genuine appreciation for music in them. We are delighted to have her on board!

Manuel Minzer

Physical Education Teacher

Master of Arts, Interdisciplinary Democracy Studies
Open University, Tel-Aviv, Isreal

Bachelor of Arts, Physical Education
University of Chile, Santiago, Chile

Manuel is a veteran physical education teacher, having taught PE for over 15 years in Israel and in the Bay Area. Having served in previous positions as Athletic Director, Basketball Coach, and Soccer Coach (amongst other roles!), Manuel is an expert in inspiring our students to gain strength, conditioning, and ball skills, all while having fun!

Classroom Behavior Specialists

Michelle Benham, MA, BCBA

Michelle Benham, MA, BCBA

Senior Behavior Specialist

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

Hannah Gentry

Hannah Gentry

Classroom Behavior Specialist

MS, BCBA Candidate
Stephen F. Austin State University (Nacogdoches, TX)

Hannah is the Behavior Specialist for the 4/5 classroom. Hannah has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Child Development and Family Living with an emphasis in Elementary Education and a Master of Science degree in the Psychology of Applied Behavior Analysis. For the last five years, Hannah was a special education teacher in inner-city and lower-income communities in San Francisco and the Bay Area. She has received her training in the ESDM and ABA models under the direction of Sally Rogers at the UC Davis Mind Institute for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Megan Lopez, MA, ABA

Megan Lopez, MA, ABA

Classroom Behavior Specialist

Masters of Arts, Applied Behavior Analysis
Ball State University

Bachelor of Science, Sociology
Oregon State University

Megan joins TBS with deep experience working with at-risk youth and children with special needs for over 6 years. Megan is currently pursuing her Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) credential. Megan has worked in youth homes, one-on-one with students at a variety of ABA companies, as well as at a charter school. She brings her knowledge of ABA as well as her compassion for each and every student.

Angelika Schilli, BCAT

Angelika Schilli, BCAT

Classroom Behavior Specialist

Bachelor’s Degree in Special Education, Diplom-Heilpädagogin
Katholische Fachhochschule Nordrhein-Westfalen (Catholic College of Social Work)
Münster, Germany

Board Certified Autism Technician

Angelika joins TBS with 12 years of experience as a behavior specialist, 4 years of experience as a Special Education Teacher, and an additional 5 years’ experience as a substitute teacher and volunteer at the Tenderloin Childcare Center. Angelika was with her previous employer, Behavior Intervention Associates, for 12 years and most recently developed and ran their social skills groups and programs. Her training in Germany focused on the whole-child approach, and Angie brings a deep understanding of our students’ underlying emotional and neurological challenges that produce difficult behavior. She loves discovering what motivates each child, creating fun interactions with her students, and developing a deep connection.

Nicholas Wrotniewski, MA, BCCS, CAS

Nicholas Wrotniewski, MA, BCCS, CAS

Founding Behavior Specialist

Master of Arts, Education
Keller Graduate School

Board Certified Cognitive Specialist

Bachelor of Science in Technical Management
DeVry University

Nicholas has over 14 years of experience in behavioral education and a deep passion for supporting children to be their very best, regardless of their challenges. He is BCaBA trained and is a Certified Austim Specialist. His warm and engaging style makes him quick to connect to all his students. Nicholas is thoughtful about his students’ underlying needs, always pausing to consider what might have affected their response in the moment. He is quick to give praise and high-fives and is masterful at gently redirecting his students towards learning. He has a wonderful ability to anticipate a student’s needs to avoid disregulation. He is beloved by students and parents alike!

View Nicholas Wrotniewski's Interview

Ligia Ramirez-Jimenez, RBT

Ligia Ramirez-Jimenez, RBT

Assistant Behavior Specialist

Masters of Psychology, in Progress
Capella University

Bachelors of Science
San Francisco State University

Registered Behavior Technician

After working in the field of ABA for 3 years Ligia is looking forward to transitioning into the role of Assistant Behavior Specialist at The Burkard School. She is a certified RBT currently and pursuing her Masters Degree in psychology with an emphasis in ABA. Ligia has 2 young children of her own that have inspired her commitment to helping other kids cope with difficult behaviors and thrive in their environment.

The Burkard School Advisory Board

Molly B. Zielezinski, Ph.D.

Molly B. Zielezinski, Ph.D.

Director of Academics & Strategic Planning

Doctorate of Learning Sciences and Technology Design
Stanford University

Master of Arts, Teaching, Elementary Education
Clark University

Bachelor of Arts, Psychology, Minor: Education
Clark University

Molly B. Zielezinski serves at The Burkard School as the Consultant for Academic Excellence and Strategic Planning, providing hands-on support for excellent teaching and aiding in the recruitment of a high quality teaching staff for the future of TBS. With 10 years of experience as a teacher, academic coach, and educational researcher, she is deeply committed to building teachers’ capacity for excellent instruction characterized by critical thinking, collaboration, the development of deep content knowledge, and the use of technology. Molly has her doctorate from Stanford University specializing in in Learning Sciences & Technology Design and Curriculum & Teacher Education. Molly works closely with The Burkard School administration and staff to support their goal of academic excellence.

Dr. Dale Jacknow

Dr. Dale Jacknow

Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrician

Doctor of Medicine
University of California, San Francisco

Residency, Pediatrics
Standford University Medical Center

Fellowship, Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics
University of California, San Francisco

Board Certified in Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics
American Board of Pediatrics

Dr. Dale Jacknow is a Developmental and Behavioral pediatrician with more than 25 years of clinical experience. Dr. Jacknow practices in San Mateo, CA but her patients come from all over the Bay Area, as well as from the East Coast, Canada, Europe, the Middle East, and Asia. She specializes in providing comprehensive, individualized assessments and creating prioritized action plans that best address the needs of children from birth through age 18 who face a diverse range of developmental and behavioral challenges.

Dr. Jacknow’s website is www.dalejacknow.com

Dr. Helen Marlo

Dr. Helen Marlo

Professor Chair, Clinical Psychology Department Notre Dame de Namur University • Licensed Clinical Psychologist (PSY 15318)

Doctorate, Clinical-Community Psychology
University of South Carolina

Bachelor of Arts, Psychology
University of Missouri

Dr. Marlo is Professor of Clinical Psychology and Chair of the graduate Clinical Psychology Department at Notre Dame de Namur University in Belmont, CA. She has been on the faculty at The University of South Carolina, Palo Alto University, and Sofia University. She is a faculty scholar with the Sr. Dorothy Stang Center for Social Justice and Community Engagement.

Dr. Marlo is a licensed clinical psychologist (PSY 15318) and a certified Jungian Psychoanalyst through the C.G. Jung institute of San Francisco. She provides psychotherapy, psychoanalysis, and consultation to adults and children through her private practice in San Mateo, CA.

Dr. Marlo is Reviews Editor for Jung Journal: Culture and Psyche. She serves on dissertation committees and teaches, trains, and presents to mental health professionals including at the C.G. Jung Institute of San Francisco.

For over 27 years, Dr. Marlo has worked in private and public institutions, including the Stanford University School of Medicine; Palo Alto Veterans Administration Health Care System; Kaiser Permanente Health Care System; University of South Carolina Department of Family and Preventive Medicine; Richland Memorial Hospital Emergency Room, and Columbia Area Mental Health Center. She has significant clinical experience treating lifespan developmental issues; trauma; and reproductive mental health issues, including perinatal problems, birth trauma, pregnancy and infant loss, infertility, and obstetric/gynecological illnesses.

Dr. Marlo’s work in the community encompasses the complimentary consultative perinatal mental health service, “Mentoring Mothers,” that she developed for mothers and infants. She is passionate about engaging with individuals during this vulnerable and influential time of life. She volunteers for HealthRight International and provides pro bono clinical services for victims of torture and trauma.

She and her husband cherish life with each other, their two daughters, and son. She enjoys her close relationships, art, culture, travel, reading, film, yoga, meditation, and dance.

Dr. Marlo’s website is www.helenmarlophd.com

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.

Want More Information?

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