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 boys and girls 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


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 with Asperger’s to create The Burkard School. The Burkard School is her labor of love, commitment, and passion.

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
Santa Clara 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. 

Barbara Engelman, MA, LMFT

Barbara Engelman, MA, LMFT

Director of Social Emotional Learning

Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist

Master of Arts, Clinical and Community Psychology
Arizona State University

Bachelor of Arts, Psychology
University of California – Los Angeles

Barbara has over 20 years of experience in social-emotional learning, psychology, and behavior therapy. A licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, her approach integrates principles of child development, relational development, psychological theory, and mindfulness. Barbara has extensive experience in creating programs that are focused on the social and emotional needs of students. She has developed and implemented school-based mentoring programs and counseling programs in K-12 day schools and public schools, provided individual counseling to students, designed and taught Child Development courses to graduate students in Marriage and Family Therapy and Education programs, and worked intensively with children with autism as a behavior specialist at UCLA. She believes that Social Emotional Learning serves as an essential foundation for all growth and development. We are thrilled to have Barbara’s integrative approach inform our social-emotional and behavior program.

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.


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

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

Dominic Jelso

Grades 6/7 Educator

CTEL I, II, III (BCLAD endorsement
University of California, Berkeley

Teaching License Level II
University of New Mexico, Albuquerque

Bachelor of Science, Geology
University of New Mexico, Albuquerque

Bachelor of Art, Geography
University of New Mexico, Albuquerque

Dominic is a 20-plus year middle and high school teacher, with a long history of working with challenging youth. Most recently, he was teaching 6th, 7th, and 8th graders all subjects in a self-contained classroom. His specialties are Math, Science, and Social Studies, and he loves to teach through having the students learning by tinkering and using their hands. He is kind, patient, and passionate about bringing learning to life.

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

Travis Beecher, MASS

Classroom Behavior Specialist

Doctorate of Educational Leadership, expected August 2020
San Jose State University

Masters of Applied Social Sciences, Public Administration
Florida A&M University

Bachelor of Science, Health Care Management
Florida A&M University

Travis joins TBS with a unique perspective, as he has a Masters of Applied Social Sciences in Public Administration and is currently working on his Doctorate in Educational Leadership. He of course also has strong behavior experience and training, having worked as a Level II supervisor for ACES (Autism Comprehension Educational Services) and a Program Manager and Lead Clinical Training & Support Specialist for BlueStrata EMR. Most recently Travis worked as a social worker for African American youth. Travis has a great rapport with the middle school kids and is dynamic, in tune, and compassionate.

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

Kate Moore, RBT

Kate Moore, RBT

Classroom Behavior Specialist

Bachelor of Science, Psychology
California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo

Registered Behavior Technician 

Kate is a Registered Behavior Technician who is currently pursuing her Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analyst (BCaBA) credential. She has five years of direct experience as a behavior specialist, working at Sand Hill School as a Behavior Specialist and at Autism Living Leisure & Education Inc. and Therapeutic Learning & Consultants as a Lead Behavior Specialist. Prior to her behavior specialist experience, Kate worked in the Cal Poly Resource Center — a place for students with academic accommodations to meet with therapists, academic coordinators, and tutors. Throughout college, she worked with Quest Camps, a summer camp tailored to children and adolescents with autism, anxiety, depression, and other emotional regulatory issues. Kate is caring, warm, fun, and has a natural connection with children of all ages.

Alexis Nichols

Alexis Nichols

Assistant Behavior Specialist

Bachelor of Science, Psychology
California State University, Chico

As Assistant Behavior Specialist, Alexis supports all the students where she’s needed most, helps transition new and shadow students, takes data, is a Classroom Behavior Specialist-in-training. Alexis has impressive experience working intensively with young, troubled boys at a level 10 group home for the past three years. During her time at the home, she underwent extensive training on the Nurtured Heart Program and Therapeutic Crisis Intervention and Crisis Prevention, learning a multitude of behavior interventions and positive relationship methodologies. At the group home, she developed deep connections to her students and found her calling. Before working at the group home, Alexis was an afterschool and summer camp teacher for three years. Alexis has a clear love of working with children and supporting them in their development, and her calm demeanor helps bring out the best in our students.

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

The Burkard School Advisory Board

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.