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 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 main 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.

Want More Information?

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

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 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. 

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


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.

Laura Lentz

Laura Lentz

Grade 5 Educator

Bachelor of Arts, Business Management
University of Phoenix

California Multiple Subject Teaching Credential

Ms. Lentz brings 20 years of teaching experience to The Burkard School. She has a Multi-Subject Teaching Credential in conjunction with a Bachelor of Arts in Business Management. She states, “I am a critical thinker, always aiming to meet the best interests of my students. I have a record of being a teacher who demonstrates patience, compassion, reliability, excellent communication skills, and creative problem-solving. I enjoy a strong home-school connection and work hard to foster positive relationships with students and families.”

Carter Peterson

Carter Peterson

Middle School Math Teacher and Schoolwide Math Coordinator

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.

Cooper Zak

Cooper Zak

Middle School Humanities Teacher

Master of Education, School Leadership
University of San Diego

Bachelor of Arts, Politics
University of California, Santa Cruz

Cooper joins The Burkard School with over 7 years of experience as a humanities teacher, vice principal, and curriculum developer at schools dedicated to neurologically diverse students in San Diego and Del Mar. As an English Language Arts and Social Studies teacher, Cooper’s main goal is to prepare students with the critical thinking and communication skills necessary for academic and career success. He encourages students to draw upon their own cultural funds of knowledge and life experience in class discussions and assignments. Cooper supports mindful civil discourse in class, and he believes any student can write and interpret history effectively with the right environment, training, and practice. His favorite part of teaching is seeing students’ self-efficacy improve. His favorite career moments include seeing his students achieve college acceptance and successfully swimming the English Channel with alumni and teachers. A native San Diegan, Cooper enjoys ocean swimming and hiking.

Classroom Behavior Specialists

Katie Peters, RBT

Katie Peters, RBT

Grades 2/3 Classroom Behavior Specialist

Bachelor of Arts, English
University of California, Santa Barbara

Katie is a positive, nurturing educator with a background in Applied Behavior Analysis and K-8 classroom instruction. Her recent experience includes teaching Social Emotional Learning to 2nd graders and providing home and school-based behavior support as a Senior Registered Behavior Technician. She is devoted to modeling a growth mindset for students by reframing challenges as continued learning opportunities.

Angelika Schilli, BCAT

Angelika Schilli, BCAT

Grade 4 Classroom Behavior Specialist I Social Advancement Coordinator

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.

Ligia Ramirez-Jimenez, RBT

Ligia Ramirez-Jimenez, RBT

Grade 5 Classroom Behavior Specialist

Masters of Arts, Applied Behavior Analysis
Capella University

Bachelors of Science
San Francisco State University

Registered Behavior Technician

Ligia has worked in the field of ABA for 4 years and is currently pursuing her Masters Degree in psychology with an emphasis in ABA. Her calm and insightful presence makes her beloved to her students. 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.

Gabrielle Paige, RBT

Gabrielle Paige, RBT

Grade 6 Classroom Behavior Specialist

Bachelor of Science, Psychology and Social Action
Palo Alto University

Registered Behavior Technician

Gabby has 5 years of experience in ABA as a behavior specialist and paraprofessional, most recently as a behavior specialist in two Oakland elementary schools. Her passion for working with vulnerable populations makes her particularly interested in our school, where she can count on all the support she needs to really make a difference in our students’ lives. Gabby’s fun-loving and energetic personality combined with her deep understanding of behavior make her a favorite of her students!

Michael Capule, RBT

Michael Capule, RBT

Grades 7/8 Classroom Behavior Specialist

Bachelor of Arts, Psychology
University of San Francisco

Registered Behavior Technician

Michael is a Bay Area-born millennial with a passion for helping families across backgrounds, abilities and identities. Michael started his work with children in 2014 as a Behavior Technician, where he provided children with ASD support with a variety of skills: verbal, fine motor, self-advocacy, independent living, etc. After moving to Sacramento in 2017, Michael entered the Community Mental Health field to support children and teenagers with mental health diagnoses ranging from Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity, Post-Traumatic Stress, Oppositional Defiant, Adjustment, Generalized Anxiety and Major Depressive Disorders. He collaborated closely with families, school teachers, and other community partners to ensure the safety, stability and success of once-struggling families. Michael cares deeply for students who experience unique behavioral and emotional challenges and believes every child flourish in their unique way when given the right conditions.

Leanna Arriola, RBT

Leanna Arriola, RBT

Assistant Behavior Specialist

Bachelor of Science, Human Biology
University of California, Merced

Master of Science, Applied Behavior Analysis, In Progress
Florida Institute of Technology

Registered Behavior Technician

Leanna is joining TBS after two years of experience in the ABA field, with her most recent experience being a Senior Registered Behavior Technician. She has experience working with children in both in-home and clinic-based environments but is eager to get acquainted with the school environment. She received her bachelor’s degree in Biology with a Human Biology emphasis from the University of California, Merced and is currently pursuing her master’s in Applied Behavior Analysis from Florida Institute of Technology. Leanna has the hopes of pursuing a career as a BCBA in the near future to help with early development interventions. She loves being an advocate for children and developing a safe and inclusive environment for all.

Support Staff

Maricela Garcia

Maricela Garcia

Administrative Assistant and Aftercare Leader

Mari has a background of over 10 years in education, with a specialization in Early Childhood. She joined the TBS community almost a year ago and has loved it ever since. Mari’s educational background combines elements of Montessori and Responsive Classroom approaches in order to ensure a learning environment that centers the needs and success of each student. Her mission is to provide a safe, fun and welcoming environment for all children while building positive relationships along the way. In her short time at TBS, she’s had the ability to form strong connections with the children by providing them a space to feel validated, seen and cared for. Outside of school, Mari is passionate about exploring new places since she recently moved back to the Bay Area from Chicago and deeply values time spent with her family and loved ones.

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