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


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.

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 joins us with over 20 years of experience in social-emotional learning, psychology, and behavior therapy. She has a Masters in Clinical and Community Psychology and is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. Her approach integrates priciples 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. Barbara 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.

Kerri Maloney, MS

Kerri Maloney, MS

Grades K/1 Educator

Master of Science in Education
Dominican University

Bachelor of Science in Social Welfare
University of California, Berkeley

California Multiple Subject Clear Credential

Kerri joins TBS with over 35 years of experience, with the bulk of her illustrious career teaching 1st and 4th grades. Kerri is a dedicated master teacher, with a Masters of Science in Education and a California Clear Multiple Subject Teaching Credential. Kerri is warm, kind, extraordinarily patient, and extremely skilled at making a connection with her students and bringing out their very best. We are lucky to have her join our faculty as our K/1 teacher!

Christina James

Christina James

Grades 2/3 Educator

STTORM Manchester Metropolitan University, England
Registered Teaching Programme (RTP)
Teacher Training culminating in UK Qualified Teacher Status (QTS)

University of Manchester, England
BA Hons in Education (Specialism English)

Salford City College, Manchester, England
GCSE, Mathematics

Salford City College, Manchester, England
Diploma in Nursery Nursing (NNEB)

Ms. James is a UK qualified, professional primary school teacher with almost 20 years of of experience teaching across the elementary age range in the US and the UK. Her wide curriculum and developmental knowledge and effective classroom management skills, along with an approachable manner and a genuine love of teaching, help her pupils gain an enthusiasm for learning. Christina has a wonderful rapport with her students and is expert at developing their academic potential.

View Christina James' Interview

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 6 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. A dedicated proponent of growth mindset, you will find her celebrating challenge opportunities daily in her classroom. Alex’s students thrive under her dynamic style of teaching. She makes learning fun, and her students love school again!

View Alexandra Sylvester's Interview

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 8-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. Most recently, she was a Program Director for FirstSteps for Kids, where she oversaw 12 treatment teams. Michelle approaches behavior with a fun but steadfast presence that is calming to her students and creates a strong bond. We welcome Michelle to the TBS Team!

View Michelle Benham's Interview

Savannah Martinez, RBT

Savannah Martinez, RBT

Classroom Behavior Specialist

Registered Behavioral Technician

Board Certified Behavior Analyst candidate, anticipated June 2018

Master of Applied Behavior Analysis candidate, anticipated June 2018
The Chicago School of Professional Psychology

Bachelor of Science, Developmental Psychology
The Chicago School of Professional Psychology

Savannah is a seasoned behavior specialists with 8 years of experience in behavior and a deep understanding of behavior therapy techniques and social and developmental milestones. She has experience in a number of techniques including Discrete Trial Training, Pivotal Response Treatment, Errorless Learning, Natural Environment Teaching, Early Start Denver Model, and Joint Attention, Symbolic Play and Engagement Regulation. She has extensive experience in developing social skills behavior camps for kids ages 7-12 years of age. Savannah has a warm, positive, energetic style and quick connection to her students!

Nicholas Wrotniewski, MA

Nicholas Wrotniewski, MA

Founding Behavior Specialist

Master of Arts, Education
Keller Graduate School

Completion of 3rd Edition BCaBA Courses
Florida Institute of Technology

Bachelor of Science in Technical Management
DeVry University

Nicholas joins the K/1 classroom with 10 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 excited to bring his skills and talents to a school with a strong emphasis on social-emotional learning and the optimal structure to allow its students to shine.

View Nicholas Wrotniewski's Interview

Laura Puras

Laura Puras

Music Teacher

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

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

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

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

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!

Molly Zielezinski, Ph.D.

Molly Zielezinski, Ph.D.

Academic Excellence and Strategic Planning Consultant

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. Jennifer Myers Harrison

Dr. Jennifer Myers Harrison


Doctorate of Psychology, Clinical Psychology
Alder University

Master of Arts, Art Therapy
New York University

Bachelor of Arts, Clinical Psychology
Columbia University

Dr. Jennifer Myers Harrison is a licensed clinical psychologist by the state of California. She has Diplomate distinction at the National Center for Crisis Management with the American Academy of Experts in Traumatic Stress. Dr. Harrison is also a Board Certified, Registered Art Therapist.

Over the last 15 years Dr. Harrison has worked in a variety of settings including hospitals, community mental health clinics, school-based settings, and private practice with children, families, and individuals with complex presenting problems such as: trauma exposure, aggressive behavior, difficulties with affect regulation, attention problems, academic failure, eating disorders and impaired interpersonal relationships. Dr. Harrison has taught at a variety of schools such as Adler University, Argosy University, and DePaul University. She is currently an Assistant Professor at Notre Dame De Namur University. She is a clinical supervisor for psychological testing at Fremont Hospital and currently has a private practice in Burlingame.

Stephanie McGee

School Secretary and Aftercare Leader

California State University, East Bay
Bachelor of Arts, Human Development, Concentration in Early Childhood Development

Foothill College
Associate of Arts: English & Social Science

Stephanie joins us with over 20 years of childcare and education experience, including 3 years as a program administrator and lead instructor for Little Gym. She has a passion for early childhood development and working with children; in fact, the topic of her senior thesis paper in her Early Childhood Education program was Improving Enrichment! Stephanie’s many years of experience in program administration, strong work ethic, and can-do spirit make her a valuable addition to our team.

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 new 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.