Meet Our Administrative Team

Dr. Michelle Barton
Head of School

Dr. Michelle Barton joined The Shlenker School as the Head of School in 2018. Dr. Barton earned her Doctorate in Education from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) in the Educational Leadership Program. Her dissertation is entitled "Combating Math-Gender Stereotype Threat with Parent Education in Jewish Day Schools.” She graduated Phi Beta Kappa from UCLA and earned her Bachelor's degree in Jewish Studies and Political Science. She also has a multiple subject teaching credential and certificate in Jewish Day School Teaching from the DeLeT program at Hebrew Union College­–Jewish Institute of Religion. Prior to The Shlenker School, Dr. Barton served as the Elementary School Principal at Pressman Academy in Los Angeles, California.

Dr. Barton attended Jewish Day School as a child and is deeply passionate about Jewish education. She is grateful for the strong foundation she received and wants all students to benefit from an educational environment that is warm, engaging, and rich in Jewish values. Dr. Barton and her husband, Brandon, are also the proud parents of two Shlenker students, Georgia and Simone.

Casey Suter
Elementary Division Head

Casey Suter joined The Shlenker School as the Elementary Division Head in 2010. Casey has over 27 years of experience in teaching and administration.  Prior to coming to Shlenker, Casey worked for 16 years in Cypress Fairbanks ISD. She served as the Assistant Elementary Principal for Hancock Elementary. She worked as an Instructional Specialist in Language Arts and Social Studies at Horne Elementary, and was a Reading Specialist, Reading Recovery teacher, and first grade teacher at Willbern Elementary. Casey earned her Bachelor's degree in Elementary Education at Phillips University in Enid, Oklahoma and her Master's degree in Educational Leadership at Stephen F. Austin State University. Ms. Suter is passionate about curriculum and has extensive experience with Shlenker programs including Reading and Writing Workshop and Envision Math.

Evan David
Early Childhood Division Head

Evan David joined The Shlenker School in 2022.  Before her role at Shlenker, Mrs. David served as the Assistant Principal at Horn Elementary in Houston ISD. Evan is a graduate of The Shlenker School and enjoys giving back to the school that helped shape her into the passionate educator she is today.

Evan attended the University of Arizona, earning a Bachelor of Science in Special Education. She continued at the University of Houston earning a Master of Education in Administration and Supervision. As a Jewish community member, Evan also serves on the Jewish Federation of Greater Houston Board and is a member of the Education Task Force. Mrs. David and her husband, Brandon, are members of Congregation Beth Israel and have two children, Avery and Logan.

Evan is a dedicated school leader with a clear vision on how to best support and grow the individual child. Her passion for young children, her warmth, and her leadership style create an environment where both students can thrive. Her dedication to research and best practices ensures the school remains at the forefront of providing a top-notch education.

Merav Sternthal
Director of Integrated Jewish Learning

Merav Sternthal joined The Shlenker School in 2019 as a Hebrew teacher before moving into her current role as Director of Integrated Jewish Learning. Prior to joining The Shlenker School, Merav taught Hebrew in various academic settings—from elementary school to the university level. Merav was born and raised in Jerusalem, Israel, and served in the Israeli Defense Force. She graduated summa cum laude from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem with a Bachelor’s degree in Middle Eastern Studies and Art History. She subsequently earned a Master’s degree in Art History from the University of Texas at Austin.

Joel Bruff
Assistant Elementary Division Head

Joel Bruff joined The Shlenker School as the Assistant Elementary Division Head in 2022. Before coming to The Shlenker School, he honed his passion for teaching and learning in the Houston Independent School District (HISD). During his 13-year tenure with HISD, Joel served the district in many capacities including Classroom Teacher, Instructional Coach, Teacher Development Specialist, and Campus Administrator. Joel holds a Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education from the University of Michigan and a Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Saint Thomas. He also has Principal certification, having completed a two-year “Principal as Instructional Leader” program through the State of Texas.

Karen Miller
Director of Counseling and Family Services

Karen Miller joined The Shlenker School in 2007. Karen has worked with children and families for the past 43 years. She began her career in education as a speech pathologist in Richardson, Texas. Karen also had experience as an associate school psychologist in the Cypress–Fairbanks ISD and a marriage and family therapist in private practice before becoming an elementary school counselor for the Cypress-Fairbanks ISD in 1998. Karen earned her Bachelor's degree in speech pathology at Southern Methodist University and a Master's of Education in school psychology and counseling and guidance at Texas State University. She has also completed post-graduate work at Houston Baptist University. Karen is a licensed professional counselor, licensed marriage and family therapist, licensed specialist in school psychology and a licensed psychological associate. She was also trained as a ROPES facilitator through Cypress–Fairbanks ISD.

Allen Schagene
Director of Innovative Learning

Mr. Schagene joined The Shlenker School as the Director of Innovative Learning in 2021. In this capacity, he oversees faculty/staff utilization of existing software and systems, facilitates the growth of Shlenker students' digital citizenship and technology skills, collaborates on projects aligning with the school's mission, and manages technology planning for organizational sustainability. Allen earned a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Centre College. Following graduation, he joined Teach for America, teaching middle school math and STEM. In the Valley, he met his partner and relocated to Houston, teaching self-contained fifth grade at Briargrove Elementary, eventually becoming a grade-level dean. During this time, he pursued a Master’s in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Houston-Clear Lake, focusing on integrated, enriching curricula following the International Baccalaureate model. Before Shlenker, Allen taught sixth-grade math and was Grade Level Dean at the Presbyterian School. Concurrently, he engaged with Rice University's Applied Mathematics Program, supporting teachers in incorporating inquiry into math and science lessons.

Joy Ndegwa
Chief Financial Officer

This is Joy Ndegwa’s first year as CFO; however, she brings a wealth of experience and familiarity to The Shlenker School having worked at the school nine years ago.

Joy understands the school’s values and objectives and is well-equipped to oversee the school's financial operations. She holds a Master of Business Administration focus on Finance from Wilmington University; a bachelor’s degree in international business United States International University-Kenya, and a Texas CPA license.

During her time away from Shlenker, Joy served as a profitability and growth advisor, assisting multiple small businesses in implementing cost-cutting and revenue increasing strategies. Through her expertise and education, she aims to contribute to The Shlenker School's ongoing success in providing an exceptional educational experience for all students.

Joy has a genuine passion for The Shlenker School and is a proud Shlenker mom of three daughters that are enrolled in the school.

Tara Gassett
Director of Admissions and Development

Tara Levinthal Gassett began her relationship with the Shlenker School before it was named Shlenker. At 2 1/2 years old, she attended what was then called the Beth Israel Day School, and has continued the tradition with her two sons who currently attend/graduated from The Shlenker School. Tara earned her Bachelor's Degree in Psychology from The University of St. Thomas and brings her expertise from 16 plus years as Director of Admissions and Regional Director of Admissions for Proprietary Education Schools where she oversaw the admission team and co-ordinated the enrollments, housing, financial aid, open houses, orientations, and admission requirements for hundreds of students and families.

Lisa Sachs
Director of Marketing and Advancement

Lisa Sachs has been actively involved at The Shlenker School for over 19 years. Lisa has over 27 years of experience in teaching and administration with the University of Houston, Houston Independent School District, and The Shlenker School. Prior to serving in her current position as Director of Marketing and Advancement, she was the Math and Technology Learning Specialist at The Shlenker School for 5 years and taught fourth grade at The Shlenker School for 7 years.

Lisa earned a bachelor of fine arts degree in interior design from the University of Houston and then went on to complete her elementary education certification through HISD’s Alternative Certification Program. Lisa also holds a master's degree in educational administration from Grand Canyon University.