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.

Casey Suter
Elementary Division Head

Casey Suter joined The Shlenker School as the Elementary Division Head in 2010. Casey has over 26 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. Casey 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

Mrs. David previously served as the Assistant Principal at Horn Elementary in Houston ISD and is enthusiastically returning to our campus after having graduated from Shlenker years ago! She is thrilled to be returning to a place she refers to as “home” and looks forward to 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 (3) and Logan (1).

Evan comes to Shlenker as 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 extensive leadership experience makes her perfect for this role.

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

Mr. Bruff comes to the Shlenker School from Horn Elementary in Houston ISD where he proudly served as a Teacher Specialist. As a member of the campus leadership team, Joel worked collaboratively with staff, students, and parents to ensure the academic and social emotional needs of the school’s 750 students were met. His scope of work encompassed everything from day-to-day logistics to coaching and appraising teachers. Mr. Bruff also led the Gifted and Talented program at Horn where he worked with teachers to strengthen differentiation practices to meet the unique needs of a diverse learning community. Joel provided dyslexia intervention and served as the Campus Testing Coordinator, managing the administration of all district and state level assessments.

Mr. Bruff 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. A native of Michigan, Joel moved to Houston in 2009 for a teaching job with Teach for America—a highly selective national service corps of recent college graduates who commit to teach in under-resourced schools. In his spare time, Mr. Bruff is an avid runner and has completed a half-marathon in 33 different states. His goal is to complete a half-marathon in each of the 50 states!

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 42 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

Allen Schagene comes to The Shlenker School from the Presbyterian School, where he served as a middle school math instructor and Grade Level Dean. Allen holds a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Centre College and a Master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Houston-Clear Lake. Allen has worked with the Applied Mathematics Program at Rice University and previously served as a self-contained teacher at Briargrove Elementary. He is a lifelong learner who believes in the power of interdisciplinary learning.

Sharon Ellerin
Chief Financial Officer

Sharon Ellerin joined The Shlenker School in 2008. She started as the Accounts Receivable Administrator and eventually took on the roles of Registrar and Financial Aid Coordinator. Prior to working at Shlenker, she was a Credit Manager for several businesses. Sharon earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary Education at the University of Texas. 

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 The Shlenker School. Tara earned her Bachelors 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 18 years. Lisa has over 26 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.