Our team is composed of world-class professionals from a variety of backgrounds, including education, private sector, civil service, and NGOs. We are a community of learners devoted to LEAF’s cause of providing the best education possible to individuals of character, regardless of their economic background. Apart from teaching their own subject, tutors take upon themselves the role of dorm-parents, mentors, advisors, sport trainers, and organizers of co-curricular activities.
Michael Čurpek#College Counseling #residential #advisor
Before joining LEAF Academy, Michael lived in Peru for five years where he worked for one of the well-established British-Peruvian high schools as a Careers & University Guidance Counselor.
Prior to his move to South America, Michael spent two years in Thailand (attending one of the leading boarding international schools in South-East Asia) and three years in England (pursuing his B.A. degree in Global Studies with Spanish at Nottingham Trent University). It was during his time in England when he took on the role of a Student Ambassador & International Student Representative and became directly involved with some of the university´s recruitment and community outreach activities. This is when he discovered his true passion for helping young people navigate the college admission process and guiding them through initial career planning process.
Committed to learning and continuous professional development, Michael has completed the professional certificate programs in Career & Academic Advising and Youth Counseling from University of Calgary (Canada) and The Institute of Counselling (UK), respectively. He has also obtained a Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCEi) from University of Nottingham (UK).
In his free time, Michael enjoys traveling, learning about different cultures and trying new cuisines. He has traveled extensively throughout most of South and Central America and has plenty of travel stories to tell. Michael is also a recreational runner and soccer player.
At LEAF Academy Michael´s position is an Acting Head of Career and College Counseling
Saša spent her youth in scouting, gaining friendships for the whole life, learning to how to work in a team helping each other and how to handle new challenges (one month without parents in the nature can be really difficult for children, but also very nice and adventurous). The ideals of helping and friendship she took with her also to her adult life, working mostly for NGOs. After her maternity leave with two children was looking for a new friendly company/community following positive values and found this in LEAF Academy.
At LEAF Academy, Saša is a part of the Admin team responsible for the front office administration.
Petra Augustinová#teacher #advisor #residential
Petra wants to live in a place where young people care and dare to make a difference. Therefore she was more than pleased to join LEAF Academy and contribute to this unique project. Petra worked as an instructor for DAPHNE - the Institute of Applied Ecology - during her studies. She graduated from the Faculty of Natural Science at Comenius University in Bratislava with a major in education. Immediately after graduating, she spent one year as a field instructor and international volunteer in Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Ohio. She is a dedicated Slovak nature lover, hiker, music listener, and ice-cream hunter.
At LEAF Academy, she teaches Environmental Science and Science. She is also responsible for The Duke of Edinburgh's International Award coordination.
Janka is a lifelong globetrotter with no end of travelling between horizons. She has worked for local businesses, NGOs and corporations and has managed and transformed organisations at various stages of their development. She has cultivated the culture, led teams, implemented change and worked with people of various backgrounds, values and mindsets. She is passionate about people and how they can drive change in their environments. She enjoys having the best partner in life and crime, juggles everyday challenges with two teenagers and finds peace in silent moments, listening to Olafur Arnalds. She looks up to her mother who taught her to 'Remain silent, if you have nothing substantial to add. Stay focused, if you care. Cherish those whom you love.'
At LEAF Academy Janka is the Head of Operations.
Zvono Bednarčík#admissions #advisor
Zvono loves walking. Over the last 20 years, he has been walking through the woods of the corporate world, specifically financial services. He has gone through various management positions and, as country manager, led subsidiaries in Slovakia, the Czech Republic, and the United Kingdom. A lot of his professional experience has involved sales management and teams, with responsibilities in 40+ countries. This has allowed him to experience many cultures and realize how similar people can be, irrespective of the places they live. In his free time Zvono keeps walking, often with his big family. Nature is a must, as well as 10,000 steps a day.
Meeting young and inspiring people while walking makes his days, and this helped him walk into the world of LEAF Academy where he is responsible for Admissions.
Tamara Bobáková#teacher #advisor
Prior to joining LEAF, Tamara has never been far from non-formal education, even throughout her career as a management consultant in Luxembourg and Tokyo. A debate coach and international trainer since high school, she also wrote and spoke about hidden champion companies from Slovakia. Passionate about diversity and learning from different cultures, she has lived in half a dozen countries on three continents. Tamara holds a BA from the University of Pennsylvania and master’s degrees in international management in the public sector from sciences-Po Paris and international relations from the London school of economics. She still likes to think and talk about pricing, and builds a community of Slovaks who have returned from abroad (SPBH). Following her own return to Slovakia to help set up the LEAF Academy, she is currently responsible for designing the character curriculum, which covers self-awareness and values education.
Martina Buzgóová#admissions #advisor
After completing her Master’s Degree in Economic Diplomacy in Bratislava and working in an international company, Martina was led by her curiosity to further studies at the MA programme of nationalism at the Central European University in Budapest. There she developed her passion for the issues of minorities, including prejudice and stereotype mitigation. With strong practical and organizational skills, an eye for detail and caring for others, she has gained immeasurable work experience at summer camps and other events for students. She loves crafts, gardening, and learning foreign languages (German, Italian, Hungarian).
Within the LEAF Academy team, Martina works as an Admissions Officer and also as an Advisor to students.
Dominik is a mathematician by definition. He got involved in many mathematical competitions since leaving elementary school, studied mathematics in Bratislava and is currently finishing his PhD in Optimization in Machine Learning at the University of Edinburgh. Since the age of 7, he has been an active chess player and an international chess master since 19. As well as chess, he enjoys playing all sorts of games, which are mostly strategic and have limited randomness. All in all, Dominik enjoys tackling any kind of problem with a complex mathematical structure. In his spare time he volunteers at an NGO - Trojsten, where he organizes math competitions and camps for bright high-school children. Furthermore, he loves to teach and give talks on various topics for any audiences. Other activities Dominik likes include: guitar, sports (ultimate frisbee, volleyball…), spending time with friends, having a good meal (a big chunk of meat, grandma’s cakes…).
Dana Čontofalská#admissions #advisor
Danka believes one man can change the world, but he can not do it alone. That´s why after earning her Master’s Degree in Applied Psychology from Comenius University she decided to join LEAF Academy Admissions team to meet and network future integrity leaders. During her studies she was lucky to experience educational systems in the United States and Finland. She also studied Philosophy on the Leadership Program of Kolégium Antona Neuwirtha. Her professional profile includes experience with corporations and NGOs - from advertising to education. Her motto is "Try and test it!" Danka is a big fan of medieval sacred art, Finland, volleyball and a cup of good coffee.
At LEAF Academy she is Admissions Representative for Western Slovakia.
Zuzana studied in both Bratislava and Lyon (France) and earned her master’s degree in strategic management. She lived and worked in the United Kingdom, France, and Norway during her studies. She worked as a business coordinator and team leader at Swiss Re for four years. She enjoyed both visiting children in hospitals and helping to organize summer camps with the Klub Detskej Nádeje. In her free time, she studies missionary and charity work. She is also passionate about the Liptov region, hiking, chocolate and listening to other people.
At LEAF Academy, she is part of the facilities and operations team.
Lenka Filkaszová#teacher #advisor
English became lenka’s passion upon having lived in London for almost five years. She went on to study English Language and Literature at Comenius University and later combined it with a business perspective, earning her MBA at the City University of Seattle. Lenka has spent her whole working career helping others become better and feel better about themselves whether by speaking English more fluently or finding out a little more about their own dreams in other subjects that she has taught at universities in Slovakia and abroad (Professional Business Communication, Environmental Science, Sustainable Development, Critical Thinking). She has lectured in Finland, Lithuania and most recently taught Chinese students how to think critically at a university in Prague. She loves organizing outdoor events with an environmental twist. She believes in forming a bond with students way beyond the classroom as this transforms the education process into a lifelong experience. Her unconventional teaching methods and assignments have earned her different awards, but her best award is knowing her former students found her lessons meaningful for their future and helped them develop as a person. When not teaching, you will find Lenka in the forest with her husband and two sons enjoying the outdoors or at a café enjoying an update with one of her friends.
Katarína Franeková#counsellor #teacher
Katy is an explorer. She loves travelling, but believes you don't have to travel around the world in order to discover yourself. She often accompanies other people on their self-discovery journeys and feels grateful to be able to do this for a living. After Psychology studies at Comenius University she continued with long-term Psychotherapy training in the Czech Republic. She is a certified trainer and facilitator with expertise in LGBT psychology and gender. Katy believes that all of us can be the change we want to see in the world. She feels compelled to help young people see this. Her passions are skiing and jazz. She is interested in sustainable building and is always ready to stand up for environmental protection and human rights.
At LEAF Academy, she is part of the Character Development Department, works as a Community Counsellor, and teaches Character Seminar.
Tony is a husband, father and a keen photographer and lover of life. He enjoys great food, loves music and books and above all loves his big family. He enjoys every second of his life and believes the time we have here should be lived the best and to the fullest. He has visited many countries, either as a photographer or a helper of various kinds. He has travelled extensively to Iraq, helping refugees and guiding people who care about the suffering of Iraqi natives. He's actively participated in the process of transferring 150 Iraqi Christians to Slovakia. His work with refugees has also resulted in two documentary movies: "Tears and Hope of Iraq" - depicting the life of displaced people in Kurdistan refugee camps and "New Home" - a movie about finding an Iraqi family who've chosen Slovakia as their shelter from the war raging in their country. Besides his family and picture taking, coffee and cheesecake are two of his greatest joys in life. Tony believes that LEAF Academy is a great place for talented children and a unique opportunity to push the borders of students' and teachers' lives to heights and depths unimaginable in standard Slovak schools. He is determined to spread the word and find and motivate students to join the great community of inspirational people LEAF and LEAF Academy have become.
At LEAF Academy he works as an Admissions Representative for Eastern Slovakia.
Stanislava Gajdošová#teacher #advisor
Stani's passion for experiential education started in scouting more than 20 years ago. From summers spent sleeping under the stars, she continued to work for Scouting Slovakia throughout university - and many more years. She helped design their current educational program and methodology, became a certified trainer and co-author of books on program and game design and work on the world level of scouting. Her practical side led her to study human resource management, but she quickly switched to designing and implementing quality assurance and maximising impact strategies for non-profits. She has spent her last three years designing LEAF programs for high-school students. She dedicates much of her free time to volunteering for the Bratislava Hanus Days festival and designing courses and events on moral philosophy and Christian culture.
At the Academy, Stani helps design and deliver the character seminar - discovering one's values and growing one's character strengths through experiential activities.
Silvia Hlavinková#teacher #advisor
Silvia studied German and Slovak at the Philosophical Faculty of Comenius University in Bratislava. She spent one year of her studies at the University Konstanz in Germany, where she learned more about southern Germany and was amazed by the beauty of the country. She has had various jobs in international companies and in the past few years she taught German from levels kindergarten through adult. Additionally, she is passionate about development of teaching methods and materials for German instruction, which she does for the Goethe Institute in Bratislava. When not teaching, you can find Silvia on the running or hiking paths of Bratislava or enjoying time with her family.
At LEAF Academy, Silvia teaches German and Slovak languages.
Zuzana Vlková#admin #advisor
Zuzka is a very passionate person with a deep sense for detail and believes through creative thinking people can learn how to grasp beauty in daily life. During her time at the Matej Bel University she was an active member of student organizations and had the opportunity to organize her own marketing conference. Her studies have been enriched by attending two Erasmus Programmes at the University of Bologna and a short term internship at an architect’s studio in Palma de Mallorca. After graduation, she spent one year as a volunteer at the Diocesan Youth Center, Maják in Špania Dolina, where she organized lots of events for young people. She also loves dance, hiking in the countryside, cooking with friends, the smell of morning coffee and riding her new old fashioned bike. Her biggest passion is fashion, especially slow fashion. Thanks to the Leadership Programme of Ladislav Hanus Fellowship she became a part of the dramaturgic team of the festival BHD, where she helps to organize events with cultural topics.
At LEAF Academy, Zuzka is a part of the Admin team responsible for the coordination of events and residential life of our students.
Michal is currently working on his PhD in Fine Arts at AFAD. He loves contemporary art, culture, aesthetics and good food. He used to live in Luxembourg, but that´s another story. He would like to have said: "Artists to my mind are the real architects of change, and not the political legislators who implement change after the fact", but it had already been quoted by William S. Burroughs. Outside the art world he has co-founded an association called Susedia na dvore (Neighbors in the Courtyard) , which is focused on work with the local community. They try to help neighbours know each other and care for each other by spending time together and creating various projects.
At LEAF Academy he teaches creative and critical thinking based on perceiving and creating Art in AP Studio Art. Michal also runs Visual Image Club, a safe place for all art lovers and geeks.
A transplanted German in Bratislava, Julia has a background and master degrees in cultural science and education from Heidelberg, and a passion for finances. She is a Rothschild Fellow. Julia created, developed, and managed international cultural education programs. Before joining LEAF she worked in the international film industry. She was responsible for international business, creative relations, business, and funds acquisition as well as management. In her free time, Julia co-produces and hosts the WeFour+ talk show.
At LEAF Academy Julia is responsible for fundraising and partnerships.
Zuzana Jeloková#teacher #advisor
Zuzana’s favourite line comes from graffiti on the Berlin wall: “Many small people in many small places do many small things, that can alter the face of the world”. Zuzana’s goal is to convey this message to students, inspire their interest in local and global affairs and share her commitment to issues of human rights, freedom, democracy, peace, and the global environment. She holds a PhD in Political Science from the University of Maryland, where she focused on post-communist democratization, nationalism and politics of memory in East-Central Europe and participated in research projects funded by NASA, the US Institute of Peace, USAID and the US Department of Homeland Security. She loves nature, big old trees, photography, art, walks with her dog, travelling, exploring, experiencing, connecting.
At LEAF Academy, she teaches Comparative Government and Central European Seminar (and encourages students to do many small things...).
Jana Klagová#director of studies #college counsellor #advisor
Accompanying students on their path to develop their potential is what enriches Jana and motivates her. Jana has more than 16 years of experience in education. She is co-founder of the CS Lewis Bilingual High School, where she worked as a teacher, Department Head, Principal and College-Counselor. She has always loved languages and literature and studied English and Slovak at Comenius University in Bratislava, Slovakia. Jana also travelled and studied education in the United States, where she had opportunities to visit various high schools and universities which broadened her understanding of the university admission process. Learning new things is an integral part of Jana’s life, so she has recently completed an online course on Formative Assessment at the University of Oregon. She enjoys cooking and baking non-traditional meals and sharing them with others and that’s why she leads a culinary club at LEAF Academy.
She is also teaching Slovak, supports students in the process of decision making of what to do after LEAF Academy, and is an integral part of the school administration team.
Matúš Kurian#teacher #advisor #residential
Shortly after graduating in Theoretical Physics from Charles University in Prague, Matúš became a high school educator. He taught English at Jur Hronec secondary school in Bratislava, where he also served as the Theory of Knowledge instructor in the International Baccalaureate Programme. He spent a year at the African Leadership Academy in Johannesburg, where he taught Physics, Scientific Research, and was a hallmaster in the dormitory. He enjoys academic debating, thinking, trekking and running marathons. In addition to a PhD in Physics, he also holds a brown belt in judo.
At LEAF Academy Matúš teaches Mathematical Modelling & Statistics, AP Physics and AP Statistics. He also serves as the Head of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) Department.
Ľubica Lutz#teacher #advisor
Ľubica believes that great organizations and innovations are based on great people. Thus, before joining LEAF, she helped develop young employees and managers in global corporations like Accenture and Alcatel-Lucent and also designed innovative products and services with 3M, Allianz, and Raiffeisen Bank as an innovation consultant. During her university studies, she volunteered with AIESEC - an international organization under the patronage of the United Nations. She has lived in Slovakia, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, and the Czech Republic. When she discovered LEAF, she decided to leave her business career and come back to her home country to help identify and develop high potential future leaders. Any day that consists of either meeting curious teenagers, responsible entrepreneurs, her beloved family, a bit of nature, a bit of art or any kind of furry, four-legged animal, is the perfect day for Ľubica.
At LEAF Academy, as member of the Entrepreneurial Leadership department, she supports students in searching for opportunities, bringing ideas to life and their connection to out-of-school life.
Whilst originally from Bratislava, Lea’s passion for exploring the unknown has led her to a life of adventures around the globe. She earned her degree from Cornell University, with diversions into cultural explorations of arts in Portugal and acquiring working knowledge of large corporations in Belgium. Captivated by all things French, she moved to Paris where she worked on the preparation of a global event for the International Chamber of Commerce.
Lea has always had a desire to live and work on the mysterious African continent. Fascinated by the Sahara desert, Berber, Arabic and Tuareg cultures, she journeyed to North Africa. In 2011, she fulfilled her dream of working in Africa by applying her knowledge of finance and project management as she joined a large Zambian conglomerate, to work on the development of hotels, supermarkets, and hardware stores. While living in Zambia she also worked in the mining industry. Discovering the world of mining was an awe-inspiring experience, yet the most delightful takeaway from her years in Zambia was forming a family.
At LEAF Academy, she is in charge of development of the new campus in Vištuk, Finance and ensuring Administrative Support.
Dominic McCavigan#teacher #advisor
Dominic is from Northern Ireland where, after completing his first Master's Degree in History and Politics with Queen's University Belfast, he spent five years teaching History in an all girl secondary school. During this time he completed a second Master's Degree in Creative Writing with the same university before turning his attention to international teaching. Dominic has spent three years teaching in Istanbul, and two further years teaching in Vienna where he thoroughly enjoyed the culture, food and diversity that these cities offer.
Dominic is very happy to be working with LEAF Academy students, helping them to reach their fullest potential through the skills and knowledge they will gain from AP English Language and Composition classes, as well as history in the CES department.
Mary McDonald#college counsellor #advisor
In 1990, after 19 years spent teaching and working as a university advisor at schools in the US state of Georgia, Mary decided to begin a career overseas. She spent 5 years as Director of High School Counseling at the Escola Americana do Rio de Janeiro and 9 years in the same position at the Singapore American School. Living and working overseas offered amazing and fulfilling opportunities, both professional and personal. Mary relishes working with interesting, diverse, engaged, and motivated students, assisting them in pursuing their university and career dreams. By the time she returned to the US in 2004, Mary had visited 29 countries, enjoying such adventures as trekking in the Everest region of Nepal, spending a week on a sail training ship off the coast of Australia, climbing Mt. Kinabalu, exploring the Rajasthan region of India, and relaxing on some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. Mary returned to the US to be closer to family, including three grandchildren. She spent 13 years at 2 New England boarding schools, again working in university guidance. Mary retired in June of 2015 but was lured back into the world of university guidance by the challenge of working with students at a new and unique leadership academy, LEAF Academy.
Dušan Mičúch#teacher #advisor #residential
Dusan's passion for cycling since childhood helped foster his curiosity to see things from a higher perspective. After graduating from the University of Ruzomberok as a Teacher, he started work as IT Administrator Support. He is constantly learning more about the importance of building relationships with new people and studying their habits and cultures. His enthusiasm for IT technologies was increased by cooperating in a digital television project with various development teams across Europe. The decision to extend his support to the local civic community has led him to become volunteer in the low threshold club Kaspian, where he offers support to young people seeking advice, help, fun or sports. He joined us because he believes that building a better community by leveraging his talents and skills means LEAF Academy is the right place.
Tina is a devoted rescuer. She studied at the Slovak Medical University in Bratislava. During her studies she took part in many competitions, conferences and further education. Besides rescuing lives in the streets of Bratislava, Tina is a volunteer at Slovak Red Cross where she is a First Aid Instructor and educates the younger generation.
At LEAF Academy, Tina and her fiance are taking care of the health and wellbeing of our students.
Darina Müllender-Taeter#teacher #advisor
Darina has worked for several international schools so far and enjoys being around students and staffulty from different countries and backgrounds. She has also worked for the BBC World Service, Berlitz Bratislava and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Slovakia. Darina is a passionate traveller, hiker and enjoys cycling, canoeing and swimming too. She is a mother of three, who studied in several international schools in different countries. Darina is thrilled to be able to work with students who are keen learners, and are open-minded and caring at the same time. She strongly believes that if there is a will, there is a way and LEAF Academy to her offers a great example of this.
Marcela Neupauerová#admin #advisor
Marcela had a long run with big corporations, but somehow she knew that invoice/order input was not what she wanted to do. The best experience for her was living in London, where she worked as a customer service assistant for 2 years. What she loved about it was the diversity of people. She studied social work, focused on modern communication addictions. She believes that education is one of the most important things in adult life, which is why she decided to work for LEAF Academy and is grateful to be part of the team. Outside of work she loves spending time with her dog, friends, reading books and hopefully getting back to photography and drawing again.
At LEAF Academy, Marcela is part of the Admin team.
Miriam Otrubová#teacher #advisor
Miriam was meeting members of LEAF Academy during its first year and always admired their enthusiasm for changing things for the better. She was always happy from these random meetings that later changed to non-random because she was given an opportunity to join the team as a Slovak Teaching Fellow, for which she is very grateful. Miriam is finishing studies of Slovak language and Civics this year at the Comenius University in Bratislava. Her aim is studying Slovak grammar. Her Master's thesis will be specialized on problems of declining masculines. Miriam believes in educational systems that teach and support student's complex growth. That is one of the reasons why she attended a one year training „Posilnení učitelia“ (Empowered Teachers) in Banská Štiavnica and thereafter volunteered in residential outdoor school and a summer camp organized by Živá Učebnica (Living Handbook). She has worked with children from different social backgrounds (crisis centre, kid's corner). Miriam feels fulfilled not just when she works with children but also grown ups. She loves theatre, hiking, travelling and a good coffee with friends. She believes in uniqueness and goodness of the individual. She has a beautiful day when she is teaching, learning and growing together with others in enjoyable time.
Juraj Pavlovič#teacher #advisor
More than anything else Juraj loves working with children and young people. It has been 9 years since he helped organize his first summer camp as a volunteer of 'P-mat' - a Slovak non-profit focused on talented middle school students in mathematics and physics. Since then he has participated in some 20 more camps, tutoring hundreds of bright young pupils, and later leading a team of 25+ volunteers of P-mat. Juraj left behind the studies of electrical engineering at Vienna's Technical University, after realizing his future lies in a classroom full of students rather than a lab full of screens. That is why he took on the position of Mathematics Teacher at LEAF Academy. Whenever he has the opportunity, you will find Juraj with a rope and climbing shoes, hanging from a mountain wall, or at least zig-zagging Slovak mountains on foot with his friends. When in the city, he never says no to a good movie or a concert of classical music.
Alexandra Porembová#teacher #advisor #residential
For the past fifteen years, Sasa has been involved with Physics and Mathematics in one way or another. From attending maths camps as a school kid she moved to organizing them as a volunteer and has also become a member of the Amazing Theater of Physics – a group of enthusiasts who entertain people through physics. Finding ways of explaining how the laws of nature or logical operators work and sharing and enjoying those “Aha!” moments with others naturally lead Sasa to study teaching at Masaryk University in Brno where she is currently finishing her Master’s degree. Besides that, she has been discovering the world of experiential learning for the past few years and hopes to incorporate her know-how in classes. Whenever she is not taking part in any camp, Sasa enjoys wandering in the mountains with her backpack on, sleeping under the stars, talking fast, baking with friends or smiling at strangers in trams.
At LEAF Academy, Sasa is teaching Mathematics and Science and enjoying her role as Head of Hall in the Residence.
Peter Reťkovský#teacher #advisor #residential
One of LEAF Academy´s inaugural staffulty members from Slovakia, Peter holds a Master's Degree and is pursuing a PhD in International Relations. He has lived in the USA, Colombia, and South Africa, and is passionate about foreign languages and different cultures and their interaction. He has worked in project management, export promotion, and economic diplomacy, while at the same time delivering soft-skills trainings, as well as high-school and college-level classes in Economics, History, European Integration, Leadership and Entrepreneurship. His passions also include nature, numismatics and cycling.
At LEAF Academy, he is currently responsible for LEAF Academy´s Residential Programme and teaching Entrepreneurial Leadership.
Matej Sapák#principal #teacher
Matej’s twin passions for exploration and stories have guided him for most of his life. A boy scout since the age of ten, Matej learned to love the outdoors and treasure friendships formed on a long hike or around a campfire. His curiosity and desire to understand how things work, and to learn new stories, also attracted him to try his hand at debating. Eventually, he would use his debating experience to take two Slovak teams to the finals of international debate tournaments, and one of them to victory. That same curiosity led him to a boarding school in England, an International Baccalaureate school in Bratislava, to study Math at Harvard College and finally Law at Harvard Law school. Through it all, Matej became more and more interested in the stories of the people he studied and worked with, and he came to believe that the future of his country lies in the stories of its talented people. Seeking to give other young people the same opportunities he has had, after working with McKinsey & Company, he spent two years in public service helping to write a national strategy for knowledge economy, and then joined LEAF, a Slovak non-profit dedicated to helping talented young people live inspiring stories of leadership.
As the principal of LEAF Academy, Matej greatly enjoys getting to know many more talented young Central Europeans and help them kindle their own curiosity and develop their own stories.
Jaromír Sedlár#teacher #advisor
Jaromír Sedlár joined LEAF Academy to teach, learn, and practice Entrepreneurial Leadership (EL). He continually works with his students, colleagues, and the partners of the Academy on building the EL program that prepares its participants to imagine and create a better world. This is more than just a job for him; he is man on a mission. As a father and a citizen, he wants to develop an alternative to the current educational system that will better reflect how much we love our children and how important it is for them to be kind, confident, and ready to change the world. This matters to all of us: The quality of our lives tomorrow depends on how well our children learn today.
Jaromír joined LEAF Academy from African Leadership Academy is where he spent a year as a LEAF Fellow. Previously, he taught Leadership and worked in various areas of educational administration at university level in the United States. He studied at Masaryk University, Fort Hays State University, and the University of Texas at Austin. As a student, he was active in student government and various academic organizations. When not at work, Jaromír enjoys spending time with his family and friends, whether it is watching good movies and documentaries, or travelling and exploring.
He joined LEAF Academy to teach, learn, and practice Entrepreneurial Leadership.
Hana Skljarszka#new campus
Hana believes that young people have the power and capacity to change the world, and that education and active participation are essential for them. She represented Slovakia as a youth delegate at the United Nations 68th general assembly in New York. For several years she worked as a Trainer, Mentor and Project Manager. Alongside LEAF, she also studies Sociology at Masaryk University in Brno. At LEAF Academy, Hanka has worked in the admissions team, was in charge of the co-curricular program, where she also has led debates and the Expect the Unexpected club. Now she has become part of the team developing our future LEAF Academy Campus. Building on her experience with us, she will ensure that all LEAF Academy requirements and needs of students, teachers/staffulty are involved in the project. She is constantly thinking about how to keep LEAF Academy a strong and nourished community in the environment to come.
Deedee Skovajsa#teacher #advisor
Deedee is originally from Detroit, Michigan (where Tomáš Tatar and Tomáš Jurco are playing hockey for the NHL Red Wings). She was initially involved with high schools as an Admissions Counselor for Alma College. Her journey as an educator began more than 10 years ago as a corp member with Teach for America. She taught middle school English at the Bronx School for Law, Government, and Justice, was part of the original start-up team that created the Teach to One math programme in New York City, and has been engaged in Montessori-based learning at Brilliant Stars International Kindergarten and Elementary School in Bratislava.She is an avid reader and loves discussing literature of all sorts; she has recently finished Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly. Some of her other favorites include The Book Thief (Markus Zusak), Random Family (Adrian Nicole LeBlanc), Death Note (Tsugumi Ohba), and A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again (David Foster Wallace). She moved to Bratislava 3 years ago from New York City.
Deedee is Head of our Central European Studies Department and co-teaches the year one and year two CES classes.
Lýdia Uhnáková#teacher #advisor
Lýdia has a passion for volunteering. During her university studies, she was active as an animator for Children’s Hope Club where she worked with long-term hospitalized children. After that, she decided to help with accompanying seriously ill people and their relatives. She considers this a very rewarding experience where she learned not to be afraid to step out of her comfort zone and see little-big things in everyday life. She has a Masters in Psychology from Comenius University in Bratislava. In addition, she spent her studies at Charles University in Prague with the LLP Erasmus program. Lýdia is certified in Nondirective Play Therapy, which she applied as a Psychologist both in an orphanage and an elementary school. She believes that all people can overcome their problems if they are listened to and supported with empathy and understanding. The great potential of younger generations motivates her, and that is why she has been enjoying her work with them for the past 8 years. She loves Latino music, dancing, and swimming. Lýdia’s new-found hobbies are baking healthy cakes and drawing. Her four little nieces are the source of the greatest happiness in her life.
At LEAF Academy, Lýdia is part of the Character Development Department and teaches Character Seminar.
Laurel Waterhouse#dean of character #teacher #residential
Laurel joins the LEAF team having most recently completed work at the Collegiate School in New York City, one of America’s oldest independent schools, and she is thrilled to lend her experience to a new and exciting educational mission. She believes education is the key to a brighter future and is always seeking more innovative ways to inspire the next generation of leaders. As a boarding school graduate herself, she understands the unique value of a dynamic and supportive learning environment that not only challenges students academically but inspires them to find their passions, develop character and engagement with their community beyond the classroom.
After completing a BA in International Affairs at Lafayette College, she began her independent school career as a Teaching Fellow at the Taft School in Connecticut before moving on to Choate Rosemary Hall, where she taught history and political science, coached varsity rowing and basketball, and served as an advisor, dormitory head, and Dean. After nearly a decade of work in boarding schools, Laurel returned to graduate school to pursue her passion for studying history and political science. In 2016, she graduated with a Dual MA/MSc degree from Columbia University in New York and The London School of Economics, earning a prize for her work on human rights history. During her summers, Laurel travels extensively and has worked with a number of educational initiatives and NGOs in Africa, Latin America and Asia.
In her free time, Laurel is always up for an adventure. She enjoys exploring new places, meeting new people, eating great food, and climbing or surfing wherever there are big enough mountains and waves.
Peter Wetzler#teacher #advisor
Peter studied Molecular Biology at Comenius University in Bratislava. The idea of being a researcher who spent all day working in a laboratory was not his ideal. Instead, he became a teacher and taught Biology at Grösslingová Secondary School, where he led a class of 30 students as a form teacher for 4 consecutive years. During this time, he also began working as a leader in daily camps as well as a tennis coach. When he’s not teaching, you can often find him throughout the year on the Slovak hiking trails – with boots in the summer and skis in the snow. He tries his best to explore the world and at the top of the list of countries he has visited are Colombia and Myanmar. Lately, he has been exploring underwater life and also loves cooking and baking with fine ingredients.
At LEAF Academy he teaches Science and AP Biology and is also Head of co-curriculars.
Andrej sees himself as a “humanities guy” at LEAF Academy. After studying languages, he found his new hobby in history, philosophy, and religion. He studied in Bratislava, London and Edinburgh. He is teaching also on a university level and is a member of the editorial board for Historyweb.sk. For many summers now, he’s been discovering ancient treasures in Israel. On sunny days, he thinks he can play football, badminton, and some guitar too.
At LEAF Academy, he teaches in the Central European and Character development departments.
Matej is finishing a PhD in Organic Chemistry at Comenius University in Bratislava, an interest which now spans a decade since he became deeply involved with the Chemistry Olympiad as a competitor and, later, as deviser of their tasks and co-organizer. He did short-term internships in Paris and Bristol, which enormously widened his scientific interests and gave a glimpse of different university educational systems. He is eager to implement these approaches, along with his experience of teaching Chemistry to enthusiastic students, in day-to-day teaching at university and now at LEAF Academy. He hopes to bring Chemical Science, its concepts, applications and potential a step closer to the students in the AP Chemistry course. In his free time, he savours books and is interested in the reconstruction of Historical European Martial Arts.