Our team

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.

Marcela Gatciová

#wellbeing team

Before joining the LEAF Academy team Marcela worked in various areas including education and media. As a former teacher, she was glad to come back to classrooms as a volunteer at UNICEF where she spent several years as a Junior Ambassador. It was during that time she realized she wanted to enhance her competence and become a psychologist specialized in educational counseling. Later she completed her studies at Comenius University and began working at a primary school in Bratislava. She has already concluded her training in Art Therapy and is currently in the final phase of her psychotherapeutic training in Individual Psychology. Besides she is passionate about languages, dancing, traveling, and spending time with others.

Petra Augustínová

#teacher #stem #residential

Petra has always been amazed by nature and connections in it. Since her high school times, she was looking for opportunities on how to explore more of it and, at the same time, stay involved with her other passion – education. Her journey led through organizing summer camps in a community center, university studies at the Faculty of Natural Science at Comenius University in Bratislava with a major in education, an internship with DAPHNE - the Institute of Applied Ecology, and an experience of an international volunteer and field instructor in Cuyahoga National Park in the United States. In 2016, she was more than pleased to join LEAF Academy where she has been given many opportunities to grow as an educator, she has been surrounded by caring and inspiring students and colleagues, and she is able to contribute to the ambitious mission and vision of LEAF.

At LEAF Academy, Petra teaches AP Environmental Science, AP Human Geography, and Science. She is also responsible for The Duke of Edinburgh's International Award coordination and currently serves as Year 1 Class Advisor.

Tamás Jávor

#teacher #stem #advisor

What makes somebody move here from neighboring Hungary, without knowing anyone? As a fresh graduate, Tamás worked for some years in the nuclear energy industry. Teaching was always one of his dreams, so later he got trained in it, then took a break for some months visiting South America and New Zealand. Following also his desire to find out about the language and homeland of his Slovak ancestors, he moved to Bratislava and has been teaching Physics and Maths in international schools here since 2017, also doing occasional online tutoring in his subjects. You can find him learning Slovak in language courses, learning the traditional folk dances of his nation, commuting by bike on the streets of the capital, or working in his garden growing herbs and vegetables. He is also interested in singing in and conducting choirs, psychology, questions of sustainable living and reducing waste, and has recently finished a licensed permaculture design course.

Alexandra Porembová

#teacher #stem

For the past fifteen years, Sasa has been involved with physics and mathematics in one way or another. From attending math camps as a school kid, she moved to organize them and she has also become a member of Amazing Theatre of Physics – a group of enthusiasts who, through experiments, show people that physics is all around us and can be understood. Finding the ways of explaining how Newton’s laws or quadratic equations work and sharing and enjoying those “Aha!” moments with the others naturally lead Sasa to study teaching in the Czech Republic where she also lives. Besides that, she has been discovering the experiential learning for the past few years, enjoying wandering through woods with a backpack, biking into sunsets, sleeping under stars, talking fast, baking and cooking with friends or smiling at strangers in the trams.

At LEAF Academy, Sasa is teaching mathematics and lower-school science courses, as well as sharing the residential experience with students as a member of the residential staffulty.

Andrej Piovarci

#teacher #stem

Andrej had been teaching economic and project management courses in European programs of the City University of Seattle for more than twelve years and has lectured in Slovakia, the Czech Republic, and Switzerland. He worked also in the consulting sector and run a small company focused on training, education, and business consulting. Before joining the Leaf Academy Andrej was working several years in the public administration, being part of a team responsible for the reforms of the higher education sector in Slovakia. 

When not at work, he enjoys outdoor activities with his sons and friends, reading books, watching films, listening to music, and planning new travel adventures. Within the LEAF Academy, Andrej is going to teach AP Economics and participate in the Entrepreneurial Leadership program.

Lucia Dobrucká

#teacher #stem

Lucia has always wanted to be a teacher. She graduated in English language and literature, Biology and Chemistry, and since then she has been working as a teacher and still loves it!

Apart from university studies, Lucia has always been interested in self-studying and self-improvement, which led her to take part in various workshops, leadership, and mentoring programs (including IRPU with Leaf). She learned how to facilitate the learning process, listen carefully, and work in a multicultural environment. Moreover, she found some interest in the translation of documents and texts from various technical and professional fields.

In her free time, she absolutely loves reading books (especially fantasy and crime novels), watching good series, shopping, and last but not least, spending time with her family.

With LEAF Academy, Lucia is going to be a member of the STEM department and teach AP Chemistry. She hopes that her students will not only achieve the expected exam results, but also have fun, enjoy the subject, and improve their lab skills (even though, chemistry lessons with her maybe a bit challenging).

Roman Kluvanec

#teacher #stem

Roman comes from the background of NGOs focused on students with a talent for maths, informatics and physics, with years of experience as a tutor and camp organiser for Trojsten, P-mat and Riešky. He has started his Leaf journey in the summer of 2017 when he has joined Exponea for a summer internship through the Slovak Professionals Abroad Program. This was a great match, since the internship has never ended and Roman has stayed in Exponea until now. As a fresh Master's graduate from The University of Edinburgh, he is now permanently moving back to Slovakia, starting a new chapter of his life as a Software Security Engineer in ESET and a Computer Science Tutor at the LEAF Academy. Within the Academy, his goal will be to improve the general knowledge of the IT world among the students, as well as to teach them to critically think about the technology world around us.

Simona Müllerová

#teacher #entrepreneurialleadership #advisor

My name is Simona, born and raised in Bratislava, Slovakia. For my bachelor studies, I studied Biotechnology at the Slovak University of Technology. In this place of wonders I got introduced to the magic of chemistry, never giving up, and cloning (even though I did not use my knowledge to its full potential and there is only one of me still)! During my studies I became a member of the biggest youth-led volunteering organization there is, AIESEC. Discovering a  whole new world outside of numbers and Excel tables, I fell in love with working with people and creating projects. Soon enough I became a part of the executive board of my local committee, being responsible for marketing. A year later, I got to lead and manage the committee myself, and I got to learn what it takes to plan, lead a team and manage crises. At the moment I am starting the last year of my studies (this time in Industrial Management) and am very excited for the upcoming adventure in LEAF, where I will be a part of a team of EL teachers.

Martina Fiabanová

#teacher #characterdevelopment #residentialadvisor

Martina comes from the education sector. She has come to us from Vienna, Austria where she worked for 4 years at an international boarding school. She was able to step there into different roles which allowed her to obtain a more holistic perspective on the education system. She is currently getting her degree in Educational Innovation, a topic of her interest, which she likes to write about on her blog in her free time. Besides writing, she likes to spend time outdoors doing sports, going for walks and hikes in nature and she will never say no to a 90´s music dance-off 🙂 Within LEAF she is going to work in the Character Education Department at LEAF Academy as a Teaching Fellow, leading seminars and outdoors expeditions with students. She will be also conducting with LEAF Academy students academic research on the topic of self-regulation. She believes her passion for learning comes from a desire to connect better with others and the world around her.

Jelena Ostoich

#teacher #characterdevelopment #career counselor #residential

Jelena is very passionate about multicultural (educational) environments which aim to bring meaningful change in the world. Being a child of a mixed marriage between a Serbian and a Bulgarian herself and growing up in both countries already exposed her to the diversity and similarities that people have.
Joining the Scout Movement when she was a teen had a big impact on her life. It  was not only a transformative and life-changing experience but it also sparked her love for experience-based learning, community and the importance of personal growth. As a result, for more than a decade she has been volunteering in various educational and personal-developmental projects some of which included mentoring and supporting students from high-schools or university exchange students, joining a support hotline for LGBTI+ people, assisting at personal development courses targeting adults and teens, facilitating workshops on various topics related to our growth and self-discovery. For several years she was actively involved in an international exchange organization called CISV which organizes peace-education camps all over the world.

Her curiosity for people and their depths led her to choose Psychology and Education for her path. During her studies, she had a chance to live in the Netherlands and Germany as an exchange student and also to do internships there. She got a Master’s Degree in Child, Adolescent and School Psychology and is currently doing a long-term Psychotherapy training in Integrative Psychotherapy.

Apart from all the above, she enjoys doing arts and crafts projects (soft spot for Art Therapy), watching movies from all over the world, reading especially children books (with beautiful illustrations), exploring the world, (word-spoken) poetry, having meaningful conversations, wandering in nature and geocaching for treasures.

She truly believes we need to educate the heart as much as the mind. Therefore she feels genuinely grateful for being part of the Character Department program as one of the facilitators. She is also part of the residential life, Life After LEAF Academy, as one of the career counselors, and she is also an advisor.

Nora Šajbidor

#teacher #ces

One of Nora´s favourite quotes comes from Mark Twain: " It's not the size of the dog in the fight, it's the size of the fight in the dog." Nora is a strong believer in the capabilities of the human will. After almost 10 years of working as a lawyer in international law firms, she has come to LEAF Academy to reconnect with her passion for English and teaching. In her free time Nora enjoys fitness, badminton, watching movies, and trying out new restaurants and cafés. 

At LEAF Academy Nora is going to teach English classes for both students and staff.

Andrea Pěchová

#teacher #centraleuropeanstudies #advisor #admissions

Andrea loves meeting new people – it doesn´t matter what nationality you are, what language do you speak, what are your interests or how old you are. She loves to discover what unique is about people and to discover their potential. She is more of a listener than talker so do not hesitate to approach her to share with her your story. She was fascinated about stories since the very young age, that is also why she decided to study Czech and French literature. This fascination keeps on till today and Andrea is very excited to share this passion with her Czech students at LEAF Academy. At the same time, she will promote LEAF Academy towards targets groups across Slovakia as part of Admissions team.

Apart from all the above, Andrea likes to spend her free time among young people who seek for a vison in their life and don't want to be carry away by the flow. If you want to please her, she would appreciate food, good book, good movie, black coffee, trip to the nature or mountains or recommendation of a good music.

Slavomíra Sučíková

#teacher #centraleuropeanstudies #advisor

Slavka graduated in Biology from The University of Edinburgh. After her studies, she ventured into teaching, as a member of the first cohort of the Teach for Slovakia program. Through teaching underprivileged children, she realized that she enjoys designing learning experiences and guiding her students, hence she decided to stay working in Education. For 4 years she taught Slovak Language and other subjects for Edulienka Education Group, where she also worked on the Character Development curriculum, Sustainable Development Goals curriculum, and initiation of a mentoring scheme for students. She has spent the last year in Scotland, where she designed and taught Slovak Language courses. At LEAF Academy, she will teach the Slovak Language. Slavka enjoys hiking and trips to nature, dancing, playing Ultimate Frisbee, and taking care of houseplants. She believes in the power of creating excellent learning experiences and creating healthy supportive communities - both of which inspire people involved to grow.

Zuzana Jeloková

#teacher #centraleuropeanstudies #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...).

Zuzana Podracká

#teacher #centraleuropeanstudies

Zuzana is a contemporary (Czecho)Slovak historian, who will be teaching History and Central European Studies at LEAF Academy. She lived, studied, and taught in a little Welsh town called Aberystwyth for 8 years, where she gained a BScEcons in International Politics and International History, MA in Modern European History, and Ph.D. focusing on secondary school education and society in transition in (Czecho)Slovakia during the late normalization and early post-1989 period. After 10 years in the UK, she returned to Slovakia in 2017. Before joining LA, she has worked for GLOBSEC for over 2 years, running the GLOBSEC Young Leaders Forum, and covering all things UK-related as well as various EU topics first as a conference agenda lead and later as a research fellow at the GLOBSEC Policy Institute.

Her passions include spending time with her family and friends, dancing, debating, writing, traveling, and listening to the music of (almost) any kind. She always sees and tries to bring out the best in people and firmly believes that being kind and compassionate, standing up for yourself and others, and trying your best are the most important things in life. Her day can always be made better by a good cup of tea (English breakfast with milk and one sugar), a good book, and some chocolate.

Michal Huštaty

#teacher #art #classadvisor

Michal is currently working on his Ph.D. in Fine Arts at AFAD. He loves contemporary art (works as indipendent artist and curator), 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 neighbors know each other and care for each other by spending time together and creating various projects. Michal also volunteers for OZ Zrejme (Let´s get mature together), organization which is trying to break down mistrust and prejudice among people based on age by arranging intergenerational events and sessions which help to build community and humanity.

At LEAF Academy he teaches creative and critical thinking based on perceiving, studying and creating Art in AP Art and Design and AP Art History (part of CES department). He also coordinates co-curricular activities (clubs) and residential weekends program. And last, but not least he is advisor and Y3 class advisor.

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.

Gavin Beetlestone

#teacher #advisor #residential

Gavin’s has more than 10 years’ international experience delivering outdoor and experiential education in Canada, USA, Hong Kong, UK, Slovakia and at home in Ireland. He has worked as a guide, a trainer and a manager in his field but his number one passion is to work with teenagers and young adults in a facilitative role to empower them to think for themselves, care for others and the world around them and develop a positive sense of self-efficacy.

In his free time he enjoys being active, spending time in nature, rock n roll, Marvel movies and has most recently developed a passion for Latin dance.

At LEAF Academy Gavin works as one of the character development program facilitators, delivering the character seminars and leading the offsite programs.

Miriam Otrubová

#teacher #advisor #residential

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.

Peter Reťkovský

#teacher #advisor #residential

One of LEAF Academy´s inaugural staffulty members from Slovakia, Peter holds a Master's Degree and an Doctoral ABD 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 Program, and teaches Entrepreneurial Leadership and PreCalculus.

Daniela Pellerová

#teacher #advisor

Dada is a graduate from Comenius University where she studied economics and financial mathematics. During her high school, she spent a lot of time organizing and taking part of different camps connected to both mathematics and experiential learning.

She enjoys climbing, jogging, parkour (not the one with horses), sunrises, sunsets, nights under the sky, mountains, cappucino with a lot of milky foam, playing guitar by the campfire, cooking outdoors, fruits and vegetables, playing piano, and spending time with her friends in general.
At LEAF Academy, she is part of STEM department, teaching AP Statistics and Mathematical modelling and Statistics and joining the climbing club.

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.

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.

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.

Jakub Januška

#teacher #advisor

Even though Jakub (literally) looks down on everybody, he likes to be inspired by other people. In fact, the people from LEAF Academy were a big part of his motivation when deciding to work here. He studied psychology in Bratislava and during the last year of his studies he was participating in our Character Department’s activities as an intern. Besides that, he volunteered for various community centers. He is a passionate musician and he would like to buy a nice guitar in the future. He also likes to organize short-term low-cost trips to various destinations, enjoys watching the endless sea at the beach and is said to be a good listener.
At LEAF Academy, he teaches AP Psychology and is looking forward to all the new students he will be able to analyze.

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.

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 cafe enjoying an update with one of her friends.

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.

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. He also serves as the Head of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) Department.

Marcela Neupauerová

#studentlife #residential

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 the Student Life Coordinator and an Advisor.

Marica Ščevlíková

#residential #advisor #admissions

Born and raised as a Slovakian with the heart of a traveler. Prior to joining LEAF Academy, I worked in the education sector in the UK; specializing in operations, customer service, team building, and project management. I am an eager explorer wanting to taste the adventures whenever possible. From studying in Ireland (high school) to studying in Southampton (university degree) to living in Mexico City to traveling to Machu Picchu whilst visiting neighboring countries allowed me to understand the culture, customs and had brought myself a souvenir too (ask me about it in person). I fancy good board games (I own a collection) or sports as I used to play competitive volleyball for 12 years. I believe THE recipe for everlasting interpersonal relationships is 24g of strong communication, 19g of transparency, 12g of honesty with a dash of empathy serving with the side of active listening.

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.

Martina Püšpöky


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 husband are taking care of the health and wellbeing of our students.

Roman Weis


Roman is Online Marketing and Communication specialist at LEAF Academy. He has more than 8 years of experience in digital marketing - advertising agencies, B2B industry and startups of tech companies (Creative Web, Profesia). Last year, he fulfilled his dream of solo travelling and volunteering in the countries of South America. After coming back to Slovakia, he has been creating projects for his NGO and working for various clients as a freelance marketer.

Roman likes European movies, visual art, good food, local trips and travelling.

Michael Čurpek

#lifeafterleafacademy #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 university studies).
Passionate about learning and continuous professional development, Michael has completed the professional certificate programs in Career & Academic Advising, Youth Counseling, and Teaching & Education. He also holds an M.A. in International Education with a focus on effective leadership and management in international schools.

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 a trumpet player.
At LEAF Academy, Michael oversees our Careers and University Guidance program, and he is also the main point of contact for University/College representatives.

Jana Klagová

#director of studies #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.

Brett Potash


Brett comes to LEAF Academy after 20 years in boarding schools, having served as a teacher of history, English, Psychology, and math, a Director of Residential Life, and a Dean of Students. He's coming to Slovakia mostly to meet Peter Sagan, but is also interested in the mission of LEAF Academy. He first lived in Europe about ten years ago, when he taught for 2 years at the American College of Sofia with his wife. They had just gotten married, and she said she'd go "anywhere in Europe." She didn't realize that Bulgaria was in Europe. Since then, they've developed a love for this part of the world and are eager to share it with their kids: ages 9 and 5.

Jaromír Sedlár

#dean of EL #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.

Katarína Búřilová

#community counselor

Katka is continuously searching for the best way how to feed her curiosity about human psyche and her passion for helping others. She studied psychology at Comenius University and spent 10 years working in the area of human resources both in business and in NGO sector. After helping LEAF develop its core HR processes from scratch, she moved on to helping students navigate through the psychological challenges of boarding school environment on their road to self-discovery at LEAF Academy. She is a certified psychodynamic psychotherapist with over 7 years of experience in the field. She is also a culture junkie, will work for good coffee and her passions include sustainable living, social justice and resisting the internet time-sink.

Mária Balážová

#community counselor

Majka is an enthusiast of child psychology and psychotherapy. She studied psychology at Presov University, one of the oldest institutions of psychology studies in Slovakia. After working as a school counselor in special educational setting, she continued as a researcher in the field of child psychology. Desire to be closer to people brought her to Gestalt psychotherapy training. She is a licenced psychotherapist and is strongly influenced by Gestalt philosophy. In order to live life to the fullest, it is necessary to be aware of our needs. She would like to help students recognize and fulfill their potential. What excites her the most about working at LEAF Academy is to see students grow and mature.

She is a passionate coffee lover and enjoys all kinds of urban chilling but she is always ready to put on her hiking boots and travel freely. Majka is a spontaneous person so whenever you are off to an adventure let her know. 

She is a part of Well-being team and works as a Community Counselor.

Richard Holec

#admissions #advisor

Richard comes from the hospitality sector, he was taking care of family hotel Liptovsky dvor for more than 8 years. He believes that honesty, openness, respect and professionalism are essential elements to everything you do. Richard and his team received international recognition and secured top positions on TripAdvisor Traveler's Choice Award. Early in 2018, Richard received Special Jury Award for Entrepreneurship for the year 2017 in Slovakia from The Entrepreneur of The Year Award operated by Ernest & Young. Besides his work, he started a charity and environmental projects like his beloved “Pomáhať nám chutí - Chefs battle” where he found-rise for Svetielko nádeje OZ.

During his time at Liptov, he discovered his passion for sports and hardening. In his free time, he likes travelling, reading, cooking quality food for his family and a glass of good Slovak wine. He can hardly survive a day without morning cappuccino.

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.

Jana Sheppard


Jana has recently returned from UK where she was living and working for past 20 years. She has been promoting a British and International schools abroad and traveled extensively to all around the World during her career. New addition to LEAF Academy Admission department with task to build awareness of the school abroad and recruit more international students.

She thrives on challenges and look at them with a can-do attitude. She is a people person who has always been able to get on well with her peers.

Marek Báleš


Marek´s professional background is primarily in education and he has been working as a primary school teacher in Slovakia for the last 6 years. He has taught first to fourth grade students and was also the head of a primary school department. Prior to that, he had lived in the UK for 10 years where he studied music production and technology and worked mainly as an event project manager.

Marek is responsible for recruiting new students for LEAF Academy and he is participating in the selection process too. He will promote LEAF Academy and other LEAF programs towards the target groups and general public across Slovakia.

Zuzana Biloveská


Zuzana once found solace in German philosophy, now water mass of the oceans and night walks will make do with providing time and space for thinking. In praise of slowness, she took long detours that have led her first to sociology, then art history and currently to public and social policy at Masaryk University. She’s an unabashed feminist with deep appreciation of paradox and absurdity; interested in social innovations, inequality, social justice and good governance. At some point she found herself washed up on the rugged shores of England and stayed for several years exploring ups and downs of hospitality and commercial world of London. The delight, however, was hidden in community interpreting and community projects. Eventually, she left wuthering heights behind lured back by punk-ness of Central Europe. She chooses life, kindness, dance, visual arts, eyes wide open and at LEAF Academy she’s chosen the Admissions team in a role of Admissions Officer and beyond.

Alexandra Hanáková


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 part of the Admin team, working in the back office as an accounting and travel support for colleagues and she is also responsible for the Library.

Hana Kobzová


Before joining our team Hana has gone though various Procurement, Finance and Facility management positions, transferring her experience to supporting bank processes and covering facility projects. Within LEAF, Hana is managing Operations and Facility team at LEAF Academy. Her role is to oversee daily operations, procedures, budget and steer the support team. She ensures all runs smoothly and that operational aspects of other departments and students are taken into considerations.
Hana is volunteering for non - profit organisations and believes that Slovakia can be still a better place to live. In her free time she enjoys gardening, travelling and spending time with her family and friends.