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Kathy Audet, MA

Co-Founder and Director

Kathy Audet has an Associates’ degree and a certificate in Early Childhood Education.  She earned a Bachelors’ of Arts (BA) degree in Counseling Psychology from San Jose State University.  While working on her BA degree, Kathy worked at Women and their Children’s Housing and Mid-Peninsula Support Network for battered women.  After starting a family, she began her Masters of Arts (MA) degree in early childhood intervention (ages 0-3) at Santa Clara University (SCU).  She graduated with her Masters degree in Mild-to-Moderate Special Education, which included internships at Chandler Tripp School for children with disabilities in San Jose, as well as in the preschool at the Perinatal Substance Abuse program.

As her children grew up, Kathy’s oldest child was diagnosed with Non-Verbal Learning Disorder (NLD), and her second child was diagnosed with multiple disabilities and cognitive delay.  Both children were unable to survive or thrive in the public school setting despite her efforts to “navigate the IEP process.” 

Ultimately, Kathy determined that she could and should provide unique, low-ratio teaching to children with special needs, and in 2004, she founded Skylar Hadden School to nurture the hearts and minds of children with special needs. Kathy's vision was to provide a safe, inclusive, learning environment for her boys - and others like them - that would focus on their strengths. Her motto has always been, "you show me an autistic student and I'll show you an artistic one". Due to her very personal connection to Skylar Hadden she has a well honed ability to key in on a students' splinter skills. Many of the students under her guidance have found a nurturing environment that provides healthy boundaries, balanced with encouragement and individualized curriculum. Some of the original students of Skylar Hadden are now attending UC Santa Cruz, UC Davis, California College of the Arts, and Gavilan's airline mechanic program.


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Sam Lopez

Director of Curriculum

Sam Lopez is the Director of Curriculum and the Math and Science Teacher at Skylar Hadden for all grade levels.  He also coordinates the annual Science Fair at the school. 

Sam got his start at Skylar Hadden in 2010 as a part-time math teacher and has been a full-time teacher since 2011. His teaching style adds an element of humor, which goes a long way to breaking down anxiety some students may have when approaching Math and Science. Sam meets students at their developmental level while teaching them Common Core State standards in unique, individualized ways.

Sam has a Bachelor of Science degree in Physics from Santa Clara University.  Sam's first teaching experience was as a teacher’s aide while attending Santa Clara University, working for the physics department.  In addition to working at private schools, he has been a private tutor for over a decade to neuro-typical and special needs children of all grade levels.  His experience in one-on-one tutoring allows him connect with his students as individuals and to readily adapt his lessons to provide differentiated teaching on subjects students might otherwise find challenging.

In 2015 under Sam's leadership, the Science Fair will be supplanted by "Pi Day" on March 14, 2015 (3.14.15).  And Sam's favorite food?  Pi, of course! 


Jonathan Newsome

Language Arts Teacher

Jonathan has a unique background. As the son of a neurobiologist professor at Stanford, he has always been fascinated by the brain. In 2008, he began his career as an educator teaching school age children about personal, relationship and internet safety. By 2009, he graduated from San Jose State with a BA in Psychology and was shortly back in classrooms substitute teaching. He has worked with neuro-typical children, foster children, special needs children and kids at-risk, typically in a classroom or professional setting. In 2004 and 2006 he volunteered to build structures in Jamaica and Mexico, then travelled to Costa Rica to volunteer with Sea Turtles. 

Jonathan is currently completing a Masters of Special Education program and holds a temporary multi-subject Credential. In his classroom he aims to understand his students hobbies and interests, from there he can connect lessons to them personally. Whether it's the newest game or the latest YouTube video's Jonathan finds that by joining his students he is able to guide them through lessons with less resistance. This level of trust building allows Jonathan to challenge his students in one of the most difficult categories: writing. As an avid reader, reptile enthusiast, gamer and world traveler (he has been to Australia, France, Israel, Egypt, Mexico, Austria and Ireland ) Jonathan brings an eclectic, well-rounded world view to his students. He always seeks to understand them while individualizing Core Curriculum Standards.


Marla Garrison

Instructional Assistant and Librarian

Marla Garrison, the afternoon instructional assistant at Skylar Hadden School, has spent almost all of her 32 years in education working with children with special needs. Before coming to Skylar Hadden in 2005, she worked as an instructional assistant in a first grade classroom in the Cambrian School District. She also was an instructional assistant for special education summer programs for 28 years. In 1992, she transferred within the Cambrian district to Price Middle School where she currently divides her morning hours as a librarian, translator, and advisor for at-risk students.  Marla has received special recognition from Cambrian School District as employee of the year and special recognition from the Santa Clara County Board of Education.  She also works with the Hispanic community in San Jose as part of the English Language Advisory Committee (ELAC). 

Marla and her husband raised 4 daughters; one who had learning challenges with reading, writing, and counting money. That daughter now works full time, has a social life, and is married and living with her husband. The other daughters are college graduates, and are also leading successful lives. In addition, Marla has six grandchildren and enjoys long visits from them during school vacations.


Kristina Crooks

Office Manager & HR

In 2015, Kristina started with Skylar Hadden as an instructional assistant but very quickly found her niche in the office as an assistant to our Director. While you can still find her floating around classrooms from time to time she is typically interfacing with parents, districts and staff. Kristina is the first point of contact for all new and prospective parents while collaborating with our Director on the business end of SHS. She has a passion for people and a down-to-earth demeanor making her easy to connect with. Previously she worked in classrooms as a 1:1 instructional aide, was an executive assistant and created marketing strategies for small businesses. The common thread has always been helping people and finding solutions to problems. Building relationships is where she shines. She is currently working on her BA in Organizational Leadership. 

Kristina's curiosity and tenacity to figure out win-win solutions fits in seamlessly to Skylar Hadden's culture. She takes care of many of the day-to-day functions as well as meetings, trainings and student crisis intervention.