STAR Centre

Learner Support Centre

The STAR Centre team gives emotional, social and academic support to children of the DSK during their school careers.

The appointments made with learners take place mainly during lesson times in the rooms specifically designed for this purpose.

When a teacher or parent identifies a possible need for support (reading/spelling/speech problems, low muscle tone, behaviour etc), the class teacher will be contacted who in turn liaises with the STAR Centre. The STAR Centre team will work with the child and/or make a recommendation for an assessment to be made.

Counselling Team

We have four school counsellors at the DSK – Albert Keet (Educational Psychologist), Sharon Pienaar (Registered Counsellor/Intern Educational Psychologist), Yandiswa Tinus (Registered Counsellor) and Jamie Brassell (Educational Psychologist). All the counsellors are available to see learners from any grade in the school. 


Counselling sessions take place during school hours with prior arrangement by the class teacher so as not to disturb important lessons. Learners can make appointments themselves, via their parents or via their class teacher who will then make the appointment at a suitable time. The sessions aim to provide the learners with social and emotional support, study skills and planning strategies. All sessions are treated with complete confidentiality.

Albert Keet

Albert is an Educational Psychologist with a background in science and teaching. Albert worked at an NGO that provided free therapy services before he joined the DSK. He has an interest in working with different therapeutic techniques and has a special interest in anxiety, trauma, adolescents, study skills and the connection between the biological and psychological. He adapts is therapeutic techniques to best suit the client and optimize the support that is needed.

Please note that counselling sessions are strictly confidential. 

To make an appointment, Albert can be contacted on:

Sharon Pienaar provides counselling at the Star Centre and is registered with the Health Professionals Council of South Africa. Her qualification includes a master’s degree in Educational Psychology (US), a Post Graduate Certificate in Education (UCT) and a Bachelor of Psychology degree (hons).  

She has provided counselling in NPO settings, a community clinic, a mainstream school and a special needs school prior to her work at the DSK (since 2019). Moreover, she has worked as a teacher at a special needs school, working with learners with specific learning disorders (SLD), ADHD and autism. She has a specific interest in working with children (play therapy) and adolescents (individual counselling) and uses a variety of counselling techniques and modalities in her practice.  

Special interests/specialties: Stress & anxiety management, autism spectrum disorder (ASD), identity development, LGBTQI+ support, trauma management, family and adjustment difficulties. 


Please note that counselling sessions are strictly confidential. 

To make an appointment, Sharon can be contacted on: or on +27 (0) 21 480 3836 

Yandiswa 2022

Yandiswa Tinus is a Registered Counsellor registered with the Health Professions Council of South Africa. Yandiswa completed a Bachelor of Psychology degree (Honours equivalent) at Pearson Institute of Higher Education. She has an interest in working with adolescents and adults and exploring different therapeutic techniques. Her speciality areas include anxiety, depression, behavioural issues and emotional difficulties. At the DSK she provides emotional and social support to learners in grade 10-12 in a safe and non- judgemental space. She works in collaboration with the client to ensure that the treatment plan is tailored accordingly to their individual needs. Additionally, she arranges IECB accommodations for learners in grade 10-12.

Please note that counselling sessions are strictly confidential. 

To make an appointment, Yandiswa can be contacted on: 

Jamie Brassell is an Educational Psychologist registered with the Health Professions Council of South Africa. She is also a qualified teacher with a background in learning support, special needs education and language development.  At the DSK, her main areas of focus include play therapy for younger children, anxiety & stress management, emotional regulation techniques, identity exploration for adolescents, as well as support with adjusting to various life changes.

Please note that counselling sessions are strictly confidential. 

To make an appointment, Jamie can be contacted on:

Learning Support Team

Claudia Stadler is a qualified educational therapist. Educational therapy is based on a multi-sensory and multi-disciplinary approach. This focuses not only on visual and auditive perpetual issues or difficulties with reading and writing. The therapy much rather looks at breaking down a mental learning blockage or improving/finding of new learning techniques. Learners are seen holistically with all their individual talents. They will be re-integrated into the school curriculum based on their strengths. This way their self-esteem is boosted, mental blocks are broken down and a new motivation to learn is established.

STAR Centre: 021 480 3836

Heidi Ortmann continues to teach German as a Foreign Language in grades 5 and 6. After having completed courses offered by the “National Institute for Learning Development”, she works in the STAR Centre as an educational therapist with learners in grades 5 and 6. The aim of this intervention is to enable students to be competent and confident life-long learners.

In addition, Ms Ortmann is responsible for students with accommodations who qualify to write class tests under quiet conditions and without time pressure.

STAR Centre: 021 480 3836

Merle Faro is a qualified special needs teacher and specialised in “Learning Disabilities” as well as “Social and Emotional Development”. In addition to that, she holds a certificate in “German as a Second Language”, which enables her to provide optimum support for bilingual learners. Mrs Faro’ remit is the diagnostics, facilitation and inclusion of learners with partial learning deficiencies and special needs in Grade 1 and 2.

Moreover, she is responsible for the cooperation with the German and English Kinder Gardens as well as the implementation of annual school readiness assessments.

STAR Centre: 021 480 3836

Anne Oechler

Anne Oechler is a social worker from Germany. She graduated in 2016 at the Staatliche Studienakademie Breitenbrunn (Bachelor of Arts Social Work). She gathered experience in working with mentally disabled children, teenagers, and adults. In her previous work history, she was employed as a kindergarten teacher at St. Martini Kindergarten, Wynberg. Currently she also works as a school facilitator at the DSK. At the Star Centre Anne is involved with organizing and executing the learning therapy for grades 5 and 6, as well as test planning, administrative tasks and social work related duties.

Other available therapists

The Star Centre works closely together with a counselling psychologist and a speech therapist. They use the Star Centre facilities but work on a private basis. All therapists are at least German and English-speaking.

Maryke van Heukelum is a private Occupational Therapist. She works with children with a variety of difficulties, including, amongst others, barriers to learning, such as sensory processing disorders, dyspraxia; dyslexia, developmental coordination disorders, AD(H)D and autistic spectrum disorders.

She is at the DSK on a Mondays and Wednesdays.
Cell: 083 344 1925

The educational psychologist Dr Ingrid Ahlert supports the DSK Star Centre in a counselling capacity. She is also available to the school community as an independent psychologist in private practice with the emphasis on school and social aspects. Dr Ahlert implements psychological diagnosis processes, in order to identify learning problems or difficulties, e.g. for a neurological reason, relationship or communication problems and concentration deficiencies and facilitates the necessary therapeutic measures.

In the case of more complex individual cases, Dr Ahlert offers psychotherapy for the treatment of learning or social problems and emotional or behaviour disorders. She also conducts education and career counselling before starting school or when changing schools. She counsels teachers and parents.


Dr Ahlert is at the DSK on Thursdays and Fridays.

Cell: 083 227 0730

Mrs Christina van der Riet offers Speech and Language Therapy at the DSK on Tuesdays.

Her main focus is on assisting children in Grades 1 to 4, but she does offer her services to older children as well, if needed.

Mrs van der Riet focuses on improved overall communication skills and assists in the following areas: speech production (correction of lisps or other speech sounds / stuttering); vocabulary and sentence expansion; auditory processing and phonological awareness (to support reading and spelling development).  She works in close collaboration with parents and teachers.

She also offers second language enrichment sessions (German or English).

Annual hearing tests are offered by Mrs van der Riet at the DSK.  Parental consent will be obtained before these tests can be conducted.


Cell: 082 820 5908

Jo-Anne Rousseau is a private speech therapist focusing on articulation, language and literacy skills. She offers individual and group sessions where she assists learners in becoming more confident in their communication and literacy skills.


She visits the DSK campus in Tygerberg on a weekly basis.
Cell: 081 327 3537

Ulrike Mai graduated in Germany as an Occupational Therapist in 2002. Registered with HPCSA since 2018 after successfully passing the board exam at Stellenbosch University and completing the mandatory year of Community Service at a district hospital. Several postgraduate studies resulting among others in registration with CCSA as a counsellor. She is a certified Sensory Enrichment Therapist (USA), Neonatal Practitioner (Little Steps, SA), Sensory Integration and Neurodevelopmental Therapist (Germany). Ms. Mai is practicing in her own practice with a focus on the improvement of the scholastic performance of children aged 5 to 11 years. She speaks German and English.

Head of School Counsellor Team