German International School Cape Town

Learner Support Centre (Star Centre)

Since 2007, The STAR Centre team has given emotional, social and academic support to children of the DSK throughout 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 done.

School Counsellors

We have four school counsellors at the DSK. Jamie Brassell offers counselling for Grade 1 – 6 and Sharon Pienaar offers counselling for Grade 7 – 12. Albertus Keet has also joined the team this year to facilitate psycho-educational workshops and group counselling.

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.

Sharon Pienaar

School Counsellor (Grade 7 – 12)

Sharon Pienaar is a school counsellor registered with the Health Professionals Council of South Africa. In addition to this, she has also completed her teaching qualification at the University of Cape Town and is currently completing her master’s degree in Educational Psychology at Stellenbosch University.

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

At the DSK she heads up the counselling team, provides social and emotional support, study skills and time management/planning skills to Grades 7 to 12. She also heads up and mentors the peer mediation team. Additionally, she arranges the IEB accommodations for learners in Grade 10-12.

Please note that counselling sessions are strictly confidential.

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

Jamie Brassell

School Counsellor Grade 1 – 6

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. Jamie has experience in counselling children with a diverse range of support needs and uses a variety of therapeutic techniques adjusted to the needs of the individual. At the DSK, she offers emotional and social support to learners from Grades 1 – 6. In certain cases, she also meets with parents and teachers to offer guidance on how children’s emotional difficulties can be supported at home and in the classroom. All counselling sessions are strictly confidential.

Jamie can be contacted via email: or on +27 (0) 21 480 3831. 

Albert Keet

School counsellor (Psycho-education workshop facilitator)

Albert completed his Masters in Educational Psychology in 2020 through the University of Stellenbosch. He started his studies at the University of Stellenbosch, completing his Bsc Human Life Science degree, where after he completed his PGCE and honours in psychology. Albert completed his internship at Good Hope Psychological Services, a free therapy and support service for those in need. He has an interest in working with different therapeutic techniques and enjoys working with adolescents. Albert will be providing emotional and psychological support at DSK. He will further also be responsible for psycho-educational workshops.

Albert can be contacted via email:

More of the Star Centre Team

Heidi Ortmann

Learning Therapist Grade 5 and 6

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.

Ms Ortmann can be contacted by email: or you can call the STAR Centre: +27 (0) 21 480 3836

Mariam El- Kaakour

Special needs teacher for Primary School Grades 3 and 4 as well as Inclusion from Grade 5

Mariam El-Kaakour studied special needs education as a teacher at the University of Hannover/Germany with the subject Religion and with a focus on “language” and “learning”. She also obtained an additional qualification in German.

Ms El-Kaakour’s areas of responsibility are the diagnostics, support and inclusion of school learners with partial performance weaknesses as well as special educational needs in Grades 3 and 4. She is also in charge of inclusion in Grade 5. Her work happens in close cooperation with the class teacher and in accordance with the curriculum.

Ms El-Kaakour can be contacted by email: or you can call the Star Centre: +27 (0) 21 480 3836

Claudia Stadler

Learning Therapist Primary School

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.

Ms Stadler can be contacted by email on or you can call the STAR Centre: +27 (0) 21 480 3836 

Merle Brockhaus

Special Needs Teacher responsible for School Readiness Assessments and Grade 1 and 2

Merle Brockhaus 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.

Ms Brockhaus’ 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 Kindergarden as well as the implementation of annual school readiness assessments.

Ms Brockhaus can be contacted by email: or you can call the Star Centre: +27 (0) 21 480 3836

Other Available Therapists

Maryke van Heukelum

Maryke van Heukelum is a private Occupational Therapist who offers therapy services at the DSK on a Monday and Wednesday. 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. These difficulties often result in children struggling with tasks that involve coordination, motor planning, maintaining a good sitting posture, handwriting, drawing and cutting.

Maryke places great value in understanding each child holistically and involving the family in order to further a child’s progress. She is currently furthering her training in Play Therapy and is Ayres Sensory Integration (ASI) Therapy certified. Maryke is fluent in English and proficient in German.

Contact details: +27 (0) 83 344 1925 /

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.

Counselling Psychologist
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 issues, Dr Ahlert offers psychotherapy for the treatment of learning or social problems and emotional or behavioural 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: +27 (0) 83 227 0730

Speech and Language Therapy
Christina van der Riet offers speech and language therapy once a week on the premises of the DSK.

She also offers a yearly hearing test for the primary school children, which will be announced to the parents before the test.

Ms van der Riet is available on Tuesdays at the DSK.

Cell: +27 (0) 82 820 5908
Download more information here:  Special Needs Support Process at the DSK

Speech and Language Therapy at the Tygerberg Satellite Campus

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

Cell: +27 (0) 81 327 3537