Programme Director and Teacher for Classroom 2: Elaine Brand

My passion for children with Autism started in 1998 when I was an au-pair in the Netherlands. A very special four year old boy touched my heart and I decided then and there that my future lay in special educational needs.

I graduated from the North-West University in 2004 with a B Ed Honours degree, specialising in remedial teaching.

I have years of experience working with children with special needs and I gained specialised knowledge while teaching at a school for children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder and other learning difficulties in the United Kingdom and in South Africa. There I obtained further training in TEACCH, PECS & Makaton.

It has been a great privilege to work so closely with these children, their families and the multi-disciplinary teams involved with them.

I find my work at the DreamTree School fulfilling and I hope to make a difference in the lives of many more children and their families.

Role: I am currently fulfilling the role of Programme Director and I am responsible for the coordination of the individualised academic programme of each learner that attends the school.


Classroom 1 Teacher: Heather Parker

I have always known that I wanted to work with children and have always had a passion for making a difference in peoples lives.

I completed my BA degree through UNISA, majoring in Psychology and Criminology.

My introduction to Autism came when we moved back to Somerset West after traveling for many years due to my husbands career.

My experience is based mainly on one-on-one therapy working with children of all ages, but it is with the younger children where I get the most joy out of what we do.

I am very excited to be a part of the Dream Tree team and look forward witnessing the changes that occur in both our children and their families lives.


Classroom 1 Co-teacher: Michelle Hancke

My passion is working with kids.

I have worked with children with autism at a number of different schools. The children I have worked with ranged in age from 2 and a half to 16 years old. My years of experience provide me with important insight when working with these children and I am excited about the difference I can make in the lives of the children at DreamTree School.


Classroom 3 Teacher: Mareli Spykerman

I am a passionate teacher who thrives on seeing my learners every morning. I feel honoured that their parents have chosen to place them in my care. I feel that a good and open relationship with the parents of my learners are an important part of working together to help the learners achieve their goals and to give them the support that they need.

My hope is that each and every learner will feel the love and support that I create in the classroom.
With my experience in working with learners with autism, I found that it is a rewarding experience. I don’t see learners with learning disabilities, but rather learners with differences. The fact that they are autistic does not define them, but makes them different in their own special way. I believe that patience and perseverance as well as a true passion for the job, is necessary to be a successful teacher.


Volunteers Needed:

The Dream Tree makes use of support volunteers and supplementary staff. You are welcome to contact us if you would like to join The DreamTree Team on a voluntary basis.



Occupational Therapist: Chuki Williams

Chuki acts in an advisory capacity at the Dream Tree. She assists teachers on an ad-hoc basis with practical intervention in the classroom, particularly with those children who are not currently receiving individual Occupational Therapy.

Parents are encouraged to retain the services of any therapist already involved with their child after enrolling at The Dream Tree.

Should they wish to employ the services of a therapist after enrolment, a list of available therapists will be provided for their consideration.

The Dream Tree values the input of all therapists and encourages their participation in team meetings and regular visits to the school are welcomed.

Therapies are an additional service available on site- and are not included in the school fees.


Other associations:

Stellenbosch University

Kinderkenetics students from Stellenbosch University gain practical experience by working with the children at the Dream Tree.

The school is also involved in research conducted by the University.


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Elaine Brand (TEACHER)
Elaine Brand
Programme Director and Teacher for Classroom 2

Heather Parker
Heather Parker
Teacher: Classroom 1

Michelle Hancke
Michelle Hancke
Co-teacher: Classroom 1

Mareli Spykerman

Mareli Spykerman
Classroom 3 Teacher

Chuki Williams

Chuki Williams
Occupational Therapist

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