About Us

The dazzling array of afterschool and weekend activities available to neurotypical children in Manhattan are often difficult to find for children with special needs.  Sports, arts, creativity and socializing afford all children important opportunities to explore, imagine, discover and express themselves with peers.

Sparkidz was created to provide children with special needs in Manhattan a supportive environment where experienced professionals and trained volunteers teach inclusive and highly interactive classes. Course offerings include include art, cooking, dance, drama, music, sports, technology and yoga. Students at Sparkidz benefit from a 3:1 student to teacher ratio, receiving the supports they need to build skills and relationships.

Sparkidz staff are highly skilled, experienced and well trained professionals who complete a standard background check and are required to participate in continuous professional development. Classes are led by teaching artists who work professionally as artists and educators.


robertadonin Roberta Donin, President & Founder 
Roberta Donin, M.D. aka “Dr. Bobbie” is first the mother of two sons, Alexander and Jonathan. She is also a physician specializing in internal medicine with a private practice in Riverdale, New York. Dr. Bobbie is an Assistant Clinical Professor of Medicine at New York Presbyterian Medical Center, an Associate Attending at St. Joseph’s Medical Center in Westchester, Medical Director of RLD Medical Associates and Medical Director of The Shield Institute.Dr. Bobbie’s youngest son was diagnosed with pervasive developmental delay in 1997. At that time recreational opportunities were quite limited for children with special needs. There was a vast array of therapeutic options for Jonathan during his younger years but the opportunities for peer companionship and enriching recreational opportunities were always challenging to find. Bobbie was inspired to create Sparkidz to fill the void of programming for special needs children in a most exciting, safe and happily challenging environment.​

Elise Jablow, Program Director 
Elise Jablow is an educator and artist committed to creating engaging and meaningful programming for children with special needs. In addition to directing Sparkidz, Elise is the head music teacher at Aaron School, a private school for children with learning differences here in NYC. She recently received her Ed.M. from Teachers College, Columbia University and also holds degrees from McGill University and Manhattan School of Music. Elise has taught with organizations such as the New York Philharmonic and Music Explorers, and was a teaching artist in music, yoga and cooking with Sparkidz for three years before stepping in as director! She is active as a producer with Opera on Tap, a national not-for-profit organization, and co-founded Bath Summer Arts, an arts summer camp in Maine. Elise is looking forward to great year with Sparkidz!

susan_egan Susan Egan, Vice President & General Counsel 
Susan Egan, Esq. has practiced labor, employment and discrimination law in New York City for 35 years. Susan has been part of the legal teams at Winthrop, Stimson, Putnam and Roberts, a managing partner at Edwards and Angell in Manhattan. At her current practice, The Egan Law Firm, LLC, she represents clients who have experienced employment and discrimination issues. She has served on the National Faculty of the National Institute of Trial Advocacy, the New York Bar Association’s GLBT advocacy committee and lectured for the Tri-State Chapter of the American Academy of Psychiatry.Susan’s stepson has a diagnosis of a pervasive developmental delay. She has served as a devoted advocate for him in the pursuit of appropriate education and his social development. Susan brings her personal experience as well as her professional skills as Sparkidz’ legal resource to the benefit of all.

russelldaniels Russell Daniels, Program Coordinator
Russell is a NYC actor with a background in performance and education. He has worked throughout the United States with many different theater companies. His BA in Music Education is from The Crane School of Music at SUNY Potsdam and has an MFA in Acting from The University of Houston. He has taught classes and workshops throughout the country to children of different ages and ability levels. He has recently worked with and taught children with special needs and is a wonderful addition to the Sparkidz team.

zachguzik Zach Guzik, Board Member
Zach has been with Sparkidz since its inception and has helped develop and oversee its programming and operations over the past several years. He holds a Master’s degree in Special Education and has taught as a public-school teacher in New York City’s District 75, which serves the most severely disabled students within the city’s public-school system.

Barbara Wolf Barbara Wolf, Board Member
Barbara Wolf is a documentary filmmaker in NYC. She is also a certified yoga teacher and mindfulness instructor. She is the mother of Olivia Folger, a Sophomore at the University of Richmond and Ella Folger, a sophomore at the Cooke Academy and an active participant at Sparkidz. For the past several years Barbara has focused her camera on the Cooke School serving as a creative director and producing educational and fundraising videos which she hopes motivate community support of educational, arts and movement programs for people with developmental disabilities. She is grateful for programs like Sparkidz.

frankfox Frank Fox, Consultant 
Frank’s career is devoted to enhancing educational opportunities for children with special needs. He is a certified teacher in secondary and elementary education who is also an active member in the National Right to Read Foundation. He received his BSED from Shippensburg University and will be pursuing his MA in Special Education. Frank’s work with Sparkidz is motivated by his love of teaching as well as his genuine belief that every child has the right and ability to learn and grow. He is one of the driving forces behind the development and expansion of Sparkidz as he served as Executive Director for three years.

 


Join the Sparkidz team today!

Thank you for your interest in joining the Sparkidz team. Please click on the link above to complete an application for employment or to volunteer. When you have completed the document please return this as an attachment in an email to info@sparkidz.org. If you have any questions or concerns please contact our main office at (917) 930-6446.

Applications are reviewed and accepted on a continuing basis. We encourage all candidates to apply. Sparkidz will not discriminate in hiring based on age, color, sex, disability, national origin, race, religion or sexual orientation. If you have questions please call (917) 930-6446 or email info@sparkidz.org.

Volunteer with us!

You don’t have to give money to donate to Sparkidz. Why not volunteer?

Volunteering is a great way to be a part of Sparkidz amazing work. We rely on the valuable support of our volunteers. Please complete the application above or contact us at (917) 930-6446.