Our Teachers


Елена Акматова_фотоElena Akmatova – Russian Language. Russian Conversation and Literature. Russian for Adults (Advanced level)

Elena graduated with honors from International University of Kyrgyzstan with the degree in International Law and holds a certificate in pedagogy.   She completed extensive coursework in child literacy, education, and teaching.   Her particular interests include bilingual’s child psychology, child upbringing in international families, language acquisition, and formation of grammatical categories in the child’s speech.

Elena’s has been primarily teaching children between 4 and 9 years of age.  Her experience includes teaching Russian – all essential skills, plus dramatization of literary texts, and language games.  She also taught courses in development of creative and logical thinking, memory, speech, imagination and motor skills.


Ayana Tursunalieva – Arithmetic, Mathematics, Russian Language

Ayana is a full-time college student in San Francisco State University pursuing a degree in Computer Science.  Her academic interests include mathematics, physics, and Japanese language and culture.  While in high school she has been tutoring elementary school students of different ages in a variety of subjects including Russian language.  Ayana loves children and is passionate about finding new, engaging, and creative ways to teach and to help her students understand difficult concepts. 




Mark Bogatir – Arithmetic II, Mathematics, Come Play With Us!  (Alphabet and Arithmetic)

Mark is a student at UC Berkeley pursuing a dual degree in Mathematics and Economics. Mark is passionate about mathematics and finance, and loves to travel. While in high school, Mark tutored elementary students in mathematics, along with various classes in Martial Arts. Comfortable teaching all levels and classes, he is particularly looking forward to sharing his love of learning with the students of Berkeley Russian School.




Larisa 2

Larisa Shapiro – Director

Larisa graduated from Cornell University with a degree in Human Development. Her undergraduate work concentrated on the study of the stages of child development; including behavioral, cognitive, social and personality development. She also holds an MS in Design Studies from University of Wisconsin, Madison. Her graduate work focused on the art of the Italian Renaissance and the history of Russian art before and during the reign of Catherine the Great.

Most of her professional experience involved working with families and children. Her recent positions included Director of Education at a school in Wisconsin, and Director of Resettlement at the Jewish Family Service in Michigan. Larisa also draws and paints. Her favorite subjects are people or animals (portraits) and ornamental design/art. 

Olga Goryacheva – Come Play With Us!  (Alphabet and Arithmetic).  Russian as a Second Language (RSL)

Olga graduated from the Yaroslav-the-Wise Novgorod State University with a degree in Foreign Languages.  She then continued her studies, graduating with a degree in Linguistics and Translation from the International Academy of Business and New Technology.

Olga is passionate about teaching languages and believes that an individual approach coupled with a variety of imaginative activities and games helps students to better master the material.   


Alex Tonsky – Chess

Alex graduated from National University of Kyiv with a degree in mathematics and teaching.  During his school years he attended chess academy and participated in numerous chess tournaments.  Following his arrival in the US, he went back to school and obtained a master’s degree in Operations Research from Stanford University.  After many years in the corporate world, Alex is looking forward to sharing his passion for chess with our students.



Nataliya Soboleva – Around The World (Art), Masterpieces of Russian Art

Natalie has always been passionate about art and has enjoyed painting since childhood.  She graduated with honors from Southern Federal University (Rostov-on-Don) with a degree in Graphic Design.  During her years at the university, Natalie simultaneously studied painting at Rostov College of Arts (Grekov).  Later, she enrolled at Stroganov Moscow State Academy of Arts and Industry where she attended multiple drawing and painting workshops.

After moving to California, she obtained an MFA in Illustration at Academy of Art University in San Francisco.  Natalie is very creative, loves working with children, and is excited about the opportunity to share her talents with BRS students.

Masha Shuster –  Russian for Adults (Beginner, Intermediate level)

Masha graduated from Peoples’ Friendship University of Russia in Moscow with two degrees in Mathematics and Spanish.  Following graduation, she worked as a business consultant.  Later, she earned a degree in Economics from the Higher School of Economics, National Research University in Moscow.

After the birth of her son, she became fascinated with education and language development and acquisition in children.  Her goal is to find new, engaging and creative ways to teach while exposing each child’s full potential.