OUR 2021-2022 STAFF

Photographed by The Lara Collective www.thelaracollective.com

Christine Burkhart

Owner, Building Connections
Community trainer and coach
Elementary, Middle, High School, Young Adult Social Skills Teacher/Coach

I am a small town girl from Ridgeway, VA who is passionate about 5 things: Jesus, my family, people, farms, and soccer! I earned my Bachelor’s Degree in Child Development and Family Relations from East Carolina University and for the past 25 years, I have been serving families and children with ALL abilities in the state of NC through many roles from assistant teacher to supervisor. In all my years of teaching neurotypical and atypical children, I found a common denominator – connections. We all want to connect–be apart–feel loved. So after 7 years of being a special educator with Wake County Public Schools, I quit my job to start a business that not only helped kids, but brought families and communities together in the ways we interact and love one another despite our challenges.

Building Connections, LLC is now 4.5 years old and serves more than 350 families, schools, and communities through advocacy, social skill groups, summer camps, coaching, training, and lots more! I also work collaboratively with numerous professional providers and schools in Triangle to maximize the support families receive. Kids are succeeding and growing and most of all…feeling connected and valued for who they are! I want to inspire children to love themselves for who they are and help them to ignite connections and relationships with others that are lasting. Each child deserves to feel loved no matter what and be given tools to help them navigate their emotions, friendships, and learning in any environment! Each deserves to feel success, even in the hard stuff! I enjoy training and coaching other teachers in best practices related to neurodivergent learners!

I have recently presented at the International Inclusion Conference through UNC-CH regarding Child and Family Focused IEPS! My experiences as an educator and business leader are priceless, but my experience as a mom of a child who learns differently certainly gives me a perspective like no other. So I get it. My sweet husband Chris and I live in Raleigh and have 2 children, Jack(19) and Julia (16). I love to travel, thrift shop, make up songs to anything, love on people, and you can hear me clearly at my kids soccer or cheer/dance events.

My dream is to have Building Connections Farm where we provide developmentally appropriate and natural, social learning experiences through structure and curiosity in social groups, equine therapy, PT/OT/Speech, Psychological Services, Nutritional services, Job Coaching, and employ people with disabilities! It’s coming, y’all!

Photographed by The Lara Collective www.thelaracollective.com

Sarah Wetherington

Pre-K/K – 5th grade Social Skills Teacher

Hi! My name is Sarah Wetherington and I am excited to be part of the Building Connections Team! I have eight years of experience in the classroom, serving as a preschool and kindergarten teacher. I began my career in Enterprise, AL where I taught for three years before moving to North Carolina. I graduated in 2011 with a degree in Early/Elementary Education from the University of Mobile in Mobile, Alabama.Since joining Building Connections in 2019, I have had the privilege to work with diverse learners ages 3-18 and their families serving as an itinerant teacher and a social skills coach. I enjoy helping families to connect with other resources and professionals in the community as making connections and building relationships is at the heart of what I do.  In my free time, I enjoy spending time with my husband Ryan and my fur-baby Bear! I look forward to getting to know all of you – working closely with you and your child to make sure he/she is taking steps towards success!

photographed by The Lara Collective www.thelaracollective.com

Suzann Novak

Pre-K/K – 5th grade Social Skills Teacher

Hello! My name is Suzann and I am thrilled to be a part of the Building Connections family.I have worked with Prek-teens since beginning with Building Connections in 2020. I graduated from Meredith College with a Bachelors of Science in Child Development in 2013. While attending Meredith College, I had the opportunity to work with children in many different settings. I worked with The Meredith Autism Program and with the Child Development House on campus. Previously I taught at a Developmental Day Center in Wake County but most recently I taught and provided teacher support in a regular education private preschool. I have a love for children that exudes my passion for helping children understand their feelings while communicating in an effective way. In my free time, I enjoy spending time with my husband Joe and our two dogs, Gus and Kallie. I enjoy training my dogs, boating, cheering on the Wolfpack, hunting, fishing and spending time with my extended family. I look forward to working with your family and children!