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Great Teachers Inspire

Our tutors and staff in Tarzana consist of passionate educators who love inspiring children to succeed. Warm, caring and great at relating to kids, our tutors in Tarzana know how to engage and motivate each child in a personal way—building confidence and smiles, as well as skills and better scores. We selectively choose tutors who know local curriculum and can link Sylvan lessons to what’s being taught in school.

Get to know our tutors and staff in Tarzana!


Jessica Ferialdi

Center Director

Jessica has always had a passion for education and working with kids. She also struggled with math throughout her academic career but did not let that deter her from being the first college graduate in her family. Jessica graduated with her Bachelor’s in Communication Studies from CSUN in 2015. She played soccer for over 15 years with AYSO, Club/Travel Ball, and at the collegiate level. She was also an AYSO soccer coach. Jessica also has a passion for Harley-Davidson Motorcycles. She has been riding for 5 years and is very active in the female motorcycle rider community in Los Angeles. She spends her free time riding her 2012 Harley Davidson with friends or hanging out with her family. Her favorite movie is Pirates of the Caribbean, and she loves going to the Aquarium of the Pacific, snorkeling at Catalina Island, and Disneyland.


Nikka Jalbuena

Director of Education

Nikka graduated from CSUN with a Bachelor’s in Communicative Disorders and Sciences, Speech-Language Pathology and a Minor in Linguistics. She also graduated from Pierce College with an associate degree in child development, early education emphasis. Nikka began working at Sylvan during her senior year of college and was planning to pursue a master’s degree in speech-language pathology, but with time, her affection for Sylvan grew. She enjoys collaborating with families and supporting students in their academic endeavors. She recognizes the value of prioritizing a child’s education because she is a mother herself. She enjoys spending her free time visiting Six Flags, going to the park with her son, and playing video games. Nikka’s educational philosophy is that getting a head start is always a good idea and that every student should have access to a quality education so that they can succeed and feel good about themselves.




Alexsandra received her Bachelor’s degree in Communication Studies and a minor in Writing & Rhetoric from CSUN in 2019. In 2022, Alexsandra graduated with her Master’s degree in English with an emphasis on rhetoric composition. What she enjoys the most about Sylvan is the fabulous staff that goes above and beyond to ensure students succeed. Alexsandra also enjoys teaching, which makes it exciting for her to come to the center. Most importantly, she likes seeing students excel through the programs Sylvan offers. When she is not teaching, Alexsandra adores spending time with her family and friends. She loves trying out new cooking and baking recipes for her friends and family to taste. Alexsandra also likes to travel and explore new places.




Nick received his Ph.D. in political science in 2020 and has taught high school and college students at Brown University, Wheaton College, and Johns Hopkins’ Center for Talented Youth. As an educator, he tries to inspire intellectual curiosity and a passion for philosophical thinking in students. He is also an advocate for mindfulness and mental health literacy among young people. In his spare time, he enjoys reading, riding mountain bikes, and going to airshows.


Alejandra Medrano

Center Assistant

Alejandra contributes as our front desk administrator. Her naturally bubbly personality makes her great at making families feel welcome. She allows kids opportunities to play creatively, and respectfully with each other in between their sessions. Alejandra graduated from CSUN with a B.A. in Deaf Studies: Disability Services. Where she became fluent in Spanish, English, and American Sign Language. She also received her AA in Deaf Education from Los Angeles Pierce College and is the first in her family to graduate from college. She enjoys working at Sylvan because it provides her with an opportunity to assist and support those around her. Has been passionate about dance at a young age and has been part of high school and intercollegiate dance teams and continues to dance today. In her free time, she enjoys being ignored by her cat, Lavacake.


Jillian Curtis


Jillian loves reading and writing and enjoys fostering that love of language in children. In 2023 she graduated from Washington & Jefferson College with a double major in English and Political Science. While at college, she continued her water polo career on the college’s women’s team. She and her fellow W&J Presidents even won their Collegiate Water Polo Association Conference in 2022. When she is not in the pool or at Sylvan, she loves traveling and finding new and interesting places to explore. Most recently, she has been to Indonesia, snorkeling at coral reefs, swimming with dolphins, and visiting an elephant conservation camp. In her free time, she can be found playing with her dogs, Fritz and Noodle, or taking care of her many succulents


Marisela Gomez


In her family circle, Mari is known as ‘Tia Coco.’ She has a love for children and teaching because she has 13 nephews and nieces that she adores and spends time with. They all range in age from thirty to five years old. One is in San Francisco pursuing a law degree, another in New York after building her art skills at Taschen, another in Texas interning at JP Morgan, and another working for the family business. She has a degree in English Literature and consequently enjoys anything related to storytelling. She spends an hour a day walking her 13-year old husky, Lobo, who is beyond loyal and loving. She enjoys learning about plant species from her father and brothers and cooking with her mother and sisters. She and all of her siblings, along with her 80-year-old father, have run the LA marathon. Her dream one day is to build an orphanage in her father’s land in Yahualica, Jalisco, Mexico.


Julian Alcartado


Julian is a tutor who wants to help nurture kids and develop a passion for learning, the same one he does for teaching. His passion for teaching has only grown stronger even after earning a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering and a Minor in Mathematics. Outside of school, he has enjoyed playing the violin for 17 years, and in his free time, he plays a variety of video games. With his interest in engineering and computers, Julian has also delved into working with his hardware to build computers and even custom video game controllers. In particular, he enjoys playing fighting games like Street Fighter or appreciating different types of genres of music, which range from classical to current pop music. Outside of all of this, he enjoys spending time with his friends and family, most often through eating at new restaurants or going on road trips.


Jessica P.


Jessica Pasternak was an elementary school teacher at Reseda Elementary School, Los Angeles Unified School District, for 20 years. Before that, she taught history and writing to college students at UCLA for five years. She has also taught preschool, been a substitute teacher in middle and high school, taught dance to all ages, and film production and screenwriting to college students at the New School for Social Research in New York City. She enjoys working with small groups and individual students as a tutor for Sylvan.


Todd Crabtree

Executive Director

Todd is our Executive Director and has a life-long passion for helping kids achieve academic success.  Todd is the first to graduate from college in his family and served in the Marine Corp for twelve years.  He has been running learning centers since 1998 and he fully understands the impact a good education can have on a child’s life.  A native Southern California, Todd studied at Cal State Fullerton where he graduated Summa Cum Laude with a degree in Theater Arts. When Todd isn’t working he’s a full-time husband and Dad, driving his son from one practice to the next.  He fully understands what every parent goes through, trying to help their child become the best he or she can be.

Start your child on the path to academic success today

Give us a call at (818) 538-5768 or fill out the form to discuss your child’s learning goals.


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502 Washington Avenue
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Towson, MD 21204

(888) 338-2283