Middle School Staff
- Chalimar Chieza, Social Studies Teacher
- Marshall Escamilla, Music Teacher
- Sean Fleming, Dean of Students / Middle School Athletic Director & Coach
- Lorena Germán, English Teacher
- Thom Gibson, Math Teacher
- Claudia Guajardo, Spanish Teacher
- Georgia Helen, Humanities Teacher
- Kelley Janes, Science Teacher & Head of Science
- Suzanne Koett, Photography Teacher
- Paul Lambert, Math Teacher
- Andy Lantz, Spanish Teacher
- Marc Lionetti, School Counselor & Vocal Music Director
- Terra Lynch, Learning Specialist
- Jaclyn Mann, English Teacher
- Sean Manning, Spanish Teacher
- John Mulvany, Art Teacher & Head of Performing and Visual Arts
- Samantha Noble, Drama Teacher
- Martha Peters, Spanish Teacher & Head of Foreign Languages
- Ryan Phillips, Head of the Middle School & High School
- Alex Thomas, Film Teacher
- Greg Wenderski, Science Teacher
- Dave Wofford, Core Teacher
- Sarah Youree, English Teacher
Chalimar Chieza, Social Studies Teacher
I have had a passion for teaching for as long as I can remember. I graduated from the University of Texas at Arlington with a degree in Business Administration, however most of my free time was spent working with students in economically-challenged areas of the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. Recently, I have headed community service efforts to contribute to Hurricane Katrina victims, soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan, earthquake survivors in Haiti, and local Austinites in need. I love teaching, sports, reading, gardening, cooking meals from scratch, and photography. Most of my extra time is spent with my two dogs, Otis and Tyson, watching the History Channel, or playing soccer and sand volleyball with friends. I am excited to be a part of Headwaters School teaching faculty where they value creativity and dynamic learning environments.
Marshall Escamilla, Music Teacher
After graduating from Bowdoin College with an English degree in 2002, I quickly relocated to Austin, where I have lived ever since. I soon started a band, the Unbearables, with which I have recorded and released three albums, and performed all over the country. In the summer of 2003, I found a position at Headwaters School and I decided that this was the job for me, and that this school would come to transform my life. Originally hired to teach Math, I quickly discovered that my true educational passion lay in sharing music with students, and have managed to build Headwaters’s music program from the ground up. I have turned Headwaters’s music program into a cornerstone of the Headwaters method. Our music program has won several awards at the TAPPS District and State competitions, has performed for school and public events, and features three jazz ensembles. I am proud to be Headwaters’s “first hire” outside of the three founding members and to enter my ninth year of teaching here.
Sean Fleming, Dean of Students / MS Athletic Director & Coach
I feel very fortunate to be working with the amazing students and staff who comprise this wonderful school. Connecting with people is my passion, and guiding the vibrant young minds who attend our school is the most enjoyable use of that passion that I have come across. This is especially true at Headwaters. Our school strikes a unique balance between being a student-focused, holistic institution, while maintaining a rigorous academic standard.
I earned my B.A. from Texas State University in 2005, double-majoring in English and History. After a brief sojourn in the technology industry, a fortuitous meeting with one of the co-founders of the school, Lisa Dubuque, led me to substitute teach at Headwaters School during the 2008 school year, and it was then that I discovered my love of teaching. Marriage and children delayed me from pursuing this dream for a while, but I eventually went back to Texas State to earn my teacher certification and begin working on a Masters degree in Secondary Education, which I will complete in May of 2016. As luck would have it, a teaching position became available at Headwaters after I received my certification and I knew in my heart that this was the place for me. I am very proud to say that this will be my fourth year as a member of the Headwaters community.
In my free time I like to hang out with my wife, Andrea, and our two daughters, Djuna and Margaux. In addition, I enjoy storytelling in its myriad forms and I try to incorporate those elements into my classroom.
Lorena Germán, English Teacher
I am a writer and a teacher and I love to read and write about teaching. Teaching, for me, is an act of social justice, and it’s that shared passion that brought me to Headwaters. Being an immigrant from Dominican Republic and growing up in an inner city have shaped me as a person, a woman, and a teacher.
I knew I wanted work with young people in the area of literacy so I earned my undergraduate degree in English and my Master of Arts in English at Middlebury College Bread Loaf School of English. I have been published in poetry journals and education journals, with a future publication coming in 2016 about Latinos in education. Most recently, my work earned national recognition with the National Council for Teachers of English. After a year off as I stayed home with baby Analiz, I’m excited to join the Headwaters community and take on Austin as our extended classroom.
Thom Gibson, Math Teacher
I graduated in 2010 from Texas State University with a degree in Sound Recording Technology. While this is not the most typical route to get to teaching, several things started pointing me to education. I landed my first teaching position at an International Baccalaureate school called Iduma Elementary in Killeen, Texas. I was surrounded by amazing teachers and administrators who helped refine me into the educator I am today. While there, I created a grade-level mathematics website, started a technology club for 4th and 5th graders, and was honored to be recognized as Teacher of the Year my third year teaching there.
My wife Sara is a pediatrician and currently in her third year of residency at Dell Children’s Hospital. I’m in my third year at Headwaters and I love being a part of the culture here, working with the many talented educators and students, and exploring the wonders of mathematics with young mathematicians. Outside of school, I like to make videos, run, attempt to lift weights, do freelance voice-over work, and learn new cooking ideas. I also enjoy reading up on the topics of faith, education, sociology, and some fiction every now and then.
Claudia Guajardo, Spanish Teacher
I was born and raised in Matamoros, Mexico, and relocated in 2014 with my husband and two sons to Austin, Texas. I graduated with a Bachelors Degree in Chemical Engineering and worked in Mexico for Delphi (General Motors) as an Environmental Engineer for more than seven years. After taking some time off to raise my two sons, I started doing volunteer work at my son’s elementary school. It was there that I discovered my passion for teaching.
I had the opportunity to work for more than four years as an ESL teacher in the Language Learners at the University of Texas Center for Hispanic Achievement (LUCHA) program aimed at helping Spanish-speaking students transition into public high schools at Donna ISD in South Texas. Recently, I worked at the Cathedral School of Saint Mary (CSSM) as a Spanish Teacher serving all grades (PreK4 to 8th grade). At CSSM, I implemented several cultural events and performances in an effort to highlight the customs and heritage of the Hispanic culture.
Estoy muy contenta de ser parte de la familia Headwaters y poder transmitir a mis estudiantes mi lenguaje y cultura!
Georgia Helen, Humanities Teacher
I love facilitating meaningful inquiry, peer learning, civic engagement, service learning, and championing youth voice and expression. As a humanist and culturalist, I am deeply motivated and inspired by Headwaters students’ abilities to imagine, articulate and create models for transformation, social justice, freedom, and discovery. I am honored and excited to learn and grow with our community and seek to offer unique and collaborative contributions to Headwaters programs. My experience is grounded in a nontraditional personal background and the fellowships I received to earn a BA from Lewis & Clark College and an MA from Stanford University in Sociology and Cultural Anthropology. I have taught in middle school, high school, and college humanities programs stateside and overseas, and I am passionate about the fostering of intercultural relationships and practices. It is such a joy to join the Headwaters family.
Kelley Janes, Science Teacher & Head of Science
I love science. It is a way for me to connect with nature and life on the most meaningful levels. I love teaching as much as I love science. I love Headwaters as much as I love teaching. Hence, I love my work. I teach physics (8th grade physical science, 10th grade Physics, and IB Physics) and astronomy. Much of my formal science education was done in Bellingham, Washington at Western Washington University, where I left the creative writing department and landed happily in the physics department. My studies have taken me to Southern Chile, Baja California, Italy, Mauna Kea, and the McDonald Observatory, which I find to be the happiest place on earth. In my spare time, I can be found practicing Ashtanga yoga, listening to Radio Lab or This American Life, reading old diaries at the Ransom Center, conducting experiments in my kitchen, and oogling over my three kids and my charming husband.
Suzanne Koett, Photography Teacher
My obsession with art, photography and making pictures began at 14. Since then I’ve applied the camera as a tool to create a visual language, mostly demystifying the human condition, life and also to be understood. Originally from the SF Bay Area, I graduated from San Francisco State University with a degree in Fine Art Photography in 2001. As a contemporary fine art photographer, I show my work both locally and nationally. (http://suzannekoett.com/). I feel fortunate to be a part of a community where I can instill passion, creativity, self-awareness and to foster an environment where students are free to experiment with their ideas and to be understood through their art. Since 2010, I have administered and expanded the photography program from two classes to four, seen a myriad of my students become exhibiting artists, and have had a phenomenal time doing so. In my free time I like to hang out with my wife, Camille, make art, go on road trips, travel to foreign lands, and play Tuesday night Bingo.
Paul Lambert, Math Teacher
Learning and teaching are at the core of our family culture. My mother was a teacher and high school counselor, my brother is a teacher, and my wife is a teacher and university academic counselor. I have been an educator for sixteen years–thirteen as a teacher and basketball coach, and the last two teaching special education mathematics. I am passionate about the Houston Astros, solar energy, and spending time with my family. I am excited to guide my students to build the skills they need to become their best, authentic selves.
Andy Lantz, Spanish Teacher
I come from a pretty long line of teachers, so I always had a feeling that I would end up in the classroom. Over the past several years, I have had the great opportunity to teach students of nearly all ages, and it has brought me so much joy. In my mind, there is nothing more satisfying than playing a role in students’ successes, guiding others to pursue their passions in life, or having a captive audience for my many bad jokes. I am excited and honored to do so this year as a Spanish teacher at Headwaters School.
I received my teaching license and BA in Spanish from Luther College in 2007, taught elementary and middle school Spanish back in my Wisconsin hometown, and then changed things up by teaching math at an American school in Querétaro, Mexico, for one year. Since 2009, I have been pursuing my PhD in Hispanic Studies at Texas A&M University, where I have taught Spanish and Film Studies courses. In my free time, you can find me exploring the outdoors, catching a live music or comedy act, cheering for Minnesota sports teams, and searching for my next cup of espresso.
Marc Lionetti, School Counselor & Vocal Music Director
I received my undergraduate degree in Music Education from Northwestern University, and was a full-time music teacher for eight years at a small progressive private school in the San Francisco Bay Area. After that time, I felt an inner calling to interact with students as a counselor in addition to as a teacher. That calling ultimately led me to the Educational Psychology department at the University of Texas at Austin, where I received a Masters of Education in Counselor Education in 2008. I am a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) in the state of Texas, and I have been serving as Headwaters School counselor (and vocal music director) since 2009. In addition, I am certified as a Registered Yoga Teacher at the 500-hour level, with specialized training in Kundalini yoga. Outside of my work at Headwaters, I also perform music regularly around town with various bands, and teach private music lessons.
Terra Lynch, Learning Specialist
I come from a long line of teachers, but it wasn’t until I moved to New York City that I became one myself. I taught Humanities, Spanish, and Music Appreciation at high school in Manhattan. I got my Master’s in Social Studies Education from New York University, and became an affiliate of the School Reform Initiative. Since moving to Austin several years ago I have been an instructional coach, a tutor, and a volunteer. I return to NYU each summer to teach a Facilitative Leadership Seminar for school administrators and teacher leaders.
My brain changed when I became an educator, and now I can’t stop thinking (and talking) about teaching and learning! My experiences living in Brazil, Spain, and Egypt attuned me to the challenges of language learners. My years in project management help me think about lesson planning, data, and outcomes. I am constantly looking for creative ways to make teaching more effective and efficient, and to make learning engaging and equitable for all kinds of students. As the parent of dyslexic children, I am especially attuned to the needs of those who may not succeed in a traditional classroom–I even became trained in Dyslexia Therapy at the Rawson Saunders Institute to better understand and support their learning. As a graduate of an International Baccalaureate program myself, I felt a connection to the Headwaters School. I am so happy to be the Learning Specialist at the River Campus, collaborating with thoughtful teachers in ways to meet the needs of our diverse students.
When I’m not talking about education, you can find me reading, cooking, leading a robotics team, or on the greenbelt with my husband, our two children, and our energetic dogs. Please stop and say hi!
Jaclyn Mann, English Teacher
I am the daughter of an English teacher, and therefore my English grammar and literature education began at a very young age. My love and appreciation of the craft came later, though. First, I was an athlete, and my early dedication to swimming earned me a scholarship at the University of Texas here in Austin. I moved her in 2002 to compete for UT, and I graduated in 2007 with a Bachelor’s degree in Social Work and as a decorated athlete.
In my swimming years and beyond, I had the desire and passion for helping and inspiring others, especially young people. The disillusionment of post-swimming life came with great introspection and tremendous life re-evaluation. That journey brought me to education and to Headwaters.
I have found my home in the classroom teaching English to 6th and 7th graders, but I have other loves, too. Fortunately, at Headwaters I also get to share my love and passion for fitness and competition with the Middle School Activity program and the Athletics program. The community here does that: inspires and supports people to be full and to do what they love—everything they love. I am inspired by the school’s mission and do my best to model it every day.
Sean Manning, Spanish Teacher
I have a B.S. in Geology, an M.A. in Spanish, and a Ph.D. in Spanish and Latin American Poetry. Scattered among these degrees are travels and years of living in Ireland, Spain, and France. We are always searching for a reality that better suits our self while also trying to find our self inside a reality, and language is how we attempt to render each of them concrete. When considering the mystic accuracy between certain words and their meanings, Jorge Luis Borges wondered, “who discovered the word ‘pampa,’ that infinite word that is like a sound and its echo?” Resembling those expansive Argentine plains, we chase our horizon with a devotion equal to that of the echo endlessly following its sound.
As a Spanish instructor, my goal is to direct students towards words that they might want to keep, to thoughts that might better explain their own, and to develop their gazes so that they may see themselves and others more clearly. I feel fortunate to have been welcomed into Headwaters School where sincerity and creativity thrive in a rare form of academic affection that embraces the billowy “cloud,” the thundery “nube,” and the wispy “nuage” alike.
John Mulvany, Art Teacher and Head of Performing & Visual Arts
I am an artist and art educator originally from Ireland who has been living and working in Austin for the last 13 years. This is my twentieth year teaching art and my fifth at Headwaters School, where, in addition to teaching AP Art, High School Art, and Middle School Art, I am head of the Visual Arts program. This year I am also teaching an art class to the Upper Elementary class at the Elementary campus. Teaching at Headwaters School has been my most rewarding and inspiring experience in education.
I graduated from the College of Art, Design and Print in Dublin, Ireland with a Fine Art degree, and I also have a degree in art and design education from the Crawford College of Art in Cork, Ireland. As an artist my work has been shown in Ireland, the UK, Germany, and the U.S. I was featured in the 2009 Texas Biennial and was nominated for best artist in the 2009 Austin Visual Arts Association awards. My most recent exhibitions were a solo exhibition at Texas Lutheran University and a show at Gray Duck Gallery in Austin last April. I live in east Austin with my wife, Monique, and our two sons, Henry and Cormac, who are starting in the Primary and YCC Programs at Headwaters School’s Primavera campus this year.
Samantha Noble, Drama Teacher
More about Samantha coming soon!
Martha Peters, Spanish Teacher & Head of Foreign Languages
I was born in Mexico City, but spent my formative years in San Antonio. I’ve also had the pleasure of living in New Orleans, LA; Jackson, MS; Kansas City, MO & KS; and Centreville, VA. I received my B.A. from the University of Missouri-Kansas City in 1999 while simultaneously teaching Spanish 1-8 at Clay-Platte Montessori. Although I had no formal training as a Montessori teacher, I felt completely at home. From 2004-2012, I taught Spanish K-8 for the archdiocese of Kansas City. In May of 2013, I proudly received my M.A. in Romance Languages and Spanish Literature. In addition to teaching, I enjoy mentoring young students in Hispanic communities. Most recently, I mentored two young women at Cristo Rey Catholic School. When I’m not in the classroom I enjoy spending time with my daughter, Valeria; my son, William; and my husband, Michael. I also enjoy traveling, reading, singing (mostly in the shower), and dancing. It is with great excitement that I begin my second year at Headwaters.
Ryan Phillips, Head of the Middle School & High School
Originally from Kansas City, Missouri, I graduated from Texas A&M with a B.A. in English and History. After graduation, I joined the Public Policy Research Institute as a research associate studying the effects of poverty on sentencing guidelines in the State of Texas. After the report was complete, and probably read only by me, I left Texas for Annapolis, Maryland where I graduated from St. John’s College with an M.A. in Liberal Arts. While at St. John’s, I became interested in the nature of happiness, specifically in what makes me happy. Much to the horror and surprise of every teacher who had the misfortune of having me as a student, it became clear that my passion lies in education. Upon graduation I joined the staff of The Touchstones Discussion Project, a non-profit specializing in collaborative learning methodologies, where I ran discussion groups with inmates at the Maryland House of Corrections and The Juvenile Detention Center in Baltimore. In 2008 I became the Director of School Programs for Touchstones in charge of teacher training and program development. Over my time with Touchstones I had the honor of working with thousands of teachers and professionals from around the world including Brazil, Haiti, Burma, and Jordan, where I spent two weeks in 2010 as a consultant to the Ministry of Education.
At Headwaters, I have held the roles of High School Humanities teacher, Social Studies Department Lead, Dean of Culture, and Head of the Middle School. It is my great honor to continue in my role as Middle School Head this year, and to act as Interim Head of High School as well.
Alex Thomas, Film Teacher
After receiving an MFA in Film Production from the University of Texas at Austin, I found a home at Headwaters in 2010. In middle and high school film courses we write screenplays, study film academia, edit using professional software, play trivia games, and make movies—all lifelong passions of mine. In 2013, I founded the Austin Youth Film Festival with another local film instructor and the festival has thrived ever since. AYFF provides the opportunity for students across Texas to share their work on the big screens of the Alamo Drafthouse, compete for prizes up to $1,000, and meet inspiring filmmakers (including Richard Linklater!). Headwaters film students have screened, won awards, and hosted every festival thus far. Through our work with Alamo theaters, we have also been able to view classic films at the cinema each semester, meet the cast and crew of major productions, and even create shorts for the theater that have screened nationwide.
Getting to know each student and helping foster a love of learning and creative expression is what makes coming to work meaningful and fun. These kids teach me something new every single day. We also laugh a lot in our classroom. You can watch our student films and Headwaters’s own TV show, Office Hours, by subscribing to “Headwaters Student Films” on Youtube. I think my profound love of education shines through most luridly in one particularly groovy segment titled “Disco Break.”
Greg Wenderski, Science Teacher
My passion for teaching comes out in my hands-on science lessons that often involve launching objects into the air or setting them on fire. For as long as I can remember, I have been taking apart broken machines to see what the problem was and then fixing them. I’ve always wanted to understand the why and how of things, and honoring this curiosity to know is what most truly connects me to my students. I also have a lifelong interest in geology, and on weekends can be found exploring greenbelt trails and dry creek beds. I went to college at UT Austin, where I received a BA in English with a minor in Philosophy. I saw the country hopping freight trains and riding my bike on cross-country trips, and then settled in Austin, where I taught for several years. Most recently I taught environmental science at Trinity Episcopal in West Lake. My children, Gage and Ivy, both attend Headwaters and I value their constant feedback in my classes. When not in school, I spend my time tinkering, designing concrete and iron furniture, blacksmithing, rockhounding, camping, hiking, and kayaking.
Dave Wofford, Core Teacher
Born and raised in Fort Worth, I completed my BA in Philosophy at UT Austin in between stints backpacking and camping in the national forests out west and exploring various contemplative practices as a student and teacher. Since an early age I have felt equally comfortable among mystics, engineers, poets, and scientists. Thus, I joined Headwaters School faculty in 2006, and have served at various times as Humanities Teacher, Advisor, Wilderness Guide, Dean of High School, and Assistant Director. I’ve also taken time to complete my MA in Psychology and Counseling, and I am currently working in the evenings with adolescents and adults as an LPC-Intern providing psychotherapy and cognitive training. When time allows I also do some blogging on education, psychology, and well-being.
For the 2015-2016 year, I will be teaching Wellness and Communication, IB Foundations, and Theory of Knowledge 2. My teaching philosophy emphasizes the value of character, a growth mindset, and relentless curiosity. My wife and I live in South Austin with our three-year-old, Charlie, who will be a Roadrunner this year, our infant daughter, Ladye Kate, and one hyperactive dog.
Sarah Youree, English Teacher
Reading and talking about books is by far my favorite pastime, so I see teaching English as a pleasure and a privilege. I earned a B.A. in Spanish and Communication from Southwest Baptist University and an M.A. in English Literature from Texas State University. I have been a teacher for more than 15 years, having taught middle school, high school, and university students. I have taught Spanish, English, and ESL at the secondary level. Recently, as a Senior Lecturer in the Department of English at Texas State University, I taught classes in American literature, rhetoric and composition, and teacher preparation. I also worked at Texas State’s innovative Writing Center. I love exploring the spaces in and among language, literature, and culture.
International travel has been an integral part of my life and my approach to the classroom. I have lived in Brazil, Costa Rica, and Spain for extended periods, and I have also been greatly influenced by long stays in Italy, Mexico, and Sweden. The many reasons I am drawn to Headwaters include the IB curriculum and our commitment to creating peaceful global citizens. This hopeful vision of the future is what guides me as I prepare to join the Headwaters family this fall.