Mariposa Montessori Staff

Whitney Falcon

photo of Whitney Falcon, Head of School

Whitney Falcon, our Founder and Head of School, is certified by the American Montessori Society (AMS) for Birth-3. Whitney's first introduction to Montessori came in 1991 when she accepted a position as a support guide in Houston, Tx. After her initial experience, Whitney worked at a variety of Montessori schools in various capacities to increase her knowledge and understanding of the Montessori philosophy.

In 2001, Whitney received her Montessori Teacher training at The Center for Montessori Teacher education in New York, where she studied under AMS Living Legacy Virginia Varga, who pioneered the first Montessori toddler program in the United States in 1964. Whitney has completed a potion of her AMS Administrators credential at CMTE and is beginning her practicum phase.

Whitney lives in south Austin with her husband John and their children; John, Enid, and Hazel.

Stacy Dean

photo of Stacy Dean, Director

Stacy Dean is the Director of the Brodie campus. She comes to us with 15 years of experience working with young children with over 10 of those serving as a director. This is Stacy’s first experience working in a Montessori school, however she has a background in alternative early childhood education. She is thrilled to be part of Mariposa Montessori and believes the adults in children’s lives should lead by example and treat every child with respect and love.

Stacy moved to Austin in 2001 after graduating with a degree in Art Education from the University of Southern Mississippi. She lives in South Austin with her two sons Kaden, 13 and Harper, 9 and their dog Chewbacca. Stacy loves to read, play board games with her boys and spend time with her friends.

John Falcon

photo of John Falcon, Business Manager

After attending the University of Texas, John spent 15 years working in different levels of management. John’s first introduction to Montessori was through his wife Whitney and as a Montessori parent. He supported Whitney’s creation of Mariposa by serving in many unofficial capacities before moving into an official role in 2011.

As business manager, he aids the office in admissions and accounting of the business. When John’s not crunching numbers in the office you can find him working on various campus beautification projects or acting as the official school photographer. When not at work, he enjoys woodworking and photography, along with spending time with good company.

John lives in south Austin with his wife Whitney and their 3 beautiful children.

Annie Hoaldridge-Dopkins

photo of Annie Hoaldridge-Dopkins, Director of Education, South Lamar Campus

I am thrilled to begin the position of Director of Education at Mariposa Montessori, especially during this time of wonderful growth and transition to the new campus! I have 25 years of education experience, first as a Children's House guide for 18 years, then in Special Education at Harlem Children's Zone in NYC, and most recently as founding Head of School at Williamsburg Montessori in Brooklyn.

My native Texan wife Emily, and twin boys Owen and Graham and I moved to Austin in 2016 to better our quality of life, and for Emily to pursue a career in The Social-Emotional Learning Department of the AISD. I met Whitney at an AMS administrators retreat in Utah and immediately felt a kinship with her. Our family loves Mariposa, and I cannot wait to see what the next ten years bring! I look forward to working with this community of children, parents and staff in the years to come.

Kelsey Cockrum

photo of Kelsey Cockrum, Young Children's Community Lead Guide

Kelsey attended Montessori school when she was a toddler until she was six. While completing her BS in Journalism from the University of Texas at Tyler, she realized her lifelong love of learning was a result of her early education and the Montessori Method. She graduated and moved to Austin and began pursing her passion for Montessori.

Kelsey is the Lead Guide in the Young Children’s Community environment with the porch. She completed her training at The Center for Montessori Education, under the direction of living legend Virginia Varga, in the summer of 2012.

Kelsey and her husband have a dog, Dante, and they love to spend time outdoors. She enjoys long road trips, sewing, and cooking vegetarian meals. Above all, Kelsey loves spending time with children.

Sarah Zapata

photo of Sarah Zapata, Nido Support Support Guide

Coming Soon!

Elizabeth Susman

photo of Elizabeth Susman, Nido Support Guide

Coming Soon!

Sidney Randel

photo of Sidney Randel, After School Support Guide, Brodie

Coming Soon!

Jessica Casares

photo of Jessica Casares, Assistant Director

Jessica Casares has been at Mariposa Montessori School since the day it opened. Jessica has been studying Montessori since she first encountered the methodology as a support guide more than seven years ago. She was trained by Whitney Falcon, our Head of School, while working with her in a Young Children's Community. Since then she has worked with both infants and toddlers and has a true love and understanding of the Montessori Birth to Three philosophy.

Jessica grew up in Austin and graduated from Jack C. Hays High School in 2002. She lives in south Austin with her husband and loves to sing karaoke and do puzzles.

Jasmin Handy

photo of Jasmin Handy, Young Children's Community Support Guide

Jasmin is an assistant in the Young Children’s Communities. She grew up in Harlingen, Texas and attended Texas State Technical College, where she studied child development. She became interested in Montessori after working as an assistant at a school in Harlingen.

She enjoys swimming, going to the beach, and spending time with her new husband. Jasmin has two chihuahuas, Nala and Benji.

Kaitlin Calabrese

photo of Kaitlin Calabrese, Young Children's Community Support Guide

Kaitlin is the Young Children's Community lead guide in the Poppy Community and is originally from Maine. She began at Mariposa shortly after moving to Austin in 2014. Kaitlin is completing her internship year of her birth to three Montessori Certification from the Center of Guided Montessori Studies (CGMS). She is passionate about Montessori philosophy and absolutely loves working with children. This wonderful opportunity allows her to nurture the true spirit of children and foster peace. In her spare time, she enjoys hiking, painting, and spending time outside!

Jennifer Lopez

photo of Jennifer Lopez, Young Children's Community Support Guide

Coming Soon!

Melissa Akers

photo of Melissa Akers, Children's House Lead Guide

Coming Soon!

Amanda Baker

photo of Amanda Baker, Children's House After School Support Guide

Amanda grew up in a large family with 5 siblings, three of which are younger. That probably is large reason that she love working with children! Family has always been, and is, a high value in her life. As a teenager, she knew her desire was to pour into the lives of children. They are all a treasure and she wants them to know that for themselves. Growing up, she originally wanted to teach, but didn't feel like she fit into a typical model of a public school teacher. That led to her earning my Associates degree in Family Ministry. She is glad to have chosen this path and have enjoyed this year being a support guide at Mariposa!

Outside of work, Amanda loves volleyball, walking in nature, playing board games, watching movies, and reading.

Meryze Fernando

photo of Meryze Fernando, Children's House Lead Guide

Meryze Fernando is originally from Sri Lanka and moved to the United States with her family in 2003. She is AMS certified through the South Western Montessori Training Center in San Antonio. She has been teaching in a Montessori classroom for the last 17 years. Six years in Sri Lanka and eleven years here in Austin.

She was first introduced to Montessori when her children attended Big Bird Montessori in Sri Lanka. It was then that she learned of the wonderful philosophy behind the Montessori Method. She knew it was what she wanted to do. She loves being a part of the growth and development of every child that walks into her classroom.I am thrilled to be apart of the Mariposa Montessori community.

She loves travelling, reading, gardening and spending time with her family.

Becky Handy

photo of Becky Handy, Children's House After School Support Guide

Coming Soon!

Elizabeth Howe

photo of Elizabeth Howe, Children's House Lead Guide

Elizabeth Howe is the lead guide in the Daisy Community. She grew up in New England but feels right at home in Austin where the sunshine is abundant!

Elizabeth completed her M Ed in Montessori Education at Loyola College in Maryland, her Primary AMI Montessori training at Montessori Institute Northwest in Portland, Oregon, and her BA in Liberal Arts at Goddard College in Vermont. She worked as an assistant and lead guide in Oregon and Austin for six years before joining Mariposa.

Elizabeth is a dedicated idealist who strives to bring peace into the world through work with young children. She particularly enjoys sharing her love for baking, singing, and handwork with the children. Her background in the arts and passion for organization and beauty draw her to the complex world of the well ordered Montessori prepared environment. You'll find her creating beautiful details in the room regularly.

In her spare time you can find Elizabeth near any moving body of water, reading a good book, dancing, or hiking in the woods with her hound dog Rosie.

Christina Thomas

photo of Christina Thomas, Children's House Support Guide

Christina moved to Austin in 2009 to attend The University of Texas where she studied Child Development. After graduating, Christina joined AmeriCorps and served two years in public schools as a literacy interventionist. She decided to make the switch to alternative education after discovering the peaceful, science based and child centered aspects of the Montessori Method. She recently returned to Austin from teaching English in Barcelona, Spain and is very happy to have found a home at Mariposa! In her free time she enjoys yoga, gardening, and seeing live music.

Caroline Crixell

photo of Caroline Crixell, Children's House Support Guide

Coming Soon!

Nick Carlson

photo of Nick Carlson, Children's House Support Guide

Nick is a support guide in the children’s house community along with the after school guide at the South Lamar campus. He was born and raised in Duluth, Minnesota where he pursued a teaching degree at Lake Superior College.

Shortly after moving to Austin in January of 2017, he happily became part of the Mariposa family. Nick is one of six kids and has a very large extended family - which he credits his love and passion for children to. He loves playing guitar and singing with the children, showing them magic tricks, and teaching them the happiness and kindness he always tries to exude.

Sarah Keller

photo of Sarah Keller, Children's House Support Guide

Sarah graduated with a bachelor's degree in music education from Texas State University in 2010. She started teaching music at Hill Country Montessori School, where she fell in love with the Montessori method. She completed her upper and lower elementary training and became AMS certified in the spring of 2014.

In her free time she enjoys playing board games and watching movies with her boyfriend and their kitty, Kneesaa. She also enjoys cooking and spending time with family.

Catherine Cottingham

photo of Catherine Cottingham, Children's House Lead Guide

Catherine is a lead guide in the Elementary class at South Lamar and believes deeply in Montessori’s holistic approach to education, especially its focus on the whole child, big picture thinking, peace education and the trust in every child’s ability to do great work in the world. She’s grateful to spend her days seeing the world through children’s eyes and helping them find their place in it.

Catherine studied at The George Washington University and Parsons School of Design, before moving to Spain for six years to teach young children. She’s now settled in South Austin with her husband, Jacob, and their children, James and Alice.

Bella Hamm

photo of Bella Hamm, After School Support Guide

Coming Soon!

Stacy Marcus

photo of Stacy Marcus, Outdoor Education

Coming Soon!