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.

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.

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.

Sonya Himmerich

photo of Sonya Himmerich, Nido Support Guide

Sonya has worked in the field of childcare for about twenty years. She loves working with children. When she first started working in a Montessori setting, she immediately felt it was the right fit for her. She likes the Montessori philosophy that promotes respecting the child while educating the child.

Sonya married her husband Justin in 1994 and has two children, Joshua and Olivia. They live in Kyle with two dogs, a cat, and several fish.

Christina Thomas

photo of Christina Thomas, Nido Support Guide

Coming Soon!

Sidney Randel

photo of Sidney Randel, After School Support Guide, Brodie

Coming Soon!

Monica Isaac

photo of Monica Isaac, Young Children's Community Lead Guide

Monica Isaac is the lead guide in one of Mariposa's two Young Children's Communities. Though she grew up in Tallahassee, FL, Monica first encountered the Montessori philosophy through a teaching internship in Vienna, Austria. She graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a Bachelor of Arts in Music (and a Music Education concentration). She then moved to Austin with her husband so that he could attend graduate school at UT.

Monica has been at Mariposa Montessori School since its opening, and very quickly discovered her life passion was in working with young children and the Montessori philosophy. She is now AMS- certified through the Center for Montessori Teacher Education in New York, having trained under AMS Living Legend, Virginia Varga.

Monica lives in southeast Austin with her husband Toby, her son Benji, and their dog Elgar. In her spare time, Monica likes to bake cookies and learn to play musical instruments (currently the ukulele)!

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!

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.

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 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.

Ginsa Aspoor

photo of Ginsa Aspoor, Children's House Support Guide

Ginsa is the support guide in the Daisy community and is originally from Katy, TX. She is currently working towards her Montessori Certification through the Center for Guided Montessori Studies for ages 3-6. Ginsa received her Childhood Education degree from the University of Houston, where she also played soccer collegiately for the Cougars.

Ginsa recently moved to Austin in the summer of 2016 and now resides in South Austin with her fiancé and 2 dogs! She is passionate about the Montessori philosophy and how it guides children to unlock their true potential and the best version of themselves. She feels that it is the same for herself! In her spare time, she enjoys yoga, taking hikes, playing golf, and watching The Office religiously. This is her first year working at Mariposa and looks forward to the future with this amazing community!

Shelly Hogan

photo of Shelly Hogan, After School Support Guide, Brodie

Shelly received her Montessori certifications from both the American Montessori Society and the Association Montessori Internationale. In addition, she holds a Master's degree in Early Childhood Education - Montessori and has taught in Montessori classrooms in Kansas, California, and Texas for over 10 years. After serving as a lead guide at Mariposa for the past 3 years, Shelly currently is part of the aftercare staff at the Brodie campus while she pursues her second Master's degree in Counseling from St. Edward's University. When she isn't studying, she loves to spend time with her partner, Shawn, and lovably mischievous cat, Samson.

Meryl Anderegg

photo of Meryl Anderegg, After School Support Guide, Brodie

Meryl grew up in Waco, Texas and moved to Austin to attend St. Edward's University where she graduated Magna Cum Laude with a degree in Religious Studies. She realized just before obtaining her degree that she wanted to work with young children so she joined A Community for Education, an AmeriCorps program dedicated to improving the literacy skills of young elementary students here in Austin.

Having known about Montessori through family and research she decided to make the move from public schools and discovered the right fit due to Montessori's dedication to peace, love, respect, and learning.

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 Support Guide

Catherine is the support guide in the Elementary class at South Lamar and is currently training for Montessori Teacher Certification. She 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.