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Faculty

Administration

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Director

Laura Clemens has been an Austin area preschool director since 2003 and Director of WUMP since 2016.

She grew up in Palo Alto, CA and graduated from Duke University with a degree in History and Spanish. She received her elementary teaching certificate from San Jose State University, with an emphasis on Early Childhood and Bilingual Education, and has taught at the early elementary level in California schools and for Round Rock ISD.

Laura and her husband, Noel, relocated to Austin in 1993 after he became a member of the Aerospace Engineering and Engineering Mechanics Department...

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Assistant Director

Gina Hernandez has taught at WUMP for more than ten years, most of them in the Older 3’s classroom. This is her first year working in the office as the assistant director. Gina was born in California, raised in Maryland and has lived in many places in between. Austin is where she has lived the longest and where she feels the most at home. Gina was a stay at home mom to her only child, a daughter, until her daughter began kindergarten and then found herself searching for a meaningful way to fill her time but not lose the ability to care for her child. At WUMP she found a wonderful place to...

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Pre-k team

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Marci Williams

Older Pre-k

I’m celebrating my 14th year at Westlake United Methodist Preschool. I also teach Children’s yoga . I’ve been blessed to apart of this wonderful community.

I’m from Northern California and have lived here in Texas for 25 years .

I have 4 amazing children of my own who inspire me daily .

My goal when I teach preschoolers is to teach the whole child. To encourage confidence,practice generosity, create, imagine and explore.To laugh , love and grow

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Jenny Thayer

Pre-k Flex class

I hold a BA degree in Music and German, and prior to becoming a mother, I was a career musician and actor for many years. During my Music Therapy studies at Sam Houston State University, I worked with young children in Special Ed, domestic violence shelter and hospice. Before deciding to teach, I was a frequently requested nanny/sitter at an Austin corporate agency. I have also served as a lead teacher/caregiver for several other church nurseries and mother’s day out programs before joining WUMP.

I am very pleased to be a part of the WUMP family of dedicated early childhood professionals. I love getting to know my students and helping them acquire the skills and confidence they need to feel successful in kindergarten, as well as to love learning their whole lives long.

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Luisa Salazar

Flex Pre-k class

Luisa Salazar is the co-teacher in our flex day pre-k class. This is Luisa's first year at WUMP and we feel so lucky to have her! Luisa was born in Austin, Texas and is the middle of 6 children in her family! Luisa's favorite color is red and she enjoys photography in her spare time. Luisa is a student at Texas State University.

Three's team

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Rebekah Holsinger

Three's lead teacher

-I’m a Single mom of special needs children, age 10/15

-I volunteer with children of trauma and homeless veterans,

-teaching preschool is my passion and I have been doing it for 16yrs,

-Background in ABA,behavior specialist, and ASD

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Katharine Harris

three's co-teacher

Kate Harris is the co-teacher in our 3's classroom. Kate was born in England and moved to Austin, Texas when she was 10. Kate graduated from the University of Texas at Dallas with a bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Child Learning and Development. She is currently pursuing a PhD at the University of Texas at Austin in Education Policy and Planning with the long term goals of entering academia and conducting research. This is Kate’s first year at WUMP and she is so excited to watch her intelligent, beautiful 3 year olds learn through curiosity, determination, and play. Kate’s favorite color is yellow and in her spare time she enjoys wake-boarding on lake Travis, hiking with her black mouth cur pup Teddy and binging shows on Netflix (her favorite is Dexter).

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Helen Sun

Young 3's co-teacher

Helen Sun is the co-teacher in our Younger 3's classroom. Helen was born and raised in China and has 20 years of experience working with children. Helen has two children of her own, both of whom attend Westlake High School. We have been lucky to have Helen on staff at WUMP for 6 years! Helen's favorite color is yellow and in her spare time she likes to watch tv and read. Her favorite part of working with young children is watching them play!

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Barbara Southward

Young 3's lead teacher

Barbara Southward has been a teaher at WUMP since 1994. Both of her children attended WUMP during their preschool years. Her son Hunter is engaged to be married and her daughter, Kate is a District Attorney in Boulder, Colorado. Barbara was born in Buffalo, New York but grew up in Houston. Barbara has a BA in Psychology with a concentration in child development and taught dance to children before teaching at WUMP. Her favorite hobbies are reading, cooking and napping. Here's what Barbara has to say about working with young children. "3 year olds are so capable , unique and full of personality. I love spending time with them and watching them grow and learn".

Two's team

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Tina Allen

MWF lead/TTH co-teacher 2's

Tina Allen is the lead teacher in our MWF 2's classroom. Tina's second year teaching at WUMP will be added to her over twenty years of experience working with young children, including several years spent teaching at a Montessori school. Tina was born in Florida but grew up all over the world in an Army family. Her favorite color is purple and she loves to swim and participate in triathalons. Tina says her favorite thing about working with young children is that they keep her young at heart!

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Laura Clark

Young 2's Monday-Wednesday-Friday Lead Teacher

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Karen Richardson

Older 2's co-teacher

Howdy! My name is Karen Richardson and I am so excited to be teaching here at WUMP! Teaching preschool is the best! I attended Texas A&M and graduated with a degree in Elementary Education. I moved to Austin where I taught Special Education, 1st, 2nd, and 3rd grades before moving into the corporate world and working for an educational publisher. After having my son, I decided to stay at home. I came to love WUMP while my 2 children were here and after subbing for a year decided that I would like to join the WUMP family as a teacher. I am thankful everyday that I made that decision!

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Cristela Hernandez

Older 2's lead teacher

I have over 28 years working in early childhood programs with various age groups, I started my first teaching job in 1987. A big part of my working experience has been teaching Pre-Kindergarten for over 19 years and as a Kindergarten teacher for over 4 years, I have worked in both public as well as private schools. I have also mentored, taught and helped guide several University of Texas student teachers fulfill their dreams of becoming a teacher. I hold a degree in Human Resource, a Bachelors of Art in Elementary Education, Masters of Art Degree in Education with a Bilingual Generalist-Spanish Certification as well as a Doctor of Philosophy in Curriculum and Instruction with an emphasis in Early Childhood Education.

I started working at WUMP eight years ago when I came to visit the preschool to enroll my own daughter in their program. The minute I walked into the preschool and was given a tour it felt like home to us. I was very lucky that WUMP had a teaching position open and an opening for my daughter as well. I have remained at WUMP ever since and loving the Older 2’s. Besides my great love for teaching young children, I really enjoy traveling with my family in the summer time, exploring different cultures and enjoying a lot of sandy beaches along the way.

Infant and Toddler team

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Carolyn Daily

toddler co-teacher

"I am excited to be teaching in the toddler class this year with Ms. Missa. While I was born and raised just outside of Austin, I spent the first ten years growing as an educator in California. After graduating from UT with a Bachelor of Science degree and teaching credential from the College of Education, I decided to take on the adventure of moving to a new city, Los Angeles. There I began teaching for on the largest school systems in the nation, The Los Angeles Unified School District, where I taught pre-k through 3rd grade. Although the transition from the small town of Buda, Texas to a large urban metropolis was challenging, I learned so much about myself, appreciating the diverse landscape of cultures in the LA area.

In addition to my role as a lead teacher, I have worked with children on many other levels, as a nanny, a tutor, a behavioral therapist, and as a parent. In 2012, I took a leave to celebrate motherhood after having my daughter. Then in June of 2013, I returned to Austin with my daughter to be closer to my family and to rediscover this city as an adult. On my off time, I'm drawn to the vast number of nature areas to hike and kayak, and to the Austin music spirit, as seen with the many festivals and concerts. As I continue to lay my roots in Austin, I look forward to nurturing my professional career as an educator. As both a teacher and a parent, I have had the opportunity to learn from many children over the years. They have taught me that they have a natural desire to explore the world around them, and I look forward to facilitating this curiosity here to WUMP."

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Lilly Dawson-Miller

Toddlers co-teacher

Hi there! My name is Lilly. I have been and infant/toddler teacher for almost 4 years and was a lead teacher for about 2 1/2 years. I am in the process of going back to school to get a Bachelor's Degree in Education. I am from Austin but spent most of my childhood in Lockhart, Texas on my family's ranch. I'm engaged and plan to marry within the year. I love working with kids and teaching them. The best part of my job is watching the chilren learn and grow into smart little children. WUMP is an amazing school, it feels like home for teachers and kids! I am so blessed to be here.

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Felissa Taylor

Spanish Leader

Felissa Taylor has been teaching Spanish to children for over 10 years. She holds a Master's in Education from Texas State University in Curriculum and Instruction. Her focus of study as a grad and undergrad was linguistics.

She has written curriculum for Spanish language learners used in Austin ISD and Elgin ISD schools. Her current curriculum written for her program Día de los Niños is currently being used in 8 schools in the Austin area.

She enjoys cycling, hiking, music and travel. She has written and performed on 3 children's CDs and plays guitar for local Austin band The Piney Wood Co-Op. She is a board member for Casa Albergue Hogar in Ojinaga MX, where she and her sons bring the children school supplies from Austin donors each year.

www.diadelosninos.org

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Sybi Ward

Music Leader

Sybi currently teaches music at five preschools in Austin, as well as the preschool choir at her church. Sybi has taught preschool music in schools and churches for over 30 years and more than 20 of those have been at WUMP! Sybi says, "It has been a blessingand an honor to be on staff at such a loving, caring, and devoted school. I came from a musical family and started singing in choir at age four. At age six I started piano and at age 12 I started harp. Music is my life!"

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Jane Bowen

Chapel

Clayton, New Mexico was a small, but thriving community in ranching country when I was born and growing up. My parents were educators and my two brothers, my sister and I all followed their footsteps in every level of education from preschool to post graduate level. My husband, Jim, is also an educator. He and I lived in Houston and our three children were born there. When he retired, we moved to Austin to be near those three kids and now our four grandchildren. Playing with children and watching them discover their world is the greatest joy.

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Christie Kull

Curriculum Coordinator/Floater/Creative Movement

I was born in Huntington Beach, CA, but moved to Houston before I turned one. I lived in Houston for 18 years, until I went to college at Monmouth University in West Long Branch, NJ. I graduated with a BA in Communications and a minor in Journalism. I have a 12 year old son, Connor, who is the light of my life and also a WUMP alumni. My favorite color is technically pink but if leopard was a color it would be my favorite, hands down. I enjoy painting, refinishing furniture, hanging out with my son, family, and friends. I started at WUMP as a sub when my son was a student here and have been a lead teacher in the infant room, co-teacher in a pre-k classroom. Currently I am the curriculum coordinator, creative movement teacher and a school-wide floater. Being a floater is amazing because I get to be in all the classrooms and be with children of all ages. I enjoy all of the jobs that I do at WUMP because of the versatility, but most of all, to experience the joy, love, and fulfillment that comes from teaching young children.