Giving Tuesday

January 24th

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Meet Our Staff

From the moment we started at Upbring the teachers have been nothing short of spectacular in their care for Lilah and have given us complete peace of mind! (Dad of Lilah age 3 years)

Upbring School of Arts and Sciences Staff

Audrey Walker
Campus Administrator

Audrey has served in a variety of early childhood and primary school settings for the past twelve years and has a deep passion for promoting the potential of all children. She earned her Bachelor’s of Arts in Education from Concordia University Texas in 2009 and her Master’s of Arts in Education from Lindenwood University in St. Charles, Missouri in 2011 with an emphasis in gifted education. She is proud to be a Texas certified teacher (ece-4th grade).  

As Campus Administrator, she is committed to the USAS teaching philosophy to provide academic excellence in a Christian environment, working with families and teachers to discover and develop each child’s unique gifts to their full potential. Her daily motivation is to see that every child is deeply valued, respected, and encouraged to become a life-long learner by finding joy in coming to school. A highlight of her job is seeing teachers and staff igniting children’s imaginations, provoking ideas, and encouraging problem-solving skills based on each child’s interests. 

Audrey and her husband, Andrew, have three children, Lydia, August, and Lucas.  They enjoy the simple things in life right now, going to the park, movie nights, reading, and all things Lego related.


Leigh Savacool
Curriculum Coordinator and PK4 Teacher

Leigh brings 15 years of teaching experience in New York and North Carolina to her new role at USAS. She believes education is the most powerful weapon for changing the world (Nelson Mandela), and she loves watching the “light bulb moments” with her students as they grasp new concepts.

Leigh earned her associate’s in early childhood education from Mohawk Valley Community College in New York and her bachelor’s in curriculum and instruction from State University of New York at Oswego State. She is also working toward her master’s in elementary education.


Theresa Sherwood
Office Manager

Theresa Sherwood moved from California with her family in 2001 and makes her home in the Austin area with her daughter. After working in the food industry for many years, she returned to education and has recently completed ACCs Child Development Course. When not working as an office manager here at Upbring School of Arts and Sciences, she spends her time with her children and friends and family. Great loves would be spending time outdoors with her dog, cooking for friends, enjoying music and worshipping at Holy Word Lutheran Church.


Pamela Stewart
6 week – 11 months Teacher

Pamela Stewart was born in Corpus Christi, TX. She has lived in Austin since May 2016 with her husband Warren and has worked as a preschool teacher since August of 1987. Pamela received her Associate’s Degree in Early Childhood in 2004 from del Mar College and a Bachelor’s degree in Theology in 2012 from the Minnesota Bible Institute. When Pamela isn’t working, her and husband serve in their local church. Her favorite part about working in a school is connecting with families and their children.


Silmery Sierra (Sisi)
6 week – 11 months Teacher

My name is Silmery Sierra but you can call me Sisi.  I am originally from Colombia but I have lived in Pennsylvania for 16 years. I´ve only lived in Austin for little over a year and a half and was working as a Lead Infant Teacher in Cedar Park for the past 16 months.  Before I came to Austin, I worked as a Home visitor for Head Start for 12 years in PA and before that I worked as a church music teacher in Colombia. Although I got started with a Bachelors degree in Music Education from Colombia, my true passion has been working with children and being a part of their development.

I live with my husband and we have two sons: Sergio (1995) and Oscar (1994). In my free time I love to sleep, run, chat with friends and watch movies.  I love babies and it fills my heart with joy to watch them grow. I feel very privileged to be joining this amazing team of teachers at Upbring School.


Connie Devine
12 – 18 months Teacher

Ms. Connie was born and raised in Nebraska, but has made her home in Austin for many years. She has more than 30 years teaching experience in preschool and elementary classrooms, as well as 5 years experience operating an in-home childcare. She earned her bachelor’s degree in education from Concordia University Nebraska, completed her ECE endorsement through Concordia University Texas and maintains Texas teacher certification. In 2006 she was honored to be named the Outstanding Early Childhood Educator of the year by the Texas District of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod.

Ms. Connie thoroughly enjoys working with young children and is excited to work in a Reggio Emilia inspired setting. Using the Stemscopes curriculum provides the children with many “Aha moments” as they discover and learn about the world around them. She is very excited to be teaching in the 12-month room and being part of the USAS-CA team!


Cheryl Miles
18 – 24 months Teacher

Cheryl Miles works with children ages newborn to 17 years of age for over 26 years. She provides them with fun, exciting and learning activities that will help them learn, grow and develop. She looks forward to meeting all the families and children.


Dawn Mueller
PK3 Teacher

Mrs. Dawn Mueller was born and raised in Batavia, IL, attending Immanuel, Lutheran Church. She received undergraduate degrees in elementary and music education from Concordia University, Seward, NE, as well as a Masters Degree in reading. It was there she met her future husband, Jonathan also a student at Concordia. Miss Dawn has taught in single grade and combined classrooms at the Preschool through the 5th-grade level in MN, IL, MI, and TX. Her early childhood experience includes teaching preschool 3s and 4s as well as Kindergarten and 1st grade where she finds great joy in the excitement and energy of God’s little lambs. It is a blessing to guide and nurture the gifts and talents of children in the early stages of learning as they explore and engage in the world around them. It is an honor and a privilege for Miss Dawn to be part of the Upbring family working together to love and care for children while engaging them in learning and guiding them in the development of their faith.

Mr. and Mrs. Mueller have been married for over 30 years and are blessed with four children. Stephanie (and Isaiah) Garza of Georgetown, TX; Rebecca (and Matthew) Gonzalez of Cedar Park, TX; Sarah (and Austin) Theriot, of Austin, TX and Nathaniel, a senior at Concordia High School.


Monica Magallanes

Monica Magallanes is a recent graduate from the University of Texas at San Antonio. She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology and hopes to build a career in helping and advocating for young children. In her free time, Monica likes to dance, do arts and crafts, and try new foods. She’s excited to be part of the Upbring family!


Shanisha Johnson

Shanisha Johnson is a native of Austin, Texas and a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin. In 2008, she was introduced to the world of childcare through working with an on-campus pre-school. It was here that she learned of her gift for nurturing children. For the past 11 years, Shanisha has worked with age groups from 2 months to 8 years. Her early childhood strong suits are curriculum development and planning, classroom management, social and emotional development activities and incorporating math and science into curriculum no matter the age group. Shanisha is a mother to Nahla and enjoys spending time crafting and creating with her daughter. She also enjoys outside adventure, gardening and listening to music from around the world.


Kayla Villasenor
Teacher Assistant

Kayla Villasenor recently moved to Austin from Arizona where she was born and raised. She received her Bachelor’s in Psychology with a minor in Human Services. She’s very passionate about helping people and loves to work with children where she can be a positive and loving influence. She also loves spending free time with her husband and two dogs doing many indoor/outdoor activities such as watching movies or going on hikes.


Vishal Kale
Teacher Assistant

Vishal Kale is from Chicago, Illinois, but currently living in Round Rock, TX. He graduated from Texas A&M University with a Bachelor of Science in Psychology. He has cared for children basically his entire life. He has lots of experience babysitting over the years as well as volunteering at the Aggieland Autism Center in College Station. Seeing kids slowly better themselves day by day is the reason he chooses to work at school, knowing that he was a part of child’s journey in becoming the best version of themselves. He hopes to nurture the growth in every kid that he is blessed to have the privilege in teaching at the Upbring School of Arts and Sciences.


Tina Mello
Teacher Assistant

Miss Tina was born and raised in Pennsylvania. She earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Early Childhood/Elementary Education at Clarion University in PA. She started teaching in Austin ISD in 1981. She taught Kindergarten for 29 years. Tina has been heavily involved in many church activities at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Cedar Park. The activities have varied from being an actress in the Follow the Star Christmas Production every year for the past five years to being President of LWML Hands of Faith; as well as, being a member of Young at Heart. Miss Tina has always had a great love for children and animals. She has several pets including an African Grey Parrot who acts just like a kindergarten student!


Linnea Walkerson
Teacher Assistant

Linnea has 30 years of experience in education. She is currently a Preschool Assistant, Resource Teacher, Academic Language Therapist, and serves children in Christian Ministry. With 30 years of experience, Linnea has taught many children to read, helped numerous students with learning differences be successful, and shared the love of God to countless individuals.

Working with children has always been her passion. Linnea enjoys helping create a caring and loving environment in which children can grow and learn about God.


Valeria Hernandez

Valeria Hernandez was born and raised in Austin, TX. She currently is a student at St. Edward’s University, majoring in Psychology with a minor in Social Welfare. She discovered a deep passion of breaking the cycle of child abuse after taking a course in college. She is an active member of her church called Grace Church of Austin. She is a part of the worship ministry for around 13 years now. She also assists Sunday Bible school teachers by delivering the word of God to pre-school aged children. She finds joy in helping children grow and learn so much of what their world has to offer.


Vivianna Govea

Vivianna Govea grew up in Houston with her parents and three brothers. She was in the Child Guidance pathway of her career & technical high school, where she found her passion for teaching. She has been working ever since she turned 16, all throughout high school. After graduating in the top 5% of her class, she moved to Austin in fall of 2019 in order to attend UT. She is a Texas Education Scholar in the College of Education, studying to one day become an elementary school teacher. When not working as a floater at Upbring School of Arts and Sciences, she spends her time working on political activism and collectively organizing towards human rights. She loves watching reruns of old tv shows, drinking coffee and hanging out with friends.


Luz Escoto

Luz Escoto was born and raised in Mexico and became a USA resident in 1984. She received her BA from St. Mary’s University in Bilingual Education and her MA from Rice University in Spanish and Portuguese Literature, ABD on Spanish and Portuguese Literature at UT Austin. She volunteered teaching English in Thailand from 2017-2019. Her passions include traveling, cooking, children, plants, education and languages (Spanish, English, Portuguese and American Sign Language). She has been married to her husband Lee for 35 years. She has a son, Ivan who is a MD at Fort Stockton, TX.


Shea Montenegro

Shea Montenegro has worked with all ages of children, from infants to after-schoolers for the past fifteen years. She is a certified Teacher’s Assistant and enjoys helping children learn. She is looking forward to meeting all of the families and at Upbring School of Arts and Sciences.


Neema Pantelakis

Neema PantelakisNeema Pantelakis is Egyptian by decent, but American by the grace of the United States. Due to Idi Amin the former President of Uganda’s actions in 1972, she became a refugee at a young age.  Before immigrating to the United States, she lived in a refugee camp in Naples, Italy where she studied the Italian language and culture.

Today, she has two sons that have lived in Texas for 23 years.  Prior to moving to Austin to join them, Neema has lived in California and in Florida where she worked for dentists.  Her educational background roots from Austin Community College, where she received an Associate degree in medical office administration in 2017. This was soon followed by completing her nursing assistant certification, with the emphasis on special needs patients in March 2018.

Neema has worked in Austin as an engineering support assistant and as a caregiver to senior citizens in our community for 20 years. Within the last couple of years, she has worked as a nanny, where she rediscovered her love of child care.  As a child from a large family and a mother, she feels blessed to have the opportunity with Upbring and to once again work with young children.

In her free time, she enjoys tea with friends, gardening, cooking, sewing, babysitting, and riding her bicycle.

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Text: 512-222-8783

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