Giving Tuesday

January 28th

#GivingTuesday is Tuesday, November 28. Find out more about this 24-hour, special opportunity to make 2X impact, click here.

Meet Our Staff

Brenna Nunes
Director of Admissions and Family Engagement

Deaconess Brenna Nunes has served people in the Chicago area since 1998. She added creativity to church and school programs, wrote curriculum and launched initiatives that brought children and their families closer to Christ, and His people. Brenna studied Psychology and Child Studies at Brock University in Canada. She earned her Deaconess certification and a Master’s Degree in Religion from Concordia University Chicago. Before coming to Texas in 2017, Brenna served on the Board of Directors for Bethesda Lutheran Communities, was a Bible Study leader at the 2013 LCMS National Youth Gathering, and has opened her home and hearts to children as foster parents since 2004.

Brenna lives in Pflugerville, Texas with her daughter Naomi (b. 2005); and Leo (b.2003) who is a foreign exchange student from Qingdao, China.


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.


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 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 HolyWord Lutheran Church.
Megan Kimberly
Office Assistant

Megan is a native of Arizona and received her undergraduate degree in education with honors from Arizona State University, and after relocating to Texas, her master’s degree in Elementary Education from Texas State University in 2017. She has a passion for the power of education to change young lives and diverse experience in child care and educational support for at-risk children, tutoring, hospital play therapy and general child care from infants to elementary age.

Megan is very excited to become part of the amazing USAS staff team and loves her new home of Austin, where she is involved with Austin Junior Forum and St. Martin’s Lutheran Church, enjoys a variety of volunteer pursuits with organizations like Austin Pets Alive, and loves to spoil her Shih Tzus, Zona and Lucca.


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.


Connie Devine
Toddler 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!


Silmery Sierra (Sisi)
Infant Teacher


Pamela Stewart
Infant 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.


Cheryl Miles

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.


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.


Ana Porras

Ana was born and raised in Venezuela, where she used to live until 2014. Spanish is her native language, but she’s fluent in English as well. She lived in Panama for a while, and in 2017 made the decision to move to the United States, where her parents have been living for a couple of years. She moved to Austin, and since then fell in love with this city. She loves outdoor activities and sailing on Lake Travis.

Her passion is teaching young minds. She has a bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education. She earned her degree in 2013 in Venezuela at the Andres Bello Catholic University (Guayana City). She has over five years of experience, and always had great interest in guiding and growing up alongside her students, learning and giving her best every day, and to have an inclusive class, where every student can develop themselves in their own unique way.

Sherrie Halpain

Sherrie A. Halpain is from a small German community outside of La Grange, Texas where her grandfather, Rev. Marcus W. Wolfram, preached at Holy Cross Lutheran Church for many years. Sherrie was blessed to be baptized and confirmed by her grandfather at Holy Cross.
She is a former elementary school principal who has a passion for Lutheran school ministry and is currently finishing her Ph.D. at Concordia University Chicago in educational leadership and early childhood education. She received her Master’s in Education (M.Ed.) from Concordia University Portland while also working on her Minister of Religion in Lutheran Doctrine through the Concordia University Education Network (CUEnet) Colloquy Program. She began her parochial school education at St. Paul Lutheran School in Serbin, Texas, and is also a graduate of La Grange High School, Texas State University, and Université de Picardie Jules Verne in Amiens, France.
Sherrie and her family are long standing members of Holy Cross Lutheran Church in Warda. She enjoys teaching Sunday school, reading, writing, cooking, horseback riding, spending time with friends and family, and playing with her two Weimaraners, Xander & Rohan. She is also a member of the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), Lutheran Education Association (LEA), Texas Women’s League (TWL), Lutheran Women’s Missionary League (LWML), the Christian Board of Education at Holy Cross, and her church’s women’s Bible study group. Her favorite Bible verse is:
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” – Jeremiah 29:11


Erin Garcia

Erin Garcia graduated from Texas A&M Univeristy in the spring of 2017 with a bachelor of science degree in sociology and a minor in psychology. Erin’s future goals are to obtain a Masters degree in educational psychology and to complete her Texas teachers certification.

Prior to graduation, Erin spent the last two years working for the after-school program, Kids Klub, for College Station ISD. At Kids Klub, Erin planned and facilitated clubs, daily activities, and service projects for students to participate in. In the summer of 2016, Erin interned at the Boys and Girls Club of the Brazos Valley. The Boys and Girls club provided her with the opportunity to work with youth of all ages and implement a summer learning loss prevention program. Erin loves teaching children of all ages and is very excited to join the Upbring family.


Sarah Theriot
Teacher Assistant

Sarah Theriot grew up in Wheaton, IL. She graduated from Concordia University, Nebraska in May 2019, receiving her B.A. in theology, music, and psychology. Sarah now lives in Austin with her husband. She has always had a passion for taking care of children and is excited to be implementing her love for them at Upbring.


Alma Gonzales
Teacher Assistant

New to Austin, Alma ventured to further explore a career in Early Childhood development. She has a Bachelor of Psychology with a minor in Sociology and is currently working on her Master’s in social work. Her goal is to eventually be a Licensed Social worker to help children. She believes all children deserve to live in healthy environments no matter their gender, race, religion, health, and socioeconomic status. Alma hopes her time with the Upbring school gives her the tools and experience she needs to further her career.

Part of her dedication and determination stems from her own experience as a single mother. Alma has a 5 year old son who taught her the patience and the nurture that it takes to work with children. For Alma, the biggest reward from working with children is feeling the happiness they exude every day.


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.


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.


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!


Monica Magallanes
Teacher Assistant

Monica Magallanes is a recent graduate from the University of Texas at San Antonio. She graduated with a Bachelors 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!