Director of Early Childhood and Mentor for the Pearl Class
Debra graduated in 2000 with a BA degree from Columbia College of Chicago. Soon after, she married her sweetheart from Texas and traded the cold northern winters for the warm and sunny south. After welcoming their first child, they gained interest in alternative education and discovered that the Montessori philosophy was most aligned with their parenting style and values. They loved witnessing the freedom of movement and choice offered to children, the beautiful natural learning environment, and the inspiring hands-on learning materials. Debra was hired as an Art Educator for children ages 3-12 at her child’s first school. After working there for many years, her love and respect for Montessori grew deeper and inspired her to pursue her Early Childhood certification for ages 3-6 at the Midwest Montessori Teacher Training Center near Chicago. After graduating in 2012, her family moved to Austin to be closer to the Amala Foundation community that they had met while volunteering at Camp Indigo for many years.
Debra joined WLLC in 2015, after serving at two other Austin area Montessori schools. She brought her second child with her, who enjoyed Montessori, but was longing for even more nature-based learning. At WLLC they found that a harmonious blend of Alt Ed philosophies, a team of inspired mentors, an emergent curriculum, a holistic approach to learning, and the lush outdoor environment have been the optimum mix for Debra and her son to thrive! This fruitfulness has led Debra to the opportunity to help create WLLC’s first preschool program in the Fall of 2016, and she looks forward to welcoming and serving our youngest community members and their families. She brings warmth, compassion, commitment, creativity, and care into the classroom. She approaches learning in a unique and individualized way, and aims to cultivate joy, curiosity, playfulness, and a deep sense of wonder with each new experience.
Debra enjoys art, music, dance, and culture from around the world. She utilizes her art and design background to make new and inspiring materials for the classroom and to create beautiful learning environments. She loves to collaborate with her husband Lalo (also a Montessori guide), and their two beautiful kids (ages 10 and 15) on creative projects and upcycled art.