Integrity Academy is a new school, but our collective experience spans decades of engagement with parents and children! Just take a look below at the staff who are just waiting for your family to join us :)
Becky Daily- Preschool Co-Mentor (Level 1)
When my youngest sister was diagnosed with autism over 20 years ago, I began volunteering in her preschool classroom. From that point on, I knew I wanted to work with children. I have spent the years since then living that dream. I have my Masters in Special Education from the University of Texas at Austin specializing in Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities and my Bachelor of Science with a major in psychology and minor in child development from Troy State University at Montgomery.
I teach using a student-centered approach, which I have developed over the past 16 years working with individuals with learning differences from ages 3-26 years old. For preschoolers, most of the teaching will be play-based although I also incorporate Montessori elements, inquiry-based learning and cooperative learning. I'm a facilitator of learning and strive to promote independence and exploration. I believe that students learn best when they are actively involved in what they are learning. To promote critical thinking skills, I ask the students frequent questions. I prefer having lessons outdoors, encouraging full body movement and hands-on exploration. I promote student-created projects such as books, experiments, and art and I love seeing the pride on a child's face when they complete those projects.
I adore working with young children because they are so passionate about everything! Their love for learning and life is infectious and my goal is do everything I can to keep that fire burning.
When I'm not teaching, I'm spending time with my amazing husband, Jeff, and my precious son, Connor. In my spare time, I run my photography business, Daily Glimpse Photography, where I specialize in taking lifestyle photos of children with an emphasis on photographing families with a family member with special needs. If you'd like to learn more about me, please visit my professional website.
I am beyond honored to be a mentor at Integrity Academy and I'm looking forward to being a part of a community which values growth in all aspects of life.
Chris Ready - Primary school Mentor (Level 2)
In college, I discovered my passion for teaching when I began work at my college’s lab school. I had the rare opportunity to learn cutting edge teaching techniques as well as conduct research which led to a publication.
Afterwards, I completed my masters in Human Development and Family Sciences at the University of Texas at Austin. I currently work at the Austin Nature and Science Center as the Nature Camp coordinator, an environmental educator and presenter, and most recently as the Counselor-in-Training coordinator. I have been teaching children and adults for 11 rewarding years in and out of the classroom. For fun, I tinker with my 3d printer, maintain my online microcontroller business, make electronic music and hike on the green belt with my lovely wife.
At the Nature Center, I developed thisishowyouplay.org, a database and wiki where anyone can add and edit summer camp and after school curriculum. Right now, I am helping coordinate parts of the Mini Maker Faire that will occur this May where adults and young inventors alike can show off their creations.
Aerielle Anderson - Primary school Mentor (Level 3)
Hi. My name is Aerielle Anderson, and I’m so excited to be a mentor at Integrity Academy. I am an energetic, fun-loving, empathetic, and open-minded person. I love to bike, swim, camp, sing, and dance. Most of all, I love teaching and helping people. I have been working in education since I graduated from UT in 2005. I earned my BA in Mathematics, but I yearned to work with kids. Initially I worked in childcare: as a nanny, as a teacher’s assistant in several local preschools, and as an after school care provider in AISD. During this time, I also attended Texas State, working toward my Masters in Elementary Education. I started working in AISD fulltime as soon as I finished my masters. I have been an educator, at heart, since as long as I can remember. I have always enjoyed helping others in any way I can. After resigning from public school, I spent time volunteering my time at my old campuses, along with Integrity Academy and Austin Ecoschool. Truth is, I have had a passion for caring for children since I myself was a child. Children are the reason I am here on this Earth. They are our future. They are the most innocent of souls, and the wisest of teachers. There is nothing more beautiful than the joy and wonder a child holds in their eyes. The thought of how wonderful they are and how lucky I am to have the privilege of teaching them, brings tears to my eyes. For the last 6 school years, I have dedicated myself to AISD, as an elementary school teacher. During that time, I taught 2nd through 4th grade, with a majority of my time spent in 2nd grade. The time I had as a professional teacher in AISD gave me many opportunities to develop my skills as a teacher, an interventionist, a team leader, an instructor for my colleagues, and as a contributing member of my community. And, in addition to the time I spent studying education in graduate school, this time also contributed to my personal beliefs about what effective education looks like, specifically for grade-school children.
My own philosophies, regarding education, have been shaping and molding since I was a young student. As a child I went to both a Montessori school and public schools. I had some very memorable, inspiring teachers who gave me the motivation, freedom to explore, and guidance I needed. Montessori gave me an environment that my mind thrived in. These experiences modeled my early views on what an effective teacher was. In addition, my learning opportunities in Montessori were varied, hands-on, and based on my growth, and thus very meaningful for me. I think back on my experience as a student often when teaching. Trying to put myself in my students’ shoes has been a powerful tool for me, as an educator. During my time in the public school system, I practiced various teaching methods, ranging from direct teaching, co teaching, and The Daily Five to much more authentic project based learning and peer tutoring. The need for differentiation and authentic work became very apparent. I sought out and gained skills needed to observe, identify and address various learning needs my students exhibited. Also, I felt that the information that I gave had to have meaning for them for it to stick. So, I spent most of my time rewriting lesson plans to try to fit the needs of all of my students. I also had many conversations with my students, about why we are learning particular content or performing certain tasks. I found that when my students were invested in what we were learning, it was easier for them to understand. And if we, as a learning community worked on any arising conflicts they may have together, the happier and healthier they were, and thus more ready to learn. In the end, all of these experiences helped to shape a simple truth. When my students could connect what came from the classroom to their world and it was on their level, they were more invested and more engaged. I left public school to pursue a teaching career in an environment where I could teach the whole child and their individual needs effectively.
I am so thrilled to continue my journey as an educator here at Integrity. I feel I bring a fun-loving, childlike energy to the classroom. And +I can’t wait to see what I’ll learn from your kiddos!
Regina J McMurray - Primary Co-Mentor (Level 2)
Aloha! 안녕하세요! Hola! Merhaba! Здравствуйте अिभवादन Salve! こんにちは Caio! Bonjour! 你 好 Alo! +,-./0+-1, Mbote! Hej! Sawubona! Hello!
Welcome to our Integrity Academy family! My name is Regina J McMurray, and I am thrilled to partner in our holistic education community! I am pleased to share my "LifeMotif" and philosophies with you.
I LOVE LEARNING and I relish sharing and imparting the knowledge and wisdom I have collected. I want to learn EVERYTHING––will there be enough time in this life? I am addicted to reading and enthusiastic about leading our students toward love for reading; I will share all the joy I continually receive from books! I know that I can learn just about anything by picking up a book, and thus, I can do and be anything! In my 90s, I will still be reading, learning something new, and running (shuffling?)! Increasing our knowledge of the sciences excites me equally. I have many passions related to teaching/learning: science, reading, outdoor learning, awareness, connection, and personal evolution.
As contradictory as it may sound, teaching–– for me––is a selfish endeavor: if I LOVE teaching/sharing knowledge and I LOVE the Energy and Light of Little Humans, aren't I the one reaping the benefits?! The bonus is being of service. See more: www.ginajmcmurray.weebly.com
Little Humans approach the world with joy, inquisitiveness, authenticity, and a guileless perspective. I approach the world in the same way, and I embrace this––both in myself and others. Yeah, I'm a grown-up child and very proud of it. I learn so much from our small citizens. In my eyes, each person is unique and fulfills their potential in individual ways. I encourage individuality, self-possession, and self-esteem. The cardinal lesson I wish to offer is the importance of self-worth and self-love. (It always spreads outward.) I partner with our IA Mentors to increase joy, creativity, openness, and learning; in both students and each other.
I fell into teaching as an adjunct to my work in the corporate world of software and later, finance. I did not have a specified desire to be "a teacher" until years after the corporate bonds had been broken. During that time I taught clients about software management and personal finance, however; I was discovering my innate talent for teaching. Since then, I have taught yoga to children and adults in the Caribbean and Key West, and I also taught SCUBA diving to children and adults in the Caribbean, Panama, and Key West. A not-so-straight path, but a clear goal emerged: my desire to teach in academia. This led me to teach ESL in Korea in 2013. There, I pursued teaching certification and experience in the education. Now, here I am, after having immersed myself in the progressive/alt-Ed community of Austin for the past year-and- a-half!!
I love running, cycling, reading, climbing, SCUBA, the ocean and mountains and Earth, swimming, learning, hiking, sunshine, laughing, and riding my motorcycle. I have backpacked solo across parts of Europe, completed a solo 5000-mile motorcycle trip across the US, lived in a yoga ashram, sailed 8000+ miles across seas and oceans, and have lived in Asia and Central America. Some of my personal goals: thru-hike the AT, learn to surf, live in many places (Australia, Palau, China, Korea (again), South America, Africa, Vietnam, Indonesia, Curaçao, Denmark, India); earn a PhD; solo-circumnavigate on my own sailboat; live in a Buddhist monastery or yoga ashram (again); trek across Mongolia, Tibet, and/or India; and learn another language fluently (currently working on Korean), continue introspection and self-evolution toward my Highest Self, and be of service. My life motto: "Life is Great!"
LouRae Doyle Primary Mentor (Level 4)
My husband, golden retriever and I moved from Colorado to Austin in August 2013. A little tired of the snow and short summers, we thought the laid back urban environment of Austin would be perfect – and it has been an excellent fit, made more so by the opportunity I have to be a part of Integrity Academy’s community.
Before coming to Austin, I was a teacher at the Aspen Community School in Woody Creek, Colorado for twelve years – a school dedicated to student-centered, experiential learning, which values relationships between all members of its community. I will always have close ties to this lovely school and look forward to creating lasting bonds here at Integrity.
I know from experience the positive impact holistic, progressive education makes in the lives of students and their educational community. I have been an educator for many years and have learned that the most important common factor of success for every child is a rich environment in a school that will give children the time necessary to explore relevant content. Providing those opportunities within communities committed to authentic relationships and driven by student inquiry is a philosophy in which I deeply believe.
I love to integrate arts into the learning environment whenever possible. Artistic expression is a personal way to help kids explore complicated concepts that are difficult to verbalize at first. Visual arts, creative dramatics, music and movement just seem to help us get to the heart of what we need to know. I have learned more by working side by side with students as we creatively interpret ideas than I have from any formal class. I do enjoy formal classes and have completed two graduate degrees – Integrating the Arts in Curriculum and Liberal Studies in Literary Arts – both of which helped me personally and professionally.
Finally, I love to learn and to be part of a community of learners. There is nothing that gives me more joy than to participate in a group of explorers and discoverers. I am so happy to join Integrity Academy’s incredible team of children, parents and educators and look forward to what lies ahead!
John McClellan Mentor (All Levels)
I love working for Integrity Academy because it allows me to combine two of my greatest passions: movement, and working with kids. After graduating from the University of Texas at Austin with degrees in business and psychology, I decided to dedicate my time and energy to the practices of healthy living. As a certified yoga instructor and active member of the Austin acroyoga community, I developed my own exercise and nutrition program to accomplish my dream of becoming an Ironman triathlete. The human body is the most amazing, incredible thing that I've ever studied, and moving it is what moves me. When I’m not running or cycling around Austin, I enjoy hiking the greenbelt, playing sand volleyball, and practicing acroyoga & the circus arts.
I have a natural ability to connect with kids because I’m energetic and tons of fun. It fills me with great joy to teach movement and cooperative games here at Integrity Academy because we learn by doing. The activities and games that I teach provide the opportunity for kids to develop intellectually, physically, socially, emotionally, & spiritually in a safe and non-judgmental environment. They learn how to work together and how to be good sports, while getting a bit of exercise at the same time. For me, there is no greater satisfaction than seeing improvements that come day by day and helping kids unlock their inner potential. I hope to learn as much from them as they learn from me. Namaste and let’s play!
Samantha Kuykendall, Nutrition/Permaculture Mentor (all levels)
When I opened my own landscape design business here in Austin in 2006, I thought I'd finally found my dream profession. But there were a couple of things missing. First was the ability to design systems beyond "sustainable", systems that were, instead, truly restorative. The second missing piece was a community with whom I could grow my ecological and social design passions. I needed to learn a better way to design the world around us and I needed a community to teach it to...and to learn more from!
In a twist of life adventure I moved to Argentina, where I discovered Permaculture. A cross between the concepts of permanent agriculture and permanent culture, Permaculture seemed like the perfect path. Grow where you live, provide for your own needs and those of your community from nature, and learn how to cultivate the space around you to take care of and even heal itself--as Mother Nature does best! What a remarkable and rejuvenating way to design and contribute to communities of all sizes!
But it took another couple of years to complete my Permaculture design certification. It was worth the wait, however, to earn it from one of the most well-known and globally rejuvenating people in the Permaculture world, Geoff Lawton. By then I had just recently returned to the United States and began pursuing my masters degree in landscape architecture at the University of Texas here in Austin. Despite all the rigors of entering the program, I was awarded a full fellowship and dreamed that I would soon be helping Permaculture work its way into major landscape design systems. But quickly it became apparent that the academic end of landscape architecture simply had no interest in being on the cutting edge of restorative and ecological healing design. The road to instituting Permaculture systems into course work and the potential future career was proactively blocked. I was disheartened, but only momentarily.
It was then that my husband and I discovered we were going to have a child. And in the strange way the world works, this enormous life shift threw me headlong towards the lofty dreams I'd found so difficult to manifest before.
I found parents and community interested in Permaculture ways of life and design. I became involved with the design team for the Festival Beach Food Forest, a design initiative to create the one of the first public Permaculture spaces in the United States. I was running a company researching and writing articles about nutrition and health and gardening and where they all connected. And I was building a knowledge base that was primed to share and to grow with input from my community. Not only this, but the children in my life were showing me better ways to teach and new ways to design!
Now that our daughter is ready to join the Integrity Academy community, I have the opportunity to bring nutrition knowledge and information about how to design self-sustaining living food systems into the classrooms. The wonder of it all is not only bringing fascinating, hands-on concepts to children who seem to have an endless appetite for knowledge, it's connecting with a community of families who also have this appetite!
Far beyond just a dream profession, teaching at the Integrity Academy is an opportunity to grow new dreams of designing regeneratively and to develop community-based Permaculture innovations without limit.
Kerri Welch, Primary Mentor (Level 5)
I have always been most curious about the things we can’t quite grasp – the universe, the mind, the sacred, and the wild. I love exploring these mysteries with others of all ages. I’ve taught math, physics, natural history, philosophy, world religions, and writing to elementary through graduate students, from unschoolers to business doctoral students. I utilize inspiration, self-direction, Socratic questioning, and interdisciplinary thinking to cultivate intellectual curiosity and love that Integrity Academy creates a space for that to happen.
I earned my PhD in Philosophy and Religion, concentrating in Philosophy, Cosmology and Consciousness with specific attention to the philosophy of time, mind, and physics. I studied in San Francisco at California Institute of Integral Studies, (Casa de Luz Center for Integral Studies’ namesake) and am thrilled to be building like-minded community around the values of curiosity, self-knowledge, embodiment, and permaculture here in Austin, my heart-home. I grew up in Austin and have a generations deep connection to the land here. I love to hike, paddle, play soccer and look forward to learning and growing with this community.
You can learn more about me at my teaching portfolio: https://kerriwelch.wordpress.com/materials/sample-lesson-plans/dancing-cosmology/
Elizabeth Turner co-mentor (level 1)
Born and raised in Memphis, TN, I attended public schools for 13 years. I enjoyed my time there, but I definitely could have benefited from alternative teaching. Not until my twenties did I realize all the different types of educational settings out there. For college, I wanted to experience a liberal arts school in a big city, so I attended Loyola University Chicago, where I earned my BA in Visual Communication.
After graduating, I found that I was drawn to working with children more than graphic design. I began working in a preschool part time. I wanted to educate myself more, so Ivolunteered everyday in a kindergarten class in a Memphis public school. There I was under a great mentor, and I fell in love with teaching. I was inspired to pursue a Masters in Early Childhood Education.
While in graduate school, I worked full time at a non-traditional school which was heavily influenced by the Reggio Emilia Approach to teaching. There I developed
curriculum for students ages 4 through 8. We worked on many long-term projects, like deep sea creatures and spinning tops. The children loved having a say in what they studied! Working there truly helped formed my current philosophy of teaching.
I have led after school classes for small groups of children that focused on childrenʼs versions of epic tales, such as Gilgamesh, the Odyssey, and the Ramayana. Through collaboration with parents, we developed a curriculum that used art, music, theater, and games to teach the stories and ancient cultures. I am always looking to improve my teaching, whether that is through professional development or watching master teachers. I believe Integrity Academy will help me along that path. I look forward to working with your children!
Cheryl Kruckeberg, Primary Mentor (level 3)
I've been assisting Aerielle in the Level 3 classroom since mid-November and will be joining the Integrity Academy as a member of the full time staff starting February. I have endeavored to meet as many of you as possible in the preceding weeks, but our interactions have been limited mostly to "hello" and a smile, which, 'tho nice, is a little sparse!
So, here is a brief introduction of me to you –
I moved to Austin in 1972 with my mother, sister and assorted cats and dogs. I was 12 at the time. We had moved around the U.S. quite a bit over the years, but all fell in love with Austin at first sight and knew that this was "it". We quickly set down our roots and have been here ever since!
Public school had never been a good fit for our family and one of the great benefits of settling in Austin was that there was a rural holistic school just outside of town. The school, based on the Summerhill School in Suffolk, England, was perfect for us; dynamic, interest based education with caring mentors and over 100 acres of woods, trails and adventure. Children were considered partners in designing curriculum and classes and in addressing the many social concerns that arise in any community of people. I graduated from this delightful school in 1978, but have never left the path that it set me on.
In the 4 decades since my graduation I have visited and worked in over a dozen holistic and non-traditional schools across the U.S., either as a classroom mentor, assistant, administrator, director or consultant, and have served on several educational non-profit boards of directors as well.
In my early years I learned to take a leadership role in my own education. I learned to identify my goals, notice the gaps in my knowledge and find mentors to guide me in filling those gaps. My own three children (now grown and living in the Austin Area) also enjoyed an "outside the box" education and are themselves thriving in their chosen lives. Over the years I have made it my business to interview graduates of holistic schools and home schoolers where ever I find them, endlessly curious about how their unique education has impacted their lives, what gaps they may have felt and what we, as responsive holistic educators, can do to fill those gaps for the coming generations.
In recent years I have found a passion for teaching through games, all sorts of games! Kids will play games for hours and never consider the challenges they are surmounting and skills that they are mastering in the process – how great is that?
In particular I have a deep regard for The Game of Village (c). Village is played on two levels. On a 1/24 scale the children design and build a complete village set in a particular historical time period and geographical location. This aspect of Village includes a "Peep" (a 3" figurine with an independent personality), real land and a lot of "making" and building. Simultaneous with the creation of the scale model village, the children open businesses, apply for jobs at the bank, trading post, newspaper, or post office, run for government or perhaps attend the Village University. Village has a thriving, cash based economy, complete with bank loans, checking accounts, taxes and the everyday buying and selling of wares and services. Weekly town hall meetings, also run by the children, serve as a venue for sharing ideas, resolving conflicts, planning social events and collaboration of all sorts. Applied academics, leadership opportunities and social emotional learning abound in Game of Village! I've been playing Village in home school co-ops and at Austin Eco School for the past 12 years, and am looking forward to bringing it to Integrity Academy as well.
In addition to a consuming passion for holistic education and Village my interests include; Yoga, playing outside in nature, swimming, arts and crafts, natural building, natural healing, singing, generally being with people AND my own sweet family, including my new grandson, Calvin!
I am SO looking forward to being a part of the Integrity Academy Community and to getting to know each one of YOU in the years to come!