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Mentors

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 :)

Chris Ready

Chris Ready,  Mentor and Tech Lead
MA in Development and Family Sciences, 15 years experience

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 worked 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 15 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.

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LouRae Doyle, Mentor and Literacy Team Lead
M.Ed. and MA in Literary Arts, 27 years experience

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!

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John Thoms, Mentor and Positive Behavior Specialist
BA, Certified Teacher, 19 years experience 

My name is John Thoms and I am excited to be a part of the Integrity Academy staff. I have been an
educator for twenty years, in a variety of capacities, informal education, a parent, a public-school
teacher and as a behavior support coach. The Integrity Academy is one of the campus that I have
worked with to behavior support.

I graduated college from the University of Texas at Austin with a BA in American Studies in 1996. After
college, I took a summer to ride a bicycle from eastern Washington state (where I grew up) to Chicago,
Illinois. On that ride, I found myself at an unusual bicycle shop in Minneapolis to do some much-needed
repairs to my bike. The Missing Link bike shop was in a man’s living room. Neighborhood kids ran the
shop with him as he taught them bicycle mechanics. I was thrilled with the concept he had put into
action. Back in Austin, I visited the bike shop, Bikes not Bombs, to do some more work on my bike. As I
was talking with the manager, he explained the shop was considering starting a Yellow Bike Project. I
opted to stay in town to create a space to teach people of all ages how to work on bikes. I had planned
on moving to Minneapolis to work at the Missing Link. Co-founding the Austin Yellow Bike Project was
the fist step in being locked into in Austin. I volunteered and helped build the YBP its first seven years. In
those years, I created a youth earn-a-bike program and taught bike mechanics to hundreds of people of
all ages.

As we started the YBP, I began substitute teaching in Austin ISD. Two years later, I began teaching full
time. I taught middle school social studies at Pearce Middle School from 1999 to 2008. Pearce was a
campus that struggled. Eventually it was closed by the Texas Education Agency. Now the campus is the
Sadler Means Young Women’s Academy. I appreciated the students I worked with over the nine years I
was at Pearce. I understood the failure of the campus was not due to them, but to how adults
responded to the students. To help address the problem of how adults responded to student’s, I
decided to focus my time and energy learning about behavior.

I became a certified Behavior Coach, focusing on a model known as Positive Behavior Interventions and
Supports. In 2008, I transitioned from the campus level to the District level, and became a District-wide
Positive Behavior Support Coach. In that capacity, I worked with individual teachers, small groups, and
whole schools in addressing student behavior. I facilitated trainings and coaching to support educators
in responding to student behavior in proactive and preventative ways, rather than relying on
punishment and consequences to change behavior. At that time, I also started working in a private
capacity, providing behavior support to charter schools and private schools. The Integrity Academy was
one of the campuses I supported. For more info on my private work, go to
www.johnthomsbehaviormethod.com

My children were born in 2001 and 2004. Eventually their mom and I had to decide where they would
go to school. Though we were both teachers in Austin ISD, we chose to send them to a charter school,
the Austin Discovery School. Much like Integrity Academy, kids at ADS spend a great deal of time
outside. They engage in gardening and long hikes in the woods along the Colorado River. I appreciated
ADS so much, that in 2011, I joined the Board of Directors. I helped guide the school through several
significant issues over the six years I sat on the Board. My initial goal was to assist in opening a new
middle school at ADS. A year after my youngest child left the campus, in 2017, I resigned from the
Board. I believe it is important to have parent voice on the Board, and I could no longer fill that position.
2017 was an interesting year in my life. I left the ADS Board and decided to resign from Austin ISD. It was
time for a change. I wanted to focus more on providing behavior support to a variety of schools, rather
than working in the parameters of a major school district. Integrity Academy had been on my short-list
of places I would like to work. I am pleased to have the opportunity to delve into a new experience in
education and work as a full-time staff member at this amazing school.

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Chandler Garrett, Assistant Mentor
Product and Co-creator of Alternative Education schools, 5 years experience

Being raised in alternative education environments is truly one of the greatest gifts I've been given. For the majority of my life I was homeschooled, with a brief stint in Montessori, and attending high school and graduating at Ko School. I feel so much more in touch with myself and other human beings, and I really feel like I can offer more in terms of education and nurture as a result.

I was raised in a single parent household where as I mentioned I was homeschooled for most of my life. I spent lots of time watching and spending time with my younger brother as a result, and gained a lot of experience being a caregiver. I didn't realize it then as I saw it as less of a passion and more of a responsibility, but all of that time spent with my brother really prepared me for how to be around kids. In my mid teenage years I volunteered at Camp Indigo and babysat, and found a lot of joy in those moments, but it hadn't fully dawned on me what I wanted to do with my life. While I was attending Ko School I started to discover that what I really wanted to do is teach and be a leader within a community. At the time I only wanted to pursue musical education and babysitting/nannying but I would come to realize that there was more to it than that. It wasn't until over a year ago when I started working in the Integrity community that the long term importance of working with kids in all sorts of educational environments clicked for me.

I'm incredibly grateful to be a part of the Integrity Academy community and to be surrounded by so many wonderful children, mentors, and parents on a daily basis. I love aftercare and break camps, but I'm extremely excited to be a part of the school day in addition, and to be an active part of the community and see everyone on a daily basis. Being around so many wonderful children and building connections makes me incredibly happy and always makes my day. I love teaching, playing, and being able to witness and be a part of watching children grow, and growing with them. I'm looking forward to meeting all parents that I haven't met yet and I'm very grateful to be a part of this community. There are so many amazing educators here that I can look up to and learn from and I'm very happy to be immersed here.

John McClellan, Cooperative Games Mentor
BA, 7 years experience

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!

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Samantha Kuykendall, Nutrition/Permaculture Mentor
BA, 10 years experience

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.

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Becky Daily, Mentor and Special Needs Coordinator
MA, 15 years experience

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. 

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Aerielle Anderson

Aerielle Anderson, Mentor and Math Team Lead
MA, 12 years experience

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!

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Dena Rand, Assistant Mentor
Originally hailing from the Midwest, I moved to Austin in 2014, and fall more in love with this city everyday, especially now that I have found my home at Integrity Academy. Though my career started in Marketing, my heart has always been with educating children in a meaningful way that engages their minds, fosters their creativity, and supports their self-esteem and respect for others.

As a child, I always imagined myself as a teacher. Teaching and connecting with children has been a passion of mine since I was a teenager, when I had the opportunity to be a lifeguard and swim coach for young children at a local pool. I continually looked forward to helping kids learn new skills and abilities. My grandmother was my art teacher in elementary school, and I always thought that would be so fun! Growing up, I was heavily involved in the arts. Whether it was dance, singing or theater, I’ve spent most of my life performing in some way or another.

In 2015, I began volunteering at Green Sprout Preschool. During my time there, I was fortunate enough to learn about the value of peace education and alternative teaching methods. It was then that I realized that teaching wasn't just my childhood dream, but my true calling. After traveling to Thailand in the fall of 2015, I returned to Austin determined to find a position that allowed me to mentor children and share my love for the arts.

I am beyond thankful for discovering Integrity Academy. Over the last several years, I have studied its educational mission regarding non-violent communication techniques and the tenants of the four agreements. Realizing the power behind these methods, I have dedicated myself to learning as much as I can about these techniques as I constantly strive to better serve my students. Being involved in the Integrity community and having created strong bonds with the students has brought me such joy. It's an incredible feeling to go home at the end of the workday already excited about my next visit with the students. I am thrilled to be joining the staff of Integrity Academy as the Level 3 Assistant. I look forward to sharing my love for arts & crafts, music, tinkering, and self-expression with the students of Integrity Academy.