Susie brings invaluable wisdom and experience to this position and our school, having served in a range of leadership roles at both Parish Episcopal School and at St. Alcuin Montessori School in Dallas. During her time at Parish Episcopal, she served as the head of the Lower School (Pre-K − grade 4 on two campuses) and their Upper Elementary Division (grades 3 and 4). At Alcuin, she served as their Associate Head of School and Middle School Director during a 15-year tenure.
A graduate of Texas Tech and Pepperdine, Susie is thoughtful, reflective, and extraordinarily skilled as both a teacher and administrator, especially in Montessori program and philosophy. Susie writes, “Great educators are facilitators providing the structure for the child to continue a lifelong journey of personal discovery through authentic application.”
It is a delight to be here at Headwaters. I have a Bachelors in English from UT at Austin, and have spent many years working in schools - from UT Austin as a LAN Administrator, through volunteering at an elementary school supporting struggling readers, and volunteering and then working in a middle school. I’ve also spent the last 20 years teaching childbirth classes. Through it all, I have learned to surround myself with lovely people and fully experience the joy in these connections.
I have been married for 26 years to Dan Brown (not that one) and we have 3 remarkable children who all attended Montessori preschool, for which I am immensely grateful.
After earning a B.S in Psychology from Texas State University, I decided to follow my childhood dream of teaching and returned to Texas State to complete their certification program in Early Education. While completing my student teaching, I was invited to observe a classroom at Headwaters (then Primavera), and I instantly fell in love. I was so impressed by the drive and maturity of the children, their obvious ownership of their own learning, and the caring, loving, respectful relationship between the children and guides.
When I was offered the opportunity to be an assistant classroom guide and Creativity Club guide for Primavera’s summer camp, I leapt at the chance. It was an amazing experience! The children and guides are all fantastic people. The knowledge and love of the staff is immediately apparent, and the relationships that I made with both guides and children will live in my heart forever. I am so excited to continue my work in the Hummingbird Casita this year.
I spent a year substitute teaching on both the Early Childhood Campus and Elementary Campus at Headwaters School, as well as with Mariposa Montessori. The time I spent in each and every classroom was incredibly meaningful, rewarding, and stimulating. I am amazed every day at the learning capacity of these children at such a young age and I appreciate the respectful and calm learning environment provided for them. I am so honored and excited to be a part of this community next year and look forward to this new chapter in my life.
Still feeling relatively new to Austin, I also look forward to spending my free time exploring everything this wonderful city has to offer with my husband, Chris; specifically all of the culinary amazingness! When I am not in the classroom or enjoying dining at a local restaurant, you can find me teaching fitness classes at Pure Barre Austin or out walking my dog, Ralph!
My first introduction to Headwaters was in the YCC program, when my eldest son Shale was in the Hummingbirds class. I was warmed by the grace and love emanating from the school and all involved. In September 2016, I began substituting at the school, and was able to see the dedication and generosity of the programs at all levels. The individual care given to each child in every classroom and specials class is a joy to observe. I’ve loved watching the children learn with an enthusiasm and vibrance that I didn’t know was possible before coming to Headwaters. I’m honored to be able to be a part of the school on a day-to-day basis.
My bachelor’s degree is in Theater, and I will always love acting, but throughout my life I’ve continuously found myself drawn back to working with children. I discovered a lot of joy during high school and college doing acting camps and directing school plays, and my two summers working with bereaved children at a summer camp in Montana remain some of my dearest memories. Years later, I worked as a nanny and eventually stayed home with my own two wonderful boys, which solidified my love of spending time with children and learning from them every single day.
My name is Paula Sanchez and I am a guide in the Chickadee Casita. I started working at our school as a substitute teacher in April 2009. I worked in Primary until spring 2013, when I had my daughter. I had the opportunity to move to the Young Children’s Community and I love it! During my time here, I’ve realized the impact a teacher can make and how a community like Headwaters can make a difference in a child’s life.
What I love about Montessori is how it allows children from an early age to be independent, and how we can create works based on their interests. What I love most about the YCC age group is that the world is new to them and everything can be a learning experience. You can see the excitement on their faces when they are successful at a task after trying a few times. I feel very fortunate to experience Headwaters as a guide and a parent–my daughters Andrea and Camila are excited about school. This is a special community, and I feel very blessed that my family is a part of it.
What I love about our school is the culture, and the way each relationship unfolds as a staff member, a parent, and a student. You can see that everyone deeply cares about each other. I am inspired by the many different ways to teach. I love getting to know each student and his or her family, and I’m glad to be a part of Headwaters.
I came into the world on the Fourth of July in Austin, Texas and was raised south of the river near the Headwaters Early Childhood campus. Growing up in a booming city set the stage for my interest in the way people and places shape each other and led me to pursue an education in geography from the University of Texas at Austin. After graduating, I was an office and event coordinator for a multi-practice law firm and, later, a legal assistant for municipal utility districts. What brought me to Headwaters was a desire to take part in shaping society for the better by supporting the healthy upbringing of its youngest citizens. Off campus, I spend time on home improvement projects, being a proud member of the Cherry Creek Community Garden, and rubbing the belly of my dachshund, Jack. I’m also a big fan of native plants and volunteer with various groups in order to preserve wildlife habitat in and around Austin. I am fortunate to have found a warm and passionate group of people at Headwaters School and I look forward to serving as the Early Childhood Campus Manager.
My passion for working with children began the day I met my daughter’s first Montessori teacher. The amount of consideration she held for each child in her care, and the absolute faith that each one was capable was immensely inspiring to me. This realization set me on the path of home-schooling myself about what Dr. Montessori’s work was all about. Shortly after that I began my classroom work as an assistant to an AMI (Association Montessori Internationale) guide at a small Montessori school in central Austin. While there I was offered a lead role and had the honor of working with Gio Bellonci, an extraordinary woman trained in the AMI Assistant to Infancy Program. In 2008, I joined the staff at Headwaters (then called Primavera) to work with the school’s youngest students. Each day in this work, I learn more about what it means to be human through the children and what it takes to create a strong community through the partnerships I share with my co-workers and parents. It is an immense task to raise little women and men and one that, I believe, brings us closer to the truth and understanding of ourselves and each other. It has certainly been a chance of a lifetime to have had this opportunity to blossom along with a community of people strongly holding the space for meaningful work and a better world.