1st Grade Faculty

Andrea Norman

IDL Technology Integrationist/STEM Teacher

Andrea grew up in small towns in Missouri and Kansas, but moved to Austin with her husband, Michael, in 2008. After nursing school she obtained a Bachelor’s Degree in Business with an emphasis on Organizational Management and Leadership. While Andrea's initial background is rooted in healthcare, her passion for learning about new technology, paired with her management experience, directly contributed to running a small software company with her husband. From registered nurse and nursing instructor, to nursing home administrator, then learning to write software code and documentation, while supporting, encouraging and corralling employees, Andrea has worn many hats over the years.

In 2012, her “management” of complex LEGO projects with her son, led her to launch her own business – an after-school enrichment and summer camp program for kids that used LEGO bricks to reinforce S.T.E.A.M. concepts. Andrea has since sold her business because she realized that her true passion lies in teaching and creating curriculum, but the day to day operations of running a business left little time for that passion.

Andrea has been part of the Magellan community since 2012, when her son, Isaac, joined PP3. She has served in many volunteer roles, including MISPA President, Room Parent Coordinator, Technology Committee Member, and Robotics Club Coordinator. Most recently Andrea's commitment to Magellan and its students has been seen in her ongoing volunteer efforts to bring hands-on STEM concepts to life in the classrooms.

Andrea sets high expectations for students, and loves to give them new and exciting challenges. She believes that success in learning requires the student to be at the center of the learning experience, and wants to facilitate learning that allows students to apply their knowledge, learn with both their head and their hands, and to accept failure. She strives to empower learners and to create a safe place where they are comfortable taking risks.

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Andrea Norman

Andrea Norman

IDL Technology Integrationist/STEM Teacher

Carmen James

Literacy Specialist

Carmen James is an enthusiastic educator who sees potential for great things and uniqueness in every child. She believes that the more we connect school-based learning to students’ interests, experiences, and curiosity, the better the educational outcomes will be.  She sees freedom within boundaries, exploration, and risk-taking as necessities. Carmen promotes cooperative learning, inquiry, creativity, and play in early learning experiences, while also recognizing the importance of focused and structured learning of early literacy skills. She loves reading, and especially loves sharing reading experiences with children.

Carmen earned a B.A. in Early Childhood Education with a minor in Spanish from Columbia College Chicago/Erikson Institute for Child Development. The early emphasis on developmentally appropriate practice, creativity in teaching and learning, and the multiple languages/intelligences of children has greatly influenced her teaching through the years. She has an M.A. in Latin American Studies/Humanities from UT Austin as well as a M.Ed. from UT Austin in Bilingual/Bicultural Studies, which has helped to connect her to the local education community.

Carmen holds several state teaching certificates: IL Early Childhood Education and Bilingual Education, TX EC-6 Generalist, Bilingual Education, and was a candidate for Master Reading Teacher in Fall 2014. She is a member of the National Association for Bilingual Education and the International Reading Association. She has taught in public, charter, and private schools for 12 years in the primary grades. She started out in her home city of Chicago and came to Austin in 2009 to be a part of the Magellan founding team. She taught Kindergarten for five years at M.I.S. before moving into the Literacy Specialist position in 2014. Carmen loves nature, gardening, music, writing, sewing, and traveling, and is kind of obsessed with her dogs. She also loves spending time with her husband and family.

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Carmen James

Carmen James

Literacy Specialist

Carol Dala

Lead Teacher

Carol Dala was born and raised in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, where she attended Academia Los Piñares, a K-12 private bilingual Christian school. In high school she was part of the volleyball and soccer teams and was involved in various service projects and functioned as a translator during mission trips. She earned an academic scholarship to attend Mercyhurst University in Erie, PA where she completed a dual degree in Early Childhood and Special Education. At Mercyhurst, she was an active member of the Unicef chapter and a volunteer for the city’s Special Olympics.

She also worked as a classroom teacher for Carpe Diem Academy, an after school enrichment program at an elementary school. She traveled to Dungarvan in southern Ireland for 10 weeks during her junior year, where she served as an aide in a preschool classroom at St. Mary’s Primary School. Carol discovered her interest in education after completing some of her service work at a public school in Honduras during her senior year of high school. Later she volunteered at FEREMA, a non-profit organization aimed at providing preschool education across the country of Honduras. She enjoys painting, traveling, and scuba diving and is very excited to join the team at Magellan International School.

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Carol Dala

Carol Dala

Lead Teacher

Dan Kaplan

Art Teacher

Dan Kaplan received his BFA from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. After working for several years as a visual artist, he returned to school and obtained his K-12 art teacher certification at Carlow University. He has spent his professional life working as an educator, artist, and musician.

Dan believes that art is a great way for students to express and nourish their ideas. Every student, from the most literal-minded to the most abstract thinker, can find their place in the art room. The elementary years are a great time to explore these possibilities. For the past several years, Dan has been working in Austin as a visual artist and musician, and enjoys being a teacher at Magellan International School.

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Dan Kaplan

Dan Kaplan

Art Teacher

Deborah Dudney

Athletics Director/PE Teacher

Deborah Dudney graduated from St. Edward’s University in Austin, Texas with a degree in Health, Recreation, and Sports Management. There, she was a recipient of a softball scholarship and was awarded many athletic honors, including Most Valuable Player, All District and All Conference. After graduating and receiving her Texas Teacher Certification, she got a job at Crosby Middle School in Crosby, Texas, where she taught physical education and coached basketball, track and high school softball.

One year later, she moved back to Austin where she taught physical education and coached various sports at Pearce Middle School in the Austin Independent School District. Deborah has three children: Sydney, Drew, and Dylan. Deborah and her husband, Andy, are very active with their children. All three children participate in various sports throughout the year that both Deborah and her husband have coached. Deborah’s husband, Andy, played collegiate basketball at St. Edward’s University, and is the boy’s Head Basketball Coach at Austin High School. She believes that having an active lifestyle promotes a lifetime of good health and provides a positive example to younger generations.

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Deborah Dudney

Deborah Dudney

Athletics Director/PE Teacher

Diana Magdalena

Teacher Assistant
diana.magdalena@magellanschool.org

Diana was born Mexico City and studied communications and mass media with a strong focus in advertising.For several years she was fortunate to work for various advertising agencies as well as teach related courses at the Universidad Anahuac, located in Mexico City.

In 2009, Diana moved to 2009 with her husband and four children.  In 2013, she began working at the Magellan International school as an after school care and substitute teacher. In April of 2016, she was promoted to a Teaching Assistant position in Kindergarten and will is joining the first grade team for the 2016-2017 academic year.

Her hobbies include reading, listening to music and going to the movies with her family. She considers herself a very social and outgoing individual. Her philosophy in life is to always give the best of herself while sparing no efforts.

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Diana Magdalena

Diana Magdalena

Teacher Assistant

Joy Marcus

English Teacher

Joy Marcus was born north of the border, in London, Ontario, Canada. She is a dual Canadian/American citizen thanks to her mother, who was born in Amarillo, Texas. Foreign languages were woven into the fabric of Joy’s life from a very early age. Her earliest influence was her mother, who had first learned Spanish while living in Mexico, and then earned a BA in Spanish while Joy was still a child. As a result, Joy’s family grew up in close contact with many Spanish-speaking families who had immigrated to Canada from various countries. Joy’s lifelong love of languages, however, was truly kindled when her parents enrolled her in the French Immersion program offered in Canada’s public schools.

After completing her elementary education in French and English, Joy became interested in learning Spanish. In early adulthood, she interrupted her formal education to spend a year living in Chile. She thoroughly enjoyed the experience of cross-cultural living. Upon returning to Canada, Joy completed her Bachelor of Science Degree with Honors in Biology at the University of Western Ontario located in her hometown. She went on to earn a Bachelor of Education and immediately began working as a substitute teacher for the Thames Valley District School Board, where she gained invaluable experience teaching a variety of grade levels and subjects.

Two years later, Joy embarked on yet another journey of learning a new culture and language by moving to São José dos Campos, Brazil to work at Esfera Escola Internacional, an IB World School. Over the course of her time there, Joy was trained as a Primary Years Program teacher, and grew in her practice of inquiry-based learning while acting as lead English teacher in each of the primary grades. In addition, Joy served as a specialist library teacher for the first through fifth grades. Joy was delighted to play an instrumental role in getting her students excited about reading.

Joy has recently returned to North America after six wonderful years in Brazil, and is enthusiastic to begin a new chapter of her life in Austin, Texas. She is passionate about children and considers teaching a wonderful and incredible challenge. She is thrilled to continue growing professionally as part of the MIS community. In addition to teaching, Joy looks forward to making new friends while exploring the culinary offerings of the South, running and biking Austin trails, and paddling on Lady Bird Lake.

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Joy Marcus

Joy Marcus

English Teacher

Kristen Felter

School Counselor - PP3 to 2nd Grade

Kristen is a native Texan, born and raised in the Dallas area. After high school, she moved to College Station to attend Texas A&M University and earned her Bachelor of Arts Degree in Sociology. She then went on to earn a Master’s Degree in Social Work at the University of Texas at Austin and, as many people do, fell in love with the Austin area and never left. During graduate school, she had the opportunity to move to Adelaide, South Australia, where she worked as an intern providing counseling to children and families.  It was an amazing international experience and it helped her to see the world from a more global perspective. Though she’s not fluent in Spanish, this is one of her life-long goals. To this end, she took the opportunity to study in Costa Rica several years ago to complete an intensive Spanish Immersion program for Social Workers.

In her professional career, Kristen has worked in a wide variety of settings, including juvenile probation, residential treatment, street outreach with homeless youth, outpatient therapy with children and families, foster and adoption home studies, and inpatient psychiatric mental health. After obtaining her advanced clinical licensure in social work, Kristen began serving as a School Social Worker in the public school system where she was for almost 10 years, with a focus on supporting homeless/displaced students and families and as well as the district’s elementary campuses.

Kristen is thrilled to be venturing into a new environment at The Magellan International School where she can focus on her passion of providing emotional support and mental health services to children and families to help them thrive throughout every phase of life. Outside of work, she loves spending time with her husband and two little girls. She’s also quite crafty and enjoys doing art projects and incorporating creativity and optimism in every aspect of her work and life.

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Kristen Felter

Kristen Felter

School Counselor - PP3 to 2nd Grade

Laura Escudero

Design Teacher & Innovation Lead (MYP), Technology Integrationist (PYP)
laura.escudero@magellanschool.org

Laura Escudero was born in the beautiful town of Mérida, Spain, where she pursued basic studies of elementary and high school. She received her Bachelor´s Degree in Computer Science from the University of Extremadura.  After completing her BA, she decided to pursue a Master’s Degree in Information and Knowledge Society from Universitat Oberta de Catalunya.

Having worked within the technology industry for many years, she has a solid background in software and web development. As a Software Engineer, she has extensive experience working with international and national customers, including Spanish and British banks, international telecommunication companies, state and local governments, and universities, among others. Laura taught Technology to elementary students a few years ago. She has wanted to go back to teaching, and this year she will have the opportunity to make this happen. She is very excited to join Magellan and hopes to have a wonderful year.

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Laura Escudero

Laura Escudero

Design Teacher & Innovation Lead (MYP), Technology Integrationist (PYP)

Liliana Garza

Library Aide

Lily Garza grew up in the mountainous city of Monterrey in Mexico. She used to spend her summers with her cousins in McAllen, TX, where she began speaking English. Since she was little, she was known among her family and friends for her interest in books, which many years later led to her obtaining a BA in Mexican Literature at the Universidad Autónoma de Nuevo León. She also earned a BA in Early Childhood Education from the Secretaria de Educación Pública in Mexico.

Wanting to learn more about her country and culture, she moved to Mexico City after graduation, where she also trained in Early Childhood Intervention. In 2014 she completed the Postgraduate Certificate in Education by the University of Buckingham. While studying in Monterrey, Lily worked as an English teacher for Pre-Primary for four years, during which she discovered how fun spending the day with young children is. In Mexico City she worked for The Churchill School, an IB school belonging to a Mexican/British foundation. In her first year she was the Preschool Librarian, reading stories to children ages 2 to 7 in Spanish and English. During the following two years, she was the Lead Teacher of the Year 1 class, taught in an all-English environment.

Lily is very enthusiastic about languages and is fascinated by the process of learning a new way to communicate. She is very eager to make this process a fun adventure for her students. She is very happy about being able to read stories in Spanish to her students again.

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Liliana Garza

Liliana Garza

Library Aide

LuLú Landes

Assistant Teacher

Lulu Landes grew up in Mexico City, where she attended The American School Foundation. It was there she gained a love of learning that would later move her to become a teacher. Upon graduation she attended Seton Hall University, where she obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in Special Education and Elementary Education. After college, Lulu went back to Mexico City to work at The American School Foundation as a Pre-First teacher assistant. While working there, she got a job offer to work in North Carolina as part of the Visiting International Faculty Program. Lulu moved to Chapel Hill and enjoyed being an ESL teacher for elementary and middle school students for three years. She was also responsible for creating the ESL curriculum for several schools, providing translations, and the evaluation and placement of students.

Lulu then moved to New Jersey, where she worked at The Children’s Institute. She was a part of a multidisciplinary team, working with teachers, parents and other professionals to provide the most appropriate services for students. Lulu married and returned to North Carolina to work as a Special Education teacher for Guilford County Schools. Training in TEACCH, PECS, Sign Language and ABA lead her to a path of working with nonverbal children with behavioral difficulties. She believes teachers should always focus on students' abilities and interests to help them reach both personal and educational goals. A job offer for her husband relocated them to San Diego. She continued working as a Special Education Teacher until her son Sebastian was born in 2006.

Her family moved to Austin in 2007 to embark on the adventure of business ownership. Lulu is overjoyed to work at MIS and have her son Sebastian attend the school. She believes the education she received at the American School was the best gift her parents gave her. Being bilingual has opened many doors for her and has made her the person she is today. Lulu is very thankful to have found a school that will give Sebastian the multicultural and multilingual education that she has always wanted for him. Lulu is eager to go back to the classroom and continue to work with children. She loves to spend time with her family, travel, and read. She is also very interested in researching and learning about nutrition.

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LuLú Landes

LuLú Landes

Assistant Teacher

Paola Samaniego

Lead Teacher/Grade Level Leader

Paola Samaniego is from Quito-Ecuador, and this is her eleventh year teaching. She has has experience working with children between the ages of two months and eight years old. This is her seventh year teaching Spanish. Paola received a BS in Early Childhood Education and Developmental Psychology from Keene State College in New Hampshire. Paola later earned her Master’s Degree in Educational Administration from Jaen's University in Spain. Paola loves the PYP program and is excited to implement it in the classroom.

She believes the inquiry based program works for children of all ages, but especially with young children who have that natural curiosity and desire to learn how the world around them works. This is Paola’s third year at Magellan and she is excited to start this new school year with your children. She welcomes all your input and support throughout the school year!

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Paola Samaniego

Paola Samaniego

Lead Teacher/Grade Level Leader

Patrick Benfield

Innovation Director

Patrick is the founding director of the Francis Lo i.lab for Design + Making, a new, creative learning space at Magellan International School in Austin, TX. Besides directing the school's innovation program, he is a lead mentor for the UTeach Maker fellowship program for The University of Texas at Austin, a senior fellow of the Thinkery EdExchange Program, and a frequent presenter at conferences including SXSWedu, Stanford FabLearn, and Maker Faire Austin. 

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Patrick Benfield

Patrick Benfield

Innovation Director

Ramón Rivera

Music Teacher
ramon.rivera@magellanschool.org

From an early age Ramón demonstrated his love of music, particularly for rhythm and drums. He would use buckets, pots and pans as if they were his instruments. At age 13 he took his first drum lessons in the city of New York. He returned to his native home of Luquillo, Puerto Rico where he continued to develop and progress as a drummer while participating in musical groups of different genres. In 1998 he enrolled in the Dept. of Popular Music at the Inter-American University of Puerto Rico, which at the time had open a brand new music department in the metro campus, becoming the first drummer to graduate from the program. Soon after that, he obtained his K-12 teacher certification in music at the Conservatory of Music of Puerto Rico. He has spent his professional career in Puerto Rico performing as a professional musician in various musical ensembles and as an educator. Ramón’s love for music and music education has made him realize the importance of music and how it plays a key roll in a student’s learning experience.  Allowing students to listen, interact and find ways to express themselves and communicate through melody, harmony and rhythm is key to the understanding of the universal language of music.

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Ramón Rivera

Ramón Rivera

Music Teacher

Rocio Borrego

Lead Teacher

Rocío Borrego was born into a family of educators who instilled in her a love of learning. She received her Bachelor’s Degree in Public and Private Administration from one of the largest public universities in México – The Durango Institute of Technology (Instituto Tecnológico de Durango) in Durango, México. At Harmon Hall, in México, she earned recognition for her studies in English. She worked as a teacher in the Universidad of Educación Física, where she had the opportunity to work with college students. She began working with children early on. For six years she taught English in elementary public schools and discovered her passion for teaching. During that time, she earned her certification to teach English as a second language from the University of Cambridge.
She also obtained an English Teacher Certification from the Universidad Juarez. She had the honor of being recognized by the Secretaría de Educación Pública (SEP) as one of the top ten state winners from a nationwide competition for Spanish middle school teachers. She has had the opportunity to teach diverse groups of students, from those with special needs to those participating in gifted and talented programs. As a result, she has become proficient at designing creative and stimulating lesson plans that accommodate multiple levels of immersion. She brings a hands-on approach to learning and keeps students interested and focused. In 2010 she moved to Michoacán, México and took a sabbatical from education and worked as a Personal Assistant to the CEO of the Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation. There she gained excellent time management, organization, multitasking and project coordination skills that she has found helpful in the classroom.
She moved to Austin, Texas in May 2012, eager to rejoin the field of education. She has worked for Sylvan Learning as a Bilingual Reading Tutor at two Title I elementary schools. She participated in the creation and improvement of materials in both languages to prepare students for the STAAR test. She has also worked for Tutor Doctor, tutoring Spanish as a second language, while generating her own curriculum. Throughout her career, she has learned that recognizing and understanding every student’s talents and individual interests is the key to improving the speed and quality of learning.

Rocio has been with Magellan since the 2014-2015 school year.  She has had the privilege to teach two different first grade groups at MIS, giving her the opportunity to incorporate a variety of manipulatives, reflection activities, and hands on learning projects integrating technology with them, as well as to attend IB workshops that reaffirmed her passion for the PYP. She firmly believes that it is through inquiry discussions where students are encouraged to ask questions and they begin the journey of becoming independent thinkers and learners.

She plans to pursue a MA in Bilingual Education.  Her goal is to engage students in the classroom and maximize their understanding of their world by providing a stimulating learning environment.

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Rocio Borrego

Rocio Borrego

Lead Teacher

Romelia de la Garza

Teacher Assistant

Romelia was raised in Monterrey, Mexico and moved to San Antonio, TX, at the age of 20. She attended the University of the Incarnate Word and obtained a degree in Communication Arts.

After working a semester as an intern in the newscast of Telemundo, she moved to Austin, TX, to look for work opportunities in her field. Romelia soon discovered her mission in life was not to work in the communications industry. She knew she wanted to make a positive impact on people’s lives in a meaningful way, however she was still in the search for the right job.

When a friend talked to her about the opportunity of working as a teacher at KIPP Austin Public Schools with a Dual Language Program, she had the feeling that was the right path for her career. After interviewing, she was fortunate enough to get a job offer, and started the journey to one of the most enriching experiences in her life.

While working at KIPP as a 1st grade Spanish Partner Teacher and Spanish Lead Teacher, Romelia had the opportunity to teach reading, writing, phonics, math, science and other subjects in Spanish. Watching her students grow their knowledge more every day really affected Romelia. She found out that the impact she was making on her students’ lives was extraordinary and no other job could give her that sense of fulfillment.

After some time of working as a substitute teacher at the AISD, Romelia made the decision to continue her teaching career at The Magellan International School as a 1st grade Teacher Assistant. She is eager to serve students at MIS and to start a new chapter in her career as a teacher.

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Romelia de la Garza

Romelia de la Garza

Teacher Assistant

Sandra Noack

Lead Teacher

Sandra Noack was born in Bogotá, Colombia. She comes from a multicultural family, half Colombian and half German. She was also influenced by British and American cultures as she studied at a bilingual school. At age 12, she realized she was meant to be a teacher when she started teaching her little sister how to read and write. Later on, she continued this practice when she decided to home-school her own kids. She is proud of her three children, who decided to become teachers, thus prolonging the legacy of educators in her family.

Upon graduation, Sandra completed her education as a preschool teacher at the Universidad Pedagógica Nacional from Bogotá. Her experience as a PYP teacher for more than 7 years has reinforced her beliefs and values regarding education. Her main purpose is to engage her students and help them become internationally minded, caring, inquisitive, and knowledgeable. She believes education is a never-ending process and teaching gives her the opportunity to learn new things everyday.

She enjoys connecting with her students and learning from them in many ways. Sandra also enjoys art, which has always been part of her life. As a self-taught painter, she believes that persistence and discipline can be more powerful than talent. She enjoys exploring different media and shares her creativity with her students. Sandra is proud to belong to a group of lifelong learners at MIS and will strive to build strong bonds within the community she cares deeply about.

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Sandra Noack

Sandra Noack

Lead Teacher