STAFF

Learn more about the dedicated, caring, and talented group of teachers and administrators that help to make St. Mark's so special! Our faculty are committed to the highest possible standards in early childhood education.

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Karon Miller Hammond

Head of School

Ms. Karon is a graduate of Baylor University, she holds a Bachelor of Science in Child Development and Family Studies. Karon's career in early education spans almost 35 years, in that time she has worked in a variety of environments including full day child care, university lab schools and Early Intervention. Her leadership roles have included being a director in both full day child care programs and faith based pre-school programs. Most recently she worked for Goddard Systems, Inc., the franchisor of The Goddard School, where she was an Education Support Specialist supporting both franchisees and directors. Karon is pleased to be at St. Mark's and looks forward to what the future holds for the Day School, it's families, and students.

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Renay Jones

Administrative Assistant

Ms. Renay works in the Day School Office, supporting Ms. Karon with the day-to-day operation of the school and keeping things running smoothly.

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Kelly Vande Streek

Finance Manager

Kelly joined St. Mark's as the finance manager shortly after her 2 daughters started at the school. After taking some time off from the finance world she was ready to get back to the numbers and help maintain the financial soundness of the school. Kelly has a family history with St. Mark's as her husband Jonathan attended the school as a child and her Mother-in-Law was a teacher for many years.

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Laura Richard

2's Class LeadTeacher

Ms.Laura the lead teacher for one of our 2-year-old class. She studied Communication Sciences and Disorders at Baylor University. Though a native Houstonian, Ms.Laura considers Austin home. One of Ms. Laura's favorite things is to see children overcome a difficult task and be confident. Laura loves to travel and learn about other cultures, and was fortunate to do so while living in Russia as a teenager.

Laura is an active parishioner at St. John Neumann Catholic Church. Some of her favorite things other than the students at St.Mark's are to go to the movies at Alamo Drafthouse, volunteer at church, and spend time with friends and family.

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Laura Greco

2's Class Assistant Teacher

A native Austinite and parent of three children, Ms. Laura began teaching at St Mark's as a substitute when her children were students. Realizing how much she enjoyed working with preschool age children, Ms. Laura eventually joined the Saint Mark's faculty as an Assistant Teacher. She loves the community of parents, teachers, and students at the school.

Ms. Laura has a BS in Interior Design from the University of Texas at Austin. When not helping in the classroom, she runs her own commercial interior design studio.

Ms. Laura is an assistant in one of our 2's classes.

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Mayra Alvarez

2's Class Lead Teacher

Ms. Mayra has taught at St. Mark's for many years and also provides childcare for the church. She completed her Child Development Associate certification in 2013. She is the Lead Teacher of one of our 2's classes. Ms. Mayra also teaches after school enrichment classes and provides childcare for St. Mark's Church.

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Veronica Wade

2's Class AssistantTeacher

Ms. Veronica is the assistant teacher of one of our 2's classes.

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Elaine Dreyfus-Petry

3's Class Lead Teacher

Ms. Elaine has been a teacher at Saint Mark's for over ten years and loves that at Saint Mark's "families come first. " Ms. Elaine has degrees in Montessori and early childhood education and is a native French speaker. Born in Douala, Cameroon, she has lived all over the world in Africa, Hong Kong, and Europe. Her love for children inspired her to teach and brings her joy and inner peace.

Ms. Elaine is the Lead Teacher of one of our 3's classes. Her classroom is a busy and happy place for the children, but she strives to make it a peaceful environment in which the children can learn to be caring and loving, much like she is.

Ms. Elaine also helps with our Early Care and Extended Day programs.

Sarajean Achilles

3's Class Assistant Teacher

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Janet Applegate

3's Class Lead Teacher

Ms. Janet has been teaching at St Mark's for over 20 years. She has a BA in Psychology and Elementary Education, and a Master of Education in Educational Psychology. Before coming to St Mark's, Ms. Janet taught third and fifth grades in the Houston Independent School District, as well as kindergarten on the Navajo Reservation in New Mexico.

Ms. Janet began teaching at St. Mark's when her two sons, now adults, attended the school. Her teaching philosophy is that children learn through play--that play is a child's "work." She loves to watch the children blossom during the nine months the children spend in her welcoming, stimulating, and fun classroom.

Ms. Janet is the Lead Teacher for one of our 3's classes. She also teaches after school enrichment classes. Ms Janet says she loves "the people--children, families, and staff make St Mark's a great place to be!"

Ms. Janet has a Lifetime Elementary Texas Teaching Certificate with Early Childhood Certification from the State Board of Eduction as well as Lifetime Texas Professional Counselor Certification.

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Becky Poynot

2's Class Assistant Teacher

Ms. Becky is in her 2nd year as a teaching assistant in the 3 year old classroom. She is an active member of St. Mark's Church and jumped at the opportunity to become a member of the Day School staff in 2015. Ms. Becky has 3 sons are graduates of St. Mark's.

Ms. Becky has a BA in Sociology from The University of Texas and a Masters of Social Work from San Diego State University.

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Valerie Hartle

3's and 4's Lead Teacher

A San Antonio native, Ms. Valerie moved to Austin in 1989 when she went to UT for her BA in Studio Art. With the exception of two years living in Florida while working for the Walt Disney company, Ms Valerie--along with her husband, three children, cats, fish, hens and bunny--call Austin home.

Ms Valerie's teaching experience goes back to the age of 12, when she became a swimming instructor. She continued teaching swimming and swimming competitively during the summers for a decade. She also worked doing visual displays for retail stores before taking time off to be at home with her three children. Ms Valerie began as a substitute teacher at St. Mark's when her youngest child was a student at the school.

Ms. Valerie is a Lead Teacher of one of our Transitional 3's and 4's class. This class includes older 3-year-olds and younger Pre-K students. In a typical day you can find children learning about elections by having a vote on class snack, on a dinosaur dig, or showing off their fossils in a "museum."

Ms Valerie loves the curiosity, love of learning, questions, and creativity of her students. She believes that all children deserve an unlimited amount of patience and respect. She enjoys finding ways to engage the children with interesting subjects and new ways to find social success.

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Henry Olivas

3's and 4's Assistant Teacher

Mr. Henry has taught at St. Mark's for many years and is also actively involved as an usher at St. Mark's church. He assists in Ms. Valerie's transitional 3's and Pre-K 4's class. He also leads the Godly Play Bible story time and sometimes leads the Chapel service.

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Teresa Gorchs

Pre-K Class Lead Teacher

Ms Teresa has BA in History, with a minor in Education. She also has a Secondary Teaching Certificate, and taught 4th, 5th, and 6th grade before she had her three children, ages 10, 13, and 15.

Ms Teresa is the Lead Teacher of a Pre-K 4's class. Her pet rabbit, Pepper, is a favorite guest in the classroom during the year.

Ms Teresa sees her job as helping the students develop socially and academically in a loving environment, where they feel loved and are an integral part of the community. She finds hugs and smiles are her reward.

Ms. Teresa also loves to sew, read, bake, and do crafts.

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Sue Eun

Pre-K Assistant Teacher

Ms. Sue has a Bachelor’s Degree in Piano Performance from Korea and a Master’s Degree in Piano Pedagogy and Literature from The University of Texas at Austin. She has 20 years of experience teaching piano, and still teaches some students after school at her house. She also serves as a pianist at Faith Presbyterian Church. She is married with two children: Julia and Austin. They both are in Elementary School. She enjoys watching her children play sports, walking, reading, playing games with her children, and going on family outings. She enjoys living in Austin and is happy to be a part of the St. Mark’s community.

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Vicky Warren

Pre-K Class Lead Teacher

A graduate of Villanova University with a Bachelor of Science in Economics, and a Graduate degree in Economics from Temple University--both in Pennsylvania--Ms Vicky spent many years working at an Economic Consulting firm in New York City before pursuing her passion: teaching. In her words, 'There is no better job on the planet than teaching!"

Ms. Vicky is the Lead Teacher of one of our Pre-K classes. She loves being creative and goofy in her vibrant, bustling, and welcoming classroom. She loves seeing the children's personalities shine through each day. She constantly finds teachable moments in their endless curiosity.

Ms. Vicky has been a teacher at St Mark's for nearly 20 years, becoming friends with other teachers along the way. She also teaches Dramatic Play and Hidden Treasures after school.

Both of Ms. Vicky's daughters are graduates of the St Mark's. One is in a college freshman, and the other teaches kindergarten in Irving, TX. Both remain friends with their former St. Mark's classmates.

Melissa Browning

Pre-K Assistant Teacher

Ms. Melissa has lived in Barton Hills for 13 years. She first became part of the Saint Mark's family as a parent when her children began attending in 2012. She subsequently became a substitute teacher in 2014, and is currently an assistant teacher in Ms. Vicky's Pre-K class.

Ms. Melissa enjoyed a career in Human Resources after graduating from Texas A&M University with a Bachelor of Science in Psychology. She has been actively involved with children as a devoted aunt of 15 nephews and nieces; volunteer with Help One Student to Succeed (HOSTS), a mentoring at risk youth, teaching Sunday school, and volunteering at BHE.

She has a special interest in in helping children with pre-reading and writing skills, encouraging creativity and fostering independence and social emotional growth. When she's not working at St. Marks, the enjoys helping friends and Barton Hills neighbors with all their real estate needs her role as a real estate agent.

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Sybi Ward

Music Instructor

Ms. Sybi teaches music classes each day. She also leads the music for the weekly Chapel service. She teaches two keyboard classes as part of our after school enrichment program.

Sybi was brought up in a musical family. Her father was the Minister of Music at a Baptist church in Houston, where Sybi began singing in choirs at the age of 3. Sybi continued making music in choirs, band, and orchestra through college. In addition to singing and playing the piano, Sybi is a harpist; and as played for civic groups, churches, and weddings. She currently directs a preschool choir at First Baptist Church, sings in the Sanctuary Choir, and plays in the handbell choir.