Laura Walpole, Director

Originally from the Northeast, Ms. Walpole worked in sales and advertising for 10 years before becoming a teacher. After obtaining her M.Ed., she came to the ever-growing city of Houston in order fill a 3rd-grade teaching opportunity in Alief.  Ms. Walpole currently teaches 6th grade at Cornerstone Academy in Spring Branch ISD. She is thrilled about her 11th summer at DECATS. Working with creative GT students is one of Mrs. Walpole’s passions because she loves how excited the scholars are about all their courses. She loves the idea of combining her teaching experience with the administrative side of running a wonderful program like DECATS.

 

Debbie Haney, Program Liaison

This is my 22nd year with DECATS and my 2nd year as a liaison for the program. I love having the opportunity to work with mentors from all over the Archdiocese! When I am not at DECATS, I am a wife, mom, and the Secretariat Director and Superintendent of Catholic Schools for the Archdiocese of Galveston- Houston. I have been married for almost 26 years to my wonderful husband Jason, and I have two children; Hannah is 16 and Nicholas is 12. They are precious, and I enjoy every moment I can spend with them! Outside of work and family, I enjoy scrapbooking, traveling, reading, swimming, spending time with friends, watching movies, and playing cards.  I have served on a number of professional committees, and I belong to many professional organizations which allow me to continue my quest as a lifelong learner.

 

 

 

Michelle Konecny, Administrative Assistant, 2013

Our Administrative Assistant, Michelle Konecny, is excited to begin her 6th year with DECATS! Michelle’s passion has always been teaching, ever since she was in first grade. Each day in her second grade class is just another reminder that she is exactly where she was meant to be. Watching her students’ creativity and independence come to life is one of the many things she loves being a part of! Michelle just finished her 10th year teaching and is looking forward to many more years educating and inspiring young minds! During her free time, she enjoys painting, reading, and being outdoors! She cannot wait to see what amazing talents the DECATS scholars have to offer this year! We're so glad to have you!

 

 

Mari Breton, 1999

Ms. Breton has been with St. Michael’s Catholic School since 1994 where she teaches Spanish. She is very excited to be able to work with such wonderful mentors and scholars with the DECATS program. She has two incredible kids and two beautiful granddaughters that are the sunshine of her life. This will be Ms. Breton’s 19th year with DECATS!

 

 

 

Johanna Bonno, 2010

Ms. Bonno is thrilled to be a part the DECATS team for the 7th year! After performing for years in musical productions in theaters throughout Houston and coaching young performers in voice, she has begun a fulfilling new career teaching Music and Theater Arts at St. Laurence. A classically trained singer, she earned her degree from Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music, and while Ms. Bonno can often be found on the stage during much of her free time, she cannot wait to share her passion of music/theater and Italian Culture with DECATS scholars this summer!

 

Brian D'Andrea, 2014

Mr. D’Andrea is a teacher at Westbury High School in HISD. He is currently the Special Teams coordinator and Head Girls Powerlifting Coach. He is pumped to bring his knowledge about fishing biking and rocketry to DECATS this year!!


 

Tom D’Andrea, 2013

Mr. D’Andrea has worked for the Katy Independent School District for the past 34 years as a teacher in Elementary Physical Education. This is his 6th year in the DECATS team and he is excited to be a part of this program. He is looking forward to bringing something new to the program.


 

Tom D’Andrea, 2013

Mr. D’Andrea has worked for the Katy Independent School District for the past 34 years as a teacher in Elementary Physical Education. This is his 6th year in the DECATS team and he is excited to be a part of this program. He is looking forward to bringing something new to the program.

 

Beth Dodson

I am Beth Dodson, and have taught for 32 years – 10 in public in second grade, and 22 here at SLCS in PreK.  This will be my fourth year teaching DECATS. I have 3 daughters that have come to St. Laurence from PreK-8th, two of whom are now gainfully employed and one is a recent 2018 graduate of A & M – and is also employed!  I have always loved to teach, and feel so blessed to be in a faith-filled atmosphere with such wonderful students, coworkers, and parents. My goal each year is to help each child to” be the best he/she can be”, with the talents God gave each of them.  In DECATS, I get to share what I enjoy with students who enjoy challenges, being creative, thinking out of the box, and discovering new things. I also love the age difference and really like to see how each scholar grows and finds out something new about themselves.   This is my fourth year as a mentor, and I find myself learning from them, too! It’s my pleasure to mentor these fine young girls and boys to their fullest potential

 

Amy Dodson

My name is Amy Dodson; I recently graduated from Texas A&M University with a degree in Industrial Distribution. I was a student at St. Laurence for the first 14 years of my life, and within that time period I attended DECATS so I am excited to come full circle and actually be a mentor for the program! Growing up with a teacher mom, I often helped out with lagniappe classes and when I was in high school, I worked as an after school caretaker (BASC) for students. My favorite aspect of working with kids is seeing their pure zest for life and their individuality come through in everything they do. I look forward to them taking what I teach them in class and making it their own. This will be my first time as a DECATS mentor so your kids and I will be growing together in the new experiences we encounter! With God guiding my way, I am just so thrilled to embark on this journey.

 

 

Adriana Gutierrez, 2009

Mrs. Gutierrez is excited to be part of DECATS this summer!  She is our webmaster and social media coordinator! She has over 25 years experience as a bilingual educator and has worked with students of different ages. She has been working at St. Laurence Catholic School for the past 12 years. Her greatest satisfaction is seeing scholars get excited about learning new things. She is eager to meet another outstanding group of gifted scholars who want to join a new learning journey!  This is her eight year with DECATS.

 

Jean Hernandez, 2009

Mrs. Hernandez is very excited to be returning to the DECATS team for her ninth year! She is currently a Second Grade teacher at Kilpatrick Elementary in Katy ISD where she has been teaching for 13 years. After working in the business field for over 14 years, she discovered that working with children was her calling while performing with a children’s theater. She has been teaching ever since. Jean has had a passion for music and dance since she was a little girl and is very excited about sharing that passion with DECATS scholars. She looks forward to another fun, enriching and memorable summer!

 

Sharon Held, 2012

Mrs. Held is a 4th grade teacher at St. Cecilia Catholic School. She is very excited to be back at DECATS this year! She loves teaching, but also spends her free time dancing, singing, baking, and learning new things.

 

Teri-Lynn James, 2015

As a school librarian at St. Laurence Catholic School and DECATS mentor, Ms. James is thrilled to have the opportunity to share her love of information and passion for discovery!  She has a Master’s degree in Library and Information Science from the University of North Texas and has enjoyed helping students to create their own “aha!” moments both as a classroom teacher and a librarian.  Ms. James is eagerly counting down the days to begin learning and exploring the wide world of 21st century information technology with you! All aboard the information superhighway!

 

John Maklary, 2009

Before migrating to education in 1998, John Maklary, a native Texan, was a financial analyst, a database administrator, an executive director for a small town Chamber of Commerce, and a Y2K programmer. With a knack for computers and at a career crossroads, the school superintendent of a small, rural Oregon community offered John a part time job as the district’s technology coordinator. One year later, that same superintendent convinced John to enroll in a 5th year teaching program at Oregon State University. In 2005, armed with a teaching certificate and a Masters degree in Education, John, along with his wife and two young children, moved back to Texas to be closer to family. Since 2005, John worked as the technology coordinator and middle school technology teacher at John Paul II Catholic School and currently serves as the Director of Instructional Technology at St. Laurence Catholic School. This will be John’s seventh season with DECATS and he looks forward to engaging the eager minds of scholars.

 

Christine Powell, 2008

This is Mrs. Powell’s seventh year as a DECATS mentor.  She is a 6th and 7th grade math teacher at Grace School.  Math was always her favorite subject in school; now, as a mom and teacher, playing with her kids, reading, baking, and scrapbooking are her favorite things to do.

 

Theresa Rebollido, 2011

Mrs. Rebollido is very excited to be returning to the DECATS team for her fourth year! She is currently a Third Grade teacher at St Laurence Catholic School where she has been teaching for 5 years. She has been in education now 17 years, and finds that science is her true passion. Finding ways to explore the different aspects to the world around us is the BEST part about what we teach. DECATS allows us to not only learn about things but also find out "what if.." She can wait to meet this year's group of scholars!

 

Patricia Share, 2001

This is Mrs. Share's 17th year with DECATS, and she has been teaching for 33 years. For the last 29 years, she has been a 1st grade teacher at St. Edward Catholic School in Spring. She is married with 2 grown daughters. Mrs. Share delights in spending time with her grandchildren. .She loves the innocence and joy of learning of the younger students during the regular school year. At DECATS, she enjoys the enthusiasm and creativity of the scholars. For the last 17 years, her Sew What? scholars have rushed in, started working right away, and then complained when it was time to clean up. Mrs. Share is looking forward to seeing what colorful and creative materials the scholars will choose for their projects this summer.

 

Stephanie Smith, 2012

Ms. Smith is so excited to be a returning mentor to DECATS! She taught 11 years in Catholic schools and two years in DECATS when she stopped teaching to be a stay at home mom for six years, spending precious time with her two daughters. She returned to teaching at St. Edward Catholic School in 2007, and started the Art program there for grades K-5.  Having taught PreK-6th grade at St. Micheal, Sacred Heart-Conroe and now

St. Edward, she is so happy to join the St. Laurence DECATS team under the direction of Mrs. Haney!  Let the fun begin!

 

Dianna Thompson, 2012

Mrs. Dianna Thompson has taught in both Public and Catholic Schools for 22 years.  She has taught Middle School as well as Elementary School. She is currently in her seventh year of teaching Catholic School. Mrs. Thompson has been married to her husband Ron, for the past 22 years and they have three boys ages 20, 17, and 14.  This is her fifth summer with DECATS, and she is incredibly excited to share her joy in kicking off an amazing DECATS 2016.

 

Liz Thompson, 2011

Ms. Thompson is happy to be back with DECATS for her 7th year! Prior to teaching at The Art Institutes, Ms. Thompson was an elementary teacher with St. Laurence Catholic School. She has approximately 14 years teaching experience within online (virtual) and brick-and-mortar environments with students of all ages.  Ms. Thompson has both a Masters in Education and a Masters in Fine Arts. She enjoys participating with scholars as they explore their ideas in creative ways.




 

Wendy Santos, 2004

Mrs. Santos is a Language Arts and Social Studies Specialist in the Alief School District.  She is passionate about writing integrated curriculum and loves to help students and teachers think about their thinking.  She believes that each person has something wonderful to offer the world and her mission is to help students discover who they are meant to be.  Her favorite subject to teach is writing. At home, Wendy works to raise her two beautiful girls, Joy and Hope, with her husband Vince; the most adventurous part of her day! In addition, she volunteers at her church, St. Thomas Aquinas in Sugar Land as a member of the choir and for the Meals Ministry.  When she finds a moment to herself she enjoys meditation, reading, writing, cooking, and crafting. This is Mrs. Santos’ fifteenth year with DECATS.

1/4