MEET OUR DECATS TEAM
Jean Hernandez, Director, 2009
Mrs. Hernandez serves as our Director and is very excited to be returning to the DECATS team for her fourteenth year! She is currently a Second Grade teacher at Epiphany Catholic School in Katy. Previously, she worked in Katy ISD 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 in her role at DECATS as Program Director.
Stephanie Smith, Assistant to the Director, 2012
Ms. Smith is so excited to serve as our Assistant Director. She taught for 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. Having taught PreK-6th grade at St. Michael, Sacred Heart-Conroe, and St. Edward, she is now at St. Anne- Houston for her 24th year teaching.
Adriana Gutierrez, Leadership Team, Communications, 2009
Adriana Gutierrez, Leadership Team, Communications, 2009
Mrs. Gutierrez is part of our DECATS Operations team! She manages our communications and social media, and she is our webmaster! Mrs. Gutierrez has many years of experience as a bilingual educator and has worked with students of different ages and needs. She has been working at St. Laurence Catholic School for the past 17 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 15th year with DECATS.
Wendy Santos, Leadership Team, Scholar Aides and Service, 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 the Meals Ministry. She enjoys meditation, reading, writing, cooking, and crafting when she finds a moment to herself. This is Mrs. Santos’ nineteenth year with DECATS.
Johanna Bonno, 2010
Ms. Bonno is thrilled to be a part of the DECATS team for the 12th year! After performing for years in musical productions in theaters throughout Houston and coaching young performers in voice, she is so happy to be 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!
Shannyn Brinker, 2019
Mrs. Brinker is excited to return for her second summer at DECATS! She just wrapped up her 8th year of teaching. She is currently a 4th grade teacher at Epiphany of the Lord Catholic School in Katy. She enjoys sewing, especially baby blankets & quilts. She also enjoys baking for her family and friends. She is excited to teach the students basic sewing techniques this summer! Shannyn is also an avid volunteer and board member with Houston Collie Rescue. She and her husband are parishioners at St. Bartholomew Catholic Church in Katy.
Jill Cantu (Nurse), 2022
Mrs. Cantu is excited to begin her journey with DECATS! Born and raised in Richmond, Texas, she first earned a B.S. degree in Human Development and Family Sciences from the University of Texas. Wanting to pursue a career in healthcare, she earned her A.D.N from Wharton County Junior College and her B.S.N. from the University of Texas at Arlington. She currently serves as the School Nurse for Saint Theresa Catholic School in Sugar Land, combining her love for early childhood, nursing care, and the Catholic faith. Jill, her husband Juan, and baby girl live in the Houston area and love exploring parks, restaurants, and coffee shops!
James Dietz, 2019
Mr. Dietz graduated from Strake Jesuit in 2014. He is also a graduate of Texas A&M University at College Station with a degree in Chemistry. He is currently the 4th grade homeroom teacher at St. Theresa Catholic School. Last August, his lovely wife, Sara Dietz, gave birth to their first baby, Veronica. In his free time, he prays, reads the mountain of books in his collection, builds woodworking projects, and practices chanting.
Pam McCollom, 2021
Mrs. McCollom is thrilled to be part of DECATS for her second year. She has seen how excited her own students are after coming back from the summer DECATS program. She is excited to be part of their experience. Pam has been a teacher for 20 years, teaching all ages and subject areas. A Kansas native, she moved to Houston 16 years ago and teaches at St. Anne Catholic School, Houston. She loves making math fun and challenging, Her passion is teaching social studies and science and incorporating our Catholic Identity and social justice when appropriate.
Melissa Mejia, 2022
Ms. Mejia grew up in New York but moved to the Houston area after graduating college to start her teaching career as a special education teacher! She taught kids of all ages in Spring Branch ISD at Northbrook Middle school and Cornerstone Academy and in Katy ISD at Fielder and Hayes Elementary Schools. After 26 years in public schools, she took a leap of faith and became the Learning Specialist at St. Cecilia Catholic School. She believes that all kids need opportunities to shine and foster their own interests, gifts and talents and she is excited to become a Mentor with DECATS this summer!
Liz Morris, 2022
Elizabeth Morris was born and raised in Houston but moved to the Chicago area at the end of high school. She earned her Bachelor's degree in Animal Science from the University of Illinois and has worked in a variety of science fields including as a zookeeper and in a virology lab. She went back to school to earn a Master's degree in Education and taught middle school science for 10 years in the suburbs of Chicago. She moved back to Texas in 2018 to Round Rock and coached and taught Robotics before finally moving back home to Houston in 2020. She currently teaches 7th & 8th grade Science and helps mentor the High School Robotics team at Duchesne Academy. This is her first year working at DECATS, and she is super excited about the opportunity to work with the kids in the program!
Christine Powell, 2008
This is Mrs. Powell’s 14th year as a DECATS mentor. I am a 5th and 6th grade math teacher at St. Anne’s Catholic School. Math was always my favorite subject in school. Now, as a mom and teacher, playing with my kids, reading, baking, and scrapbooking are my favorite things to do.
Quyen Rebollido, 2016
Mrs. Rebollido has been teaching in Fort Bend ISD for 27 years. She teaches second grade at Walker Station Elementary School. Sugar Land has been her home since 1992, and she raised her four children Ty, Lia, Khue, and Kara. Her favorite pastime is cycling with her husband, eating out with the family, and playing with their new lab puppy, Juno. Her family has been parishioners at St. Laurence Catholic Church since 1992. This will be her 5th year teaching DECATS, and she is excited to be back!
Theresa Rebollido, 2011
Mrs. Rebollido is very excited to be returning to the DECATS team for her 8th year! She lives in Sugar Land with her husband, Fred, and two sons, Lucas and Anthony. For the past ten years, Mrs. Rebollido has taught 3rd grade at St Laurence Catholic School. After being in education for the past 24 years, she finds that science is her true passion. Finding ways to explore the different aspects of 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!
Liz Thompson, 2011
Ms. Thompson is happy to be back with DECATS for her 11th year! Prior to teaching at Parsons Open Campus and Houston Community College, Ms. Thompson was an elementary teacher with St. Laurence Catholic School. She has approximately 15 years of 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.
LeeAnn Trufan, 2022
After being born and raised in Sugar Land, TX, Mrs. Trufan ventured out to Huntsville, TX, to attend Sam Houston State University to obtain her degree in finance. She worked as a financial analyst for a couple of years until she finally decided to pursue her passion for teaching. Mrs. Trufan began teaching 7th grade math in Fort Bend ISD this year and loves being in her dream job. She is extremely excited to work her first summer with DECATS and get to know all the amazing scholars that are pursuing lifelong learning!