MEET OUR DECATS TEAM
Jean Hernandez, Director, 2009
Mrs. Hernandez is very proud to be returning to the DECATS team for her fifteenth year! She worked as a mentor for many years, then moved into the position of Administrative Assistant for three years. 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. She looks forward to another fun, enriching and memorable summer in her new role as director of DECATS Sugar Land!
Stephanie Smith, Assistant to the Director, 2012
Ms. Smith is so excited to serve as our Assistant to the 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 Director, 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, Leadership Director, 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!
Carol Broadway, 2023
Born and raised in a small town in Mississippi (Greenville MS). After earning a 2-year degree in Computer Science at Mary Holmes Jr. College in West Point, MS, I venture out to Texas. I attended Texas Southern University to earn a Bachelor of Science degree and University of Texas Arlington master's in educational leadership. I taught 7th grade math from 1991 to 2018. I retired from teaching shortly before COVID (2018), and recently returned to the classroom (Jan 2022) to fulfill a grave need due to a teacher shortage. I am currently teaching at Dulles MS 7th grade math. I am known for my southern hospitality. I enjoy traveling, organizing things, cooking, exercising, outdoor activities: such as hiking and nature walks. I am excited about working my first summer with DECATS!
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 earned her first 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!
David Dawson, 2023
Mrs. Dodson is so happy to be returning to DECATS this summer, for her 5th year. This native Texan is thrilled to see and work with the Mentors and Scholars in this wonderful program again. She has taught 10 years of second grade in public school, 25 years in PreK at St. Laurence, and now is a paraprofessional in middle school/first grade at St. Laurence, enjoying other levels of teaching, and a diverse/varied schedule. She has raised three daughters, has a grandson and a granddaughter is on the way. In her spare time, she enjoys crafting, reading, traveling, games, baking/cooking, and spending time with family and friends. Mrs. Dodson is ready to “walk like an Egyptian” as she leads scholars to do their Pinterest best
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 third year. She was impressed to see how her students would come back to school in the fall and share their experiences and enthusiasm for DECATS. A Kansas native, she moved to Houston and teaches at St. Anne Catholic School, Houston. She loves making math fun and challenging, Her other passion is teaching social studies and science and incorporating our Catholic Identity and social justice when appropriate. Her interests are reading about United States Presidents, world leaders, and Earth science. (pollinators, birds, bats, bees, and butterflies).
Magen Glaude, 2023
My name is Magen Glaude. I'm currently a 4th grade math, science, and social studies teacher in Alief ISD. I've worked in education for over 10 years and have been a classroom teacher for the past 3 years. I love to read, try new foods, and spend time with my family and friends. I fell in love with science at a very early age so being able to teach and empower students through science is truly rewarding!! This is my first year at DECATS and I'm very excited to be apart of the team!!!
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!
Sanchia Myrie-Familia, 2023
Mrs. Myrie-Familia is a 4th grade English Language Arts teacher in Alief ISD. She has worked in education for 9 years in multiple grade levels and has a Bachelor's degree in Fine Arts and a Master's degree in Curriculum and Instruction. Art has always been her passion and can not wait to explore what creativity lies within all of us!! She is excited to join DECATS this year and looks forward to meeting all her aspiring artists.
Alejandra Ortiz, 2023
My name is Alejandra Ortiz and I’m a 1st year mentor! I just graduated from Stephen F. Austin State University and I will be a first year teacher this coming up fall as a 3rd grade ELA teacher ! I am looking forward to this summer at DECATS!
Christine Powell, 2008
This is Mrs. Powell’s 16th year as a DECATS mentor. She is the 5th and 6th grade math teacher at St. Anne’s Catholic School. Math was always her favorite subject in school. Christine likes to spend her free time playing golf and tennis as well as cross-stitching, crafting, gardening, traveling, and playing games with her kids. She is looking forward to another great summer at DECATS.
Quyen Rebollido, 2016
Quyen Rebollido started DECATS in 2017 and this will be her 6th year as a mentor. She is the STEM teacher at Epiphany of the Lord Catholic School. Mrs. Rebollido has been living in Sugar Land since 1992. She has four college kids who keep her busy. Her favorite pastime is cycling with her husband, trying new cuisines with the family, and playing with her chocolate lab, Juno. She is looking forward to meeting all new and returning scholars!
Theresa Rebollido, 2011
Mrs. Rebollido is very excited to be returning to the DECATS team for her 9th year! She lives in Sugar Land with her husband, Fred, and two sons, Lucas and Anthony. For the past eleven years, Mrs. Rebollido has taught 3rd grade at St Laurence Catholic School. After being in education for the past 25 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’t wait to meet this year's group of scholars!
Julia Smith, 2023 - JUNIOR MENTOR
My name is Julia Smith, this past May I graduated from Incarnate Word Academy in downtown Houston, and am a Junior Mentor at DECATS Sugar Land 2023. This coming fall I plan to attend college at the University of Denver and study social work. I am very excited and grateful to be a part of DECATS, as I attended the program growing up.
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!