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© Copyright 2019 by

Center for Teaching & Learning.



26131 Kuykendahl Road

The Woodlands, TX 77375

Our Team

Linda Ellis, Ph.D.

President & Head of School

Linda earned a Ph.D. from Texas A&M University in Curriculum and Instruction with an emphasis in Reading Education and Library Science and B.B.A. in Education and M.Ed in Reading degrees from Sam Houston State University. With over 34 years of experience, Linda taught middle school language arts for nine years prior to teaching literacy courses and coordinating field-based programs as a professor at Stephen F. Austin State University, University of Houston, Sam Houston State University, and University of St. Thomas. She has also served as Program Director for Secondary Language Arts (6-12) and for over 20 years worked with teachers in classrooms across Texas as a literacy consultant, as a Trainer for the New Jersey Writing Project in Texas/Abydos Learning, and as a Technical Assistance Provider, Professional Service Provider and School Leadership Coach for the School Improvement Resource Center and the Texas Center for District and School Support. Linda has presented at local, state, national and international conferences and has been president of numerous local and state literacy organizations, including Texas Association for the Improvement of Reading, Sam Houston Area Reading Council, Stone Fort Reading Council and North Harris County Council of Teachers of English. For over 20 years she served as Governmental Relations Chair for the Texas State Reading Association and Texas Association for the Improvement of Reading representing Texas teachers before the State Board of Education. She is the author of over 20 books and articles for teachers including Getting Started: The Reading-Writing Workshop, Grades 4-8 (Heinemann, 2007).  Linda worked with an amazing team of local educators to found the Center for Teaching & Learning in 2010 and serves as Head of School and President of the Board of Directors. In her spare time she loves spending time with family.

Email: lellis@centerforteachingandlearning.com

Ryan DuFour, M.Ed.


Ryan DuFour is in his 14th year in Education, all of which were served in the Houston Independent School District. Before coming to the Center for Teaching and Learning, he had the opportunity to spend three years as the Assistant Principal at Fonville Middle School, one year as an Assistant Principal at Hines Elementary School, and nine years at Sharpstown High School as an English/ESL teacher, Lead Teacher, Department Chair, ESL Coordinator, and Dean of Instruction. Ryan DuFour obtained both his Masters degree in Educational Leadership/Administration and his Bachelors degree in Educational Studies from Sam Houston State University. He holds a Texas Professional Mid-Management Administrator's Certification as a Principal Grades EC-12 and Texas teaching certificates in grades 4-12 English Language Arts and Reading, grades 4-8 Social Studies,  grades EC-12 English as a Second Language (ESL), and grades EC-12 Special Education. His lifelong dream of becoming a school leader at a phenomenal and reputable school such as the Center for Teaching & Learning is finally coming to fruition. He truly understands the importance of a school’s reputation and the foundation that has been laid to get there, which places high expectations on the administration, teachers, staff, and students. He truly appreciates the opportunity to serve all constituents here at the Center for Teaching & Learning and looks forward to becoming a valuable and integral part of the team.

Email: rdufour@centerforteachingandlearning.com

Amelia Maia, A.A.C

Administrative Assistant

Amelia earned an associates degree in Accounting from Damelin College in Johannesburg, South Africa. She has worked as an administrative assistant in a private school for the past 14 years performing both educational and accounting roles. Prior to this, Amelia worked in the banking industry for 12 years in South Africa. She enjoys working with students, parents, families, and staff members and is always willing and ready to help them. She always makes everyone feel welcome. Amelia enjoys traveling, exercising, music, reading, and spending time with her family. She has enjoyed being an integral part of the startup of what she feels is "an exceptional, remarkable, phenomenal, and notable new school."

Email: amaia@centerforteachingandlearning.com

Beckey Billings, B.A.

Grade PreK Teacher


Beckey earned a B.A. in Business Administration from Angelo State University. She has been working in the child development field for over seventeen years, experiencing several roles in early childhood education. Beckey served on the board of a private preschool which enabled her to develop and implement programs benefiting all students and assist in the development of the school’s curriculum. She then served as lead teacher of a Pre-Kindergarten class where she implemented the curriculum she co-designed. She joined CTL  as a teaching assistant serving students and teachers from grades K through 8 prior to assisting with the opening of our PreK in the fall of 2016. Beckey and her family have lived in The Woodlands area for 25 years. In her spare time she enjoys spending time with her family at their lake house.

Email: bbillings@centerforteachingandlearning.com

Gina Brown, B.S.

Grades K-1 Teacher


Gina Brown earned her B.S. in Interdisciplinary Studies from the University of Houston. She has a lifetime teaching certification in Texas. She also earned teaching certificates and taught in both Louisiana and California. She has seven years of classroom teaching experience in grades K - 6.  During her time as a teacher, Gina continued working on professional development. She has great classroom management and is always willing to learn new ideas that will help her students to be successful. Gina also has lived overseas and was involved in the international school where her own children attended. She worked with students from different countries whose first language was not English and was also a scout leader there.  Gina is a learner herself and is excited about joining the team at CTL.

Email:  gbrown@centerforteachingandlearning.com

Lisa Lipar, M.Ed.

Grades 1-2 Teacher


Lisa earned a B.A. in Child Psychology from Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan and a Masters of Arts in Teaching (MAT) with an early childhood endorsement from Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan. Lisa was the lead children’s counselor in a women’s shelter in Michigan before starting her teaching career. During her time as a teacher she has taught Pre-K ,while serving as the assistant director of the preschool and has taught grades 1-8. She has an extensive classical dance background in which she danced competitively for 15 years. Lisa created a dance program for students in Pre-K though 5th grade where she taught tap, jazz, ballet and lyrical. She choreographed and directed yearly dance recitals. Lisa continued to extend her entrepreneurial skills and started a home-based preschool for children ages 3 through 5 years. She was responsible for enrollment, accounting, food preparation, childcare, implementing lesson plans and teaching preschool children. Lisa  moved to Texas with her husband and two daughters in 2008. She began substitute teaching in Conroe ISD and then went on to teach full time in Pre-K- through 2nd grade. During her time teaching in Spring, Lisa developed a K-1 multi-age program in a private school where she taught for 3 years. She holds a Texas Educator Certificate to teach EC-6 grades. Lisa was the first teacher to join CTL in 2014. Her philosophy is to continue to build relationships with students in which she creates a strong sense of self-esteem and a positive attitude toward learning. Lisa’s passion for teaching includes a strong grasp of early childhood education. She guides children in learning by making connections with them. Lisa’s goal throughout her teaching is to instill in her students the importance of honesty, respect and kindness.


Email: llipar@centerforteachingandlearning.com

Melanie Welsh, B.S.

Grades 3-4 Teacher


Melanie earned a B.S. in Elementary Education from Houston Baptist University. She holds Texas Educator Certificates in EC-4 Generalist, ESL and Gifted and Talented and has taught fourth grade at Cypress Christian School and third grade at Rummel Creek Elementary in Spring Branch ISD. While at Spring Branch she served on the Campus Improvement Team, served as Lead Teacher for three years, mentored new teachers in the school and hosted student teachers. Melanie has had extensive training and experiences that align well with the philosophy and methodologies at CTL. As the newest member of our CTL Team, she has brought much energy, excitement and enthusiasm to her students and the entire faculty.  


Email: mwelsh@centerforteachingandlearning.com

Caroline Harrison, M.Ed.

Grades 5-9 Language Arts Teacher

Caroline earned her BSc (Honours) Psychology degree from The Open University in Milton Keynes, UK in 2006. Originally from Scotland, she began her career in 2003 as Policy Officer with the Scottish Government Education Department where she supported the development of the new Scottish Curriculum, The Curriculum of Excellence, and the work of the child and parent reading campaign, Read Together. From 2004 through 2010, she served as Program Manager of the Scottish Book Trust Bookbug where she developed and managed a $1.6 million national literacy program, mentoring  dedicated professionals who supported parents to read regularly with their children. After leaving Bookbug in safe hands, Caroline returned to doing what she loves most, working directly with children as a storyteller and teaching assistant in two of Scotland's most prestigious private schools. After her move to Houston in 2015, Caroline completed her M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction at the University of Houston and her Texas Educator Certification. She most recently taught in Cy-Fair ISD. Caroline believes in a holistic approach to education and teaching, weaving her experiences as a parent and educator with her psychology background. She has a strong background in language arts and believes in the positive impact access to books and reading can have on a child’s life. By creating a classroom environment where education is inspiring and interesting, Caroline's aim for her students is that they too become self-motivated, lifelong learners. In addition to her passion for teaching, books, reading, and writing, Caroline loves animals and spending time in the natural environment gardening, biking, and hiking. She is a keen cook and is enthusiastic about her plant-based lifestyle she shares through volunteering as a mentor in her spare time. Caroline has one son, Sean, a B.A. History Major from the University of British Columbia who currently lives in Auckland, New Zealand. She shares her home with husband John and their two fur babies, Lily and Chip.

Email: charrison@centerforteachingandlearning.com

Claire Want, M.Ed.

Grades 5-9 Math Teacher & PreK-9 Math Specialist


Earning a B.S. in Interdisciplinary Studies from Texas A&M University and an M.S. in Elementary Education with a focus on Mathematics from Stephen F. Austin State University along with nine years of classroom teaching experience have instilled in Claire a passion for education and mathematics. Claire grew up in Nacogdoches, Texas in a family of educators. She holds teacher certifications in Mathematics Grades 8-12, Mathematics/Science Grades 4-8, and Generalist EC-6. During her time as a classroom teacher, Claire developed inquiry-based math curriculum, modeled lessons, and trained teachers through on-going professional development.  After eight years as a mathematics teacher, she served as Head of School for St. James Episcopal Day School. Claire is in her second year at Center for Teaching & Learning and continues to collaborate with CTL teachers on deepening enrichment of the mathematics program and allowing each student to construct individual mathematical thinking.

Email: cwant@centerforteachingandlearning.com

Laura Wellbrock, B.S.

Grades 5-9 Science Teacher, Pre-K-9 Science Specialist & 5-8 PE Teacher 

Laura earned her B.S.with honors from the University of Houston-Victoria; where she played soccer on a scholarship. She founded and chartered the Run Walk club for the University and served as Vice President in the Student Government Association. Laura also was accepted and served in the education honor society - Kappa Delta Pi. Through her sports and extracurricular activities she spent several hours volunteering in classrooms and serving children with special needs. After graduating Laura followed her passion for writing and science and accepted a position teaching both in Ralls ISD. The next year she was assigned to teach math and science and completed Rice University’s REMSL program. This program once again grew her passion for science and led her to join the Spring Branch ISD Vanguard program. This innovative program fostered her love for technology in the classroom and allowed her to expand her knowledge in cutting edge technology for student’s learning. In 2017 she joined Tomball ISD as a language arts teacher and was trained in the reading and writing workshop approach. Laura is eager to join the CTL family and help develop the innovative science program in grades 5-8. 

Email: lwellbrock@centerforteachingandlearning.com

Bethy Meixeiro, M.Ed.

Grades PreK-2 and 9 Spanish Teacher


Bethy was born in a Mexican City: Toluca. She was born among a family of teachers. Her mother, a renowned teacher, built the school (INEDIB) where Bethy went to high school. INEDIB now has more than 1500 students from preschool to high school. Her father, a great engineer who with hard efforts and work, formed a construction company, becoming one of the best in the state. Initially she studied nutrition and food science at the Universidad Iberoamericana of Mexico City, specializing first in Child Nutrition focused on nutrition education for children and young people, showing them the importance of good nutrition, physical activity and disease prevention. However, the passion for education led her to study two master’s in education, one from the University of Puerto Rico and the other in Mexico, specializing in educational leadership and neurosciences. Bethy speaks three languages: French, English and Spanish and is willing to learn Portuguese. Her life has been motivated by her family and the passion for education teaching students the love of learning so a year ago she made the decision to start her PhD in education. Her professional experience has been around education--from French, English and biology teacher to Assistant Principal. She has written three nutrition books for children as well as develop educational programs for INEDIB. Bethy is IB certified, is an academic consultant in Mexico and for 13 years has made the summer camp for INEDIB. Life brought her to The Woodlands along with her husband and three children and to CTL where she taught Spanish in CTL's After School Program last year and where she will be CTL's Spanish teacher this year for Grades PreK through 2 and 9th grade. She is looking forward to building CTL's Spanish program for the entire school, teaching her language to the CTL children who will be able to survive in this world of changes and globalization. 

Email: bmeixeiro@centerforteachingandlearning.com

Sarina Eckhardt, B.F.A.

PreK-4 Physical Education Teacher

Sarina has a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) degree from the University of North Texas. For the past eight years she has been with TGA Premier Sports teaching golf for their after-school programs for grades K-5 and managing and teaching at summer camps with youth. Sarina is also owner/photographer at Creative Photo Clicks in The Woodlands and has served as photographer of Great American Business Products and Program Coordinator of the Houston Center for Photography. She also volunteers as a side walker for the SIRE Houston's Equestrian Therapeutic Center where she works with children with autism and cerebral palsy. Sarina loves teaching youth and has been described as having great classroom management and communication with students that inspires and boosts confidence. She is a proven reliable self-starter with exceptional organizational and planning skills. We are excited Sarina has joined our CTL team to teach Grades PK-4 physical education. 

Email: seckhardt@centerforteachingandlearning.com

Melanie Garcia, B.A.

PreK-8 Music Teacher

Melanie is a classically trained pianist of 17 years. In her intermediate and advanced years of study, she pursued piano at the Bay Area Theatre and Voice Academy. There, she studied under the accomplished pianist Laura Fultcher. She also took three years of percussion studies to establish a solid rhythmic foundation. Due to her musical experience, Melanie performed with a jazz band for over two years. The ensemble covered classic rock hits with a special emphasis on incorporating jazz elements. Due to this experience, she incorporates fun songs into her teaching curriculum that students want to learn. While attending the University of Houston-Downtown, Melanie majored in Philosophy. She believes in the real life benefits that music has to offer, such as expanding attention spans, developing musical passion and knowledge, and evolving emotions in a productive and expressive manner. She has years of experience teaching students with alternative learning styles and special needs. While her students would consider her a fun and exciting piano teacher, her students’ parents would describe her as a teacher who keeps lessons structured and students accountable with a progressive teaching style. As a result, Melanie’s students excel in their musical studies with the same passion she discovered for herself as a child. 


Email: mgarcia@centerforteachingandlearning.com

Pam Mayo, B.A., Young Rembrandts

PreK-8 Art Teacher


Pam is a 1985 graduate of Sam Houston State University where she earned a bachelor’s degree in K-12 Art Education. After graduating, Pam taught art in Huntsville ISD and DeSoto ISD. In 1989 she moved to Northwest Harris County and gained employment with the Cypress-Fairbanks ISD at Moore Elementary where she taught kindergarten through fifth grade art. Pam had students participate in numerous district art shows as well as students who were awarded medals for their art in the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo Art Show. During her tenure at Moore, Pam not only taught art to children, she also trained teachers in a classroom management course called Building Better Relationships: Classroom Management in the Cypress Fairbanks ISD. One year when Cypress-Fairbanks ISD fifth graders were attending Space Camp, Pam trained Space Camp counselors to use this classroom management system. After a long and fulfilling career teaching art in Cy-Fair, Pam retired in the Spring of 2014.

Since retirement she has enjoyed spending time with family, traveling, and working part-time but found she missed the art classroom. So, she recently found employment with Young Rembrandts. Much like her own art instruction, Pam found that Young Rembrandts believes in exposing art students to a wide variety of subject matter, artistic concepts, art history and mastery of art materials. Young Rembrandts offered Pam the opportunity to teach art once again!

Pam has twin sons, Adam and Jonathan. Jonathan and his wife Whitney and daughter live in Michigan. Pam is active in her church and volunteer work. She is married to Thomas Gregory (Greg) Mayo. Greg is a Speech and Debate teacher at Westbury High School in Houston ISD. Pam and Greg live in Cypress, TX.


Email: pmayo@centerforteachingandlearning.com 

Stephanie Jones, M.Ed.

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Grades 5-8 Physical Education Teacher

Stephanie earned her B.S. in Mechanical Engineering in 2004 from Texas A&M University and her M.ED. in Curriculum and Instruction in 2006 from Sam Houston State University. She is certified to teach PreK through 4th grade generalist and 4th grade through 12th Math. Stephanie taught briefly in Klein ISD before returning to her engineering roots. During her career she worked as a Pipeline Engineer, Mechanical Engineer, and a Project Engineer in the Oil and Gas Industry. Stephanie is a licensed engineer in the state of Texas. In 2015, she left the workforce to focus on her family. Outside the home, she has remained active by volunteering with several organizations. Stephanie’s passions are fitness, crafts, cooking, and photography. She is excited to join CTL and to plug in wherever she is needed.


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