top of page
Linda Ellis
Amelia Maia
Beckey Billings
Lisa Lipar
Patricia Pedraza pic

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.


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."


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.


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 being a member of the team at CTL.


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.



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. Melanie bringst much energy, excitement and enthusiasm to her students and the entire CTL team.  



Kristy Moreno, M.Ed.

Grades 5-8 Language Arts Teacher, English I and II Teacher and CTL Yearbook Coordinator

Kristy earned a B.A. in both English and Public Relations from Texas State University in 2004 and a M.ED. in Education Administration in 2009 from Concordia University. Kristy holds nine years of teaching experience, with two years in Calhoun County ISD as an English II-III teacher and Journalism advisor and seven years in Cy-Fair ISD as an English III teacher and Team Leader. She served as an English III Team Leader for six years before she left to focus on her family. While raising two children full-time, Kristy had a burning desire to create an online community aimed toward empowering moms, and as a result, the popular Houston Lifestyle website, Seven Graces Blog, was born. To-date, she works hard to promote wellness and happiness through personal journaling, online content creation, and speaking engagements through her blogging venture. Kristy is passionate about being a life-long learner and is excited to return to the educational setting and use her outgoing, energetic, and motivating personality to create a welcoming and engaging environment for the entire CTL family by championing the language arts/English program for grades 5-12.


Rachel Petrovic, M.S.

Grades 5-8 Math Teacher, 9-10 Algebra and Chemistry Teacher and High School Program Coordinator 

Rachelle earned a B.A. in Chemistry and a M.S. in Environmental Analysis & Decision Making from Rice University. She has been in education for 10 years and holdsTexas Educator Certificates in Math Grades 4-12, Science Grades 6-8 and Physical Sciences Grades 9-12. She has taught Geometry, Math Models & Applications and Chemistry, and for the past 6 years she taught 6th and 7th Grade Math in Cy-Fair ISD. Prior to entering the education field, Rachelle worked as an Associate with a Renewable Energy Technology Investment and Development startup company. Before returning to Rice University for graduate school, she worked with Carbon Nanotechnologies Inc as a Research Chemist on developing carbon nanotubes for use in fuel cell electrodes. Rachelle also worked on multiple projects at

Lynntech, Inc. as a Research Assistant in the areas of materials science technology development and commercialization. Rachelle also has a passion for coaching and girls’ basketball as she played basketball at Oberlin College in Ohio before transferring to Rice University. She has volunteered a lot of her time and energy for her children’s sports teams as well as coached 7th and 8th Grade Girls Basketball and Volleyball at Hamilton Middle School. Rachelle has a unique cultural background and story as a full-blooded Native American from the Seneca Nation of the Iroquois Tribe from Western New York. She grew up on a Seneca Indian Reservation and still returns to visit family and friends. Her husband is from Serbia and came to the U.S. as a foreign exchange student in high school. They both played basketball for Oberlin College near Cleveland, Ohio before moving to Houston together to start their family. They have raised their three children in NW Houston/Cypress since 2001. Rachelle is extremely eager to begin her first year at CTL and is excited to bring her creativity and enthusiasm to the Math and Science teams.


Amy Kiddy, M.S.

Grades 5-8 Science and Social Studies Teacher, 9-10 World History Teacher and High School Advisor

Amy Kiddy has a B.S. in Biology focused in Dental Hygiene, an M.S. in Nutrition and Biochemistry, and a post-graduate teaching certificate. Her teaching certifications are in Biology and Life Science, General Science and Chemistry, Health, and ESL, which are current in both Florida and Texas. She has taught in the U.S. and internationally at American curriculum schools in multiple countries including Malaysia, Abu Dhabi, and Saudi Arabia. Her teaching experience of 12 years has spanned all ages and subjects covering college level classes, homeschooling groups, Reggio Emilio Pre-K, English for refugees through UNCHR, as well as private classes with Funfit Fitness Center. She has worked as a curriculum coordinator, is a certified proctor for SAT tests, and acted as a high-school college counselor. She also served on faculty committees acting as a liaison between administration and staff. Amy  co-founded a group overseas called Because Dreamers Do to increase inclusivity and love of each other as humans. She is passionate about teaching and cultivating a love for learning in her students, no matter their age or background. Amy’s favorite pastimes when not teaching are visiting schools, libraries, and nursing homes with her certified pet therapy dog, reading, hiking, and spending time with her family.


Patricia Pedraza, Texas School of Languages

Grades 9-10 Spanish Teacher


Patricia earned a Bachelor's Degree in Public Relations at the Autonomous University of Tamaulinas in Cidade, Victoria, Mexico prior to moving to Texas. She has been in the field of bilingual education in the Cypress area for over 20 years. Patricia describes herself as a multifaceted person, a lifelong and passionate learner, and as someone who really loves everything she does. Her life professionally and personally ranges from teaching, entrepreneurship, coaching, cycling for causes, running, hiking, art and poetry, photography, and social media. She is the proud owner of Texas School of Languages serving and helping our community in breaking their language barriers by heart since 2007. The school teach all languages and ages in a very personalized instruction and is located in the heart of Lakewood Forest .Driven by Patricia's passion for teaching Spanish and helping those who love learning, she offers a YouTube channel with One-Minute Spanish every Wednesday for free.  The videos are also posted on her personal teacher page on Instagram so students can have after-school practice. In addition, Patricia believes that life is better lived by experiences that also contribute for a better world. She is a very active cyclist for good causes.  Every year she participates at the BPMS150 riding from Houston to Austin to have a multiple sclerosis free world. She trains very hard every weekend riding from 25 to  75 miles as well as for other causes. Patricia  also loves running . She has completed more than seven half marathons and one marathon in the USA and Mexico. And to keep her brain busy and active, another of her passions is to write poetry in Spanish. Because of that, she founded a bilingual poetry group named Alianza Poética Intercultural to keep alive this beautiful literary genre and also to discover and promote new poets.  An anthology with poems in Spanish from worldwide poets including three great poems of her own inspiration called Best Literary Work- Mi Mejor Obra Literaria! Patricia feels very blessed and grateful to be part of the CTL Family teaching Spanish.

Sarina Eckhardt, B.F.A.

PreK-10 Physical Education Teacher

Sarina has a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) degree from the University of North Texas. For the past nine years she has been with TGA Premier Sports teaching golf for their after-school programs 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. 


Pam Mayo, B.A.

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. After retirement she enjoyed spending time with family, traveling, and working part-time but found she missed the art classroom.In 2019-2020  Pam returned to the art classroom as CTL's art teacher. When not teaching, Pam is active in her church and volunteer work. She is married to Thomas Gregory (Greg) Mayo. a Speech and Debate teacher at Westbury High School in Houston ISD. Pam and Greg live in Cypress, TX.



Troy Bennett, Play It Right Music School

PK-8 Music Teacher

Troy Bennett is Manager of Play It Right Music School in The Woodlands. He moved to Texas from Illinois one year ago to join Play It Right and soon after, in the spring, joined CTL as our music teacher. This year Troy has come onboard as our PK-4 music and 5-8 music/drama teacher. Troy says, "I have a huge passion for music and for teaching children, and there’s no better place for me to fulfill my passion than with the amazing students at CTL." The Woodlands is the first of the Play it Right schools launched in the USA. With a proud 15 years of experience in South Africa behind them, they are excited to bring our area music education that is on par with International schools across the globe.They are proudly a subdivision of the Campus of Performing Arts in South Africa (, a contemporary music college founded in 2003 with campuses in Johannesburg, Pretoria, Cape Town and Durban. Courses are tauht by trained facilitators who are also music industry specialists, and/or professional musicians, giving our students access to one of the most rounded and intensive practical programs currently available anywhere in the world. 

Please reload

bottom of page