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Cultivating Extraordinary Thinkers

Discovery School of Innovation is devoted to providing an exceptional academic experience while building well-balanced, lifelong learners that are the future thinkers and problem solvers of the world.

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OUR TEACHERS

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Cynthia Zapata

Classroom Teacher

Cynthia Zapata was born in Jacksonville, Florida, and raised in The Woodlands, Texas, where she finished her high school career. She then spent her time in Huntsville, Texas, completing her Bachelor of Science degree in interdisciplinary studies. Certified to teach early childhood through sixth grade, Ms. Cynthia dedicates her passion to her second-grade students by awakening them with resonance.

Ms. Cynthia always knew she was fulfilling a calling in becoming an elementary teacher. She loves to travel, and in doing so, she discovered many different forms of education. The discovery led her to pursue a study in anthroposophy by attending professional developments to help her grow this practice and theory in the classroom.

When not in the classroom, Ms. Cynthia stays active in the community by training with a run club and practicing yoga with friends and family. You can always find her singing, dancing, reading, and spreading joy in everything she does

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Hannah Fang, M.Sc.

Mandarin Teacher

Hannah Fang was born and raised in China and graduated from Shanghai JiaoTong University with a Master’s Degree in Naval Architecture. After moving to Houston from London, she obtained her Chinese teacher training through the University of Houston’s Startalk program.

Mrs. Fang has been teaching Chinese to 1st-6th graders since 2005 at The Woodlands Chinese School. She designs her classes to be interactive and dynamic, opting for hands-on activities that allow students to engage with the class material. She is always looking for new ways to keep the classroom fun and improve the student’s learning experience and language ability.

Outside of school, Mrs. Fang loves reading and playing games. She also loves to travel to new places and go on outdoor adventures with her family.

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Jenessa Rivas

Classroom Teacher

Jenessa Rivas was born and raised in Kenai, Alaska. She earned her B.A. in Early Childhood Education from the University of Alaska, Anchorage. In her undergraduate program, Jenessa studied child-centered teaching practices, such as those found in the world-famous Italian province of Reggio Emilia. Fascinated by a strong image of the child as a curious, capable and innately intelligent learner, she enrolled at Alaska Pacific University to further understand child development and the relationship between social-emotional well-being and cognition. She completed her Master’s of Science in Counseling Psychology at APU with a state of Alaska School Counseling certificate K-12.

Jenessa has taught grades PreK through third grade over the last 15 years. She has served in schools as a Site Based STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) Specialist and Leadership Committee member. As part of a districtwide grant through the Collaborative for Academic and Social-Emotional Learning (CASEL), Jenessa participated as a school team member to support implementation of instructional strategies.

Jenessaenjoys nature, research and spending time with her husband and their three children, Rio, Enzo and Willow. She also loves travel and studied abroad in Stirling, Scotland. She has visited12 countries and looks forward to her next adventure in the classroom and abroad.

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Adriana Herrera

Spanish Teacher

Adriana was born in Venezuela. She has a B.S.in Electrical Engineering. She worked as an Electrical Engineer for many years, and then taught Mechanical Design and Automation at the University of Carabbo in Venezuela. At that time, Adriana became involved in teaching Mathematics. Her family was relocated to Texas, and Adriana decided to get certified as a teacher. She is passionate about teaching and tutoring students in Spanish, high school Mathematics, and Robotics.

Adriana is a faculty member at Lone Star College-Tomball where she is a teacher in the Department of Electrical Technology. She is an instructor in Electrical Motors Control and Electrical Testing and Maintenance. Teaching is her passion and she enjoys creating hands-on learning experiences for her students. She is a lifelong learner. Adriana enjoys spending time with her family, gardening, dancing, singing, and playing the piano.

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Emily Anders

Physical Education Teacher

Emily graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point in 2002 with a BS in Psychology and a minor in Systems Engineering. She served in the US Army for 6 years on active duty in various assignments in Korea, Hawaii and Afghanistan. Since leaving the military, Emily taught in the classroom for 7 years. She worked as a curriculum designer for Discovery Education to create their STEM Connect Techbook. She enjoys teaching PE and helping students understand the importance of exercise, learning new skills, and most importantly having good sportsmanship. In her free time, Emily loves to read, run, rock climb, and play soccer!

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Shelby Samples

Classroom Teacher

Shelby Samples was born in Commerce Township, Michigan, before moving to the Houston area. She graduated Summa Cum Laude with Honors from Sam Houston State University with a B.S. in Elementary Education. Shelby is certified to teach Early Childhood through 6th grade with additional certifications in teaching ESL students, students with dyslexia, and the Science of Teaching Reading.

She found her passion for teaching in high school when she entered the Educator Preparation Program, spending time in the neighboring elementary school everyday learning alongside 3rd and 4th grade students. She continues to learn along with her students now as she encourages them to question and explore the world around them.

Shelby’s goal is to instill a love for learning in each student as they are challenged and engaged using hands-on activities, projects, and independent learning experiences. She believes that teaching relies on a connection with each student that fosters trust, encouragement, and motivation. Shelby is passionate about using reading to build relationships, community, and social-emotional development.

Outside of the classroom, Shelby can be found spending time with her family and many pets, playing outside with her niece and nephew, or attempting D.I.Y projects!

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Mike Heald
Music Teacher

“Mr. Mike” has instilled a love of music in the hearts of many children over the past 20 + years. He has a wide range of experience in the music industry. Mike has toured internationally, and worked in music production, composition, and sound and light engineering.Mike has decades of experience as a music instructor in Kindergarten through grade 12. In addition, he has directed early education music programs for ages 2 through 4. Mike’s courses include music theory, history, performance, appreciation, fundamentals and other related music instruction. He is also a voice coach and teaches piano, violin, cello, guitar, bass, ukulele, and percussion. Mike is both IB and PYP Certified. Music classes with Mike are interactive and fun.

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Ilse Olguin, B.A.

Art Teacher

I see art class as a safe space where there is no right or wrong. As a place where problems have more than one solution and possibilities are endless. Art helps us to say what we cannot see and see what we cannot say. I believe in the power of art. It not only transforms a bunch of colorful materials into something beautiful, it also transforms our minds, hearts and souls.

Ilse was born and raised in Mexico City. She graduated from The Universidad Autonoma Metropolitana and holds a B.A. in Industrial Design. Ilse has always been interested in designing products and solutions for children. For her bachelor’s degree final project, Ilse developed a play system consisting of a set of abstract shapes with the intention of stimulating kids (3+) imagination, problem-solving skills, memory and decision-making through a physical and sensorial experience.

After graduating from college, Ilse worked at Papalote Children’s Museum (Mexico City) as an Experience Coordinator and Educational Guide, where she successfully contributed by moderating science and technology exhibitions and leading art workshops.

Ilse moved to The Woodlands, Texas, where she has been teaching Pre-K and Elementary students in Art and Spanish subjects over the past three years. 

When she is not around kids, Mrs. Olguin spends most of her time creating, crafting, or transforming something. She is a creative soul with a passion for art, graphic design, decorative arts, fashion, etc. However, what she enjoys the most is silversmithing and jewelry making.

Melissa Menke
Yoga Instructor

Melissa has pursued many passions in her life. First of all, she has 2 children and enjoys spending quality time with them whenever possible. Melissa is also a pilot for United Airlines and her love of flying has taken her to a variety of destinations around the world. Another passion of Melissa's in yoga. She is a strong believer in finding a balance and happiness within, and engaging the inner self through movement and yoga. She is trained in the Yoginos Program for children, and loves to incorporate fun themes and literature into her classes. 

Connor Kaminski
Robotics and Coding Instructor

Connor's love of engineering and design comes through in his teaching. He creates such an excitement around inquiry and collaborative projects in class. He specializes in coding, robotics, and design engineering for children. His projects often include real world applications. There is always a surprise and out of this world learning when Connor is in the classroom!

Connor is a part of the YMCA's Mobile Maker Space "Y on the Fly" Program that brings these experiences to children in our area. 

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Instructional practices are based upon the latest educational and brain research regarding how students learn and synthesize information.