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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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Samantha Yates

Classroom Teacher

Samantha Yates was born and raised in upstate New York before moving around the country with her husband several times. She graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in interdisciplinary studies and is certified to teach kindergarten through 8th grade. She is a member of Kappa Delta Pi’s national honor society for educators. 

 

Samantha’s love of teaching comes from experiencing great teachers throughout her childhood and wanting to pass on that found love of learning. She has experience ranging from kindergarten through 8th grade over 5 years and has taught 2nd grade for the past 3 years. 

 

Her goals as an educator would be to foster students’ skills to problem solve and the ability to think critically. In addition, it’s important for students to become lifelong learners and feel successful and confident through the power of achievement. Students who leave with these qualities and skills will reap the benefits for the rest of their lives. 

 

When not in the classroom, Samantha spends her time with her husband and two children. If she isn’t at an event for her children, she enjoys spending time crafting and sewing. 

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.

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.

Jenessa enjoys 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.

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.

Carly Grubbs

Physical Education Teacher

Carly is a Houston native. She has always loved sports, and began playing club soccer at the age of 5. She began her coaching career in 2017, and loves every minute of it! She especially enjoys inventing new games and finding creative ways to teach fundamental skills. Her goal is to inspire every child to enjoy being active and healthy.

In her free time, you can find Carly riding her bike or taking road trips with her fiance. One of her favorite places to visit is Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park in Colorado.

Carly also works at a Behavioral Technician with children diagnosed with autism. She enjoys helping them strengthen their emotional and cognitive skills. 

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!

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.

Evelyn Karel

Art Teacher

I was born and raised in San Jose, Costa Rica, where I studied tourism. Then, I moved to Minnesota where I lived for 26 years. I worked as a Spanish-English interpreter in schools and colleges for many years. 

I enjoy traveling and exploring different cultures. I am especially interested in the cultures of Japan, Thailand, Taiwan, Israel, and Peru because their cultures are so different from ours. 

Another hobby that I enjoy is riding my motorcycle. I regularly go for rides cross-country.

When I moved to Houston, I began specializing in pastel, oil, and watercolor art. I began teaching art to people of all ages, from adults to children with disabilities, which I truly enjoyed. I also spent many years working with young children in classrooms. At that time, I realized how much of a passion I have for working with kids, and can learn as much from them as they learn from me. I look forward to continuing to share my love and appreciation of art with children.

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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.