Child Development Center

Comal Staff

Listed alphabetically, by first name.

photo of afsaneh Afsaneh Arfa

Comal Teddy Bears Teacher (Toddlers)

Favorite Children’s Book: Curious George by H. A. Rey

Afsaneh has been working in the child care field since 1996, and has shared her talents with us since 2005. She fondly remembers the first time she took on care-giving responsibilities as a babysitter growing up, and since has become an active fan of children’s artwork who commits herself to encouraging young people’s creative processes.

Her fluency in Farsi enriches the linguistic texture of our community, and the San Jacinto Bumblebees love the way Afsaneh incorporates inventive lesson plans and her love of baking into the classroom. When not championing children’s creativity or baking new treats, she enjoys the art of making beautiful ceramic flowers.

 

photo of ana Ana Lerma

Comal Caterpillars Teacher (Pre-K)

Favorite Children’s Book: Are You My Mother? by P.D. Eastman

Ana joined the Child Development Center in December 2006, and she has more than 15 years of child care experience. She holds an associate’s degree in early childhood education from Austin Community College, and fondly remembers how she first became interested in the child-care field at the age of 12 when babysitting for her younger cousin.

A proficient Spanish speaker and avid storyteller, Ana contributes to our community’s linguistic diversity and delights the Comal Caterpillars when she reads aloud and helps them explore the world of language. She also shares her educational talents with the greater Austin community by volunteering at a church preschool program in her spare time, and enjoys coaching softball and spending time with family.

 

photo of carrie Carrie Acres

Comal Sunbeams Teacher (Infants)

Favorite Children’s Book: Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown

Carrie has more than 25 years of child care experience, and holds an associate’s degree in child development from Austin Community College. She discovered her affinity for care-giving while growing up with her brother and two sisters, and has shared her gentle touch with us since 2004

An accomplished baker, Carrie is always on the lookout for fun, innovative recipes. When she’s not baking up a storm, she expresses her love of music through singing in her church choir, and takes time to read and walk in nature.

 

photo of carrye Carrye Latimer

Comal Owls Teacher (Toddlers)

Favorite Children‘s Book: Anything written by Sandra Boynton

Carrye joined UT CDC in February of 2010 as an assistant toddler teacher after working several years with other programs. Although Carrye has worked with various age groups, she reports that she has a special place in her heart for toddlers. Carrye received her CDA Credential through Austin Community College and is currently working on completing her associate’s degree in Child Development at ACC as well.

Carrye began her care-giving career babysitting for neighbors as soon as she was able. She loved it from the beginning. Away from the center, Carrye cares for and plays with her two dogs, Hershel and Delilah. She also enjoys working crossword puzzles, watching movies, reading, listening to music and attending the many outdoor events and festivals around Austin.

 

photo of christine Christine Martinez Serra

Comal Zebra Teacher (Toddlers)

Favorite Children’s Book: The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein

Christine joined the Child Development Center community in 2005, and she has more than 13 years of child care experience. She says the victories and challenges of raising her own children sparked her interest in teaching, and eventually led to her passion for Googling art ideas and scouring dollar stores in search of the classroom supplies that delight the Comal Zebras.

As a proficient Spanish speaker and an avid student of German, Christine brings linguistic diversity to our center and imparts a love of language to her students. She enjoys sharing the pastimes of reading and playing cards with her children, and spends the rest of her spare time keeping up with the latest movies.

 

photo of cindyCindy Pinto

Comal Super Stars Teacher (Three's and Four's)

Favorite Children’s Book: Fire! Fuego! Brave Bomberos by Susan Middleton Elya

Cindy first joined the UT CDC at the San Jacinto location in January of 2010. After a brief time with another program, Cindy returned to San Jacinto as an assistant teacher. In May of 2013, she took the opportunity to be a lead 3-year old teacher at our Comal Center. Cindy has completed her CDA work through the Children Niños Bilingual Education Organization (CNBE). Cindy reports that she is nine-years older than her younger sister and was “Mom #2” when the baby came home. 

Cindy loves cooking with children and plans many cooking projects for her classroom. She also experiments regularly with projects from Pinterest. Cindy uses photos of the children in her classroom to capture them in action as well as promote self-awareness, self-esteem and mutual respect. She has observed that the children love to see themselves. Cindy is fluent in both English and Spanish allowing her to support our Spanish language exposure program with Maestra Jenny. She has also been studying Russian for a few years. Cindy loves exploring new surroundings and hopes to travel “all over the world” someday.

 

photo of diane Diane Duffer

Comal Super Novae Teacher (Pre-K)

Favorite Children’s Book: Anything by Bill Martin Jr., Eric Carle, or Audrey Wood

Diane has 23 years of child care experience, and holds an associate’s degree in child development from College of the Canyons, Valencia, CA. Her extensive experience in her field stems from years of parenting her own children and serving on PTAs, and she has been with us for more since 2005.

The consummate student of child development philosophy, Diane devoted many years to boards of the National Association for the Education of Young Children, focusing on hospitality and diversity programs. She spends her spare time gardening, playing cards, and participating in volunteer work and fundraising efforts.

 

photo of gina Gina Gonzalez

Comal Monkeys Teacher (Two's and Three's)

Favorite Children’s Book: Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak

Gina became part of the Child Development Center community in July of 2008, bringing more than 25 years of child care experience with her. Over the years, she has gained a great understanding of different learning styles and fondly remembers her first babysitting job as a teenager when she looked after her neighbor’s three-year-old son and 10-year-old autistic daughter. Gina has been with the center since 2008.

Constantly on the lookout for twos-friendly painting projects, Gina makes art a part of her life both in and out of the classroom. She also loves reading, walking around Lady Bird Lake, gardening, and spending quality time with her three sons and grandchildren. Even though she holds a child development associate credential from Austin Community College, Gina says The University of Texas at Austin is by far her favorite school in the area because she’s a big fan of Texas Longhorns football.

 

photo of helen Helen Weicker

Comal Assistant Site Director

Favorite Children’s Book: Little Fox Goes to the End of the World by Ann Tompert

Helen has more than 26 years of child care experience, and holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of North Texas. She had her first care-giving experience while looking after dogs and horses as an aspiring cowgirl in her youth, and currently commits herself to child development through her longstanding involvement with the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). Helen joined the center in 2005.

As the No. 1 fan of her husband’s cooking, Helen supports his culinary endeavors by taste-testing and picking vegetables and herbs from their home garden. She also enjoys keeping in touch with her two sons, one a 2005 graduate of The University of Texas at Austin, and the other a member of the University of Denver Class of 2007. She spends her spare time following national and international news and sports, and attending NAEYC conferences.

 

photo of jadwiga Jadwiga Proga

Comal Sunshines Teacher (Two's and Three's)

Favorite Children’s Book: Anything by Eric Carle

Jadwiga has 17 years of child care experience, and holds a bachelor’s degree in economy from Poland’s University of Maria Curie, as well as two associate’s degrees in specialized fields of early childhood education from Vancouver’s Kwantlen University College and Burnaby College. She first became interested in child development when babysitting in Spain, and has shared her worldly perspective with us since 2005.

A fluent Polish speaker and avid museum visitor, Jadwiga brings a love of both language and visual arts to the center. When not viewing the works of master painters, she’s likely reading, cooking, or spending time outdoors.

 

photo of jessica Jessica Garza

Comal Great Exlorers Teacher (Three's and Four's)

Favorite Children’s Book: Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak

Jessica has been working with children for the past seven years. She began working with in childcare at Texas State University’s Child Development Center while obtaining her Bachelor of Science in Family and Child Development. She gained additional experience working with The Arc of the Capital Area in Austin where she spent six years as a respite coordinator for children, adolescents and adults with disabilities. Jessica interned with Easter Seals of Central Texas in Austin, working with Early Childhood Intervention therapists to provide services to children, parents, and educators by creating an academic, social and psychological support structure. After graduating, Jessica spent two years teaching a two year old class at Open Door Preschool. Jessica treasures all the experiences and memories of all the organizations she has worked with and is looking forward to making many more at the UT Child Development Center.

Jessica’s free time is spent advocating for families in the community, spending time with friends, attending Longhorn football games, running, and doing yoga. She loves living in the “Live Music Capital of the World”, but family is where her heart resides. She loves going back home to San Antonio to visit, especially spending time with her two nephews. She is also an avid fan of the San Antonio Spurs and loves to see them win! Go Spurs Go!

 

photo of nasreen Nasreen Bhatti

Comal Rainbows Teacher (Infants)

Favorite Children’s Book: Winnie the Pooh by A. A. Milne

Nasreen has more than 26 years of child care experience, and has shared her expertise with us since 2005. She became a care-giver at a young age when she babysat her younger brother and sister, and went on to earn a nursing diploma from University College Hospital of Lahore, Pakistan.

With her knowledge of Urdu and Punjabi, Nasreen contributes to the linguistic diversity of our community. She also brings her passion for arts and crafts to the Comal Rainbows’ classroom with her skills in knitting, sewing, baking, and gardening.

 

photo of sonia Sonia Robles

Comal Comets Teacher (Three's and Four's)

Favorite Book: The Story of Ferdinand the Bull by Munro Leaf

I have had the pleasure of working with children for over 11 years and have an associate’s degree in design from Southwest Institute of Design. I became interested in child care when I volunteered at my own children’s preschool in El Paso and continued my early childhood education at San Antonio College. I have a love for the arts including the symphony, art museums, and movies. I spend my spare time with my family, cooking and baking.

 

photo of stephanieStephanie O’Neal

Curriculum Coordinator

Favorite Children’s Book: Anything by Kevin Henkes

Stephanie holds a bachelors degree in child development and has 10 years of experience working with young children, including 2 years as a director and 1 year as a validator for the National Accreditation Commission. As a member of the National Association of Child Care Providers and Pre-K Now, Stephanie is committed to staying involved in current issues surrounding young children. Her favorite activity to do with children is the “Tooty Ta” because the silly words and motions always make everyone giggle.

Most of Stephanie’s time is spent cheering on her two girls on the volleyball court, volunteering at their school or relaxing with her husband, but as an aspiring children’s author, she also enjoys spending time reading classic children’s literature or drafting children’s stories.

 

photo of sylvia Sylvia Bravo Martindale

Comal Administrative Associate

Favorite Children’s Book: The Going to Bed Book by Sandra Boynton

Sylvia has been with us since 2001, and worked in local elementary schools for 14 years prior to joining our community. She first worked in an educational environment in the 6th grade when her aunt convinced her and a cousin to teach vacation Bible school, and currently adds to the linguistic diversity of our administration with her knowledge of Spanish.

Her son is a budding scientist, so Sylvia spends many hours with him experimenting in the art of making lovely, yet less-than-tasty, candy insects. She also creates her share of delicious baked goods that in no way resemble bugs, and enjoys reading and swimming whenever she gets the chance.

 

photo of tracy Tracy Dyess

Comal Site Director

Favorite Children’s Book: The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein.

Tracy has been working with children and families since 1992. She holds a bachelor's degree in Child Development from Texas State University and has over 10 years of lead teaching experience. Several of those years were spent at our San Jacinto location. After 7 years as a center director in an Austin area school she decided to rejoin us as an administrator.

Tracy loves spending time with her husband and three children. Her oldest, Devon, is in college, her son Koby, now 13, attended our San Jacinto location years ago and Arden is enrolled at Comal. On the weekends she can usually be found at the soccer or baseball fields depending on the season. If it is raining expect to see her at the movies.

 

photo of wanda Wanda Davis-Watkins

Comal Frogs Teacher (Infants)

Favorite Children’s Book: Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin Jr. and Eric Carle

Wanda has more than 35 years of child care experience, and has shared her expertise with us since 2003. She began her career in early childhood education by working with three year olds in the Austin Community Nursery Schools agency, and earned her child development certificate from Austin Community College. In recognition of her excellence as an early childhood educator, the Austin Association for the Education of Young Children (AAEYC) awarded Wanda with the Sallie Beth Moore Award in 2007.

She is always creating exciting song cards for the Comal Frogs’ song box, and Wanda enjoys learning new sign language exercises for communicating with infants. A cooking enthusiast, she often caters family functions; when not whipping up specialty dishes and baked goods, she ushers at her church, and reads.

 

photo of yeseniaYesenia Prieto

Comal Dino Buddies Teacher (Two's and Three's)

Favorite Children’s Book: TODAY I FEEL SILLY: And Other Moods That Make My Day by Jamie Lee Curtis

Yesenia has 11 years of experience in the early education field. She began working with young children in an Early Childhood Professions course at Austin High school which involved volunteering at the school’s on-campus child development lab and being a teacher assistant to a first year kindergarten teacher at Mathews Elementary. Ms. Yesenia currently holds a CDA through Austin Community College awarded by the Council of Professional Recognition and is bilingual (fluent in Spanish).

Throughout the years Yesenia has worked with all age groups from infants to after-schoolers. “Working with the Travis County Head Start Program, where I also became an Infant/Toddler Parent Educator and Home-based Visiting Teacher, really broadened my expertise,” she says.

Most of Yesenia’s free time is spent with her family and 3 year old daughter, Mila, at sporting events and enjoying all of the family friendly fun Austin provides such as the Zilker kite fest.