Child Development Center

San Jacinto Staff

Listed alphabetically, by first name.

photo of angelicaAngelica Cordova

San Jacinto All Stars Teacher (Pre-K)

Favorite Children’s Book: The Grouchy Ladybug by Eric Carle

Angelica has been working with young children for over 10 years and has been a teacher at the UTCDC since August of 2010. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Psychology and a Child Development Associate credential. Angelica loves teaching preschool age children because everything they are learning is new and exciting. She loves all of the Firefly families and the bonds that she is able to create with them throughout the year. She also highly values the friendships that she has formed with her co-workers over the past few years.  

In her spare time, Angelica loves reading, traveling, spending time with her family, and shopping.


photo of ella Ella Quinlan

San Jacinto Rainbows Teacher (Threes and Fours)

Favorite Children’s Books: I Love You Because You’re You by Liza Baker and David Mcphail, and We’re Different, We’re the Same by Bobbi Kates and Joe Mathieu

Ella has been with us since 1996, and has worked in the child care field since 1981. She got her start in the field by babysitting nephews, nieces, and siblings, and went on to earn a child development associate credential.

As an active member of the Austin Association for the Education of Young Children, Ella is committed to current issues in child development. She is also a card-playing enthusiast who belongs to the Austin Bid Whist Club, and enjoys traveling, gardening, and decorating her home.


photo of haraHara Cootes

UTCDC Program Director

Favorite Children’s Book: The King’s Equal by Katherine Paterson

Hara has been with the Child Development Center since 1992. She holds a bachelor’s degree in child development from Texas State University, and a Masters of Education from The University of Texas. Before bringing her gifts to us she worked as a summer camp administrator. She also has years of experience as a child care consultant for the city of Austin, and as a member of Austin Community College’s adjunct faculty.

Hara is busy while away from work managing one daughter and two sons. She and her husband spend many hours watching the kids at swimming and diving events. In her spare time Hara has a small photography business and enjoys quilting.


photo of hildaHilda Harnden

San Jacinto Administrative Assistant

Favorite Children’s Books: Curious George series by H. A. Rey; The Light in the Attic by Shel Silverstein; Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling

Hilda grew up moving around the country which led to her attending 33 schools and 3 colleges before graduating with a major in History. After moving to Austin with her husband and son she began worked at Bethany Lutheran Child Care Center in their administration. Fortunately, in 2010, Hilda came to work at UTCDC and with her 13 years of experience immediately became an asset. One thing she has learned over the years - when around children there is never a dull moment! Although she is not in the classroom with them, she is able to watch the progress each child makes – from walking, to talking to sharing the day with their parents.

When not working, Hilda enjoys reading and working in the yard. She is active in two bunco groups, does fun activities with “Empty Nester” friends, enjoys plays, going out to eat with friends and playing games.


photo of jessicaJessica Sosa

San Jacinto Penguins Teacher (Threes and Fours)

Favorite book: Charlotte's Web by E. B. White and The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle

Jessica received her B.S. in Early Childhood with a Business Foundations Certificate from the University of Texas at Austin in 2012.  Soon after she began working with the UTCDC as a floater at our Comal location.  She says she loves working with children because they find value in the simplest objects and they remind me to appreciate the small things every day. Jessica’s goal as a teacher is to encourage independence, critical thinking skills, and a love for literature.

When not working, Jessica enjoys spending time with her Australian kelpie, Kirko, and leopard gecko, Mr. Fantastic. She also loves to read, volunteer, and partake in trivia nights.



photo of lauraLaura Montez

San Jacinto Leaping Frogs Teacher (Pre-K)

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

Laura joined the UTCDC team in 2005 as a floating teacher at the Comal location while she attended UT. She graduated from UT with a Bachelor of Science in Applied Learning and Development and a minor in Child Development. After graduation, Laura began working full time in the Leaping Frogs classroom. Laura loves the intrinsic motivation to learn she sees in her students and enjoys teaching new ideas to them. Her favorite part about her class in how unique each of her students are. She loves to hear the children's ideas and learn about their interests.

At home Laura loves to spend time with her silver dapple dachshund, George. She is also a big movie enthusiast and particularly enjoys horror films.


photo of leahLeah Davis

San Jacinto Bumblebees Teacher (Infants)

Favorite Children's Book: Love Is A Handful of Honey

Born and raised in Austin, Leah joined UTCDC in 2003 as a Peek-a-boos teacher, brining to the center her radiant personality and over 11 years of child care experience. Her favorite thing about working here is the sense of closely-knit and supportive community of teachers, staff, parents, and children. Ms. Leah loves to hear her Bumblebees' laugh when she reads Love Is a Handful of Honey to them. When she is not loving on our babies, she is spending time with her daughter, Ari, scrap-booking, reading, and watching movies.


photo of LeticiaLeticia Flores

San Jacinto Dragonflies Teacher (Toddlers)

Favorite Children’s Book: The Runaway Bunny by Margaret Wise Brown

Leticia moved to Austin in 1991 and began her career as a childcare provider with UT Child Dev. Center. Her son attended the UTCDC for the four years she was with us. After she left she continued working at a local school and took over their infant program.  Leticia received her Child Development Associate credential in 2009.  We were fortunate to have Leticia bring her talents back to the UTCDC in the spring of 2011.

Leticia makes her classroom a joyful and fun place for children to develop. She loves teaching the children self-help skills and allowing them to become more independent. Her goal as a teacher is to give every child the best quality of care and to set a great example for them.

When Leticia is not working with young children, she loves spending time with her family. She has a 26 year old son who graduated from MIT and an 18 year old daughter currently attends Texas A&M. She also enjoys watching funny movies and listening to music.


photo of lucyLucy Kacir

San Jacinto Panda Bears Teacher (Twos and Threes)

Favorite Children's Book: It's Okay to be Different by Todd Parr

Lucy has been a proud Panda Bear since she joined the UTCDC staff in June 2010. She earned her bachelor's degree at NYU, majoring in photography and art history. Lucy began working with young children in 2004, during college, as a floater at a preschool. After finishing her degree, Lucy decided to explore her interest in early childhood education and accepted a teaching position at the same preschool. She is currently pursuing a master's degree in art education here at UT and will complete her studies in December 2013.

Lucy's favorite thing about working at UTCDC is building strong relationships with her co-workers and getting to know the wonderful Panda Bear families. She loves early childhood education because it lays the foundation for each child's future development. Lucy aims to encourage curiosity and independence in each child. She loves to plan art activities for the Panda Bears and help them to discover their unique creative abilities.

When Lucy is not working or studying, she loves to try new recipes and take photographs. She also enjoys reading, both adult and children's books, and is learning to quilt.


photo of mariaMaria Perez

San Jacinto Ositos Teacher (Twos and Threes)

Favorite Children’s Books: The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein, and The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams and William Nicholson

Maria has been been in the child care business since 1980 and opened the center with us in 1991. She got an early start as a child development professional by working in a daycare throughout high school, and since then has devoted herself to the pursuit of knowledge by teaching and using her expertise to provide consultation to peers and people new to the field.

A role-model for those committed to the lives of young people, Maria constantly strives to learn new things through studying American Sign Language, researching innovative lesson plans, and bargain-hunting for educational toys and puzzles. She always shares her findings with us and parents, and the San Jacinto Dragonflies love the way she incorporates her proficiencies in the Spanish language and culinary arts into the classroom. She spends much of her spare time watching cooking shows, reading cook books, and experimenting with easy-to-make recipes for “yummies” she can teach her class.


photo of melindaMelinda Zamora

San Jacinto Amigos Teacher (Threes and Fours)

Favorite Children’s Book: A Bad Case of Stripes by David Shannon

Melinda was born in Dallas, TX and raised in Raymondville, TX with her parents and 10 siblings. She attended college at the University of Texas Pan American where she majored in Early Childhood Education. Melinda joined the UTCDC team in 2000. She has 13 years of experience working with children, 8 of them at the UTCDC. The opportunity to be a part of such a diverse community is one the things that she enjoys most about working here. In her classroom, Melinda feels privileged to be able to foster the growth and development of so many children. She strives to provide the best care for each family.

When she is not at work, she enjoys spending time with her son, Izac. They both enjoy visiting libraries, spending time outside at parks, and taking trips to the valley to visit family.


Mary Dipasquale

San Jacinto Peacocks Teacher (Twos and Threes)

Favorite books: Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak; Corduroy by Don Freeman

Mary has been working in early childhood development since 2005. While earning her undergraduate degree at Western Kentucky University, she worked at the campus child care center Head Start program. She graduated in 2008 with a BA in Advertising and a minor in Sociology. Watching her mother, who was her kindergarten teacher and now a 2nd grade teacher, has given her a passion for teaching. When she first moved to Austin in 2009, she was a full-time substitute at UTCDC. She is so glad to be back and join the team?!

In her spare time, Mary enjoys outdoor activities, especially kickball and sand volleyball, where she participates in local leagues around Austin.


photo of paulaPaula Barton

San Jacinto Site Director

Favorite Children’s Books: Oh, The Places You’ll Go! by Dr. Suess and Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown

Paula has been working in early childhood development since the birth of her son in 1992. She has a Bachelor of Science degree in Home Economics from Baylor University. Paula joined San Jacinto the spring of 2011, after 12 years in the classroom and 7 years as a director of a center. Paula is a member of NAEYC (National Association of Education for the Young Child). She enjoys the developmental process of young children and keeping up with early childhood issues.

In her spare time, Paula enjoys her family and making personalized gift baskets for friends and loved ones during special occasions. She and her husband love movies, trying out new restaurants, and traveling to new regions of the country whenever possible.


photo of sarahSarah Basler

San Jacinto Assistant Site Director

Favorite Children’s Books: The Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus Series by Mo Willems and Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst (among MANY others!)

Sarah was born and raised in Cookeville, TN and lived there until 2009. Sarah has a Master of Arts in Curriculum and Instruction with a reading concentration, as well as a Bachelors of Science in Elementary Education. She has been working with children since 2004 and has loved every minute. Sarah joined San Jacinto in the spring of 2014, after working as a teacher, assistant director and filling in as an interim director for the past five years. Sarah enjoys evolving as an educator and learning new teaching strategies and methods.

In her spare time, Sarah enjoys exploring Austin and participating in anything outdoors. Some of those outdoor activities include: hiking, rock climbing, and camping. Sarah is also an avid movie lover and children’s book fanatic!


photo of shannaShanna Goins

San Jacinto Sea Turtles Teacher (Toddlers)

Favorite Book: The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn

I have worked in early childhood education since 2001. In college I interned at Disney World (sooooo fun) and worked as a DJ. I graduated from Texas State University in May of 2006 with a BA in Mass Communication and a minor in Family and Child Development. I knew from a young age that working with children was my calling. I have worked with children of all ages, but I really enjoy the toddler years the most. Children at this age are little sponges and I love helping them discover new things and seeing the excitement in their eyes when they accomplish something for the first time!


photo of susanSusan Klein

Curriculum Coordinator

Favorite Children’s Book: Susan loves children’s books and has a very extensive collection. She cannot pick just one favorite. But some of her favorite authors include Patricia Polacco, Don & Audrey Woods, and Shel Silverstein.

We are fortunate to have such an experienced person work with us as our Curriculum and Training Coordinator. Susan’s career has been dedicated to improving the quality of life for children and their families for more than 30 years. She holds a M.Ed. in Early Childhood Special Education and has been a teacher, director, mentor, consultant and validator for early childhood programs all across the United States. In the coordinator role Susan spends time at each of our locations to assist in providing guidance and inspiration in all aspects of our programs curriculum and staff training.

When not enjoying children and their families at the center she is enjoying her own family which includes a son (Ezra), daughter (Mardi) and many other children she and her husband have “adopted” from around the world.