Administration & Staff

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Head of School

MEd, Loyola University Maryland
BA, Boston College
AMI Elementary Diploma, Washington DC
AMI Primary Diploma, San Diego, CA

27 years' experience in education;
joined The Post Oak School in 2016.

Maura Joyce comes to Post Oak in the summer of 2016 after serving as head of school at Montessori in Redlands (California) since July 2000. She holds AMI diplomas at both the Primary (3–6) and Elementary (6–12) levels, a master's degree in education from Loyola College, and a bachelor's degree from Boston College. Maura has ten years of classroom teaching experience at the Elementary and Adolescent levels. She has been a featured presenter for both AMI/USA and NAMTA and has also lectured at various Montessori schools around the country and the Montessori Institute of San Diego, where she has also been an examiner for AMI. Maura served on the board of the Montessori Administrators Association for eight years and is the parent of a Montessori student, who attends Post Oak's High School. A native of New York, Maura came to Houston with her husband and son to become part of the Post Oak community and to be closer to her husband's family, who has been in Houston since 1978.

Division Directors

MEd, Loyola University Maryland
BA, University of Sri Lanka School of Music
AMI Primary Diploma, Sri Lanka
AMI Primary Auxiliary Trainer

34 years' experience in education;
joined The Post Oak School in 1992.

Mirani Smith earned her undergraduate degree and AMI Montessori credentials in her native country, Sri Lanka. She has taught in Montessori schools since 1978, and joined the Post Oak faculty in 1992. Since 2008, Mirani has been working in the capacity of Early Childhood Director. Mirani's daughter, a Post Oak alumna, graduated from Smith College in 2006. Mirani raises butterflies, enjoys spending time with her grandchildren, gardening, and cooking. She is an AMI Primary Auxiliary Trainer and is part of the faculty and staff of the Houston Montessori Institute.

BA, Southwestern University
MEd, University of Texas
AMI Elementary Diploma, Vancouver, BC, Canada

26 years' experience in education;
joined The Post Oak School in 2004.

Jeff Schneider began his career in education teaching first grade in the Texas public school system. After observing the wonderful work his own children were doing in their Montessori classrooms, he completed the AMI Elementary training and worked for six years as a Montessori Lower Elementary teacher. He has a degree in psychology, a Texas teaching certificate, an MEd from the University of Texas, and an AMI Elementary diploma. He has special interests in children's play, play environments, and early literacy. Jeff also enjoys working on his old house and growing vegetables. His three children are Post Oak alumni.

BS, University of Kansas
MEd, Early Childhood Special Education, University of Kansas
MEd, Low Incidence Disabilities, University of Kansas
AMI Primary Montessori Certification, Kansas City, Missouri
AMI Elementary Montessori Certification, Vancouver, British Columbia

26 years' experience in education;
joined The Post Oak School in 2013.

Jami Sweeney joined The Post Oak School as the media specialist in August 2013. Previously, he was the head of school at City Garden Montessori Charter School in St. Louis, Missouri. Jami has also taught various topics in the sciences at the junior high and high school level and was a lower elementary guide in Lawrence, Kansas. His wife Sarah is an Episcopal priest and trains chaplains at St. Luke's Houston. They have three children, two of whom attend TCU in Ft. Worth, and the youngest, who is a Lower Elementary student at Post Oak.

BA, University of Minnesota
MEd, Loyola University Maryland
AMI Primary Diploma, St. Paul, MN
NAMTA Adolescent Studies, Cleveland, OH

21 years' experience in education;
joined The Post Oak School in 2010.

James Moudry joined Post Oak School in 2010. Prior to that, he served as the director of administrative affairs at Montessori High School at University Circle in Cleveland, Ohio. James has worked in Montessori adolescent programs since 1999 as a teacher, program coordinator, administrator, and soccer coach. He has presented at the North American Montessori Teachers Association's Montessori Orientation to Adolescent Studies and has spoken on program design and community-centered education nationally and internationally. He is dedicated to Montessori education, and he and his wife (also Montessori trained) have three children. James attributes his decision to work in Montessori education to his parents who sent him and his brother to Montessori school through middle school.

James has a master's degree in Montessori education, holds the AMI Primary Diploma, and a BA in mathematics, philosophy, and psychology. James enjoys home renovations and snow. His three children attend The Post Oak School.

BA, University of Florida
MS, Florida International University
AMI Primary Diploma, Austin, TX

24 years' experience in education;
joined The Post Oak School in 2000.

Miriam Winton was born and raised in Miami, Florida. She received her BA in education from the University of Florida, and earned her MEd from Florida International University. Miriam began her teaching career in public schools and was first introduced to Montessori education when she came to Post Oak as a substitute teacher in 1997. Miriam worked as an assistant at the Primary level for two years while taking her Montessori teacher’s training and received her AMI Primary diploma in August 2000. Miriam was a Primary teacher for 16 years and also directed Post Oak's summer program since 2003. In 2016, she began her new role as auxiliary programs director. Miriam enjoys traveling, cooking, and reading about nutrition and health in her free time. She is also an enthusiastic Houston Dynamo soccer fan.

Front Office

BS, Southwest Texas State University

28 years' experience in administration;
joined The Post Oak School in 1996.

Debbie Henderson, Museum District Campus administrator, came to Post Oak in 1996 after working in banking for seven years. She has a BS in home economics with a minor in business administration. She and her husband have two sons. When not at work, she enjoys spending time with her family, fishing, and playing games. When she gets "alone time" she loves to curl up with a good book.

Joined The Post Oak School in 2016.

Bethany Garrett joined The Post Oak School in 2016. She works closely with Post Oak parents and staff facilitating communication throughout the office. She is currently working on going back to school to get a degree in education. Before coming to Post Oak, Bethany coached and taught swimming for six years. She enjoys spending time with her family and dogs, cooking, and visiting the museums in her free time.


BA, University of Texas at Austin
MEd, St. Catherine University

15 years' experience in admissions;
joined The Post Oak School in 2007.

Vivian Blum, originally from New York, came to Texas just as fast as she could! Vivian received a B.A. in History from The University of Texas at Austin. She earned her AMI primary diploma from the Montessori Training Center of St. Louis and her MEd through St. Catherine University in St. Paul, Minnesota. Vivian and her husband have two daughters, one son-in-law, a grandson, a cute West Highland white terrier, and little tan poodle. In her spare time, Vivian enjoys crocheting blankets for her grandson.

MA, University of Houston
BA, Prairie View A&M

Joined The Post Oak School in 2017.

Endira Hawkins is a native Houstonian. She received her BA in communications from Prairie View A&M University, and earned her MA in mass communication/public relations from the University of Houston. Prior to joining Post Oak, Endira worked for four years in production and media operations for FOX Sports Network, served as a full-time communications instructor at Prairie View A&M University for two years, and provided non-profit management consultation to local organizations for the past five years.

Endira enjoys volunteering with the Junior League of The Woodlands, where she serves on the Board of Directors for the second year. She also enjoys attending sorority functions, reading, watching ESPN, summering in Charleston, and blogging about New York, Paris, and London Fashion Week. Her passion to combat food insecurity and to protect our most vulnerable drive her philanthropic endeavors.

BA, Stephen F. Austin State University

4 years' experience in administration;
joined The Post Oak School in 2016.

Ceirro Robinson joined the admission team at The Post Oak School in 2016 and works as the registrar. She moved to Texas from Monroe, Louisiana, as a child. In 2011, she moved to Houston after receiving her with her BA in human development and family studies from Stephen F. Austin State University, where she interned and worked for non-profit, low-income organizations such as the Head Start program. In Houston, Ceirro followed her passion for supporting children and families and was introduced to the Montessori philosophy. She worked in a Montessori primary classroom for three years before aspiring to earn her Texas Director’s License and National Administrator credentials in 2015. She transitioned to working in school administration as an after-school director.

In her spare time, Ceirro loves to travel, volunteer with her church, and create DIY home projects. She is very much connected to her native Louisiana roots and often visits her family there, cheers along the New Orleans’s Saint football team, and loves cooking her favorite Cajun seafood dishes!

Business Office

BS, Miami University

Joined The Post Oak School in 2016.

Kelly Vaughn joined The Post Oak School in May of 2016.

BSc(Eco), Bahria University
MBA, Institute of Business Management

8 years' experience in accounting and finance;
joined The Post Oak School in 2017.

Murad Mahmood, AP/AR specialist, came to The Post Oak School in 2017. Murad has a bachelor's in economics and a master’s in business administration. He is a certified Information System Auditor and has his certification in AutoCAD I & AutoCAD II, along with extensive experience in financial accounting.

Murad and his wife, Lower Elementary teacher Anita Taj, have a daughter at Post Oak. When not at work, he enjoys engaging in outdoor activities, spending time with his family, home renovations, and loves going on road trips.

Information Technology

BA, University of Houston
BBA, University of Houston

22 years' experience in education;
joined The Post Oak School in 1997.

Mirna Andrade-Salgado joined Post Oak in the summer of 1997 as a Lower Elementary classroom assistant. The following year she became Post Oak's first technology director, using her university training in Management Information Systems. Before coming to Post Oak, Mirna taught Spanish with the Continuing Education department at the University of Houston using the Accelerated Language Method. She has been teaching both adults and children since 1995. She is the mother of four children. She enjoys spending time with her family, reading, using computers, and playing volleyball and soccer.

MED, California University of Pennsylvania
BA, Seton Hill University

8 years' experience in information technology;
joined The Post Oak School in 2017.

Renée Hawk joined The Post Oak School in the fall of 2017. She has held diverse roles in education and technology since 1997, has a MEd in math and computer science, and a BA in psychology. Past experiences include work with California State University Bakersfield, Rice University, and on IT projects/public education campaigns in Washington, D.C. She has special interests in emerging technologies, environmental stewardship, and youth leadership. She is the mother of three middle and high school students and raised them in a Montessori home.

BA, University of Houston

9 years' experience in technology;
joined The Post Oak School in 2016.

Elvyn Mendez joined The Post Oak School in late 2016. He was born, raised, and has lived in Houston, Texas, all his life. He has been in the technology field for more than eight years supporting users in the education and legal fields. He worked for Houston Independent School District, Stafford Municipal School District, and various law offices. Elvyn recently graduated from the University of Houston and is continuing his education and certifications in the technology field. He likes to play soccer and baseball, and roots for the Houston Astros, Houston Dynamo, Houston Rockets, and Real Madrid. Elvyn also loves playing musical instruments.

Development Office

BFA, University of Houston

18 years' experience in fundraising;
joined The Post Oak School in 2005.

Christina Kopanidis-Cantu started at The Post Oak School as the development director in June 2005. Previously, Christina worked for five years at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, as the senior annual giving manager. Additionally, Christina worked at the small software-development company Rosetta, Inc. as a graphic artist for computer games. She holds a BFA from the University of Houston with a concentration in sculpture. She and her husband own a small postal and shipping business, and they have two sons at Post Oak.

BFA, The University of Texas at Austin

26 years' experience in communications design;
joined The Post Oak School in 2011.

Elaine Schweizer returned to the school in 2015 after two years away. She works diligently behind the scenes creating invitations, handbooks, and other communications materials, such as the monthly school newsletter, The Post. She can also be found behind a camera at many school events and in the classrooms. Elaine lived in Switzerland and Australia for 12 years before unexpectedly relocating to her hometown of Houston while on a round-the-world trip. In her spare time, she likes to take even more photos, go on walks with her husband, and hug her bobtail cat. She hopes to one day complete that trip with stops in Hawaii and New Zealand.

BA, Rice University

3 years' experience in development;
joined The Post Oak School in 2016.

Lucia Cerritos joined The Post Oak School in 2016. She grew up in Houston, Texas, and received her BA in art history and Spanish from Rice University. Before coming to Post Oak, she worked at the Houston Maritime Museum and the Asia Society Texas Center. She enjoys spending time with family and her two dogs, and visiting museums and historic homes. She also loves going on road trips throughout Texas to explore the landscape and history of her home state.

Facilities & Maintenance

(Lee College)

23 years' experience in commercial maintenance and repair;
joined The Post Oak School in 2010.

Matt Thompson joined The Post Oak School as facilities manager in 2010, becoming facilities director in 2016. He handles routine maintenance, repair, and renovation of Post Oak's facilities and its key systems. He directs the maintenance department as well as assorted contractors and acts as the liaison to city health and safety inspectors.

Matt served for 11 years in the United States Navy, and is well-versed in repair, maintenance, and retrofit of HVAC systems, as well as marine propulsion and auxiliary and emergency power generation. He is a State of Texas registered a/c technician and has the EPA Universal CFC certification.

In his downtime, Matt enjoys spending time with his wife and daughters and likes fishing, boating, camping, and hunting.

28 years' experience in maintenance;
joined The Post Oak School in 1985.

Manuel Mejia has worked at The Post Oak School since 1985, making him Post Oak's longest-serving employee. He is the chief custodian.


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