Our School Staff and Faculty
Jennifer Garcia - Director
Jennifer Garcia was born and raised in Houston and attended the University of Houston where she earned a Bachelor's of Arts in Journalism. She minored in Advertising and studied Dance and Education, as well. During university, she worked part-time as an assistant teacher for a 3-6-year-old class at a Montessori preschool. There, her passion for education with a hands-on approach and the freedom to let children learn through their environment, ignited. Thus, she worked toward her Montessori training and obtained a Texas Teacher's Certification for Early Childhood through 4th Grade for English as a Second Language.
She later taught for 6 months as Pre-K teacher in a more traditional school setting before being asked to take on a new role as Director. After 3 years managing a preschool set on preparing children for a testing-based education, Jennifer wanted to be a part of something seemingly revolutionary. She worked diligently to open Heights Green School, a preschool with an emphasis on nature, healthy and school-grown foods, and detail to caring for and experiencing our environment early on. During her research, she was introduced to Bayou Village School, her first experience with a Waldorf-inspired education. She was going through the adoption process for her then 3-year-old son and couldn't have been happier to find a place where children could be themselves and enjoy the carefree wonders of childhood and the world around them.
Jennifer loves spending time with her family, the great outdoors, traveling, running and doing Crossfit. She practices yoga often and is a certified Vinyasa instructor. She has a Director's certificate through Texas Childcare Licensing.
Colleen Payne - Assistant Director and First Grade Teacher
Colleen Payne studied Education at the University of Houston and has a Montessori Teaching Certificate. She has spent the past 12 years in the classroom. Her teaching position since 2004 has been as a primary teacher for 3-6 year olds at Montessori Country Day School. Colleen looks forward to continuing the journey with children who are entering the elementary grades years. She expanded her experience with children through motherhood, after adopting and homeschooling a then 7-year old daughter, Rebecca, who has been home for three years. Colleen has been in contact with us since we opened Bayou Village School and has attended several speaker events we organized. She has educated herself over the years about Waldorf Education and is eager to make the switch! She attended an online summer course on Waldorf 1st Grade with Waldorf Educator Eugene Schwartz. Colleen is also very skilled and experienced with effectively communicating school values and culture to parents, organizing and teaching parent educational events, writing newsletters, keeping up a website, etc.
Bonnie Keehnen - Sunflower Garden Class Teacher
Bonnie is the lead teacher for this class of our youngest school community members! Before joining Bayou Village School, Bonnie has been a highly sought after nanny of multiples. She is someone who connects very well with young children. Bonnie has attended a Waldorf Early Childhood teacher training course at Sunbridge Institute.
Michelle Seymour - Kindergarten Teacher
Michelle lives in Norhill Heights in Houston, with her family. She holds a BS with honors from Texas State University in Geography with teaching concentration and a minor in Anthropology. Before becoming a teacher, she performed throughout Texas as a professional fairy, dancer, and fire performer. An avid practitioner of yoga, she also began working with aerial silks, trapeze, and aerial hoop a year ago. As a certified secondary school teacher, she has worked in preschools, high schools, and tutoring facilities as a mentor, teacher, and aide. Michelle's journey through schooling her own children has included homeschooling, public schooling, unschooling, Montessori, cooperative education, special education, and private instruction. She appreciates the focus on natural rhythms and the child centered approach of Waldorf education. A tradition of handwork, baking, and craft, plus a focus on sustainable and healthy living also draw her to this mode of instruction. She enjoys the close bonds formed with her students and delights in their imaginative play. Interested in continuing to grow as a teacher, she is pursuing post graduate education and possibly including Waldorf teacher training and Special Education certification.
Michelle Garces - Grades 2-3 Teacher, Spanish Teacher
Michelle Garces has a B.A. in Political Science with a Minor in Mexican American Studies. This past year she worked at Baker-Ripley Promise Community School, a Charter School for Immigrant children in the Sharpstown Area. She was in charge of a multi-age, multi-level classroom of Kindergarten, 1st and 2nd grade refugee students, who mostly did not speak English at the beginning of the school year. Michelle has also worked in the nursery at Ecclesia church and has learned a lot about Waldorf education from some of the founding parents of the Bayou Village School community. She has been commended on being able to work well with many different age groups and on being flexile and able to seek out and implement advice when needed. Michelle is eager to embrace and learn more about Waldorf education. She recently attended a 3-day training course on 3rd grade with Waldorf educator Eugene Schwartz.
Claire Sendejas - Grades 4-6 Teacher
Claire Gabrielle Sendejas has a Master’s degree in Waldorf Education from Antioch University of New England, where she studied Waldorf Education as well as Integrated Learning, and a Bachelor’s degree in Literary Studies from the University of Houston. She is constantly inspired and excited by the Waldorf Curriculum and the vast knowledge and wisdom it has brought to her personal life. She takes great delight in helping children express themselves through artistic creativity, as well as guiding children to appreciate and love our earth and all of its creatures. Claire enjoys being in nature, practicing yoga, and writing poetry.