SEL Team

 

Meet the SEL Team

Main Number: (512) 414-9791

SEL DIRECTOR
Pete Price / (512) 414-8728 / peter.price@austinisd.org
Pete taught social studies and coached multiple sports at middle schools in New Hampshire, Belgium, and Austin for ten years. He has served as a campus administrator for 24 years, the past 17 as the principal of O. Henry Middle School in AISD. After observing the student benefits from a whole child focus for his entire career, he became a passionate advocate for SEL since AISD partnered with CASEL in 2011. He was named Director of SEL in July 2016.

SEL ASSISTANT DIRECTOR
Caroline Chase / (512) 414-9690 / caroline.chase@austinisd.org
Caroline taught high school English and Communication Skills for eight years, middle and high school students in residential treatment for two years, and middle school self- contained social behavioral skills for six years. She also served for five years as a Special Education Behavior Specialist. She joined the SEL Department in July, 2011, and serves as SEL curriculum writer, ALC specialist, School-Connect specialist, and team lead.


SEL COMMUNICATIONS SPECIALIST
Victoria Birkeland / 512.414.0872 / victoria.birkeland@austinisd.org
Victoria joined the Social and Emotional Learning team in the spring of 2017. Before that, she worked in the private sector for over ten years gaining experience in marketing, communications and public relations.


SEL MINDFULNESS SPECIALIST
James Butler / james.butler@austinisd.org

James has 14 years of teaching experience, mostly in Pre-K and K; here in Austin he's taught at Winn, Barbara Jordan, T.A. Brown and most recently at Gullett Elementary. In 2009, James volunteered as a HS English and Math teacher at Mangetti Combined School in Namibia. In 2014, James was named Austin ISD Teacher of the Year. He recently wrote a mindfulness curriculum for elementary schools called Mindful Classrooms: The Educator Guide. It's being used in over 60 schools and camps in six states. He joined the SEL team in July 2016 as the Mindfulness Specialist for AISD.


SEL SPECIALISTS
Angela Bailey / angela.bailey@austinisd.org

Angela taught First Grade and SCORES / Special Education for eight years at Boone Elementary. In her position as a SCORES/ Special Education teacher, Angela taught explicit social and emotional skills to students with an educational designation of Autism or Emotional Disturbance. She joined the SEL Department in July, 2013, and is the McCallum Vertical Team elementary specialist.

Aleza Sitarz / aleza.sitarz@austinisd.org
Aleza taught Second Step lessons at Pickle, Zavala and Blackshear Elementary Schools in Austin I.S.D. for three years with LifeWorks and led parent activities and adult training on SEL. Previously, she taught English in Thailand. She joined the SEL Department in July, 2012, and serves as the elementary specialist for the LBJ Vertical Team as well as Guerrero Thompson, Lucy Read PK Center, Padron, and Wooten.

Alonzo Blankenship / alonzo.blankenship@austinisd.org
Alonzo empowered students, families and staff as a band director and teacher leader at Garcia YMLA and Webb Middle School for five years. He is a proud graduate of the UT Principalship Program, where his action research focused on deeper learning in the classroom through culturally responsive teaching. He joined the SEL team in August 2016, and supports the Reagan vertical team elementary schools, the Eastside Memorial Vertical Team secondary schools, International High School, the Alternative Learning Center and the Travis County Detention Center. 

Darla Caughey / darla.caughey@austinisd.org
Darla worked in Austin I.S.D. for the last four years as an Art Specialist integrating social and emotional learning as tools for creative expression. Prior to teaching in Austin I.S.D. Darla taught Art, and First/ Second Grade Multi-age in the Dallas area for 13 years. She joined the SEL Department in July, 2013, and supports the Bowie Vertical team as well as Casey, Kocurek, and Menchaca as the elementary specialist.

Theresa Garcia / theresa.garcia@austinisd.org
Theresa has 15 years of teaching and consulting experience in the public and private sector, primarily in early childhood education. Here in Austin she's taught at Walnut Creek and most recently Blazier Elementary. Her Montessori training greatly influences her work in social and emotional learning and peace education. Theresa joined the SEL Department in August 2016, and supports the Eastside Memorial Vertical Team elementary schools as well as Cook, McBee, and Wooldridge elementary schools.

Emily Hoaldridge-Dopkins / emily.hoaldridge-dopkins@austinisd.org
Emily taught first and second grade in East Harlem, NYC for the past 8 years. She specialized in educating students with the educational designation of Autism or Emotional Disturbance within an inclusion classroom setting. Emily is featured in Daniel Goleman's book Focus: The Hidden Driver of Excellence, where her school and classroom implementation of mindfulness is highlighted. She joined the SEL Department in February, 2016, and coaches the Crockett Vertical Team as the elementary specialist.

Jason Littlefield / jason.littlefield@austinisd.org
Jason taught high school social studies for ten years in Houston, Fort Worth and Bastrop. Prior to joining the SEL team he also served as a high school assistant principal and has coached football, baseball and powerlifting. Jason has also worked in schools in Taiwan, China and Benin, Africa. He joined the SEL Department in July of 2014 and coaches the Lanier and Akins Vertical Team as well as Gorzycki Middle School as a secondary specialist.

Katie O'Neil / katie.oneil@austinisd.org
In her five year teaching career before joining the SEL Team, Katie taught Theatre Arts, Science, and AVID at two A.I.S.D. middle school campuses. Before entering education, Katie led groups for young people addressing social / emotional well-being and healthy choices through the YWCA of Greater Austin, LifeWorks, SafePlace and other area nonprofits.​ She joined SEL in July 2014, and is the secondary specialist for the Travis and McCallum Vertical Teams.

Hilary Simon / hilary.simon@austinisd.org
Hilary supported students, educators, and families as an Autism Specialist and Behavior Analyst for eight years, both within Austin I.S.D. and the private sector. Before that, she taught elementary general and special education students for seven years in Austin and surrounding areas. Hilary joined the SEL Department in July 2014, and supports the Reagan Vertical Team as well as Clifton, Bailey Middle School and Bowie High School as the secondary specialist.

Sarah E. Stone, LMSW / sarah.e.stone@austinisd.org
Sarah is a proud graduate from Austin I.S.D. schools. She worked with Austin Voices and Communities in Schools for 12 years prior to this position. Sarah has a special interest in drop out prevention and creating student-centered schools. She joined the SEL Department in July, 2013, and coaches the Austin High Vertical Team, Crockett Vertical Team, and Ann Richards School as the secondary specialist.

Lynne Unruh / lynne.unruh@austinisd.org
Lynne was a special education teacher in Amarillo ISD for nine years, and a middle school counselor for three. Lynne worked for the last three years as a School Counselor at Casis Elementary. Lynne joined the SEL Department in July of 2014 and supports the Anderson and Austin Vertical Teams as the elementary specialist.


LEAD MAPS INSTRUCTOR
R. Keeth Matheny / (512) 841-7921 / rudolph.matheny@austinisd.org
Keeth teaches at Austin High and helps support the district's SEL MAPS course. He is a frequent speaker and keynote and has worked with many high schools starting SEL programs. He is the co-author of School-Connect, a high school SEL curriculum in over 1800 schools and being implemented in AISD. Keeth won the National Dropout Prevention Center's 2015 Crystal Star Award for Excellence.


ADMINISTRATIVE ASSISTANT
Dawn Goodman / (512) 414-9791 / dawn.goodman@austinisd.org
Dawn has worked for Austin I.S.D. for 17 years. She has worked with the Math Department and with Technology. Dawn joined the SEL Department in August, 2012, and supports the entire SEL team.