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Get To Know Our Trainers!

Amy Musick, M.Ed., MS, CCHC
Managing Director of Early Care and Education
SMART Family Literacy

Amy holds advanced degrees in School Administration and Early Childhood Education. She is a nationally credentialed Child Care Director and an External Specialist for the Texas Infant and Toddler Specialist Network. As a TECPDS Registered Trainer, Certified Child Care Health Consultant, and 2022 recipient of the TXAEYC Susan Hargrave Trainer of the Year, she provides training, mentoring, and consultation services through SMART Family Literacy. She is also a facilitator with Texas Parks and Wildlife's Project WILD with credentials in Outdoor Learning Environments from North Carolina State University.

Amy is a certified teacher with credentials in 8-12 Life Science, Gifted and Talented Instruction, English as a Second Language, and Special Education experience. 

Elizabeth Turner
Founder and Executive Director
SMART Family Literacy

As the founder and Executive Director of SMART Family Literacy, Elizabeth originated SMART Parties twenty years ago to engage her son with Down's Syndrome in the excitement of reading aloud. From that idea, SMART Family Literacy emerged as a literacy outreach program reaching a large portion of Galveston County and is continuing to expand its positive impact.  With a continued dedication to literacy, healthy life choices, and supporting the dual language learner, Elizabeth is also a Texas Certified Teacher with a Special Education emphasis. Her musical approach to instructional techniques will help with behavior management strategies, cognitive goals, and language fun. 

Karen "KC" Weinand, MA

Education Program Coordinator

SMART Family Literacy

KC is a certified teacher with a Master's Degree from the Teacher's College at Columbia University. She is a native Spanish speaker with incredible translation abilities. As a TECPDS Registered Trainer, she provides professional development in both English and Spanish.

2024 Spring Conference Speakers

Diane Kaulen, Texas Children's Hospital

Diane is the Senior Community Initiative Coordinator for the Public Health Division at Texas Children’s Hospital. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Family Studies from Kent State University and her master’s degree in Education from the University of Houston Clear Lake. She is a Certified Child Life Specialist. She has a dedicated career in serving children and families facing adversities, including hospital treatment, teen parenting, mental health, foster care, and trauma. She works within communities to build coalitions and support networks around foster care and suicide prevention. She trains community partners around supporting children from traumatic backgrounds, early brain development, and a variety of other topics around childhood adversities.

Jessica Garza, MA, CCC-SLP

Texas Children's Hospital

Jessica is the Health Education Specialist for upWORDS in the Public Health Division at Texas Children’s Hospital. She educates families in both English and Spanish on early language and brain development. Her background as a speech therapist supports her role in upWORDS in informing parents about the importance of interactive talk for brain growth and stimulation. In addition, Jessica informs families about resources available to them should their child need early intervention. Being a parent herself and partaking in the upWORDS program, Jessica enjoys sharing her own experiences with families. She holds a Master's degree in the Science of Speech-Launguage Pathology from the University of Houston.

Andrea Rincones, Baylor College of Medicine

Andrea is an experienced and highly skilled Community Health Worker Instructor with over ten years of experience. Her work involves acting as a vital liaison between the community and healthcare professionals to improve the quality and cultural competence of services provided in Harris County. Andrea is known for her diplomatic approach and uses her extensive expertise to advocate for health equity and understanding. Her expertise has been utilized to educate and empower individuals across the state of Texas.  Currently, she serves as a Research Administration Specialist at Baylor College of Medicine, where she collaborates with leading healthcare professionals to implement a statewide tool called the Family CARE Portfolio. Andrea's role involves introducing the Family CARE Portfolio to different types of service providers across the state by providing education and resources. Her unwavering commitment to supporting families and professionals is a testament to her professionalism and expertise in the field.

Jaenikque "Kaye" Griggs, PT, DPT

Kaye has served children and families in various spaces for the past 25 years. She is a pediatric physical therapist with over 15 years of experience and co-owns a child care center in Southern Brazoria County with her family. Child development and advocacy for children with special needs are her passion. She is devoted to her family and enjoys spending time near the water with them the most.

Holly Barber, CCHC, TECPDS #13077

Holly Barber is the dedicated Executive Director and Founder of a Montessori-Inspired early childhood system nestled in Texas. With a rich tapestry of qualifications including being a Certified Child Care Health Consultant, TECPDS Registered Trainer, and Licensed Child Care Center Director of a TRS 4-Star Rated Program, she ensures excellence in early childhood education. Holly's journey spans from her impactful tenure as a classroom teacher in Alief and Pasadena ISD from 2008 to 2016, fostering thriving student and staff relationships. Beyond her professional pursuits, she cherishes her roles as a mother, grandmother, and devout follower of Jesus.

Claudia Thompson, Child Care Regulation Supervisor

Claudia has served as a supervisor with Child Care Regulation for the past three years. The four years prior were spent as a Child Care Regulation Inspector. She has a Bachelor's Degree in Sociology with a concentration in Family and Child Studies from McNeese State University. Her dedication revolves around safeguarding children in regulated child care where her mission is to prioritize their well-being and secure their future.

Norma Rojas, Depelchin Children's Center

Norma Rojas joined DePelchin Children’s Center in June 2023 as the Help Me Grow Outreach Coordinator. Norma's duties encompass educating the community on child development subjects and spearheading outreach initiatives for Help Me Grow. With over a decade of experience, she has engaged with caregivers and their families in diverse roles, such as facilitating parent education on positive discipline and parent-child interactions, serving as a therapist for children with autism spectrum disorder, and offering support and advocacy for refugees. Her passion includes improving services for families and enhancing community awareness about child development for future generations.

Dr. Virginia Niebuhr, UTMB Pediatric Psychology

Dr. Niebuhr has many years of experience in diagnosing Autism, as well as helping families to navigate the journey of this diagnosis. She has worked as a school psychologist as well as a consultant for Early Childhood Intervention (ECI) and Head Start.

Diana M. Vila, Texas ITSN

Diana M. Avila is an ITSN internal specialist at the Children’s Learning Institute with the University of Texas Health Science at Houston and has worked in education as a teacher, trainer, coordinator, and coach for over 20 years. She has worked on many projects, including Infant and Toddler Birth to Three, HHFF (Premie PALS Parent Education), EHS (Early Head Start Projects), Supporting Sprouts, ENRICH, ENABLE, TXKEA & TSR assessor, and is a certified PALS trainer and coach. She holds a degree in Early Childhood Education and a Minor in Bilingual Communication from UH.

Florinda Davis, TECPDS #34642

Florinda has many years of experience in education, having served in roles ranging from Classroom Teacher, Program Manager, and Professional Development Specialist. Her expertise and dedication to supporting teachers is always present in her work and professional relationships. Florinda owns her own educational consulting business, Davis Learning & Professional Services, providing excellent support in meeting organizational goals and program planning.

Lauren Simmons, Save the Children

Lauren Simmons, Climate and Education Advisor at Save the Children US, first fell in love with early childhood education the moment she first stepped foot in a Head Start classroom as a volunteer almost two decades ago. She transformed her passion into a career co-creating innovative programs alongside caregivers and educators who nurture the whole child. Her approach, grounded in joyful practicality, seeks to ensure every child has the foundation to flourish regardless of what the future may hold for them. An alumna of the Harvard Graduate School of Education and based in Washington, D.C., Lauren’s commitment to the field is as personal as it is professional. She draws daily inspiration from her own two young children, striving to ensure every child's potential can be realized.

Jeanine Wilburn, Alvin Community College

A passionate advocate for children’s development with 30 years of experience in education and community outreach. Her dedication to championing children’s well-being has been evident throughout her career, whether she’s teaching child development classes at the college, facilitating parent education sessions in the community, or sharing her favorite book with young readers. Jeanine is committed to empowering both children and adults to create nurturing environments that support growth and learning.

Dr. Elizabeth Beavers - University of Houston Clear Lake -Assistant Professor of Special Education.

Elizabeth Beavers, Ph.D. has over 30 years of experience teaching and working with school systems, preschools, and Head Starts in the fields of early childhood and early childhood special education/early intervention. She has served as a classroom teacher, a program coordinator, a consultant/coach, a mentor, and teacher educator. She has extensive experience providing personalized guidance aimed at empowering individuals ranging in roles from school boards to classroom teachers. Elizabeth is an Associate Professor at the University of Houston-Clear Lake where she co-chairs a New Teacher Mentoring Collaborative and chairs the Special Education program. Her research is focused on inclusive practices, emotional aspects of teaching and learning, and effective instructional decision-making. Elizabeth is an advocate for inclusive, individually, and developmentally appropriate early learning experiences and nurturing the competence and confidence of teachers.

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