Our Staff

Karen Liston – Owls Classrom


Karen is entering her second year here at St. Michael’s Episcopal Day School. Certified to teach Early Childhood to Grade 4, she has been teaching as a long-term substitute at the elementary level for a number of years. This experience has allowed her the opportunity to observe and guide child development at many ages and stages. Karen graduated from The University of Texas at Austin with a B.S. in Advertising. She went on to spend several years in the retail advertising arena in Illinois, her home state. She returned to Austin and her alma mater to work in continuing education, developing professional education programs in advertising, marketing and public relations. Because of her love of children, she also developed and implemented summer educational camps for youth from elementary through high school.
Karen’s family says that she was born to teach. She frequently would spend the evenings teaching her younger brother everything she had learned at school that day. When not in the classroom, Karen loves to create in the craft world, walk her three dogs, and, along with her husband, watch her teenage sons excel at their passions.



Cathy Lovelady – Lambs Classroom

CathyCathy Lovelady has worked with children for more than thirty years as a teacher, counselor, director, mother, and grandmother. She has spent the last several years as the owner and director of a Reggio-inspired school. One of her first teaching positions was at St. George’s Episcopal School where she taught the three and four year olds class. She enjoys writing, puppetry, and spending time with her husband John and her dog Lady.



Melody Ito – Lambs Classroom


Melody Ito taught preschool aged children overseas for two years at Kanagawa International School in Japan, in addition to years of experience as a Sunday School teacher. She also directed an ESL (English as a Second Language) camp for kids while overseas, and tutored ESL privately to elementary school students.
Outside the classroom, Melody is living life as a college student and pursuing a degree in Early Childhood. Her favorite part about teaching children is when they get that “aha” moment and discover and capture a new idea. She also loves to play music, paint, and cuddle with kittens!



Joanie Anderson – Puppies Classroom


Joan was born and raised nearby in San Marcos, and rejoins our team this year after working at First United Methodist Day School last year. After graduating from Hill Country Christian School, she went on to dance pre-professionally with the company Ballet Magnificat!, for two years in Jackson, Mississippi. Joan then spent a year working abroad at a girls’ home in Bangalore, India and instructed ballet there as well, designing children’s choreography for a local studio. Joan is excited to enrich the community and curriculum by utilizing her Fine Arts expertise. Joan is always busy exploring with all types of art, and she creates intricate and engaging sensory activities. As Joan is currently the After School teacher here at St Michaels, she is lucky enough to work with all the ages present on campus.
Outside of teaching, Joan can usually be found slack lining all over the country. Joan also loves music and can often be heard singing or playing her guitar through the hallways.


Amanda Williams – Puppies Classroom

eI am a recent graduate from Central Michigan University earning a bachelor’s degree in Child Development and Family Studies. Born and raised in Cheboygan, a northern Michigan town has given me a great sense of community. My college experience has allowed me to gain years of expertise by working in multiple family/child development centers working with infants, toddlers and pre-school aged children, pregnancy centers, and youth crisis centers. I 
enjoy creating games, activities and facilitate small groups that will allow the children to explore and create their own direction. 
In my free time I enjoy outdoor activities such as kayaking, running, swimming and playing volleyball. Reading, traveling and spending quality time with my family and friends are just a few of my passions. Joining the St.Michael’s team is such a blessing and I am committed to creating positive relationships with each child, each parent and staff at St. Michael’s.

Noel Swartz – Ducklings Classroom


Noel spent 3 years studying International Education with an emphasis in African Studies, as well as Nonprofit Administration. She is currently completing the final year of her degree in Elementary Education at Grand Canyon University. Over the last 8 years she has taught children, from birth to high school, in the Pacific Northwest, and across 5 continents (primarily in Africa); she is now establishing roots in Texas. Ms. Noel is bilingual in English and Swahili, as is currently attempting to learn Spanish. Noel is passionate about her work with children because they bring such a joy and fresh enthusiasm to each new day. In her free time she loves to read and do yoga with her terrier Mowgli.



Emelyn Mizelle – Ducklings Classroom


Emmy is a graduate from the University of San Francisco holding a BA in Performing Arts and Social Justice with a concentration in Theater. Emmy has been teaching in some form for most of her life, ranging from teaching theatre conservatories to teaching performing arts classes in SF Jail #5. Previous to St. Michaels, Emmy was a Lead Teacher at Growing Tree Learning Center, working with both two and four year olds. Her love for teaching stemmed from her mother, who directed a Reggio Emilia inspired nursery school in California for over fifteen years. Watching her mom, she has learned to love unconditionally, have patience, and always meet the individual child’s needs. Emmy hopes to fill her classroom with songs, play, and a sense of wonder. She feels a true connection with the mission and values presented at St. Michaels, and she is very much looking forward to engaging with and exploring the Reggio philosophy.
In her spare time, Emmy enjoys hanging with her husband and two dogs. Missing the NorCal mountains, she loves to find hiking trails and camping spots in and around Austin. Another passion she got from her mother, was her love for time spent in the kitchen! Although an amateur for sure, she still loves to bake and cook for herself and her friends.



Peyton LaCook – Resource Teacher


Peyton is part of the St Michaels community as both a parent and a teacher. Peyton brings 3 years of experience teaching in a similar play-based preschool programs. She and her husband recently relocated from San Marcos, and she comes to us from First United Methodist Day School – where she worked primarily in the Two year old classroom and also the 12-18month room. Peyton works as a renaissance teacher here on campus, floating through the classrooms and always provides a friendly face for friends.
At home, Peyton is usually cooking up a storm in kitchen, and often brings in yummy baked creations. She enjoys spending time going on hikes with her family and dog, and is known to be an excellent fort-builder. 


Kristin Ferrell – Afternoon Enrichment & Atelierista 
gI am so thrilled to be joining the amazing educators here at St. Michael’s!
It has always been a dream of mine to work in a Reggio Emilia school, ever
since I was first educated on the philosophy at The University of Texas at
Austin where I earned my Bachelor’s Degree in Applied Learning and Human
Development.  I have been fortunate to work in both public and private school settings for nearly 20 years.  I have loved teaching all subjects but I am especially enthusiastic about teaching the fine arts including
visual/physical art, music, drama, and poetry.  It is my primary goal to
inspire children to find their inner artist as they develop confidence in
expressing themselves in their own unique way.  My husband and I are the
proud parents of our three and a half year old, Aria Marie, whom is also
excited to be joining the St. Michael’s family!  We look forward to getting
to know all of our awesome students and families!