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Cycle 1 Teaching Teams

Meet our Cycle 1 Teaching Teams

 

Petite Section (Pre-K3) - Classe homologuée

Ms. Mina Slimi (French) began at AIS as a teaching assistant during our summer camp, and since 2010, has been working with our cycle 1 classes. Her teaching style reflects a background in Montessori education based on observing and guiding the child and using songs and play as teaching tools. Originally from Morocco, she appreciates the multicultural environment of this school. She previously worked as a lead teacher for 3 and 4 year olds at Rainbow Station, and lead teacher of toddlers at Cypress Creek Montessori School, both in Cedar Park, Texas. She enjoys cooking, walking, music and photography.

Ms. Monica Williams (English) joined our team as the PS/MS English teacher. Prior to AIS, Ms. Monica was a teaching team lead at Graham Elementary School in Austin and has over fifteen years of experience teaching from pre-kindergarten through second grade in elementary schools in Texas and Utah. She holds a Master of Education degree in Elementary Education and a Bachelor of Science degree in both Family and Consumer Sciences and Early Childhood Education. As the recipient of the Teacher of Promise award, Monica has been dedicated to highly engaging teaching throughout her career.

Ms. Wilnelia Iglesias (Spanish), originally from Puerto Rico, joined AIS as the PS/MS Spanish teacher. Wilnelia has taught in pre-kindergarten and elementary school programs in both Texas and Puerto Rico for well over a decade, and has extensive experience in the development of material and methodologies to engage students in their learning. She holds a Master of Science degree in Counseling and Mental Health, as well as a Bachelor Arts degree in Anthropology and Elementary Education.

Ms. Natalie Coqk (Assistant Teacher) joined AIS as an Assistant Teacher in PS. She has recently moved to Austin from Guadeloupe, where she has worked as a French/English bilingual educator in early childhood programs for the past six years; prior to this, she worked as an educator in Normandie, France. Natalie hold a Bachelor’s degree in French Language.

Ms. Amina Nciri (Assistant Teacher) joined our school in 2014, beginning her journey to assist PS students with their learning activities and daily routines. Her primary goal is to assist the children to grow and develop in the most interesting and loving environment possible. She completed her BA in French literature at Mohamed V University of Literature and Human Sciences in Rabat, Morocco and later completed an additional BA in Marketing and Communication. In 2013, she moved to Providence, Rhode Island to pursue a  Master’s in Global Business Leadership from Johnson and Wales University. Outside of school, Amina loves to spend time with her two daughters, cook, and go out to eat at ethnically diverse restaurants. Like many families at AIS, she also shares a passion of traveling and learning about new cultures.

Ms. Amanda McKenzie (Librarian) joined AIS in August 2018 as our bilingual English/French Librarian. Prior to moving to Austin, Amanda worked as the Head Librarian and social studies teacher for students in Kindergarten through Middle School at The W.I.D.E. School in Houston. She also worked as a librarian at the Awty International School and the Holocaust Museum of Houston. In addition to her duties as a librarian, Amanda has experience creating and implementing a project-based curriculum for library skills. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Art History and a Master of Science in Library Science. Of note, Amanda also completed her elementary and middle school education in French in an overseas MLF school.
 

Moyenne Setction (Pre-K4) - Classe homologuée

Ms. Marion Bigache (French) is from Lille, a city in northern France. In 2007, she decided to move from France to experience another country and another school. She had no plans of staying, but she enjoyed it so much that after nearly a decade, she is still here. She likes the mix of cultures, languages, and personalities which she lives with every day at AIS and in her family as well. Her husband is half Ecuadorian and half American, and their daughter is learning to speak French, Spanish, and English. Marion likes living in Austin and she loves teaching at AIS and working with children, as it is so rich and fulfilling. She graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Math at the University of Lille, but she has always wanted to teach for as long as she can remember. She narrowed her choice of teaching to primary school after working with young children during summer camps and for private lessons. She obtained her teaching certification in France in 2001. Since then, she taught for 6 years in different schools in France, mostly in preschool and kindergarten. She has taught for the last nine years at AIS and she is very pleased to start her tenth year with the AIS community this year.

Ms. Monica Williams (English) joined our team as the PS/MS English teacher. Prior to AIS, Ms. Monica was a teaching team lead at Graham Elementary School in Austin and has over fifteen years of experience teaching from pre-kindergarten through second grade in elementary schools in Texas and Utah. She holds a Master of Education degree in Elementary Education and a Bachelor of Science degree in both Family and Consumer Sciences and Early Childhood Education. As the recipient of the Teacher of Promise award, Monica has been dedicated to highly engaging teaching throughout her career.

Ms. Wilnelia Iglesias (Spanish), originally from Puerto Rico, joined AIS as the PS/MS Spanish teacher. Wilnelia has taught in pre-kindergarten and elementary school programs in both Texas and Puerto Rico for well over a decade, and has extensive experience in the development of material and methodologies to engage students in their learning. She holds a Master of Science degree in Counseling and Mental Health, as well as a Bachelor Arts degree in Anthropology and Elementary Education.

Ms. Lydie Hamard (Assistant Teacher) is an enthusiastic and devoted teacher of French who has over two decades of experience working with students in different educational contexts, including those with special educational needs. She has worked with children of many ages, with a particular focus on French language acquisition. Also very importantly, she has worked with students of many different nationalities and cultural backgrounds throughout her career. Ms. Lydie is a native of France and has a passion for sports and gardening, which she enjoys sharing with her students. She completed her educational training in Caen, France and since arriving in Austin only a few years ago, she has clocked many hours of continuing professional education -- truly the sign of a lifelong learner! We are very excited for her to bring her expertise to the AIS teaching team.

Ms. Houda Benchekroun (Assistant Teacher) was happy and excited to discover the school in 2006, and very much enjoys working at the school – a world of diversity and richness of cultures. “I like helping children discover the world and to teach them important values such as respect, work, and honesty,” she says. She is amazed how children see the wonder in everyday things, and how their imaginations know no limits. The innocence and eagerness of the children makes her look forward to seeing their progress and positive results. Houda has worked during our summer camp as well, which she values for seeing the pleasure children take in drawing, painting, and learning foreign languages. She has been at AIS since 2006. Houda enjoys interior design, cooking Moroccan food and pastries, and teaching belly dancing.

Ms. Amanda McKenzie (Librarian) joined AIS in August 2018 as our bilingual English/French Librarian. Prior to moving to Austin, Amanda worked as the Head Librarian and social studies teacher for students in Kindergarten through Middle School at The W.I.D.E. School in Houston. She also worked as a librarian at the Awty International School and the Holocaust Museum of Houston. In addition to her duties as a librarian, Amanda has experience creating and implementing a project-based curriculum for library skills. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Art History and a Master of Science in Library Science. Of note, Amanda also completed her elementary and middle school education in French in an overseas MLF school.
 

Grande Section (Kindergarten) - Classe homologuée

Ms. Cindy Cobb (French) has over a decade of teaching experience in French immersion programs. A native of France, Ms. Cindy holds a degree in literature from the University of La Sorbonne Paris and completed her primary school teaching certification (GS-CM2) at IUFM Molitor Paris. 

Ms. Alison DenOtter (English) is joined AIS as the GS English teacher. Her prior experience includes bilingual English/Spanish education at the Kindergarten and elementary school levels in Indiana and Austin; she also has experience working as an English teacher in China. She is a certified teacher in the State of Texas and holds additional TOEFL certification. Alison earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Spanish and Sociology and her Master of Arts in Teaching. As part of her university studies, she completed a semester abroad in Lima, Peru. Most recently, Alison was on a yearlong sabbatical year to travel and explore the world.

Mr. Pedro Caamaño (Spanish), originally from Mexico, joined AIS as the GS through CE1 Spanish teacher. Pedro has extensive experience working on project-based Spanish instruction with students in Kindergarten and elementary school, having most recently taught at schools in Austin. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication and a Master of Education in Bicultural and Bilingual Education from the University of Texas (Austin).

Ms. Nathalie Callea (Assistant Teacher) began at AIS as a substitute teacher in 2008. She rejoined AIS as an Assistant Teacher because she enjoys interacting with the children, parents, and colleagues from very diverse backgrounds, the benefits of a low student-to-teacher ratio, and the joy of working in three languages. She has previously worked as an assistant teacher at Cedar Park Montessori and as a French teacher as Western Carolina University. In addition to teaching, she worked at the United Nations headquarters in New York as a document researcher, and as assistant to the French delegation for the United Nations General Assembly. Her teaching philosophy is “Give the world to children, act as a guide, develop curiosity and independence.”

Ms. Amanda McKenzie (Librarian) joined AIS in August 2018 as our bilingual English/French Librarian. Prior to moving to Austin, Amanda worked as the Head Librarian and social studies teacher for students in Kindergarten through Middle School at The W.I.D.E. School in Houston. She also worked as a librarian at the Awty International School and the Holocaust Museum of Houston. In addition to her duties as a librarian, Amanda has experience creating and implementing a project-based curriculum for library skills. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Art History and a Master of Science in Library Science. Of note, Amanda also completed her elementary and middle school education in French in an overseas MLF school.

Ms. Virginie Grimaud (Art, Sports, and Music in French) began teaching at Austin International School in 2012. It was an eye-opening experience for her as well after teaching for several years in primary schools in Marseille, France, after an earlier career in the private sector. She appreciates the insight gained from teaching with other teachers with different backgrounds who share their many experiences and different languages and cultures amongst the teaching team, and have new methods she can incorporate into her own teaching practice. Virginie loves to spend her free time with her family to discover Austin and surrounding areas, to travel around the USA, and take advantage of her time here to get to know the country. She also loves to read and to play the violin. Her teaching philosophy reads, “The class needs to be a safe environment to my students to allow them to learn from their mistakes and differences; therefore, I use both variety and consistency -- consistency to make my students feel safe and variety to reach all of my students.”