Discovery Garden Staff

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Head of School

Cynthia Barraza

Cynthia is the DGMS Head of School and is originally from Chihuahua, Mexico. After finishing high school she studied a two year course in Montessori Elementary (6-12) in her hometown, giving her a Diploma accredited by the Tecnologico de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey. She then decided to move to El Paso, TX. There she earned a B.A. in Psychology, while working full time as an elementary Montessori teacher at “Montessori in the Orchard” in La Union, NM. When she got married she moved to Atlanta, GA, where she got to work for the Children Protection Services as a social worker. She then moved to Cd. Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico, where she taught a 6-12 year old elementary Montessori class for another 2 years. She then decided to be a homemaker and mom for a couple of years. When she moved to Springfield in 2009 she got involved with the DGMS project and was part of the founding Board of Directors. Before working for DGMS she used to work on the weekends for Lakeland Behavioral Hospital, where she got to work first hand with the children in the hospital. In August of 2011 she took the Head of School position. She served as our Elementary Directress for two years, and after training to receive her Early Childhood certification from AMS in the summer of 2014, she served as the Primary Directress in 2014-2015. She has a Master’s degree from University of Missouri- St. Louis in Elementary Education. She enjoys playing with her kids, reading and jewelry making.

Toddler Community – Magnolias & Tulips

Angelica: Classroom Directress – Magnolias Toddler Community

Angelica is the Directress of the Toddler Community. She was born and educated in Mexico and graduated from Escuela Normal para Maestros de la Universidad del Estado de Morelos in Mexico with a degree in Literature. After graduation she taught literature and reading to Junior High students. She has lived in the United States for 25 years and has taught preschool, Spanish Literature, special needs children with the Easter Seals, and at-risk youth with Even Start in Joliet, IL. She and her husband moved to Springfield four years ago. In 2015 she completed Montessori Training in St. Louis to become certified through the American Montessori Society in Infant and Toddler education.

Iliana: Classroom Assistant – Magnolias Toddler Community

Karol Diniz Cunningham: Classroom Directress – Tulips Toddler Community

Karol is originally from Manaus, Brazil. Since a young age she has been involved in teaching, and interested in languages and child cognitive development. Karol holds a bachelor’s degree in Education and a licentiate degree in Psychopedagogy from the Federal University of Amazonas. Recently, she earned her Early Childhood credential from the American Montessori Society through the Hope Montessori Educational Institute. Karol also shared her love for people and language skills from 2005 to 2009 when she volunteered her interpretation services on Mission trips, mainly with “Amazon Vision Ministries”. Through the mission she met her husband, and now lives in Springfield since 2012. Karol enjoys riding her bike, dancing, reading, traveling, the beach, and is curious about different languages.

Madison: Classroom Assistant – Tulips Toddler Community

Primary Classrooms – Daisies & Sunflowers

Lynetta: Classroom Directress – Daisies

Lynetta is originally from Bolivar, Missouri. She attended College of the Ozarks and graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Accounting in 2011. Lynetta began her Montessori career in 2015 as a teacher working with primary students. In 2016, she obtained certification through the North American Montessori Center. Lynetta is married to her best friend and SBU alum, Jeremy. They have a son, David.

Lexi: Classroom Directress – Sunflowers

Lexi Miles is originally from Whitefish, Montana. After moving to Missouri for college, she graduated from Cottey College in 2012 and moved to Springfield a few short years later. Lexi began her Montessori journey after applying for a part-time office position here at Discovery Garden, only to be presented with many more opportunities for growth thereafter. Lexi has studied at Hope Montessori Educational Institute. Her love for the arts, language, environmentalism and the spiritual well-being of all humankind can be found both in and outside the classroom. When she is not at school, you can find her doing yoga, jogging, collaborating with the local music community, or running her photography business as Ms. Miles Media

Discovery Garden Support Staff

Lynette: DGMS In-House Support

Lynette is the full-time support staff member who works with all lead teachers. She was born and raised in Springfield and attended Missouri State University. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Special Education and Elementary Education, a Master’s degree in Special Education, and has worked in the public school system for 28 years. She enjoys spending time with family and friends, going to the lake, reading, and riding countless miles on her bicycle.

Heather: Creative Movement Teacher

Claire: DGMS Office Assistant