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Our Staff

Pat Sefton, Director

Pat joined the Co-op in 2007. She joined us after a devoted 22-year stint as Director at University United Methodist’s Early Childhood Center. She is a recipient of AAEYC’s Mabel Pitts Award in recognition of her contributions to the lives of young children and families. Pat received a Bachelor of Science in Education at University of Texas Youth and Family Services. She is the mother of two adult sons, enjoys gardening with her husband and hikes with her dog. Pat radiates patience, dedication, openness, joy, humor, and a leadership style that fits the Co-op.

Kerry Drake, Atelierista, and Director’s Assistant

We are happy to have Kerry return in her dual role as Assistant to the Director and school Atelierista. In our adaptation of the Reggio approach, Kerry works with small groups of children from each class in the studio, using a variety of materials to help them express their ideas. Collaborating with teachers, observing and documenting the children’s learning process, and sharing with parents informs Kerry’s work. In addition, you will find Kerry in the office continuing to support parents, teachers, and the director. Kerry and her woodworking husband, Mike, are parents to two Co-op alum children: Willis (24) and daughter Piper (20). Kerry has been a dedicated staff member since 2001.

Kelly Savedra, Teacher

We are pleased to welcome Kelly back for another exciting year as the teacher of the young 2s on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and the teacher of the young 3’s on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. She has two children who attended the Co-op, Brendan (14) and Cricket (10).  She graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts from The University of Texas, concentrating in painting and photography. Kelly feels like the Co-op philosophy mirrors her own. In prior years Kelly has truly enjoyed working with all of the teachers on a regular basis, and her patient, intuitive nature has been appreciated by the teachers as well.  In addition to working with children Kelly loves to be outdoors and in nature. She enjoys hiking in Big Bend, gardening at home or at her children’s elementary school, and admiring animals on land and at sea. She is looking forward to another wonderful year of discovery at the Co-op, full of adventures with her classes.

Nadia Traietti, Teacher

Nadia has been with the Co-op since 2005. She teaches one of our 4/5-year-old classes. Nadia grew up in Massachusetts. Upon graduating high school she worked in the Boston area with neglected or abused children who had been placed in residential care. Nadia specialized in Early Childhood Development for her undergraduate degree. She also holds a Master’s in Elementary Education from Texas State University. Before coming to the Co-op Nadia taught at Child’s Day, the ACC lab school, Habibi’s Hutch Preschool and third grade in AISD.  Nadia enjoys cooking, gardening, hiking, camping, listening to and participating in music making.

Claire Traganos, Teacher

Claire is excited to be starting her fourth year at the Co-op. Claire grew up in Atlanta, Georgia but moved to Boston during high school and later graduated from Boston College with a degree in Elementary Education. She taught Kindergarten for several years and then became mama to Meredith (11) and soon after Mattias (9). She loves the Co-op’s emphasis on outdoor play and play as learning. Claire loves running, baking, going on adventures with her husband and two kids, finding all the fun swimming holes in and around Austin and camping when it’s cool enough. Claire is excited to explore, learn and create alongside the older 3s this year.

Stephanie Tickle, Teacher

Stephanie Tickle will be teaching the older twos-Tuesday and Thursday.  Stephanie is a former Co-op parent and the last 4 years has been our support teacher working with all classes and ages.  She went to East Carolina University majoring in Communications. After moving to San Francisco she rediscovered her love of working with children and went back to school for credits at San Francisco State.  Stephanie was a preschool teacher and director at Richmond YMCA in San Francisco. When Stephanie discovered the Co-op for her daughters she was drawn to the comfortable feel, the friendliness of staff and parents, and the attention to the child as a whole person. Stephanie loves spending time with her family-hiking, traveling and reading on the beach.

Melissa Waelchli, Support Specialist

We are excited to welcome Melissa as the Co-op’s support specialist. She will provide direct support to the teachers in the classrooms, by helping facilitate small groups, offering one-on-one support when needed, and collaborates with teachers and parents to assess needs and adjusts her role when necessary. She grew up on Long Island, NY, has a B.A. in Psychology (child development) from Boston University and moved to Austin in 2000. She joined the Co-op family in 2013 when her youngest, Kaylee (11) enrolled in the Young 3s class and has enjoyed many roles at the Co-op since. She lives in Austin with her husband Victor, older daughter Al (14), Kaylee, and their two dogs, Indy and Moxxi.