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Our Staff

Pat Sefton, Director

Pat joined the Co-op in 2007. She comes to us after a devoted 22-year stint as Director at University United Methodist’s preschool. 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. 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 (21) and daughter Piper (17). Kerry has been a dedicated staff member since 2001.

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.

Candice Cryon, Teacher

Candice teaches one of our 4/5-year-old classes. Candice moved to Austin last year from Boulder, CO where she taught at a Montessori-inspired preschool for four years. She is originally from NJ where she obtained a Bachelors degree in English and has lived in Asheville, NC where she received her K-6 teaching license, became certified in children’s yoga, taught preschool and held spring and summer camps at her home. Passionate about early childhood education, Candice weaves art, music, nature, and global cultures into her teaching to instill in her students a curiosity and appreciation for the world around us. In her free time Candice enjoys swimming, biking, kayaking with her dog, Maple, yoga, dancing, seeing live music, taking photos and creating art. She is thrilled to be a part of the Co-op and is very excited for the school year ahead.

Melissa Waelchli, Teacher

Melissa teaches the Older 3’s class on M/W/F and works with the other age groups in the role of support teacher on Tuesdays and Thursdays.  She grew up on Long Island, NY and has a B.A. in Psychology with a concentration in child development from Boston University. Shortly after graduation in 2000, she moved to Austin for a change of scenery and to say good-bye to cold and snowy winters. A good friend convinced her that she would love it here and she was quite correct! After her arrival in Austin, she began working directly with abused, abandoned, and neglected children at the Austin Children’s Shelter. It was during that time that she realized her passion for being “in the field” with the kids. Since then, she has had the privilege to work with children of all ages and skill levels, including those with special needs, and particularly those on the Autism spectrum. She and her husband, Victor, have two daughters, Alayna (10) and Kaylee (7, a Co-op alumni). When not in the classroom she enjoys adventuring outdoors with her family, biking (indoors and out), running, Yoga, swimming, and going to the beach. She is very much looking forward to starting her third year teaching at the Co-op!

Claire Traganos, Teacher

Claire is excited to be starting her first year at the Co-op. Claire grew up in Atlanta, GA but moved to Boston during high school and later graduated from Boston College with a degree in Elementary Education. After teaching Kindergarten for several years, she has spent the last eight years primarily as stay-at-home mom to Meredith (8) and Mattias (6). With both children starting elementary school this year, she is eager to have her own classroom again. 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 2s and 3s this year.

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. She will continue as support teacher working with all age groups on M/W/F. She has two children who attended the Co-op, Brendan (10) and Cricket (6, a recent Co-op alum).  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. Before coming to the Co-op, she cared for small groups of Co-op children while their older siblings were at school. 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 every single class.