About Our Staff

Sarah Johnson

Executive Director, Co-founder

Sarah Johnson, M.Ed. earned a Master’s Degree in Special Education from the University of Texas at Austin. She serves as the Executive Director of The Emerson Foundation, as well as the Administrator of record for Emerson Academy. When Sarah and her wife, Stacey Bell, M.Ed. started the Center in 2007 their aim was to address a need in our community for inclusive childcare. Sarah’s wealth of experience with Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), conducting assessments, developing curriculum, as well as individualized, small group and large group instruction help her when serving as liaison to teachers, school districts, therapists and comprehensive program providers. Sarah has more than 22 years of experience working closely with children with special needs, those with Autism spectrum disorders and typically developing children. When she isn’t spending time with her wife and two children–Emery (16) and Eli (11)–Sarah serves as the Inclusion Specialist at Congregation Beth Israel in Austin, TX.

Crystal Oliver

Program Director

Crystal Oliver joined the Emerson Family Sep 2016. She earned her Child Development Associates in 2013 and the Child Care Administrator’s Credentials in 2015.  As a mom of two, she has much experience nurturing and caring for her own children and shows that each day while working with the students at Emerson. Crystal has more than 10 years of experience in early childhood. Crystal loves to see all the children at Emerson grow and learn.

Yvonne Gomez

Assistant Director

Yvonne Gomez- Brown I am Currently the Assistant Director at Emerson Academy and have been here for a little over 2 years. I have been in childcare for over 10 years and I truly have a passion for working with children. I was Born is Austin, Texas and raised here in Round Rock. I have 5 beautiful kids, a dog named Luna. My husband Dominic and I  have been together for over 10 years. In our free time I enjoy hosting BBQ’s, camping and watching movies as a family. My favorite part of being a part of The Emerson Academy family is watching our students reach their goals and having the ability to help families at our center.

Office Assistant

April Wilson–  I have been teaching at Emerson for 4 years now. I am excited to start my new role as Emerson Office Assistant. I have obtained my  Child Development Associate in 2018. I have had many training from Conscious Discipline, Curriculum and managing Emotional Mayhem. In my spare time I enjoy painting, Crime/ Medical shows and spending time with my family  Demorris, Dashia, and Anyssa

Infants 6 weeks -12 Months

Kathy Dieteman

Kathy Dieteman– I was born in Maryland. My family and I moved to Texas when I was 13 years old. I have been teaching at Emerson for 5 years. I have received my Child Development Associates in 2016. My favorite things are my family, reading, baking and movies. I am super excited to have your infant and family in my class. 


Margarita Gudino– I was born in Escondido, California. My family and I moved to Texas when I was 6 years old. I have a 5 year old daughter named Genesis. She is truly my biggest blessing. I am currently taking classes to obtain my Child Development Associate. I want to become a better teacher. I enjoy working with children because I get to make an impact in their lives. I also get to help each child reach their development milestones.

Toddlers 12 weeks-2 years

Codi Harzler– I was born in California and moved to texas at a young age.  I have a son named Andrew and expecting another bundle of joy April 2020. I  received my Child Development Associate in 2017. I have always loved 1years olds  because I love teaching them new things. I enjoy seeing their faces light up. I have over 5 years experience in licensed child care. I have returned to school to obtain a degree in Child  Psychology. In my spare time I enjoy anything outdoors and exploring Austin.

Connie Bishop

Connie Bishop

Older Toddlers (2-3 years)


Beverly Franken is the Co-teacher teacher in the 2 year old classroom. Beverly has over 20 years of experience in child care along with an Associate of Arts degree and continuing education in Early Education. Ms. Bev has been working at Emerson Academy since August of 2009. She is patient and kind when teaching and always gives unconditional love to her students. Along with high expectations and a very deliberate sense of right and wrong, Beverly has made long lasting impressions on all of the children who have had the opportunity to learn from her. She is one of Emerson’s most beloved teachers!

Priscilla Martinez

Priscilla Martinez  Welcome to the Butterfly class. My name is Priscilla. I am 22 years old and have been in childcare for 2 years. I have lived in Texas my entire life. From a young age I knew working with children is something that I wanted to do. In my Class I enjoy letting the children explore through art and sensory. I recently started my Fitness Journey, so I have been enjoying learning new ways to better my health. My favorite thing about working at Emerson Academy is being able to give our Two-year old’s new things to explore and helping them find words to better express their needs.

Preschool (2 1/2-4 years)

Pamala Smith

Pamala Smith Hello, my name is Pamala Smith, but my family knows me as “Hunni”. I am from Amarillo Texas but recently moved to Austin in July 2015. I have over 20 years of experience in Childcare. I have been married for 10 years. I am a Grandmother of two beautiful kids. In my free time I enjoy shopping with my daughters, and I like to plan trips with my family. I am Currently the 2.5 -3.5-year-old teacher (Bumblebee Class). My Favorite thing about Emerson Academy is that every day is different and my students are truly amazing. Each child has a place in my heart. A goal I have is to travel to Africa and see the World when I retire.

Marisa Sembrano

Marisa Sembrano-Welcome to our Bumblebee class! I’m looking forward to starting off the new school year with everyone. We have a lot of fun activities planned! My favorite activities with our class are art and science. I love messy sensory centers! I’ve experiences all age groups from preschool teacher to being a nanny for a span of 10 years. This age group is my absolute favorite. When I’m not in a classroom, I’m usually outdoors: hiking, kayaking or on the lake. I also enjoy cooking and photography in my spare time. I look forward to getting to know our new friends and their families.

Alison “Ali” Santos – I am excited to be a part of your child’s growth and development. I have been working in the Early Childhood Development for over a decade, including raising two children of my own. Aubrey is 10 years old and Adam is 8 years old. I have a Child Development Associates from Penn Foster University. In my spare time, I coach my children’s softball and basketball teams.  I love teaching through experiences. I love that I get to grow and learn alongside my students.

Yvette Gomez

Yvette Gomez Hello, my name is Yvette Gomez. I was Born and raised in Austin, Texas and am currently living in Hutto. I have a daughter. Her name is Ciara; she is currently attending our Pre-k program and loves her teachers and friends. I have been working in childcare for a little over 3 years and have been at Emerson Academy for 1 year. This fall I am  furthering my education by taking C.D.A courses (Child Development Associates). During my free time, I love spending time with my daughter and making memories that will last a lifetime.

Pre-K (4-6 Years)

Jamie Jackson

Jamie Jackson My name is Jamie Jackson. I have 5 kids of my own. I have worked for Emerson Academy for 3 years. I have worked in childcare for over 13 years. In my Free time I enjoy spending time with my children and taking them out to Explore Austin. I love working with children and helping them grow.

Gabby Stark

Gabby Stark– I have been teaching in the Fireflies class for the last  year. My dream is to pursue an education in working with children of all abilities. I have recently obtained my Child Development Associate. I have a wonderful little boy named Zander. Zander is my pride and joy.  I value putting my students first. I also value making sure they are getting the guidance and nurturing that they all individually need. I hope to make every parent and guardian as comfortable as possible while their child is in my care.   Each child has a journey and I am excited to see where this journey takes them.

Ava Sierra

Ava Sierra– I was born and raised in Texas. I have always enjoyed working with children. I have been at Emerson for a little under a year. I have enjoyed working in all the classrooms but Pre-K is my heart. I enjoy art and sensory projects. I think kids learn so much during hands on experiences. I have two younger siblings  that I love dearly. I look forward to working with your children in the Pre-K class.  

School Age 5 years-12 years

Crystal Laws -I am one of the Beetles (afterschool) teachers. I as well as float in all classrooms as needed. This is my 4th year at Emerson Academy. I have 22 years of experience working with children. I have worked 11 years in early childhood (with all age groups) and 11 years with Manor Isd as an assistant in Special Education. In my time outside of the classroom, I enjoy traveling, spending time with loved ones, and leisure time outdoors.


Jay Perales – My name is Jay Perales, I was born in Del Rio Texas. I moved around a lot as a kid but spent most of my time in the Austin Area. I enjoy being outside in my free time and reading. Music is a Huge part of my
life. As a teenager I assisted the teachers in the childcare center at my church, I would play and do simple art projects with them, I did this for about 3 years. Shortly after Graduating High school I started working with Adults with Special Needs and loved it! I have a huge heart for children and truly love working at Emerson Academy.

Support Staff


Briana Corondo– Briana is part of our staff support, she has been working with Emerson for over 5 months. Briana is currently studying Early Childhood Development at Austin Community College and plans to transfer to Texas State University. After getting her major in Early Childhood Development, Briana looks to becoming a Special Education Teacher.

Cierra Cordova

Cierra Cordova–   I have lived in Texas all of my life. I am a graduate from Hutto High School. I have also earned a pre-professional certification in Early Childhood Education.  I am currently enrolled at Temple College looking to earn a bachelor’s degree in Education. I love kids and teaching them new things. I look forward to growing with the students at Emerson Academy. 

Emily Montez is the  backbone of Emerson Academy!  She works diligently and tirelessly to ensure the cleanliness and sanitation of classrooms and learning spaces. Ms. Emily is invaluable to the health of Emerson students.

Quincy James is a 4 year old Golden Retriever who was rescued from the Gold Ribbon Rescue (GRR) , (opens in a new window) group in Austin. He has been at Emerson Academy for two years and works with all ages and classes. Quincy is a patient, easy-going and loving dog who has never met a child he doesn’t love. His relationships with the children, especially children with special needs, is remarkable. Quincy is one of Emerson’s most beloved icons and makes many a day of children and parents alike.