New MRA administrators prepare the next generation of leaders
By: Rebecca Deurlein
Montessori Reggio Academy (MRA) has promoted two new leaders, both of whom see their roles as training up the next generation of leaders.
Principal Breanna Trevino
Vice Principal Stefanie Reyes
Principal Breanna Trevino and Vice Principal Stefanie Reyes have recently stepped into their new roles and are eager to lead the award-winning school in 2023.
Trevino has worked with children since she was just 18 years old, when she held her first job in a day care center while pursuing child psychology classes. Twenty years later – the last eleven in Houston – she has racked up experience across all areas of childcare. She has served as an assistant director in a Montessori school and was promoted from her Director of Admissions position at MRA to Principal in November 2022.
Her new responsibilities include overseeing various aspects of the school, including parent relations, enrollment, classroom transitions, and upholding MRA’s core values of respect, responsibility, and community.
“What first struck me about MRA was its warm, welcoming environment,” Trevino says. “The children are happy and smiling every single day. In some other schools, I’ve witnessed kids looking like robots, and, of course, I find that unsettling – the rote memorization and movement in the classroom.” Trevino says that instead, kids should always lead by their passion and comfort level. “We never push a child to learn anything they’re not ready for. We use positive redirection and reinforcement. And we always provide our students with open-ended questions that guide them without dictating to them.” Trevino’s goal in her new position is to maintain the school vision of serving the community and building children into their greatness. “I like parent feedback, concerns, and questions because parents have great ideas and suggestions,” she says. “I love to take that in and figure out how to take the best of it to create better programs for our kids.”
She will do that with Stefanie Reyes, who brings a uniquely acquired set of skills to her new position as Vice Principal. Aside from her previous work experience as an administrator at another Montessori school, Reyes graduated high school with four years of Junior ROTC under her belt. Through that program, she attended four summers of leadership training that she says has stuck with her after all these years.
Originally hired at MRA as Operations Coordinator, Reyes handled licensing, hiring, orientation, pre-screening, training, inventory, management of the front desk administration, and the arduous task of accreditation. She will continue with all of those responsibilities with the additional focus of student and parent relations, which she will share with Trevino.
“To quote from Maria Montessori,” says Reyes, “my philosophy about education is to ‘follow the child.’ In other words, focus on the child, and everything else will fall into place. Pay attention to the child’s interests, passions, and personality – that’s what is truly important in education.”
Like Trevino, Reyes says there is nowhere else she’d rather be. “When I walked into this school, it felt like coming home. I could feel the support from the staff and administrators. Everyone makes me feel appreciated, and I love that we’re continuously looking for ways to be more knowledgeable, to grow, and to find new ways to help our kids be successful.”
Reyes uses her unique perspective as both the parent of an MRA student and the Vice Principal to constantly seek ways to improve. She says, “Clearly, I trust the staff here with my own child; I know he’s in good hands and he’s happy every day. And I love that he’s being challenged here and being pushed, gently, outside of his comfort zone. I want the same for every child here. The way I see it, if he’s getting the best, every MRA child is getting the best.”
Trevino, a parent of two, also looks at the students as if they are her own. Her goal is to be entirely present while serving as Principal, to give her full attention to each moment, whether it be a conversation with a parent or a scenario in which a child needs her. Reyes wants to work with teachers on incorporating a “back to basics” approach, where basic self-care and important life skills play a larger role in the Montessori curriculum.
And both are excited about the programs already in place at MRA, including Mandarin & Spanish immersion classes, Zumbini exercises that gear kids up for their work cycles, and yoga classes that calm them down and help them find their center.
“You have to walk before you run,” says Reyes. These two new administrators are dedicated to setting the foundational skills their students need to take off running.