Director and Game of Village
Cheryl’s lifelong dedication to education is inspired by the conviction that children are born whole, perfect and complete, and need only an emotionally safe, intellectually stimulating environment in order to reach their full potential.
Her responsibilities include managing the general operations of the school, leading our Game of Village program and guiding students in resolving conflicts peacefully and compassionately. Cheryl is treasured in our community for her innate and deep wisdom regarding the needs of children. Under her guidance, our kids learn to embrace their authentic selves, appreciate their uniqueness and celebrate their differences.
Cheryl brings a special perspective to Austin Village Academy because she not only has an extensive professional background in alternative education, but is herself a product of alternative education. In effect, she has more than 40 years of experience in different educational philosophies.
As a child, Cheryl she attended the “Free School,” in rural Austin. Modeled after the Summerhill School in England, the Free School was a creative, nurturing haven for about 35 children between the ages of five and 18. Its foundational belief: that children are as deserving of respect as the rest of humanity, and are the leading authority on how they learn best.
As a professional, Cheryl has taught and run programs in alternative and home-schooling settings, and she has taught in the Montessori model. She has toured innovative schools throughout the United States, and helped launch the Education Transformation Alliance, in Austin. She has also served on the board of the National Coalition of Alternative Community Schools and the Game of Village©.
Cheryl has seen throughout her career that when children are given a voice, allowed to learn at their natural pace, and provided a creative and flexible environment in which to pursue their personal interests, they invariably succeed. They succeed in academics and career—but also in building and sustaining quality relationships and in creating rich and fulfilling lives.
“It lights me up to be in the company of young people who are exploring the world and developing as social beings,” says Cheryl. “I can think of no better way to spend my days or my life than in their company and service.”
Cheryl’s interests include spending time outdoors, practicing yoga, singing, writing, collaging and crafting. She loves to spend time with her family and loved ones. Cheryl is fascinated with alternative building and hopes to construct her own cob house one day.
Assistant Director, Middle School Teacher and Game of Village
“Mr. Willie” is cherished at Austin Village Academy for his ability to foster students’ excitement for learning, creating and thinking. He calls education “my calling and passion.”
As Assistant Director, Willie is responsible for overseeing and helping to continually improve the school’s curriculum. He also trains and mentors our teachers and assists in directing our Game Of Village program. He also teaches language arts and social studies, empowering students to work in teams and as individuals to pursue projects that are rich in content and meaning.
Willie has 18 years of full-time teaching experience at the elementary and middle school levels. His background includes nine years at the prestigious St. Michael School of Clayton, in St. Louis, Mo. At this Reggio Emilia-inspired school, he specialized in integrating the performing arts—drama, music and dance—into the curriculum.
During his tenure at St. Michael, Willie created the Student Legislative Body, which enabled students to write and pass actual school laws. He also developed a curriculum called “The 4th R,” which focuses on acquiring healthy-relationship skills.
Willie’s teaching experience also includes seven years at the UC Irvine Farm School, in California, a small, highly respected progressive school. There he taught language arts and math, and he created a method of teaching math that fostered both mastery and enjoyment of the subject by placing creativity and imagination at the center of its pedagogy.
He holds a BA in Elementary Education from the University of Pennsylvania and a BFA in Film Animation from Concordia University, in Montreal. Willie was born and raised in Washington, D.C. where his father worked as a newspaper reporter and his mother was an educator at the innovative Lab School. He attended Quaker schools, which taught him the importance of service, activism and a rigorous education.
Willie has written numerous plays and screenplays as well as two novels—background that helps him guide students as they learn the process of writing. He is also a Frisbee champion! He played for the USA Masters team that won the 1992 World Ultimate Championship in Japan. He also played for Team Canada in the World Championships in 1984, 1986 and 1984.
He loves working—and playing—with children, and can frequently be found playing Frisbee with a gaggle of our students.
Primary (K, 1, 2)
Sabrina Sage, our primary teacher, just moved to Austin from New York. She brings a wealth of experience in teaching at progressive schools that emphasize project based, dynamic experiences that engage and excite students as they learn solid academics.
Sabrina earned her bachelor’s degree with a major in History and a minor in Political Science from Baruch College and completed her Masters in Childhood Education 1-6 at Hunter College. She has loved working with brilliant professors and student teaching with exceptional mentor teachers in numerous schools across the greater NYC area. While substitute teaching for two years and she gained extensive experience at many grade levels and schools. She worked as a Kindergarten teacher with Explore Charter School for the last year and they were sad to see her go! Sabrina is a certified teacher in New York and in Texas and says her main mission as a teacher is “to enrich students with the love and will to learn. I want students to enjoy learning each and every day. I believe that when a student understands the power and fulfillment of knowledge, that they will be unstoppable in any journey they take. This is why I believe I am a great fit for Austin Village Academy.”
Sabrina is excited about working in the AVA community because of the commitment to students as unique individuals whose birthright is to learn and grow joyfully. In Sabrina’s words: “I feel that with our combined passion for the AVA practice, our students and community will expand hearts and minds as they explore many new and fun opportunities. I want to say from the bottom of my heart that I am very happy to join Austin Village Academy and look forward to the outstanding work that we as a team will accomplish!”
Devon’s background as a Licensed Acupuncture, Herbalist, and Asian Bodyworker make him skilled in the practice of holism and in subtly guiding individuals to powerful transformation. As Teaching Assistant here at the Austin Village Academy, Devon is able to devote the necessary time and attention to helping each student discover their unique learning philosophy. Once this awareness is attained, he is able to empower each student to adapt to changing learning objectives all the while instilling within them an excitement and deep passion for learning such as he
Mr. Reynolds double majored in Cell & Molecular Biology and Chinese Culture & Language at the University of Texas at Austin and then went on to earn a Master’s Degree in Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine from AOMA Graduate School of Integrative Medicine, also here in Austin. Devon has studied various cultural and religious disciplines his entire life with a particular interest in: comparative mythology, archaeology, linguistics, sacred/esoteric sciences, health and natural sciences, agriculture and herbology, and music. He is conversant in Mandarin Chinese and Welsh, and has a basic grasp of Spanish.
In his free time, Devon loves to volunteer at local organic farms, folk dance, play on the
hammered dulcimer, and practice Taiji. He is very grateful to be a part of the AVA community in helping to nurture and empower the bright youth of tomorrow.