Who are SMART Trainers?

Amy Musick, M.Ed., CCHC

A 12 year veteran of public education and certified trainer, Amy Musick is registered with the Texas Early Childhood Professional Development System as Trainer #22443.  She has a Bachelors of Science in Marine Biology from Texas A&M University at Galveston and a Masters of Education in School Administration from Lamar University.  Amy is a Texas Certified Teacher in Life Science 8-12 with supplemental certifications in Gifted and Talented Instruction and English as a Second Language.  

Serving on the Board of Directors of a childcare facility has given Amy 7 years of early childhood experience - working closely with directors to implement Minimum Standards as defined by the Texas Department of Family Protective Services including the process of accreditation through the Texas Rising Star program.

Amy is a Certified Health Care Consultant with TXAEYC as well as an Outdoor Learning Environment (OLE) Specialist with training through North Carolina State University.

Elizabeth Turner

As the founder and Executive Director of SMART Family Literacy, Elizabeth originated SMART Parties twenty years ago to engage her son with Down's Syndrome in the excitement of reading aloud. From that idea, SMART Family Literacy emerged as a literacy outreach program reaching a large portion of Galveston County and is continuing to expand its positive impact.  With a continued dedication to literacy, healthy life choices, and supporting the dual language learner, Elizabeth is also a Texas Certified Teacher with a Special Education emphasis. Her musical approach to instructional techniques will help with behavior management strategies, cognitive goals, and language fun. 

Catherine Stroud

Catherine Stroud has been working with SMART Family Literacy since 2014, as its 'artist-in-residence' and as an assistant teacher.  She graduated from Vanderbilt University in 2006 and moved overseas to teach English in the public schools of Deauville, France. Prior to her university studies, she was an assistant teacher at Paddington British Preschool in The Woodlands, Texas, and since returning to Galveston also spent 2 years teaching art and Spanish at Satori Elementary. 

Guest Trainers

Christine Ortiz-Gatlin has more than 30 years experience in early childhood, most recently working with Collaborative for Children in Houston to support recovery for child care centers affected by Hurricane Harvey. Christine's experience has been in many early childhood settings, including for-profit and non-profit as a teacher and center director. She has experience working with both Early Head Start and Head Start centers. Her realm of experience includes 9 years as a public-school teacher and ten years at a San Jacinto College - North Campus, as an early childhood education professor. Christine has a Masters of Education in Multicultural Education with specialization in Early Childhood Education from the University of Houston Clear Lake. 

Dr. Suzanne LaForte  joined UTMB Pediatrics as faculty in 1998.  She is board certified by the American Board of Pediatrics.  She received her doctorate and completed her residency at the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) in Galveston, TX. Dr. LaForte has a special interest in childhood literacy and is medical director for Reach Out and Read and Island Pediatrics Book Club literacy programs.  Dr. La Forte has previously served on the School Health Advisory Committee and currently carries many teaching responsibilities at UTMB in Galveston, TX.

Margie Kusnerik is the Principal in Residence of Rosenberg Elementary School in Galveston ISD.  Her years of dedication to all of the children in her classroom has risen above and beyond the expectations of an educator.  Now as a principal, her impact will reach even further.  You will not want to miss it as she imparts her years of educational experiences to help ease the transition between Pre-K and Kindergarten.

Ginger Kieckbusch is the current Dean of Elementary Education at Odyssey Academy in Galveston.  With a BS in Elementary Education, an M.Ed. in Early Childhood Education, and over 25 years of practical school based experience, Ginger has a lot to add to the differentiated instructional strategies in regards to young learners.  Her music based sessions are always a big hit.  

Renee Templer recently retired from being the Director at Moody Methodist Day School.  Renee brings a wealth of knowledge from her years of experience in early childhood education and DFPS Minimum Standards.    

Dr. Elizabeth Beavers - University of Houston Clear Lake - College of Education - Assistant Professor of Special Education

Dr. Beavers areas of expertise include special education and early childhood, developmental disabilities, language and literacy development, and instructional and intervention pedagogy.  

In 2013, Dr. Beavers was named the Teacher Educator of the Year by the Houston Area Association for the Education of Young Children.

Candy Hattingh -  Advocacy Center for Children of Galveston County, Community Education Coordinator

The Advocacy Center for Children of Galveston County is a non-profit organization that coordinates all of the agencies in Galveston County who treat, investigate and prosecute cases of child abuse. Candy has worked in Galveston County for 10 years,  7 of those in the legal field in various capacities from managing a law office, running a bail bond company and directing an organization for offender education.

Ashley Conner is an elementary physical education teacher in Galveston ISD.  She graduated from University of Houston – Clear Lake with a Bachelor’s of Science in Fitness and Human Performance in May of 2013.  Ashely has also received training for the district’s Fourth R (relationships) initiative and training in Yoginos: Yoga for Youth. She is currently pioneering a mindfulness approach to discipline through her elementary P.E. position.

Center for Autism and Developmental Delays (CADD) Graduate Students - At CADD, children receive individualized training designed to reduce problem behaviors and to develop age-appropriate social, self-help, school readiness, and language skills. Family members and caregivers also learn how to continue the training methods at home. CADD is an Applied Behavioral Analysis - Skills Intervention Program (ABA-SkIP).

Moody Gardens Education Outreach - Moody Gardens Experts will bring the rainforest to you!  Since 1993, the Rainforest Pyramid at Moody Gardens has boasted more than 1,700 exotic plant and animal species for visitors to experience first-hand.  Presenters will bring a small piece of this environment to share with participants.