Teaching Staff


Our teachers have over 60 years of combined experience in early childhood education, and many years at Poe-Co. All bring to our children’s developmental experience an abundance of knowledge, skill, passion, and commitment.

Mrs. Wheeler and Ms. Crisol

Donna Wheeler, Director/Lead Apple Teacher

Donna Wheeler joined Poe-Co in 2009 and brought with her over 20 years of early childhood experience. She has worked as a motor skills teacher, art teacher, and teacher of four-year olds. Additionally, she was a center director for six years before leaving her position to complete a master’s degree in Human Development from Pacific Oaks College in Pasadena, California. Her undergraduate degree is in Social Ecology with an emphasis in Human Development from the University of California at Irvine. She has also completed the Child Development Associate from Houston Community College.

Donna became interested in the position at Poe-Co after completing three months of field research here as part of her thesis project. She was impressed with the progressive curriculum and teaching methods, child-focused environment, and the high level of parent participation. Donna’s family consists of her husband Doug, daughter Cara, son Andrew, and Simon their Vizsla (who thinks he is human).

Donna has previously worked at the Houston Arboretum as a nature educator and currently teaches child development courses for Houston Community College. She is excited to be back in the classroom and eager to try out her expanded understanding of child development.

Crisol Barron, Co-Teacher Apple Class

Crisol is new to the Poe-Co family and the Apple class this year! She is a Mexican American and is from Chicago, IL. She graduated from Southern Illinois University with a bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education with a specialization in Child and Family Services. Crisol moved to Houston a year ago and is looking forward to getting to know the area. She is very excited to be at Poe-Co and looks forward to working with all the children and families. Crisol is extremely close to her family and misses them dearly. She is the youngest of three siblings and has eleven nieces and nephews that she loves. Crisol enjoys being a positive role model for them and encourages them to be the best they can be.

This is Crisol’s third year working with preschool-aged children and is thrilled about how children develop and learn. She is passionate about educating young children and hopes to work abroad one day. In her spare time, Crisol enjoys cooking, going for walks, listening to music, arts and crafts, and decorating. Crisol hopes to go back to school in a couple of years to earn her master’s degree in Education.

Ms. Maxine, Mrs. Yanowski, and Ms. Kim

Maxine Dickey, Lead Acorn Teacher

Maxine has been a teacher at Poe-Co for ten years. She has a degree in Early Childhood and seeks any and all continuing education classes that she can attend. With a keen understanding of how children learn and develop socially, physically and cognitively, Maxine is able to enrich the preschool experience of the children whose live she touches.

Maxine has many interests, including reading, camping, fishing and relaxing at the beach. She also likes to travel, especially back to her native land, England, whenever she gets the opportunity. Maxine is married to Dan, and has two children ages 16 and 17. She is dedicated in all she does with her family, Poe-Co, and her community of friends.

Donna Yanowski, Co-Teacher Acorn Class

Donna loves Poe-Co! She started working at Poe-Co eleven years ago and quickly became the small mammal/avian expert. Donna loves working with the children on improvised crafts. She comes to school with a wealth of ideas for creating wonderful works of art.

Donna is a recycling champion and a great inspiration to our children in saving our resources. She can make a project out of anything! She also is an incredible gardener and keeps our gardens looking great with the constant help of the children. She loves sewing, animal discovery and volunteer work. She has been a La Leche League leader for 17 years and volunteers with the Neartown group. Donna is married to Ken, and her daughter Dena is a graduate of The High School for Visual and Performing Arts and is attending the University of St. Thomas as a sophomore.

Kim Martinez, Co-Teacher Acorn Class

Kim has 18 years of experience teaching young children. She developed in 2005, and currently directs Conmigo, a “mommy & me” Spanish Program for pre-school age children at Helms Elementary, a HISD Dual Language Magnet School. Kim has taught in several different programs, both public and private over the years teaching children from age 2 to 1st grade. She holds a BA in an Early Childhood Education from McNeese State University in Lake Charles, LA. She brings to Poe-Co a love for young children, creativity, enthusiasm, organization, and an amazing ability to multi-task.

Kim and her husband, Kenneth, live in the Historic Houston Heights with their three children, ages 12, 10 and 6. Her youngest, Mia is a proud Poe-Co alumni. Kim and her family enjoy camping together and can be spotted at home games cheering the Houston Dynamo. Kim is actively involved in the Helms PTA where her children attend. She enjoys reading, knitting, and “Nia” classes. Kim and the kids spend their summers in the mild temperatures of Central Mexico immersing themselves in the rich Mexican culture, food and language.



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