About the DECATS Program
  Program Overview Frequently Asked Questions
  Mission & History Testimonials
  Our Staff Our Crest
    Join our Staff Team
     
 
 
  Betty Bouley
Mentor
   
 
     
  Nickie Bounds
Mentor
   
 
     
  Brandon Bridger
Mentor
   
 
     
  Elizabeth Carbonneau
Mentor
   
 
     
  Meris Chaumont
Mentor
   
 
     
  Ramzi Deek
Mentor
   
 
     
  Carol Delac
Mentor
   
 
     
  Jennifer Duplechain
Mentor
   
 
     
  Ryan Ferrugia
Mentor
   
 
     
  Mariely Gomez
Office Manager
   
 
     
  Jessica Graehler
Mentor
   
 
     
  Monica Gutierrez
Mentor
   
 
     
  Marilyn Hanovich
Mentor
   
 
     
  Lisa Lenzy
Mentor
   
 
     
  Mary Therese Malone
Mentor
   
 
     
  Jen Marshall
Mentor
   
 
     
  Beth O' Neal
Mentor
   
 
     
  Lupe Palacios
Mentor
   
 
     
  Cielo Perdomo
Mentor
   
 
     
  Catlyn Ream
Mentor
   
 
     
  Nelson Sanchez
Mentor
   
 
     
  Carol Selby
Mentor
   
 
     
  Glenn Sharp
Mentor
   
 
     
  Liessa Speck
Mentor
   
 
     
  Daria Allen
Office Manager
   
 
     
  Melissa Alvarez
Mentor
   
 
     
  Molly Black
Mentor
   
 
     
  Cynthia Blackwell
Mentor
   
 
     
  Samara Bodin
Mentor
   
 
     
  Jennifer Box
Mentor
   
 
     
  Mary Browder
Mentor
   
 
     
  Caryn Croes
Mentor
   
 
     
  Emily Engelking
Mentor
   
 
     
  Bernardo Garcia
Mentor
   
 
     
  Thomas Gardner
Mentor
   
 
     
  Roxanne Giardina
Mentor
   
 
     
  Lisa Glaze
Mentor
   
 
     
  Jessica Herrick
Mentor
   
 
     
  Chinara Hunter
Mentor
   
 
     
  Deanna Krenek
Mentor
   
 
     
  Christopher Lee
Mentor
   
 
     
  Ruth Lim
Mentor
   
 
     
  Suzanne Lucas
Mentor
   
 
     
  Adrienne Mathews
Nurse
   
 
     
  Scott Muckelroy
Mentor
   
 
     
  Jesus Pacheco
Mentor
   
 
     
  David Pikler
Mentor
   
 
     
  Danielle Polzer
Mentor
   
 
     
  Brittany Revia
Mentor
   
 
     
  Lindsay Rust
Mentor
   
 
     
  Carolina Sievers
Mentor
   
 
     
  Elizabeth Strange
Mentor
   
 
     
  Amy Sutton
Mentor
   
 
     
  Cher Trimble
Mentor
   
 
     
  Sonny Vo
Mentor
   
 
     
  Angi Watkins
Mentor
   
 
     
  Julie Berg
Mentor
   
 
     
  Melinda Clark
Mentor
   
 
     
  Seth Dalton
Mentor
   
 
     
  Keri Doise
Mentor
   
 
     
  Suzanne Ettman
Mentor
   
 
     
  Donna Hunter
Mentor
   
 
     
  Travis Hunter
Junior Mentor
   
 
     
  Sheila Jahn
Mentor
   
 
     
  Heather Koett
Mentor
   
 
     
  Robin Little
Mentor
   
 
     
  Cristofer Mattern
Mentor
   
 
     
  Flavio Melucci
Mentor
   
 
     
  Dawn Parker
Mentor
   
 
     
  Leslie Pavlock
Nurse
   
 
     
  Silvia Penaloza
Mentor
   
 
     
  Christine Powell
Mentor
   
 
     
  Jillian Powell
Mentor
   
 
     
  Peter Ramirez
Mentor
   
 
     
  Vhirshante Thompson
Mentor
   
 
     
  Leslie Turner
Mentor
   
 
     
  Sarah Turner
Mentor
   
 
     
  Nancy Willey
Office Manager
   
 
     
  Sam Williams
Mentor
   
 
     
  John Barone
Executive Director
   
  Mr. John Barone is delighted to have served in the DECATS program from the beginning in 1994, as a Mentor three years and Director for the rest. He received his B.A. in Religious Education from the University of St. Thomas in Houston and his M.A. in Private School Administration from the Institute for Catholic Educational Leadership at the University of San Francisco. He has extensive background in child and adolescent development, Catholic education and youth ministry, workshop facilitation and teaching students with neurological differences. Mr. Barone currently serves as Director of the Learning Resource Center at Strake Jesuit College Preparatory and provides trainings in classroom management for schools, churches and conferences throughout the nation. Mr. Barone is the author of two books published by St. Mary's Press: 'A Place for All: Ministry for Youth with Special Needs' and 'Jesus the Christ Catechist Guide.' His long-term commitment to DECATS is fueled by his passion for helping young people grow in their confidence, knowledge and skills, and to use their gifts in the service of others.
     
  Zak Browne
Assistant Program Director, Strake Jesuit
   
  Mr. Zak Browne is very excited to be back for his 14th year at DECATS. Mr. Browne was a Mentor for eight years, and this will be the sixth year he will be serving as an assistant program director. Mr. Browne has been dedicated to DECATS for so long because it has made him a better teacher through the implementation of the methodology, has given him a chance to meet and learn from many other outstanding educators, and has given him the opportunity to have a role in the lives of many young people from all over the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston. Mr. Browne graduated from St. John's University (Jamaica, NY) with a B.S. in Communication Arts with a double-minor in English and Business and an MLA from the University of St. Thomas. During the year, Mr. Browne is a seventh grade language arts and eighth grade American history teacher at The Village School. He also contributes his time to the middle school's quiz bowl team. Mr. Browne and his wife Gabrielle are the proud parents of four boys: eight-year old Nathaniel and five-year old triplets Simon, Edison and Fitzgerald.
     
  John Michael Cuccia
Senior Program Administrator
   
  Mr. John Michael Cuccia is thrilled to return for a 20th year at DECATS! He spent two years as a Scholar and joined the staff team in 2000. He is the founder of decats.org, oversees admissions processes, directs the production of program media and communications and coordinates technology and computing resources for Scholars and Mentors. Mr. Cuccia has been dedicated to serving DECATS for so many years because of the unique, life-changing experience Scholars undergo during their time with the program. Mr. Cuccia graduated from Rice University with a B.A. in Mathematical Economic Analysis and a Business minor and has an M.A.T. with Specialization in Educational Technology from National University. During the year, Mr. Cuccia is Assistant Director of Enrollment Management Operations at Rice University.
     
  Tonya Dixon
Program Director, Northwoods
   
  Ms. Tonya Dixon is delighted to return to DECATS for the eighth year! Ms. Dixon joined the DECATS team as a Mentor seven years ago and is honored to serve as Program Director at our Northwoods campus! Ms. Dixon is committed to the philosophy and methodology of DECATS and enjoys seeing the transformation within our Scholars, Mentors and parents. Currently, Ms. Dixon serves as the Professional Learning Specialist in the Cypress-Fairbanks Independent School District and has 17 years of experience in Education. Ms. Dixon graduated from Prairie View A&M University with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and earned a Master?s Degree in Educational Leadership and Administration from Sam Houston State University. Ms. Dixon has a genuine love for children and true passion for her profession. In her spare time, she enjoys traveling, teaching praise dance to third to fifth graders, and spending time with her family and precious 12-year-old daughter, Bria, a fourth-year Scholar at DECATS this year! Ms. Dixon is excited to ?Boldly Go? beyond to a galaxy of discovery and curiosity!
     
  Kathryn Hartzog
Assistant Program Director, Corpus Christi
   
  Mrs. Kathryn Hartzog is sure her seventh year at DECATS will be out of this world and is over the moon about being at the new campus at Corpus Christi! She has previously served as office manager and Mentor, and in 2013 became Assistant Program Director. Mrs. Hartzog is inspired by the program, the methodology and the amazing Mentors and Scholars. She has seen the difference DECATS has made in her own daughters. Mrs. Hartzog is a graduate of Texas A&M University and spent more than 13 years in non-profit event planning, volunteer management and fundraising before moving into education. She taught music and drama for two years at Riverbend Montessori School in Sugar Land before joining the office team at St. Rose of Lima. When she's not working, Mrs. Hartzog enjoys time with her husband and step-daughters, working on various home renovation projects, cross-stitching, crafting, traveling, singing Broadway tunes at the top of her lungs or reading. She also enjoys spending time acting and directing at The Company OnStage where she currently serves as President of the Board. Mrs. Hartzog is looking forward to another inspirational year!
     
  Melissa Martin
Program Director, Corpus Christi; Curriculum Director
   
  Mrs. Melissa Martin is eager to enjoy another great summer with the DECATS program. She has been a part of the DECATS team since 2006, serving as Curriculum Director since 2008. This summer, she also looks forward to serving as Program Director at Corpus Christi Catholic School. Mrs. Martin graduated from Baylor University with a B.S. in Elementary Education and later received her Master's in Educational Leadership from UTA. During the school year, Mrs. Martin is an Assistant Principal in Cypress-Fairbanks ISD, where she enjoys spending time with the students in her Harry Potter book club and cheering on the Baylor Bears at every opportunity!
     
  Seth Quintana
Assistant Program Director, Northwoods
   
  Mr. Seth Quintana serves as Assistant Program Director for DECATS, supporting Directors, guiding faculty, and assisting GAs and Scholars in their work. In another space and time he was a Scholar and Mentor. He currently teaches and serves in administrative duties at Northwoods Catholic School. Mr. Quintana earned his M. Ed. in Educationtional Leadership in 2015 from the University of St. Thomas. As a lifelong Scholar and professional educator in Catholic schools, Mr. Quintana lives for the difference a Christocentric program like DECATS can make in the lives of Scholars in such a short time. He is excited to see the DECATS program challenge Scholars to boldly go beyond the call of normal school with a great team and enriching courses.
     
  Tommy Romano
Program Director, Strake Jesuit
   
  Greetings bold adventurers! Mr. Tommy Romano is a 10-year veteran of Starfleet ? errr ? DECATS. He started off with four years as a crew member under then Captain John Barone aboard the Starship Mary Magdalene. In 2011 Tommy was given his own commission aboard the U.S.S. St. Pius X. Last year, he was installed as captain of the newly commissioned U.S.S. Strake Jesuit. Due to the excellent performance of the crew, they have been re-commissioned for another year. Mr. Romano is a fourth-generation Houstonian and has a BA in Theology (Philosophy minor) from the University of St. Thomas. He earned a MA in Education Administration in 2007. He has a 24-year teaching career and is currently in his 23rd year as a member of the theology faculty at Strake Jesuit College Preparatory. Mr. Romano is a frequent lecturer around the Galveston-Houston archdiocese and abroad, covering a variety of topics (including J.R.R. Tolkien). His favorite hobby is foreign travel. He's had the great fortune to visit, Ireland, England, France, Italy, Spain, Israel, Canada, Mexico and the Dominican Republic. When not busy with academic and public speaking duties, Mr. Romano can be found working a quilting project, reading a book (most likely fantasy fiction), or cooking up a big, Italian dinner with his nieces and nephew.
     
  Karen Rossetti
Assistant Program Director, Strake Jesuit
   
  Mrs. Karen Rossetti is ready to shoot for the stars alongside Scholars as they encounter new adventures in the galaxy in her sixth summer at DECATS! Karen served as a Mentor for five years and is honored to step into the role of Assistant Program Director at Strake Jesuit this year. She is thankful for the methodology that she has learned through the DECATS program and how it has completely transformed her teaching over the years. She grew up in Houston in the Bear Creek area and attended Cy-Fair schools. Karen received her English degree and secondary teaching certification from Texas A&M University. This is her 11th year teaching eighth grade English Language Arts for Fort Bend ISD in Sugar Land and seventh year as the head cheer coach at her school. Karen also enjoys reading, spending time with people, watching HGTV and serving at her church as a greeter and with the events team. She and her husband are also excitedly anticipating the arrival of their first child, a daughter, in July. Mrs. Rossetti is excited to see all of the new discoveries that will happen at DECATS this year!
     
  Kendall Shamas
Assistant Curriculum Director
   
  Mrs. Kendall Shamas is very excited about her eighth year at DECATS, serving as both a Mentor and Assistant Curriculum Director. She is originally from New Orleans, Louisiana. Kendall has 20 years teaching experience and is currently the Assistant Principal of Middle School and Auxiliary at St. Anthony of Padua Catholic School in The Woodlands. She also teaches Broadcast Media to eighth grade students. Kendall graduated with a BA in Elementary Ed from the University of New Orleans and is currently pursuing her Masters in Educational Leadership at the University of St. Thomas. She is married with two children, both who hope to serve again as graduate assistants at DECATS this summer. When she is not teaching, Kendall enjoys reading, traveling, and spending time with her family. She is thrilled about experiencing the joy of working with the DECATS Scholars as they ?boldly go? into to new learning.
     
  Cathy Stephen
Senior Leadership Adviser
   
  Mrs. Cathy Stephen serves as Senior Leadership Advisor for our program, supporting Directors in their work on our campuses. For 14 years, she was the previous Flagship Program Director and host Principal at St. Rose of Lima Catholic School. She currently works as Assistant Superintendent of Excellence at the Catholic Schools Office where she recruits and trains teachers and principals. Mrs. Stephen earned her M. Ed. in Curriculum & Instruction in Gifted and Talented Education. As a liaison to other Catholic Schools, she continually fosters the growth of the DECATS program for all of our nominating schools. She is excited to see this program growing in campus environments, as well as the number of Scholars we serve.
     
  Dr. Diane B. Cooper
Founder of DECATS
   
  Dr. Cooper received a B.A. at St. Joseph College, an M.Ed. at the University of North Texas and her Ed.D. at the University of San Francisco. She was a secondary English teacher and department chair for 10 years and was head of school for 28 years at 4 different schools (two in Dallas, Texas, one in Vero Beach, Florida, and one in Columbus, Ohio). She currently serves as principal of St. Joseph Academy in St. Louis. Diane founded DECATS (DeBusk Enrichment Center for Academically Talented Students) in 1990 at the Immaculate Conception School in Grand Prairie, Texas. She is a frequent speaker at educational conferences on gifted education. The National Catholic Education Association honored her as a National Distinguished Principal in 1990. In 1991, the U.S. Department of Education also honored her as National Distinguished Principal. She served on the Executive Board of the National Catholic Education Association, the Board of Directors for the Chamber of Commerce in Vero Beach, Florida and the Executive Board of the Florida Council of Independent Schools. She recently served as President of the Ohio Association of Independent Schools. Diane has been married to Charles Cooper since 1968. They have two grown children, a son and a daughter, and three grandchildren.

"From its earliest beginnings with only 34 young students in Grand Prairie, DECATS has grown exponentially from a dream shared by a concerned educator with a wise and wonderful man, to a program that has multiple sites," Cooper said. "Thousands of students have benefitted from the intelligence, creativity, determination, and hard work of scores of talented people over nearly two decades. As one who was present at the birth of the DECATS program all those years ago, I stand aside now as a proud grandparent and marvel at how far we have come, what great work has been done, and how fortunate the academically talented children of Texas are to have this caliber available to them. The determination of one man, Manuel DeBusk, to bring this work into reality has been an inspiration and a joy and a life-changing experience for me."
     
  Edith DeBusk
Founder of DeBusk Foundation
   
  Mrs. DeBusk was educated in Texas public schools and graduated from SMU Law School. She was one of the outstanding pioneer women lawyers in the State of Texas. She was International President of Altrusa International, one of the large worldwide women's service clubs. For many years her health was poor, but it did not stop her from leadership in business and service. Mrs. Edith DeBusk was a Founder of DeBusk Foundation along with her husband, Manuel DeBusk.
     
  Jean DeBusk
Founder of DeBusk Foundation
   
  Mrs. DeBusk was educated in Texas public schools, Texas Technological College (now Texas Tech University) and received her Master's Degree from Texas Christian University. She taught in Texas public schools and at Hockaday Private School in Dallas. She was married to the Reverend Patrick Henry, long time Pastor of Northway Christian Church in Dallas. Rev. Henry died in 1983. She married Manuel DeBusk on January 18, 1992. Jean DeBusk served on the Board of Directors of DeBusk Foundation and endorsed wholeheartedly, the Foundation's objectives until she died on January 12, 2001.

"The vivid memory of my many-splendored visits with Houston DECATS in June will remain surrounded by a special glow and aura," DeBusk said. "I am indebted to you for introducing me to valued books that I would have missed otherwise. Years ago, actually another millennium, my granddaughter and I often read a favorite book together about a party where everybody had a wondrous time, a word to describe our delightful day with you, the splendid staff of mentors and assistants, and the great students of DECATS. How can we count the ways of your super hospitality and clear grasp of the significance of enriching educational opportunities' Thursday was a luminous day in memory and will retain that special glow."
     
  Manuel DeBusk
Founder of DeBusk Foundation
   
  Mr. DeBusk was educated in Texas public schools, attended Wayland Junior College, Texas Technological College (now Texas Tech University) and SMU Law School. He and his wife Edith established a law firm in Dallas specializing in Mortgage and Real Estate Law. He was active in Texas politics from 1936 through 1980. His long standing interest in education and civic service led to his appointment as Chairman of the Board of Texas Technological College and Chairman of the Coordinating Board of all Texascolleges and universities. He was an International President of Cosmopolitan International, an international service club. As Chairman of the Board of the Association of Small Foundations in Washington, D.C., he promoted small foundations. He was also a Special Agent with the FBI during World War II. The death of his wife, Edith was followed by two marriages to Jean Shelley Henry and subsequently to Darlena Blackwell, both of whom preceded Manuel in death.
     
  Dr. Marty F. Webb
Founder of DECATS in Houston
   
  Dr. Webb received her Ed.D. in private school leadership from The University of San Francisco. She holds a B.S. in special education from the University of Michigan and an M.Ed. in educational administration from Houston Baptist University. She has been a special education teacher, private tutor, consultant, college instructor and principal. Dr. Webb served for 17 years as principal for Corpus Christi Catholic School in Houston, a United States Department of Education Blue Ribbon School. She is the Founder of The Monarch Institute in Houston, which serves individuals with neurological differences and includes a therapeutic day school, diagnostic clinic, therapy services, training center, replication program and transition services. She is Monarch Institute's Executive Director Emerita, where she heads the capital campaign and provides consultation to the executive board and Institute leaders. She and her husband Eugene, a retired psychotherapist, are the parents of four grown children and fifteen grandchildren.

"We face a societal challenge to become more responsive to the needs of these gifted children, who have so much to offer our society," Webb said. "By acknowledging their uniqueness, we foster the uniqueness of all children, of all people. Together, we become partners in this win-win situation for children and adults."
     
     
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