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The Arbor Team


JuliAnna Jelinek

Executive Director

Previous to assuming this role, she served as The Arbor’s Chief Development Officer for two years. As Executive Director, JuliAnna is responsible for overall management of The Arbor, including operations, brand management, business development, and public engagement. Prior to joining The Arbor, JuliAnna spent over seven years in business development and fundraising for public policy and advocacy groups in Arizona, California, and Washington D.C. JuliAnna considers it one of her greatest joys in life to have landed at The Arbor and to serve such a dedicated community of Board members, incredible staff, and the most amazing students and parents around. When she’s not at her Arbor home, JuliAnna can be found at her house home-schooling and chasing her three young kids around while drinking copious amounts of caffeine. She loves the outdoors and the Texas Hill Country is her happy place.

Tricia Bingham

Director of Education

Previous to assuming this role, Tricia served as a Lead Teacher for The Arbor for three years. As Director of Education, she is now responsible for leading the teaching staff and implementing best practices in curriculum and education programs at The Arbor. Tricia has her Master’s in Curriculum and Instruction and has 17 years of education experience with children with special needs – one of her favorite parts about working at The Arbor is getting to know each student and their families because this has truly become her second family! Tricia is also certified in assistive technology for children with special needs, and considers it such a privilege to get to support our amazing teachers in the work that they do in the classrooms! When she’s not at the Arbor, you can find her going on “adventures” (like taking a trip to Lowe’s) with her husband and  two little boys or going on a Saturday morning run that somehow always ends at the breakfast taco shop!

Jennifer Lopez

Director of Support Services

As the Director of Support Services, Jennifer focuses on meeting all of the needs of our assistant teachers and managing auxiliary programs. Jennifer joined The Arbor family in 2016 and started as a Teacher Assistant for two years before becoming a Lead Teacher in 2018 and assuming her current role in 2019. Jennifer was born in Ohio, but she spent much of her childhood in Caracas, Venezuela, until she earned her degree in Occupational Therapy. She has over 15 years of experience working with children with special needs. Working at The Arbor has allowed her to create a bigger impact in the lives of children with special needs by bringing out each child’s gifts and strengths while addressing their needs. She loves spending time with her family, traveling, and exercising!

Emily Grichuk

Donor Relations Manager

Emily assists in cultivating donor relations, planning special events, writing grant proposals, and developing digital and print materials. Prior to joining The Arbor, she spent over three years working in education and customer-relation offices. Emily brings with her a passion for the special needs community and a readiness to cultivate strong relationships with the friends and families of The Arbor. While The Arbor is one of her favorite places to be, she also loves spending time with her family (and puppy!) and taking long road trips – especially during springtime when flowers are in full bloom!

Morgan DeBeir

Business Manager

As Business Manager, Morgan is responsible for accounting, compliance, and human resources. Morgan has over 25 years in managerial roles ranging from large corporations to small operations. He has obtained a degree in Computer Science and is A+ and MCP certified. Morgan first found The Arbor as a parent and has a deep passion for The Arbor School. Morgan is an avid motorcyclist and musician. He owns his own studio and works with songwriters across the country. He shares his passion for motorcycling with his autistic son, where you can find them traveling the back roads of Texas almost every weekend. When he isn’t writing or riding, he is catching up with the latest anime with his teenaged daughter.


Amy Huffman

Lead Teacher

“I absolutely love this school!” Ms. Amy is happy to be at The Arbor for her sixth year! In 2008, she received her Bachelor of Science degree in Interdisciplinary Studies with a minor in Special Education. She has experience as both a life-skills and PPCD teacher before joining The Arbor family. She is passionate about teaching children and defying the odds that were set against her students. This is what brings hope to so many families that come through her doors, and that is one of the best rewards!

Aqeela Manzar

Lead Teacher

Ms. Aqeela has 36 years of experience teaching children with special needs. After receiving her Masters in Psychology in 1983, she dedicated herself to several different organizations and schools in Pakistan for children with special needs – even including the Special Olympics!  Ms. Aqeela has now been with The Arbor for over 10 years. For Ms. Aqeela, this is not “just a job,” it is something that she is called to do! With her unwavering patience and compassion, she feels that she was created to help those who need it most. In her own words, “When I see the light in the eyes of my students and their parents, I feel that I was able to make a difference in their life and that gives me a feeling of fulfillment every day.”

Deidre Nieto

Lead Teacher

Ms. Deidre is always ready to have fun! She has nearly 15 years of experience in education, working with children from infancy through 12 years old. She has been a lead teacher at The Arbor for four years. She has training as a registered behavioral therapist and an ABA therapist, and is passionately driven to provide an ABA-structured, loving, positive environment for all of the students and teachers. She lives by her favorite quote from Napoleon Hill, “you become what you think about,” and this drives her stellar work ethic in and out of the classroom!

Magaly Herrmann

Lead Teacher

“Watching my students discover, succeed, and learn something new is truly my favorite part of every day!” Ms. Magaly was born in Columbia and brings with her an educational background in psychology. She has been working at The Arbor for almost five years. She says that every day, she is thankful for having the opportunity to guide and teach young children. She strives to create a safe place for her kids to grow in a positive, fun environment that encourages and motivates them to achieve their goals. When she’s not working, she likes working out with her husband and spending time at home with her dog and taking care of her plants.

Keisha Lee

Lead Teacher

Ms. Keisha has been at The Arbor for nearly 15 years! She is very passionate about the children and families that she serves. It is her personal mission to ensure that skills learned in the classroom are transferred and carried out in the home. Her goal is for her students to have community awareness and be present and actively part of as many family and community events as possible! Outside of The Arbor, she loves to stay healthy and fit to keep up with her very active boys!

Purdeep Matharu

Lead Teacher

Ms. Purdeep was born and raised in the U.K. She taught special needs children in the U.K. for four years and she even taught English to students in India for a year (she’s trilingual!). Now she has been teaching at The Arbor for over 25 years. She is a loving, caring, fun, supportive, organized, and energetic teacher who loves to bake on the weekends and spend time with her family and dogs. Her goal is to teach all of her students to their fullest potential and to be successful and as independent as possible. Ms. Purdeep is always ready for a challenge in the classroom and has overcome many through the years. She is passionate about helping others and is driven to provide the very best education to her students.

Sonia Arreaga

Lead Teacher

Ms. Sonia has been with The Arbor nearly since its founding! She graduated from Houston Baptist University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Education. During her college years, she worked part-time at The Arbor as an assistant teacher before joining the staff as a lead teacher. While she focuses on her students’ well-being, she desires that their parents may in turn find hope, practical help, and guidance at The Arbor. She takes great joy in watching her students successfully master their individualized goals and she has proudly watched many of her former students grow and succeed through The Arbor’s program.



Karen Johnson

Occupational Therapist

Ms. Karen joined The Arbor team in 2015, and she loves working with the students twice a week! She has experience in a variety of pediatric settings since graduating as an Occupational Therapist, and she is trained in pediatric NDT and has her certification in Ashtanga Yoga. Along with many other therapeutic techniques, she uses yoga theories regularly when treating clients to help relax or arouse their bodies in preparation for therapy and to strengthen and elongate muscles. Some fun facts are that she loves summers on the East Cost, spending time with family, throwing great parties, and hunting for vintage treasures!


Melissa Gastineau

Developmental Communications Therapist

Ms. Melissa has 14 years of experience working as a speech-language pathologist assistant with children of all ages.  She received her Bachelor of Arts degree from Baylor University in Communication Science and Disorders.  She has been working with The Arbor exclusively for the past five years.  She has training in Beckman Oral Technique, PECS, DIR/Floortime. She also has extensive training and knowledge regarding Assistive Technology and AAC devices. She is passionate about finding a way for all children regardless of their disability to communicate.


Nicki Joncyk

Music Therapist

Ms. Nicki has spent her whole life singing! Motivated by an aunt with special needs, she knew that she wanted to direct her passion for music and people to become a music therapist. In 2012, she graduated from Sam Houston State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Music Therapy. Board certified, she has worked for TIRR Memorial Hermann, in-home health programs, various assisted living facilities, and many special needs programs throughout the surrounding school districts. She has been providing Music Therapy to the students at The Arbor since 2015 when she attained her certificate in Neurologic Music Therapy and opened her own practice.


Nathan Stedham, Chairman of The Board
John Daly, Chairman Emeritus
Debra Martinez
Helena Reilly
Justin Leonard
Katelin Pollock
Kenneth Corley
Kristen Stedham
Melissa Judd
Tiffany Tyler
Wade Turner


The Arbor is committed to recruiting dedicated, creative, and passionate teachers who will share in our drive to provide the best educational program possible for children with special needs.

If you would like to apply for a teaching position, please send your résumé and cover letter outlining your interests and abilities to:

The Arbor School
Attn: Tricia Bingham, Director of Education
1635 Blalock Road
Houston, Texas 77080