It takes a village to educate a child and we are pretty proud of our village here at ABCD.  Our faculty and Board of Directors are passionate about education, community, and our students!

Tonya Nartowicz

Executive Director/Co-Director

“Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all.”                      – Aristotle

The birth of my first son sparked my interest in Education.  I believe strongly in the importance of community, social-emotional skills, and the freedom for children to pursue their own interests as a way to support meaningful learning. Apple Blossom Center for Discovery embodies those ideals. I am currently completing an MSW at Texas State University. My professional background is in non-profit management and development and education fundraising.

     I was originally born in Virginia, and moved to Austin, by way of New York, 17 years ago. While earning my degrees in Economics, East Asian Studies, and Japanese Language at UT Austin, I became thoroughly involved in Austin’s community. I’ve been recognized by the City of Austin for spearheading efforts to bring more fenced dog parks to the Austin area, been a volunteer for Any Baby Can, Habitat for Humanity, the Central Texas Food Bank, and several other volunteer efforts. 

Gina Bennette, M.Ed. 


“The secret in education lies in respecting the student”                                                          -Ralph Waldo Emerson

As co-founder of ABCD, and Curriculum Director, I bring over 20 years of experience educating children, a B.S. in Psychology, and an M.Ed. in Early Childhood Education. I was originally born in Wilmington, DE, and moved to Texas by way of New Orleans, LA and Wilmington, North Carolina. I know from experience the importance of social-emotional learning and the consequences when our schools ignore it. As VP at The Princeton Review, I learned first hand how broken the system is. American Education doesn’t value true learning, just the ability to represent it on a test. My goal at Apple Blossom Center for Discovery is to fill that gap and get your child excited about learning.

Kreslyn Lehmann

Kindergarten Teacher

“It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge.”
– Albert Einstein

My career started as a medical assistant. I loved helping families in a clinical setting but after taking a position as a Special Needs Nanny for a medically fragile child, I discovered my true passion is for teaching! I have several years of experience as a nanny and working in a small private school as a Pre-K teacher. I am excited to bring all of my experience to ABCD. My goal at Apple Blossom Center for Discovery is teaching our youngest students that learning is both fun and educational!

Victoria Cantu

First/Second Grade Teacher

bio coming soon

Keli Pollarine

Third/Fourth Grade Teacher

TED Speaker, Emilie Wapnick, defines a “Multipotentialite” as those of us with many interests, many jobs over a lifetime, and many interlocking potentials —

“This is how I have always lived… building on my skills in different areas, and synthesizing the knowledge I acquire along the way”.

As someone who embodies the spirit of a Multipotentialite; I, too, have followed a variety of career paths and have held diverse positions within those paths. At the core of all my experience, however, is a common thread of passion for helping others, formulating solutions to problems, and making systems more efficient and enjoyable for clients/customers and colleagues alike. With over 5 years in multiple aspects of customer service and teaching, I bring a strong sense of dedication, attention to detail, and adaptability to your child’s classroom.

Heather Guidry

PreK Teacher

Bio coming soon

Deann Acton, BA, MA LMFT ATR-BC

Board of Directors 

deannI have over sixteen years experience working with children, teens, families, and adults in a variety of settings, including schools, residential treatment centers, juvenile detention centers, and hospitals. I use art, play, sand tray, and talk therapy to help people find different ways to look at their challenges and find creative solutions.

For the past decade, I have focused much of my work on gifted children, teens and adults, who often times possess both an emotional and intellectual intensity that can make life overwhelming. You can find out more information about my interest in gifted populations at my website devoted to gifted populations.

Aside from my therapeutic work, I have also been an educator in two university Masters Level Counseling Programs, Notre Dame de Namur University in Belmont, California and Dominican University in San Rafael, California. I am a published author, having written for the American Art Therapy Association’s Journal and published a chapter in the book, “Art, Angst, and Trauma: Right Brain Interventions with Developmental Issues.”

Kathryn Tague

Board of Directors

Having been educated as a child both in the traditional Montessori fashion through 5th grade, and then in the public school system through Middle and High School, I have had the unique opportunity to see both sides of the education system. It is because of this experience that I feel so passionately about alternative education as both a parent and a member of our community.
I studied Political Science, Psychology, and Sociology in college, and have spent the last 6 years in online publishing, first as a News Editor and then the last 4 years as an Executive Editor for a progressive online men’s magazine. One of the topics that we cover extensively is education, its affects on children, families, and communities, and the need for more alternative and inclusive options.

We currently have open board positions! If your passionate about Education, Social Emotional Learning, or Social Justice starting in the classroom, please email Tonya Nartowicz at t.nartowicz@abcdaustin.org for more information.