Home Philosophy Curriculum School Hours Contact Us

Wonderland School
An Educational Alternative In San Marcos Since 1965
302 Country Estates Dr. | San Marcos, TX 78666 | 512-392-9404
Meet Faculty and Staff
Shirley
Mrs. Shirley Fife
Founder/Kindergarten

The day I was born, God told me I was going to teach school with children, and I have never known anything else. That was God’s plan for me. Why would you do anything else if that was God’s plan for you? If you do what you love, you’ll never work another day in your life.

My educational background started when I graduated from San Marcos High School in 1953. I went on to study at Southwest Texas State University, where I got my Bachelors of Science in Education in 1957.

A love for teaching was found at Pana Maria, where I taught general education and music. Afterwards, I went on to teach migrant 4th and 5th grade students at KARNES City for one year. I then moved on to Easthaven Baptist in Pasadena where I taught first grade for both years I was with the school.

After Easthaven, God’s plan set forth to make my life what it has been for the last 53 years.

We had found a facility on the base of Camp Gary, where later the school would be started. They said they could not have a private entity on base, so we moved the school. At the time, it consisted of only 12 students, so we moved them into our dining room. Thus, the start of Wonderland School.

After the first year, Wonderland began its first expansion. Granddad owned property and an opportune moment was seen. We used the bottom half of a two-story house for one year that was owned by grandad, and during that time we built a four-room school house. The school was moved from our dining room into the school we built.

Eventually, as our reputation as a school grew, so did our student population. We once again needed more space. We moved again to Country Estates, and that has become what we all know now as Wonderland School. Back then the building was about half the size it is now. We have built so much upon it since then, and Jim has added so much since as well, including a gym and a library.

We, as well as all our students, are so lucky to call this place home.

Shirley
Mrs. Shirley Fife
Founder/Kindergarten

The day I was born, God told me I was going to teach school with children, and I have never known anything else. That was God’s plan for me. Why would you do anything else if that was God’s plan for you? If you do what you love, you’ll never work another day in your life.

My educational background started when I graduated from San Marcos High School in 1953. I went on to study at Southwest Texas State University, where I got my Bachelors of Science in Education in 1957.

A love for teaching was found at Pana Maria, where I taught general education and music. Afterwards, I went on to teach migrant 4th and 5th grade students at KARNES City for one year. I then moved on to Easthaven Baptist in Pasadena where I taught first grade for both years I was with the school.

After Easthaven, God’s plan set forth to make my life what it has been for the last 53 years.

We had found a facility on the base of Camp Gary, where later the school would be started. They said they could not have a private entity on base, so we moved the school. At the time, it consisted of only 12 students, so we moved them into our dining room. Thus, the start of Wonderland School.

After the first year, Wonderland began its first expansion. Granddad owned property and an opportune moment was seen. We used the bottom half of a two-story house for one year that was owned by grandad, and during that time we built a four-room school house. The school was moved from our dining room into the school we built.

Eventually, as our reputation as a school grew, so did our student population. We once again needed more space. We moved again to Country Estates, and that has become what we all know now as Wonderland School. Back then the building was about half the size it is now. We have built so much upon it since then, and Jim has added so much since as well, including a gym and a library.

We, as well as all our students, are so lucky to call this place home.

Jim
Jimmy Fife
Principal

I graduated from San Marcos High School in 1978 and went on to graduate from Southwest Texas State University in 1983 where I received my Bachelors in Business Administration. I also received my teaching certificate in Business and Physical Education.

I then went on to receive a Masters in Educational Administration and a Mid Management certificate in 1993 from Southwest Texas State University.

Switching gears, I taught High School and coached at Klein Oak High School from 1984-1995. It was that year where I finally found my calling and came to Wonderland where I have been Principal since 1995.

Jane
Naseem Kaikhah-Tanksley
Assistant Principal/Fifth Grade

This is my seventh year at Wonderland. I have occupied many different positions in the school. I started in the Critter room, taught Kinder for a few years, and then was the office manager.

This year I am also teaching 4th, 5th and 6th grade Math and love it.

I graduated in 2010 from Texas State, with my Bachelors in Education in EC-6 and ESL.

Jane
Lucy Silguero
Barnyard

Holy greetings! I have been a part of the Wonderland family for twelve years! I love Wonderland because of our motto - “Praising Him with every breath we take!” 😍

Jane
Virginia Cantu
Barnyard

I have been married almost twenty years to my husband Rene and we have four children ages 7, 16, 19 and 24. This will be my third school year in the Wonderland baby room. I was also a nurse assistant for four years and have served in church child care. I love spending time with my family in my spare time.

Jane
Rebecca Hudson
Little Critters / Physical Education

My name is Rebecca Hudson. As a San Marcos native, my husband and I moved back to the area two years ago. We have a daughter, Camyle , who is one and half. I love teaching and working with kids.

Currently, I am an online international English Teacher with VIPKID and Coach/Captain of the San Marcos River Rollers; the local roller derby team.

I have over ten years of experience working with children. Coaching swimming, downhill snow skiing and roller-skating is at the top of my list. Teaching English in South Korea after college allowed me to see part of the world and really pushed me to become an educator.

Traveling and eating food from all over the world is also my favorite past time. My current hobbies include roller derby, yoga, swimming, cooking and hanging with my family at the river.

Jane
Valeria Baracatt
Little Critters

When my kids turned four years old, I got a job as a substitute teacher in the Head Start Program here in San Marcos. I had the opportunity to work with infants and also with kids from one to three years old. I discovered that working hard, child development, compassion, and basic sense tell you that all kids are different and they need an adult who can kindly and patiently work with them.

It is my first time working in Wonderland. I am highly motivated and I particularly enjoy working as part of a team.

My goal is to highlight the education skills that I’ve learned throughout gaining my Teaching Certification.

Jane
Lindsay Kimmell
Little Critters

This staff member has not written a biography.

Jane
Valerie Guardiola
Teddy Bear

In December of 2011 I graduated with a Bachelors of Science in Early Childhood Education through 6th grade and a minor in Special Education from Texas State University. This will be my seventh year teaching and my third year teaching preschool at Wonderland School.

Jane
Andrea Garcia
Big Bird

This is my fourth year at Wonderland and my third year teaching Preschool in the Big Bird classroom. I have a Bachelors degree from Lamar University and have been working in the education field for the past ten years. I live in Kyle with my husband Joshua, my two sons, Jakson and Jameson, and our dog, Hurley. As a family, we enjoy spending time outdoors.

Jane
Amber Olivo
Busy Bee

This will be my first year at Wonderland, but over the past summer, I’ve had the privilege to work in the Critter room. I have two children of my own- Ethan, 6, and Alexandra, 1. I look forward to a great year with tons of memories.

Jane
Stephanie Olivo
Busy Bee

I have been in childcare for about 18 years. This will be my third year here at Wonderland School. I am a wife and mom of two children. My son is 13 years old and my daughter is 8 years old. I am so excited about the upcoming school year!

Jane
Carly Skelton
Noah

This is my seventh year at Wonderland and my tenth year in a preschool. I graduated from Texas State in 2005 and have been teaching preschool since my first child was born. I am a certified teacher for 4-8 grades and special education and have a passion for children. Wonderland is my home away from home and I make sure my students feel at home here, too!

Jane
Hannah Friesen
Monkeys

I am the teacher for the Monkeys. This is my first year at Wonderland School, but not my first time teaching.

I have worked at several daycares and have also taught at Sunday school for ten years. I spent three years at Texas State University and one year at Bible College in North Carolina. I have also spent four years in the United States military and was the Boss President for our company.

Jane
Elicia Bermudez
Foxes

I have lived in San Marcos for nine years where I graduated with a bachelors in Fine Arts from Texas State University. I have dedicated my professional career to education and communication through art and expression. This is my second year teaching the Foxes (Pre-K) at Wonderland School.

Jane
Barbara Walker
Pooh

I went back to college after raising four children to finish my education degree at Texas Wesleyan University. I’ve taught in Ft. Worth ISD for eight years for the most part as a third grade teacher. I love my calling as a Pre-K teacher and have been at Wonderland for seven years. I’m so thankful to interweave Christian principals as I teach my Pre-K to read. I get to see their lightbulbs come on! It’s great!

Jane
Trish Richardson
Kinder

This is my eleventh year at Wonderland but I’ve been teaching for twenty-one years total. I graduated from Lamar University in Beaumont with a specialization in reading. I love teaching reading to young children so they can have a love of books and sense of adventure.

Jane
Rebecca Cruz
Kinder

I began pursuing a teaching career at San Antonio College where I received my Associates degree in Liberal Arts, then moved onto Texas State University where I completed my Bachelors degree in Interdisciplinary Studies. My college career prepared me for a very diverse range of students as I worked for four years with students of various backgrounds throughout grade levels ranging from Pre-K through 5th grade. After completing my studies, I was a guest teacher for Hays Consolidated Independent School District. I gained experience teaching 5th-8th grade Special Education, Physical Education, Technology, and all level classes.

I am Vice President of the WPA and this is my second year as Social Media Coordinator for the school. For the last two years, I have been a part of the Wonderland family, teaching Kindergarten.

Jane
Frances Silguero
First Grade

I have 29 years of experience at the elementary level. I received my Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education from Southwest Texas State University (Texas State). This is my first year at Wonderland.

Jane
Debra Eckols
Second and Third Grade Math, Science & Social Studies

I have a Bachelor of Arts from Baylor and a Master of Education from Texas State University. I have been teaching for 30 years, with an additional four years as a substitute teacher. Throughout those years, I taught ages 3-6, 2nd-4th grades, Special Education for grades K-6, Mythology, and Latin for grades 9-12. This is currently my third year at Wonderland and I am teaching 2nd and 3rd grade Math, Science and Social Studies.

Jane
Vicky Kepler
Second and Third Grade Language Arts

After graduating from ETSU in Commerce, Texas with a degree in Social Science, I began working in a small, family owned school in Houston as Administrative Assistant to the principal. After four years of working in the office, I began teaching first grade. Later I taught 2nd, 3rd, and 4th grades at Catholic schools in Port Lavaca and La Grange before “retiring” and moving to San Marcos, where I found Wonderland! This is my third year here and my eighteenth year teaching.

Jane
Christina C.
Fourth Grade

I have been a certified Texas teacher for four years. Three of those years have been spent at Wonderland teaching 4th grade English and Texas History, 5th grade U.S. History, and 6th grade World History. In the past I have been an active member of the WPA, holding the roles of Parent Liaison and Vice President.

Jane
Deanna Franke
Sixth Grade

I have 45 years of teaching experience, 30 of which are in public schools and 15 at Wonderland where I am the 6th grade Science teacher. Teaching Science is what I’ve done for the past 32 years, as well as reading and grammar - two of my other specialties.

I earned my Bachelors and Masters degrees from Southwest Texas, now known as Texas State. Both are in the field of education. Being selected as one of the top 50 Science teachers in the nation, and Conservation Teacher of the Year, are some highlights of my career. Other accomplishments are developing a behavioral management system called RESPECT, and presenting local and statewide workshops in Science.

My teaching experience ranges from Kindergarten to 6th grade, elementary and secondary, and I’ve taught hundreds of kids over the years. I love what I do and teaching Bible study to my students at Wonderland is a real blessing.

Jane
Valerie Cleckler
Art

This staff member has not written a biography.

Jane
Risa Schneider
Music

This staff member has not written a biography.

Jane
Carol Polhemus
Reading Specialist

In 1968, I graduated from Southwest Texas State with a BS in Elementary Education and Speech Therapy. I taught Speech Therapy, and children with learning disabilities in Comal Independent School District for six years.

After twenty years of rearing a family, I returned to the University of Virginia and earned a certificate in teaching Learning Disabilities. In Virginia, I taught two years in public school and six years in a private school for children with learning difficulties. My husband and I returned to Texas.

I have been the resource teacher at Wonderland School for twelve years.

Jane
Suzi Garza
Spanish
I’m an alumni from Sul Ross State University and have been teaching Spanish for five years. This is my first year teaching with Wonderland and I’m excited to be your child’s Spanish teacher. When I’m not teaching I spend time with my family and traveling to places I’ve never seen.

Jane
Jennifer Padgett
Computers

I have been teaching for 12 years and have a Masters Degree in Education. I teach a variety of subjects including: technology; multicultural art and education; math; language arts; and reading. I also provide some tutoring in social studies and science, as well as test preparation for the STAAR, SAT, and ASVAB tests.

Being an educator is a gift! I deeply believe that every child has his/her own unique set of abilities and talents. As a teacher it’s a joy to be able to help children find theirs and expand upon them.