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Meet the Leaders and Educators at Mentoring Minds

Mentoring Minds is an educational publisher focused on the success of students. Our passion is to develop quality educational materials that encourage students to think critically for effective problem solving. Equipped with many years of educational experience, our product development team creates materials that address relevant issues in the classroom such as critical thinking, vocabulary development, the prevention of bullying, classroom management, and accommodations for students with special needs.

We consider ourselves partners with you in the continuous pursuit of providing a quality education for all students. As educators dedicated to excellence, it is our privilege to provide valuable teaching tools that are needed to empower teachers and to positively impact the lives of children.

Michael L. Lujan, M.Ed. | Founder

Founder | Michael LujanFellow educator, devoted husband, and proud father of two young daughters, Michael has over 18 years of experience in education. Michael co-founded Mentoring Minds with his wife, Lisa, in response to an educational market that he believed lacked products that effectively met both students’ and teachers’ needs. Today he leads a dynamic team of exceptional teachers, curriculum coordinators, and administrators who are dedicated to producing transformative educational materials that develop critical thinking for life. Michael holds a B.A. in Elementary Education, a B.A. in Sociology, a B.A. in Political Science, and an M.Ed. in School Administration.


Robert L. Bush, M.S. | Chief Executive Officer


CEO | Robert L. BushA longtime advocate for public education and community service, Robert combines his two passions in his role at Mentoring Minds. He is a leader in developing the next generation of leaders by giving children the tools to think critically and engage their own learning process. His vision is to create school environments where every child is equipped to learn and grow. Early in his career, he served as an administrator at a regional university. He later worked as a senior leader for the national service organization VISTA in Washington DC to address community needs. He recently served as an executive director of two regional food banks. Robert holds a B.B.A. in Management and Administration and an M.S. in Higher Education from Northeastern State University in Oklahoma. 

Cindy Klein, B.B.A. | Chief Strategy Officer


Chief Strategic Officer | Cindy KleinCindy serves as an incubator for new ideas and projects that support Mentoring Minds’ vision of helping learners discover how to positively impact the world. She is passionate about developing our strategic plans and providing the innovative thinking that helps move our vision forward. She is always on the lookout for ways to cultivate key initiatives and help position the company to pursue strategic alliances and new opportunities. Cindy enjoys working for Mentoring Minds because she believes an emphasis on critical thinking is crucial to the future success of our students and our society as a whole. She also loves working for a company that is committed to a social mission and that values the growth and development of its employees. Cindy received a B.B.A. from the University of Texas at Tyler, P.P.T. from Texas Tech University and is currently working on her E.M.B.A. from Texas A&M University. 

David Stuart, B.A. | Chief Customer Officer 

Chief Customer Officer | David StuartDavid enjoys leading and developing an outstanding, integrated team of marketing, sales, knowledge management, and visual design experts who are responsible for providing the optimal customer experience. He also develops the strategies that drive company growth by maximizing customer acquisition, renewal, and retention. For David, being part of a team that is deeply committed to our mission of helping children learn critical thinking skills for life is significant. When customers and educators describe the difference we are making in schools across the country, David credits it as a success for his entire team. Providing the tools that help students and teachers think critically is more than a job—he considers it meaningful and life-changing work. David has a B.A. from California State University Long Beach.

 

Theresa Avirett  | Chief Operating Officer 

COO | Theresa AvirettTheresa has the unique perspective of having served with Mentoring Minds since its inception. In that time, she has seen firsthand how the company has grown and widened its impact on schools nationwide. In her current role, she ensures that all of our operations departments are running efficiently, including product development, customer service and invoicing, and inventory. From Theresa’s point of view, the bottom line is not about profit as much as it is about providing quality products that make a difference in people’s lives. She is a team player and enjoys working with a multi-faceted team of professionals committed to helping students think critically for life. Theresa studied business at Indiana Central University. 

Shad A. Madsen, M.B.A. | Chief Financial Officer

Chief Financial Officer | Shad A. MadsenShad brings diverse, hands-on experience and leadership to his new role as CFO. Leading and developing future generations to serve the country has been a dominant theme throughout Shad's 16-year career. Shad was a captain in the U.S. Army, leading teams of soldiers in both peace and wartime operations, including two tours in the Middle East. After serving in the Army, Shad worked at Boeing and Sabre Holdings, progressing from analyst to business unit controller and then finance director. Shad earned his B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from the United States Military Academy at West Point and his M.B.A. from the University of Texas at Austin.

Brian Brandt, M.A.G.L. | Director of Professional Development

Director of Professional Development | Brian BrandtBrian Brandt is the Director of Professional Development and Learning.  He has over two decades of leadership experience, serving in a variety of roles with several organizations. He is passionate about leadership development and regularly trains and coaches adults to new levels in their professions. Additionally, he has been interviewed by numerous radio, television and print media outlets on a wide range of topics. He frequently writes for various national publications on leadership, strategic planning, change management, public relations, and human resource issues. Brian holds an M. A. in Global Leadership as well as a B. A. in Accounting. 

 

Judy Daughtry | Lead Accountant

Judy oversees all of our accounting practices and assists in our overall financial strategy. She works to ensure we are achieving goals that are consistent with our company’s vision and values. In this role, she serves behind the scenes to contribute to helping children reach their potential and succeed. Judy attended Abilene Christian University.


Jessica Goodman, M.B.A. | Sales Director

Jessica Goodman | Director of SalesJessica has a wealth of professional experience in the training and education industry. She directs our sales strategy and enjoys helping customers achieve their educational and development goals in a variety of delivery formats. Her passion for her sales team and her customers is equal to her passion for lifelong learning and growth. Jessica received her B.A from the University of Texas at Austin and her M.B.A. from Keller Graduate School.

Mila Hightower, B.A. | Director of Marketing

Director of Marketing | Mila HightowerMila brings extensive experience in the design and execution of marketing strategies that enhance national brand consistency and recognition. She leads an innovative team of creative people who believe in the strength and value of the company’s mission. They tell the story of Mentoring Minds in a variety of compelling, results-driven marketing venues and social media outlets. Mila previously served as the director of marketing for a global charity after founding her own marketing agency and serving as a former senior account executive in television advertising sales. She actively participates in volunteer work in her local community and received her B.A. from Texas Tech University. 

Alicia Lansford, B.S. | Manager of Customer Service

Manager of Customer Service | Alicia LansfordAlicia began her career with Mentoring Minds as a Customer Service Representative and is now the Manager of Customer Service. Working with schools across the country gives her the opportunity to directly impact the future of millions of children. Alicia enjoys speaking with educators every day who share the same desire to help their students reach their potential and be successful in life. She received her B.S. at the University of Texas at Tyler.

Gavin Rasco, M.B.A. | Director of Knowledge Management

Director of Knowledge Management | Gavin RascoGavin oversees the database operations and leverages a variety of information both inside and outside Mentoring Minds in order to identify potential areas of growth. He previously served as an internal auditor for a financial institution, and also draws on the consulting and design experience he has from a number of professional industries. Gavin received his M.B.A. and B.B.A. from the University of Texas at Tyler.

 

 

 

 
Our Educators

 

Amanda Byers, B.S.I.S.

Educational Consultant | Amanda ByersAmanda focused her teaching career at the middle school level. She began her teaching career in 1998 after graduating from the University of Texas at Tyler with a B.S. in Interdisciplinary Studies. She has many years of experience teaching in several districts, including 7th and 8th grade math, as well as Pre-AP Algebra I. 

Stephanie Christian, M.Ed.

Educational Consultant | Stephanie ChristianDuring her 16 years of public education experience, Stephanie taught elementary and middle school math. She also has the unique perspective of serving as a school counselor. Stephanie graduated from Stephen F. Austin State University with a B.S. in Education and later received an M.Ed. from Texas A&M University. She has also earned certification as a Professional School Counselor through work completed at the University of Texas at Tyler.

Beverly Collins, M.Ed.

Educational Consultant | Beverly CollinsBeverly worked for Tyler ISD for 29 years in Texas. She began teaching at Austin Elementary in 1976. In 1978, Beverly taught at Douglas Elementary, where she would serve for the next 27 years. After teaching for 15 years at Douglas, Beverly became an assistant principal for four years and later served as the principal of Douglas for eight years. Douglas was a recognized school four of the eight years she served as principal. Beverly was also instrumental in founding a Family Learning Center at Douglas, which served young children (birth to seven years of age) and their parents. Beverly holds an M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction and an M.Ed. in Educational Administration from the University of Texas at Tyler.  

Ladona Cook, M.Ed., B.S.

Educational Consultant | Ladona CookLadona has taught students at the middle school, high school, and undergraduate level. She also served as a campus instructional specialist and spent three years as a K-12 district science facilitator. Ladona has experience developing and implementing professional development sessions in science. The opportunity to create lessons that focus on investigation and excite students about science is a dream come true for Ladona.

 

Jana Kuehn, B.S.E

Educational Consultant | Jana KuehnJana began her teaching career following graduation from the University of Arkansas where she earned a B.S. in Early Childhood/Elementary Education in 1986. She served in several capacities in public education, including most recently as a kindergarten teacher. Jana was awarded Campus Teacher of the Year in 2007 because of her extraordinary commitment to her students. 

 

Karen Lane, M.Ed., B.S.

Educational Consultant | Karen LaneKaren’s educational career spans 21 years, with 18 years in the elementary classroom and three years as a district science facilitator. Karen has a B.S. from Texas A&M-Commerce in Elementary Education and a M.Ed. in Educational Administration from University of Texas at Tyler. She was awarded Campus Teacher of the Year, Walmart Teacher of the Year, and the Golden Apple Award. Her focus is on creating products to help teachers develop student understanding in science.

 

Sandra Love, Ed.D.

Educational Consultant | Sandra LoveSandra holds an Ed.D. in Curriculum and Instruction from Mississippi State University. She has also earned Mid-Management, Supervision, Gifted Education, and Early Childhood certifications. Her career as a public educator spans 37 years in Mississippi and Texas schools. She served as an elementary principal for 15 years and taught in elementary education, in gifted and talented education, and in higher education. Sandra was named National Distinguished Principal of Texas in 1998 by TEPSA and was honored as 1999 Principal of the Year by the South Central Association of Texas Elementary Principals for Zone 8.

 

Connie Moore, M.Ed.

Educational Consultant | Connie MooreConnie has 30 years of experience in public education in the classroom and in various administration levels. In the classroom, she taught 1st through 7th grades, special education, and gifted/talented. She also has extensive experience as an administrator, having served as a middle school assistant principal and elementary principal. Connie graduated from Baylor University in 1979 with a B.S. in Elementary Education. After teaching four years, she completed a Master of Interdisciplinary Studies from the University of Texas at Tyler in 1983. She then returned to UT Tyler to complete her M.Ed. in Administration in 1989.

 

Marian Rainwater, M.Ed.

Educational Consultant | Marian RainwaterMarian developed a passion for mathematics education during her 29-year career in public education. She taught mathematics at multiple levels and served as a curriculum specialist at a regional education service center. Marian also served in central administration in a variety of administrative roles, including Coordinator of Mathematics, Director of Gifted/Talented Education, Director of Instructional Technology, and Director of Curriculum and Instruction. She has provided staff development at campus and district levels and has presented sessions at state and national conferences. Marian is active in NCTM, NCSM, and their affiliate groups. She holds a B.S. in Mathematics/English and an M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction.

 

Teresa Sherman, B.S.E.

Teresa began her teaching career at an elementary school in Greenville, Mississippi. She then taught for six years at a private Catholic School, where she was named “Most Outstanding Teacher” in recognition of her skills. She taught 1st through 3rd grades at a public school for the next 12 years. Teresa also served as an instructional specialist for three years. In 1995, Mrs. Sherman was recognized once more for her devotion to education by being selected as the Tyler ISD Teacher of the Year in Tyler, Texas.

 

Karen White, M.Ed.

Educational Consultant | Karen WhiteWith over 27 years in education, Karen has developed a broad spectrum of experiences. She taught preschool through 5th grade and also worked as an instructional technology specialist. In addition, Karen has written elementary mathematics curriculum and has conducted numerous staff development workshops in mathematics and technology integration. She also served as an elementary assistant principal. She received a B.A. in Elementary Education from Trinity University and an M.Ed. in School Administration from the University of Texas at Tyler.

Allison Wiley, B.S.E.

Educational Consultant | Allison WileyAfter graduating from Baylor University with a B.S. in Education, Allison began her career teaching reading and social studies at the middle school level. She then moved to an elementary campus to teach 1st and 4th grades. More recently, Allison decided to serve as an elementary school reading and math tutor for 2nd through 5th grades to help students with specific needs.