Our leadership team is dedicated to carrying out the mission and vision of Southwest Schools and have made the commitment to ensure the success of our students and faculty alike.
Spyros Catechis, Ed.D. – Founder/CEO
Dr. Spyros Catechis with over 25 years of executive leadership experience in public/private education, school psychology and business development has focused on developing educational learning teams to enhance people skills in community based organizations and business enterprises.
Dr. Catechis has founded a variety of schools and programs designed to serve the needs of a wide range of students. From Pre-K through High School age, underachieving students, children with special educations needs, students who thrive in a virtual learning environment and kids who just need a smaller, more focused classroom setting. He is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Southwest Schools.
His doctoral degree was earned at the University of Houston in Educational Psychology. Dr. Catechis holds numerous professional certifications and licensures and is a member of the American Psychological Association, Division 13 Consulting Psychologists; National Association of School Psychologists, American Group Psychotherapy Association, Society of Psychologists in Management and holds Diplomat status in Behavioral Medicine. He is an Adjunct Faculty member of Central Michigan University in the College of Global Learning teaching both psychology and education courses.
Janelle James – CEO of Schools
Janelle James was appointed Southwest Schools’ CEO of Schools in June, 2014. Ms. James joined Southwest Schools in June, 2004, serving as Chief Operating Officer, Chief Academic and Operating Officer, and Superintendent of Schools. Under the guidance and direction of Ms. James, district schools have improved student performance and accountability for all students, teachers, and staff. Also during her tenure, the district has successively increased accountability scores, expanded its number of campuses from one to five, and embraced functioning as professional learning communities. Since becoming an educator, Ms. James has served as teacher, truant officer, principal, director of alternative education, and director of charter school initiatives for the state’s largest district. Under her leadership, the team at Southwest Schools developed and is now implementing a districtwide transformation plan with student learning at its core. Ms. James believes that serving students who most need a positive educational experience is the fulfillment of her life purpose. Her path as an educator has led her to Southwest Schools, serving students who have the highest needs. This is the manifestation of her mission. Her journey continues and is not finished.
Brenda Arteaga, Ed.D. – Superintendent of Schools
Dr. Brenda Arteaga has more than 25 years of experience in the field of public education, serving as bilingual teacher, English as a Second Language teacher, Spanish teacher, Reading teacher, Gifted and Talented teacher, general education teacher, Dual Language Coordinator, Title III Coordinator, elementary school assistant principal, elementary school principal, and Assistant Superintendent for Academics and Operations. She has held positions in both elementary and secondary settings and has a deep understanding of both areas. Not only has she had experience in the public school setting but also in the charter school arena and she also has in-depth experience with residential treatment centers. Dr. Arteaga has a focus on targeted instruction and equity for all students in regards to access to the curriculum. She has helped shape the curriculum system and has increased student achievement in each district that she has worked for. After serving one year as the Instructional Support Liaison, she was promoted to the Assistant Superintendent for Academics and Operations, a two-fold position that reaches every area in the district. Dr. Arteaga’s belief is that all students need to have a love of learning-with the opportunities to think, learn, and connect.
Tracey Urban – Chief Finance, Technology, & Facilities Officer
Tracey Urban joined Southwest Schools in 1999 as Business Manager where she learned the fundamentals of school finance and implemented daily processes and procedures for maximum efficiency.Gaining in knowledge and skills, Tracey was promoted to Business Administrator in 2006. Her efforts play a key role in building the district’s financial stability and reaching Above Standard Achievement School FIRST Rating.
Rose Norman, M.Ed. – Chief Research & Grants Officer
Rose Norman became the Assistant Superintendent of Accountability and Operations in August, 2011. Previously she served as the Director of Accountability and Compliance and was a Principal for Southwest Schools. Ms. Norman received a Bachelor of Science degree and a Master of Education degree from Louisiana State University.
April Armwood – Chief Innovations & Academics Officer
April Armwood began her career in education in 1996. Ms. Armwood has served as a school psychologist, Education Project Director, diagnostician, teacher, assistant principal and dean of students in both urban and suburban school districts in Louisiana and Texas and non-profit organizations. Prior to Ms. Armwood becoming the Assistant Superintendent of Academics and Programs, she served 5 years in the district as the principal of the Phoenix School and grew that campus exponentially. Ms. Armwood has held positions in both the school and administration settings and has a deep understanding of both areas. She is deeply committed to improving academic achievement and strengthening programs to encourage life-long learning for all students. Academically, Ms. Armwood obtained a Bachelor of Science from Xavier University of Louisiana and a Masters of Arts and Educational Specialist Certification from the University of Minnesota in 1997.
Marcus Brewer – Chief Community Relations & Fund Development Officer
Marcus Brewer became Director of Community Relations & Partnerships in April 2013. He served on the Board of Directors for 3 years previously, but his passion for helping students achieved their goals, compelled him to join the team officially. In this role Marcus leads the efforts to build a network of caring individuals, and corporate partners who will become champions for our students. Mr. Brewer obtained a Master of Business Administration in Public Administration from Keller Graduate School and a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree from Sam Houston State University.
Mayra Bullock – Chief Human Resources Officer
Mayra Bullock received a B.A. in Dance Performance from UT El Paso and a M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of St. Thomas. She has over 13 years in the field of dance education, both teaching and performing. Ms. Bullock joined Southwest Schools January 13, 2014. Prior to joining the Southwest team, Ms. Bullock served as the Enrollment Administrator for Young Learners School, an external charter school of the Houston Independent School District, and a sister organization to Southwest Schools. As the HR Director, she has defined the HR Department’s mission as:
The mission of Southwest Schools’ Human Resources Department is to provide employees with quality and equitable services while maintaining a culture that attracts, supports and retains premier talent in education.
Josefa Olivares, Ed.D. – Chief Operations, Accountability, & Compliance Officer
Dr. Josefa Olivares began her career in education in 1995. Dr. Olivares served as a special education teacher assistant, bilingual teacher, assistant principal, principal intern, and principal. She has held positions in both the elementary and secondary settings and is deeply committed to improving academic achievement and lifelong learning skills for all students. She has a special interest and expertise in curriculum design and focused instructional best practices that supports the unique learning needs of students from multi-cultural and socially diverse backgrounds. Dr. Olivares obtained a Doctorate degree in Professional Leadership from the University of Houston in 2013.