Mariposa Family Learning Center Opens!

A three-year-old girl bounded from a play table to the children’s kitchen. Her brown hair pulled tightly into a ponytail, she put both her hands on the play-stove as if to claim new territory. Her hands held firmly in place, she turned only her head to search for her mother who was speaking with Mariposa Lead Teacher Rosa Nelson Lopez. Mom’s eyes met with her child’s eyes, gently communicating approval with a smile.

It was 7:07 a.m. on Thursday, January 30, 2020 and Mariposa FLC was officially open for service to children and their families in SE Austin. This opening day had been close to three years in the making – thanks be to God for persistence in mission and vision!

Mariposa Director Sheila Pharis has hired a wonderful staff to care for and educate the children who come to our newly rehabbed facility. I was able to spend some time with the new staff during their training prior to Mariposa’s opening – Sheila asked me to share important points of Montopolis neighborhood history with her new teachers.

At the beginning of our session, however, I wanted to know how it was that the four new teachers arrived to Montopolis. They knew exactly what I meant – I wasn’t asking what type of car they drove or which route Google Maps provided them. I was asking about the life trajectories that led them to this point in time – working as a teacher to low-income children in a historically marginalized neighborhood of Austin, Texas. Each teacher (pictured below) answered with passion and conviction.


Angie Avila (left) is a native Austinite and Mishell Rivera (right), originally from Mexico, moved to Austin as a young girl. Mishell is currently studying at ACC.


Lead Teacher Rosa Nelson Lopez (left) is originally from Venezuela where she graduated from Universidad Rafael Belloso Chacín and Emily Garcia (right) is a UT grad originally from the Texas Valley.

I’d love to tell the details of each teacher’s answer, but these are their own stories to share. Suffice it to say, each teacher’s response to my inquiry was nothing short of inspiring. Sheila, who efficiently prepped Mariposa FLC to be licensed for its opening, deserves additional praise for putting together her team. With Sheila’s direction, this team will touch children with compassion and kindness while providing consistency and order.

These four teachers are also aware that each child – and each parent of these children – also has their own life trajectory story of how they arrived to Montopolis and Mariposa FLC. To be aware of these stories and to learn their details through the relationships currently being built at Mariposa is the start of our Two-Gen process – working alongside and caring for the whole family.



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