TEAMS 5 and 6

Stephanie Layson, Lead Teacher

University of Pittsburgh Homeroom

This year is Ms. Layson's thirteenth year as a middle school educator.  Ms. Layson is originally from a small town outside of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  and she graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with a degree in German language and Psychology. While completing an internship at a school for students with autism in Germany, she realized that teaching was her calling.


When Ms. Layson returned to the States, she was accepted into the DC Teaching Fellows program, an alternate route certification program through The New Teacher Project. Through this program, Ms. Layson earned her Master’s degree from George Washington University in Special Education.  Ms. Layson taught in Washington, DC for 10 years in both traditional public schools and public charter schools; teaching 4th through 8th grade and almost every subject.  She was also the Director of High School Placement, supporting students and families with obtaining scholarships and acceptance into the top high schools in the city and country.   Ms. Layson currently resides in Tacoma.  

When she's not teaching, you can find Ms. Layson hiking or kayaking with my husband and my corgi mix, Bill.   Ms. Layson loves to get outdoors and enjoy all that the best coast has to offer.  She am also an avid reader.  Ms. Layson tries to keep up with young adult fiction, but she always appreciate a good murder mystery or thriller novel. 

Cecily Wright, Small Group Instructor

University of Pittsburgh Homeroom

Ms. Wright was raised in Spokane, Washington with four wonderful brothers and sisters. After graduating from high school,  she went on to earn her bachelor’s degree from Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. In college, Ms. Layson was able to learn more about herself and her interests.  She found a passion for learning languages and completed all of the ASL courses taught at BYU. Shortly after that, she spent almost two years in Argentina and fell in love with the Spanish language and culture of Argentina. 


Ms. Wright also found a great love for the outdoors. She enjoys hiking, rock climbing, skiing, and rollerblading and was a recreation guide in Zion National Park.


Ms. Wright chose Catalyst because she is excited to be able to incorporate her passions into her teaching, but more importantly, she is excited to help students discover their passions.  Ms. Wright loves how Catalyst encourages the growth and the identity of each individual student and she hopes to be an important part of each student’s journey in discovering their passions in life. 

Shawn Miller,  Lead Teacher

Western Governors University Homeroom

Mr. Miller has been in education for over ten years.  Most recently he was a teacher in Texas and relocated to Bremerton this summer.  He absolutely loves helping students find a passion for learning and leading.  Mr. Miller believes that students can make a  difference in the world around them. He came to Catalyst because he wants to make a real difference in my students’  lives.


After getting to know some of the staff at Catalyst Public Schools,  Mr. Miller truly believes that our school  can be a place where parents, students, and educators come together to make something special happen. By nature Mr. Miller is a quiet, thoughtful, and kind person. Mr. Miller is a family oriented person and is the father of two.  Mr. Miller is grateful that his family is very supportive of his calling in life and we are excited to join the Catalyst family.

Abigail Breeding, Teaching Fellow

Western Governors University

Ms. Breeding joins Catalyst Public Schools as a Teaching Fellow. She is the mother of two young boys and has worked with children for most of her teenage and adult life.  Ms. Breeding has enjoyed babysitting, volunteering at local elementary schools, and ABA therapy, working with children on the Autism spectrum to coaching youths in tennis and soccer. I was first introduced to Catalyst Public Schools as I was trying to figure out all the options for my eldest son, who will be starting kindergarten in the fall. The message of community, inclusivity and leadership mindset of Catalyst was refreshing and the exact pathway I would like to guide my own son on. I knew immediately I wanted to be involved with this new program. I applied and accepted to be a Community Advisor and now as a Teaching Fellow, my son is enrolled to be a Catalyst Scholar.  

My dad is retired from the navy and that afforded me to live in Guam and Japan and finally settle here in the Kitsap area. I enjoy playing soccer with my family, being crafty with a sewing machine and binge watching all the anime I can get my hands on! Can't wait to meet all the scholars and their families! Be Brave & Go Beyond, Plus Ultra ;)

Dawnell Austin, Teaching Fellow

Western Governors University

Ms. Austin has been in education for the past two years; most recently in the Central Kitsap School District. She loves helping scholars meet their fullest potential.  Prior to working in education Ms. Austin worked at Verizon as a corporate account manager for 18years. Her duties included training, developing and mentoring sales associates in the indirect channel. 


Ms. Austin is a Washingtonian born and raised. She has lived in Kitsap County all of her life. She is married with two fur kids Sherman (dog) and Theodore (cat).  Ms. Austin loves Washington for its mountains, lakes, oceans, and trees. She believes Washington is the most beautiful state. She enjoys attending concerts and Seahawks games. She loves old eclectic things and believes the best gifts are the ones that are made.