Cindy Boynton was raised in Houston and attended SMU, where she earned a degree in Elementary Education. She continued her education and received a Masters in Special Education from the University of Houston.

Cindy married Bryan and they moved to San Antonio, where she taught special education for four years. She has three children and Drew, the youngest, has Down Syndrome and Autism.

She has participated on state and local committees dealing with special education and has advocated for individuals with intellectual & developmental disabilities. Cindy started what now is called the Down Syndrome Association of South Texas in 1994.

Samantha Pety: Director of Instructional Programs/Instructor

Samantha Pety was born and raised in San Antonio, TX attending high school at Alamo Heights. She then attended college at Texas Tech University, where Samantha earned a bachelor’s degree in Multidisciplinary Studies with a specialty in Special Education. She was a member of Delta Delta Delta sorority, and various organizations that worked with young adults with special needs. 

After graduating college, Samantha returned to San Antonio to begin her teaching career. She taught special education for 2 years as a PPCD (Pre-School Program for Children with Disabilities) teacher in NEISD. Throughout the summers Samantha spends her time caregiving for a young adult diagnosed with Autism. He has given her the desire to continue to teach and advocate for young children and adults with special needs. 

Susan mcdonald: Associate Teacher

Susan McDonald has been employed with Alamo Heights Independent School District for the past 28 years, first at the High School teaching life skills and employment training in the L.I.F.E. class, and then at the Junior School assisting students academically and with their transition to High School. Susan spends her summers working with students of all ages in the ESY summer program, helping them to continue on their progress for the next school year.

Retiring from AHISD this year, Susan is excited to start a new chapter in her life by joining the team at SA Life Academy. Her instruction will focus on current events, recreation, social behaviors, volunteering and giving back to the community, wellness, and money management, among others topics. Susan has been married to Richard McDonald for 37 years and is the proud mother of 3 children, and a precious granddaughter, Milla.


Elaine Still Eickenroht: Art instructor

After teaching art to General Ed and Special Ed students in the North East and Comal Independent School Districts for 36 years, Elaine Still Eickenroht is excited to begin inspiring artists at S.A. Life Academy.  Since retiring from public school teaching, Elaine has continued her passion for helping students succeed creatively.  

Mom to a special needs daughter and friend to many special athletes, Elaine is active in supporting Special Olympics at their practice sessions and competitions.  She represents these athletes as a member of the San Antonio Tennis Association’s Disability & Inclusion committee.

Elaine believes that everyone has their own special talent and strives to help every artist be the best that they can be through process oriented projects which will promote fine motor skills, nurture creativity and insure pride in accomplishments.  

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Julia Stotts: director of strategic programming/instructor

Julie Stotts is a certified special education teacher at the San Antonio Life Academy specializing in vocational training and life skills.  She has a background in Advocacy for youth in group homes and adults with disabilities.  Following graduation from Texas A&M, San Antonio with a degree in Psychology (Summa Cum Laude), Julie began her teaching career at Ronald Reagan High School handling responsibilities in community based vocational instruction and as a highly structured classroom teacher.  Prior to teaching, Julie helped to develop senior leaders within school districts and business. Her contributions enabled executives to function more effectively within senior decision-making circles while insuring both operational and business priorities remained in focus.

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Ellen Shoemaker: Development Director

Ellen Shoemaker has always had a passion for creating change in her local community, whether it be through grant writing or volunteerism. A former lead Intelligence Analyst for the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), Ellen brings a unique skill set to the grant writing and development role. During her time at DIA, Ellen earned her Masters of Legislative Affairs from George Washington University (GWU). She also discovered her love of teaching and attained a role as an adjunct instructor at Northwest Vista College in San Antonio when her job took her to the great state of Texas.

For the past five years, Ellen has utilized her analytical and research skills to write award-winning proposals for corporations in the San Antonio area. Last May, she had the honor of being the grant writer for SA Life Academy and stepped into the Development Director role this November. Ellen is married to her husband Bobby and enjoys spending time with her young children Annie and Bobby.


Cheryl Kolenda: Associate Teacher

Cheryl Kolenda has been employed with the Pleasanton Independent School District for 17 years.  She began in early childhood development preparing students to successfully enter kindergarten by teaching and reinforcing language skills, social skills, pre-reading skills, cognitive skills, and self-help skills.  She transferred to the High School so she would be able to focus on preparing young adults for their transition into the community.  During this time, she taught and reinforced areas such as domestic skills, social skills, health and wellness, and budgeting classes.  Using her knowledge and experience Cheryl became an independent contractor to provide private services to adults with intellectual disabilities.  

As part of the SA Life Academy team, she prepares reports and maintains compliance paperwork.  She also teaches domestic skills classes such as; grocery shopping, food preparation, and cooking.  Cheryl’s desire to achieve maximum independence for each adult makes her an asset to the team.   In her free time, she spends time enjoying her 3 children, and 4 grandchildren.