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 not only the students, but the faculty and staff as well.
Deborah Silber – Principal
Deborah has 17 years of teaching and administrative experience in Spring Branch and Houston ISD. For the past three years, she served as a principal at Spring Woods Middle School.
Born in Caracas, Venezuela, Ms. Silber attended primary and secondary schools there. After she moved to the United States as a young adult, Ms. Silber earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Houston in 1987. Three years later, she earned an MBA, a master’s degree in business administration, from George Washington University in Washington, D.C., with a special concentration in organizational behavior.
From 1998 until 2001, she taught at Benavidez and Braeburn elementary schools in HISD. For the next three years, she was an assistant principal at Braeburn Elementary, then assistant principal for two years of Sam Houston High School. Later, she served as principal at Berry Elementary School for seven years.
“I do credit my educational experiences and upbringing for molding my philosophy and outlook on education. I left Venezuela at 20 years old to pursue my dream to live in the United States, and also pursue an education. The knowledge and experience I gained from studying here in America fueled perseverance and my own path to success. I hope to inspire my students at Discovery Middle School to pursue the dreams for education and success that they hope to achieve,” she said.
She holds state certifications in Principal (Early Childhood-Grade 12), Elementary Self-Contained (Grades 1-6) and Bilingual/English as a Second Language (Grades 1-6).
Outside of school, Ms. Silber loves to travel, read and spend personal time with her two children.
Maria Benzon – Assistant Principal
Since 1999, Dr. Benzon has led and collaborated with K-16 teachers, administrators, and students. At the beginning of her career with San Antonio ISD, Dr. Benzon taught middle school math and science for five years and served as department chair for three years. Afterward, she returned to her hometown and worked in Houston ISD for five years where she taught at Dowling Middle School before becoming an Instructional Coordinator and later a Content Specialist for the Madison High School feeder pattern. For the following seven years, Dr. Benzon served as a Master Teacher at the University of Houston’s teachHOUSTON Program where she prepared math and science majors to be secondary teachers. While at UH, she was an adjunct professor in the College of Education’s doctoral program, a coordinator for STEM camps, and chair for technology conferences. Most recently, Dr. Benzon mentored and trained in-service teachers at Rice University’s Office of STEM Engagement as an Assistant Director. She continues to lead teachers in STEM areas as a Texas Instruments Regional Instructor.
Dr. Benzon earned a B.A. in Plan II Liberal Arts Honors, B.S. in Applied Learning Development, and M.A. in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Texas at Austin. Her lifetime teaching certifications include Self-Contained (grades 1-8) and Mathematics (grades 1-8). Interested in increasing the academic success of marginalized students, Dr. Benzon pursued her Ph.D. in Educational Psychology from UH where she studied achievement motivation, self-regulated learning, and instructional practices. Utilizing what she learned as a professor, director, and researcher to improve education, Dr. Benzon completed her Principal Certification (K-12) through the Harris County Department of Education and proudly serves as Discovery Middle School’s Assistant Principal. With her partnership approach to leadership, she works alongside teachers, students, parents, and community members to achieve goals of academic growth and success as well as personal perseverance and resilience.
When Dr. Benzon is not mentoring others or coordinating events, she can be found attempting to live a healthier lifestyle, listening to books “on tape,” attending her husband’s choral concerts, exploring new restaurants with her mom, and chasing after her vibrant daughter.
Paula Paradiso – Coordinator of Administrative Services
– Instructional Coach