Patti Pickering, MBA, LPC

Head of School

Patti Pickering joined Vanguard as Head of School in May 2016. She has Master’s degrees in business administration and professional counseling and over 25 years of experience in a variety of healthcare and therapeutic environments. Prior to joining Vanguard, Patti was the Vice President of the transplant programs at Baylor Scott & White Health (BSWH) in Dallas and Fort Worth. Her responsibilities included directing strategic initiatives and program development including a collaboration with the Children’s Medical Center Dallas. Patti left BSWH to found and become the executive director of a non-profit serving adopted children and their families and to establish a private counseling practice for adolescents. Patti is passionate about helping children who have experienced trauma and other challenges find a safe place to heal and discover their full potential.

As Head of School, Patti combines her business and clinical experience to expand and strengthen the program at Vanguard. Under her leadership, the Vanguard Center for Neurological Health (VCNH) was launched in April 2019, offering a continuum of therapeutic services at the school including testing, individual and family therapy, speech, occupational and nuerotherapies. VCNH clinicians collaborate closely with the school teachers and staff to assist students in achieving their highest potential.

When she isn’t at Vanguard, Patti enjoys spending time with her partner, Luci. Patti also enjoys traveling, reading, hiking, birdwatching, and spending time with friends as well as her dogs, Cory, Bodie, and River.

Becky Hodnett, LPC-S

Principal of Admissions and Clinical Services

Becky Hodnett has been a part of the Vanguard faculty since 1997. After completing her undergraduate degree in psychology from Southern Methodist University, she started at Vanguard as a kindergarten teacher. Along the way, she also taught high school math and middle school language arts until completing her Master’s degree and licensure as a counselor in 2002. For 14 years Becky worked as part of the therapy team at Vanguard, helping children and their families find their way to success in relationships, learning, and life!

Becky served as assistant principal and then principal in recent years. She now enjoys being able to focus on helping prospective families learn about Vanguard and to drive the Social, Emotional, Behavioral, and Family supports within the school in her new role as Director of Admissions and Clinical Services.

Becky feels blessed to have been able to be a part of so many children’s lives and to have called Vanguard a second home for so long. She loves her job and the children she gets to work with every day. When she’s not at work, Becky enjoys spending time with her own children, Drew and Hannah, her husband, Bo, and Lady, Snickers, Phoebe, and Doc, the dogs and the horse.

Ashere’ Thigpen, M.Ed 

Principal of Education and Student Services

Ashere’ comes with over a decade’s worth of experience in various educational settings, from classroom teacher, instructional specialist, and other leadership roles in public school and private industry. She has a Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Texas-Arlington and Educational Leadership from the University of North Texas. Ashere’ holds a Principal and Kinder-8th grade Generalist teaching certificate in the state of Texas.

Ashere’s qualifications showcase success crafting and implementing comprehensive curricula and lesson plans that align with state standards and meet student needs. She enjoys working with, learning from, and motivating talented team members and utilizing educational best practices to resolve complex problems and exceed all expectations. She is highly regarded as an out-of-the-box thinker committed to continuously improving training materials, courses, and resources to optimize student outcomes and achievement. 

Other highlights from Ashere’s career demonstrate her ability to immediately contribute to Vanguard’s growing success. Ashere’ earned recognition as Campus Teacher of the Year in Plano ISD in 2016 and won a Diversity in Leadership Award from Plano in 2017. She was also selected as a demonstration classroom and event speaker to represent Nepris, a platform that connects educators and learners with a network of industry professionals. Ashere’ enthusiasm for education is evident in all she has accomplished. 
Ashere’ is following in the footsteps of her mother, a retired schoolteacher. Ashere’ lives in Plano and has a middle school daughter.  

Jill Herrington, M.S., CCC-SLP

Operations Director

Jill Herrington joined the Vanguard team full-time in 2019 as Operations Director. She graduated from Baylor University with a Master’s in Communication Sciences and Disorders, and began her career as a speech therapist. Jill spent the majority of her 15 years in healthcare at Baylor Scott & White health, with experience in direct patient care, workflow analysis/redesign, clinical informatics, and leadership. Jill loves to explore how processes can be improved to increase efficiencies, quality, and enjoyment in the workplace.

Outside of work, Jill enjoys cycling, hiking, photography, and cooking. She is happiest when she’s outdoors or traveling the country with her family in their RV!