about us

Cat & Owl Co. is founded on the idea that every parent wants to create a supportive learning environment for their children.  The cat represents our fun and playful side, while the owl represents a wise and intentional outlook.  We believe that parents and children alike should embrace both of these qualities and apply these attributes to learning.

We are parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and children-at-heart.  Many of us are teachers-public, private and charter.  We have many degrees in various subjects, lots of experience with children mostly in elementary school and preschool, but we are familiar with standards and testing practices in several different states.  We've read a lot of books and tried a lot of different curricula.  We want to put that experience to work for you and your children.

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who we are


Maryrose Gray

Co-Founder & Curriculum Director


As a teacher and working mom of two, Maryrose knows that the struggle to find time with your kids is real!  Maryrose taught 4th grade at Weldon Elementary School as a Teach For America corps member before moving to Los Angeles and working at KIPP: Comienza Community Prep.  After baby number two, Maryrose transitioned to her current role as stay-at-home parent, but she couldn’t quite turn off her teacher brain.  She designs books and games to create high-fun, low-stress interactions with her kids.  Her favorite game so far is “What’s in the cup?”  She likes to think she’s the cat, but she is really the badger of the team.  



Beth Van Derslice

Co-Founder & Services Director


As a lawyer and mom of two, Beth has previously worked as a compliance and ethics consultant, at a variety of publications in an editorial capacity, and -- most rewardingly -- a lifetime of being an older sister to Maryrose. She holds a BA from Johns Hopkins University and a JD from New York Law School. Along with her publishing, legal and business backgrounds, Beth brings a love of sports, running around with her kids and playing games to the team. She is integral to the design, testing and creation of Cat & Owl Co. products and communications and loves to incorporate ways to be active into the games (so does her high energy 4-year-old son.) Her favorite games so far are the “Number Wall” and the “Dot Matching Game.” She likes to think that she is the owl, but she’s probably the cat.

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Kerri Banister

Curriculum Designer



Having spent a decade teaching, Kerri is excited to share math and logic resources with families in a new way.  She entered the classroom as a Teach For America corps member and since then has taught kindergarten through third grades in Texas, New York, North Carolina, and Georgia.  Along the way, she earned an M.S. in Education from Johns Hopkins University.  Kerri's personal views of math changed significantly throughout her career.  Now, she enjoys encouraging her daughter to take risks in problem-solving and to feel comfortable with things that she doesn't know (yet).


Kate McNamara

Curriculum Designer


With a varied background in teaching, Kate knows her stuff.  She started her career at Weldon Middle School as a Teach For America corps member teaching special education.  She worked as the Special Education Coordinator at Maya Angelou Public Charter School in Washington D.C., and now she teaches at Stanley British Primary School in Denver.  When she’s not challenging her students in the classroom, she is probably riding a bike or climbing a mountain.  


Peter Wright

Advisory Board Director


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As a former kindergarten teacher, Peter understands the huge impact parent involvement has on a child’s learning.  Inspired by what he saw in the classroom, Peter moved to Sacramento in order to affect education policy. He has worked in the California Governor’s Office and led a statewide planning project for the California Community Colleges.  Currently, he serves as a Policy and Programs Officer for the California School Boards Association where he supports the state’s nearly 5,000 school board members in identifying and implementing practices that improve educational outcomes for all children.  Although not yet a parent, he prides himself on being the first call of friends in need of a babysitter and loves spending time with his adorable niece Madeline.



Alicia Rappold





Alicia is likely the most well-rounded team member. She is a mother and grandmother, and she holds a nursing degree, a BA from University of Maryland, and a MS in Mental Health Counseling. She is a Registered Nurse with experience in the Intensive Care Unit, Behavioral Health Unit and Home Health.  Alicia is the founder of dulcet living, which offers natural and organic body and home products.  She also happens to be an incredibly talented artist working in pencils, paints and stained glass.  Alicia is responsible for creating the drawings and illustrations for the Cat & Owl Co. book series. She would say she is the cat, but she’s definitely the owl.

our approach

Child-focus. We strive to create tools for parents to use at home that are both playful and intentional to supplement learning experiences that children have at school.  It's hard to find a balance of supporting your child academically without pushing too hard.  Each product is designed to provide gentle pushes that will help children build a strong conceptual foundation while exploring in a low-pressure way.  

Light and simple. When you have limited time to spend with your child, there is pressure to maximize that time.  This is stressful for parents and that stress transfers onto children.  Each of our recommendations is designed with easy-to-read instructions, easy-to-find materials, and should take 10 minutes or less.  It's all there so you can relax and focus on playing with your child.

Slow and steady. As educators, we can anecdotally see the positive influence that parents with continued involvement have on their child's academic success.  However, there is no one right way to be a parent, which is why we offer learning tools rather than parenting advice.  We want to encourage a connection between parent and child within each individual family context.  Our hope is that children will see learning as a journey we can all go on together. 


community partnerships

We currently partner with preschools and elementary schools.  If you are interested in having your school partner with us, contact us at m.gray@catandowlco.com.