Faculty & Staff

Michele Alexander (1st grade)

Michele AlexanderMichele graduated from Texas Tech University with a degree in Elementary Education (specialization in Special Education). She has been married to Keith for over 30 years, and they have three grown children: Dustin, Ryan, and Caitlin. She has taught 1st and 3rd grades for 13 years — in Willis, Texas, at Regents School of Austin, and, most recently, at Austin Classical. While her children were young, Michele was very active in Bible Study Fellowship, serving in various leadership roles during those years, including discussion leader, children’s leader, assistant children’s supervisor, and eventually children’s supervisor for the South Austin class. In her free time, she enjoys reading, playing on the computer, traveling with her family, and (no surprise) Red Raider football.

Michele loves the classical Christian model of schooling and being able to teach God’s Word and to show how He is in every subject. She enjoys teaching grammar school-age children with their zest for life, funny and innocent ways of looking at the world, and enthusiasm for learning and is constantly amazed and challenged as she sees God’s sovereignty, love, and grace in all she teaches. Her desire is for students to see God in their world in a very real way, to love learning, and to become life-long learners who live with an eternal purpose.

Brandee Balmilero (2nd Grade)Brandee Balmilero

Brandee graduated with her bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education from the University of Hawaii at Manoa. Shortly afterward, she began her teaching career at Aiea Elementary school, teaching 1st grade for 5 years. After moving to Texas, she began working at Fortis Academy, where she taught 1st grade for 3 years, and 2nd grade for 1 year. During that time, she began to fall in love, not only with the Classical approach to education, but also with the idea of using a blended model of teaching – incorporating classroom time as well as instructional time at home.

Brandee and her husband Eric have 3 children: artistic Hailee, Lego-loving Kayson and her soon-to-be-toddler Ainslee. Their English shepherd Katie rounds out this wonderful family, and they attend Rockpointe church in Leander.

Brandee enjoys pursuing her artistic endeavors, spending time with friends, reading non-fiction books and learning Classically alongside her children. She is overjoyed to join our ACS faculty this year, and sees it as one of God’s unexpected and divine blessings.

Lacy Bartlett (3rd Grade)Lacy Bartlett

Lacy holds a BA in Theater Arts with an emphasis in Acting from California State University. After working as a Director of Instruction charged with program design and personal development curriculum for a central California talent management agency, she shifted to education in the Selma Unified School District, where she taught 5th and 6th grades. After moving to Texas, she began working in Manor ISD, where she served in the technology department as an Instructional Technology Specialist for both the elementary and middle school campuses. She held a unique role in the district, spearheading the iPad, STEM, Digital Citizenship, and new teacher development initiatives, and she is excited to bring those components to the ACS community.

Lacy and her husband, Aaron, have been married for over 11 years and along with their young daughter, Avery Joy, they are parents to two Border Collies, Dolby and Daisy. They attend North Village Church, and are actively involved in both Habitat for Humanity and a grassroots effort that they began, working with a local food truck (Nubian Queen Lola’s), where they serve the local community.

Things that bring Lacy joy are drinking great tea, enjoying beautiful art, live music, jogging near ancient trees and bodies of water, and generally anything that teaches her something new. She and her husband are self-described foodies as well,  and enjoy exploring new flavors around town. Lacy is excited to experience the rhythms of Classical education with her students, and hopes that they will learn the value of working hard, playing hard, and enjoying rest and great literature together.

Sherry Davis (4th Grade)

Sherry DavisSherry graduated from the University of Texas with a BS in Fashion Merchandising (concentration in Business/Retailing) and an MA in Education (concentration in curriculum and instruction). She has been married to Russell for 26 years, and they have three children: Michelle, Megan, and Melanie. Most recently, Sherry taught at Regents School of Austin – 7 years teaching English to 7th and 8th graders and 5 years teaching 3rd and 5th grades. She also was a Study Skills teacher in the Regents’ School of Logic. Prior to teaching, Sherry worked for the University of Texas and Bank One as a training director who coordinated, facilitated, and led training sessions for employees.

Sherry and her husband embraced the classical, Christian model of education for their own children and have experienced how the Trivium comes together from Kindergarten through 12th grade. She has seen, as a teacher and parent, how this model provides the tools for learning by beginning with the premise that all knowledge centers around God’s Truth. By integrating the subjects and setting the foundation for critical thinking, this model allows Sherry to be creative and to teach outside the box, which is exciting to her. God has called her and given her a passion for this ministry with students.

Amy Dongarra (6th Grade)

Amy DongarraAmy graduated from Middle Tennessee State University with a BS in Science in Psychology (minors in Health and History) and an MA in Education (Elementary Curriculum and Instruction).  She is married to Ben, and they have a young daughter, Ava. A recent transplant to Austin, Amy has experience teaching 2nd grade, 6th grade, preschool, and elementary computer programming at schools in Kentucky, Tennessee, and Georgia.

Amy enjoys being active and outdoors with her family. Having grown up near the Smoky Mountains, she’s been hiking since she was a kid. She is excited to be teaching in a Christian school this year, helping to grow and develop the faith of her students, and hopes her students learn to be confident and persistent problem solvers.

For the 2017-2018 school year, Amy will be the homeroom teacher for our 6th graders, and will be the primary math and science instructor both 5th and 6th grades.

Laurie Drenner (Teacher’s Aide)

IMG_2324Laurie graduated from the University of Texas with a BS in Communications (concentration in Radio and Television programming). She has two adult children who are both married, and she welcomed a grandson to the family last year. While her children were in school, Laurie served as homeroom mom, team mom, and school board mom because she enjoyed the privilege of helping those involved in her children’s education. She appreciates all that it takes to nurture and educate today’s families and wants to help out of gratitude for those who assisted her over the years.

As an aide, Laurie has been a wonderful blessing to so many of our teachers at Austin Classical for the past few years. She also works part-time in a young women’s clothing store, where she loves to listen to and be involved in the lives of young people.

Katie Foshea (Kindergarten)

Katie FosheaKatie graduated from Baylor University with a BS in Education (concentration in reading.) She is married to Joel, and they have two children at Austin Classical, Emmy and Boone. Katie has taught 2nd and 3rd grade, first in Mansfield ISD and then in a classical Christian school in Dripping Springs. She loved being a part of a new school, and it was during this time that she realized what a treasure classical Christian education is. Katie also taught the four-and-five-year-old class at Milwood Baptist Preschool.

Before she was married, Katie was on staff with Young Life in Dallas, a ministry still near to her heart, and she has led a college Bible study through Austin Young Life for the past four years. She treasured her time pouring through Scripture and watching her freshmen girls grow into mature seniors who are passionately seeking Jesus.

Katie loves teaching Kindergarten at Austin Classical. Her hope is that students are challenged and encouraged through this unique model, and she is delighted to have the opportunity to partner with parents on such an intimate level. Most of all, she wants her students to walk away with a clearer understanding of the God of the Universe and His incredible love for us.

Annette Hiller (Pre-Kindergarten)

Annette HillerAnnette has a passion for her Lord, her family, and her ministry. She is married to Gerry, her college sweetheart, and they have three growing children who are also receiving a classical, Christian education themselves. Annette attended Texas State University and hopes to return to receive her bachelor’s degree in the coming years. In addition to raising her own children, Annette has varied experience in preschool education as a teacher’s aide, teacher, and director of the preschool department at Park Hills Baptist Church in west Austin. This is her third year teaching Pre-K at Austin Classical and she previously served as the teacher’s aide in our kindergarten class.

Annette hopes that her pre-Kindergarteners learn that God is a gracious, artistic, orderly, powerful, and holy Creator who loves them with an unabashed love.

Dusty Kinslow (Head of School)

Dusty Kinslow

Dusty loves Jesus, teaching, learning, and almost every sport (especially college basketball!).  She is married to Adam, and they have 3 children at ACS: Anna, Mia, and Sam.  After graduating from Angelo State University with a BA in English, she spent four years teaching high school English and coaching all manner of girls’ sports before leaving professional teaching for professional motherhood. Motherhood has given her ample opportunities to teach (and learn!), and she continues to teach any time she has the chance. In order to stay up-to-date on all things education, Dusty obtained her M.Ed. in Educational Leadership in 2012 from Texas State University.

Dusty had the original vision for a school like Austin Classical in central Austin, and she is honored to be the Head of School.

Nicole Ogden (1st Grade)Nicole Ogden

Nicole graduated from Abilene Christian University with her BA in Two-Dimensional Arts. After graduating, she taught middle school and high school art at Abilene Christian Schools. Prior to formally joining the faculty at Austin Classical, she was a long-term sub for both lower art and 1st grade.

Nicole and her husband, Jesse, have two children: Kayden and Kenzie. They attend Austin Stone, where they serve in the KIDS ministry and in the pre-marital counseling ministry. In her free time, Nicole enjoys gardening, painting, and reading.

Nicole’s approach to her classroom goes beyond simply teaching the curriculum. She views her students as image-bearers, and aims to help train and form them to be critical thinkers who glorify God and are a blessing to others. Her hope for her students is that they will learn to see God in all that is around them and that they will experience grace and forgiveness on both the giving and receiving end. Throughout 1st grade, she hopes that they increase their sense of wonder for the world that God created, as well as learn how to operate in it in a Christ-like manner.

Sara Petrich (Kindergarten)

Sara PetrichSara recently graduated from Texas Tech University with a BS in Multidisciplinary Students (concentration in elementary education).  She did her student-teaching at three different schools in Lubbock, in 1st, 3rd, and 4th grades. She has also served as a counselor to Pre-K – 2nd grade boys and girls in a YWCA after-school program. Both of Sara’s parents live in Austin, and she has twin step-sisters, Katie and Madison, with whom she enjoys spending quality time. She also enjoys good movies, hanging out with friends, going to the lake, and camping.

Sara is excited about helping her students learn new things and grow in their faith. She has a passion for helping others and is excited to apply that to her own classroom.

Kristen Piehl (Physical Education)

Kristen brings a variety of skills and experience to Austin Classical School, including an AAS in Culinary arts and Applied Teaching, as well as a CPT through the National Academy of Kristen PiehlSports Medicine. Before joining ACS, she was a personal trainer and worked with clients to customize plans to suit their individual needs.

She and her husband, Clayton, have been married for almost 5 years and recently welcomed baby Axel to the family. They also currently host an international student from China, and their dog, Rogue, rounds out the household. Kristen loves being a mom because she gets to guide her children to develop a love for the Lord as they grow. Kristen and her family attend church at Harvest Bible Chapel, where she helps with the Children’s ministry and the Care team.

Kristen loves to read, ride bikes, garden, walk, and play sports (including soccer, volleyball and softball). She’s an avid Texas Longhorn football fan. She has a passion for health and helping others to understand how their bodies function, all while encouraging healthy choices. Her aim for her students this year is to help them have fun and be respectful while playing and learning different sports and movements with their bodies.

Kim Rama (Director of Admissions and Marketing)

Kim is an Austin native and graduated from Texas A&M University with her degree in ManKim Ramaagement Information Systems. After graduating, she worked in the Information Technology department at Dell for over a decade, where she had a variety of roles, including Software Development, Release Management, Project Management and Portfolio Governance.

She and her husband, Amar, have been married for over 10 years and have two school-aged children, Anjali and Rebekah, along with a Great Pyrenees named Louie. They attend Grace Covenant church, where they both serve in various children’s and adult ministries.

When she’s not co-teaching, she enjoys great music, good books, baking with her kids, and experiencing God’s creation. Her desire is to see God glorified in all aspects of Austin Classical School. She loves learning Classically alongside her students, and is continually humbled and amazed by how she sees God working in the hearts of her family as well as the ACS community in general.

Danna Riedl (Campus Administrator)

Danna Riedl

Danna graduated from Texas A&M University with a BS in Sport Management (and a minor in business). She is married to Michael, and they have a son, Owen, and two dogs, Boone and Paisley. During the summers in college, Danna worked at a Christian summer camp and served in the roles of counselor, aquatics director, and girls’ camp assistant director. After college, she worked at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky as secretary for the Health and Recreation Center and as the procurement assistant. Since moving back to Texas, she has worked as a nanny and personal assistant, along with being a stay-at-home mom.

Danna loves working with kids and building relationships with the ACS students and their families. Her desire is for them to know she’s here to help them and that she is able to show the students how to work hard, love the Lord, and be an encouragement to others.

Jen Riddle (Pre-Kindergarten)Jen Riddle

Jen graduated from Texas A&M University, where she received her BBA in Marketing. Jen served as a missionary in Thailand for 3 years, working with college students as she taught conversational English. She loved sharing cultural experiences with them and loved being able to teach them directly from the Bible, as most of them had never heard of Jesus. Jen also worked at Providence Preparatory School in Belton, TX, where she taught Art. She loves getting to help students open their minds and imaginations up to new things. Jen and her husband Jake have a cuddly and energetic goldendoodle named Murphy, and they attend church at Austin Stone, where Jen has served as a mentor for young women who are preparing to move and serve overseas.

Jen is excited to be at ACS because she loves being at a school where she can show the students that God is the center of everything! She didn’t grow up learning that science, history and math all related to God and His creation, so it’s fun to challenge herself to make those connections in the classroom with her students.

In her spare time, Jen enjoys calligraphy, water color painting, baking, gardening and traveling. She also loves reading, and two of her favorites are the Harry Potter series, as well as anything by C. S. Lewis. Her hope this year is to help make learning fun for her students. She is looking forward to opening their eyes to the wonder of God and his creation!

Karen Riley (Art and Music, 2nd through 6th Grades)

Karen RileyKaren graduated from the University of Texas with a degree in accounting, and she also has a degree in interior design from the University of Houston. She has been married to Brian for over 20 years, and they have three children. Karen has worked as a tax accountant, financial consultant and commercial interior designer. She loves to travel and spend time with family and friends, and she and Brian lead the premarital ministry for the Austin Stone Community Church.

For the past ten years, Karen has been deeply involved in classical, Christian education, as her children have been educated in blended model schools from the start. She enjoys learning alongside her kids, either things she has forgotten or never learned, and seeing them grasp concepts and have fun learning. Her favorite things are helping them develop a Biblical worldview and being able to share the gospel often, which is a good reminder for her too.

One of Karen’s goals this year is to help her students appreciate the creativity that God has and that He has instilled in them, and to introduce them to beautiful things in art and music. Her hope is that they learn to appreciate talented artists and musicians and the gifts God has given them.

Jenna Rossler (Kindergarten)Jenna Rossler

Jenna graduated from Stephen F. Austin State University with a Merchandising degree, and previously worked in the Retail Purchasing industry prior to joining the faculty at Austin Classical. She and her husband, Ryan, have been married for over 9 years and have 3 young children: Gideon, Porter and Piper. As a family, they attend Austin Stone church and serve in the Men and Women’s Development Program, Premarital Counseling Ministry, and the KIDS Ministry.

Jenna is passionate about partnering with parents to train the hearts of her students such that they will welcome God’s truth as a friend. Specifically for her Kindergarten students, Jenna is excited to help them learn to read well, write beautifully, and have fun in her classroom. Above all, however, Jenna looks forward every year to instilling in her students a love of learning and a love for the Lord. Her aim for her students is to have a firm foundation of knowing who God is and who He says that they are in this world.

Denise Strickland (5th Grade)

Denise StricklandDenise graduated from the University of Texas at Austin in 1992 with a BS in Applied Learning and Development and a concentration in Reading. After years of teaching, she earned a M.Ed in Administration from Concordia University Texas in 2013.   She has been married to Wade Strickland for almost 30 years and together they have raised 5 wonderful children; Dara (24), Chase (22) , Clay (19) and 2 foster-adopted brothers, Jeremiah (20) and Andrew (18) Esquivel.  Denise has 15+ years of experience within classical, Christian education, as a parent of children attending Regents School of Austin, eight years as a grammar school teacher in almost every grade level, and six years combined administrative experience overseas in a classical school in Indonesia and here in Austin at Regents.  In addition, Denise represented ACS as a presenter at several NAUMS conferences and frequently conducts teacher training across the state and nation in effectively teaching Singapore math within the blended-school model.  

Denise and her family had the privilege of serving three years on the mission field, helping a classical, Christian school on the island of Java, Indonesia. Denise and Wade currently serve as Bible Life teachers and are actively involved in youth ministry. In her free time, Denise loves to read, garden, travel, bird-watch with her husband, watch BBC mysteries and thought-provoking movies. Some of her favorite authors include C.S. Lewis, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Agatha Christie, and Jane Austen.

Denise loves teaching in a classical, Christian school because of the privilege it is to continue learning and teaching about the breadth of history from the perspective of God’s active, relentless love for mankind throughout time. She hopes to inspire in her students a desire to be lifelong learners of truth, goodness, and beauty who live for God in active service of their fellow man through the redemption offered in His Son, Christ Jesus.

For the 2017-2018 school year, Denise will be the homeroom teacher for our 5th graders, and will be the primary humanities instructor for both 5th and 6th grades.

Angela Suh (2nd Grade)Angela Suh

Angela received her BA in Marketing from Texas A&M, and her MEd in Counseling at TCU. Before coming to Austin, she taught 4th grade ESL in Ft. Worth and served as the OneStar Foundation program coordinator for the Governor’s Faith-Based and Community Initiative. Angela and her husband, Halim, have been married for over 15 years and have 4 school-aged kids: Malachi, Evie, Moses and Ben. Her family attends the Austin Stone Community church, where Angela is part of the women’s ministry teaching team and Halim is a pastor of teaching and theology. She and her family enjoy spending time outside (especially hiking in Colorado during our hot Texas summers) and reading together.

That love of literature is something that excites Angela about teaching at Austin Classical. Exposing our students to great authors and great stories, and then watching them fall in love with stories that she loved as a child is incredibly special to her – “Because all great stories echo The Greatest Story that our God has told us in His Word, the students are able to make connections to characters, plots, and themes and see how they remind us of God’s story of redemption.”

Andi Tomita (Art and Music, Pre-K through 1st Grades)

Andi TomitaAndi graduated from the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign with a degree in Art Education. She grew up in central Illinois and moved to Austin after college. She is married to Aki, whom she met during a college Habitat for Humanity spring break trip. Andi previously taught and worked with Abrakadoodle, which provided art after-school classes and summer camps at schools throughout Austin. During her time at Abrakadoodle, she was also operations manager and the art teacher at a school. This past year, Andi and Aki welcomed baby Miles to their family.

At ACS, Andi is excited to help provide an environment where kids can grow into who God meant them to be and to learn more about His amazing love through the different subjects. She loves to see their bright, happy faces when they learn new things.

Dana Williams (3rd grade)

Dana Williams

Dana graduated from the University of Kentucky with degree in Elementary Education and a specialization in Mathematics. She has taught at Austin Classical School since 2013. She started as a dual 2 nd and 4th grade teacher her first year, and for the past three years, has taught 3rd grade.

She and her husband, Marc, have been married for over 25 years, and they have 3 children: Regan, Madison, and Brandon. Her family attends Austin Christian Fellowship, where Dana serves as a Sunday School teacher. In her free time, Dana likes gardening, electronic scrapbooking, and hiking/kayaking with her family.

Dana thoroughly enjoys teaching at Austin Classical School, using the gifts that she has been blessed with to serve God for His glory. She hopes to impart of a love of Christ in each one of her students and strives to equip them with the essential tools needed to be productive disciples and to live with an eternal purpose.

Additional Faculty and Staff information for our upcoming 2017-2018 school year will be available soon. Austin Classical is praying that God will continue to bring Christian, degreed, committed, talented, and passionate teachers to our staff.  If you or someone you know fits that bill, please visit our Employment page.  We’d love to hear from you!