Faculty/Staff

Administration

Ms. Tabitha Molett completed her undergraduate work at the University of Arizona and University of Texas at Dallas.

She continued her education at Southern Methodist University graduating with honors and obtaining a M.Ed., Master Reading Teacher Certification, and GT Endorsement. Her work with gifted and profoundly gifted children is extensive; she has spoken at multiple conferences on topics related to giftedness, social and emotional learning, and 2E students. She also co-founded an educational company for exceptional thinkers.

She was one of the founding members of the Enhanced Identification Program, an alternative identification process developed to increase underrepresented populations in the gifted & talented program in Richardson ISD. Tabitha brings to ACE Academy over 18 years of experience in teaching, leadership, and program development.

Desiree Kimball enrolled in college at 16 and received her B.A in psychology from Texas State. While she was a full time student she worked in multifamily property management, where she ultimately spent 12 years strengthening her supervisory, sales, marketing, and budgeting skills. At the age of 24 she became the manager for her company’s second largest portfolio asset. She transitioned into single family home sales after the birth of her first child. Most recently, she spent the last two years as the President of the ACE Parent Association and as a director on the ACE Board where she formalized the scholarship program, reopened the school library, advised the leadership team, and was actively involved with fundraising and strategic planning. She is a mother of two gifted children and loves the opportunity to further their school's mission.

Cari Gabbert was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. She had an amazing 4 years at the State University of New York at New Paltz, where she graduated with a Bachelor's Degree in Elementary Education and Women's Studies. She started her career in education teaching first grade in the Bronx before moving to Austin, Texas. Cari has spent the past 13 years working with students, teachers, and families in different capacities. Her job titles included Classroom Teacher, TAP Master Teacher, Instructional Coach, and Assistant Principal. She completed her Master's Degree in Educational Leadership and has experience creating and supporting curriculum as well as various assessments. Cari's passion is giving impactful learning opportunities to all students, and she is excited to start working with the ACE Community! Cari loves every moment she spends with her family, and watching her two daughters flourish and grow every day.

Nicki Hollums was born and raised in the philanthropic city Austin, Texas where she fell in love with nonprofits. After obtaining her B.S. in Psychology at Texas State University, she was inspired by her direct care work with young girls at a residential treatment facility, where she quickly developed a deep passion for child advocacy. This resolve stuck with her through her graduate degree, leading her to pursue a M.A. in Forensic Psychology from Argosy University in Dallas. After working with multiple non-profit organizations, universities, and mental health organizations in a diagnostic and treatment capacity Nicki found ACE. Joining her variety of experiences and expertise, Nicki is able to welcome, support, and advocate for students and families as she embarks on her fourth year at ACE Academy as the Director of Admissions and Student Affairs.

Erin holds a Bachelor's degree in Speech Communication from TCU. After college, she spent eight years in New York City working in cable news and investment finance.

A passion for education and helping others led Erin to graduate school where she earned a Master of Arts and a Master of Education in Counseling Psychology from Columbia’s Teachers College. Returning to Texas, Erin sought to combine her background in investment finance with her love of education and giving. Before joining ACE Academy in 2016, Erin led successful annual giving campaigns in church settings, and served as a communications and development volunteer for an Austin-based nonprofit.

Erin is a member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals.

Elizabeth Roper earned her B.A Degree in Marketing, Entrepreneurship and International Business from the University of Houston. She also received certification from the Sales Excellence Institute and was a member of Honor Society. Before joining ACE Academy, Elizabeth worked in the Oil & Gas Industry with a multi-billion dollar organization, specifically in Human Resources and Marketing. She managed Global Compensation and Strategy and developed and wrote a quarterly newsletter. She also had the unique opportunity to be on the merger and acquisition point team. Looking to follow a childhood dream, she pursued teaching certification and ultimately school administration.

Jessie is originally from Atlanta, Georgia; but she has made Austin home with her husband and dog. For her undergraduate studies, Jessie attended Sewanee: The University of the South where she majored in psychology and minored in women’s and gender studies. Following graduation, she moved to Dublin, Ireland where she attended Trinity College Dublin studying psychoanalytic studies receiving a Masters in Philosophy.

After enjoying living abroad and traveling, Jessie moved back to the States and journeyed to Texas where she began a Masters in Social Work program at Baylor University. Jessie is licensed in the state of Texas as a LMSW, and is in the process of becoming a LCSW. Jessie is a member of the NASW, SSWAA, and TAGT.

Joining ACE in the summer of 2017, Jessie continues to love working with this population where supporting, advocating for and counseling ACE students is a joy.

Jol was raised outside of Edinburg, Scotland and relocated to San Antonio, TX at age 13. He is a US Air Force veteran with experience in combat pararescue operations overseas. After receiving an honorable discharge, Jol attended the University of Utah for a bachelor's degree in Psychology. While attending college Jol spent his spare time developing his skills with computers and technology, eventually leading to a career in IT. He has gone on to pursue certifications for A+, Net+, and MCSE. With over 20 years experience in Information Technology, Jol is excited to expand his experience and grow with ACE Academy.

Lower School

Rama Sreekantham earned a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of California, and then completed her graduate studies at Pennsylvania State University.

After 10 years of working as a DNA Analyst for the TX Department of Public Safety, she felt a calling to share her interest in science with children, and entered the field of education. She is excited to begin her sixth year at ACE Academy; she loves the uniqueness of each student and their passion for exploration and learning.

Caroline Poe has been working with young children for over 20 years, 6 of which have been spent teaching gifted students at ACE Academy. The years spent studying child development and raising her own gifted children make her uniquely qualified to nurture the growth of our youngest students. She has a passion for all that encompasses early childhood learning: play, exploration of ideas and emotions through the arts, discovery that arises from following innate curiosity, and forming healthy relationships with others.

Mrs. Mezas graduated with a BA in psychology and Early Childhood Development and then returned to complete her elementary education certification courses. She has taught in both public and private schools over the duration of her career prior to starting her beautiful family. She took time off to raise her three boys, now ages 6,8, and 12. Teaching and working with children has always been a passion. Mrs. Mezas enjoys spending time with her family, traveling, and watching her boys play their sports.

Sara Keitges earned a B.S. degree in Education, specializing in Early Childhood Education from University of Missouri-Columbia. She has many years of experience teaching different age groups and especially loves working with young children. She is passionate about helping dyslexic students and struggling readers. She is currently pursuing her MA in Counseling from St. Edward's University.

Originally from Kansas City, Sara loves Austin TX and enjoys spending time with her three children and two dogs. Some of her favorite hobbies are hiking, reading and yoga.

Janessa McLean received her BA in Elementary Education from DePaul University in Chicago. Janessa began her teaching journey as a math and reading interventionist where she fell in love with teaching reading. She later took a leap of faith and became an English teacher in South Korea where she lived for three years. Her final stop was Austin, TX.

Janessa is very passionate about reading and writing and she spends a lot of her free time researching best practices. She also enjoys cooking, being outdoors, and traveling to new destinations.

Kate earned her BA at St. John's College where she studied the Great Books and graduated with double majors in Philosophy and History of Mathematics & Science and double minors in Comparative Literature and Classical Studies. While homeschooling her five children, Kate coached Speech, Debate and Math teams, taught high school English and improvisational theatre classes, and directed several drama productions.

Kate’s four oldest are now in school at Yale graduate school, Baylor University and the University of Cordova in Argentina. Her youngest is an upper school student at ACE. Kate is so thankful, both as a parent and a teacher, to be a part of a school like ACE where each student is recognized as unique and the whole child is nurtured to develop their potential.

Hannah grew up in the mountains of northern New Mexico, and the artist community there left a lasting impact on her way of visualizing and engaging with the natural world. As the second oldest in a family of eight kids she has always been involved in teaching and caring for the people around her. From her earliest memories of helping her siblings learn to read, to her last several years as a professional nanny and tutor, to her new place on the ACE team, Hannah is continually inspired by the uniqueness of each child's way of learning. Hannah also has a deep and abiding love for Antarctic sea animals, the number 14, and the portable set of watercolors she carries with her at all times.

Leslie Dover earned a B.S. degree in Food Science and Technology from Texas A&M University. She began her professional career as a food scientist, working in the food-centric San Francisco Bay Area for over 15 years for consulting firms, large food companies and as an independent consultant. In 2015, after having spent time working with kids at her daughter’s school, she embarked on a second career by earning her teaching certification. Leslie has an inherent quest for knowledge, love of learning and is passionate about instilling these qualities in her students at ACE. She has two children, is an avid runner, reader, lover of National Parks and likes to explore food halls in any city she finds herself in.

Molly Price completed her BA in Business Administration from Flagler College in St. Augustine, FL. Shortly thereafter, she was hired at a leading global investment bank where she worked as an Operations Analyst for two years.

Although she learned so much and met a multitude of amazing people, she realized that IB was not a good use of her natural born gifts. After tackling Austin’s robust start-up world in operations and sales roles, she still felt there was something else that would be a better fit for her. That is when she found herself pursuing her teaching certification and finding ACE Academy.

Since joining the ACE family, Ms. Price has enjoyed every minute of teaching and learning from the inspiring and creative students and interacting with the talented and supportive faculty and administration that this school boast. She cannot wait to learn and contribute to this amazing environment and work to develop her own unique and inspiring teaching style.

Tasca Shadix has a BA in Radio-Television-Film and an MFA from the Michener Center for Writers at the University of Texas. A dual citizen of the USA and the UK, she is a produced screenwriter with a passion for language and communication. Her diverse work experiences have included: martial arts instructor, French language assistant, magazine contributing editor, and stay-at-home “mum” for 10 years in Edinburgh, Scotland, where her involvement in her children’s schools made it clear just how much she loved working with young people.

She is the mother of two gifted daughters whose wit, creativity, triumphs, and struggles inspired her to pursue her teaching career.

Upper School

Alex "Ritzenberg" George received her BA in Art History from the College of William and Mary and completed her Masters degree in Art Education from the University of Texas at Austin. Her graduate research at UT focused on art education programming and its multidisciplinary implications in the modern classroom.

After graduate school, she worked for three years as the Artist Educator at Mexic-Arte Museum and simultaneously made her way as an artist in the community, specializing in large-scale oil painting, pastel and charcoal drawing.

In 2013 she joined the faculty at ACE, where she has taught art, social studies, geography and US History at both the middle school and elementary school levels. She values ACE’s focus on the development of the individual and seeks to help foster a school-wide culture that nurtures curiosity, tolerance, self-discovery and intellectual pursuit.

Originally from Chicago, Adam Soto earned a BA in Art History from Knox College and an MFA in English from the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop. A former Michener-Copernicus Fellow, Adam's writing has appeared in numerous literary journals. He joined ACE in 2013 as a Red Pod TA and has since taught ELA, Creative Writing, and literary seminars to ACE students 5th grade-12.

With emphasis on connecting rigorous reading materials to social and historical contexts, and exploring language and writing through the need to communicate, Adam attempts to make ELA an important aspect of every student's life. ACE's goals to nurture and inspire, to confront difficulties with grit and integrity, yield a perfect learning and teaching environment for our community's unique students and faculty.

ACE is where our community's giftedness turns into the gifts we offer others, a place where Adam is proud to give and help others learn to give too.

Anna Deripaska is a science educator who works towards changing the relationship between science and the public. By creatively sparking and engaging in that relationship, she believes that most of us will be more interested in science than originally giving ourselves credit for.

Anna has taught since 2014, focusing on middle school science. She has experience teaching high school level chemistry and physics as well as university level general, organic, and biochemistry. Throughout her university and professional career, Anna was an LSAMP Scholar, awarded the Cooper Science Award, and led and participated in scientific outreach with the ACS and various teaching organizations. Anna holds B.A. degree in chemistry, architecture, and science education from Ball State University.

Jennifer Sturley earned her BA in Education & Child Studies and Theatre from Smith College in Northampton, MA. Since then, she has worked as a gallery teacher at the Blanton Museum of Art, as a first grade teacher at Trinity Episcopal School, a dorm parent at St. Stephen's Episcopal School, a Red Pod TA at ACE, and in many different roles in many different theatre organizations. Her independent feature film adaptation of Shakespeare's Love's Labour's Lost had its Texas premiere in the spring of 2018. She is so excited to bring her love of literature and interdisciplinary education to ACE Upper School, and to get to work with such amazing students and teachers every day!

Outside of work, she loves reading, cooking, art, and theatre.

Matt's career goal has always been to better the future by serving youth. After completing his bachelor's degree from Concordia University he worked for the Boy Scouts: recruiting youth, training adult leaders, and supporting the Scouting district in Pflugerville.

Since Matt wanted to work more directly with youth he went back to school to become a teacher. Matt earned a Masters in Secondary Education from Texas State University. He taught high school math for 4 years before finding ACE. Matt is thrilled to serve the gifted learners at ACE by helping them progress towards their full potential.

Charmaine Price earned an Honours and Masters degree in Mathematics Education from the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa, and a Bachelor's degree in Education, specializing in English and Mathematics, from the University of South Africa. She completed her teacher certification in high school mathematics through Huston-Tillotson University in Austin and was certified in Mathematics 7 - 12 in 2016. She began her career teaching Sanskrit part-time to young students at a specialized day school, then moved into full time mathematics teaching at a small private high school and finally a large public girls' school, all in Johannesburg.

She moved to Austin in 2015 and joined the ACE community where she loves helping students reach their considerable potential in mathematics.

Mr. Rahmeier hails from the glorious east coast and specifically from the First State itself - Delaware. He began his teaching career in ESL (English as a Second Language) in Nashville, TN shortly after completing his undergraduate degree in history from Vanderbilt University. Having been bitten by the teaching bug, he proceeded to Atlanta, GA where he taught high school history for many years and became involved with the educational programs run by Atlanta's Breman Jewish Heritage Museum (through which he was awarded his Lerner Fellowship).

During his career in Atlanta, Dubai UAE, and Austin, Mr. Rahmeier has taught courses in history, geography, economics, and mythology, always keeping the emphasis and responsibility on the students. A former cross-country and track coach, Mr. Rahmeier is an avid runner and swimmer and can found in various places around the city either pounding out the miles or adding up the laps.

Mrs. Deepak holds a Masters degree in Chemistry with Environmental Chemistry as the main elective and a Bachelor's degree in Education from the University of Calicut in India. She completed her UTeach certification program from the University of Texas at Austin and obtained her Texas Teaching certification for teaching science,K-12, in 2012. Her initial years of teaching were in Southern India were she taught science to high school and middle school students. She was also responsible for setting up a chemistry laboratory for a newly opened school high school and organizing science fairs in collaboration with ‘Oisca International’ (a Japanese organization for nature conservation). She is as always excited at the opportunity to create and put to use inquiry-based, generative, and project-based lesson designs which is accepted well by our enthusiastic community.

ACE Academy with its versatile approach in nurturing gifted individuals and inviting them to stretch their limits to explore possibilities, seems an ideal ground for Mrs. Deepak to test her mettle among discerning learners.

Fine Arts & Foreign Language

Bethany Rhoades graduated from University of California, Irvine with a BA in Drama. During her time in Los Angeles she spent three years at Second City Hollywood, which culminated with acceptance into their Conservatory. Ms. Rhoades sharpened her stagecraft with mentors like W. Morgan Sheppard of the Royal Shakespeare Company, and Kerrie Keane, becoming a member of the Actor's Gymnasium and White Buffalo Theater Company. She studied with many voice over coaches, which lead to professional representation and a body of work.

She earned professional writing and producing credits for film, including an adaption of best selling author Tad William's novel, "Tailchaser's Song." She brings enthusiasm for performance and creativity to her role as teacher!

Ly Poe was a student at ACE from 2007 to 2014. After graduating from ACE's high school, Ly studied Computer Science at the University of Texas at Austin, graduating in 2018. She returned to ACE as a teacher in 2017 while finishing her degree.

As a former student, Ly appreciates the opportunity to help students through the experiences particular to this community. Before returning to ACE as a teacher, Ly began volunteering with the Saturday Shakespeare program at UT, teaching student Shakespeare through performance on Saturday mornings.

Paul Pollini holds a Bachelor's of Music-Jazz & Contemporary Music from the University of Maine at Augusta. He started teaching music while in high school and has taught students ranging in age from 4 to 89. Paul’s style of teaching is holistic, emphasizing technique, reading, ear training, and improvisation, to foster whole brain thinking and facilitate creative expression. Paul founded The Perpetual Motion Machine (Portland Phoenix's Best Jazz Group in Maine - 2002) collaborating with Trumpet player, Don Stratton (whose credits include Charlie Parker, Max Roach, and Billy Taylor). Relocating to Austin in 2003, Paul has performed with numerous groups, opened for BB King, Oteil Burburage (of The Allman Brothers), Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam, and The O’Jays. He is a member of AFM, Local 433 and currently performs in the duo 18 Karat, an award-winning variety band, Caboose (Wedding Industry Experts #1 Live Band in the World - 2016).

Andie has been with ACE Academy over 10 years. She has taught art and now will be managing the library for ACE Academy.

Lina was born and raised in Kaunas, Lithuania. She was recruited to Washington State University in 2005, completed Bachelor’s degree in Kinesiology and Movement Studies. Lina competed at four Pac-10 championships, WSU top 10 athlete, All American Top 50 athlete and a record holder. Lina has over 16 years of competitive swimming experience and over 12 years of Strength training and Conditioning. She has been an assistant swim coach at WSU, Texas State University triathlon coach, Swim Coach and PT at Barton Creek Country Club, Head Swim coach for St. Michael's Academy.

Lina holds Fitness Specialist and Personal trainer certificates since 2005 and has a Master’s degree in Sports and Exercise Science and PE, Texas State University. Lina believes that “Movement is a medicine for creating change in a person's physical, emotional, and mental states.”

Erin completed her BS in Anthropology and Speech at Longwood University in Virginia, where she was active in Forensics, qualifying and competing at the national level in five events. She then earned her Master's of Arts in Teaching in Museum Education from The George Washington University in Washington, DC. Erin sings, plays piano and drums (high school heavy metal band, anyone?) and has enjoyed acting, dancing, choreographing, and performing in various ways over the years. An active "crafter" and "maker," she enjoys expressing her creativity in many forms of art, from painting and drawing to calligraphy and design. Having two gifted children and having been an active ACE parent for seven years (then homeschooling for 2), Erin understands the unique differences in educating ACE's students and is excited to be back in the nurturing and creative environment at ACE...this time as a teacher!

Carole Dostie is a French native speaker with a B.A. in French from University Laval, Quebec and a M.A. in Spanish Literature from Laval University/Cordoba University, Argentina. Her 22 year of experience teaching languages and literature has spanned public, private and international schools where she has guided students with differing abilities and expectations.

She worked as a literature teacher, language specialist, curriculum builder and dedicated her last 11 years to working passionately with younger children. Her natural ability to communicate, strong organizational skills, contagious enthusiasm and flexibility at adapting to children and parent’s needs are all skills that she is honored to share with ACE Academy. She is very passionate about teaching, literature, poetry, music, cooking and dance.

Yanyu is a native Mandarin Chinese speaker. She has been in America since 1998 and received a B.Eng. in Electrical Engineering and Automation from Nanjing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics. She loves classical Chinese literature, world history, and world geography. She enjoys my life with her husband and son. Her son just graduated from LASA high school. He will enter School of Computer Science in Carnegie Mellon University this coming fall. Yanyu loves reading, listening to music, and volunteering in her free time. She is honored and excited to be the Chinese language teacher.

Julia Bao graduated from Shanghai University. She received her B.S. degree and certificate in International Business. She has been a Mandarin teacher at a Montessori School and has taught private lessons. She is a wife and mom to 2 wonderful boys, 17 and 13, and has a cute dog, Scooter. who is 3 years old. Julia likes Chinese food, Korean food, Sushi and sweet potatoes. She enjoys listening to violin and cello music, traveling, reading, and hanging out with fun people. Most importantly, she loves teaching kids!

Sarah grew up in the beautiful Pennsylvania countryside as a member of a large, boisterous, and very happy family. Sports may have dominated the family dynamic, but she was personally always drawn to the study of the humanities - art, music, history, literature and especially European languages. After relocating to Texas, she received a BS from Texas State University with majors in History and German and a minor in Spanish. She continued her studies at the University of Texas and earned a MA in History with a concentration in the religious and intellectual history of medieval and early modern Europe. For over twenty years, she taught Spanish, German, English, and ESL in the Round Rock and Austin school districts as well as UIL events of extemporaneous speaking and music memory. She now feels very fortunate to be part of the ACE community with its commitment to both academic excellence and the social-emotional development of the whole child.

Nathali grew up in Lima, Peru, Caracas Venezuela, and the US. After studying translation and interpretation in Lima and realizing how much she enjoyed the classroom interaction with students, she obtained her TESOL certificate, and the adventure started 30 years ago. She has taught in South America, North America, and Western Europe to students of all ages and geographies among whom she remembers a KPOP star, politicians, Michael Jackson staff and crew in Peru, and a Brazilian Olympic swimmer. Having fun in her class is a key piece of her methodology. She is a passionate "foodie" and a world traveler.

Cassandra is an honors graduate of the Radio-TV-Film program at the University of Texas at Austin. She has worked with Austin Film Festival on many occasions and teaches at their film summer camps every year. Right now, she is primarily involved in music related film projects, including hosting and working on a Youtube series that helps Austin musicians connect with professional audio and video called Austin Uncharted.

Isabelle is a Parisian who completed a BA in English at UVSQ University in Versailles and a MA in Defense Economics at ASSAS University in Paris. She pursued an interest in linguistics by studying and working in Russia, Central Asia and Korea for nine years, where she learned local languages and cultures while teaching French as a private tutor. In the years after becoming a mother, she became interested in specialized child-centered teaching approaches and philosophies offered by many educational institutions around the world, and adopted components of these ideas into her own teaching methodology. By providing a fun but engaging classroom environment, Isabelle nurtures each student’s individual strengths and interests, and encourages students to explore creatives choices in their learning. She is thrilled to be part of ACE Academy, which celebrates and encourages effective learning principles.

Cintia is originally from Mexico, but grew up in South Texas. She has been teaching English and Spanish as a Foreign Language for 10 years. She’s taught in Korea, Thailand, China, Brazil, the U.S., and Mexico. Cintia has a Master’s degree in English as a Second Language with an emphasis on Linguistics. She loves meeting people from all over the world, learning about different cultures, and sharing her TexMex culture as well! In her spare time she enjoys rock-climbing, running the trails, the Austin Nightlife with friends, and of course hanging out with her two kitties and puppy!

Consultants & Specialists

Mrs. Barbara Paier completed her Bachelors of Science in Mathematics from the University of Houston, graduating with honors. After obtaining her Masters of Arts in Mathematics from Rice University she chose to focus on being a stay at home mom. As her children became school age, she began to educate herself about best practices for 2E learners in order to be the best possible advocate for her son. Her passion for theoretical mathematics has been transformed into a desire to reach every student and make sure that none of our ACE students miss out on the beauty of math and their own amazing potential to see it.

Shonna received her B.A. in English and B.A. in Linguistics from The University of Texas at El Paso. She received her M.A. in English from The University of Texas at Austin. After completing her training in Take Flight: A Comprehensive Intervention for Students with Dyslexia and receiving her license to practice by the State, she formed a joint practice and offices in north Austin. She works with students in public school, private school, and homeschool situations. In addition to her private practice, Shonna is also the After School Program Coordinator for the Dyslexia Center of Austin, a non-profit organization working to provide low-cost intervention services for underserved communities, and serves on the Board of Directors of the Austin branch of the International Dyslexia Association.

After graduating from St. Edward’s University in 2008, Erin taught fourth grade in Leander ISD before moving to Austin ISD where she taught both fourth and second grades. In 2014, she graduated from Texas State University with her master’s degree in Reading Education. As a classroom teacher, Erin noticed that students with dyslexia were often underserved in the general education setting as well as in the reading specialist pullout model. Determined to help meet the needs of these exceptional students, she decided to begin the process to become a Certified Academic Language Therapist (CALT) and began training this summer through the Dyslexia Center of Austin. As a CALT-in-training, Erin follows the research-based Take Flight curriculum written by the staff of the Luke Waite’s Center for Dyslexia and Learning Disorders at Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children. When not at school, Erin enjoys spending time with family, exploring new restaurants with her husband, reading, and playing outside with her two preschool-aged boys. Even though she is new to ACE Academy, she can already tell this will be a wonderful year in a supportive and motivating environment. She is excited to begin working with students and getting to know everyone in the ACE Community.

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