> Pre-School Department
Mrs. Ambreen Saeed
Mrs. Ambreen Saeed earned her Bachelor of Science Degree and her Bachelor of Arts in Education from the University of Punjab in Lahore, Pakistan. She also earned a paraprofessional certificate from ACC and attended a wide variety of workshops leading to certifications. In 2011, she earned a NAMC preschool/kindergarten Teaching Diploma for Montessori Schools. Her experience in the Montessori learning method and its implementation will be of great benefit to the students in fostering a love of learning through play and exploration. Her creative and artistic approach to teaching will further this dynamic in the classroom. Along with her enriching childhood education background, she has served as the lower school teacher assistant at APA for six years. This extensive experience along with her maternal and patient personality will provide an enriching and nurturing environment for our youngest students. In 2015, she received the best TA award from APA. Ms Ambreen also served as the PSIA Spelling Coach/Grader and Assistant Director. She is also very involved in the local community.
Ms. Maha Yasin
Ms Maha Yasin is a passionate educator. With a strong background in teaching and a commitment to fostering a nurturing learning environment, Maha has consistently demonstrated her ability to inspire and engage students at various grade levels.
Maha's journey in education began as a Teacher Assistant at Austin Peace Academy, where she has been actively involved since 2022. In this role, she has been responsible for providing support to first-grade students and has also served as a substitute teacher across different grade levels. Her versatility and adaptability have enabled her to effectively address the diverse needs of students.
Prior to her current position, Maha served as the Treasurer at Al Huda School for five years, from 2015 to 2020. During her tenure, she volunteered in various capacities and gained valuable experience in school administration and financial management. Maha also mentored local youth during College Day at CSUDH, showcasing her dedication to empowering students beyond their academic pursuits.
In addition to her teaching and administrative roles, Maha has been actively involved in the Islamic community. She served as a Secretary at the Islamic Center of Topeka, contributing her time and skills to support the organization's operations. Maha also served as an Arabic Instructor at the Islamic Center of Topeka, teaching the Arabic language to students on weekends.
Maha's academic accomplishments include earning a Bachelor's degree in Liberal Studies from California State University-Dominguez Hills in 2019. She graduated with a strong overall GPA, highlighting her dedication to academic excellence.
> Lower School Department
Ms. Ghazal Jbeily
Ms. Ghazal Jbeily graduated with honors from the Lebanese American University and holds both a Bachelor of Business Administration and an MBA (Masters of Business Administration) degree. Ms. Ghazal is an engaged, creative and passionate teacher with 3 years of experience as a preschool and first grade teacher. Ms. Ghazal has attended a wide variety of webinars and enrolled in different educational programs over the years accumulating over 120 hours of course work. She holds certification in courses such as A Year of Inspiring Lessons and The Creative Classroom. Her knowledge and skills make her a great fit for our Kindergarten students.
Additionally, Ms. Ghazal is an accomplished athlete. From 1994 to 2006, she was a Lebanese Swimming Champion and a National Record Holder. One of her biggest achievement was being a member of the Lebanese Olympic Swimming Team in Athens 2004.
Ms. Iris M. Velarde
Iris M. Velarde is a dedicated and experienced educator who has made a significant impact on the development and growth of students from diverse backgrounds. Iris M. Velarde was born and raised in Sacramento, California. After completing her primary and secondary education, Iris pursued a Bachelor of Arts degree in Spanish with a minor in International Studies from the University of Washington in Seattle. Iris began her teaching journey as a Preschool Teacher at Salam Academy in Sacramento, California. During this time, she employed research-based strategies and structured play to enhance her students' learning and social abilities.
In 2011, Iris joined the New York City Teaching Fellows program, where she worked as a Teaching Fellow at Andries Hudde Junior High School. She successfully integrated technology into her teaching methods and created an inclusive learning environment where all students could thrive. Iris further expanded her teaching career as a Special Education Teacher at Sheepshead Bay High School in Brooklyn, New York. Additionally, Iris served as a mentor for the student council and yearbook staff, fostering student leadership and engagement.
From 2018 to 2020, Iris ventured abroad to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, where she worked as an IB PYP First Grade Teacher at Advanced Learning Schools. She designed and delivered high-quality lessons in English, promoting a multicultural and inclusive learning environment.
Iris's most recent teaching position is as a Second Grade Teacher, Grade Level Chair, Emergent Leader, and Mentor Teacher at Austin Achieve Elementary School in Austin, Texas. Iris has also taken on leadership responsibilities such as leading grade level team meetings, providing guidance and feedback to Teaching Fellows, and analyzing data to address academic inequities.
Throughout her career, Iris has continually sought professional development opportunities to enhance her teaching skills. She holds a Master of Science in Education with a Bilingual Extension from The City College of New York and has acquired certifications in Students With Disabilities - Grades 7-12 and Bilingual Education Extension. Additionally, Iris has participated in IB professional development workshops and acquired proficiency in various educational technologies and software.
Ms. Mokita Yakub
Ms Mokita Yakub earned a Bachelor of Science in Applied Learning & Development with Honors from The University of Texas at Austin. She possesses a strong educational foundation that enriches her teaching practices.
During Mokita's tenure at Pflugerville Independent School District, she served as a Substitute Teacher, proficiently teaching various subjects and designing activities aligned with the school curriculum. Ms. Mokita provided essential behavioral guidance to students and tailored lesson plans based on primary faculty instructions. Additionally, she developed different learning centers to reinforce class concepts.
As a 2nd Grade Teacher at Austin Peace Academy in 2014-2015, Mokita continued her commitment to providing comprehensive classroom instruction and creating engaging activities based on the school curriculum.
Mokita served as a Student Teacher at McBee Elementary School and Zavala Elementary School in the Austin Independent School District. She delivered educational instruction across subjects, designed collaborative activities, and provided behavioral and social guidance to students. Notably, Mokita achieved a 15% improvement in student performance overall, focusing on students facing instructional challenges by providing personalized one-on-one tutoring and mentorship support programs.
Prior to their teaching roles, Mokita served as an Administrative Assistant and Elementary Curriculum Coordinator at Illuminated Academy of Texas
Mokita joined back our teaching staff in 2022/2023 as the second grade teacher.
Ms. Kate Avadhanam
Ms. Kate brings a wealth of experience and unwavering dedication to her role. During her tenure as a 4th Grade Teacher at KIPP Public Schools in Redwood City, CA, she adeptly implemented a shared grade-level curriculum in ELA and Math, skillfully managing a classroom of 30 students. Kate's commitment to student success was evident as she cultivated a culture of learning and teamwork through the establishment of effective systems and routines.
Prior to this role, she served as an Associate Teacher of STEM at Rocketship Public Schools in San Jose, CA, where she excelled in leading small groups and coaching students to meet grade-level STEM benchmarks. Her efforts translated into improved test scores for over 100 students.
Ms. Kate is a dedicated and adaptable educator, boasting a proven track record of positively impacting the lives of students and their families. Her expertise extends across teaching, childcare, and fostering a collaborative spirit.
Recently, Kate and her husband, Mahesh, relocated to Austin with the aspiration to contribute to the vibrant multicultural community at Austin and APA.
Ms. Andrea Hatcher
Andrea Hatcher is an accomplished educator with a passion for teaching and a commitment to fostering student success. Andrea's journey in education began with her pursuit of an Alternative Teaching Certification, which she obtained from Huston-Tillotson University in Austin, TX in June 1999. This certification equipped her with the necessary skills and knowledge to excel in the classroom and make a positive difference in the lives of her students.
Prior to her certification, Andrea completed her Bachelor of Arts degree in English at Kent State University in Kent, OH in December 1994. Her passion for literature and language drove her to delve deep into the world of English studies, developing her analytical thinking and communication skills. In addition to her bachelor's degree, Andrea pursued higher education at Lorain County Community College in Elyria, OH, where she engaged in studies related to Liberal Arts and General Studies.
Armed with her Alternative Teaching Certification and a strong educational background, Andrea embarked on a teaching career that spanned over two decades. Her dedication, compassion, and ability to connect with students of various skill levels have been instrumental in creating engaging learning environments.
Throughout her years as an educator, Andrea has consistently demonstrated her commitment to individualized instruction, using various teaching methods to accommodate different learning styles. She has also been proactive in staying updated on policy changes and advancements in education, regularly attending in-service training and professional development courses.
Notable accomplishments in Andrea's career include her recognition as a Renaissance (Accelerated Reader) National Honor Roll Teacher, highlighting her dedication to promoting literacy and academic growth. Additionally, she created and chaired the Support Our School Committee, demonstrating her commitment to increasing parent involvement and fostering a sense of community within the school.
Mr John Laske
Mr John Laske
As a lifelong learner himself, John's curiosity and love for education are evident in every lesson he teaches. His journey in academia has been exceptional, earning a Bachelor's degree in both History, Film, television and Media Studies from Fairfield University in 2019. Building on this foundation, he pursued and achieved a Master of Education in 2022, further enriching his teaching expertise. With a passion for history, media studies, and teaching, John brings a wealth of knowledge and an infectious enthusiasm for learning to our classrooms.
John firmly believes in creating a warm and inclusive learning environment where every student feels valued and empowered to excel. His dedication to diversity and inclusivity ensures that all students, regardless of their background or learning style, receive the support they need to thrive.
With a keen interest in history and media studies, John's lessons are nothing short of captivating! Drawing from his expertise and creative flair, he skillfully incorporates multimedia elements and engaging activities that make history come alive for our young scholars.
John's commitment to student success is reflected in his impressive work experience. As an SAT/ACT Tutor at the ACES Academic Enrichment Center, he has helped high school and middle school students master essential skills for these exams, while also catering to the unique needs of immigrant families from the East and Southeast Asian diaspora.
> Co-Curricular Department
Ms. Shabana Tabassum
Ms. Shabana Tabassum has a Bachelor of Science degree from Bangalore University, India and has completed a Diploma in Software Applications. Her prior experience includes teaching at lower elementary school at International School in Saudi Arabia as well as computer system administration. Ms. Shabana serves as a Computer Support Specialist providing routine maintenance of APA's networks and servers along with technical assistance and support.
Ms. Tazeen Helali
Ms. Tazeen Helali graduated from Texas A&M University with a Bachelors in Environmental Design. She found her passion for learning and teaching kids the foundational skills to succeed in their early educational years when she worked as an assistant in Kindergarten. Ms. Tazeen has received training in Early Childhood Outcomes, Early Childhood Classroom Organization and Strategies, circle Time: The Heart of the Classroom Community, Safety and Supervision in Child Care and Emergency Preparedness, Building Safety, and Hazardous Materials in Child Care. She loves watching them learn and grow. Her hobbies include spending time with family and friends, creative crafting and traveling. Ms. Tazeen joined APA in 2021.
> TEACHING interventionists
Mrs. Nahid Hassan
Mrs. Nahid Hassan completed her degree in Early Childhood Education from Seneca College in Toronto. In Toronto, she created engaging and enriching educational material for students of wide age ranges. Additionally, she assisted in a Kindergarten classroom where she taught and tested different levels of students. Over the past few years, she volunteered in many capacities at APA where she developed a familiarity with the the school’s mission, values, and dynamics. Ms. Hassan’s educational background and past work experience provides her with the tools to create the perfect learning environment to develop these young minds. Her nurturing and patient personality, along with her background experience and education, will make her an asset to Austin Peace Academy.
Ms. Asma Shamsie
Ms. Asma Shamsie completed her Bachelor of Arts in History degree from the University of Texas at San Antonio. She has experience working with students from K-12 in English, writing and Math encouraging them to think critically. Ms. Asma has held volunteer positions at The Children’s Center, Habitat for Humanity and the North Austin Medical Center over the years. .