> English & Social Studies Department
Ms. Katherine Daniel
Ms. Katherine Daniel graduated from Texas Christian University with a BA in English in 2005, and later received her English Language Arts/Reading certification from the University of Texas at Arlington. She worked with elementary aged students for three years concentrating on reading proficiency. Ms. Katherine then moved abroad and spent six years teaching English at international schools in Thailand and China. She developed curriculum for high school English which includes AP Language & AP Composition. A published poet and an aspiring novelist, Ms. Katherine is excited to equip her students to become lifelong learners, readers, and critical thinkers. She teaches Language Arts to middle and upper school students.
Mr. Jonathan Gelernter
Mr. Jonathan Gelernter comes to APA from the University of California-Irvine, where he spent three years teaching English Literature, Creative Writing, and Composition. He also earned his MFA in Fiction from that institution. Before UCI, Mr. Gelernter attended the State University of New York at Binghamton, where he completed a Bachelor’s in English Literature. Mr. Gelernter’s writing has earned a range of distinctions throughout his academic career, including the Bennington Young Writer’s Prize, the Portia Dunham Award for Fiction, and the Charlotte W. Alexander Graduate Prize for Fiction. In his free time, he tries to play the piano. He teaches Language Arts to middle and upper school students.
Mr. Alex Pritchard
Mr. Alex Pritchard comes to APA from Westwood High School in Austin where he was the Director of Forensics since 2002. He graduated from the University of Northern Iowa with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science and Economics, and later attended the University of Nebraska for graduate work in Communication Studies. He obtained a Masters degree in Communication Studies from Baylor University in Waco, TX. He has worked for the past 37 years at several public and private schools as Director of Forensics. His students have been admitted to many of the most prestigious universities in the country. He has numerous teaching and coaching awards to his credit, including Speech Teacher of the Year by the Nebraska Speech Teachers Association, Debate Coach of the Year by Nebraska Coaches Association, and Baccalaureate Speaker and Teacher of the Year awards at the Creighton Preparatory School. He has been inducted into Coach Society Hall of Fame at Emory University, and the University of Kentucky. His professional associations include Kappa Delta Pi, National Forensic League Double Diamond Coach, and the National Debate Coaches Association. He has given presentations at several conventions and universities nationwide. Speech and debate teams coached by Alex have won at every major tournament in the country including Harvard Round Robin, Stanford Round Robin, and the University of Texas Round Robin. He has authored several publications in industry publications and journals. He has been ranked among the Top 10 Debate Coaches of the Century.
Mr. Eric Lanning
Mr. Eric Lanning received his Bachelor of Science degree in Political Science from the University of Houston in Houston, Texas. He also completed International Relations and Muslim Studies from Michigan State University in East Lansing, Michigan. Mr. Eric has years of successful experience in policy debate at each and every level of competition as well as international experience as both a classroom instructor and academic director, along with administrative experience with speech and debate programs, tournaments, and institutions of higher learning in the state of Texas. He was the Assistant Policy Debate Coach of multiple national champions at the Westminster School of Atlanta, Georgia and the Stratford Academy of Macon, Georgia as well as a summer instructor at the Gonzaga Debate Institute in Spokane, Washington and the Stanford National Institute in Forensics in California. Furthermore, he was the Academic Director for speech and debate at the National Speech and Debate Association (NSDA) of China, Administrative Program Coordinator for the University of Texas National Institute in Forensics and Remote Coach at Trinity Prep School.
Mr. Eric is a national debate champion as both a competitor and coach. He has won the National Debate Tournament (NDT) as an undergraduate at Michigan State University and has also coached the NDT semifinalists. He was a semifinalist at the Tournament of Champions (TOC), coaching back-to-back TOC champions, and coaching the winner of National Debate Coaches Association’s Baker Award for season long excellence. He teaches middle and upper school Social Studies.
Mr. Matthew Shivell
Mr. Matthew Shivell received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Humanities with a Major in Medieval Studies and English from the University of Oregon in Eugene, Oregon. He is a certified teacher with ten years of curriculum development and instruction experience. Mr. Matthew has extensive international experience teaching in Prague, Czech Republic, as well as the cities of Shanghai and Guangzhou in China. He has been presented with the Teacher of the Month as well as the Teacher of the Year award. Mr. Matthew has also coached policy and informal debate, and has a great passion teaching students public speaking, historical analysis and how to make sense of the modern world. Additionally, he supervised the senior capstone at Shanghai Academy in charge of 5 teachers supervising 100 student projects. With cumulative years of English and History teaching behind him, Mr. Matthew teaches middle and upper school Social Studies.
Ms. Tracy Dickson
Ms. Tracy Dickson, a veteran English teacher, joins APA with more than 15 years of experience teaching students from middle school to college level high school English classes. She holds certifications in New York, Vermont and Texas and has a BA in English from SUNY Oneonta and an MA in Public Policy from SUNY Empire State College. Ms. Dickson is a five time recipient of the Dutchess County Excellence in Education award for developing programs to create student-centered curricula and library child development programs. Ms. Dickson has extensive experience in developing curricula, classroom management plans and project based learning projects. Prior to obtaining her teaching certification, she worked as a professional journalist and fundraiser. She enjoys reading novels with her students and making connections between in-class assignments and “real world” reading, writing, speaking and listening skills. Ms. Tracy will teach Middle School English.
> Science Department
Ms. Nahed Abou Galala
Ms. Nahed Abou Galala has a degree in Computer Science from Mu’tah University in Jordan and also holds a diploma in High Educational Skills. She is also certified in computer science for 8-12 grades. She worked as a computer programmer in Jordan and as a teacher in chemistry and computer technology in Indiana. In addition to teaching science and computer classes in middle and upper school, she is the school’s main IT support for both software and hardware areas. Ms. Nahed has attended several educational workshops in using “Mimio Interactive projectors” in the classrooms and the summer UT Summer Institute for teaching Pre-AP Science for middle school, AP Computer Science A, and AP Chemistry. She has finished 36 hours of training in teaching Forensic Science for Upper School. Ms. Nahed was rewarded the “Principal’s Award” for meeting and exceeding all standards in 2010 – 2011.
Ms. Joy Killough
Ms. Joy Killough, a leader in science education in the classroom, in professional development and in the science community. She received her B.A. in Biological Sciences and M.S. in Biology from University of Houston-Clear Lake as well as a Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction from Texas A&M University. She focuses on improving teaching and learning in STEM fields through a student-centered active learning approach.
Ms. Killough has conducted workshops since 2000 across the United States and Internationally in AP and Pre-AP Biology, Vertical Teaming, K-12 science, and math-science integration. She is also an independent as well as a College Board Endorsed Consultant. Ms. Killough has received numerous accolades over her 15+ years of research and teaching career. She teaches AP Biology to Upper School students.
Mr. Kiel Kietlinski
Mr. Kiel Kietlinski was born and raised in Austin, Texas. He attended Stephen F. Austin University and Southern Illinois University obtaining two Bachelor’s Degrees in Biology and Science Education, and a Master’s Degree in Plant Biology. While working on his Master’s Degree, Mr. Kietlinski spent time in Utah working in a genetics lab studying grain and weedy amaranths from North and South America. He additionally spent time working in the Academic Assistance & Resource Center (AARC) at Stephen F. Austin State University tutoring students in biology, geology, and chemistry. In college, Mr. Kietlinski was passionate about working with electron microscopes and eventually ended up working in an Electron Microscopy lab at Southern Illinois University. He has over 10 years of combined experience working as a Lab Instructor (Teaching Assistant) and as a Secondary Science Teacher at various public institutions.
Mr. Kietlinski actively sponsors students in the Austin Regional Science Fair. Under his direction students have won numerous awards and have even competed in the state science fair in San Antonio. He is an adjunct faculty member in the Biotechnology department at Austin Community College. In his classroom, Mr. Kietlinski loves interacting with students and bringing science to life in his classroom. In his free time, he enjoys caving, hiking, and light microscopy. Mr. Kietlinski will teach Science to Middle and Upper School students.
> Math Department
Mrs. Sarah Sayegh
Mrs. Sarah Sayegh holds a Bachelors of Business Administration in Accounting from The University of Texas at Austin and is certified to teach both Middle School Mathematics and Elementary Generalist. She returns to APA this year to serve as a Middle/Upper School Mathematics teacher. Mrs. Sayegh has previously taught in British International Schools in expat communities in Central Africa. She has attended various workshops geared towards integrating technology into the classroom. Mrs. Sayegh aspires to instill her passion for Mathematics in her students as they discover the applications in their daily lives. She strives to make her classroom a fun and engaging learning environment.
Ms. Maisaa Hawana
Ms. Maisaa Hawana graduated with a B. Sc. degree in Computer Engineering from Iowa State University and a diploma in Communications Engineering from Public Authority of Applied Education and Training, Kuwait. She also received her Masters of Education in Education with Principalship from Concordia University in 2017. Prior to joining APA, she worked for the State of Texas as a TAKS exam scorer and as a teacher’s aide at a childcare center. Her qualifications include certified Math Middle/High School teacher, childhood development training and several computer certifications. In addition to teaching mathematics in school, she is in charge of the finances, the day to day operations and works closely with the IT department in software and hardware maintenance issues. Ms. Maisaa has attended many workshops including Thinking Maps, training in using “Mimio Interactive projectors” in the classrooms and the summer UT Summer Institute for teaching Pre-AP Mathematics for Middle school and Upper school. She was teacher of the year for academic 2012-2013. Currently she is the Principal Designated School Official (PDSO) for Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) for International Students and is the official Notary for APA. Ms. Hawana also teaches Upper School Geometry.
Ms. Cara Bearden
Ms. Cara Bearden completed her degree in Mathematics from Alverno College in 2005. She received her Secondary Math Certification in 2007 for Texas. She taught math for seven years at Crockett High School, where she also served as the AP math teacher lead. In 2012, she joined the National Math and Science Initiative as a presenter and mentor. Ms. Bearden offers exam preparation sessions for students in AP statistics and general AP math exam preparation. At NMSI, she also mentors teachers, providing them with resources and offering support.
Ms. Penny Smeltzer
Ms. Penny Smeltzer earned a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics and History, with an additional certification in English, from Western Michigan University. Ms. Penny boasts an incredibly diverse and well-rounded background in teaching Mathematics. Her passion is Advanced Placement Statistics. In addition to teaching at Austin Peace Academy, she continues to serve as a consultant for the College board, as an AP grader and rubric writer, and member of the AP Statistics Test Development Committee. Penny also works as a statistics content specialist for the National Mathematics and Science Initiative. Her dedication to professional development has helped teachers and students from coast to coast as well as in Singapore and Hong Kong. Penny’s recognition includes 2015 Presidential Award Finalist, 2011 O’Donnell AP Teacher of the Year, 2010 Intel Teacher of Merit, 2009 Texas Exes Outstanding Teacher, the 2008 national winner of the Siemen’s Teacher Award, 2007 District Teacher of the Year, and 2006 Toyota International Teacher Award. This is a result of her connecting material to the students and engaging with them on a deeper level. Ms. Penny joined the APA community from Westwood High school as a Mathematics teacher as well as a peer advisor and mentor for the APA Teaching Staff for Math and Science.
> 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. Andra Carter
Ms.Andra Carter graduaed from Washington Adventist University – Columbia Union College in Takoma Park, Maryland with a Bachelor of Science in Psychology and a Bachelor of Arts in Biology. She also received her Master of Science degree in Sports Health Science with a concentration in Sport Coaching and Athletic Injury Management from Life University in Marietta, Georgia. Ms. Andra has been teaching K-12 Physical Education since 2004. She has worked at numerous private and charter schools. Ms. Andra is also an accomplished athlete
being a former NCAA basketball player and a former professional women’s football player. Ms. Andra serves as APA’s Dean of students, PE and Girls Basketball coach.