The Best EducationThe Best Environment


Karen Matejka, M.Ed.

Texas A&M University, Tarleton State University
Texas Certified Teacher, ACSI Certified Educator, Texas Certified Principal, ACSI Certified Principal
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After spending 19 happy years in the whimsical world of HCCA Kindergarten, I am thrilled to begin another year at Holy Cross Christian Academy as Head of School. Always a teacher at heart, one of my favorite responsibilities as Administrator is getting to spend my Wednesdays teaching Character Development classes. I also have the privilege of sharing God’s love and wisdom with our students by leading chapel everyday.There is nothing more fulfilling than helping students reach the full potential God has planned for them as they develop a personal relationship with Him. Witnessing our students developing into Christian leaders and thinkers is immensely gratifying. I love my job!

In my tenure here, I’ve watched Holy Cross grow from a tiny preschool of 45 on Johnson Street to a flourishing school of 240 that serves PreK2.5 through eighth grade, sprawling over 19 acres in the Briaroaks area. It has been a privilege to watch our academic programs develop and strengthen as well as witness the birth of a vibrant athletic program. We have gathered the greatest, most loving staff of any school in our area who truly care about their students; always going above and beyond above and beyond. It is an honor to serve alongside such high quality educators.

Away from school, I love being Lolli to our three grandchildren. My husband is Pop. (Get it?!?) My oldest granddaughter is now sharing her days with me here and I am enjoying all the blessings that our sweet school has to offer its students as a grandparent. She, and her cousins, will be legacy students as both of our twin girls graduated from HCCA in 2002 after having attended for 9 years. Holy Cross truly is the best education in the best environment.

Giesla Tucker, M.Ed.

Assistant Administrator, Athletic Director, Middle School Spanish Teacher
Texas Christian University, Western Governors University
Texas Certified Teacher, ACSI Certified Educator
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Dwight Martin

Chief Financial Officer, IT Director
Dallas Baptist University
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I will never forget being invited by Julie and Brian Riley to our first Festival of Tables in 2007 and hearing Kristy Werner speak. I sensed a "deep calling unto deep" and had an instant kinship with her and with Holy Cross. I didn't know it then, but God had set the course of the next season of my life that night. Our daughter Zoe began Kindergarten with Mrs. Matejka in the fall of 2009 and I remember emailing Karen after Ice Cream Social concerning the microphone issues they'd experienced during the assembly time. I told her I could help fix that. My life has been hopelessly entwined with Holy Cross ever since.

God started me on the path to become a lifelong learner by giving me a mother who was a fine teacher. Though she never went to college or taught in a typical classroom, God used her to make a tremendous impact on my inquisitive impulses and hunger to know more. She constantly sent me to dictionaries and encyclopedias to find the answers to my questions, even though she probably knew the answers.

God also used a little pilot class in physics when I was in 8th grade to greatly impact what I would do and where I go. I doubt that the tired teacher and the six boys that were a part of that little educational experiment had even an inkling of the life-altering effect it would have. It serves as a reminder to me that we often are not aware of the massive ripple effects of our efforts until decades later or perhaps in the Life to come.

It seems clear that every step of the way God has been preparing me to be where I am, to do what I am doing. I am so grateful for the opportunity to serve our growing school in whatever manner He leads. It has been an honor to watch my beautiful and gifted wife stir up young readers and start them down a lifelong love affair with books and watch a child discover the power of programming for the first time. It is a privilege to have seen my two daughters thrive in the loving and rigorous life that pulses here on this campus. It is a story for the ages. And I can't wait to read the next chapter. 2 Cor 5:14-15

Leigh Fitchett, B.B.A.

Registrar, Advancement Director
Texas Tech University
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It is such an honor to be able to express to new families how great HCCA is! When I became a staff member at the school, I was so grateful that I would be able to spend my days in the same Christian environment that my children did! I came to love the school when we first toured it for my son in 2017. I knew this is where I wanted my children to learn and grow. So, when the opportunity came up for this role, it just made sense that it would be the perfect place for me to be as well!

I am from McKinney, TX, and I graduated from Texas Tech University in 2005 with a bachelor's degree in Marketing. Out of college, I moved to Las Calinas and worked at Nokia for almost nine years. During that time, I got married, moved to Burleson, and had two children. I then got out of the business world and was a stay at home mom for about five years before starting back to work with this role at HCCA.

I have a wonderful husband, Stephen, who I have been married to since 2008. We have two incredible children who both attend Holy Cross, Ethan & Kate.

Tiffany Konrad, M.S.

Receptionist, Administrative Assistant
University of Central Arkansas
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If you step through our doors at HCCA it will likely be my face you'll see first. If you call the school it will likely be my voice you'll hear on the other end of the line. My hope, with either one, is that you feel "at home". I have several job duties and responsibilities, but my title is Receptionist/Administrative Assistant.

Years ago we were looking at schools for our energetic and enthusiastic 5 year old, who was going into Kindergarten that fall. After touring the school and talking with Mrs. Matejka, it was clear that God led us here. I have been involved at Holy Cross pretty much from day one: from room mom, to Festival of Tables, to committees, serving as a board member and finally as an employee.

My educational background doesn’t exactly fit the job title, but oftentimes God has a different plan. I have a Master’s of Science degree in Speech-Language Pathology. I have worked in my field over the years but have found the main job I always come back to is MOM. Working at HCCA has allowed me to be present for “all the things” and also help others, which is something I always loved about being a speech pathologist. I’m thankful for the support of my husband and, of course, my kids. They are my “WHY” and the reason HCCA is my “WHERE!”

Jenifer Newton, B.S.

Executive Assistant
University of North Texas
Texas Certified Teacher, ACSI Certified Educator
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Years ago, I was stressing over where my four year old would attend Kindergarten. While watching my son play at the park, I overheard two women gushing over their children’s school. I instantly inserted myself into their conversation and jotted down the name and location. During our tour, I was blown away by the loving environment, level of expectation, and dedication to the development of the “whole child.” WE HAD FOUND OUR SCHOOL! After a year of our son attending, I knew I had to be a part of the bigger picture. Thankfully, that desire came to fruition, and here I am.

I’ve worn many hats during my time at HCCA: writing teacher, library aide, and 4th grade teacher. My most recent hat is assisting our amazing administrators.

When I’m not at school, I can usually be found reading a book, taking a nap, or attending my children’s extra curricular events. I married my sweet husband in 1999. He is a youth pastor and also can be found in 413 coaching HCCA’s middle school volleyball team. Go Warriors!

Auxiliary Staff

Cassandra Bursey

Stay and Play Assistant
Tarrant County College
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I have always had a desire to care for anyone in need. When I was a child I would take care of any and every animal I could pick up on the side of the road. As I grew, my passion transitioned to wanting to be there for people in need. Whether they were sick, hurting, or just needed a shoulder to lean on, I found myself drawn to those situations. I was on a different career track when I had a strong conviction to stop what I was doing and heard my calling to become a nurse. After doubling up on classes, and countless all night study sessions, I passed the Texas Board of Nursing exam in 2009. After spending several years in the nursing field, I decided it was time to stay at home with my children in 2013.

When my oldest daughter started Kindergarten, I felt that it was time for me to start my nursing career again. Weeks of prayers for guidance in a job that would best fit the needs of my family led me to a position that had opened in the Stay and Play classroom, and I immediately felt God calling me to it. Although this isn't a career in the nursing field, it has been very fulfilling to love and care for the littlest warriors at Holy Cross. I love each child as my own and nothing is more gratifying than seeing the growth in confidence and independence in your child from the beginning to the end of year.

Holy Cross has been a perfect fit for my family. It was everything my shy, reserved children needed. If you haven’t experienced a morning chapel at Holy Cross, please come as soon as you can! It will fill your heart seeing each and every student worshiping in one accord.

When I am not at Holy Cross, I love to travel with my husband, Brian, and two daughters, Addison and Taylor. We enjoy spending time outdoors, whether we are on the beach, in the mountains, or in our backyard, and never turn down a spontaneous adventure. We are the epitome of living life in the moment.

Lou Ann Fitzgerald

Stay & Play Director
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I have worked at Holy Cross for a number of years. Twenty-five of those years, I was a teacher and an aide in the 2 ½ and 3 year old classes. Now I enjoy being the director of our Stay and Play Team.

I grew up in Crowley, Texas, and have attended the First United Methodist Church there for over 60 years. I received my diploma from Crowley High School and have attended many seminars and early childhood education training classes over the years.

My husband and I are blessed with two grown children and two beautiful grandchildren. I also have a fur baby named Abby, a sweet miniature dachshund.

I love spending time with my family, watching my grandkids, and enjoying their many activities. I also like flowers, plants, and working in my yard!

Holy Cross has always held a special place in my heart as I feel it was a calling from God. The children that walk through my classroom doors bring me joy and laughter that bless my days!

Savanna McAlpin, B.B.A.

After School Director, Stay and Play Teacher
Texas Wesleyan University
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Hey there, my name is Savanna. I am the after school director and a stay and play assistant. Ever since high school, I have known that I wanted to work with children. I was blessed to have taken a course in my senior year of high school that allowed me to work diligently each day with the elementary school kids. From then on, I have had a passion for teaching. I began working at Holy Cross in 2018 while I was working towards my bachelor's degree. My sister had been attending Holy Cross for three years when I started working here. We have loved Holy Cross from the start, and I cannot wait to get to share my love for this school and working with children with you.

Kristen Wood, B.S.

Instructional Aide
Missouri State University
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I spent most of my childhood in and around Arkansas City, Kansas but moved to Ireland for three years during high school. I moved back to the states my senior year of high school and then went to Cowley County Community College on a tennis scholarship. I moved to Springfield, Missouri after graduating CCCC and graduated from Missouri State University (formerly Southwest Missouri State University) in 1996, with a degree in Child and Family Development. While in college, I met my husband of 18-years. Together we have two daughters, one a Junior at Texas A&M University, and the other a sophomore at Joshua high school. I worked for Cook Children's Hospital after moving to Texas in 2000; however, I knew I wanted to be a stay at home mom after our second child was born and was able to be at home with her for 5-years. I started with Holy Cross in 2007, where both our children attended. For the last three years, I have been an aide for Mrs. Martin in the library and computer lab.

Electives/Specials Faculty

Callie Brown, B.S.

Middle School Art
Texas Christian University
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I grew up in Burleson literally right down the street from where HCCA sits today. I graduated from the same high school building that my father graduated from and went on to college at TCU. I graduated from TCU in 2000 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Environmental Earth Resources (which is basically a geology degree mixed with an environmental science degree) and, although I had enough hours for an art minor, I never officially declared it. After college, I decided to go to work for my father at Burly Fence Company, and I married my high school sweetheart 2000.

We have three wonderfully different children. Our oldest son started at Holy Cross in Pre-K and has moved on to high school. Our middle son is in middle school at Holy Cross and our daughter is elementary.

We originally came to HCCA because of this AMAZING kindergarten teacher we were told about named Mrs. Matejka. Our love for this school has only increased over the years. One day in the summer 2016 I received a call from Mrs. Matejka to see if I would be interested in teaching the middle school art class. I’m not sure I even let her finish speaking before I said,”YES!” I had been thinking about teaching art for a long time but never had the courage to ask about it. It was a bonus that my oldest child was one of my first students! The best part of my job is sharing my passion for art and seeing students create something they really love on their own.

Stan Denman

Elementary Spanish, Elementary Music, Middle School Drama
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God has a way of taking our small life-experiences and turning them into a journey of service for Him.

I grew up in a pastor’s home. When I was nine years old, God called my dad to be a foreign missionary to the country of Mexico. So, at 11 years of age, our family of six moved heart and home to Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico, where I spent the next few years learning and watching. I learned from my dad as he served God and, in doing so, my future life was being formed.

Of course, I learned Spanish, but I also fell in love with music and the dramatic arts. I took guitar lessons from a man who was rated the sixth best classical guitar player in the world. He also happened to be a missionary. While in Mexico, I met the theater and fell in love. It has never left me. Outside of following Jesus, music, singing, and drama became my lifelong passions.

Upon returning to the states, I got married a couple of years after graduating high school. Very soon thereafter, I was asked by my pastor if I would consider leading the choir at our church. I agreed and the rest is history.

I attended Arlington Baptist College and Tarrant County Junior College and then became involved in church ministry, both full time or part time, from that point to this.

Since 2007 I have been the pastor of the Community of Life Church in Burleson where I teach and guide people in worship. I am also Vice President of Gospel Radio Latin America; a ministry that provides radio evangelism throughout the world. In addition, I teach Spanish to elementary children and drama to middle schoolers here at Holy Cross, assist with several funeral homes in the area as they minister to the grieving, am an American Heart Association Certified CPR/AED/First Aid instructor, and I am a private instructor in both guitar and piano. Above all, my desire is to seek God and find some time to play a little bluegrass music on the side!

I have been married since 1977 to my beautiful bride, Cindy. We have three adult children, and three grandchildren whom we love to spoil and send back home! My youngest son Landon, grew up at Holy Cross, entering Kindergarten with Mrs. Matejka in 2005 and graduated from here in 2015. In fact, over the years, I have had the privilege to have been a Holy Cross parent, grandparent, and faculty member. My love for this school runs deep!

I consider it an awesome privilege to be able to make a small impact on the lives of children here at HCCA. Thank you for allowing me this opportunity.

Jill Jacobs

Home Economics Teacher, Kitchen Coordinator, Before School Assistant
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I began teaching at Holy Cross in 2014. Currently, I am the preschool “Snack Lady,” a job I have found to be one of the most enjoyable and gratifying positions! I just love seeing my little friends' eyes light up as they catch me coming down the hall with the snack cart. (The way to a warrior’s heart is through their stomach Ha!) I also thoroughly enjoy my teaching position in middle school, educating the young ladies and gentlemen in Home Ed. It is so rewarding seeing their creative juices flow and the outcome be accomplishments that warm the mind, body and soul. I am also part of the before school care program where I prepare a delicious breakfast so the students will have a great start to their day.

As you can see, I have a big passion for food! I have been volunteering as the Friday “Lunch Lady” since 2011. I enjoy working with local restaurants and our parents to help raise funds for our students' big field trips.

God blessed me with my awesome husband over 20 years ago. We live in rural Burleson in the house that I moved to with my parents from Houston when I was two, which makes me a Joshua Fighting Owl alumni. We are the proud parents of one lovely daughter. She attended Holy Cross beginning at the age of 3 and graduated from HCCA her 8th grade year. We as a family enjoy road trips, livestock shows, and an all time favorite, “Jesus and Laketime” at our East Texas lake house with my mom. I am a 903er at heart and my favorite football team is the Carthage Bulldogs.

We attend church here in Burleson at Open Door Church. And, are the proud owners of goats, chickens, cats, donkeys & dogs calling our home, Third Day Farms. Our Ministry is to help others, be the hands and feet of Jesus and proclaim the Good News Gospel. 100% of money we raise through our farm goes to our “kingdom business” partners that are helping children in need.

I give thanks to the Lord Father, the HCCA Staff, and the parents of our Warriors for blessing me with the opportunity of being with your children each day. God is Good.

Cheryl Martin, M.L.I.S.

Librarian, Computer & Technology
Dallas Baptist University, University of North Texas
Texas Certified Teacher, ACSI Certified Library Media Specialist, Google Certified Educator
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I assumed the positions of librarian and technology teacher at Holy Cross in August 2013. Prior to that time, I spent 25 years in Mansfield ISD and Fort Worth ISD: teaching 2nd grade, 6th grade math, and as an elementary school librarian. I earned degrees in Elementary Education (B.A., Dallas Baptist University, May 1988) and Library/Information Sciences (MS, University of North Texas, December 2004). I am also a Level 1 and 2 Google Certified Educator.

I married my husband one week after graduating from Dallas Baptist University in 1988 and we have two daughters who bring a great deal of laughter and love into our lives. We also have a talkative cat who entertains our family daily with her antics.

My favorite part of being a librarian is helping students find that book or author that sparks in them a love for reading. As a lover of technology myself, I also find great satisfaction in helping students find new technical skills to add to their toolbox. Having the opportunity through the combination of these two positions to teach students how to learn for themselves through both print and digital mediums gives me great joy.

Jerry Falls, B.S.

Industrial Arts
Tarleton State University
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I retired from public school in 2016 after 44 years of teaching. I taught 30 years in middle school and 14 in high school. During my career, I coached football, basketball, and track in middle school, on top of teaching industrial arts for all my years. I became a christian at the age of 8 and was baptized in the little creek down the road from the church, and have been active in our church family ever since. In 2003, I was also ordained as a deacon at the First Baptist Church in China Spring, TX.

Carolyn Williamson, B.Ed.

Elementary P.E.
Dunfermline College of Physical Education
ACSI Certified Educator
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I am the elementary P.E. teacher with an accent at Holy Cross Christian Academy. I am originally from Scotland, hence the accent, and have worked at this fantastic school since moving to Burleson.

I graduated from Dunfermline College of Physical Education, now part of the University of Edinburgh, Scotland in 1982 and have been teaching P.E. ever since!

I worked at St. Margaret’s School for Girls in Aberdeen until 2002, when my family moved to Lafayette, Louisiana. Talk about a culture shock! There, I worked at Ascension Episcopal School until my husband’s work brought us to Burleson in 2014.

I always wanted to work with children and enjoyed all sports, so becoming a P.E teacher was a natural progression. I love teaching P.E. Who else gets to have fun “playing” with the children as they learn new skills? The expression on a student’s face when they have mastered a new skill, be it hopping on one foot, catching a ball, making a basket, or jumping rope, is priceless and makes my job such a joy. Not only do the children learn and develop their physical abilities, they grow as a team member, as an encourager and as a good sport.

My husband and I have been married to my husband since 1984 and we have two children.

In my spare time, I enjoy working out and playing tennis. I am very proud to have been part of a tennis team that represented Texas in the National Championships in Florida in November 2017.

I feel very fortunate that my old-fashioned, knock on the door with resume in hand approach to job hunting brought me to Holy Cross right when Mrs Matjeka needed a substitute teacher. As a former colleague would have said, “That’s a God wink, right there.”

Early Education

Jaclyn Beth

PreK 2.5 & PreK 3 Teacher
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Hello and welcome to our Holy Cross 2 ½ year old and 3 year old preschool class! I am very excited to be a part of the Holy Cross Family!

To share a little bit about myself, I am married to my high school sweetheart and have three children. We are originally from Illinois and grew up in a suburb outside of Chicago where we still have family and friends we enjoy visiting. I love spending time cheering on my kids in each of the sports and activities they enjoy! I enjoy making time to run in the early mornings, challenge myself with races, drink coffee, and read.

Holy Cross has played a huge role in my family’s life as I have seen first-hand, with my own children, what Christian education means to our youth as they grow into young adults. The foundation HCCA gave my children has blessed my heart as I watch them make choices and decisions that honor God.

I love that I get to be a part in setting that foundation for our littlest Warriors as they start their educational journey!

My prayer is that the children who enter my classroom will feel safe, loved, and excited to be here, and that each day they will feel God’s love surrounding them at school, home, and everywhere their days take them!

Allison Nelms

PreK 2.5 & PreK 3 Aide
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My name is Allison Nelms and I am proud to call HCCA home. This is my 4th year as the aide in the PreK 2.5/3 class with Mrs. Beth. We make a great team with a genuine passion and love for each student.

I married my high school sweetheart and we have four amazing children. We have been part of the Holy Cross family for 9 years now. Our oldest graduated HCCA last year, our twins and our youngest all attend Holy Cross as well. We are love camping, hiking, fishing and traveling all over. We are on a quest to visit all 50 states.

I absolutely love HCCA, both as a parent and now as a staff member. This school gives each student a great foundation for their education and life as well as spiritual growth through out each year. Joining Mrs. Beth in the PreK class has been the perfect fit for me, to be a small part in guiding these little warriors onto the HCCA road ahead. I am blessed to have found a school like this and a group of staff to inspire not only my children, but also myself.

Jamie Ellis, B.S.

PreK 4 Teacher
Sam Houston State University
Texas Certified Teacher
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I am so excited to be part of the Holy Cross faculty this year teaching PK4! When our oldest daughter was two, my sister Jenifer Newton suggested that we enroll her in the PK2.5 class at Holy Cross. My sister had worked there for a few years and both her children attended. We were impressed with what we saw her children doing, so I was all in. We lived in Keller at the time, so we made the commute two days a week. We knew this was just for one year until we found something closer to our home. That never happened! We loved HCCA so much that we enrolled her in PK3, PK4, and Kindergarten…all while living and commuting from Keller! Five days a week was hard, and we knew we wanted our kids to stay at Holy Cross, so we made the move to Burleson last year. We are so glad we did! I have seen the wonderful things our little school does and am so excited to be part of the amazing staff.

I grew up in southeast Texas. I graduated from Sam Houston State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Education and a minor in Speech Communications. I taught for twelve years before becoming a stay-at-home mom.

I am happily married and have two daughters who both attend Holy Cross. When we aren’t at school, our family loves to travel, swim, and watch movies.

Janie McWhirter

PreK 4 Aide, PreK 4 Enrichment Aide, Before School Director
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My story begins with touring HCCA as a prospective family looking at enrolling our oldest daughter in kindergarten. We immediately fell in love with the school, particularly her future teachers and we just knew in our hearts that this was where God wanted us to be. I began volunteering and participating in as many school functions as I could and eventually began to work as a sub as well. It brought me such overwhelming joy to see firsthand all of God’s works being carried out in the hearts and minds of those little warriors and in 2019 I was blessed to join the faculty of the school I had grown to love so dearly.

I am happily married to my best friend and a mom of two beautiful girls who are currently HCCA students. We love spending time together outdoors, cooking, and watching movies.

It is a blessing to get to greet my before school friends with a smile each morning and spend my days teaching and playing with some of our littlest warriors. I am so excited and grateful for the opportunity to love and care for your precious little ones!

Nicole Wheat, B.A.

PreK 4 Enrichment, Elementary Art
Texas Women's University
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In the spring of 2008, my husband and I walked into Holy Cross for a tour and knew we were entering something special. Our daughter was becoming a first grader and we prayed for just the right school for us. We fell in love with HCCA and, three years later, I became a part of the staff!

My little family of three, (well, five if you count our two furbabies) live in Alvarado. My husband and I have celebrated anniversaries since 1999, and our daughter is pursuing a business degree in college. I graduated in 2001 from Texas Woman’s University with a Bachelor of Arts in Dance Studies. From the young age of five, I dreamt of owning a dance studio. In 2008, that dream came true when Dance Fusion in Alvarado opened its doors!

Stepping into a new year at Holy Cross is always exciting. I get to teach art to our elementary students and Enrichment for some of our younger Warriors in PreK 4! I look forward to spending time with each of my students and getting to know them this year!

Christina Herr

Kindergarten Teacher
ACSI Certified Educator
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I knew I wanted to be a teacher from a young age -- most importantly, a Kindergarten teacher! This is why it’s a joy to say, this will be my seventh year teaching Kindergarten at HCCA and my tenth year being a part of this program. My love runs deep for this educational program, and I am very passionate about working and learning with children. My favorite place to be with my students is knee-to-knee and eye-to-eye while witnessing each sparkle God has placed within them and building relationships to endure. At HCCA we are concerned about developing the whole child, and I hold this ideal very close to my heart. It is with great pride, I call Holy Cross Christian Academy my home!

With a loving husband of twenty-seven years, who is also an educator and has a doctorate in teacher education, it is important for us to embrace this responsibility to educate the leaders of tomorrow. I am the proud mother of four beautiful children who also call HCCA their home. What a glorious foundation HCCA has placed within each one of them, to grow and serve as Christian disciples.

I am truly humbled by the blessing God has given me to be a teacher, cherishing this gift each day with my students. If you find yourself walking by the kindergarten room and hear the exuberant joys from the walls within – know it is us; learning, laughing, and loving in the name of Jesus!

Brandy Williams

Kindergarten Aide
University of North Texas
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Growing up, Southlake, Texas, was my home. After high school, I attended the University of North Texas. UNT is where I met my amazing husband . We have four wonderful children who all attend HCCA.

My family started HCCA in 2016 and I started as Kindergarten Aide in 2017. Starting off, my belief was that I was here for my family. Being near my kiddos everyday was such a great feeling. However, HCCA has progressed into a new family. I have received and benefited more than I could have possibly imagined. The relationships that I have built with the staff, students, and parents are indescribable and the reason I love my job. Being with this new-found family on a daily basis, watching them grow throughout the year, and being a part of this educational journey we are all on has become one of my biggest blessings.

Elementary Faculty

Michelle Tucker, M.Ed.

First Grade Teacher
Liberty University
Texas Certified Teacher, ACSI Certified Educator
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I came to Holy Cross through great friends and prayer when searching for the perfect place to pour into students. This place needed to reflect the values and teaching philosophies I hold dear. Holy Cross is exactly where God wanted me. I am able to live out my calling to teach and establish relationships with students, families, and faculty that are just as excited about learning as I am!

I have a Bachelors and Masters in Elementary Education. I love teaching and bringing each student to their highest potential in education and character throughout the school year. I love science and reading! Every year each student becomes a special part of my heart that never goes away!

I have been married for 22 years and we attend Doxology Church. We have two beautiful and newly graduated daughters. It is a great joy to see them accomplishing their goals and finding joy in their journey along the way.

I enjoy teaching, gardening, camping, traveling, cooking, and reading!

Ashlan Clements, B.S.

First Grade Teacher
University of North Texas
Texas Certified Teacher, ACSI Certified Educator
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I was born and raised in Amarillo, TX, land of wide open spaces, the Cadillac Ranch, beautiful prairie sunsets, and the best tasting cherry sprinkle donut ever! I graduated from the University of North Texas in May 2009, and my husband and I were married that June. We moved to Houston for 2 years and then made our way back to the DFW area when I started teaching in 2011. I've taught seven years in kindergarten and one year in second grade. We moved to Burleson in 2015 when I was pregnant with my oldest daughter. In 2019, after the birth of my second daughter, I decided to take a year off from teaching and focus solely on being a momma.

I had heard amazing things about Holy Cross from my neighbor, so when it came time to enroll my oldest daughter in Pre-K, I headed into Open House to see what all the fuss was about. To be honest, I wasn't sure what to expect, and I went just focusing on Pre-K; I had no intentions of thinking any further than that. After the interactions I had with the amazing staff and students that night, I left wanting my daughters to go to Holy Cross forever! The only way I can explain it is that it felt like home and because of that, I also secretly dreamed of teaching there too. And now I am!

I was without a doubt, born to be a teacher and I love getting to fulfill my passion for educating right here at Holy Cross. My favorite titles though are that of wife and mom. I am married to my most favorite person in the world, my husband Bryan, and together we have two sweet daughters.

Michelle Stiles, B.A.

Second Grade Teacher
Texas Wesleyan University
Texas Certified Teacher, ACSI Certified Educator
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I grew up not far from here in Alvarado, Texas. I spent some of my preteen years at the Burleson Skate Rink which is now Holy Cross Christian Academy!

When my daughter was three, we spent quite a bit of time at the park with friends. One day we were discussing preschools and mother’s day out programs when a stranger interrupted us. She said she needed to tell us about a little school that would change my life! After visiting HCCA for five minutes, I knew this was more than just a school and it would be perfect for my little girl! We enrolled my son as soon as he was old enough to go to PreK as well!

I found myself spending many hours volunteering for different teachers and helping wherever I could. I knew without question that I would teach here as soon as I could!

I graduated from Texas Wesleyan University in 1996. I began teaching in Alvarado in January of 1997. I taught third grade and first grade in Alvarado ISD for six years and special education in Midlothian ISD for two years. I am very blessed to have a hard working husband and was able to stay home for eleven years with my children. When I was ready to jump back into teaching, there was only one school for me! I love coming to school each day and helping guide my students’ hearts and minds!

When I am not at school, I love spending time with my family. We love to travel (mostly to Disney World).! When I do have some down time, l love to sit on the couch with my dog, Sam (my third child), and watch the cooking channel!

Beth Marstaller, B.A.

Second Grade Teacher
University of Nebraska at Kearney
Texas Certified Teacher, ACSI Certified Educator
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I have always wanted to be a teacher. I began with teaching my stuffed animals and then taught every chance I could get before graduating with an Education degree from The University of Nebraska at Kearney.

I first experienced Texas when I moved here to student teach in 2004.

I am so thankful to teach at a Christian school where I can share my Biblical values with my students. I first heard about Holy Cross when searching for a school for my daughter to attend. The moment I arrived for a campus visit and felt so loved by everyone here, I knew it wouldn’t just be my daughter who would be a part of this school.

I love to read any book I can get my hands on and my summer reading lists usually begin with current Texas Bluebonnet Award winners. I also love to travel with my family. My favorite places to visit are National parks and I have explored 21 so far. I have three kids that I love to the moon and back and an amazing husband who shares my love of reading and travel.

Shira Sims, B.S.

Third Grade Teacher
Southeastern Oklahoma State University
Texas Certified Teacher, ACSI Certified Educator
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God led me to HCCA after my eight year journey of being a stay at home mom. I previously taught second and fourth grade at Northwest and Mansfield ISD’s. I graduated from Southeastern Oklahoma State University with my Bachelors in Education.

I have been married since 2002 and we have two beautiful daughters . Both of our girls are HCCA graduates and now attend Centennial HIgh School. Away from school, as a family, we enjoy our farm! We raise and show Nigerian Dwarf Goats.

I am forever grateful to have been led to HCCA. I love the students and enjoy watching them learn and grow. The lasting bonds and friendships made with families make HCCA “home.”

Shayla Shannon, B.A.

Third Grade Teacher
Southwestern Assemblies of God University
Texas Certified Teacher, ACSI Certified Educator
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I would occasionally drive by Holy Cross Christian Academy, and my eyes would always stare at the outside of the building while my heart would be saying, “one day I’ll work here.” When the time came to move onto a new career, I stepped foot into HCCA and immediately felt at home. The dream to teach at the perfect school was fulfilled. August 2016 was my first year to teach at Holy Cross Christian Academy, and since day one, I have felt at home.

It has been a dream to teach for the majority of my life. I absolutely love to nurture my students and watch them grow in education and in their walk with God. The greatest moments of teaching are when kids say, “OOOHHH I get it!” Those “lightbulb” moments are the best! I will use whatever method needed for my students to understand the concept being taught. I even use my ukulele or “air instruments” for kids to understand special sounds. I love to make up chants and songs for students to remember different concepts in math. Some might call me unique, but I will do whatever it takes to see my students be successful!

I went to college at Southwestern Assemblies of God in Waxahachie, Texas. I earned my BA in Church Ministries with an emphasis in Children’s Ministries. During college, I was drawn to work in the church but always had a heart to teach. This dream never left me. After college, I worked as a youth pastor at a church in Fort Worth, with sixth to twelfth graders. I loved this age group but was still drawn to the younger children as well. I worked in Fort Worth for two years, then God called me to a church in Burleson as their Children’s Pastor. I loved working with elementary kids, but the dream to teach was still in my heart. I served the church faithfully for four and half years. Toward the end of those years, I worked hard to earn my teacher certification and passed the tests needed to fulfil my dream of teaching.

I am married to a wonderful man who is my biggest “cheerleader” in all my dreams. We have two of the cutest little red headed boys who are full of joy! We attend church at The Heights in Burleson. As a family, we serve in different ministries of the church. Our favorite thing is to be outdoors. We love to go camping, exploring new trails and seeing new, beautiful scenery. Our goal is to one day visit all the beautiful state parks in Texas.

Jessica Clark, B.S.

Fourth Grade Teacher
University of North Texas
Texas Certified Teacher, ACSI Certified Educator
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The school supply aisle in Target is my happy place, y’all! All of the supplies are organized so perfectly; the bright colors, the promise of the approaching school year, the variety of pens and scissors and binders, oh my! It’s my favorite.

There was never any question of what I would be when I grew up. From a very early age, I would tell anyone who would listen that I was going to be a teacher - and I completely love my job! I have three very special teachers that have influenced my life: my mother, my fourth grade Language Arts teacher, and my TAG (Talented and Gifted program) teacher. Each of these women brought creativity, fun, and laughter into their classrooms and fostered a love of learning in their students - something I strive to do everyday.

I grew up in Burleson, graduating from BHS in 1999. Afterwards, I went to the University of North Texas and graduated with my Bachelor’s degree in Education. I taught kindergarten and first grade in Burleson and Everman ISD before deciding to spend time at home with my two young children. When I came back to teaching, I made only one stop - Holy Cross. It quickly became home, and I cannot imagine teaching anywhere else. My favorite subjects are math and science, and I enjoy finding new and creative ways to engage my students.

When I am not at school, I love spending my days with my husband and our two children. Reading, camping, puzzles, and cross stitch are some of my favorite ways to unwind.

Emilia Kaiser, B.A.

Fifth Grade Teacher
Texas Christian University, Texas Woman's University
Texas Certified Teacher, ACSI Certified Educator
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I remember looking out of my old high school window during English class and seeing the original Holy Cross Episcopal Church sitting across the street on Johnson Avenue. Little did I know that I would one day be a part of the remarkable school that grew out of that church. What an important part of my family's life it has become!

I graduated from Burleson High School and went to college at TCU. I vowed I was leaving Burleson for good, not looking back, but God had other plans. I graduated from TCU in 1994, married, and began working in FWISD as a bilingual teacher. My family eventually moved back to Burleson and began looking for a school for our children. HCCA was looking for a teacher. Holy Cross was the perfect fit for all!

Teaching fifth graders is very rewarding. Incorporating my love of history and art has allowed me to enrich all our units. I enjoy getting to know my students and helping them discover their own strengths and develop their God given gifts.

Middle School Faculty

Rachel Hackworth, M.Ed.

Middle School History Teacher
Tarleton State University, Texas Wesleyan University
Texas Certified Teacher, ACSI Certified Educator
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I fell in love with Holy Cross in 2011. I was looking for a school for my quiet, shy, five year old daughter when I overheard a conversation between two ladies. They were talking about a small, Christian school in Burleson that, until that moment, I had never heard of.

In that otherwise quiet room something told me I needed to go see this school for myself. When I walked into Holy Cross, I was led to my first chapel experience. It was that moment that God spoke to my heart, and I knew this was the school I would raise my family in.

Now, I have the privilege of teaching Middle School History and Social Studies alongside some of the best staff in Texas. I have had two children come through Holy Cross. I watched them grow educationally and spiritually first hand.

Today, I choose to teach at HCCA because I believe in teaching Christian values and worldview in education. I believe that, as Christians, we have an obligation to teach the leaders of tomorrow. I am honored to have a place at Holy Cross.

Brandy Zumwalt, B.S.

Middle School Science Teacher
University of Texas at Arlington
Texas Certified Teacher, ACSI Certified Educator
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I graduated in 2002 from The University of Texas at Arlington and began my teaching career. After graduation, I taught for twelve years in grades 5-8 math/science. I then took a six year break from full-time teaching in order to stay home with/have my three children. During this time, I taught pre-k at a nearby private christian school. My oldest son also completed his kindergarten and first grade years using a university model. This allowed me to teach him in a homeschool setting. It was a special and precious time.

After our family relocated to the Rendon/Burleson area, I figured it is a good time to get back into the classroom as my youngest was going into pre-k. In all honesty, I was very burnt out with teaching and all of the extra stuff that was required of public school teachers when I quit teaching six years prior. In a way I was digging my heels in, but knew God wanted me to pursue a teaching position someplace. Holy Cross wasn't even on my radar, but God knew what I needed. I heard about HCCA from some family friends. Upon further investigation, I knew I wanted to be a part of it. Unfortunately, there was no position at the time. I left my resume/application with Mrs. Matejka just in case a position opened up. Well, "just in case" happened three days later. My first year was incredible despite Covid/quarantine. My students, co-workers and parents are wonderful. They are all so very supportive and we challenge each other in a good way.

It is a privilege to be able to teach science through a Christian lens. I am able to show my students that Jesus Christ is in every aspect of life. My desire is to not only to help them learn about science and the world around them, but to grow in their relationship with Christ.

Julie Zentell, M.S.

Middle School Language Arts & Reading Teacher, F&F Coordinator
University of Texas at Austin, University of North Texas
Texas Certified Teacher, ACSI Certified Educator
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I began my experience with Holy Cross as a parent. I was looking for a preschool for my youngest daughter. From the first phone call, Holy Cross was the most welcoming, warm place. I knew she would be in good hands as soon as I met the administrator and the staff. While our younger daughter was completing preschool, my husband and I talked frequently about moving our oldest to Holy Cross. We knew we wanted her to experience the same family community and solid education that her sister was already experiencing.

Our older daughter moved to Holy Cross during her third grade year. Even before she began, the students and teachers let her know, through words and actions, that she was a part of the community. Little by little, our family was becoming a part of a much bigger family.

The next year, through God’s prompting, I knew I wanted to be a daily part of this community, working to provide other students with the same love, guidance, and foundation my kids were receiving.

While I have a Master’s of Science in Speech-Language Pathology and have worked in both the educational and the health care fields as a speech pathologist, I am also a certified teacher. This is my twelfth year of teaching at Holy Cross. For eight years, I was a first grade teacher. This will be my fourth year as the middle school Language Arts teacher. I am grateful to share my love for reading and writing with middle schoolers. Also, I am able to share my love for teaching reading and writing with my colleagues by coordinating Foundations and Frameworks and Writer’s Stylus at HCCA.

I enjoyed helping first graders take their first steps into elementary school. Now, I have the privilege of guiding our older students as they find their voice in writing. It is exciting to work with them as they write and revise. One of my favorite things to hear is, “That was easy! I thought it was going to be hard,” as they write about one of their passions. I get to hear about the things that they are interested in and encourage them to communicate their enthusiasm through a variety of genres.

My girls have graduated from Holy Cross with so many teachers and staff members pouring into their educational and spiritual foundations. One is currently a senior at Texas A&M and completing her student teaching. And the other is a senior at Burleson High School. They continue to come back home to Holy Cross to work, to volunteer, and to visit. My husband of twenty eight years, Matt, continues to be actively involved in our school as a teacher husband though we’ve graduated out of our roles as Holy Cross parents.

Amy Grimes, M.Ed.

Middle School Math Teacher
Tarleton State University
Texas Certified Seconday Math Teacher, Texas Certified ESL Teacher, Texas Certified EC-12 Principal, ACSI Certified Educator
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Holy Cross has been home to me since 2014. It has a place in my heart that can’t be replaced or explained. My son has been attending school here since he was in Pre-K3 and is going into 4th grade. My daughter has been attending HCCA since Pre-K3 as well, and will be entering kindergarten this year! Because of the impact HCCA made in my son’s life, I knew I wanted to be a part of it with him and my daughter. When my son started 1st grade, I applied to teach at HCCA and have been here since. I am so blessed to be a part of this amazing school. In the nine years prior to coming to HCCA, I taught at Henderson Junior High in Stephenville (2 years), Burleson High School (7 years), and Tarrant County College (part time since 2015). At HJH, I taught seventh and eighth grade math for a year and a half. At BHS, I taught Algebra 1, Algebra 2, and ASL, and I have been an adjunct professor at TCC Trinity River, teaching Developmental Math and Intermediate Algebra. I graduated with my Bachelor Degree in 4-8 math education from Tarleton State University the same day I married my husband. I graduated with my Master’s of Education in Educational Administration from Tarleton State University in August of 2014.

Education has been a passion of mine since I was a young girl. I use to play school all the time! One of my favorite things about teaching is seeing a student’s hard work and perseverance pay off. I knew God had placed teaching on my heart from a young age. I have been blessed to be surrounded by so many wonderful educators throughout my life, including my dad who probably had the biggest impact on my career choice. Math became a passion of mine in high school. When I was in school, math was not something that came easily to me, but I loved it, and I had a teacher who made us want to learn and work hard. Since math did not come naturally to me, I also want to instill a desire and passion for math in my students, like my teachers did for me.

Amanda Thiessen, B.S.

Middle School Bible Teacher
New Mexico State University
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My family and I have been part of the Holy Cross family since the beginning of 2014 when we enrolled my son in kindergarten in the middle of the year. We were constantly amazed at the ways they taught the children but also encouraged them to love God andothers. Three years later, my daughter joined my son at Holy Cross. I started as a substitute teacher two years after that. Even though my son is now in public middle school, I can see the results of his time at Holy Cross.

I earned my bachelor’s degree in civil engineering at New Mexico State University. Instead of becoming a civil engineer, I became an officer in the US Army serving in engineer and civil affairs positions. I love math so I was excited when I had the chance to teach math at a Catholic school in Oregon before we moved to South Korea with the military. I have had the opportunity to live in many states as well as overseas. I have also had many different jobs, everything from army officer and math teacher to produce stand manager and now Bible teacher and substitute teacher.

This year I have the privilege of teaching middle school Bible. I hope to not only teach them the “whats” of the Bible but also the “whys.” My overall desire is to help them love Jesus more!

Giesla Tucker, M.Ed.

Assistant Administrator, Athletic Director, Middle School Spanish Teacher
Texas Christian University, Western Governors University
Texas Certified Teacher, ACSI Certified Educator
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