The Best EducationThe Best Environment


Karen Matejka, M.Ed.

Texas A&M University/Tarleton State University
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After spending 19 happy years in the whimsical world of HCCA Kindergarten, I am thrilled to begin my 5th 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 twenty-four year tenure, 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 6 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 first granddaughter. My husband is Pop. (Get it?!?) I can't wait until she, and future grandchildren, share their days with me here and enjoy all the blessings that our sweet school has to offer its students. They 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!

Rachel Earheart, B.A.
Athletic Director, Assistant Administrator
University of Texas at Arlington
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My name is Rachel Earheart, I am the child of Claude and Valerie Badgett. Growing up, I was taught to work hard and never quit. My dad always pushed me to be the best and go above and beyond. During my high school years, I had a coach named Gary Whites. Coach Whites was like my dad at school. He was a coach that pushed you but did it in a very stern and caring way. He believed in every one of his athletes. He made me feel like I was the only one he was coaching. He believed in me, and, in return, I believed in myself. Because of that, I stayed every day after school working and working to better myself. He helped me realize that someday I wanted to work with people. I wanted to be that caring, encouraging, and guiding person that he was.

I graduated from Burleson High School and went to college to be a nurse. As I got closer and closer to getting into nursing school, I was struggling with my decision. My mom sat down with me and she reminded me of my love for kids and for sports. She said, "I think you would make a great coach and teacher!" So, I decided to change my major to Exercise, Sport and Health Studies. I graduated from UTA in 1998 with a Bachelor of Arts. Upon graduation I married my husband of 20 years, Troy Earheart. I took a job at Everman ISD where I taught PE and coached volleyball, basketball, and track at junior high for six years. During that time I also coached Varsity track and cross country at the high school. My last year there, I taught P.E at Hommel Elementary and continued coaching at the high school. In 2005, I took a break to be a mom to my son Kendall and my daughter Kenlie. After a year off, I knew that I needed to be teaching and coaching kids. I was hired in 2006 at Holy Cross to teach PE and start an athletic program. A dream come true! I have since graduated from teaching PE to being Athletic Director and Assistant Principal.

In my spare time, I enjoy watching my son play sports and my daughter performing on stage. When I am not doing that I love to run, cycle, swim, and workout. We are a very active family! I am the queen of taxi service!!

I love my job because I am able to share my passions with the kids. Being a coach, I get to build that special relationship with my kids. My goal is to build a forever relationship with my students. I want them to know that I am always here cheering them on and that my door is always open. School and sports are important, but it is that relationship that goes so much further. Recently a former student invited me to her college graduation reception. I was excited that she want me to be a part of something so great. That night she shared some stories about people who inspired her to be who she is today. I sat and listened to her speech and thought about how far she had come since junior high and how proud I was of her. Little did I know she was giving me an award as a token of her appreciation for the role I played in her life. My heart skipped a beat! I do not do my job for awards. I do it because I want to share my love and passion with each one of my kids. This is the legacy I hope I leave with each one of my kids just as Coach Whites did for me.

Debbie Aaron
Financial Secretary
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Japan was my birthplace, but I got to Texas as soon as I could! After graduating from Sam Houston High School in 1970, I went straight to work. Over my 21 years at Holy Cross, I have served in many capacities. One of my first tasks was converting information from ledgers and journals to the computer. It continues to be my privilege to do what is necessary to support this fantastic group of educators and leaders.

My husband, Robert, and I have been married 28 years. We share a blended family of four children. We have been blessed with ten grandchildren and one great-granddaughter. I love spending time with my grandchildren and being involved in their lives. Our sweet four legged friends, Oscar (schnoodle) and Lexi (labradoodle), manage to keep life interesting and keep us on our toes. Being outdoors is one of my favorite places to be. I enjoy gardening, golf and hiking.

I have been associated with Holy Cross since it was an Episcopal school. Scarlette Pivonka was the director, and she is now a cherished friend. I joined the staff of Holy Cross the year Scarlette retired. It was an honor to serve on the board with the transition team that formed Holy Cross Christian Academy as we know it today. Witnessing God move and open doors for Holy Cross Christian Academy is an experience I will always carry in my heart.

"For I know the plans I have for you", declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me and I will listen to you". Jeremiah 29:11-1

Dwight Martin
Chief Financial Officer, IT Director, Custodian
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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

Crystal O'Grady, B.S.
Registrar, Advancement Director
University of Houston
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My journey at Holy Cross began when I toured as a prospective PK4 parent. My husband and I immediately knew that Holy Cross was the school our children would attend. The warm, safe, and welcoming environment drew us in. It felt like family.

I earned my BS in Hospitality from the University of Houston then quickly found my way to the west coast. My husband, Michael, and I met in San Diego, while working in the restaurant industry. We cherish the eight years spent in California followed by two years in Arizona, but always dreamed of putting down roots and raising our family in Texas, where I am originally from.

In my free time, I love reading, trying new restaurants, and being outdoors with my family. We love to hike, bike, and explore.

After staying home with our two children, now eight and five, the opportunity to join the Holy Cross Staff was an answer to much prayer. I feel blessed to spend my days doing what I love, combining my passion for administration and hospitality. The best part of the day is getting to share the amazing qualities our school has to offer with prospective families. Beyond that, I get to watch my children thrive daily while receiving "the best education in the best environment."

Please don't hesitate to let me know how I can serve you throughout your journey at Holy Cross. It is my goal to help you feel welcome and informed, making the enrollment process as smooth as possible for you.

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.

Ten 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. That kindergartener has recently graduated; however, our younger children still attend. I have been involved at Holy Cross pretty much from day one: from room mom, to Festival of Tables, to committees, and serving as a board member. This is the start of my second year as an employee.

My educational background doesn't exactly fit the job title, but often times 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 of 19 years and, of course, my kids. They are my "WHY" and the reason HCCA is my "WHERE!"

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.

Lou Ann Fitzgerald
Stay & Play Director
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I have worked at HCCA for 28 years. Twenty-five of those years, I was a teacher and an aide in the 2.5 and 3 year old classes. This will be my third year as the Stay and Play Director.

I grew up in Crowley, Texas, and have attended the First United Methodist Church there for 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, John, and I have been married for 38 years. I am the proud mother of Casey (36) and Chanda (32). I am blessed to be called Nana by my grandson, Cutter (7), and granddaughter, Jacie (4). I also have a fur baby named Abby. She is a five year old 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!

Natalia Kaiser
Before & After School Assistant
Tarrant County College
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I was a student at Holy Cross for 11 years and had some of the greatest memories of my life while attending. The atmosphere is so different from any other school. When I went to Burleson High School I was really missing that feeling of home. I came back to work the morning care and afternoon care so once again I could be involved with the great families of Holy Cross. I am excited for my second year being back because my little sister Lucia is in the 8th grade. I get to be here for her last year while working alongside with my amazing mother and my oldest sister Sofia. While working at Holy Cross I have been taking classes at TCC and am so close to earning my Associates Degree. Holy Cross has been so incredible with being flexible around my school schedule and I could not have asked for a better job. I know this year will be great and I am blessed to be back working with some amazing kids and alongside some amazing teachers!

Sofia Kaiser
After School Assistant
Tarrant County College
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My name is Sofia Kaiser. I was born in Fort Worth, Texas but have lived in Burleson my whole life. I attended Holy Cross for 11 years until graduating from 8th grade. I went on to graduate from Burleson High School and I am currently enrolled at TCC to get my basics done. I want to transfer to a 4 year university and get a degree in film! I would love to take that career far and edit some big name films one day! I also love to play tennis and cook.

Savanna McAlphin
After School Assistant
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I am currently a junior in college looking to major in nursing. I graduated from Grandview High School in 2016. My sister currently attends Holy Cross and will be in 5th grade this year.

I am so excited to begin this journey and I can't wait to get to know each and every one of you and your kiddos!

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 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, Chris Brown. We have been married 18 years and have three beautiful children together.

Byron (13) started at HCCA in PreK 4 and completed sixth grade here. He is currently in eighth grade at STEAM in Burleson. Garrett (10) started at Prek 4 and attended HCCA through the third grade. We found out, at that point, he has a learning challenge and we put him in Hill School in Fort Worth (they specialize in teaching children with learning differences). Nikki (7) is our youngest and only girl. She started HCCA in Prek 4 and is currently in second grade.

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. About three years ago, 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, 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 and, most of the time, we have nothing to do with it.

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. I took 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 forward.

For the past 11 1/2 years I have been, and still am, the lead pastor/undershepherd at the Community of Life Church in Burleson where I teach and guide people in worship. In addition to the church, 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 about to go back to school to become a licensed funeral director. Above all of that, my desire is to seek God and find some time to play a little bluegrass music on the side!

I have a beautiful wife of 40 years, Cindy, and three children ranging in age from 37 down to 17. My 17 year old, Landon, grew up at Holy Cross, entering Kindergarten with Mrs. Matejka in 2005 and graduating from here three years ago. He is now a senior in high school in Ft Worth. We also have three GRANDkids whom we love to spoil and send back home!

It is indeed my privilege to be able to make a small impact on the lives of children here at HCCA with the beautiful language of espanol and in theater. Thank you for allowing me this opportunity.

Jill Jacobs
Home Economics Teacher, Snack Preperation, Volleyball Coach
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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! I also thoroughly enjoy my teaching position in middle school, educating the young ladies and gentlemen in Home Ed. It is rewarding seeing their creative juices flow and the outcome be accomplishments that warm the mind, body, and soul.

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, Aaron, over 20 years ago. We live in rural Burleson in the house that I moved into with my parents when I was two which makes me a Joshua alumni. Aaron and I are the proud parents of one lovely daughter, Laurel. She has attended Holy Cross since the age of three. As a family, we 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 and serve at Shepherd's Valley Cowboy Church. And we are the proud owners of goats, chickens, cats, donkeys, and dogs, calling our home Third Day Farms.

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, Lego League, Volleyball Coach
Dallas Baptist University
University of North Texas
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Exiting HCCA on the afternoon I dropped my oldest daughter off in Mrs. Matejka's kindergarten classroom for her first day of school, I stopped to grab a handful of Kleenex. While I tearfully contemplated leaving my baby with strangers for the first time in her life, Kristy Werner, our former administrator, asked if I'd ever be interested in the library position at HCCA. At that moment, a dream was born in my heart to one day join the faculty here. Fast forward to the fall of 2013 when that dream became a reality. I assumed the positions of librarian and of technology teacher that August. Prior to that time, I spent 25 years in Mansfield and Fort Worth ISD: ten years as a second grade teacher, four years teaching sixth grade math, and eleven years 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.

My husband, Dwight (also an HCCA employee), and I have been married for over 30 years and have two daughters. Zoe, a freshman at CHS, and Mika, a 7th grader at HCCA, who bring a great deal of joy and laughter into our lives. We also have a talkative cat named Bella 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 a love of reading. As a lover of technology myself, I also find great satisfaction in helping students find new technical skills to add to their toolbox. The best part of my job is the opportunity I have to teach students HOW to learn for themselves through print and digital mediums. One of my all-time favorite authors is Mo Willems, who writes picture books for younger readers. However, if you ask me for the title of my favorite book, you are likely to get an incredulous look because I couldn't possibly name just one!

Julianna Meier-Leonard, B.A.
Elementary Music
West Texas A&M University
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Hi there Warriors! I am very happy to be the Elementary Music teacher at HCCA. Music education is my passion, and opening the doorway for students to experience music brings much joy and contentment. My love for music began in dance class when I was a young girl, and then flourished when I learned to play the clarinet in sixth grade band. After being a part of the Alvarado Middle School and High School band program for seven years, enjoying every minute of it, I knew I wanted music to always be a part of my everyday life. My first musical job was being a private clarinet lesson teacher, even while attending college! I attended West Texas A&M University in Canyon, Texas and received my B.S. in Music Education with a certification to teach K-12 Music.

The first two years of my teaching career, I was a MS/HS band director in Brady, Texas. Then I moved back home to Alvarado and have been teaching music in Burleson ISD since 2007. I was an assistant band director for Burleson High School for one year, taught clarinet lessons and clarinet master classes for Burleson ISD and several other districts for a few years, and then taught elementary music at Clinkscale Elementary in Burleson ISD for seven years before coming to Holy Cross.

The other important part of my life is being married to my husband, Matt, and being called mamma by my sweet, soon-to-be three year old son, Rhett. We are dog people and have two very loved Cocker Spaniels, Roxy and Jazzi, who are always right in the middle of everything we do! I love spending quality time with my family and doggies, cooking, and listening to all kinds of music.

One of the greatest joys as a music teacher is giving my students opportunities to learn and explore music in fun ways so they can experience how music can transform them. Music education is vital to a well rounded learning experience, and I truly believe the potential that it unlocks in the many facets of our lives. I am committed to ensuring each child feels successful, capable, and celebrated while they are in music class. I loved becoming a Warrior last year, and look forward to another great year in music with your children at HCCA! Life is a Song, Love is the Music.

Carolyn Williamson, B.Ed.
Elementary P.E.
Dunfermline College of Physical Education
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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 in 2014.

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 for thirty three years, 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 last November.

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 2.5 year old and 3 year old preschool class! I am very excited to be starting my twelfth year working at Holy Cross and eleventh as the preschool teacher.

I am 37 years old and have been married to my high school sweetheart for 19 years. We are originally from Illinois and grew up in a suburb outside of Chicago where we still have family and friends we enjoy visiting. We have three children: Micah (17), Maya (15), and Max (8). 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.

My oldest two attended Holy Cross from preschool through their middle school years and now attend Joshua High School. Time goes so fast, and that is why I am treasuring my youngest son being at Holy Cross with me. He will be going into third grade.

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 third year at Holy Cross as the aide in PreK 2.5/3 with Mrs. Beth. We make a great team with a genuine passion and love for each student.

I have been married to my highschool sweetheart for 17 years now and we have four amazing children. We have been a part of HCCA for eight years. Our oldest Calleigh, is twelve years old and in seventh grade. Calvin and Claire are our seven year old twins and will be in first grade this year. Camille is our baby in the family. She is a fiesty two year old and will be starting this year in our PreK 2.5 class.

I absolutely love HCCA, both as a parent and a teacher. This school gives each student a great foundation for their education as well as spiritual growth. Joining Jackie Beth in the PreK 2.5/3 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 proud and blessed to have found a school like this and a group of staff to inspire not only my children, but myself also.

Amanda Davidson, B.S.
PreK 4 Teacher, PreK 4 Enrichment Aide
Florida State University
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Every fall, I lead our four-year-olds on a trip to Mainstay Farm. The name Mainstay Farm comes from 1 Corinthians 15:58, "Stand firm, let nothing move you, always give yourself fully to the work of the Lord knowing that nothing you do for Him is a waste of time or effort."

When the winds and storms of this life seem too great to endure, we must remember that God is the Mainstay of our lives and that with Him we are not moved. This is why I am here! This is why I have chosen to spend my days here! So children can attend a school where we strive to Excel Still More; not for their glory, but for the glory of the One who made them, the One who is their Mainstay.

After graduating from Florida State (Go Noles!), I began teaching at HCCA. This will be my third year teaching Pre-K4. Before teaching pre-k, I enjoyed teaching middle school math and science. While I have many great memories, my favorite thing was, and is, seeing the students I have taught become successful after they graduate from HCCA.

I was born and raised in Florida and met my husband while attending college. He is the pastor at First Baptist Church of Venus and is working on finishing up his Ph.D. at Southwestern Seminary. We have twin boys who love Holy Cross. One of my favorite things is caring for my flock of chickens. And by flock of chickens, I mean an actual flock of chickens.

Diane Miller, A.B.S.
PreK 4 Aide
Mountain View College
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HCCA has had a special place in my heart since 2012, when my grand daughter enrolled in Pre K-2, She is now entering third grade and my grandson is excited about his upcoming year in Pre K-4. I am grateful for the Christian learning environment in which they are privileged to learn.

My greatest blessings are my husband, one grown son, my loving daughter-in-law, and two beautiful red-headed grandchildren. I was born and raised in Texas and have lived in Alvarado for the past 18 years. We are members of Turning Point Church where I volunteer every year for Summer Fun University (aka-VBS). I love camping, sewing, Mickey Mouse, Target, cherry limeades, and the color red.

I have an associate's degree in business from Mountain View College and spent a short term at Dallas Baptist University. I also hold a Professional Child Care Administrator's Credential and certificates in child development. I retired in 2010 after 35 years of owning and operating child care centers in the Red Oak and Waxahachie areas. This is my third year in Pre K-4 as the assistant.

Nicole Wheat, B.A.
PreK4 Enrichment, Elementary Art
Texas Women's University
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Ten years ago, my husband and I walked into Holy Cross for a tour and knew we were entering something special. Our daughter, Marissa, 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) has lived in Alvarado for 13 years. Jacob and I have celebrated 19 anniversaries, and our daughter is turning 16 soon. 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 my seventh year at Holy Cross is exciting. I get to teach art to our elementary students and Enrichment class 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
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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 fifth year teaching Kindergarten at HCCA and my eighth 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-five 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 of 15 years, Brian. We have four wonderful children who attend HCCA. Jack will be going into sixth grade, Sam second grade, and Luke and Cate (my babies) will be starting kindergarten. Four years ago, we packed up and moved to Burleson. Little did I know, this was going to be one of our best decisions thus far.

This will be my second year at HCCA as Kindergarten Aide and my third as a parent of an HCCA student. 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 my 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

Callie Rodgers, B.S.
First Grade Teacher
Texas Christian University
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As a child, I dreamed of having my own classroom one day where I was the teacher who inspired children to learn. I played "school" daily, it was my favorite thing to do. I am so excited to say my dream is coming true this year. God has led me to Holy Cross to not only inspire students but to teach them like Jesus did. I am grateful to teach at a school that focuses on Christian values along with the essential academic foundation for success.

I graduated from TCU in May of 2011 with a Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood through sixth grade with an Emphasis in Special Education. I taught sixth grade Special Education in Maryland along with Christian preschool before deciding to stay at home with my children. I will be teaching first grade after being a stay at home mom for five wonderful years.

After graduating college and getting married, my husband and I moved to southern Maryland. We lived there for six years, and my children were born there. My husband, Matt, works at Lockheed Martin as an Aeronautical Engineer. God answered our prayers when he was transferred back to Fort Worth and brought us home to Texas in 2017. I grew up in Burleson and love being where my family and friends are close. My children will attend Holy Cross Christian Academy this year.

I love the Lord, my children, and teaching. That makes Holy Cross the perfect trifecta. I can spread the Lord's love through teaching all while knowing my children are safe and learning the same essential qualities. I enjoy teaching first grade because I see the progress each student makes, short and long term. First graders have an eagerness to learn about life and I have the honor of experiencing the stepping stones of Christian maturity as their teacher.

Shayla Shannon, B.A.
First Grade Teacher
Southwestern Assemblies of God University
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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 the cutest little red headed boy who is 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.

Michelle Stiles, B.S.
Second Grade Teacher
Texas Wesleyan University
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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! That "little girl" is now in eighth grade, while her brother is in fourth grade at Holy Cross. !

I spent many hours volunteering for different teachers and helping wherever I could. I knew without question that I would teach here someday! I graduated from Texas Wesleyan University in 1996. 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 can be found on the soccer fields with my daughter or at karate with my son. They keep my evenings and weekends pretty busy! 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!

Sharlet Kemler, B.S.
Second Grade Teacher
Florida Southern College
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My journey to HCCA has had many twists and turns. I grew up in the Oklahoma City area. In high school, I dreamed of being an airline stewardess. Teaching was not on my radar. However, I did not pursue a career with an airlines but started taking business classes while working in various jobs such as banking, human resources, sales, and management. When my daughter reached kindergarten age, I decided to stay home and homeschool her under the umbrella program of a large Christian school. Wow! As my daughter eagerly learned new ideas and concepts from me, I was hooked! I felt so proud of her... and me! My love for teaching was ignited. I later earned my BS in Elementary Education from Florida Southern College in Lakeland, Florida. I began my teaching career in Florida, but my journey in teaching continued on to Texas when my husband's job brought us to this area. For three years, I taught second grade in an inner-city school in Ft. Worth, then eleven years with the JISD teaching second and third grades. I retired in 2017 and took a two month trip literally around the world. I first spent thirty-seven days walking the Camino De Santiago in Spain, next visited my son and daughter-in-law in India, then went on to spend a few days with my brother in Seattle, and finally ended up back at home with the realization that I wasn't through with teaching. After a long term substitute position with a Catholic school in Ft. Worth, I accepted a second grade position with HCCA. I'm thrilled to be here, and that my precious granddaughter will be starting Kindergarten as well.

I love teaching, because it's something I can pour myself into. It truly is a calling. On occasion, people will say to me that they could never be a teacher, or that they just don't have the patience for the job. I believe that God gives us the grace to meet the many challenges of each day and a love for every student. There is nothing more wonderful than seeing a classroom of boys and girls grow academically and spiritually during the year you have them. I feel I have been a lifelong learner, and I hope to instill that in my students. Teaching truly is the best job ever!

Shira Sims, B.S.
Third Grade Teacher
Southeastern Oklahoma State University
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Seven years ago, God led me to HCCA after my eight year journey of being a stay at home mom. This is my seventh year teaching at HCCA, but my twelfth year overall. I have taught second and fourth grade for Northwest and Mansfield ISD. I graduated from Southeastern Oklahoma State University with my Bachelors in Education.

I have been married to my husband, Steve, for 16 years. We have two daughters, Sierra and Aspen. Sierra graduated from HCCA last year and is a freshman at Centennial this year, while Aspen is in seventh grade at HCCA. 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 kids and enjoy watching them learn and grow. The lasting bonds and friendships made with families make HCCA "home."

Kaylee Warlow, B.S.
Third Grade Teacher
Southwestern Assemblies of God University
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I am 22 years old and as tall as a fourth grader. My birthday is April 1st, which I think is really cool even though no one ever believes me. I love going to seafood restaurants only to get a cheeseburger and hushpuppies. Let's be real, that is the best place to get a good hamburger! Four days after Christmas and three days before New Years, I will be marrying the love of my life, Austin Prince, who I have been dating for almost five years. The last name is perfect for my wedding hashtag - #ShefoundherPrince. I will be THAT teacher who changes her name mid-year to Mrs. Prince.

I graduated last spring with a Bachelorss Degree in Elementary Education and an Associate's Degree in Bible from Southwestern Assemblies of God University. YES! You are correct, this is my first year teaching! However, I have experience in Waxahachie ISD and Mansfield ISD, where I student taught. I played volleyball all four years of high school and three years in college. God opened doors for me at HCCA, and I anxiously accepted God's plan. My brother is in fourth grade at HCCA and has loved his experience. I will be teaching third grade and am overjoyed to see my path unfold. My grandma is a retired teacher from Joshua ISD, so I owe my passion for teaching to her. My love for teaching kids began at an early age. I love to share new ideas and see the "light bulb" go off when they realize the growth they have made throughout the year. Also, my goal is to teach them to be successful and kind human beings in and outside of the classroom.

I believe that every child is a gift from God. They are so valued, and my goal is to show them how much God loves them. I am very excited for this new chapter of my life and cannot wait to get to know each student and their families.

Jessica Clark, B.S.
Fourth Grade Teacher
University of North Texas
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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 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. This is the beginning of my fourth year here, teaching two years in fifth grade before moving to fourth. I enjoy teaching math, science, and history and finding new and creative ways to engage my students.

In my "spare" time, I love spending my days with my husband, Randy, and our two children. Our oldest is ten and going into fifth grade while our daughter will be in second grade. I enjoy having them on campus with me, and we love being in the Holy Cross family!

Jenifer Newton, B.S.
Fourth Grade Teacher, Before School Director
University of North Texas
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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.

My specialty is Language Arts. I love books. I love writing. I love grammar. If there was ever a grammar nerd, it's me! My favorite aspect of teaching fourth grade Language Arts is experiencing a good book with nine and ten year olds. In addition to that, helping a child learn to express themselves through the written word never gets old. My goal for each student is simple: I want him or her to love literature and feel confident about expressing their thoughts on paper.

When I'm not at school, I can usually be found chauffeuring my daughter to athletic events and piano lessons or my son to the theatre. I share the driving responsibilities with my husband of 19 years. In addition to a taxi service, he is a youth pastor and also can be found in 413 coaching HCCA's middle school volleyball team. Go Warriors!

Emilia Kaiser, B.A.
Fifth Grade Teacher
Texas Christian University Texas Woman's University
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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 in 1988 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 Michael, and began working in FWISD as a bilingual teacher. We 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! And now l am beginning my eighteenth year.

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

Rachel Hackworth, M.Ed.
Fifth Grade Teacher, Volleyball Coach
Tarleton State University
Texas Wesleyan University
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Eight years ago I fell in love with Holy Cross. 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.

I was sure I was enrolling my daughter in another school. The one all the other Pre-K moms were talking about. But, something told me I needed to go see Holy Cross first. 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. This is the moment when we became part of the Holy Cross family.

Today, I have the privilege of teaching the fifth grade. I have two children attending Holy Cross, and I have enjoyed watching them grow educationally and spiritually.

Though I can teach anywhere, Holy Cross is the only place I can imagine teaching. I choose to teach here because I believe in teaching Christian values 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.

Middle School Faculty

Brandy Roye, M.Ed.
Middle School Science Teacher
Concordia University
University of Texas at Arlington
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My name is Brandy Roye, and this will be my 10th year in education. I am certified in 7-12 science, ESL, and Gifted and Talented Education. I am also AVID and Pre-AP trained, and you will see these strategies utilized in my classes on a daily basis. I received my Master's degree in education specializing in Differentiated Instruction and am currently three classes away from finishing my coursework in my PhD specializing in Educational Leadership. I will begin my dissertation process next semester! I love learning so much that after I receive my Ph.D I already know what my next program will be! This is a great way to demonstrate to my students how we are all life-long learners, and the learning process never truly ends. My beautiful daughter is in her third year here at Holy Cross, and my husband is in health care management. We love our school and are excited for the potential for it to grow!

I teach because I love to pass along my joy for science through hands-on labs, quirky mnemonics, and overall demonstrations of how science encompasses our everyday interactions. The ultimate reward for me is when students remember my enthusiasm for science education and send me photos that they know I will enjoy or invite me to their graduations because I was able to ignite a passion inside them that continues to fuel their desire to learn. Moments like these propel me forward, challenge me to put everything into my art, and to thirst for knowledge to enrich their experience.

Julie Zentell, M.S.
Middle School Language Arts & Reading Teacher, F&F Coordinator, Lego League
University of Texas
University of Texas
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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 Alexa would be in good hands as soon as I met the administrator and the staff. While Alexa was completing preschool, my husband and I talked frequently about moving our oldest to Holy Cross. We knew we wanted Sydney to experience the same family community and solid education that Alexa was already experiencing.

Sydney 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 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 tenth year of teaching at Holy Cross. For eight years, I was a first grade teacher. This will be my second 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.

Amy Grimes, M.Ed.
Middle School Math Teacher, Bible
Tarleton State University
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Holy Cross has been home to me for five years. It has a place in my heart that can't be replaced or explained. My son is going into second grade and has grown so much here, and I can't wait to watch my daughter grow here too. Because of the impact HCCA has made in my son's life, I knew I wanted to be a part of it with him and my daughter. This will be my second year teaching math and Bible at Holy Cross. I am so blessed and happy to be here. In the last ten years, I have taught at Henderson Junior High in Stephenville, Burleson High School, and Tarrant County College. 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 for the past two and a half years, I have also 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. 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. 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 am able to break down the steps and processes to better support my students when they are struggling. I want to instill a desire and passion for math in my students.

When I started teaching at Holy Cross, I was given the opportunity to teach Bible. While I was at Tarleton, I went on a summer mission trip to Australia. This trip grew my relationship with God! I am able to pull in those experiences to help create a passion in my students for the Bible, God, and missions.

Giesla Tucker, B.A.
Middle School History Teacher, Spanish Teacher, Athletics Coach
Texas Christian University
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My story begins as a mother who was looking for a place for her three-year-old daughter to attend school. Being new to Burleson, I was very uncertain as to whether I'd homeschool or send her to public school. As I was driving through my new town, a banner caught my eye, "Now Enrolling Three Year Olds!" Who knew that the sign I just happened upon would be a true God fulfilling purpose for my family and me?

Every step I have taken has been completely God led. I do not walk this journey alone, my husband Jason and I have been married for 18 years. I am proud to proclaim that this little school has raised not one, not two, but all four of my beautiful daughters. Fortunately, I still have two that attend Holy Cross. I have had such a sense of pride then as a parent and now as an educator for the school.

I began my teaching career in 2006 as the first and second grade Spanish teacher. I was blessed to be the long-term sub as the music teacher in that same year. Four years later, I still held those positions! God then moved me into the fourth grade teacher position where I stayed for another four years. Unbeknownst to me, I'd be making another move within the school. I am currently the History and Spanish teacher for the middle school. If you can't tell, I love this place, and I am excited that I get to be a part of this ministry at this school. I love what I do!

In addition to teaching, I also serve as the coach for many of the school's sports. Both teaching and coaching are passions of mine. Outside of school, I founded and coach a summer track club. I believe that children need positive role models in this day and age, and I pray everyday that I am that model for my students and athletes. Finding ways to bring fresh eyes and energy to learning makes each day exciting. It is my heart's desire that my students feel equipped for the world when they leave my classroom. I am a firm believer in developing the whole child. To many, I may just be a History or Spanish teacher, but for me, my assignment is far greater. I fully accept the challenge and responsibility in helping to raise Christian leaders and thinkers.