2017-2018 Teachers

Deanna Wilks - English
Email: wilks.deanna@yahoo.com
Bachelor of Science Degree in Education from Texas A&M University

Deanna graduated Magna Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Science degree in Education from Texas A&M University. She is state certified to teach all subjects through Middle School, and has been teaching for 15 years in various areas of study. Her primary focus at the beginning of her career was Math and Science, teaching in these areas for 10 years, but for the last 3 years she has taught Middle School English. She struggled as a student with a reading disability so she understands the difficulties students face. Her desire is to teach children that education can be a powerful tool for success. Through her own struggles, she has learned that with the right tools students can overcome learning obstacles and she wants to share those tools with her students. She is passionate about giving each student the best instruction possible and wants them to succeed.

Dave Crockett ~ Photography
Email: ardorephoto@gmail.com
AA in Photography
26 years of Professional Photography Experience

Dave Crockett has been a world-traveled photojournalist, photographer and graphic designer for more than 25 years. Dave graduated as a Distinguished Honor Graduate from the Graphic Design Course and the Journalism/Photojournalism Course at the Defense Information School as a United States Marine. He then spent 14 years as a graphic design and photojournalist in the Marines. During his time in the Corps, Dave was editor for two news papers as well as an editor for Marines magazine. He as traveled the world as a photojournalist and, as he likes to say, has "covered everything from war to whimsy." He has also earned a degree in photography and is working on a degree in video production as well. Dave Crockett is now a full-time self-employed photographer/videographer specializing in portraits, event photography and commercial photography. He has won numerous awards including four Thomas Jefferson awards as a photojournalist. Dave and his wife have been a homeschool family for more than 13 years and Dave has taught photography and Photoshop design for homeschool students for years. Dave's passion is to guide his students to see the world in a whole new and creative way. His mission is to provide them the skills to they'll need to capture that artistic vision by the use of photography and Photoshop so they can share it with others. Dave's hope is that each of his students will leave his class with a vigorous passion for photography and the skills to enjoy it for a lifetime.

David Petershack ~ Social Sciences, Drama
Email: david.petershack@gmail.com
Bachelor of Business Administration in Marketing from the University of Texas

In the words of the late great actor, Jack Lemmon, “It’s magic time!” This is the attitude that Mr. Petershack likes to convey to all of his Theater students. That and the need for a great sense of humor make for great theater. If you cannot lose yourself and magically create a character, you are not acting, but reciting. Of course, we have a lot of fun as well! Mr. Petershack has directed plays for the Homeschool Academics and Arts Class day (HAACDay), including a winter production of “A Christmas Carol”. He has also recently played the role of the Tin Man in a production of “The Wizard of Oz”. He is currently leading an improv group and directing a group of high school students in a production of “Much Ado about Nothing”. In addition to this, he also applies his love of creativity, learning and laughter to other classes which include History, Geography, and Government/Economics, all of which he has taught at various levels over the past three years. He is a graduate of the University of Texas in 1985 with a Bachelor of Business Administration degree in marketing. He spent 14 years in corporate sales and sales training before becoming a homeschool dad. His corporate experience includes teaching Professional Skills and technology training classes, and working as a computer teacher at Rolling Hills Academy. In addition to this, he has done Web Design, edited professional newsletters, and homeschooled his children for the past eight years. David has been happily married for twenty-five years and lives in San Antonio with his wife Jean and his family.

Dwayne Puckett ~ Art, Logic
Email: dwaynekpuckett@gmail.com
Bachelor of Fine Arts from Texas Tech University
Major: Printmaking 
Major: Drawing
Minor: Sculpture
Minor: Ceramics
Minor: Painting
Minor: Art History
Minor: Archaeology/Paleontology
Minor: Geology

Dwayne received a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Texas Tech University with a major in Printmaking and Drawing. While there he also minored in Sculpture, Ceramics, Painting, Art History. Archaeology/Paleontology and Geology. After graduation he continued his studies with two years of post-graduate work in Art Theory & Criticisms, Advanced Art History, and Theories on Complete Presentation (ie how to present an art piece in its entirety from the work to the frame and/or environment). In 2001 Dwayne started a business with his wife in leather craft, constructing knife sheaths, holsters and various leather art carvings. Dwayne looks forward to continuing studies and work in art focusing on drawing and sculpture and the combination of the two. 

Elizabeth Tapley ~ Spanish - Foreign Languages
BA in Spanish from University of Texas
MA in Education from Stanford

Growing up in Austin, I studied Spanish with enthusiasm, then earned a BA in Spanish Language from UT and an MA in education from Stanford. I taught for five years in a California public school, teaching all levels of Spanish from beginning to AP. I expected teaching to be a short-term career for me while my husband was getting his PhD at Stanford, but I discovered that I love to help people learn! Since then, while homeschooling our three kids, I've taught Spanish to people of different ages in both group and tutorial settings.
Now that our oldest two are grown (one a college student and one a college graduate), I am excited about taking on more students. I love seeing learners' skills and confidence grow with time, and I constantly seek to improve my methods and materials to make learning languages as efficient and as exciting as I can arrange. I find it especially helpful to be continually studying new languages myself, so that I never forget the struggles of a beginning language student. Over the years I've dabbled in Japanese, Polish, Farsi, Hebrew, Russian, French, and Mandarin.
In my free time, I cook, study, read, play the piano, and laugh with friends—when I'm not working to improve my command of Spanish and German.

Gabi van Tassell German - Foreign Languages
Email: gabi@cochranhill.com
Bachelors degree in Agriculture, from Friedrich Wilhelm Universität, Bonn (Germany)
Computer Software Specialist Certificate, BfZ Institute, Augsburg (Germany)
Masters in International Business Management, Southern New Hampshire University, Nashua, NH

Born and raised in Germany, Gabi came to the United States in the early 1990ties. After working in the High Tech industry in Germany and the United States for almost 20 years, her husband and she decided to “try” homeschooling 11 years ago ... and they have enjoyed that privilege every since. Gabi’s family now resides in San Marcos, raising and homeschooling their three children.  
In her free time (if there is such a thing), Gabi enjoys instructing and tutoring German, including teaching classes for all ages at the German Texan Heritage Society (GTHS) in Austin and San Antonio.
Philosophy: Foreign language learning goes far beyond memorizing a list of vocabulary words, it’s a life skill. Gabi loves to see her students thrive when vocabulary, grammar, and conversation - as well as wits and common sense - are used to master overcoming language barriers to getting things done.

Gwen Rigdon – Math, History, Public Speaking/Speech
Email: gwenrigdon@gmail.com
Bachelors of Science in Education at Ohio State University
Masters in Business Administration at the University of Houston

After graduating with a teacher’s certificate, Gwen started her teaching career with the inner city public school system of the Houston Independent School District. She taught in this position for 11 years. Gwen never quite bought into the conventional philosophy of traditional school. While she was teaching in public school, she was given a chance to teach in a pilot program that included team teaching a group of multi-grade students. Because of such a positive experience with that pilot program, Gwen couldn’t see putting her kids in traditional school and decided to homeschool. Gwen has been homeschooling her kids for 18 years now. Math has always been Gwen’s favorite subject in school, and she loves to inspire kids to enjoy it as well. Gwen also enjoys public speaking and has taught it for 3 years now at Star Academy. She has worked with 4-H kids as well as her own in entering and winning public speaking contests for 9 years. Gwen enjoyed teaching middle school Texas History at Star this past year and is looking forward to teaching middle school US History again in the coming year. In addition to teaching at Star Academy, Gwen works part time at Gatti’s Pizza teaching fractions and healthy choices for public/private school educational field trips. Gwen loves working with kids and believes that learning should be fun.

Lisa Frazier ~ Science, English
Email: lisakelfrazier@gmail.com
B.S.Ed. Stephen F. Austin State University 
Major: Speech and Hearing Therapy
Major: Special Education
Minor: Educational Psychology
M.S. University of Texas-Dallas, Callier Center for Communication Disorders
Major: Audiology
Minor: Speech Pathology

I started college as a Pre-Med Major, so began taking some of those wonderful science classes before I decided that twelve years of college might be more than I wanted. My favorite courses in graduate school were the neurology and anatomy courses and I enjoyed my part time job as a Research Assistant at the Medical School researching the pharmacological and teratological effects of pharmaceuticals. This is when I began to think I should have stuck with Pre-Med, but God had another plan. After a 17 year career using my Audiology, Speech Therapy, and Special Ed backgrounds, I found that my real calling was to homeschool my children. After a while, I saw a need for Moms willing to teach science classes at “co-op” as many homeschool parents aren’t comfortable with lab reports and experiments. I have taught all of the Apologia Science courses from the Elementary Sciences through the Advanced Biology courses of Anatomy and Physiology and Marine Biology and I have LOVED them all (except Physics, sorry, I did not love Physics.) Some of the courses I have taught multiple times and I am looking forward to doing so again. I love Apologia Science as I believe them to be the most balanced and thorough high school curriculums available. Dr. Wile writes in a way that anyone can understand, yet at a level that is as challenging as any of the freshman and sophomore level college sciences I took. All of my three homeschool graduates have chosen science related fields and have tested for college credit in Biology. Teaching is my gift, homeschooling is my passion, science is my bag!
I always knew I loved science, but guess what I didn’t learn until I began homeschooling! I love history and literature and English too! I always thought those classes were a nuisance, but maybe that was because of the way I was taught! My education consisted of picking apart books (to death) and often, of reading only excerpts of them. History was taught by coaches and while I could write and make good grades, I often did not understand the difference between my A, B, or C papers. I LOVE GOOD BOOKS! And I want your kids to love them too. I think it is exciting when kids are surprised that classic literature and “school books” can be understood and enjoyed. I think it is exciting when kids improve their writing and understand how to improve it further. Feedback is so important to improving writing skills and my promise to students and parents is to give your students the input and the feedback they need to improve. Homeschooling is definitely my passion, but I know sometimes it gets hard. I know that kids can resist high school level literature and writing AND I know that outside accountability can really help. Let me help you on your homeschool journey, I’ll even grade the papers!
If you have questions for me, please feel free to email me.

Marla Ripps ~ Chemistry and Physics
Email: msrippsclasses@gmail.com
Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from Texas A&M.

I have always loved teaching and have taught many varied subjects over the years, including but not limited to sewing, quilting, college workshops, Chemistry, Physics, and jewelry classes. I helped start a local co-op and ran it until the summer of 2004. In 2002, Irene Miller and I started Crystal Sea Drama Company, a Christian school for Theater Arts and Performance. My background includes:

  • BS in Civil Engineering from Texas A&M.

  • Civil Engineer for the Texas Department of Transportation for 6 years.

  • Technical Director and head of Costume Design, Crystal Sea Drama Company, 2003 to present

  • Teacher- Chemistry with lab for 16+ years starting in 2001

  • Teacher- Physics with lab, for 6+ years beginning in 2010  

My goal as a teacher is to prepare each of my students to be ready for college. In the 16 years I have taught Chemistry, both regular and Honors, I have had many students successfully attend a 4 year university, major in a science related field, and come back and tell me how easy college Chemistry was for them. Some said they should have followed my advice and CLEP out of the freshman level Chemistry course because they were bored, since I covered it so thoroughly in their high school class. Recently, I have had students tell me how the Physics class they took from me really helped them to understand and master their college level physics course. I have even had students thank me for being tough and strict in making them get their work done. It gave them the work ethic to succeed in college classes.

You may contact me at: (210)445-1066 Email: msrippsclasses@gmail.com

Stacy Barnwell ~ English
Email: 4sbarnwell@gmail.com
Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Texas at Austin
       Minor: Art History

As a kid, I asked a lot of questions. My family encouraged and nourished this, and it's a practice I value and have never outgrown. An important reason I'm drawn to homeschooling is the opportunity it gives to ask as many questions as we want! We constantly hear how important STEM skills are for our kids to develop and function well in modern life. I wholeheartedly agree. However, communication, writing skills, and the ability to think critically are crucial for success, both in education and in life.

I have a B.A. in English with a Minor in Art History from The University of Texas at Austin. I've homeschooled for 14 years, and I have had opportunities to work with kids through both homeschooling venues and youth groups during that time.

In addition to teaching traditional areas of study such as writing, grammar, and literature, I strive to help my students develop and exercise their critical thinking skills. I urge them to stretch beyond their normal, comfortable thought processes. It's important for them to be prepared and engaged, but I know they're learning when they are asking thoughtful questions! I'm passionate about sharing great writing, both fiction and non-fiction, with your kids and look forward to learning with and from them.

Stacy Puckett ~ Math
Email: puckettsmathclass@gmail.com
Bachelor of Business Administration from Texas Tech
Major: Management of Information Systems 
Minor: Mathematics

Stacy is a graduate of Texas Tech University.  While there she tutored all levels of Math.  Upon graduation she started teaching first at the junior high level then at the adult level in Lubbock. After moving to San Antonio Stacy spent five years teaching all math levels (Pre-Algebra through Calculus) and both computer applications and computer science at Providence High School while taking Graduate level classes in math education.  In 2005 she left teaching at the school setting to homeschool her daughter only to return to teaching for homeschool class days in 2012.  Stacy volunteers with many different organizations and currently also teaches at HAAC.

Toru Nishikawa ~ Japanese - Foreign Languages
Email: totto_san@yahoo.com
Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering at University of Texas at Austin

I received my bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering at University of Texas at Austin after taking several courses at Waseda University in Tokyo, Japan.I would greatly appreciate the opportunity to teach Japanese to home-schooled high school students and I feel very well-prepared for such a position. First, I have garnered invaluable experience teaching Japanese both in Japan and in the United States. In Japan, I was vice president of a private supplementary school and I taught Japanese for high school and junior high school students for eight years. In the United States, in 2014 I taught Japanese to high school students at the Japanese Supplementary School of San Antonio (JSSSA). Furthermore, I have been teaching Japanese to high school students at the Japan-America Society of San Antonio (JASSA) since 2014 and since 2015 I have been teaching Japanese for high school students in the LULAC National Education Service Center's summer school program. These years of experience have helped me hone my skills as a teacher and develop pedagogical insights that would definitely benefit your students. Second, I would emphasize that I genuinely love teaching and I believe that all students can develop their full potential if they have the right teachers and mentors. Every student has unique talents and obstacles, and I believe that my in-depth experience with students from diverse cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds has given me the patience, empathy, and tutoring skills to be a successful teacher. As an example, a current student was recently chosen to be one of only four Americans to represent the United States at the prestigious 2016 Junior Summit in Japan. I am proud of his achievement, and I feel that it exemplifies how my teaching can bring out the very best in students. Third, I take pride in my ability to communicate and work productively with students, parents, and administrators. Teaching is a team effort and I enjoy collaborating with others to assure that students have a wholesome, supportive, and challenging learning environment where they can flourish both socially and intellectually. For these reasons, I believe that I would be a very capable and caring teacher in your program. Thank you for your consideration.