our Staff


Elsie Urueta Pollock

Lead Founder and Head of School

Mrs. Elsie Urueta Pollock is the Founder and Head of School of Tulsa Honor Academy. She began her education career as a 2008 Teach For America Corp Member in St. Louis where she taught sixth grade students with special needs. Two years later, Mrs. Urueta Pollock moved to Chicago to teach ninth and tenth grade ELA for the Noble Network of Charter Schools.  In 2012, Mrs. Urueta Pollock moved back home to Tulsa to continue her work with literacy as an eighth Grade ELA Teacher and the Literacy Specialist. In 2013, Mrs. Urueta Pollock was accepted into the prestigious Building Excellent Schools Fellowship and spent the 2013-2014 academic school year receiving rigorous professional development in preparation to found Tulsa Honor Academy.


Originally from the El Paso/Ciudad Juarez area, Mrs. Urueta Pollock grew up in Tulsa, and has always called east Tulsa “home.”  She is honored to serve her community and work alongside the best scholars, families, and educators.


Ms. Urueta Pollock graduated from The University of Oklahoma with a BA in International Business and Marketing.

Kate Freudenheim

Assistant School Leader

Kate Freudenheim is a local Tulsan. She began her career in education when she joined Teach for America in 2010. During her time in the corps, she taught middle school Math and Science to students with special needs. Two years later, Mrs. Freudenheim left to teach General Ed. Math for three years at KIPP Tulsa College Prep. In 2015, Mrs. Freudenheim began her work with Tulsa Honor Academy as an operations fellow getting to participate in the formation and planning of the school. She served as the Founding Dean of Students for the first two years of THA’s existence before transitioning into her current role as the Assistant School Leader.


Mrs. Freudenheim graduated in 2009 from The University of New Mexico with a BA in Communication. She holds her Master’s Degree in Education Administration from the University of Oklahoma.

Gustavo Ibarra

Director of Operations

Originally from Mexico City, by way of Los Angeles, California, Gustavo Ibarra moved to Tulsa in the 8th grade. Since then, he has lived in and been an active member of the East Tulsa community. Growing up, Mr. Ibarra's parents instilled in him the value of helping others. Holding true to those values, Mr. Ibarra helped out his community through the Boy Scouts and the Hispanic Student Association at OSU-Tulsa. Mr. Ibarra worked as an Insurance Coordinator in the health industry for two years prior to joining the Tulsa Honor Academy team. In 2015, Mr. Ibarra became the Founding Office Manager for THA and quickly transitioned into his new role as Director of Operations in 2016.


Mr. Ibarra graduated in 2011 from Oklahoma State University with his BS in International Business.

Ryan Burke

Dean of Students

Ryan Burke is originally from Atlanta, Georgia and moved to Tulsa when he joined Teach For America in 2014. As a corps member, he taught Math and Science to 6th grade scholars in North Tulsa. He also led an after-school drama program. After his 2 years with Teach For America, Mr. Burke served as a Congressional Fellow in Washington, D.C. for Congressman Jared Polis of Colorado in the summer of 2016. After this, he returned to his placement school to teach Math and Science a 3rd year. He managed a Food Forest for all of the schools in North Tulsa during that time.  In 2017, Mr. Burke joined Tulsa Honor Academy to serve as the Dean of Students.


Mr. Burke graduated in 2014 from the University of Georgia with a BBA in Finance. His passion for education began in college, where he was able to work with high-school students through a summer internship.


Samantha Aponte

Mark Freudenheim

5th Grade ELA Teacher

5th Grade Science Teacher

Samantha Aponte is new to Tulsa and hails from Miami, Florida. She began her career in education when she joined Teach for America in 2015 and was selected to teach in Oklahoma City. During her time in the corps, she taught 5th grade English Language Arts on the South side of Oklahoma City. In the summer of 2017, she served as an Upper Elementary Literacy advisor for Teach for America's national institute in Tulsa, and began her work with Tulsa Honor Academy as a 5th grade ELA teacher that same year.


Ms. Aponte graduated in 2015 from The University of Florida with a BS in Advertising and a BA in International Studies.

Andrea Pemberton

Kristi Stiles


5th Grade Math Teacher

5th Grade Math Teacher

Andrea Pemberton is originally from Mustang, Oklahoma. She moved to Tulsa in 2015 to serve as an Americorps member with City Year Tulsa as a 7th and 8th grade math tutor and mentor to students at Clinton Middle School. After her service year, Ms. Pemberton spent a year in Israel as a Fulbright Research Student. There, she volunteered as an English and math tutor to 11th grade students at the bilingual, integrated Jewish-Arab school in Jerusalem in which she was conducting her research. Her work in education and dedication to students both locally and abroad motivated her to return to Tulsa to become a 5th grade math teacher at Tulsa Honor Academy.


Andrea Pemberton graduated in 2015 from the University of Oklahoma with a Bachelor's Degree in Anthropology.

Kristi Stiles was born and raised in Dallas, TX. She began her career working for JCPenney as a Business Analyst in 2014. She transitioned into the Assistant Buyer role in 2016. While she enjoyed her time in corporate retail, she changed direction to pursue a career in education. This brought her to Tulsa as part of the 2017 Teach for America corps. She began teaching fifth grade math at Tulsa Honor Academy in the fall of 2017.


Ms. Stiles graduated from the University of Texas at Dallas in 2014 with a BS in Supply Chain Management.


Alex Webb

Ryan Atkins

5th Grade ELA Teacher

6th Grade Math Teacher

Whitney Cipolla

Laura Edwards

6th Grade ELA Teacher

6th Grade ELA Teacher

Whitney Cipolla is a recent graduate from the University of Tulsa with a BA in English Literature and Women's and Gender Studies.  As a native Tulsan and a fifth generation educator in the state of Oklahoma, Whitney became a 2017 Teach for America corp member to serve the community she grew up in.  She is currently the 6th grade English Language Arts instructor at Tulsa Honor Academy.


Laura Edwards has lived in Tulsa, Oklahoma since the age of 5. After graduating from OSU, she began her career in education as an assistant teacher at Broken Arrow Public Schools. While there for 3 years, she assisted teaching a classroom of students with special needs.

Edwards joined the Tulsa Honor Academy Team in July of 2017. She teaches 6th grade English/ Language Arts.


Laura Edwards completed her Associate’s Degree in Liberal Arts from Tulsa Community College, and holds a Bachelor’s Degree in American Studies from Oklahoma State University.

Blake Michael

Erik Steger

6th Grade Math Teacher

6th Grade Science Teacher

Blake Michael is a graduate of Cornell University (BA Goverment and College Scholar Program ‘16) and a 2016 Teach for America Corps member.


Erik Steger grew up in Tulsa. He began formally working in Education as a paraprofessional for elementary students at Jenks in 2013. He taught 4th and 5th grade scholars Math at Collegiate Hall and is now teaching Science for the second year in a row at Tulsa Honor Academy.


Mr. Steger graduated from Oklahoma State University in 2013 with a BS in Health Education and Promotion and an AA in Child Development.

Kristina Acosta

Meredith Cooper

7th Grade ELA Teacher

7th Grade Science Teacher

Kristina Acosta is originally from Knoxville, Tennessee. She began teaching in fall 2015 at an all-girls Charter school in Chattanooga, TN where she taught an integrated ELA and social studies class. In the summer of 2017, Mrs. Acosta moved to Tulsa with her husband and one year old son. She now works as the 7th grade ELA teacher for Tulsa Honor Academy.


Mrs. Acosta graduated in 2015 from The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga with a BS in Secondary Education: English.

Meredith Cooper is a recent graduate from Texas A&M University with a BA in English Literature and a minor in Business Administration. Throughout college she assisted with adult English as a Second language classes and a kindergarten reading program. Her love for education brought her to Tulsa as a Teach for America 2017 corp member. She is currently the 7th grade Science teacher.


Stephen Neal

Anne-Therese Ryan

7th Grade Social Studies Teacher

7th Grade Math Teacher

Stephen Neal is a Tulsa native.  After graduating with Honors from Northeastern State University in 2015 with a B.S. in History and a minor in Music, Mr. Neal joined the THA family in 2017.  Before joining THA he has held several jobs, including singing with the Tulsa Opera chorus, a position he still holds.  Mr. Neal has had a lifelong passion for history and social studies with particular interest in early American history.


Emily Clement

Tyler Morgan

ELL and Reading Specialist

ELA Student Supports Teacher

Emily Clements was born and raised in Tulsa. She began her career in education when she began working for Tulsa Public Schools at Grissom Elementary. During her 4 years at Grissom, she taught 4th and 6th graders in all core subjects. She served as a Tulsa Public Schools Team Lead member, Safety Patrol Coordinator, and was elected as the Teacher of the Year. In 2017 Ms. Clements began her work with Tulsa Honor Academy as the ELL/Reading Specialist.


Ms. Clements graduated from The University of Oklahoma in 2013 with a BA in Elementary Education. She holds her master’s degree in Curriculum and Leadership Studies from Oklahoma State University.

Tyler Morgan grew up in Phoenix, Arizona. After graduating college, he started working in a residential treatment center for substance abuse and serious mental illness. He helped drug users reclaim their sobriety and adopt coping skills for their mental illness. A year later, he joined Teach for America and was placed at Tulsa Honor Academy where he has been teaching English Language Arts with the Student Supports Team for two years. He is currently finishing up his second year with the corps and plans on starting his masters in the fall.


Mr. Morgan graduated in 2015 from The University of Arizona with a BA in Psychology with a minor in Special Education. #BearDown

Colton Tucker

Donald Bush

STEM Student Supports Teacher

5th and 6th Grade Physical Education Teacher

Colton Tucker was raised in Edmond, Oklahoma. After graduating from college, he held positions in the financial and energy sectors. Notably he worked for Direct Energy in Tulsa, Oklahoma beginning as an Office of the President Solutions Analyst. This position required him to respond to high-level complaints and compliance issues responding on behalf of the company. Shortly into his tenure, he was promoted to the role of Pricing and Operations Analyst. In 2016, Mr. Tucker began his career in education when joining Teach for America. Presently he is a member of the Student Supports Team at Tulsa Honor Academy teaching mathematics to students with special needs.


Mr. Tucker graduated from Oklahoma State University in 2012 with a BA in Philosophy. He anticipates beginning graduate school in education at the University of Oklahoma in the Fall.

Donald Bush is the 5th and 6th grade Physical Education teacher at Tulsa Honor Academy. After graduating from Texas A&M University, Mr. Bush began his teaching career in 1993. His first teaching position was in Houston, Texas at St. Anne’s Catholic School. He taught Pk-8th grade Physical Education and coached Soccer, Basketball, and Baseball. During this time he finished his Master’s degree which led to a teaching position at Oklahoma Wesleyan University, where he taught Physical Education and Exercise Science courses and coached varsity baseball and softball.  He then took a break from formal education when he took a position as Recreation and Outreach Minister, where he directed the churches recreation ministry.  After this Mr. Bush was given the opportunity to work for a Para church ministry called Vision Onward.  During this time he directed all aspects of a transitional housing program that provided housing for homeless families.  Moving back into education, at Wesleyan Christian School, he taught physical education to Pk-12th grades and coached basketball.  He has taught and coached for a total of 16 years at all levels of Education.


Mr. Bush graduated from Texas A & M University with a BS degree in Kinesiology. He holds his Masters of Education degree from the University of Houston.

Jason Gautney, M.M. B.F.A., A.A.

Carlin Adkism

5th and 6th Grade Music Teacher

7th Grade Physical Education Teacher

Throughout his collegiate education, and under the instruction of Franklin Kimlicko and Robert Guthrie, Jason received numerous performance and academic scholarships at SMU, UT Tyler, and TJC.   His work developing a guitar curriculum in performance at local universities and private studios has produced students of scholarship award at major American and European Universities.


Currently, Jason continues to write performance editions of guitar masterworks, method books, and studies, as well as teaching lessons in classical, jazz, and modern guitar. When not teaching Jason enjoys a prolific concert career as soloist and member of the group MDFX based out of Tulsa, Oklahoma.






Carlin Adkism was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma. He began his education Career in 2011   with Tulsa Public Schools. As a Para Professional, he worked in the Autism program. He also helped facilitate TCC students with curriculum. He is in his first year with Tulsa Honor Academy as a physical Education Teacher.


Mr. Adkism graduated from Oklahoma State University in 2008 with BA in Health Promotions. He holds a Master degree in Urban Education from Langston University.



©2018 Tulsa Honor Academy