Our Staff

Our 5th Grade Teachers

Samantha Aponte

ELA 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. For the last 2 summers, she has 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 last school year. She currently serves as the Literacy Specialist at THA.

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

Madison Curley

5th and 6th Grade Social Studies Teacher

Madison Curley is a recent graduate from the University of Oklahoma with a BA in Journalism. Madison's love for education and the 918 brought her back to Tulsa as a Teach for America Corps Member in 2018. Ms. Curley is currently the 5th and 6th grade Social Studies teacher at THA.

Mark Freudenheim

Science Teacher

Mark Freudenheim is originally from Minneapolis, Minnesota. He began his career in education as a Teach for America corps member in 2009. During his time in the corps, he taught middle school science at Tulsa’s Gilcrease Middle School. Following his time in Teach for America, Mr. Freudenheim practiced law in the private sector as a civil defense litigator for two years. After two years in the legal field, Mr. Freudenheim felt it was time to return to public education and pursue justice in the form of making sure that all students have the opportunity to go to college. Mr. Freudenheim began working at Tulsa Honor Academy in 2017 as the 5th grade science teacher. Mr. Freudenheim graduated from Emory University in 2009, with a BA in French Studies and Sociology. He also obtained his JD with Highest Honors from the University of Tulsa College of Law in 2015.

Alix Laws

ELA Teacher

Alix Ann Laws is originally from Russellville, AR and attended the University of Arkansas. Her love of literature inspired her to obtain a BA in English by 2017. She was accepted into the University of Arkansas’ Masters in Arts and Teaching (MAT) program and graduated spring of 2018. In the MAT program, she had the opportunity to student teach seventh grade reading and writing before teaching eleventh grade English Language and Composition. Ms. Laws looks forward to equipping scholars with an appreciation for literature and development of professional writing skills, thus preparing them for college and their future careers.

Kristi Stiles

Math Teacher

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. She is heading up the launch of Cooking Club, new to THA this year. Ms. Stiles graduated from the University of Texas at Dallas in 2014 with a BS in Supply Chain Management.

Aisha Wortham

Math Teacher

Ashia Wortham is originally from Carson, California. She went to college at The George Washington University. While at George Washington she served as an AmeriCorps member with JumpStart, where she taught 3-4 year olds their letters and phonics skills. In 2016 Ms. Wortham graduated with a bachelors in Mathematics and a minor in Computer Science. After graduation, she moved to Tulsa, Oklahoma to serve with Teach for America, teaching third grade for two years. Ms. Wortham joined the Tulsa Honor Academy Familia in July 2018. She teaches 5th grade Mathematics.

Our 6th Grade Teachers

Ryan Atkins

Math Teacher

Ryan Atkins is originally from Perkins, OK. He graduated from Oklahoma State University and began his career as an electrical engineer at a small company in Tulsa. After working for a few years, Mr. Atkins had a desire to become a teacher. He joined the Tulsa Honor Academy staff in 2016 as a 5th and 6th grade engineering teacher. Mr. Atkins now teaches 6th grade math.

Don Bush

Lower School PE Teacher

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.

Whitney Cipolla

ELA Teacher

Whitney Cipolla is a graduate from the University of Tulsa with a BA in English Literature and Women's and Gender Studies. She is currently pursuing a Master's in Public Administration at OU-Tulsa. 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 a 6th grade ELA teacher at Tulsa Honor Academy.

Liam Howe

Math Teacher

Liam Howe grew up in Lake Bluff, IL and is a recent graduate from Carleton College with a BA in Economics. He decided to follow his passion for education and moved to Tulsa as a 2018 Teach For America corp member. He currently teaches 6th Grade math at Tulsa Honor Academy.

Keith Musgrove

ELA Teacher

Keith Musgrove recently moved to Tulsa, but is originally from Oklahoma City. He started his career in education when he traveled abroad in 2014 with his lovely wife Shelby, to teach English to a wonderful group of second graders. Upon his return to the states, Keith joined Teach for America in 2015 and was selected to teach in Oklahoma City. During his time in the corps, he taught some wonderful Kindergartners at Esperanza Elementary on the south side of OKC and then taught for a full year at Kaiser elementary after completing his 2 year commitment with Teach for America. In the summer of 2018, Keith joined the THA Familia as the STEM teacher during Summer Tutorials and is currently one of our 6th grade English Language Arts teachers. Mr. Musgrove graduated in 2012 from Oklahoma Christian University with BA in Theology.

Olivia Slater

Science Teacher

Olivia Slate is originally from White Sulphur Spring, WV and moved to Tulsa in June of 2018. She cones to THA as a 2018 Teach For America Corps member. She is the current 6th Grade Science Teacher and is also the current cross country and soccer coach. Ms. Slater graduated from Berea College in May of 2018 with a Bachelors in Biology.

Our 7th Grade Teachers

Kristina Acosta

ELA 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 two 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.

Stephen Neal

Social Studies 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.

Bonnie Patocka

STEM Teacher

Bonnie Patocka was born and raised in the Panhandle of Oklahoma on a wheat farm near Guymon. She began her career working in telecommunications for Rockwell International in Dallas, Texas. She transitioned to teaching and work for TPS at Edison High School and Tulsa Community College. After her children were grown, she taught at private schools, homeschool co-ops, and private tutoring. She began teaching for Tulsa Honor Academy in the fall of 2018. Ms. Patocka graduated from Oklahoma State University in Stillwater in 1988 with a BS in Electrical and Computer Engineering.

Anne-Therese Ryan

Math Teacher

Anne-Therese Ryan is originally from Terre Haute, Indiana. Ms. Ryan moved to Tulsa in the summer of 2017 to join Teach For America - Greater Tulsa. She began her teaching career last year at Tulsa Honor Academy as the 7th Grade Math teacher. Ms. Ryan graduated from Indiana University - Bloomington in 2017 with Bachelor of Arts degrees in English and Communication & Culture. She also received minors were in French and Political Science.

Jason Veach

Science Teacher

Jason Veach moved to Oklahoma in 2014 upon his retirement from the U.S. Marine Corps after 20 years of service to our country. While in the Marines, Mr. Veach served in many instructor billets and educational endeavors. Mr. Veach is a graduate of Ashford University with a BA in Homeland Security and Emergency Management. Mr. Veach is currently attending Norwich University in pursuit of a Masters degree in Executive Leadership.

Our 8th Grade Teachers

Hannah Bland

Science Teacher

Hannah Bland has lived in Tulsa long enough to call it home, but she is originally from a small town in central Kansas. She graduated from Oklahoma State University with a Bachelor’s degree in English in 2016, and joined Teach for America immediately after. After serving my 2-year commitment working at Hale Junior High teaching 8th grade science, Ms. Bland joined THA this year and teaches 8th Grade Science

Austin Hughes

Social Studies Teacher

Austin Hughes graduated from Oklahoma State University in May of 2018 with a BS in Elementary Education. Before moving to Tulsa in June to work for THA Mr. Hughes lived in Arlington, Texas, Bartlesville, Oklahoma, Asheville, North Carolina, and Rogers, Arkansas. This is Mr. Hughes’ first year in Education and serves THA as the 8th Grade Social Studies teacher.

Joseph Kestner

Upper School PE Teacher

Joseph Kestner is a recent graduate of the University of Arkansas with a BS in Kinesiology. He has been a volunteer coach for students ranging from grades 5th-12th in football and basketball in the Northwest Arkansas area the past 3 years. Mr. Kestner is a first year teacher at THA as the 7th and 8th PE teacher and current assistant boys and girls basketball coach.

Callie Kirk

ELA Teacher

Callie Kirk is an Oklahoma Native. She graduated from Oklahoma State University in 2015 with a Bachelor of Art in English Literature. After graduation, she joined Teach For America. Through Teach For America, she was assigned to work to as an 8th Grade Social Studies Teacher at East Central Junior High in Tulsa Oklahoma. She now teaches 8th Grade English Language Arts and is currently pursuing a Master Degree through the University of Oklahoma Tulsa.

Blake Kruithof

Math Teacher

Blake Kruithof was born in Tulsa, but moved to Perkins, Oklahoma in middle school. Perkins is a small town, just 10 minutes away from Stillwater, home of the Cowboys. He graduated from Oklahoma State University in 2018 with a Bachelor’s degree in Mathematics with a minor in Philosophy and a certification in Secondary Education. Before coming to THA, he taught Geometry and Algebra 2 at Stillwater High School. Mr. Kruithof's role at THA is 8th grade Algebra 1 and Honors Geometry.

Our Student Support Team

Meredith Cooper

Upper School Student Supports

Meredith Cooper is originally from Houston, Texas. In the summer of 2017, Ms. Cooper moved to Tulsa after being placed at Tulsa Honor Academy through Teach for America. Last year she worked as the 7th grade Science teacher. Ms. Cooper now works as the 7th and 8th grade Student Supports teacher. Ms. Cooper graduated in 2017 from Texas A&M University with a BA in English Literature.

Jessica Houser

Lower School Student Supports

Jessica Houser was born and raised in the central valley of California. After graduating from college, Ms. Houser worked as a purchasing and inventory specialist in the food manufacturing industry. Prior to her joining the Tulsa Honor Academy team for the 2018-2019 school year, she worked as a substitute teacher for Swing Education based out of San Mateo, CA. She recently moved to the Tulsa area to be closer to family. As an undergraduate student at UC Berkeley, she worked as an in-class tutor for a third grade class where she was able to work with behaviorally challenged students. This sparked her interest in child psychology and special education. Ms. Houser received her bachelor’s degree with a double major in Native American Studies and Ethnic Studies from the University of California, Berkeley. In 2012 she received her master’s degree in Human Development and Psychology from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

Tyler Morgan

Lower School Student Supports

Ty 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. In 2016, he began his career in education when he joined Teacher for America and was placed at Tulsa Honor Academy. He finished his corps commitment but loved the school so much that he decided to stay on for a third year. Mr. Morgan graduated in 2015 from The University of Arizona with a BA in Psychology with a minor in Special Education. #BearDown He is currently attending The University of Oklahoma to earn his master's in Education Administration.

Our Operations Team

Laura Edwards

Teaching Assistant

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 is currently an assistant teacher. Mrs. 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.

Gabe Odon

Teaching Assistant

Gabe Odon has lived in Tulsa for 21 years. He attended Oklahoma State University his freshman year and is currently attending Tulsa Community College. Over the years he has worked with kids from all age ranges and has grown a passion for education. He is currently the girls and boys basketball coach. Mr. Odon plans on finishing his associates at TCC and getting his Bachelor's at OSU Tulsa.

Joseph Odon

Culture and Discipline Assistant

Joseph Odon graduated from Rhema Bible Training College in 2014 with a focus in Core Ministry. He is currently seeking a degree from Oklahoma Wesleyan University in Organizational Management. Joseph has worked with a number of organizations in Tulsa promoting the uplifting and development of youth. Through this work Joseph worked for Americorps’ City Year program where he worked with the 9th grade at Tulsa McLain in 2016. Joseph then moved to Tulsa Honor Academy in 2017 where he was a Teaching Assistant for 5th-7th grade. Joseph is now the Culture and Discipline Assistant and Extra-Curricular Coordinator for this school year and can’t wait to continue making positive impacts on our scholars.

Chris Ruiz

Operations Assistant

Christopher J. Ruiz was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma and grew up in the East Tulsa Community. Growing up, he was part of several clubs and organizations in the district. He later moved out to Bixby, before returning to THA and becoming an active member of the community once again. He holds an Associates in Business Administration from TCC. Mr. Ruiz is attending Oklahoma State University where he is working towards obtaining a degree in International Business with a minor in Finance. He is bilingual, and is able to use his abilities to help teachers, scholars, and parents. Mr. Ruiz holds the position of Operations Assistant, and will always be there in the front office to greet you with a smile.

Our Leadership Team

Emily Clements

Dean of Curriculum and Instruction

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 2016-2017 Teacher of the Year. In 2017 Ms. Clements began her work with Tulsa Honor Academy as the ELL instructor and Reading Specialist. This year she holds her dream job as the Tulsa Honor Academy Dean of Curriculum and Instruction and loves her job more every day. 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.

Kate Freudenheim

Middle School Principal

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 role as the Assistant School Leader. She now serves as the Middle School Principal. 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

Dean of Finance and Accountability

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 the role of Director of Operations in 2016. He is now our Dean of Finance and Accountability. Mr. Ibarra graduated in 2011 from Oklahoma State University with his BS in International Business.

Elsie Urueta Pollock

Founder and Executive Director

Mrs. Elsie Urueta Pollock is the Founder and Executive Director 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. Mrs. Urueta Pollock graduated from The University of Oklahoma with a BA in International Business and Marketing.

Erik Steger

Dean of Students

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 Math at Collegiate Hall and taught Science for two years at Tulsa Honor Academy. Moving out of the classroom, Mr. Steger is now serving THA as the Deas of Students. Mr. Steger graduated from Oklahoma State University in 2013 with a BS in Health Education and Promotion and an AA in Child Development.

Dillon Waters

Dean of Development, Public Relations and Recruitment

Dillon Waters is originally from Durango, CO and moved to Tulsa in July of 2007. Since moving here, he has been heavily involved in the Tulsa community. He has served on the boards for Tulsa's Young Professionals, Oklahomans for Equality and the Tulsa SPCA as well as heavy volunteer involvement with Tulsa's Great Raft Race. He recently joined the THA Familia after being an active volunteer for the past three years. He now oversees Development, Public Relations, Marketing and Recruitment for THA. Mr. Waters graduated from Oklahoma State University in 2017 with a BA in Business Administration and a Minor in Marketing.

Alex Webb

High School Principal-In-Training

A Native Tulsan, Alexander Webb began his career at Tulsa Honor Academy after receiving his BA in English from Oklahoma State University. Because of his love of literature, he taught 5th grade ELA for two years. Now, he’s joined the leadership team as the High School Principal-in-Training, and will move on to be the principal of Tulsa Honor Academy High School in the 2019-2020 academic year.

Contact
Phone : (918) 833-9420
Email: Info@TulsaHonorAcademy.org
209 S. Lakewood Ave.
Tulsa, OK 74112
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