A Classical Catholic School

Faculty & Staff

At St. Theresa Catholic School we have an outstanding faculty and staff. Our teachers love learning and have a passion to teach young men and women. Please take a moment to get to know them! Where applicable, peruse the provided mock schedule so you can get a feel for a typical school day.

Assistant Principal: Francesca Rice
FranRice

Welcome to Saint Theresa Catholic School! Prior to becoming the Assistant Principal, I was the third grade teacher at STCS for four years. I have been a Catholic school educator since 1989. After graduating from the University of Dallas, I taught at Mary Immaculate Catholic School in Farmers Branch, Texas for four years. In 1992, I moved to Houston and taught at St. Anne Catholic School for two years. During that time, my husband and I got married at St. Anne Catholic Church. After six years of staying at home and having three children, I returned to teaching at St. Laurence Catholic School where our daughters attended school from PK through 8th grade. Soon after our two oldest daughters entered St. Agnes Academy for high school, I began teaching at St. Theresa Catholic School in 2011. Since then, my two oldest daughters have graduated from St. Agnes Academy and are attending college. Their younger sister is currently a sophomore at St. Agnes. Catholic school education has been and still is a significant part of our family life. Our daughters have benefitted from their Catholic school education in many ways. They love their faith and practice their faith. They value the work ethic it takes to do well in school, and they desire to serve our Lord by helping others. Catholic education has strengthened my family’s love for one another, love for others, and love of quality education. Education is my true vocation. I feel blessed to work with the fine families, faculty and staff at St. Theresa Catholic School.

Athletic Director: Lamar Holt
athletic-director

I am a native New Yorker, and spent 20 years teaching Mathematics before coaching full time in the greater Houston area.

Before coming to St. Theresa, I was the president and head coach of a nationally known AAU basketball program in Houston. My challenge was to provide a visible student-athlete experience while demanding academic excellence and keeping the program competitive on a national level. I was successful in structuring a youth basketball organization that has become a model for many youth programs with the integration of athletics, spirituality and academics. To that end, I have several student-athletes playing for or being recruited by Division I schools.

I spent three years at Bellaire Episcopal High School as an assistant varsity basketball coach where they were able to capture the SPC state championship. During my time at Episcopal, I was also head coach of the junior varsity basketball team and taught Mathematics.

I earned my Bachelor’s degree in Mathematics and a Master’s in Math Education from Prairie View A&M in 1989 and 1992, respectively. I have six children, Morgan, Erin, Eden, Emrie, Jaden and Khloe, and am married to my wife, Angela.

Pre-K: Jennifer Rysz
rysz

I am originally from the island of Puerto Rico, and Spanish is my native language but I also studied French and Italian. I have lived in Boston, the Netherlands, and Iowa, but after 10 years in Texas, I am happy to call this state my home. I am a graduate of the University of Iowa with a degree in Elementary and Early Childhood education. I taught third grade and kindergarten for several years in the only Dual-Language school in the state of Iowa. After that, I moved to Texas and had three sons and decided to take some time to be with my family. Having volunteered at my sons’ schools and being part of their education made me miss teaching! So, I am pleased to have the opportunity to be back in the classroom and teach the youngest kids in this unique and beautiful school.

In Pre-K we work on identifying letters, writing and tracing letters, and the basics of reading and phonics. The kids will work on number recognition, graphing, sorting, and patterns in math. Our science program will teach about plants, pets, hygiene, weather, and magnets. The students will work on learning the 50 states, Texas facts, community helpers, and presidents. They will grow spiritually by learning the basic prayers, how to behave in Mass, about the sacred vessels, and learn about the Saints. We will use puppets to learn stories and fables by Aesop and other classic children’s authors. The children will gain confidence in public speaking by learning to recite various poems.

I work hard at making sure that every child in my classroom gains a memorable and meaningful learning experience and is loved and nurtured individually. I know the expectations are high but I believe that each child can grow socially, emotionally, spiritually, and intellectually. Pre-K is the beginning of a long road of schooling and every success should be celebrated, no matter how small. The kids are growing and learning in almost everything they do and I feel blessed to be a part of their lives.

Click for Sample Schedule

Kindergarten: Betty Pruski
MsPruski

I bring over twenty years of experience working with children from Pre-kindergarten to 3rd grade in a Catholic setting. I myself am a product of Catholic education. I attended St. Margaret Mary’s Parish School and received my graduate and post-graduate degrees from the University of the Incarnate Word in San Antonio, Texas and Ursuline College in Pepper Pike, Ohio, respectively.

As the Kindergarten teacher, one of my primary objectives will be to instill in the children a strong reading foundation that includes not only phonemic awareness and word attack skills, but also a love of books and the enthusiasm and desire to read. I also strive to bring mathematics to the children in an easily understandable, concrete approach that emphasizes strong number sense as the springboard for the more abstract concepts.

Anchoring all instruction in my classroom will be our Catholic faith. Throughout our school year, the children will be given many opportunities to further develop and share their love for God. I feel very blessed to teach in a school that places Catholic values as the center focus of a child’s education.

I look forward to collaborating with all the parents to bring each of these goals to fruition.

Click for Sample Schedule

First Grade: Kevin Boyle
Boyle

Glad to meet you. I have taught for over 15 years, almost all in 1st grade and I enjoy seeing students learn to become independent, a process through which they gain confidence and self-esteem. Children in first grade are very eager to get involved in new tasks and they engage in learning new skills without hesitation if the classroom environment is comfortable and supportive. I have spent most of my career teaching in public districts but I am grateful to be in a Catholic school since I can nurture the faith in our youth in practical daily examples that help to continue the heritage of our Church. Examples of the Church’s teachings are exemplified in the classic literature we read and the virtues we endorse. We try to help each other lead lives that exemplify our faith.

Reading, writing and mathematics are of great importance to us and we stress other skills and talents that accompany these. Students are impressively able to recite poetry which emphasize rhetorical and presentation skills. Students use what they learn in Latin class to examine roots, prefixes and suffixes of vocabulary words they encounter. The students are also able to identify countries and states on a map with remarkable accuracy.  Science instruction includes knowing our Solar System, the constellations, physical science, experimentation, and natural science. We view strategies learned in the game of checkers as a precursor to careful planning and thinking when playing chess in our school in the years to come. At this early time in their development we teach them to always apply strategies when pursuing any endeavor presented to them in order to be voracious readers, writers, thinkers and learners in future years.

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Second Grade: Laura McKinley
McKinley

I have been teaching second grade in Catholic School for a long time, but this is my sixth year teaching in this unique setting: St. Theresa Catholic School is a Classical Catholic School. I have always loved teaching second grade, and I have a deep love for preparing children to receive Jesus for the first time in Holy Communion. Each year I enjoy the pleasure of entering into rich discussions with the students on the topics we are covering in our religion classes. The children know their Catechism well, and so they are able to articulate their ideas in our discussions with a rich and knowledgeable vocabulary which provides for fuller discussions. In addition, we also learn a virtue each month through stories, poetry, and quotations which we then try to put into practice.

While St. Theresa’s Catholic School enjoys uniformity in the methods we have adopted to teach the Diocesan Curriculum, i.e., Riggs Language Arts, Singapore math, the Baltimore Catechism, daily lessons in poetry, geography, history, Latin, music, science and P.E., second grade is a year where foundations built in Pre-K, Kindergarten, and 1st grade come together and the students are able to apply their skill to the next level. In second grade students use their growing proficiency in spelling and vocabulary and apply it to their writing and to group Socratic discussions about literature they read together. In math students learn to problem solve and practice mental math through the regular use of manipulatives. Religion lessons in second grade are special since students are preparing to receive the Sacraments of First Reconciliation and First Holy Communion with true understanding of these Sacraments.

Click for Sample Schedule

Third Grade: Laura Lopez
3rd-grade-teacher

Salutations! I was born in Texas, but grew up in Maine. I received my Bachelor’s degree in International Studies with a concentration in history, from the University of Maine at Presque Isle. While I attended college I participated in sports by running for the UMPI Owls cross country team. Academically, I served as the historian for the National Honor Society. More importantly not only did I nurture my mind and body while in college, but I also enriched my soul. I was fortunate enough to journey through my campus ministries RCIA program as I felt a strong calling to the beauty of the faith I was exposed to as a child. After college I worked for a local nature center developing curriculum for students of all ages. It was during this time that I was blessed to substitute at STCS during my days off. It was then that I fell in love with the blending of Catholic tradition and rigorous education. Since then I have worked as the kindergartener aide here at St. Theresa, and also as a first grade teacher in the archdiocese but I am blessed to once again have the opportunity to teach at Saint Theresa Catholic School.

What makes 3rd grade at St. Theresa’s unique? We use Singapore math, that teaches students to use pictorial representation while working through word problems, and Riggs Institute for Spelling, a rigorous program designed for students to become successful readers. We also start Literature Circles, where we will discuss the novels we will read as a class. At St. Theresa, we give our students the ability to become well-rounded individuals and independent thinkers through our fine arts program, foreign languages, history, and core academic studies. Students are able to grow in the love of Christ by becoming active participants in mass.

I am truly blessed be part of St. Theresa’s and look forward to teaching your child. God bless!

Click for Sample Schedule

Fourth Grade: Martin Flaherty
Falharty

Greetings. I am delighted to have the opportunity to educate your child. I myself have been educated within the Catholic school system my entire life, so I remember what it is like being on the other side of the desk. I am originally from Upstate New York, but I have lived most of my life within the southwest portion of the Sunshine State. I guess you could consider me a Yankee, as Florida seems to be a different breed of southern state. After an honorable discharge from my enlistment with the Marine Corps, I pursued a degree in Theology from Ave Maria University with the intent to teach young minds about matters of the Faith. Upon graduating, I began my teaching career in Catholic high schools in Florida and Arkansas, before finding a particular interest in elementary and middle school education. I then began looking for an unapologetically Catholic school that was in the classical tradition, knowing this combination to be rare. Surprisingly, such a school existed in Sugar Land, Texas, and after visiting I knew that this was the school and community for me. I enjoy educating elementary students in particular due to their specific stage in development, which typically offers curious and honest members of a class. St. Theresa’s Parish and School are both filled with such kind and caring individuals, as well as beautiful and faithful families. I am so grateful to have found such a great community to live, work, and pray in, and I look forward to getting to know each of you personally.

A Catholic school with a classical model, I believe, allows for the best education for the entire human person due to its focus on creating a well-rounded thinker. In particular, St. Theresa’s has an outstanding team of teachers that is more than capable of guiding their students to the Truth, and I am honored and humbled to be a part of such an amazing group of faithful individuals. Our Lord made it very clear in the Gospels that the education of children was of utmost importance and seriousness. I understand and gladly accept this momentous responsibility of educating these young minds. With that said, I sincerely welcome parents to contact me with any comments or concerns that they may have, as a solid line of communication is an integral part of ensuring a successful formation for the student. I look forward to a great year, and getting to know each of you a bit better. God Bless.

Fifth Grade: Dorian Speed
Dorian Speed photo

Welcome to fifth grade! I am honored to be a part of the faculty at St. Theresa’s.

In fifth grade, we shall embark upon a journey through the Middle Ages, beginning with the end of the Roman empire and culminating with the roots of the Renaissance. Our travels will include literature, art, and music from these time periods, building upon the strong foundation of grammar and writing that students received in fourth grade. Theology will involve the deep study of Exodus and the Acts of the Apostles, along with other Biblical readings, apologetics, and prayer. In mathematics, students will delve more thoroughly into topics introduced in fourth grade, while Science (taught in conjunction with Dr. Capitano) will include a survey of various topics.

Bio:

I came from Georgia to Texas to attend Trinity University in San Antonio, where I earned degrees in history and economics, followed by a Master of Arts in Teaching. I have taught in a wide variety of settings, from middle school to high school, and am returning to the classroom after spending several years at home with my children. I strongly believe that parents are the primary educators of their children, and that our mission here at St. Theresa’s is the formation of Christian disciples through the pursuit of virtue.

Our academic standards and aspirations for fifth grade are high, but it is the joy of learning that should bring us together and animate our classroom studies.

Parents: join my text-message “hotline” via Remind.com. I will not send out any essential information solely via Remind (in other words, it will also go home via your children’s agendas or other documentation). It is, however, an efficient way for me to communicate updates with you about how our class is going and what special events/assignments are coming up. Click here to join the list.

Sixth Grade: Kevin McCaffrey
7THGRADE

Hello! I grew up in the desert of southern California and graduated from Ave Maria University with a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy. I enjoy discussing philosophy, literature and poetry. I worked for two years as a Catholic missionary traveling around the United States during which I worked daily with middle school and high school students.

I recently worked at the University of Portland as an Assistant Hall Director. As the 6th grade Humanities teacher, I combined my experience with students and my love of people and evangelization with my natural teaching ability and passion for learning.

Seventh Grade: Catherine Bilow

Greetings! I plan to work in collaboration with my Middle School colleagues to ensure a smooth transition from one grade to the next for my students as well as to prepare them for acceptance into area Catholic high schools. I hail originally from Michigan. Besides teaching in my native state, I have taught in Ohio, Indiana, Georgia, and Tennessee. Although I currently prefer the Middle School scene, I have also taught college courses at Dyersburg State, the University of Georgia, the University of Toledo, Jackson College, and Hillsdale College. I served as principal of St. Peter Catholic School (Eaton Rapids, MI) and as Headmistress of The Hillsdale Academy (Hillsdale, MI) but currently prefer classroom teaching to administration.

Eighth Grade: Benjamin George
George

I consider myself fortunate to be the 8th grade teacher here at St Theresa’s. I grew up in Richmond, Texas, and have been a parishioner here at St Theresa’s my entire life. I studied computer science at the University of Texas but discovered, upon graduation, that programming in “the real world” was not quite as fun as I had expected. What does one do in such a situation? Yes, I moved to China. There I was a teacher of English, and like Jonah in the story, I was brought around to my true calling. Well, I wasn’t swallowed by a whale, but you get the idea. What I mean to say is that I love teaching, God has blessed me with this calling, and if no one were willing to pay me to teach I would do it for free. (Don’t tell my boss that.)

I have wanted to teach at St Theresa’s since it was just the whisper of an angel: A beautiful school that values beauty, models goodness, and teaches the truth. It seems simple, doesn’t it? But it is rare.

If you’re looking at this page you probably already know what this school is about academically: rigorous instruction on a classical model. A solid foundation for future learning. Intellectual and moral formation that, God willing, will bring out the very best in your child. Teaching a student to lead, to rule—to rule first himself, and then to lead others to the knowledge of Truth.

Eighth grade will be more, and deeper: “Onward and upward!”

Latin: Dean M. Cassella
Cassella-Stock-Photo

I was born in New York City but grew up in Los Angeles. I’ve resided in four states and two foreign countries (Italy and Canada). Together with my dear wife, Sonja, and our six children, I have lived in Texas since 2002. My graduate education and teaching experience comprises of both Classics and European History. My primary professional interests are the application of conversational methods to the teaching of Latin and Greek, and the neo-Latin poetry of the Italian Renaissance. I am currently collaborating with Dr. Christophe Rico in Jerusalem on curriculum materials for the Polis series, by which ancient Greek is taught as a living language. My favorite thing to do is teach Latin to beginners.

Music: Zachary Turner

I began my initial musical studies in piano performance at the University of Kansas. I then went on to complete a Master of Organ Performance at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. I come to STCS from St. Peter’s Catholic Church in Omaha. While at St. Peter’s, I helped to grow and develop a fledgling Schola Cantorum at the parish. During my tenure enrollment doubled, rehearsal time increased, and several concert opportunities were developed for the children who participated in the program (ages 7 – 18). I also collaborated with local music professionals to accompany the highly accomplished teen treble choir in a regular concert series, established a yearly Lessons and Carols for the younger choral groups, and expanded the repertoire of all of the schola choirs. I maintained a substantial piano studio offering lessons to students ranging from beginner to highly advanced. I have also maintained an active concert career within and around the Omaha region, collaborating with other local artists (vocalists and instrumentalists), directing opera projects, and performing solo concerts. I am married to Lauren, who is a talented and highly trained opera singer. We have four children and a new arrival on the way, and are thrilled to be a part of the STCS community. I am looking forward to developing and advancing St. Theresa’s impressive choral program.

Art: Carmen Sanchez Romero
Romero

Hello and welcome to my classroom. Originally from Spain, I studied fine arts and art history at the University of Murcia for seven years. I am a professional artist and painter based in Houston who works with various mediums, but I specialize in pastels and oils. Aside from gallery presentations, a major highlight of my career came when I was commissioned to paint major pieces of art for the headquarters of the aeronautical company Boeing in Madrid, Spain. I began my teaching career a decade ago by giving classes in crafts and art at Catholic youth clubs and summer camps, and STCS is the perfect place for me to enjoy my two vocations: education and painting.

Our classes at STCS will be oriented to the contemplation of art and reproduction. I will teach, encourage, and improve your children’s creativity and their ability to perceive art. I would like to convey virtues such as constancy, which is especially required to grow as a Christian and as a good artist. Also, I would like to encourage growing in sensitivity and knowing how to see and appreciate the beauty of the surroundings, capturing the wonder of creation. The Lord uses art to communicate to us, and this is important for young children to understand. I grew up surrounded by children – I am the seventh of eleven children, raised in a family with deep Catholic convictions. Painting is a way that I, myself, came to grow in knowledge of the Lord, and by working with your children I hope to help them grow in their faith, as well.

Math & Science: Adam Capitano, Luke Liu

Dr. Adam Capitano

I am very excited to be the middle school math and science teacher at St. Theresa’s Catholic School. To me, science is a spiritual voyage where we explore and try to understand God’s creation. I began my journey at the University of Iowa, where I fell in love with chemistry and life in the lab. From there, I continued my education at the University of Michigan and earned a Ph.D. in catalytic surface science in 1999. After graduation, I was fortunate enough to earn a place in Professor Linda Griffith’s Tissue Engineering Laboratory at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In 2003, I accepted a position as an assistant professor at the University of Houston’s Department of Chemical Engineering. It’s there that fell in love with teaching. I’ve published over 15 scholarly articles on a wide array of topics ranging from mathematical biochemistry to the development of sensor technology. I believe my background as a scientist and an educator will be beneficial to STCS. Students will be challenged to think both analytically and critically in the fledgling STEM Program that he is developing for for the school.

Mr. Luke Liu

SCI+MATH

你好!I am teaching 6-7th grade math and science. I am Texas Math 7-12 Highly Qualified. In the spirit of this top-notch school, I will continue to strike a balance between academic rigor and whole-person formation. My philosophy in teaching the two disciplines is to help students to understand and apply the knowledge and skills, to think critically and globally, and to appreciate the beauty and power of God’s creation. I believe that the ultimate purpose of any true education (especially Catholic education) should be to empower an individual to live a happier and fulfilled life, and more importantly, to show “human solidarity” toward those less fortunate.

I feel very proud of my identity as a sixth generation Chinese Catholic, and blessed with a colorful yet unique background. As an educator, writer, activist, former engineer and a new immigrant, I try to find a meaning through how I make a living—in the fields of high-tech, international education or global affairs. Regarding my education, I have an M.S. in Public Policy from Carnegie Mellon University (I was enrolled into their top-ranking IT program but I transferred to a new field to pursue more social meaning), a Certificate of Distinction on Democratic Development from Stanford University, as well as a B.S. in Computer Communication from the University of Electronic Science and Technology of China.

Like most high-achieving immigrants who struggle to realize their “American dream”, I hope my great perseverance and diligence are the distinctive virtues to pass on to our children in the everything-taken-for-granted West (well, not everyone). I cannot wait to use my cross-cultural and cross-disciplinary experience to impact my students and encourage them to make a difference in the lives of others. I also would like to remind them and myself that while it might be easy for someone to want to change the world, it is definitely hard not to be changed by the world.

I have a dream: sometime in the future, when my students have grown up to become responsible, compassionate and empathetic global citizens, they will tell others that part of it is because of the seeds and inspirations I planted into their hearts.

I can’t achieve this without you. You’re welcome to stop by for mutual learning.

Math & Humanities: Peter Turrentine
Latin-and-PE-Turrentine

Hi! I teach history and accelerated math here at St. Theresa’s Catholic School. I’m a graduate of Thomas Aquinas College, a liberal arts university in my home state of California, and have been working at STCS since 2010. It has been wonderful to teach in such a great school, where the classical elements of the curriculum support both the school’s Catholic identity and its purpose to give students the best education possible.

I bring a lot of energy to teaching math, and have a real passion for the subject. Our accelerated math program puts capable students on the mathematics fast track. The students develop their skills in logical reasoning, visualization, and computation while proceeding along a path that will allow them to begin high school significantly ahead of the curve. We focus first on the fundamental concepts of each area of math and on developing an understanding of why math works the way it does. From there we tackle challenging concepts and strive to maximize our talents.

In my history class students explore the foundational cultures of Western civilization, learning about their religion, institutions, and famous men and women. We examine them as they grew and developed into an empire or flourished into democratic city-states. Their government, philosophy, and morals offer a critical lens through which to look at our own, both in the debt our culture and society owe to their influence and the crucial differences between our world views. My students also find their studies of Greece and Rome very thought-provoking in the contrasts they give to our own faith and the Church’s teaching, while at the same time giving us examples of virtue and nobility to inspire us.

Spanish: Paulina Sosa

I am very blessed to be part of St. Theresa’s Catholic School and teaching Spanish to our students in 6th, 7th, and 8th grades. I hope that my experience and enthusiasm will help to ensure that our students will learn Spanish well. I combines a number of different teaching methodologies in my instruction, including activities like games, songs, and active oral practice. For the past decade, I worked at St. Augustine Catholic School teaching Spanish for students Pre-K through 8th Grade for nine of those years.

It is a true pleasure for me to be a part of the STCS team and to teach our children in a comforting and positive environment. St. Theresa Catholic School offers a very unique Spanish curriculum based on interactive learning. Students learn Spanish quickly by practicing trusted techniques that encourage collaboration and improve language retention. These techniques include games, song and rhyme, class presentations, and practicing conversational Spanish with other students. These exercises make learning Spanish an exciting, active experience.

Physical Education: William Bolish
Bolish

Throughout my life, I believe my academic and athletic education–together with a solid Catholic upbringing–has helped develop a stronger connection to God. My background in athletics started out at Lansing Catholic Central in Michigan where I varsity lettered in baseball and football. At St. Mary’s College Orchard Lake I had the opportunity to play college baseball. When St. Mary’s consolidated with Ave Maria University in Florida, I transferred to Olivet College to finish out my college baseball career and complete my Bachelor’s degree in Physical Education, Health and Sports Recreation with a minor in Speech Education. After completing my coursework, I had the extraordinary opportunity to play baseball professionally in Austria. During my time off from pitching for the Austrian Hard Bulls I had the chance to teach baseball at the local schools. When my baseball career finished, I started working with the YMCA youth programs. For three years, I coached baseball (as a team sport), basketball, and soccer. I was also a pitching coach at the Lansing Hitting Club, a private baseball academy.

I believe that academics should always be the top priority in a child’s education, but I also believe that without athletics students cannot be truly well-rounded. As an educator my goal has been to encourage athletic activity–whether it be baseball, basketball, soccer, football, or tennis. I am eager to begin to develop St. Theresa’s sports and physical education program because, through physical education, I hope to instill habits of athletic activity and fitness in your sons and daughters. I wish to help St. Theresa’s students to grow into well-rounded individuals—healthy in mind, body and spirit.

School Nurse: Erin Serice

I grew up in the Piney Woods of East Texas. I received my nursing degree from Lamar University in Beaumont, Texas. I’ve worked as a registered nurse in a variety of settings, including the Catholic Medical Mission Board in St. Lucia, Christian Foundation for Children and Aging and Missionaries of Charity of India, and most recently at Saint Joseph Hospital in downtown Houston. I’m an accredited La Leche League Leader and an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant. My husband Mark and I have four children that all attend Saint Theresa’s Catholic School.