In the fall of 2014, Blanco River Academy was organized and created by 6th grade parents looking for a small, experiential-based middle school opportunity.
BRAc graduated its charter class of 8th graders in June 2017, and they matriculated to 3 area high schools. Each student has achieved academic, social, and athletic success in their individual endeavors. The foundation that BRAc gave them, prepared them to be the leaders and thinkers that they have become today.
Today, BRAc has grown into the school "home" for a fabulous group of kids from all over the area, including Wimberley, Kyle, Canyon Lake, Driftwood, San Marcos, and Dripping Springs.
MEET OUR FACULTY
Heather Hall (Mathematics)
Heather Hall earned her bachelor's degree in studio art and design at Texas State University in 2009, and then pursued a career in teaching math. It was back in high school Calculus that her love and interest for math first opened doors for Heather to tutor her peers, and where she gained the academic confidence and accolades to later become a teacher. She has been part of Blanco River Academy from its inaugural year, and is still excited to be on this journey with an incredible teaching team. Her hope is to always make math a dynamic and engaging part of the curriculum at BRAc, and she is inspired by the way kids continually rise to the challenges of critical and creative thinking.
Heather loves being together with her husband and two young daughters, and she enjoys painting and reading in her free time.
Laura Haygood (English Language Arts, Speech and Debate)
Laura Haygood retired in 2014 from a 30 year career as a public high school theatre, speech and English teacher. Upon retiring, she moved to Wimberley with her husband Marc. She has continued teaching at the college level. She teaches speech at San Antonio College with the Alamo Colleges District and served as a supervisor for student teachers at Texas State University Theatre Education program for several years. She has enjoyed working with the students at Blanco River Academy since 2018. The educational concepts promoted by the school are in line with her philosophy of education. Through reading, writing, projects and discussion she hopes to provide an educational environment that is exciting, creative and fulfilling for Blanco River Academy students.
In her free time, Laura enjoys reading, traveling and sharing her love of theatre with The Players at Wimberley Playhouse. She and Marc are looking forward to becoming grandparents in December.
Jackie Morgan (Science & PE)
Jackie Morgan earned her degree from Texas A&M University and is a certified science teacher. This is her 5th year instructing science. Her enthusiasm for teaching science comes from her love of exploring. Jackie grew up in Wimberley and feels blessed to be raising her own family here. Her son Payton is a current student at SSES.
"I consider educating young minds an honor and my desire is for students to be excited while exploring the world of science. I want this class to serve as a stepping stone from elementary science to upper level courses such as biology, chemistry, and physics. My goal is for your student to feel confidant in their knowledge of science walking into high school and beyond." -- Jackie
Annie Ward (History)
Annie Ward grew up in Midland, Texas and began her love of literature by reading Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine in late elementary school. Once she found the Harry Potter series, The Canterbury Tales, and "The Taming of the Shrew”, a life pursing reading, writing, and teaching was sealed. When time came to choose a university the beauty of Central Texas, as well as the San Marcos River, made the decision an easy one. After four years at Texas State University, a double major in History and English, four international mission trips to Europe, and a desire to live abroad, Annie moved to Hungary to teach English. When she moved back to Texas a part time Pre-k assistant position opened at St. Stephens Episcopal School. Two weeks after she was back in the US Wimberley was her new home, as well as St. Stephens. A few years later Annie completed a 200 hr Yoga Alliance training in July of 2014. The English/Language Arts, yoga andTexas History position at the Blanco River Academy is a perfect fit for Annie because of her background, education, and passion for the area. At the end of the day Annie’s mission is to introduce her students to new cultures, worlds, and perspectives.
When Mrs. Ward is not at school she is probably drinking a cup of coffee, coming up with new recipes, doing yoga on her front porch, listening to NPR, singing along with Adele, or on her couch watching a movie with her family and eating a giant tub of popcorn.
Lisl Bambas (Spanish)
Lisl, a graduate of Wheaton College (BA in English and a minor in Education) and the University of Edinburgh, Scotland (English Studies) joined Teacher Corps while also working on her Master’s degree in Education at the University of Houston. She taught in Houston for 5 years and was part of a team that developed the first Resource Center program for HISD. After moving to Austin, she worked as an assistant editor on a high school Spanish series at Holt, Reinhart, and Winston, and then joined the staff of Dripping Springs Middle School to teach the ED class. She began working at St. Stephen’s Episcopal School in Wimberley the year it opened where she taught World Cultures, Spanish, and Kindergarten through 8th grade. She later completed her studies with Warren Hardy in San Miguel, Mexico and began teaching Spanish at the Montessori School in Wimberley for 3 years. She returned to St. Stephen's as a volunteer to teach Spanish for 3 years. Lisl is now in her fourth year as the volunteer Spanish instructor with the Blanco River Academy. She also works as a reading tutor at the KIS Education Center in Buda.
Kyle Kunkel (Coding)
Kyle has a passion for coding and founded his own company, N-C0d3 LLC, to share his knowledge with the community. He has created curriculum and activities, trained and managed instructors, and taught classes to local libraries and private schools. Kyle knows that technology is the future and there is a severe lack of computer science instruction preparing kids. He addresses this problem by teaching students that coding can enhance their passions, whether it’s creating a website to showcase their YouTube videos or musical talent, making games to play, or putting together arduino parts for an alarm system. Kyle's students learn that coding is fun and practical as they make astounding projects.
"I am proud of all my students and am happy to know they are more prepared for whatever path they choose to lead in life."
Jamie Kinscherff (Environmental Studies)
After high school and college in California, Jamie spent much of his adult life as a Luthier and owner of Kinscherff Guitars, where he was recognized as “Best Guitar Maker 1998” by the Austin Chronicle, and introduced “Beam Deflection Theory” to the guitar world. Having completed the Master Naturalist Training in Hays County, he spent 5 years on the Training Committee, and realized that he truly enjoyed explaining complex concepts of nature in a way most people can understand. He became the trainer for the ecology portion of the Canyon Gorge trail program, and was awarded “Guide of the Year” in 2019. He has served non-profit boards for over six years, and at Ravenstar Outdoor Education in New Braunfels, teaching outdoor education and as a Certified Archery Instructor. Jamie has been a Research Assistant for Dr. Bill Ward, Geologist, and Dr. Tom Watson, Plant Taxonomist. Currently, he serves as Outreach Coordinator for the Wimberley Valley Dark Sky Committee.
Prior to this year, he was already leading nature hikes and hosting Star parties for BRAc students. With 100’s of hours of training in Water Quality, Botany, Astronomy, Wildlife Management, Geology and Rangeland Ecology, he shares, “I want to use my knowledge of the natural world to inform and inspire others.”