NTLA Staff


Jennifer Pasteur, Executive Director

Jennifer Pasteur earned a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Texas State University. She went on to teach in Texas public schools for seven years and earned a Master of Education with a major in Educational Administration, also from Texas State University. Her desire to influence and motivate students to become active participants in their communities led her to found Education in Action, a non-profit organization that provides hands-on learning, travel experiences for Texas students through summer camps and field trips. She has served as Education in Action’s Executive Director since the organization was founded in 2001. In 2011, she expanded on the unique learning experiences offered during Education in Action’s programs by creating yet another educational opportunity, the North Texas Leadership Academy private school. In August 2012, the North Texas Leadership Academy opened its doors to provide bright and gifted students with a Project Based Learning education where learning is applied and relevant. The school’s educational model, which incorporates leadership and service-learning, fulfills Jennifer’s passion, to encourage students to excel and become lifelong learners and leaders.


Sara Schroeder, Administrative Dean and Music Educator

Sara Schroeder graduated with her Bachelor of Arts in Music Education from Texas Lutheran University. She also holds a Master of Liberal Arts from Southern Methodist University and a Master of Music Education from the University of Texas at Arlington. Prior to joining NLTA, Sara taught in public schools for eight years and was a private instructor for seven years. During the summer, she facilitates student leadership groups during Education in Action’s Lone Star Leadership Academy camps. Sara has taught students of all ages and enjoys watching them learn and develop skills they need in life. Sara hopes to instill a love of learning in her students and believes they learn best through real life experiences. In her spare time, Sara enjoys time with her dog Lola, cultural and fine arts events, and cooking.


Kimberly Best, Gifted & Talented Specialist

Kimberly Best serves as North Texas Leadership Academy’s Gifted and Talented Specialist. Kimberly graduated Summa Cum Laude from Midwestern State University and won the President’s Medal of Honor for having the highest average in the Business in Interdisciplinary Studies program. Kimberly has a master’s degree in Reading and was GT Teacher of the Year for Region XIV in 2011. Kimberly believes education should go beyond the classroom, extend technology applications, develop engineering skills, and nurture creativity. She is excited to ignite the passion of learning in her students as a GT specialist for North Texas Leadership Academy.


Katie Buckel, Art Educator

Katie Buckel holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Abilene Christian University. She is an art enthusiast and graphic designer and has experience working in many different art mediums including drawing, painting, photography, print making, and illustration. Katie has taught art to children through private lessons and at the Hope Christian Academy in Ghana, West Africa. She believes the benefits of developing creativity include an enhanced ability to problem solve by thinking outside of the box and an increase in emotional intelligence. Katie enjoys helping NTLA students become well-rounded, thoughtful leaders of the next generation.


Kyrstin Brandt, Health and Physical Education Educator

Kyrstin Brandt holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Kinesiology from Tarleton State University. Before coming to NTLA she worked as a personal trainer where she focused on promoting health and fitness to better people’s lives. Kyrstin enjoys helping children better themselves from a young age so they can grow up knowing and living a healthy life style. Outside of work she enjoys going to the gym, playing sports, and camping.

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Azucena Bryan, Spanish Language Educator

Ms. Bryan earned her Bachelor of Science in Leadership from CBS in Houston. She taught and trained leaders at the Blossom Institute for several years and went on to teach Spanish within Carroll, Northwest, and Colleyville ISDs. She is currently working on a Masters degree in Teaching English as a Foreign Language. Ms. Bryan loves learning and inspires her students with her passion for education and the course material. She strives to empower her students to take ownership of their own learning and to advance and succeed on their own road to becoming great people who impact their world.


Erica Clark, Lower School Educator, Math and Social Studies

Erica Clark graduated from Texas A & M Commerce with a degree in Interdisciplinary Studies. She has seven years of experience in teaching kindergarten through third grade. Erica loves to see her students learn through hands on activities and wants to make learning fun. In her spare time she likes to read, bike, spend time with her son, and swim.


Jyh Yi Hoinkes, Upper School Educator, Math and Science

Jyh Yi is a graduate of University of Georgia. With over 15 years of International Business and Marketing background, Jyh Yi brings a wealth of real world knowledge and application of mathematics, engineering principals, and problem-solving strategies to NTLA. As an educator, Jyh Yi is excited to nurture students to becoming self-evolving learners and to discovering their full potential. She enjoys spending time with her two boys, baking, traveling, photography and crafting.


Lori Hudgins, Early Childhood Educator, Art and Music

Lori Hudgins, has a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree from Parsons School of Design and is a member of Interior Design Professionals. Lori, the mother of both a son and a daughter, has been involved in the education of children for the past 11 years at both at her children's schools and at her church. She has served as a preschool teacher with Sonshine Academy at First Baptist Church Colleyville for five years and has worked with Education in Action since 2008. What Lori enjoys most about working with children is watching them learn and grow intellectually.

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Sarie Jones, Early Childhood Educator

Sarie Jones is a native Texan, but went north to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree in History, with a concentration in Public History from the University of Wyoming. She has been involved with children for many years as a Bible class and VBS teacher and Girl Scout camp counselor. As an active volunteer at NTLA for the past four years, she has spent many hours both in and out of the classroom. She is committed to promoting literacy for all ages through volunteer hours with public library used book sales and distributions. Sarie loves to read and visit museums with her husband and daughter. She believes building character and well-rounded academics are two halves of the whole that grows a child into a successful and happy adult and she is excited to be a part of nurturing both.


Diane Kelt, Early Childhood Educator

Diane Kelt holds a Bachelor of Social Work from Radford University and a Master of Social Work from Virginia Commonwealth University. She has twelve years of full time teaching experience. Diane enjoys using her creativity, as well as the joy she finds in teaching, to make learning come alive for her students. She is committed to encouraging her students on the path of becoming lifelong learners. Diane's greatest treasures are her three sons, Jacob, Joshua, and Jonah. She enjoys scrapbooking, World War II history, and has added swing dance lessons to her bucket list.


Susanna Larseingue, Upper School Educator, English/Language Arts/Reading and Social Studies Educator

Susanna Larseingue is originally from Plano, Texas and graduated with her Bachelor of Arts in Communication from the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, Arkansas. She received her Master of Science in Communication Studies from Texas Christian University. After teaching Communication at Texas Christian University for four years and Tarrant County College for one year, she is excited to join the North Texas Leadership Academy team. She has extensive experience with application based instructional learning, and believes students learn best through hands on experience.


Nelly Orr, Spanish Language Educator

Nelly Orr is a native of Venezuela and holds a degree in Economics from Santa Maria University in Caracas. She is active in serving in the community and enjoys reading, running, cooking, and spending time with her friends and family. Senora Orr is excited about being at NTLA because she has a passion for teaching and helping students learn Spanish as a complement for a well-rounded education.


Cathy Poethke, Early Childhood Educator

Cathy Poethke has an Associate in Science Degree from Corning Community College, in Corning, NY, and a Bachelor of Science Degree from the State University of New York at Albany, in Albany, NY. For 21 years, she taught public school in upstate New York, West Berlin, Germany (Department of Defense Dependents Schools), and Texas (Dallas ISD and Lewisville ISD). Her additional teaching experiences include adult continuing education and pre-school computer classes. Cathy and her husband enjoy spending their time with their two adult daughters, three dogs, and four cats. Cathy has been involved with many community activities, including Girl Scouts, Greater Lewisville United Way, and Denton County Aggie Moms Club. She believes teaching is an adventure, as each day is different.


Rhonda Richardson, Fine Arts Educator

Fine Arts Teacher, Rhonda Richardson, is responsible for North Texas Leadership Academy’s Theatre Arts and Leadership Development Programs. Rhonda graduated from Tarleton State University in 1990 with a BA in Language Arts and Speech Communication/Theatre. Her teaching fields include speech communication, language arts, and theatre. Rhonda has taught 6th through 12th grade including the subjects Language Arts, Speech, Theatre, Yearbook, and Media. Out of her 17 years of teaching, she spent nine and a half years at Coppell Middle School North and has worked with Education in Action for eight years. She is excited to join the NTLA staff so she can help enrich students' lives through innovative and creative teaching.


Diane Woodruff, Lower School Educator, Reading/ Language Arts and Science

Diane Woodruff has 20 years of classroom experience in public schools and has a love of both teaching and learning. She has taught every elementary grade level from 1st grade to 6th, and particularly loves to teach reading and writing. Watching the awe of students as they engage in the scientific processes also gives her great satisfaction.

She received a Bachelor’s Degree from Oklahoma Baptist University, Elementary Education certification from the University of Texas at Tyler, and has also done graduate work in Information Science, as well as being ESL endorsed. She is interested in curriculum and instruction and loves finding strategies that excite and challenge her students. She is an avid reader, enjoys cooking, gardening, and spending time with her husband, Jeff, and her 3-year-old granddaughter, Kodi.

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