Teachers of the Month

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Ms. Buckel is a lover of all things creative: art, music, dancing, cooking, storytelling, you name it! She loves spending time with friends, being in nature, traveling, camping, and sharing in the community of her church.

Raised in the Fort Worth area, her love for art had the opportunity to grow with regular visits to the Kimbell and Modern Art museums on "dates" with her dad. After graduating from Azle High school, Ms. Buckel attended Abilene Christian University from 2005 to 2009 and earned a Bachelors of Fine Arts degree in graphic design.

She spent the next year working at ACU for Americorps, using design to boost involvement in service organizations on campus. She got her first taste of teaching at The Village of Hope in Gomoa Fetteh, Ghana where she instructed students in creative arts and music and dance. Upon returning, Ms. Buckel took a position as a graphic designer at a screen printing company that was just starting up! She worked there designing apparel for three and a half years until she found the opportunity to teach at NTLA.

In addition to her...

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I grew up in Northern Illinois (an hour west of Chicago) with three brothers and one sister. I attended Sangamon State University where I received my BA in Communications. I spent the next few years working for the State of Illinois in the Campaign Finance Department. Along the way I met and married Felix. We were blessed with our daughter Kimberly in 1997. A few years after Kimmie’s birth, I started teaching at a private school in Illinois. It was at that time I finally found my passion with teaching, and this led me to pursue a Masters in Education at Rockford College.

Seven years ago we moved from Illinois to Wimberley, Texas where I taught Language Arts and History at a private school in South Austin. This August I accepted a position at North Texas Leadership Academy to teach Language Arts and History. I’m very excited to be a part of this wonderful staff and school.

I love connecting with my students. Helping them learn new concepts and try new strategies is exciting for me. I also enjoy having discussions with my students in order to hear what their input is...


I grew up in Southern California and made my way east to Oklahoma Baptist University where I started college as a music education major and ended up receiving a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology/Religion. Years later after studying the characteristics of various spiritual gifts, I realized that I had EVERY SINGLE characteristic of a teacher. I went back to school and got my Elementary Education Certificate at UT Tyler. My first job was in 1st grade in Kilgore, Texas and the rest is history…. Fast forward 23 years: I taught every grade in elementary school for 13 years before moving to 6th grade Language Arts at Travis Middle School in Irving where I taught for seven years.

I am married to Jeff Woodruff and have two children from a previous marriage: Wes, who will be 31 this month, and Briana, 24. Briana has a daughter, Kodi, who is four.

I feel most fulfilled when I am teaching. I love feeling like I am improving the world in my small corner and making a difference in kids’ lives. I love to read, cook, and hang out with my hubby. I also love going back to...

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I am originally from Plano, Texas and I graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication from the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, Arkansas. I received a 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, I joined the North Texas Leadership Academy team. This is my third year at NTLA. I have extensive experience with application-based instructional learning, and believe students learn best through hands-on experience. I enjoy the small class sizes, excursions, and Project Based Learning at NTLA. My favorite units so far have been when the students re-created Ellis Island, and when they made their own escape rooms.

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NTLA is a great place to work because it is like family and it is my joy making math fun for my students. I love it when my students tell me they love math.

I was born and raised in Rochester Hills, Michigan until I started high school here in the D/FW area. I graduated from Texas A&M-Commerce in 2007 with a degree in Interdisciplinary Studies. This is my second year teaching at NTLA and my eighth year of teaching. Previously I taught in Fort Worth ISD and at Advantage Academy in Dallas.

I have a six-year-old named Xander that attends NTLA and is in Ms. Kelt’s Kindergarten class. We have a Chiweenie named Bella, a hermit crab named Hermie and a cat named Pumpkin.

For fun, Xander and I enjoy spending time at Six Flags, going to the Zoo or aquarium or anything that has to do with animals. Xander and I stayed at Hedrick’s Exotic Farm in Kansas where we were able to ride camels and horses, feed giraffes and interact with a variety of other animals, including goats, ostriches, lambs, and peacocks. Swimming is another favorite activity of ours. We also spend free...


Hola! I am Sra. Orr. I was born in Caracas, Venezuela. I am married and have two kids; Victoria, 23 and Garrett, 18. I have a Bachelor’s degree in Economics and worked in private and government entities in Venezuela. I owned a landscaping company that I operated for five years before coming to the United States. I came to the United States in 1996 with no formal English training and no true understanding of American ways of doing things. It was a struggle going to the store, getting gasoline, and trying to communicate with American people. I couldn't believe the number of different varieties of one product.

One of my favorite things to do is read. I enjoy running, exercising, cooking, traveling with my family, and spending time with my friends.

I enjoy knowing and understanding other cultures and people’s backgrounds. I always try to find the best in people and to appreciate their unique beauty. I apply the same to my students by always trying to recognize their strengths, motivating them and encouraging them to try their best and go the extra mile, and to never give...

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It is my joy preparing hands-on activities that develop a love for learning in my young students. It is a privilege to watch their interests and skills grow throughout the year. I also teach computer coding and world geography as after school enrichment courses.

This is my third year teaching at NTLA. Previously, I taught for ten years at Oak Hill Academy in Dallas and for two years at Hill School in Fort Worth. I am blessed to have three sons, Jacob, Joshua, and Jonah. They, along with my mom, are the joy of my life.

I enjoy the opportunity to travel and experience other parts of the world and cultures. This past summer I journeyed with Project Nayme Nsa, which means “God’s Helping Hands,” to Ghana, Africa. The primary purpose of the trip was to participate in the dedication of the Village of Hope orphanage. Along with my best friend, Cari, I also set up a classroom for the children living there. Prior to our trip, I learned that the school where the Village of Hope students would be attending did not have clean water for them to drink. When we arrived, we toured the...

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Although I am Mrs. Bryan to my students, I was given the name Azucena. I know it is a rare name, even in Mexico. Here in the States, it’s plain difficult to pronounce. People always tell me my name is so pretty, but they always leave wondering, ‘What kind of name is that?’ The Azucena is a flower, specifically a white lily with a sweet fragrance and six petals. It is the traditional Easter Lily. This type of lily grows in adverse situations, in the midst of rocks and thorny bushes on the tops of mountains.

I was born in Mexico City where I studied in different bilingual schools with an international baccalaureate program. I came to the United States and continued my studies where I was able to immerse in the culture, slang, different accents, and idiomatic phrases which were never taught to me at school in Mexico. This is why I like to introduce cultural tidbits to my students during Spanish class. I want them to grasp Spanish not only as a language, but also as the basis of the culture it embraces.



I grew up in Plano, Texas and graduated from Plano East Senior High where I was active in band and student leadership. I attended Texas Lutheran University where I earned a Bachelor of Arts in Music Education. After graduation, I started a private studio teaching instrumental students in grades 6-12 and went back to school to earn a Masters of Liberal Arts from Southern Methodist University; my focus was music, theatre, and art. It was at SMU that I discovered my love of theatre!

I then switched careers and began teaching in Irving where I taught 6th-8th graders as the Director of Bands at Travis Middle School. While working in Irving, I received a Masters degree in Music Education from the University of Texas at Arlington. I enjoyed working with students, teaching them about music, and watching them grow up and move to the high school.

During my time at Travis Middle School, I learned about Education in Action. I became a facilitator for their Lone Star Leadership Academy camps. As I was riding back with Mrs. Pasteur from a week at camp, I talked with her about how...