Principal’s Blog

by | Jul 31, 2019


I am pleased to announce that class placements are officially out of the office and speeding towards the United States Post Office. I anticipate deliveries on Monday. This has been a labor of love. A heartfelt thank you to everyone that has been a part of this exhaustive process. These lists have been vetted by every teacher on campus, all administrative personnel, our office staff, and our guidance department. We created balanced lists that should set all children and teachers up for a great school year.

As I indicated in March, I will not entertain change requests. If we missed something that you communicated to us through the official channels (aka the yellow sheets) then please let me know via email and I will address it immediately, beyond that these rosters are final.



It is with great excitement that I welcome the following new staff members to Bernice Kiker Elementary School. The quality of these educators is truly second to none and I am very proud to serve alongside such outstanding people.

Bridget Farr – Assistant Principal

Bridget Farr is an author, actor, and educator. She has been an elementary and middle school teacher her entire career, most recently in the sixth grade humanities program at Lively (formerly Fulmore) Middle School. She has a master’s degree from the University of Texas at Austin and is thrilled to be back in an elementary school as an assistant principal. Bridget is also an actor and producer with several local theater companies. Her debut novel, Pavi Sharma’s Guide to Going Home comes out in September. Bernice Kiker Elementary shares Bridget with Cunningham Elementary School.

Shara Van Huss-Willis – Reading Specialist / Gifted and Talented Teacher

Shara Van Huss-Willis is a native Texan who began her journey as an educator in 1997 as an AmeriCorps Literacy First Volunteer. She has worked in a variety of educational settings, at a variety of grade levels, both public and private, including a specialized center in Boulder, Colorado for clients with Dyslexia and ADHD. Shara is excited to join Bernice Kiker Elementary this year, as a teacher and parent, and looks forwarding to contributing to this exciting community.

Bart McMahon – Physical Education

Bart McMahon moved to Austin a year ago from Arizona with his wife and two daughters. He grew up in Australia and now calls Austin his home. Prior to joining Bernice Kiker Elementary, he spent the past eleven years working with youth, collegiate, professional athletes, and our nation’s veterans as a physical therapist.

Valerie Barr – Second Grade

Valerie grew up in Friendswood, Texas and graduated from Texas State University with a degree in Interdisciplinary Studies. Valerie previously taught third grade at Bauerschlag Elementary in Clear Creek ISD. She is very excited to get this year started.

Rachel English – Second Grade

Rachel has a Bachelor’s of Science in Elementary Education from The University of Alabama, and a Master’s in Curriculum and Instruction from The University of Houston. This is her seventh year teaching, and her fifth year in second grade. When she is not at school, she enjoys spending time with her husband and their three children Sam, Jack, and Emily.

Jamie Novack – Second Grade

Jamie graduated with an education degree from Texas A&M University, Gig’em! This will be her third year as an elementary teacher and she has taught both second and third grade in Fort Worth, Texas.

Abby Shoppa – Third Grade

Abby Shoppa graduated from University of Texas at San Antonio with a degree in Business Management, and after a career in real estate investments she has decided to pursue her true passion of teaching. Abby has spent time over the last two years on the Kiker campus as a substitute teacher, student teacher, and as a 2nd grade long-term sub. She is looking forward to working at an exemplary school and is committed to helping students become successful

Lauren Miller – Fourth Grade

Lauren has spent the last eight years teaching middle school language arts in Eanes ISD. She is originally from Des Moines, Iowa, but loves living in Austin with her husband, one-year-old daughter, and their two dogs. Exploring the outdoors, reading, and enjoying local restaurants are some of her favorite activities outside of school.

Kathryn McLaughlin – Fourth Grade

Kathryn graduated with honors from The University of Oklahoma with a degree in Human Relations. In her spare time, she enjoys practicing yoga, cooking savory cuisine, and doing agility with her Miniature Schnauzer. She is not new to Bernice Kiker Elementary, Kathryn filled a long-term sub position for Jennifer Blake in second grade at the end of the 2018 – 2019 school year.



The following existing Bernice Kiker Elementary teachers have moved to different grade levels:

Stefanie Torres from fourth grade to third grade.
Shawn Whitehouse from fourth grade to fifth grade.



We have streamlined the number of departmentalized teams considerably. The following teachers are paired together as departmentalized teams:

Third and Fourth Grade Combined – SBLC
Jennifer Mangels and Jewellyn Forrest

Fourth Grade
Laura Wooster and Kim Reiman
Rhonda Vasquez and Kathryn McLoughlin

Fifth Grade
Chris Bryson and Shawn Whitehouse
Teresa Hall and Marian Martin*
Jessica Boone and Micah Linnell *

* Please note that Teresa Hall will be teaching math to all four homerooms and Micah Linnell will be teaching science to all four homerooms. Marian Martin will be teaching reading to her homeroom and Ms. Hall’s while Jessica Boone will be teaching reading to her homeroom and Mr. Linnell’s.



Please note everything was completed with the use of sanitized machines – this will make total sense when you open your placement letters. Please be aware of the contents of your envelope as each piece is essential to find out your class placement.

If you like you can use this playlist as background music as you complete the required task.

Parent and Community Engagement

STAAR and Survey Results

Year In Review