OUR ENGLISH TEAM
Ms. Cardinale has taught at LASA since 2011. She has taught Pre-AP English II, Great Ideas, Contemporary Fiction, Hitchcock, and PALS throughout her years at LASA. She previously coached the swim team for eight years (2011-2019) and has been coaching the girls' soccer team for the last eight seasons.
I'm happy to begin my fourth year at LASA, and I look forward to learning and having fun with the class of 2024! As a wee lad growing up in Austin, I developed a dedication to serving my local community, which is part of why I love teaching. With collegiate education from St. Edward's University, the University of Notre Dame, and the University of East Anglia (Norwich, UK)--along with nearly a decade of professional experiences between online university, outdoor education, HUD, and sports training--I enjoy satiating a variety of intellectual interests (i.e. history, music, art, philosophy, architecture, social justice, STEM).
Stand-up paddle boarding, hiking, swimming, and riding bikes are some of my favorite ways to stay in motion, which should always be balanced with bouts of NAH (Netflix, Amazon, Hulu) and MABS (Márquez, Allende, Baldwin, Steinbeck). Trying to stay energized for all this will have me in my kitchen concocting creations of my usual Southern/Mexican fusion and some of my other favorites like spring rolls, curries, and simple bakes. Now I'm hungry!
Jack Cunningham is in his second year as a teacher at LASA. He teaches Great Ideas, a Signature Course that all sophomores at LASA take, and he helps coach both cross country and track. Prior to teaching at LASA, Mr. Cunningham taught 11th grade English in Manor, TX, and he earned his Masters in Teaching from the University of Washington in Seattle.
Mr. Cunningham has worked with teenagers for a long time - as a summer camp counselor, outdoor education instructor, and wilderness therapy field guide. As evidenced by these job titles, Mr. Cunningham loves the outdoors! He spends as much time as possible hiking, camping, kayaking, and climbing.
Mr. Cunningham earned his undergraduate degree from the University of Notre Dame, majoring in Philosophy. This makes him part of the vanishingly small number of philosophy majors to actually use their degree in their work! He lives in Mueller with his partner and their dog, Juno. When he's not teaching or recreating outside, you can usually find him reading something interesting, with a never-ending mug of coffee.
This will be my 3rd year at LASA, and I'm cautiously optimistic, you know, all things considered. My background is in late medieval British literature, specifically Chaucer and the way that his legacy is created and curated in the Early Modern period. So, obviously my interests focus on things with practical applications in everyday life. I look forward to another successful year!
My name is Julia Gritte, and I love what I do. This will be my fifth year teaching at LASA, and I'll be teaching English I Pre-AP, English III AP, and an elective called Book Club. I'll also be coaching the JV Volleyball team. I grew up in Austin, and I have a B.A. in English and a M.Ed. in Curriculum & Instruction from Texas A&M. I love movies, drinking coffee, going out to eat, learning, and my students.
I moved 19 times in my first 19 years but am glad to have settled in Austin these many years. I've taught at LBJ and LASA for 20 of those, and I'm grateful to teach Senior English and Philosophy, my favorite subjects.
I have two grown daughters - one who is a UT Austin graduate now living in Colorado and the other currently in college - and have been married 31 years to the light of my life who is an ICU nurse at St. David's. I have a dog named Jake, my buddy during these Covid times.
I love reading and writing, the way it connects us with others and with ourselves, and my goal is to expand that appreciation in my students. I am also passionate about social justice and progress, finding ways to make a fairer and more sustainable society.
I look forward to working with you through the many challenges this year promises to bring.
I'm Molly McGarvey, teacher of English III and Women's Literature. I've spent thirty-one years in the classroom, seven of those at LASA. I have BA from Illinois State, and my MA is from Sam Houston State.
I have two grown children. Alexa, is a doula and mother of three. James, is studying Forestry in Colorado. My three grand-babies are Holden 3, Waylon 2, and baby number three is due in August 2020.
I love to write, read, watch movies, garden, walk, cook, and eat. I prefer windy or rainy days, and cool weather . . . any excuse to get under a blanket and snuggle with my Shih Tzu, Joey.
Teaching at LASA has been the highlight of my career. I'm eager to get back into the classroom, but until then I will make the most of the remote learning experience. Looking forward to meeting the class of 2022!
This is Caroline Pinkston's second year teaching English I at LASA. Before that, she taught English I and IV at St. Andrew's Episcopal School in Austin and at Validus Preparatory Academy in the South Bronx. She's also taught and TAed for American Studies courses at the University of Texas, worked with Breakthrough Central Texas, and led citizenship classes through the Austin Public Library. All together, she's taught and worked with middle school, high school, college level, and adult students!
Dr. Pinkston received a BA in American Studies and English at Northwestern University and a Masters in English Education from Lehman College in New York. Prior to joining the LASA faculty, she earned a PhD in American Studies at UT Austin. American Studies is an interdisciplinary field encompassing all aspects of American history and culture; Dr. Pinkston's research focused on education history and policy, as well as cultural memory (or how we remember and make sense of the past). She'd love to talk to you about any of that - or about her other primary interests: Harry Potter, the Bachelor, and the San Antonio Spurs.
Dr. Pinkston lives in Austin with her husband, who is also a teacher. She loves reading, running (very slowly), and hanging out with her two poorly-behaved dogs, Thelma and Ruth.
Mr. Sharp has spent the past fourteen years at LASA teaching PreAP English II, Creative Writing, and Literary. Prior to LASA, he was on the founding faculty at Akins HS where he taught the first graduates from sophomore to senior year. He has a Bachelor's in English from UT-Austin and an MFA-Creative Writing from Texas State-San Marcos.
He enjoys music, baseball (go Astros!), reading poetry, and brooding. Once he had a cat--it was a colossal mistake.
I was born in Indiana and grew up in the Rio Grande Valley. I came to Austin in 1995 to attend UT. I worked in the admissions office throughout my college years and in 2000 I graduated from University of Texas Austin with a BA in English and a teaching certificate.
From 2000 to 2007 I taught English at McCallum High School at a variety of grades and levels.
In the fall of 2007 I joined LASA. I currently teach AP English Language and Composition alongside Ms McGarvey and Ms Gritte. I also teach two electives, How To Be An Adult in the fall semester and Songwriting in the spring.
How To Be An Adult teaches students practical skills for getting along in the world, including nutrition and health, personal finance, basic civics, goal-setting, auto maintenance, time management, job skills, and career planning.
Songwriting is a collaborative workshop course in which students write and perform their own music. Every spring the Songwriting class produces Coffeehouse, a live music festival featuring LASA student performers.
I formerly taught English I and English II at LASA as well as the elective Music and Revolution. From 2013-2017 I was head coach of the LBJ Tennis team. I live in Austin with my wife and my son and enjoy sharing the music and culture of our beautiful city.
Christina Swan is in her 15th year at LASA, where they let her teach AP English IV, Creative Writing, and sometimes Science Fiction. She earned her B.A. in English Literature from the University of Dallas, then moved to Austin to attend the University of Texas, where she earned her master’s degree. She knows a weird amount about Classical Greece for someone with no degree in the subject, but her actual area of specialization is Poetry and Poetics. Mrs. Swan loves Shakespeare and Toni Morrison, but also Avatar: The Last Airbender and X-men. She is unhealthily deep into the Star Wars fandom. When not teaching, Mrs. Swan is usually parenting her two children, ages 11 and 8. (“Parenting” = playing Dungeons and Dragons with them, trying to make them do their chores, and telling them to go jump on the trampoline.) Mrs. Swan is a terrible swimmer, a mediocre seamstress, a pretty good writer, and an excellent reader. If you see her in the hallways at LASA, she will be sipping tea. This is not a metaphor—she just likes tea. And chocolate with sea salt. And breakfast tacos. Yes, she will help you with your college application essay.
Shaw Vallier thoroughly enjoys teaching Great Ideas. He is entering his third year at LASA and fifth year teaching. Prior to joining the LASA family, Mr. Vallier taught World Geo, WHAP, and APUSH in Beaumont ISD.
Mr. Vallier received his Bachelor’s in History from Lamar University and is pursuing a Master’s at University of Texas at Austin.
In his spare time, he enjoys basketball, trivia, concerts, woodworking, visiting state parks, and eating Cajun food. He has a cat named Olenna who thinks she’s a dog.
Lauren Williams is in her second year of teaching Pre-AP English II at LASA and in her tenth year in the classroom. Prior to joining the LASA team, Ms. Williams spent five years teaching AP Language and Composition, Pre-AP English II, and American Literature at Connally High School in Pflugerville ISD. For the past three summers, she has been a reader for the AP Language and Composition exam for College Board.
Ms. Williams took an untraditional route to teaching. Coming from a family of teachers, Ms. Williams claimed that she would “break the teaching tradition” and become a sports photographer for ESPN. Although she never attained an ESPN photo credit, she graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia with a Bachelor of Journalism in Photojournalism and a Bachelor of Arts in English with a concentration in Creative Writing. When she wasn’t at the sports desk for The Missourian, Ms. Williams tutored eighth-grade students in her free time. It was this experience that awakened a desire to continue working with children which led her to pursue her M.Ed. in Secondary English Education from Rockhurst University in Kansas City, MO.
Ms. Williams resides in her hometown of Austin. When she isn’t in the classroom, she enjoys sewing quilts, reading books, finding new musicians for her neverending playlist, and visiting MLB ballparks. She has been to nine out of 30 MLB ballparks.