OUR SOCIAL STUDIES TEAM
Maricruz Aguayo Tabor
Ms Aguayo is a native Texan, raised in the Rio Grande Valley (Weslaco). She attended Brandeis University in Waltham, MA for her undergraduate studies (Anthropology, English, and History) and Harvard University in Cambridge, MA for graduate studies in History. Upon returning to Texas, Ms Aguayo began teaching with Austin ISD, first at the Liberal Arts Academy (LAA) and then making the move to the LBJ campus when the LAA merged with the Science Academy to form LASA. Ms Aguayo is proud to be a National Board Certified Teacher (NBCT) and a Milken Educator ('09). One of her favorite things is watching students realize that history is more than a long list of names and dates; she can't wait to share her love of history with a new group of students.
This is going to be my 3rd year teaching Social Studies at LASA High School. During the past two years, I have taught World Geography and AP World History. I am originally from Long Island, New York (yes, you will hear my accent!). I live in Austin with my husband, two young kids, and two pit bulls, who you may see when on Zoom occasionally. I love to run, hike, read, do art work, and be with my family during my free time. During my Bachelors, I double majored in Arabic Studies and History at Binghamton University. After graduating, I studied Arabic at the American University in Cairo and taught English at AMIDEAST in Alexandria, Egypt in 2011 for a little over a year. During my time living in Alex, I met my husband. When I came back to NY, I went on to earn a Masters in Teaching Social Studies from Stony Brook University, while working as a home instructor (and raising two babies!). I am very passionate about learning and teaching- especially Arabic and Social Studies. I look forward to getting to know you and learning with you through out your time here at LASA! Feel free to always come and say hi to me!
This is going to be my sixth year teaching here at LASA and my 13th overall. I've had the opportunity to teach pretty much every social studies course there is over the course of my career, from 7th grade Texas History to Sociology, but now I'm happily teaching the two best ones!
I love teaching World History because it brings an immensely broad scope to the way we think about our lives and modernity. World history focuses less on the small and isolated story of a single country and more on the interwoven tapestry of a global network of human beings. In this network, the social cannot be disentangled from the political, and no region exists without the support of its neighbors and its neighbors' neighbors.
I love teaching Ethnic Studies because it reminds us that American history is the history of all Americans, not just a privileged few. Students deserve the opportunity to hear and read about the lives of Americans who are too frequently left out of traditional histories. I really enjoy discussing new perspectives on American history with my students and helping them unpack some complicated and difficult ideas about race in the United States.
I can't wait to meet all of you! If you have any questions about these courses, feel free to write me an email.
Jason Flowers is entering his seventeenth year teaching AP US History at LASA. In addition to APUSH, Mr. Flowers teaches American Film and coaches Quiz Bowl and History Bowl along with Mr. Escandell. He is originally from South Louisiana and has a B.A. in history from LSU along with a master’s degree in social studies education from North Texas. Mr. Flowers is also the head coach and team leader for Team USA for the International Geography Olympiad and serves on the board of directors of the National Consortium of Specialized STEM Schools. Under normal circumstances, Mr. Flowers spends lots of time traveling, but since March has spent lots of time riding his road bike around Austin. He lives in Austin with his partner Meagan and his two kittens Moxie and Muffin.
Hello, I am please to be returning to LASA for a very exciting year. This will be my 6th year at LASA and my 22nd year teaching.
Neil Loewenstern has been at LASA since the merging of the Liberal Arts Academy and the Science Academy in 2002. He has taught World Geography, Contemporary Issues, and Facing History and Ourselves for many years. He is also the sponsor of many clubs including the LASA Chapter of the National Honor Society.
Mr. Loewenstern grew up in Houston and went to the University of Texas at Austin. He spent his early teaching years in a small, rural Texas high school in Wallis teaching English and World Geography. After several years of living in the country, he and his wife Sharon moved back to Austin. He taught English and World History at Johnston High School as well as Contemporary Issues and Facing History and Ourselves at the Liberal Arts Academy.
Mr. Loewenstern is a National Board certified teacher.
Mr. Loewenstern enjoys life in Austin with his wife and two sons who are starting college and graduate school. He likes to cook, garden, hike, hang out with his dog Lucky, and see live music. His new found hobby is collecting Texas concert posters of the 1960s-1980s.
I’m Eric Martanovic, teacher of AP Government, AP Macroeconomics and baseball coach.
I am in my 11th year as a coach, mentor, and teacher. Prior to teaching, I was a store executive for Target. I have a BS in Criminal Justice from Texas A&M University Corpus Christi, where I was a scholarship athlete and graduated in four years. I still appear in some of the single season and career top-10’s for baseball statistics at the school. After a two-season stint in professional baseball, I went on to earn my MS in Criminal Justice from Texas State University in 2005, where I focused my interest in the topics of constitutional law and Supreme Court cases. In 2012, I earned my MA in Teaching from Northwestern State University in Louisiana.
I’m an active volunteer in youth sports. I serve as Vice President for Oak Hill Youth Sports Association, coach 9u baseball and flag football. I love to bake a variety of breads and sweets around the holidays and host gatherings around my backyard barbecue.
Running, hiking, golfing, and mountain biking are some of my favorite outdoor activities… other than baseball of course!
I have two amazing children, a son Callen (9) and a daughter Carley (8), along with two delinquent dogs and one well-behaved cat… that sometimes knocks things off counter tops. This summer I watched countless baseball games, went to Lake Tahoe and swam in 55 degree water and hiked a black diamond mountain slope, taught the kids how to surf at South Padre Island, had a weekend stay at the Commodore Perry Estate, and coached the 8u Raptors to two championships.
Cody Moody has been a Social Studies teacher at LASA for sixteen years. He has primarily taught Pre-AP World Geography and AP Human Geography. Mr. Moody has sponsored Model UN Club, Academic WorldQuest, Hoops for Troops, and is a National Board Certified Teacher.
Mr. Moody is a graduate from UT Austin where he double majored in American Studies and German. Mr. Moody likes being in nature, running, playing basketball, cooking, aspirational DJing, and he especially loves hanging with his wife and kids.
My name is Kim Pettigrew and I've been teaching at LASA for 10 years and teaching APUSH at LASA for 8 years. I'm a native Austinite and actually graduated from LASA having been taught by a handful of teachers still working here. I got both my bachelors and masters in history at UT Dallas but I am an ardent TCU fan (I know confusing). My parents live in town and I live with my cat, Tigger. I have one brother, a sister-in-law, and a five month old niece, who I just adore. In addition to APUSH I sponsor Model UN and teach Native American Studies. I normally travel quite a bit in the summer but obviously this weird year has made that so much a thing. When I'm not working, I enjoy cuddling with my cat, crafting, and reading.
Ronny Risinger has been teaching within the Austin ISD high school magnet program for 23 years. He began his teaching career with the Liberal Arts Academy (LAA) which joined the Science Academy at LBJ High School in 2002 to form the Liberal Arts & Science Academy. Prior to teaching, Mr. Risinger practiced law in the Austin area. Naturally, his professional interests merged as he became a teacher with a primary focus on A.P. Government, Constitutional Law, and Street Law. Mr. Risinger became a National Board Certified teacher in 2008 (renewed in 2018).
After graduating from Lufkin High School, he attended a small, private school, McMurry College, in Abilene. There, Risinger met his future wife, Tina. They transferred to the University of Texas at Austin to finish their remaining years of college. After graduating from UT, Risinger and Tina were married. They would move to Houston where he would attend South Texas College of Law.
After graduating law school and moving back to Austin, Risinger practiced law for several years before beginning his family. Upon the birth of his first daughter (Emily, now 23), Risinger began to explore options that would allow him more time with his family. Because Tina was a teacher, it seemed natural to consider that option. Thus, Risinger used his Government and Law skills to begin teaching at the LAA. Since those first days, Risinger’s family has grown to include another daughter (Erin, now 20), and a son (Eric, now 17).
In order to teach about politics more fully, Mr. Risinger became active in local politics in Williamson County. He has served as a Precinct Chairman, Election Judge, State & National Delegate to political conventions, and as a member of the Electoral College in 2008.
Risinger lives in Round Rock, and enjoys hiking and Amateur Radio.
Jess Vanover is entering her third year teaching at LASA. She has taught World Geography, AP US History, and AP World History. Before teaching at LASA, Ms. Vanover spent 2 years serving in Americorps at Breakthrough Central Texas, a non-profit organization that supports aspiring first generation college graduates. Ms. Vanover is originally from Arlington, Texas and moved to Austin for college. She received a Bachelor of Arts in History from the University of Texas with a UTeach Urban Teachers teaching certification. This year she plans to start the process of applying for graduate school and grants in hopes of working toward a masters degree in US history. Ms. Vanover lives in Austin with her fiancé (yes, her name will change in November) and their very needy pup, Bear. She spends most of her time outdoors working out, playing disc golf, and taking her pup swimming. She loves coffee, dark chocolate, all sports, Harry Potter, and a good history meme.