About Gateway Academy
As a parent, your child is your number one priority. You go through life wanting the best for your child and desiring for them to learn the skills to live successfully without your constant assistance. At Gateway, we understand that and have the same goals for your child. We have the staff, programs, and attention that provides children with a chance to have a normal self-sufficient life that is filled with joy, relationships, self-worth, independence, growth, and a sense of community.
In a world where resources are easily accessible and options are abundant, we cannot emphasize the Gateway difference enough. The positive changes that occur in our students go beyond the walls of our facilities, they are lifelong enhancements that result in happy, productive adults making their way in this world.
Mission & History
Gateway Academy serves students with social and academic challenges through innovative approaches to learning, physical fitness, and social awareness. Our graduates encounter a changing world with self-advocacy, opening a path to personal significance in college, career, and community.
Since our founding in 2006, we have continued to cultivate and enhance our academic, social, and fitness programs as we support and encourage our students to become contributing citizens of our community. We are excited to share our growing program with you.
Every morning, the Gateway Academy community begins their day with the following pledge:
This is my day… I will do something good.
This is your day… You can make a difference.
Together… We can change the world.
This pledge embodies Gateway and our consistent focus on making a difference in the world.
Gateway Academy serves 6th—12th graders who have learning differences that impact social, academic, and critical thinking skills. We provide an environment that prepares students to enter the workplace and college settings with confidence, both socially and educationally. Our population of learning differentiated students is encouraged to develop critical thinking, enhance personal appreciation and foster a vision of their future self.
Gateway Academy is a place where students are met at their current academic level and given license to advance at their own maximum pace. It is important to understand our philosophy when it comes to teaching and changing the everyday lives of our students:
- We provide a safe environment to develop as an adolescent.
- We encourage adolescents to reach their academic potential, whatever it might be.
- We focus on the mastery of basic skills.
- We utilize technology to facilitate and expand learning opportunities.
- We implement the latest proven brain-based learning research to customize curricula to meet student needs.
- We prepare capable adolescents for a college experience.
- We develop communication skills that prepare adolescents for success.
- We instill community involvement as a life goal and means of personal growth.
- We foster social understanding and one’s own place in the local and global community.
Letter from the Founding Head
Gateway Academy is a private school where caring, trust, respect, and fine teaching take 6th-12th grade students to new levels of confidence, competence and opportunity. Our students typically have learning disorders such as Dyslexia, Language Delays, Autism Spectrum Disorders, ADHD and Non-Verbal Learning Disabilities that impact some of the following areas:
- Time management skills
- Organizational difficulties
- Visual-spatial weaknesses
- Abstract conceptual reasoning
- Social situations and transitions
Realizing that students have individual learning styles and needs, Gateway provides a highly structured and individualized program in a success-oriented environment where students learn and grow together. Gateway Academy believes that a balance of strong academics, good research-based teaching, physical activity, and a collaborative counseling approach make our middle and high school program unique to the Houston Area.
The cornerstone of our program is our strong academic program. We have taken a typical Middle and High School curriculum and transformed it to meet the needs of our student population. Our goal is to give our students the skills to graduate from Gateway Academy with a diploma in hand, ready to tackle college or vocational endeavors. Gateway teachers come to us ready to teach with an expertise in their field and a heart for our students.
In an effort to support each student through their academic life at Gateway we have developed several other programs. First, we support our students through our Counseling Department. We have a licensed Professional Counselor on staff who provides support in regards to anxiety, handling frustration and recognizing personal strengths. This program supports and encourages each child to challenge their future by tackling barriers that hinder their success. We use a collaborative counseling approach which elicits cooperation among the counselor, students, parents, faculty and outside services.
Second, we have designed a program that will equip each student with necessary self-regulation, executive functioning, and goal settings skills to develop independence in and out of the classroom. This program encourages our students to think about their future in a meaningful way: through organization/technology use, participation in community service activities, and building interest in a career or work affinity. This program enriches our students and teaches them to have a positive impact on our community.
Finally, we have developed a fitness program that focuses on supporting the relationship between physical activity and learning. We are teaching fitness rather than sports. Our students and staff begin each day in a fitness class doing simple stretches, exercises and running or walking. Our experience has shown that the therapeutic benefits of physical activity support their growth in the classroom. The underlying philosophy is that if fitness class can be used to instruct kids on how to monitor and maintain their own health and fitness, then the lessons they learn will serve them for life.
Our highest priority from the very beginning has been to create a school community where every student feels safe, connected, understood, and supported. This positive environment reshapes attitudes about school, improves the prospects for success in the classroom, and allows the student to shine. Once here, transformations take place as one student after another begin to mature and become excited about their own personal potential and future prospects.
Please call us for a tour anytime!
Michele Bauman Joseph, M.Ed.
Head of School
Michele Bauman Joseph, MEd
Founding Head of School
Michele serves as Founding Head of the Gateway Academy. She found her passion for building programs in the education field almost immediately after beginning her professional career in education. Each experience has been a building block toward realizing her strengths as a leader. In 1990, she was charged with creating a program for elementary aged students with behavior and learning challenges. This amazingly successful experience gave Michele the drive to find more schools in need of new programming and improved systems. She thrives when she is working with others to create support for children.
With 30 years of experience in special education including 15 years in private schools, Michele models principles in her leadership style that build an environment of trust and commitment. The Gateway Academy was built and continues to thrive through a collaborative effort that involves the board, the faculty and staff, the parents, and the student body. Michele’s strength is in knowing how to bring the right people together to find the best answers to a given issue. Her collaborative approach is evident throughout the organization.
The skills that Michele successfully applied when she was a classroom teacher to help individual students laid a foundation for her success as head of school. She believes in meeting each individual at their current level, developing relationships that provide attachment, and creating an expectation of accountability. The ability to utilize those skills as a servant leader has enabled her to successfully lead this organization through the ever-changing world of special education.
Stephen Tiemann, MDiv
Director of Admission & Transition
Stephen made the transition from a successful career in ministry back to education over thirteen years ago. He is one of the founding faculty members of the Gateway Academy. His education includes studies in music, education, theology, and Spanish, earning a Bachelor of Music Education at Sam Houston State University and a Master of Divinity at the University of St. Thomas. With his wide range of training and skills, Stephen seeks solutions to challenges from a variety of disciplines.
Gateway recognizes that the most difficult times for our students are during transitions. As Director of Admission and Transition, Stephen collaborates with other team members to help students and families through their initial transition into the Gateway community, through the subsequent transitional events, up to graduation and beyond. Additionally, Stephen teaches Spanish and English and is eager to teach guitar to interested students.
Randy has been a member of Gateway since its inception. He graduated from the University of Houston, receiving a Bachelor of Science in Industrial Distribution with a minor in business. Randy previously worked for JP Morgan managing collateralized debt accounts. At the same time, Randy used his spare time to teach outdoor skills, kayaking, rock climbing, and Bible studies. Realizing that teaching gave him the ability to impact lives directly and on a daily basis, he pursued teaching as a profession. His extensive background in math and technology prepared him to teach higher-level mathematics at Gateway.
Randy installed Gateway’s wireless networking system and he customizes an iPad for each student, giving him or her individualized access to technological resources. He pioneered a vocational elective to teach our students hands-on skills. He is also a key faculty member for morning fit club and afternoon team sports. His latest endeavor is to get his black belt in Taekwondo and design a martial arts program to improve motor skills for our students challenged with dyspraxia and strengthen the self-esteem of all students.
Randy is a native Houstonian with an extensive amount of travel under his belt to locales such as Costa Rica, Zambia, Zimbabwe, South Africa, England, and Mexico. Randy’s hobbies include outdoor adventure trips, woodworking, and biking.
Stephanie Sherman, MS
Director of Development
Stephanie is a certified Texas Special Educator with over five years of classroom experience. She has previously worked with student populations diagnosed with neurological differences and complex behavior/emotional disorders in both the public and private school settings. She graduated with a Master’s in Organizational Leadership from Colorado State University – Global. She truly enjoys her role as Director of Development and engaging the greater community with the transformative work at Gateway Academy.
Stephanie was born and raised in the Houston area. She enjoys reading, running and adventuring outdoors with her wife Crystal and their two dogs – Tahlie & Spike. She loves music, iced coffee, and the New England Patriots.
Ashley Hypes, MEd
Dean of Faculty
Ashley serves as Dean of Faculty at the Gateway Academy. She graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Education from the University of Houston in 2010 and a Master of Education in Educational Technology Leadership from Lamar University in 2016. Ashley taught students for two years in Cypress Fairbanks Independent School District before coming to Gateway in 2012. At Gateway, she has served as a Learning Specialist for Language Arts and History. Additionally, she has served as coordinator of the Middle School program.
Ashley has extensive experience working with students with learning disabilities including dyslexia, ADHD, and autism. She is an amazing organizer and she coordinates the ever-growing Gateway Garage Sale and Gateway Summer Camp. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her husband, Joey, and their three dogs, Lola, Luigi, and Ellie.
Brodie Simmons, LPC, LCDC, NCC
Director of Counseling
Brodie is a National Board Certified, Licensed Professional Counselor and Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor. He earned a Bachelor of Science in Psychology with a minor in Philosophy from the University of Houston. He received his Master of Arts in Mental Health Counseling from Capella University in 2012. Over the past 10 years, he has worked with adults, adolescents, and families with pervasive mental illnesses or addiction, providing individual therapy, parent coaching, and intensive psychotherapy.
For the past three years, he has been in private practice at The Woodlands Behavioral Health & Wellness Center. Prior to joining the private sector, Brodie was the Choices Counselor for St. Thomas High School and The Gateway Academy. In that role, he provided ongoing prevention programming, tailored uniquely to both school systems, which covered 15 particular high-risk behaviors. In addition to developing programming for these schools, Brodie also provided therapeutic interventions to many students, faculty, or parents of these school systems.
Brodie has presented at The Southwest Adolescent Treatment Providers Conference, Katy Autism Alliance, as well as given many presentations to parents, faculty and government officials. Brodie is a current member of the American Counseling Association, has received his National Certified Counselor recognition from the National Board for Certified Counselors, and is an Alumni Mentor for graduate students at Capella University.
Samatha Forde, MEd, LPC
Middle School Counselor
Samantha is a Licensed Professional Counselor and has spent most of her career working directly with students and their families. She earned her Bachelors in Communication from Texas A&M University with a minor in Business Administration in 2011. She received her Masters in Education in Counseling from the University of Houston in 2015.
She completed her practicum at Neighborhood Centers Charter Schools, running groups for social and emotional awareness, and seeing students individually. She completed her hours for licensure working the past four years at another local private special school. It was there she learned that her calling was to work with students with neurological differences, which is why she could not be happier to join the Gateway team!!
In her free time, Samantha loves to travel, play any and all board games, go to concerts, and watch movies with her fiance’ and friends.
Jackie Plesnicher, LCSW
Director of Events & Volunteers
Jackie graduated from Trinity University in 1988 with a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy, and in 1991 with a Master of Social Work from the University of Houston. Jackie worked as a medical social worker/field instructor and as the Director of Career Services at The University of Houston Law Center before becoming a stay-at-home mom. During her 15 years in that role, she was an avid volunteer, serving her faith community, promoting autism awareness and serving at several schools. After serving as a substitute teacher and volunteer at Gateway, she was thrilled to join the staff in 2016. She is passionate about Gateway’s mission and students, especially her own son, Avery, who is a recent graduate of Gateway. Jackie, her husband Mike Najarian and son Avery enjoy traveling, spending time with their two spirited cats and being in the company of family and friends.
John spent thirteen years as an independent floor trader at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. This experience, along with management and market support in the food service research industries, prepared him for the diverse requirements of being a business manager for a small, growing, private school. He attended the University of Memphis and is currently studying to complete a degree in accounting at the University of Houston.
John is a native Chicagoan and a longstanding season ticket holder for the Chicago Cubs!
Director of Finance
Patrick serves as Director of Finance at the Gateway Academy. He graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Accounting from Mcneese State University in 2013, and looks forward to sitting for the CPA exam in the near future. For the last seven years, Patrick worked as an Audit Supervisor in the Houston area, where he audited a variety of non-profit organizations, specializing in auditing private schools.
Patrick was born and raised in Lake Charles, Louisiana. He enjoys watching and playing basketball, tennis, and other competitive sports. He is an avid fan of the Houston Rockets, Houston Astros, and New Orleans Saints. When he isn’t working, he enjoys spending time with his fiancée, Rachel and their dog, Bailey.
Administrative Support Team
Executive Administrative Assistant
Michelle joined the Gateway Family in July of 2011. Michelle has always had a passion for working in a helping profession. Her strong organizational skills, courteous demeanor, and energetic work attitude are evident each and every day at Gateway. She graduated from Texas State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice and a minor in Counseling. Before coming to Gateway she was employed for 16 years as an administrative assistant at a private church and school. Michelle is a mother of three boys and enjoys swimming, music and making candles.
Mary Lynn Grimes
Mary Lynn has been with Gateway since its inception. Eager to add beauty and organization to her environment, she founded Gateway’s Art department. For ten years Mary Lynn served as the Art Specialist at Gateway, encouraging and supporting our students as they expand their creative gifts. Gateway has been blessed to have Mary Lynn leading and guiding our community as we create beautiful works of art. In 2016 she turned her brushes and paint over to her son and is partnering with our administrative team, providing some additional structure to Gateway.
Mary Lynn received her Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Texas in 1983 and her teaching certificate from the University of Houston in 1988. She has taught at the Presbyterian School and the Glassell School of Art. She loves her Gateway family as she brightens our community.
Sally has been supportive of Gateway since its inception. As a parent of a Gateway graduate, class of 2010, she was instrumental in getting our program off the ground from the beginning! Sally Joined the Gateway Academy as an employee in 2015. She comes to us with an eclectic array of experiences. She attended the University of Southern Mississippi and has been married to her high school sweetheart for 34 years. Sally worked as a coordinator in the Children’s Ministry for 10 years and held many offices within the church and various organizations. She ran a home-based business and was very involved in the Boy Scouts and Girls Scouts of America. She served the Joy School in Houston for 4 years as an administrative assistant.
She and her husband raised their 3 children, Tyler, Meghan, and Matthew, while Doug served as an International drilling manager. They are blessed to have two wonderful daughters-in-law and two grandchildren. She and Doug are the proud parents of two Eagle Scouts and a Girl Scout Gold Award recipient. She has traveled extensively and has lived internationally with the oil industry. Sally loves her work and feels it is a calling.
Events Program Assistant
Samantha is a proud graduate of Gateway Academy (Go Gryphons!), Class of 2011. Taking the high school education she received from Gateway, she attended San Jacinto Community College. From there, she earned a Bachelor of Arts in Hospitality Management at the Art Institute. Samantha has had a mixture of experiences working in the field of catering and event coordination. She has returned to Gateway as a staff member to advance her experiences in hospitality and to help produce superb events for the school.
STEM Learning Specialist
Molly is excited to join Gateway Academy! Molly graduated from the University of Houston in 2009 with a Bachelor of Science in Interdisciplinary Studies with a concentration in Math. She taught middle school Math and Science in Cypress Fairbanks and Klein ISD for 9 years. Molly has experience teaching students with a variety of learning disabilities including ADHD, dyslexia, dysgraphia, and anxiety.
When Molly is not teaching, she enjoys spending time with her husband Geoff, reading the latest Young Adult fiction, catching a Broadway show, and traveling as many places as possible, as often as possible.
STEM Learning Specialist
Jose has been part of the Gateway faculty since 2017, and is excited about sharing his passions for the STEM field with his students. Jose graduated from Texas Southern University, earning a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics with a minor in Chemistry. Since then Jose has taught and successfully accommodated students with learning differences including dyslexia, dysgraphia, ADHD, and OCD for the past 4 years.
Jose enjoys watching sports, especially soccer and football, and is a frequent member of many basketball leagues throughout Houston. He enjoys reading science fiction novels and playing a variety of video games in his spare time. Additionally, Jose is a proud parent of a 5-year-old daughter, Alessandra, and enjoys spending quality time together, going to the zoo or going fishing. They are proud owners of 2 dogs, 2 geckos, and a red tail boa.
Susan Crouch, MA
Middle School Learning Specialist
Susan graduated from Trinity University in 1992 with a Bachelor of Arts in English, and in 1994 with a Master of Arts in Teaching with a specialization in Special Education. Upon graduation, she began teaching 6th grade Language Arts at Pershing Middle School in Houston Independent School District. While at Pershing, she developed Cluster Interdisciplinary Units, established grade level Portfolio Assessment Systems, as well as serving as a Middle School Committee Co-Chair and a New Teacher Mentor. She also completed extensive training at the Neuhaus Education Center and H.I.S.D. Gifted and Talented training. Upon her son’s entry into the Gateway Academy in 2013, Susan served as a Gateway substitute teacher and active volunteer, and in the 2016-17 school year, she joined the staff first as a resource teacher, then as a middle school teacher.
Susan, her husband Brady, and their three teenaged children spend their non-Marvel Universe related free time fly fishing and photographing coastal scenes, which Susan uses as a source for drawing and oil painting inspirations.
Hannah De La Garza, BCaBA
Hannah graduated from the University of Houston with a Bachelor of Education in Special Education in 2014. While attending college, she spent her summers volunteering at The Joy School Summer School Program. Additionally, she has been a summer camp teacher at Gateway Academy for two years and was a part of Gateway’s Internship program. Hannah has worked extensively in the areas of Learning Disabilities, Epilepsy, and Anxiety. She is currently in school to become a Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analyst.
She grew up in the West University area and is a graduate of St. Agnes Academy. Hannah enjoys spending time with her friends and family.
Employment Skills Specialist
Michelle is very excited to bring her passion for transition development, vocational skills and real-world learning for young adults to the Gateway Academy. After graduating from Texas A&M in 2013, Michelle began her teaching career in Cypress. She taught middle school life skills for three years. She loved teaching her students real-world skills as well as how to get involved in their community. Then, over the next three years, she found her true passion for teaching young adults vocational skills. She has found her calling to provide students with the tools necessary for a successful transition out of high school. She teaches because she loves to see her students develop and apply new skills by seeking independence and becoming a successful community member.
In her spare time, she enjoys traveling. In 2017, she had the opportunity to travel to New Zealand and Australia through Fund for Teachers, to learn about their innovative social skills training curricula. She is also an avid runner and loves spending time with her friends, family and brand new baby nephew.
Art & Digital Graphics Specialist
Andrew serves as both the Art Instructor and Graphic Designer for The Gateway Academy. He enjoys incorporating both traditional and digital art into student’s learning and keeps them involved in beautifying the campus through design projects.
Andrew graduated from the University of North Texas, receiving a Bachelor of Fine Arts and has been teaching art in both Austin and Houston since 2009. While in Austin, he worked with the Art of the Capital Area to help create an identity for The Arc of the Arts, an art studio that provides an artistic bridge between people with developmental disabilities and the community. It this role, he developed the fine arts program to include film, digital art, and stop-motion animation, as well as a focus on the fundamentals of traditional art through mediums such as paint and charcoal. He has brought his love of teaching and continued learning of art techniques to Houston and is thrilled to continue his work at Gateway.
Nicoletta Grundtisch, MEd, BCBA
Dean of Student & Family Support
Nicoletta serves the students of Gateway as a teacher, mentor, coach, and educational travel leader. She graduated from Niagara University with a Bachelor of Arts in Special Education and History. Upon graduation, she began working in schools in Buffalo, NY for students with special needs. Two years later, she found herself in Houston and soon became a part of the Gateway Academy family, where she was inspired to continue her education. She earned her Master of Education from the University of St. Thomas and studied Applied Behavior Analysis through the Florida Institute of Technology. Nicoletta has a true passion for our school community and is continually researching programs and best practices that benefit our unique learners. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her husband Nick and their dog Tex. Together they enjoy food, fitness, family, and friends.
Susan Hoyer, MEd
Dean of Workplace skills and Technology
Certified Google Educator
Sue is pleased to bring the skills she developed over many years of teaching students with special needs in Oak Park, Illinois to the Gateway Academy. She comes to Gateway with a passion for teaching young adults practical-life and social skills as well as an intense interest in assistive technology and technology in general.
Sue earned her Bachelor of Arts in special education teaching from Illinois State University and a Master of Arts in Educational Administration from the University of Phoenix. For 15 years, Sue taught 6-8th graders in a public elementary school district, focusing on life skills education. An avid supporter of socialization and friendship building, Sue facilitated the school’s Best Buddies Illinois chapter for 15 years; during that time, the chapter won middle school chapter of the year twice, and she won advisor-of-the-year once. Sue also established the Special Olympics program for the district. Additionally, she had the privilege of being an adjunct professor at Concordia University Chicago for 8 years. Sue has found her home at Gateway’s transition program, focusing on providing vocational classes such as Culinary, Business Math, and Digital Citizenship.
Sue is an avid baker and enjoys spending time with her husband, extended family, and pom-chihuahua mix!
Bonnie Jones, MS, CCC-SLP
Speech Language Pathologist
Bonnie graduated from Sam Houston State University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and worked for several years in the legal field. In 2008, Bonnie returned to school to pursue a degree in Speech-Language Pathology. She graduated with her Master of Science degree in Speech-Language Pathology from Texas Woman’s University in 2011. Bonnie worked at The Parish School during her graduate studies, and then continued on following graduation working as both a lead teacher in a preschool class, and then later in elementary providing language and social support to multiple classes. Seeking to further expand her social/pragmatic experience, she completed The Social Thinking Clinical Training Program in 2017. Her background in Social Thinking® and working with students with learning and social challenges has made her a natural fit at Gateway.
When not at work, Bonnie enjoys spending time with her husband, Mike, and their three teenage children. She and her husband also enjoy volunteering as adult leaders in the student ministry at their church. Their oldest son is a 2018 Gateway graduate and Bonnie has seen first hand the positive impact the school has had on his life. She is enjoying her second year being part of the Gateway team!
Woody Latham, MA
Learning Specialist & Student Council Advisor
Woody joined Gateway just one year into its inception, and has over thirty years of classroom teaching experience at both the secondary and college levels, providing him unique insight into serving students with special needs and how best to prepare those who pursue higher education. Beginning his career as a college instructor of freshmen/sophomore Political Science, he discovered his true calling while tutoring at-risk children. He has taught and worked extensively with students with learning disabilities, autism, emotional disturbances, and a wide range of learning styles. Woody’s educational background includes degrees from Arkansas State University, post-graduate work at Rice University and the University of St. Thomas, plus training in phonics, dyslexia intervention, and crisis prevention. He currently teaches history, government, and economics at Gateway, while also coaching basketball and serving as the Student Council Advisor.
Woody is an avid reader of history and traveler to historic destinations; Woody enjoys sharing his love of history with his students and the Gateway community.
Martha Pietsch, MEd
Director of Employment Skills Program
Martha Pietsch is a proud Chicagoan who moved down south in 2013. Martha’s undergraduate degree is from the University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana in physical therapy. She has always loved working and volunteering with students who have academic, social, and learning challenges which led her to a change in career paths. Martha earned a Master of Special Education at Northeastern Illinois University and later continued school with a degree from National Louis University in ESL. She enjoys an active lifestyle and instantly fell in love with the Gateway Academy’s mission to not only serve students’ academic needs but also their growth in physical fitness and social awareness. Additionally, she is passionate about supporting students’ transition toward success in college, a career, and their community. She began our Vocational Education and Internship Program, which continues to grow each year.
Martha loves to travel with her husband Eric and enjoys being a mother to her son Jonah. She feels blessed to be a part of the Gateway Academy team!
Middle School Learning Specialist
Stacey joined the Gateway Academy as a learning specialist in 2007; she spent five fabulous years teaching Language Arts and Reading. After a few years at home caring for her children, Belynne and Culwell, she is thrilled to be back at Gateway. Stacey graduated from Stephen F. Austin State University earning a Bachelor of Elementary Education with a concentration in Reading. She also has teaching certifications in Special Education and English as a Second Language. Prior to coming to Gateway, she spent 17 years teaching in the Spring Branch, Alief, and Katy Independent School Districts.
Stacey and her husband, Jon, live in Memorial and are the proud parents of two teenagers at Stratford High School. In her free time, Stacey enjoys gardening, refinishing and painting old furniture, and reading. She cherishes time spent with family, friends and her two dogs Taylor and Tilly.
Language Arts Learning Specialist
After graduating from Olivet College with a Bachelor’s in Psychology and Sociology, Kelcey began her teaching journey in the small town of Albion, Michigan working with troubled youth at a residential facility. She supported children with a variety of backgrounds and diagnoses by teaching daily living skills and assisting students with their individual and group therapeutic goals.
Through this program, Kelcey was offered an opportunity to intern at The Monarch School. Eager to learn, Kelcey left her home for three months in the spring of 2014. Kelcey adored the program and students. The following year, she relocated to Houston to teach, learn and grow in her career and has been teaching at Monarch for four years.
After obtaining her special education teaching certificate, Kelcey found the Gateway Academy. She is excited to begin this next step in her teaching journey! In her spare time, she likes to workout, listen to music, and travel.
Angela Sanson, MFA
Director of Theatre Arts Program
Angela has a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Theatre from Texas Christian University and a Master of Fine Arts with a specification in Costume Design and Set Design from the University of Houston. Her professional theatre career includes working in the costume studios of the Houston Shakespeare Festival, Houston Grand Opera, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, North Carolina Ballet, and Parsons Mears in New York City, which makes the costumes for Broadway shows as Wicked, Lion King and Shrek. After working in theatre professionally, Angela taught theatre for Humble ISD. In her spare time, she enjoys attending theatre shows around town and going to Astros games.
Learning Specialist & Yearbook Advisor
Stephanie graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Literature in 2009 from the University of Houston Clear Lake. She graduated summa cum laude and was a part of Phi Theta Kappa. She worked as a special education teacher’s assistant in the Alvin Independent School District for two years before deciding to pursue a teaching certificate. She finished her certificate in high school English Language Arts and Reading in 2015.
She has been teaching at Gateway since 2012. Stephanie has been able to teach many different subjects at Gateway, from Pre-Algebra to Language Arts. The past few years she has found her place in teaching language arts and more recently, yearbook. Stephanie loves to read and tries to make her language arts class reading material fit each class’s interests when she can. Her interest in literature ranges from the classics to graphic novels. Stephanie enjoys keeping up with the latest in young adult literature in order to be able to recommend titles to her students. Her entire experience working with students has been spent working with small groups and one-on-one with students with autism, dyslexia, AD/HD, and other special needs.
Stephanie lives with her husband, two cats, one dog, and during breaks the school pet, Dilbert. She loves spending time with her family, especially her three nephews. In her spare time, Stephanie enjoys reading, longboarding, working out, and creating art.
STEM Specialist & Communications Coordinator
Carol joined Gateway Academy as a learning specialist in 2008, where she has taught a variety of subjects in the fields of math, science, and art. Carol graduated summa cum laude from the University of Houston with a Bachelor of Science degree in Interdisciplinary Studies, with teaching certifications in Life Science 6th -12th, Mathematics, Gifted and Talented, English as a Second Language, and Early Childhood. Prior to coming to Gateway, she taught eight years in Fort Bend Independent School District where she was awarded a grant that allowed students a choice of integrated projects while learning about famous artists.
Carol loves to learn. She has taken several online courses in art, marine biology and human anatomy. She enjoys the challenge of new opportunities. She continues her learning in the life sciences outside of school to support her role as a teacher of biology, aquatic science, and human anatomy.
Carol and her husband, Kevin, live in Sugar Land where they have raised their two sons and two daughters. Carol enjoys spending time with her five grandsons, Hayden, Riley, James, Lane, and Kirk. Carol’s hobbies include drawing and watercolor painting, studying languages and traveling, during which she has created several travel sketchbooks. Kevin and Carol are in the process of building a new home that Kevin designed.
Samantha White, MEd
Middle School Learning Specialist
Samantha is thrilled to join the Gateway team and family She graduated with a Bachelors of Arts in Communication from Texas A&M University in 2014. Upon graduation, Samantha worked in the Human Resources industry for 2 years. Samantha then decided to follow her passion for teaching and earned a Masters in Education from RELAY Graduate School of Education in 2018. Samantha taught math and science at KIPP Legacy Preparatory School for 3 years and served as the Content-Level chair. At KIPP, Samantha gained experience working with students who have many different social and learning challenges including ADHD, ODD, and Autism. Samantha is passionate about encouraging students to discover their strengths and how to use them to succeed both inside and outside of her classroom.
Beyond work, Samantha has loved being able to volunteer with organizations over the past several years who serve kids and young adults with disabilities. Samantha loves spending quality time with friends and family, playing with her dog Banjo, and traveling as often as possible!
Board of Trustees
Genny Winter – Founding Member & Chair
Shell Oil – IT Manager Trading & Supply (Retired)
How did you hear about Gateway? While our daughter was attending The Joy School, I teamed up with several faculty and parents to create Gateway Academy. So, I was a founding board member!
Why do you serve? Our family has benefitted greatly from the expertise and community at Gateway. I am committed to ensuring that other families have the opportunity to receive the same type of support for their child that my daughter received because of Gateway.
Jennifer Albanese – Vice Chair & Treasurer
Hilcorp – IT Business Relationship Manager
How did you hear about Gateway? I first learned about Gateway Academy through a good friend. The school’s mission and vision resonated with me due to my own family experiences.
Why do you serve? My younger brother was diagnosed with ADHD as a young child. In the 1970s, the understanding of children and students with special needs was very different. Education was not specialized to fit these students’ needs. Today, the work that Gateway does to give middle school through high school students access to education, social skills, and physical education is a community I wanted to be a part of. They create a positive environment for all students to learn, thrive, and contribute as young adults. It is this environment that makes Gateway stand out from others, and I am glad to be of service.
Jack Bellinger – Secretary
eCORP International, LLC – General Counsel & Executive Vice President
How did you hear about Gateway? We heard about Gateway when my special needs daughter graduated from another great Houston special needs school. Leaders at the previous school and other practitioners recommended us to Gateway Academy.
Why do you serve? Gateway has been a Godsend to our daughter and our family. I am forever impressed by the school’s ability to constantly improve and benefit our community. By serving as a Gateway board member I hope to contribute to Gateway’s continued success and growth.
Reverend Arthur Murphy – Past Chair
St. James Lutheran Church – Lead Pastor
How did you hear about Gateway? A therapist recommended Gateway as one of several options for our son entering middle school. We opted for mainstreaming our son, Connor, at first, but ultimately found Gateway to be the best school for his education and overall well-being.
Why do you serve? I serve to give back out of gratitude for what Gateway has done for our son and because our family is fully committed to the vision Gateway has for all children like Connor.
Potentia – Founder & CEO
How did you hear about Gateway? I was introduced to Scott Adams via Autism Speaks. I was looking to learn more about the autism spectrum community in Houston as I launched my autism employment consulting firm.
Why do you serve? As a parent of a teenager on the spectrum and a service provider, I care deeply about this community and want to learn from the best.
How did you hear about Gateway? We were looking for the right place for our son, David, during his freshman year of high school. We were directed to Gateway by both our Educational Consultant and by the head of Alexander Smith Academy.
Why do you serve? Gateway means very much to me and I want to make sure that other families have a great place for their students with learning differences. Through serving on the Board of Gateway Academy I can make Houston a better city and help other families with children who need a different school experience for their middle and high school students.
Tarnow Center – Psychologist
How did you hear about Gateway? I’m a psychologist in the Houston area and some of my teenage clients are students at Gateway. I ended up consulting with Michele on our shared teens and was able to learn more about Gateway’s programming.
Why do you serve? I see what a service this school provides for a population of students who did not really have a place to go before finding Gateway. I want to support Gateway however I can!
Shell Oil – Trading & Supply (Retired)
How did you hear about Gateway? My better half, Genny, was one of the founding board members of Gateway. We became interested in special needs education through our daughter Sarah, who has learning differences.
Why do you serve? Kids with learning differences are underserved in our community. I believe that with the right coaching, these young adults can contribute to society and learn to live independently.
Portrait of a Graduate
We are thrilled when our students reach graduation! Their progress and growth are so evident in the way they hold their diploma, walk with confidence, and share their story with those around them. They have a keen sense of understanding when it comes to Trust, Stability, and Relationships.
Portrait of a Gateway Graduate
A Gateway Graduate is an evolving person in a constant process of becoming through relational engagement and attachment to self, community and their world.
- A Gateway Graduate is Aware…
- Considers alternate views and solutions
- Relies on community for resources
- Serves the community as a resource
- Delivers and receives Grace
- A Gateway Graduate Learns…
- Accepts personal unique, innate intelligence
- Embraces learning
- Enjoys learned confidence
- Invites the next challenge
- A Gateway Graduate is an Advocate…
- Personifies resilience and recovers well
- Defines personal intentions and chooses actions accordingly
Growth and Transition
“Begin with the end in mind” -Stephen Covey
Whether a student is in 6th grade or in high school, our program begins by acknowledging that we are educating a future adult. Gateway’s core value of self-determination and the skill of self-advocacy are taught and emphasized across the curriculum. Students are educated about autism, ADHD and learning differences to gain an understanding of their own strengths and challenges. Throughout their years at Gateway, students learn which strategies and accommodations are most helpful as they grow academic and social skills. Parents are equipped for this process of growth and transition beginning in middle school where they receive educational programming and resource information. Parents foster greater autonomy in their children, helping them to generalize skills.
Functionally based teacher conferences provide information about the level of independence students demonstrate across their academic and behavioral goals. Parents evaluate how their life and self- advocacy skills are used beyond the classroom.
Gateway’s culture of collaboration with parents is even more evident in 10th-12th grade. The Magic Curtain is an all-day program to help students and their parents prepare for the transition to adulthood. Beginning in 10th grade, parents meet annually with the Head of School and the Transition Director to discuss their student’s individual transition planning and goals. During the Junior and Senior years, parents participate in a Gateway program that takes students to visit colleges, adult independent living programs, and vocational programs. Ongoing communication and an open-door policy ensure that parents are adequately heard and supported in the transition planning process.
Our ADVANCE Program was created to help students make the transition from graduation to living independently in the working world. ADVANCE is a program designed to give young adults with learning and social differences the tools and daily habits that provide a successful transition to an independent life. Our program is customized for each participant’s success, including college support, job coaching, social relationship development, and independent living support to fully facilitate the transition to adulthood.
To learn more about the ADVANCE Program: www.advancehouston.org