Staff Departments

Jerry Payne - President

Ben Forbes - Vice President

- Secretary

Erik Wiliams - Head of School

Rynthia Clement

Jason Evans

Jona Lowe

Laura Shero

Albert Vela

Erik Williams, Head of School,

Erik has been working at TAFA since 2001 and Head of School for TAFA since 2002. After graduating from East Texas Baptist University with a Bachelor of Music he attended Southwestern Seminary where he received a Master of Divinity. His passion is to see students become 'sold out' to Christ using the gifts and talents God has given them in the "Arts", without any compromise in morals or beliefs. 

"God has called us to pursue excellence and not mediocrity, and TAFA is here to give students the tools and skills they need to claim the arts for Christ, because the "Arts" are His and are designed for His glory!"

Karen Cooper, Office Administrator,

I first came to TAFA in 1999 when I enrolled my two daughters in the program. As they attended classes I was able to volunteer in some of the classes, attend staff meetings as a liaison for the parents, and assist with administration and registration duties. Since then both daughters graduated from TAFA. In 2008 I was hired as the administrative assistant and I was thrilled to be able to stay and continue to work alongside our very talented and godly staff and teachers. I cannot imagine a job better suited for me. I am so very thankful to be a part of a ministry that is passionate about partnering with God to develop the talents of homeschoolers and it's a joy to see how God has grown and blessed this program.

Sherry Kroeger, Fundraising/Accounting, 

I began attending TAFA in its inaugural year, 1999.  Travis Avenue offered a wonderful facility and godly, talented teachers who were incredibly gifted in their fields. We were thrilled to place our three daughters at TAFA beginning with classes in ballet, choir, and art; and expanding as the program grew to include academic classes and graduation. Through the years I have enjoyed volunteering in the studios and choir room as a parent and now on staff in the administration office with fundraising.  I received my BA in Accounting from New Mexico State University and am enjoying using the talents and abilities God has given me to help TAFA and homeschoolers glorify His name through the Fine Arts.

Teddy Wasik, Administrative Assistant,

Greetings! My name is Teddy Wasik and I have the privilege of teaching the high school level literature & history classes at TAFA and serving as an administrative assistant at TAFA. I have been blessed to be a part of this family since 2000 and was invited to teach when the core classes began. As an educator, it is my desire for the students to experience a different learning adventure every time they walk into the classroom. My class is known for book discussions and debates in a wholesome and Christ-centered environment. Each week we explore history, classic literature, and what the Bible says about issues and ideas that relate to our world as they gain a fuller understanding of the past. 

Music, Theater, Art, and Dance Departments

Art & Drawing

Sarah Erwin,

Hello! My name is Sarah Erwin and I had the privilege of being a student at TAFA. I now am excited to teach Advanced Art. After graduating from TAFA in 2014, I obtained my bachelor’s degree from the College of the Ozarks. I majored in Studio Art and Marketing. I believe our creativity comes from the ultimate creator and I am passionate about teaching students the gift of art. I emphasize a classical teaching approach in my classroom and strive to help students discover their talents and abilities. After teaching in the public-school realm, I am ecstatic to be back where I fell in love with art.

Belinda Harrell,

As a veteran homeschool teacher with 26 years under my belt, homeschooling is near and dear to my heart! A graduate of Baylor University, I have taught K-12 students (including my 5 kids) in a variety of schools and in a variety of sujects, inclduing elementary and middleschool art, math, economics, history, science, government, geography, language arts, and more. In addition to teaching art, I also have a passion for teaching adult ESL students. I enjoy helping them build confidence in mastering the English language.

Kristine Smith,

I graduated with the TAFA seniors in 2009 where I had focused on both music and art. I went on to receive degrees in music from The Boston Conservatory and Baylor University. I have many years experience teaching elementary through college age students and I am happy to be back at TAFA teaching both music and art. I believe that God, as the great Creator, has given us the gift of the arts and I am excited to share my love of the arts with my students.

Ballet

Melinda Russell, 

Graduated TCU (B.S. in Ed and M.Ed)
My love of ballet began at an early age while studying classical ballet with Clarice Duffy, a graduate of the Royal Academy of Dance. During that time, I also danced with the University of Evansville Ballet Company and participated in a summer dance intensive with the Ohio Ballet. After studying ballet and modern at TCU, I pursued a degree in elementary and special education. Teaching has been my calling and I love working with kids of all ages...even the ones who are young at heart! I have been teaching ballet at TAFA since it began and homeschooled all four of my children up until college. My goal each year is to point my students to Christ...His love, His majesty, His glory, and His holiness while dancing for his praise and glory.

Amanda Stephens, 

Amanda has loved and studied dance in its many forms since she was five years old. She was a student at Amanda's Dance Express in Grand Pririe, TX for twelve years and spent most of those years peforming and competing at elite, regional and national levels. She has done choreography and audition prep for several individaulas and dance groups. Since Amanda came to know God's good and saving grace in 2003, she has prayed the Lord would help her to use her love of dance and of people to honor him and serve others. Amanda and her family love being a part of TAFA! Her hope is that her students would delight in bringing God glory through their movement.

Caitlin Atnip

I started dancing at five years old but really found my love for the art of ballet around age eight when I began taking lessons at the wonderful Travis Academy of Fine Arts! I studied at TAFA and several other dance studios over the years and was honored to be brought on as a ballet instructor after graduating. I consider fine arts to be a beautiful opportunity to Showcase the glory and excellence of our creative Heavenly Father who gave us each a mind, body, and soul to reflect His image to the world. It is my goal for each of my students to be given both a solid foundation in ballet technique and an introduction to how we can use our gifts to bring honor to God! 

Choral

Sarah Shannon, 

Sarah is a graduate of the University of North Texas with a degree in Music Education with an emphasis in Choral Conducting and Vocal Performance/Pedagogy.  She began her teaching career in Mesquite ISD. She has been the Director of Choral Studies at TAFA since 1999 and became Director of Praise & Worship Ministry last year. Sarah has performed in the FW Opera Chorus for five seasons, been a vocal coach for 20 years, harpist for 13 years and volunteered or has been on staff as a worship leader for a combined 20 years. Her desire is to equip young people to use their God-given gifts to bring Him glory. "He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear and put their trust in the Lord." Psalm 40:3

Ondrea Schenck, 

After receiving a Bachelor's Degree in Music Education from Stephen F. Austin in 1999, I went on to become a choir director in Mansfield ISD, while performing with the Ft. Worth Opera, my church, and professional groups. I heard about TAFA and knew that it would be a wonderful opportunity to teach students how to sing and glorify Christ at the same time. I have been the Vocal Techniques teacher and one of the upper level choir directors since 2005, and have loved every minute spent at TAFA, and am so thankful to be part of such a wonderful school! It is a true blessing from the Lord.

Elizabeth Hames, 

Elizabeth Hames graduated from TAFA in 2006 and is thrilled to be back at TAFA directing the younger students and teaching Music Theory for college preparation. After graduating from TAFA, Elizabeth went on to study at Texas Christian Univeristy's School of Music. She received a Bachelor's and Master's of Music from TCU, both in Theory and Composition and also studied piano, harp, voice, and organ. In addition to teaching at TAFA, Elizabeth teaches private lessons in piano, voice, and composition out of her home, regularly accompanies instrumentalists and singers, and plays for special events on the harp and piano. Recently, she and a colleague have started an independent music publishing firm, EM Music Publishing, which focuses on providing pedagogical materials for music teachers and students.

Kate Whaley,

Kate graduated with the TAFA seniors in May of 2007 and went on to receive a Bachelor of Music Degree with High Distinction in Applied Clarinet from the Eastman School of Music in May of 2011. She is the Associate Director of Bands and Primary Music Instructor at TAFA and loves both of those roles! Her goal is to seek the Lord Jesus and to be His instrument, teaching children to understand that, “The aim and final end of all music should be none other than the glory of God and the refreshment of the human spirit.” -J.S. Bach

Claire Weaver,

Claire, an alumnus from TAFA, studied Worship Arts at the National Praise and Worship Institute located at Trevecca Nazarene University. After graduating from the National Praise and Worship Institute Claire transferred to Lipscomb University to study songwriting. While at Lipscomb Claire had the opportunity to study under multi-Grammy-winning and Dove award-winning producer and songwriter Charlie Peacock. Claire was able to practice her craft of songwriting while also receiving hands-on experience in the music industry through session work and co-writing. Claire is now a worship leader and songwriter at The Paradox church loves her opportunities to teach the next generation at TAFA.

Drama & Acting

Ondrea Schenck, 

After receiving a Bachelor's Degree in Music Education from Stephen F. Austin in 1999, I went on to become a choir director in Mansfield ISD, while performing with the Ft. Worth Opera, my church, and professional groups. I heard about TAFA and knew that it would be a wonderful opportunity to teach students how to sing and glorify Christ at the same time. I have been the Vocal Techniques teacher and one of the upper level choir directors since 2005, and have loved every minute spent at TAFA, and am so thankful to be part of such a wonderful school! It is a true blessing from the Lord.

Ashley Hawkins,

Well, howdy there! Nice to meet ya! I have recently received two degrees from Regent University: A BS in Business with an emphasis in Accounting and a BA in Theater. I spent the bulk of my theatrical time in Virginia, acting in plays, being a resident improvisationalist with a professional troupe, directing, stage managing, and playwriting. Nothing brings me more joy than telling a story and telling it well, and I love teaching and preparing young actors to go out and do the same. TAFA gave me a wonderful opportunity and I am now proud to say that I can share my experience and knowledge in a Godly environment. I’m on the edge of my seat for what’s in store for the coming years!

Taffy Geisel,

I fell in love with theater in kindergarten, when I played the mean, ugly Step-Flower in “Cinderella in Flowerland.” Both my bachelors and masters degrees were earned at Baylor. While homeschooling my two children, I taught theater at CATS.   Some of the plays I’ve directed include “Annie,” “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe,” “Godspell,” “Dear Ruth” and “The Diary of Anne Frank.” Artisan Center Theater produced some of my original adapted scripts, including “Anne of Green Gables,” “A Wrinkle in Time,” “The Christmas Carol Miracle” and “Prince Caspian.”  I taught at TAFA for over 10 years, where I started the Musical Theater program. The Lord is Good. And now I am back, ready to share my love for the Lord, and acting, with young actors. 

Instrumental (Strings, Band)

Lori Rooke,

Lori has been the Director of Bands at TAFA since 2000 and has been a part of TAFA since its beginning.  With a Music Education degree from the University of Texas she began her teaching career in the Bastrop ISD.  Her passion is teaching Excellence as unto Christ as God reclaims His creation of the arts and she desires to instill a love of the arts from a Godly perspective in every student. Lori also teaches private flute lessons, is a member of the Christ Chapel Bible Church orchestra. Lori also teaches private flute lessons and has been teaching privately for over thirty years.

Kate Whaley, 

Kate graduated with the TAFA seniors in May of 2007 and went on to receive a Bachelor of Music Degree with High Distinction in Applied Clarinet from the Eastman School of Music in May of 2011. She loves teaching private clarinet lessons, Primary Music, Music Appreciation, and Concert Band. Her goal is to seek the Lord Jesus and to be His instrument, teaching children to understand that, “The aim and final end of all music should be none other than the glory of God and the refreshment of the human spirit.” -J.S. Bach  Mrs. Whaley also teaches clarinet for the Aledo and Burleson ISDs and organizes and directs Clarinet Camp every year during the summer.

Robin Moreland, 

Robin graduated from UT Arlington in 1991 with a music education degree.  Her music education experiences include Suzuki Violin Teacher Training books 1-4, seven years as a public-school orchestra director, over 30 years as a private violin and viola lesson instructor as well as various string camps and sectional coaching.  She has performed with the Pavane String Quartet for over 25 years and at local churches for special events.  TAFA has been a blessing for both of her children and now she is blessed to lead the orchestra program.  Robin's prayer is for the orchestra to be a place where students belong that inspires growth in musical skills and in students' personal relationship to God.

Ken Ebo, 

Coming Soon

Media & Graphics

Dewayne Washington, 

Among other things, Dewayne is a professional musician and film maker. His career has been extremely diversified, from running for mayor of Arlington, to owner of recording studios to sitting on the Grammy Board. He is the Owner of Facetime Studios (video production company based in Arlington, Texas.) Dewayne spends time shooting films, documentaries, commercials and more. Also owner of the streaming network SAKAL Streaming, Dewayne is now building a home for independent film makers across the planet. He spends time teaching young people the tricks of the trade, he also volunteers in youth prisons to teach them the skill of cinematography as well.

Speech

Cathy Lloyd,

Cathy spends most of her time as a full-time voice, piano and music theory teacher in her home studio in Fort Worth, Texas.  She went to college on vocal scholarships, first at Weatherford College and then at the University of Texas at Arlington, where she received her music degree with emphasis on voice and musical theatre.  For a number of years, she sang with bands in Germany, has sung and danced in a wide variety of roles in musicals, and is a soloist at her church, Birchman Baptist.  She first began teaching speech as a volunteer, while still an active member of Toastmasters International (Speaking Organization).  Her life’s goal is to give young people and adults the tools they need to speak in public and make music all to the glory of God.

Academic Departments

Biblical Studies & Government

Whitney Fowler, 

I began my journey with TAFA as a student in 1999 and had the honor of graduating with the first TAFA class in 2006.  After graduating, I pursued a Bachelor of Science degree in Kinesiology at Dallas Baptist University, followed by a Masters of Business Administration in Marketing. I was on staff at DBU from 2010-2013 as the Assistant Director of Spiritual Life and taught foundation classes for freshmen students.  From 2015-2018, I had the privilege of serving as a TAFA Board member before I came on staff as a teacher and yearbook coordinator. My husband and I are also proud TAFA parents of three boys.  My passion and desire is to invest in the lives of my students as I teach the foundations of Christian faith, along with apologetics and the importance of a biblically based worldview.

Melinda Russell, 

Graduated TCU (B.S. in Ed and M.Ed)
My love of ballet began at an early age while studying classical ballet with Clarice Duffy, a graduate of the Royal Academy of Dance. During that time, I also danced with the University of Evansville Ballet Company and participated in a summer dance intensive with the Ohio Ballet. After studying ballet and modern at TCU, I pursued a degree in elementary and special education. Teaching has been my calling and I love working with kids of all ages...even the ones who are young at heart! I have been teaching ballet at TAFA since it began and homeschooled all four of my children up until college. My goal each year is to point my students to Christ...His love, His majesty, His glory, and His holiness while dancing for his praise and glory.

Biology, Anatomy & Physiology

Marilyn Mitchell, 

I am a graduate of East Texas State in Commerce, Texas and taught Junior High English before becoming a mom.  After homeschooling my boys until graduation from TAFA, I was thrilled to join the staff here at one of my favorite places as the Biology and Advanced Biology teacher.  I love the Lord and love teaching students to appreciate the wonder and majesty of His creation.  I hope they will be inspired to serve God in the field of science and to "ascribe to the Lord the glory due His name!" (Psalm 29)

Chemistry & Physics

Rachel Hillman, 

I graduated from Grove City College in northwestern Pennsylvania in 1998 with degrees in Education and Developmental Psychology. That same year, my husband and I moved to the surface of the sun, better known as Fort Worth, where I began my teaching career as an ESL Math Teacher at the International Newcomer Academy, Fort Worth ISD. Following the atrophy of our snow shoveling muscles and the beginning of our family, my husband and I decided that DFW, with its educational and career opportunities, truly is the best place to be. I have been an active homeschooler since 2006 and have graduated 2 of my 10 children. My teaching goals are to first ignite an interest in the subject I am teaching by making it accessible and relevant. I also design my lessons to demonstrate how studying can improve my student's quality of life by revealing new challenges that build confidence and a desire to discover more about God's creation.

English, Literature & History

Teddy Wasik, 

Greetings! My name is Teddy Wasik and i have the privilege of teaching the high school level literature & history classes at TAFA and serving as an administrative assistant at TAFA. I have been blessed to be a part of this family since 2000 and was invited to teach when the core classes began. As an educator, it is my desire for the students to experience a different learning adventure every time they walk into the classroom. My class is known for book discussions and debates in a wholesome and Christ-centered environment. Each week we explore history, classic literature, and what the Bible says about issues and ideas that relate to our world as they gain a fuller understanding of the past. 

Carolyn Power, 

Coming Soon

Math

Kyle Scarborough

Kyle graduated from UTA with a deree in Mathematics and from TCU with a Masters in Software Development. He spent 40 years being an engineer and supervisor of engineers before retiring in 2019. Since then, he has been teaching high school students a variety of different subjects. He is also an adjunct professor at TCU teaching undergraduate business students. Kyle is married to Teresa since 1982. They have eight children, most of whom spent some time at TAFA. Kyle has been teaching the oldest adult Sunday School class at his church since 1999.

Spanish

Judy Medina,

Judy was born and raised in Ft. Worth, Texas and Spanish was the primary language spoken at her home growing up. After highschool she began working at a counseling center for teenagers. Within a year she was employed by a Spanish radio station called KESS 94-FM. Her duties began as a receptionisht and ended as a disc jockey. After eight years of radio, she developed a love for the Spanish language. Other careers include being a Spanish translator/interpreter for a law firm, pharmacy, mental health department, and a church congregation. She has been working at TAFA since 2009 as the Spanish teacher. Judy gives God glory and honor for what He has done and will continue to do with and through her.

Private Lessons

Jeannie Gifford, Voice/Piano,

Jeannie Gifford earned her Master’s degree in Music (Vocal Performance Pedagogy) from Texas Christian University and is passionate about inspiring young vocalists and pianists to find joy through the art of musical performance. Jeannie’s musical journey began at TAFA back in 2006 when she enrolled for beginning band and Elementary Singers, and she credits the teachers at TAFA for inspiring her to discover and explore God’s gift of music. Throughout high school, Jeannie competed and placed in several national vocal competitions including the Classical Singer Competition, the National Society of Arts and Letters, the Schmidt Youth Vocal Competition, and the National YoungArts Foundation. She went on to receive Texas Christian University’s prestigious Chancellor’s Scholarship in Music and graduated Summa Cum Laude with a Bachelor’s of Music degree in Vocal Performance. In addition to singing, Jeannie also studied piano as her secondary instrument with Dr. Gloria Lin at Texas Christian University and music composition with Dr. Martin Blessinger.

During her undergraduate and graduate studies, Jeannie had the honor of performing some of her dream operatic and musical theater roles including Mary Poppins, Cinderella in Into the Woods, Christine Daae in Phantom, Micaela in La Tragédie de Carmen, Rose Maurrant in Street Scene, and Anaide in The Italian Straw Hat.

Jeannie enjoys teaching piano as well as classical and contemporary singing styles including pop, musical theater, jazz, and worship. When she’s not teaching or performing, Jeannie adjudicates for local vocal competitions and enjoys composing and arranging music, painting, swing dancing, thrifting, cooking, and spending time with her friends and family.

 

Howard Geisel, Violin,
Howard earned his B.A. in Music at U.T.Arlington. He spent his early professional career playing with the Fort Worth, Waco, and Wichita Falls symphonies, then settled down to raise a family as an Orchestra and General Music teacher with the Arlington I.S.D. for 28 years. He is thrilled to have his name associated with the godly spirit of excellence that TAFA has always exhibited, and looks forward to an exemplary year!

 

Shelby McPherson, Piano,

I have been teaching piano for 24 years. By the time I was four years old I had a strong desire to play the piano and began my music training at the age of five. That desire never changed and I continued my music education at the University of Hawaii and then at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago where I began teaching piano. After moving to Fort Worth I began to teach piano at Travis Academy of Fine Arts where I have been teaching for the last twelve years. I enjoy working with all ages and skill levels including students with special needs. It is a joy and pleasure to watch students grow and become successful in the gift God has given them.

Kathy Berry, Violin,

Coming from a very musical family, I decided to begin my violin journey when I was in 5th grade. I have enjoyed playing various styles of music ever since. I was introduced to the Suzuki method when my children decided to begin playing and was so taken with the approach, I went through several levels of Suzuki teacher training. My favorite genre is Celtic fiddle and I have been privileged to study with several fantastic teachers from Scotland, Ireland, Galicia, Denmark, Finland and of course, the United States. I feel very blessed to have these God-given talents and love to share these with students of all ages. May God be praised through the joy of music!

 

Lori Rooke, Flute

Kate Whaley, Clarinet

Sam Jones, Drums

Kristine Smith, French Horn

Matthew Nazier, Guitar

Dewayne Washington, Saxophone

Cody McClarty, Trumpet