Faculty and Staff

AESA 
Faculty and Staff

The faculty and staff at AESA Prep International are creative thinkers who are passionate about their disciplines and dedicated to their students. The small size of our classes allows our teachers to meet individual student needs, and creates an environment where students actively engage in the learning process every day. 

AESA  Faculty and Staff

Leadership 
Team

Barbara Garza - AESA Prep Academy CEO & Head of School

Faculty and Staff

For 6 years prior to starting up AESA, Barbara was Dean of Students for the 9th and 10th grades at St. Stephen’s Episcopal School. Barbara is a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin.  She was Student Leadership & Wellness Department Chair overseeing Health, Physical Education, Student Leadership and the ROTC classes for McNeil High School.  Barbara was also a member of McNeil High School’s Leadership Team.

Barbara has over 30 years of educational experience, including extensive experience working with at risk students and has received the Governor of Texas Teaching Excellence Award.  She has been the Varsity Boys and Girls Tennis Coach at Katy Taylor High School, Rockwall High School and Pflugerville High School.Barbara has been an Honors Biology teacher, Health teacher, Supervisor of Student Teachers from the University of Texas, CATCH Curriculum Director for AISD, member of the AISD Superintendent’s Teacher Advisory Board, a Student Government sponsor, a dorm parent, and House Leader. She developed a Special Education program entitled “Partners in PE” that was recognized by the City of Round Rock for assisting students with special needs.

Barbara founded the McNeil Spirit Blazers, a community service program with over 350 students each year.In 2014, Barbara was featured  in the Austin Women’s Magazine as the Head of School for AESA Prep Academy and was featured in the April 2015 edition of Austin Family Magazine in an article comparing the homework policies and school philosophy’s of AESA, St. Andrews and St. Stephen’s.

Kyle Overby - Director of International Programs

Faculty and Staff

Kyle was born and raised in Austin, Texas, where he earned his bachelor's degree from St. Edward’s University in 2009 in Global Studies with a regional focus on Latin America. Upon graduation, he spent a year exploring Latin America, from the deserts of northern Mexico to the ice-capped peaks of Patagonia and everything in between. He joined AESA in 2011 to teach students about Latin American cultures and the Spanish language. In 2014 he earned his master’s degree in Global Policy Studies from the LBJ School at the University of Texas.

Through international studies, work, and travel Kyle has cultivated a global perspective. He has studied and conducted research in Panama, Spain, Bahrain, the Philippines and Japan. He has lived and worked in Central America, North Africa, Europe and the Middle East. He is driven by a passion to see the world and has traveled to more countries than he can remember. 

In his personal life, Kyle serves on the Board of Directors at the Mother Maryam Foundation, where he works on projects that expand access to clean water, healthcare, and education (primarily) in the Nubian region of Sudan. In his free time, Kyle enjoys skiing, good food, live music, and stand-up comedy. 

Rick Garza - Chief Financial Officer

Rick Garza

CFO of AESA Prep Academy

Director of AESA Prep International Online

Rick earned his BBA from the University of Texas at Austin. He has 24 years of experience working in the accounting/finance field at UT where he has been responsible for annual budgets ranging from 5 to 30 million dollars. Rick served as Business Manager for the University of Texas Law School Library for 15 years and this past year left UT as the Senior Financial Analyst for PETEX in the Department of Continuing Education. Rick officially joined AESA Prep Academy in 2014, as the Director of AESA Prep International (API) and continues his duties as the CFO of AESA Prep Academy as he has done since 2009.

Rick is very happy to be working with his wife, Barbara.

Liz Vokac Main - Curriculum Director

Faculty and Staff

 Director of Curriculum 

Liz originates from Chicago, IL and completed an undergraduate degree in Chemistry at the University of Illinois in Chicago.  In 2009, she relocated to Austin, Texas for a graduate program in Physical Chemistry at the University of Texas where she studied and researched at the Center for Nano- and Molecular Science and Technology.  Liz identifies as a lifelong learner with a passion for teaching and finding new ways to help students learn.  Throughout each stage of her academic career as a student, she has incorporated teaching and mentoring initiatives.  She loves to use her science background and real-world experience with laboratory research to craft the rich and unique curriculum at AESA Prep International.  She enjoys sparking students' interest by infusing fascinating, real life material into each course to enrich the educational experience that AESA offers.  
 
Outside of education Liz enjoys spending time with her son, family and friends, being outdoors, doing art projects and is always looking for something new to learn.

 
Liz is happy to be a part of the AESA team!!

School Faculty

Alex Socoró - Head of Mathematics Dept

Faculty and Staff

Ale started teaching Mathematics to his classmates when he was in high school and has been ever since interested in new ways of approaching Maths to students through multiple perspectives and exploring new ways of applying them to their personal projects. Ale’s passions are playing the piano and painting.

His goal is to guide students through complexity, from different types of infinity to transcendental numbers, helping them reach the power and beauty of Maths.

Anuradha Ghemawat, Ph.D - Head of Science Dept

Faculty and Staff

Environmental Science | Biology

Anuradha is a scientist by training and a teacher and performer by experience. She was born in India, lived in Boston, MA, USA for 30 years, and permanently settled in Barcelona, Spain since 2006.

Past experiences also include being a dancer and manager of a contemporary Indian dance company for 20 years, creating, guiding, executing a cultural awareness undergraduate course for Teacher’s Education majors in Barcelona, and designing a month-long cultural immersion and volunteer program for Spanish teenagers in India.

Anuradha had never consciously thought about effective teaching as an art form, until she actually re-designed the presentation skills course at a business school in London almost a decade ago. She continues to discuss certain acting techniques with my current master’s students who are training to be teachers of English in Catalan schools as to how these can be adapted to augment their inherent teaching skills and strengths.

She brings her experiences and lifelong passion about teaching in general and teaching science and mathematics, in particular, to the AESA Prep International students.

Tina Vlakančić - Head of English Dept

Faculty and Staff

Tina Vlakančić was born and raised in Croatia. Since starting to learn English as a child, she knew she wanted to pursue a career involving the language. In 2012 she obtained her Bachelor’s Degree in English Language and Literature & Computer Science, and in 2016 her Master’s Degree in English Language and Literature with emphasis on British and American Literature and Culture.

In 2014 she moved to Barcelona and started teaching TOEFL as well as English hospitality and tourism courses. In 2016, she joined AESA Prep International in Barcelona as the English Literature teacher and has taught all grade levels over the past five years.  She continuously works on curriculum development and improvement, and since September 2020 she is the Head of the English Department.

Tina is also a certified court interpreter for English and an audiovisual translator. This means you can see her translations in movie theaters, at film festivals, and on platforms such as Netflix.  

In her free time, Tina loves travelling. Her favorite trip was a month-long trip all over Indonesia, even though she ended up in the hospital there, but that’s a topic for another time. She also likes weightlifting, hiking, eating good food, and hanging out with her sphynx cat. ☺

Keanan Levant - Head of Social Studies Dept

Faculty and Staff

History | Government | Economics

Keanan grew up in Chicago before moving to Tucson to study at the University of Arizona with a degree in communications.  After graduating, he moved to Europe where he has been living and working ever since.  He has lived in Italy and Spain but currently resides in Croatia.

Professionally, Keanan has focused on a wide range of projects over the years working on startups, teaching English as a second language, developing a test prep academy, and teaching at AESA Prep International.  He currently is the Social Studies Department Chair, develops curricula, and teaches History, Government, and Economics.

Keanan has a passion for traveling, learning languages, weightlifting, 3D design, and making pizza.

Marc Fernandez Gomez - Head of Foriegn Languages Dept

Faculty and Staff

Spanish

Marc Fernández Gómez was born in Barcelona in 1989. He graduated in Hispanic Philology from the UB (University of Barcelona, 2013). He also did a master's degree in Spanish and Hispano-American Language and Literature at the UB (University of Barcelona, 2014) and did another master's degree in Book Publishing at UPF (Pompeu Fabra University, 2017).

He also has the title of DELE Examiner (Instituto Cervantes de Morocco, 2017) and an extension course in Writing in journalism (UBA, Universidad de Derecho de Buenos Aires, 2019).

His passion for traveling has led him to live and work as a Spanish teacher and editor in several countries: Paris, Prague, Saint Petersburg, Mexico, Riga, Buenos Aires, and Barcelona. He has given lectures on Spanish culture, has edited specific Spanish courses for schools and has coordinated the press workshop for Senecanos magazine. He also collaborated with the Publishing House Difusión in the books “Campus Sur” and “Lola y Leo”.

His passion, in addition to traveling, is reading and writing. He is a specialist in Latin American literature. His favorite writers are Marios Vargas Llosa, Leila Guerriero and Ricardo Piglia. He is writing a novel and a film script.

He is currently the Head of the foreign languages department at Aesa, where he edits Spanish and literature courses and coordinates students online.

Simon Serka - Sciences

Faculty and Staff

Biology | Chemistry

Simón Serka was born at the foot of the Andes Mountains in Santiago de Chile, a year after Chile’s military dictatorship ended. He attended a British School, in which both his mother and his grandmother worked as teachers. During the summer holidays, he traveled extensively, backpacking with his adventurous mother through Chile and Latin America. He argues that having been exposed to such diverse cultures and ways of experiencing life shaped his perception of the world to this date. He recounts being fortunate enough to: learn that mummies exist in the Atacama desert, feel like Robinson Crusoe in the Juan Fernandez Islands, and imagine reaching the end of the world in Tierra del Fuego. 

When he was eleven, he moved to Barcelona with his mother. He learned Catalan and to rub tomatoes on his bread instead of butter while being lucky enough to make plenty of new friends. Upon finishing school, he moved on to study Biomedical Sciences at the Autonomous University of Barcelona. During his last year as an undergraduate, he undertook an exchange program in Seoul, South Korea. After that, he did a six-month internship at the New York University’s Center for Neural Science. He then moved to the UK to join the King’s College London Master in Neuroscience. For his Master’s research project, he traveled to Tokyo, Japan, to join the Riken Centre for Brain Science. There, he spent six months studying the brain circuit mechanisms which trigger and control emotional learning and memory. Before joining AESA, he worked for two years as a researcher in Barcelona. He investigated the neural circuit dynamics in the prefrontal cortex that underlie decision-making.

As a science teacher, he is passionate about passing on the scientific values he learned from his mentors and encouraging curiosity and the desire to know and understand. Currently, he is also an online student at the University of Liverpool’s Master in Public Health. Outside of work, he enjoys learning French, playing the piano, and hip-hop dancing. An ideal weekend for him would include scuba diving or skiing with his friends.

Chloé de Balthasar, Ph.D. - Sciences

Faculty and Staff

Physics | Statistics

Dr. Chloé de Balthasar is from the French part of Switzerland. She earned her doctorate in Physics at the University of Geneva in 2002. Shortly thereafter, she moved to Los Angeles, California where she worked for three years as a biomedical engineer at the Alfred Mann Foundation developing implantable neurostimulators. She feels her time in the US broadened her horizons. She went back to Switzerland and joined a neuroscience team as a research associate.  In 2010, she moved to Barcelona with her husband and two daughters. There, she took a new professional path. Chloé is a polyglot, and so she could seamlessly start to give science and math classes to high-school students, in 2016 and joined AESA as a science and Math teacher. Since 2019, she is the Academic Director of the Barcelona campus. 

In her free time, Dr. de Balthasar enjoys reading, taking walks with her family and swimming. She also loves travelling. Some of her most memorable trips have been to Morocco and Egypt. She is proud of the fact that she went to India, before Coca-Cola was introduced. She has even had the opportunity  to visit Syria when it was still intact.  She is a huge fan of music and dance and finds time to take ballet lessons.

Jacqueline Lucas - Social Studies

Faculty and Staff

World Geography | World History

Jacqueline Lucas is from Boston, Massachusetts where she graduated from Boston Latin School (Ben Franklin was also a student here!). She went on to attend the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She graduated in 2012 with a Bachelor’s degree in English. Subsequently, she moved to Barcelona to teach English. After a year and half in Spain, Jacqueline moved home to Boston to pursue a teaching career. She first became licensed in teaching ESL as she realized in Spain that this was the area of teaching she was most passionate about. She worked in Boston Public Schools first as a substitute teacher, then a paraprofessional, then a classroom teacher for elementary school children. She also ran a morning exercise program that was designed to stimulate students' bodies before they committed their minds to learning. This gave her a deep understanding of the value of the relationship between sports and academics for learners. While teaching full time in Boston, she received a Master’s in Education from the University of Fitchburg. Also, during this period, she was running an afterschool program for English Language Learners who needed a more fundamental understanding of the language to be successful in the classroom. In 2018, she moved, again, to her beloved city of Barcelona and she proudly joined the AESA team in 2019 where she serves as the Academic Coordinator as well as teaching Social Studies.

Luke Meginsky - English

Faculty and Staff

Luke Meginsky, born and raised in Springfield, Massachusetts (not a ‘Simpson’), is a New York State certified teacher with 20 years of experience teaching in the USA, Italy, China, and Spain.  Luke has a passion for teaching literature, shared equally with a passion for public speaking, debate, foreign languages, and the dramatic arts. Luke has worked as a classroom teacher, language support staff, tutor, and English literature teacher. 

Outside of class, Luke enjoys travelling, improv and stand-up comedy, live music, and theater.  Luke always tries to make his lessons fun by combining his enthusiasm for the performing arts with that of the written word, helping to organize poetry events, talent shows, and spirit days at AESA Prep Academy of Barcelona.

Vince Mari Rubio - Health and Nutrition

Faculty and Staff

Vince Marí Rubio is a Spaniard born in the heart of Ibiza. After graduating as a chef and working in some of the finest restaurants in the island, he came to Barcelona moved by his food passion  to study Nutrition. He has been working as a private consultant nutritionist for over 5 years. Our colleague Kyle convinced Vince to join our team at AESA Barcelona as a teacher in Health and Nutrition, where he discovered a new passion for education.

Vince is a sport and healthy-living enthusiast, and, obviously, a foodie. He is also a musician and right now he is living in the countryside starting a farm-based project!

Angela Tackett - Technology

Faculty and Staff

Ethics in Technology | Advancements in Computer Science & Coding

Angela has a Bachelor's Degree in History and a Master's Degree in Education. She has been a certified teacher since 2007. She spent six years as a coding and computer science teacher at Harmony Public Schools. Two of those years were spent as Head of IT for Harmony Cedar Park! In addition to her duties at AESA Prep, Angela serves as a computer science and economics teacher at Goodwill of Central Texas. She works with refugees, asylum seekers, and individuals seeking a second first chance at education.

Angela absolutely loves her job as a teacher! 

When she is not teaching, she loves to read, go to the movies, and spend time with her 17-year-old son Cameron.