We are pleased to welcome several new staff members!
Ashere’ Thigpen recently joined Vanguard as Director of Education. She comes with over a decade’s worth of experience in various educational setting, from classroom teacher, instructional specialist, and other leadership roles in public school and private industry. She has a Master of Education in Curriculum and instruction from the University of Texas-Arlington and Educational Leadership from the University of North Texas. Ashere’ holds a Principal and Kinder-8th grade Generalist teaching certificate in the state of Texas.
Ashere’s qualifications showcase success crafting and implementing comprehensive curricula and lesson plans that align with state standards and sufficiently meet student needs. She enjoys working with, learning from, and motivating talented team members and utilizing educational best practices to resolve complex problems and exceed all expectations. She is highly regarded as an out-of-the-box thinker committed to continuously improving training materials, courses, and resources to optimize student outcomes and achievement.
Other highlights from Ashere’s career demonstrate her ability to immediately contribute to Vanguard’s growing success. Ashere’ earned recognition as Campus Teacher of the Year in Plano ISD in 2016 and won a Diversity in Leadership Award from Plano in 2017. She was also selected as a demonstration classroom and event speaker to represent Nepris, a platform that connects educators and learners with a network of industry professionals. Ashere’ enthusiasm for education is evident in all she has accomplished.
Ashere’ lives in Plano and has a middle school daughter. She is following in her mother’s shoes, who is a retired schoolteacher.
If you haven’t had the opportunity to meet Ashere’, she would love to hear from you and discuss your student’s academic needs!
Betsy Leal joins us as a new middle school teacher this year. Betsy graduated from Texas State University in San Marcos with a Bachelor in Science in Interdisciplinary Studies and a minor in Psychology. She is a certified EC-12 Special Education teacher, as well as being certified in ESL. Betsy has worked in education since graduating from college in 2007. She has taught drop-out recovery and in self-contained Functional Academics and Structured Teach classrooms, and has also been an Instructional Design Facilitator and a Director of First Impressions. Building relationships are Betsy’s favorite part of her job and she is looking forward to partnering with Vanguard families to foster happy, confident students.
Elizabeth Cernosek has worked with the Ignite program for the last year and just transitioned into the Ignite Student Enrichment Coordinator position. Elizabeth is a Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist (CTRS) and holds a Bachelors of Science in Therapeutic Recreation from Texas State University in San Marcos. She has also completed the Registered Behavior Technician training and hopes to complete a Master’s Degree in Behavior Analysis in the near future.
Prior to joining Vanguard, Elizabeth worked in the inpatient psychiatric hospital setting for four years where she implemented recreation interventions and initiatives with children, adolescents, adults, and military personnel with mental health and behavioral disabilities. She worked for two years as a zipline instructor where she incorporated the outdoors as a wonderful recreational tool with numerous mental, behavioral, and emotional benefits.
In her down time, Elizabeth enjoys hiking, spending time with her family, and going on walks with her husband Johnny and dog Ryder.
Gabrielle Grant is from Atlanta, Georgia but has lived in Texas for over eighteen years. After graduating from Mansfield High School, she attended Texas State University in San Marcos where she majored in Political Science and minored in Diversity Studies. She is continuing her passion for education by pursuing her teaching certification. Gabrielle has a passion for working with children and adults who have physical and mental health challenges. It gives her immense joy to help others reach their academic and personal goals. Gabrielle joins our lower school team as a Teacher Assistant,where she continues to follow her zeal to assist students in reaching the pinnacle of their educational stature.
Kevin Goodnight is not new to Vanguard but he has transitioned to a new role as our Director of Family Services and Training. He has a Bachelor’s Degree in Human Development and Family Studies from Texas Tech University, a Master’s Degree in Psychology specializing in Applied Behavior Analysis, and is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst. He has a wealth of knowledge and experience as he’s been working with children with developmental disabilities or autism for over twenty years. If you are looking for a higher level of care, please reach out to Kevin ([email protected]) to learn more about the services he provides.
Mari Ordonez may be familiar to many of you as she completed her counseling internship at Vanguard last year. She transitioned to our full-time lower school counselor position this school year and we couldn’t be happier to have her as part of our team. Mari graduated with one Bachelor’s Degree in Child Development and another in Psychology from the University of Texas at Dallas. She also has a Master’s Degree in Counseling with child and adolescent specialization from Southern Methodist University.