Gray Matter Teachers:

(alphabetical by first name)

Achini Mahawanniarachchi is a homeschooling mom of three girls. She holds a BSc (Zoology, Botany and Chemistry) from University of Colombo, Sri Lanka and a degree in Teaching English as a Second Language. After teaching middle and high school biology and English, she followed her husband to Tuscaloosa, Alabama where her husband earned a PhD in Mathematics. He is currently teaching at Richland college. They have been homeschooling for over nine years.

Achini has been teaching Life Science, Chemistry, Biology and Advanced Biology (Anatomy & Physiology) for many years in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. She believes that an adaptive teaching style is very important for student learning processes.

Achini Mahawanniarachchi will be teaching Honors Biology and Anatomy & Physiology

Ariel Higginbotham is a homeschooling mom of two years who has had a passion for American Sign Language since she started learning it at the age of 6. She even studied Sign Language in college taking 4 American Sign Language classes and 2 signed English classes. She has enjoyed teaching children sign language for the last 8 years. When Ariel isn’t spending time with her family, she is reading, volunteering, or exploring the city.

Ms. Ariel teaches: American Sign Language 1 & 2

Collin Eye is a graduate from the University of Texas with a B.A in English and a minor in Computer Science.  He was homeschooled and has enjoyed giving back to the community through teaching programming, and various history, composition, and literature classes at the Prometheus Academy since 2016.  He believes that learning to program can benefit everyone in pursuing their dreams; and that the arts can help shape and inspire those dreams.

Collin teaches:  American History, Computer Programming, and Ludology/Game Studies.

Erin Nielson is a freelance illustrator who loves to create imaginative and whimsical artwork (especially if she gets to include an animal or two in it). Her love of art started early, and she has been drawing for as long as she can remember. She attended college at Brigham Young University, and graduated with a BFA in illustration. Soon after graduating, Erin married her husband, Matt, and moved to Texas.

Erin teaches: Drawing & Painting Skills

Gaspar Escobar is the father of four homeschoolers and a life-long student with a passion for learning and teaching methods. He has spent over 20 years in various industries, specializing in adult learning processes and corporate training.

Gaspar attended the University of Arizona where he majored in Literature, with an emphasis on 20th Century American Literature and is currently pursuing a BS in Industrial and Organizational Psychology at the University of Texas, Dallas.

Mr. Escobar teaches: MS World History & Geography, MS English A & B, High School English, Intro to HS Writing, Intermediate High School Writing, World Literature for High School and Middle School, Middle School Writing, and Advanced Composition for High Schoolers.

Ian Seamans is currently finishing his Bachelor’s of Science in International Political Economy at the University of Texas at Dallas and is teaching full-time at Gray Matter. He is a Prometheus alumni and began TA’ing there in 2016. He began teaching at Gray Matter in 2018 with middle school science classes and high school speech and debate. In his free time he enjoys volunteer work, learning new skills at the Dallas Makerspace, and performing home maintenance.

Ian teaches: MS Life Science, MS Earth Science, HS Speech and Debate, and HS Government & Economics.

Dr. Jonathan Hochberg has committed his entire career towards his passions for business and education.  He has taught Entrepreneurship, Global Business and Leadership at the middle school, high school, undergraduate and graduate levels.  Dr.J. has a Doctorate degree in Education, an MBA degree in Global Business, and was a Mid-Career fellow at Princeton University.   His career includes: Serving as a senior investment officer at the Overseas Private Investment Corp., starting several for- and non-profit businesses, serving as the Associate Director of the EMBA and MBA programs at the University of Texas @ Dallas, leading as the first Middle School teacher at the Robert Muller Center for Living Ethics, teaching Passionate Entrepreneurship and Global Business at the former Prometheus Academy, and currently teaches online MBA courses on Global Business at Walden and Iowa Universities.

Dr. J teaches: Passionate Entrepreneurship & Global Business Foundations and Philosophy & Literature

Julie Poe is a homeschool mom who has loved teaching at The Prometheus Academy for three years.  She has also taught grammar, writing, reading, and listening and speaking classes in the English as a Second or Other Language program.  She has been addicted to teaching since childhood, when she lined her dolls and stuffed animals up in front of a chalkboard and started conveying all the knowledge she had.

Mrs. Poe teaches: Spanish 1 and Spanish 2.

Katy Gordon earned her B.S. from Texas A&M University in Atmospheric Sciences/Meteorology and went on to complete her M.S. in Environmental Science at UTA. She has been teaching high school level Math and Science for 12 years, and specializes in working with students who have learning differences.  She has received multiple teaching awards and loves to teach in a diverse classroom of learners. Her teaching methods focus on student discovery through labs and other investigations. In her free time, Katy loves to volunteer with a local animal rescue and work in her garden.

Ms. Gordon teaches: Integrated Physics and Chemistry, Honors Chemistry, Honors Physics, and all MS and HS Math sessions.

Mary Kimble-Hellen earned a B.S. in Community Health and a minor in Dance from St. Cloud State University in Minnesota. In 1990 her family moved to the great state of Texas where she attended Texas Woman’s University and received her Texas Teaching Certificate 1 – 8 Grade. Mary and her husband Randy raised a son who received an academic scholarship to University Texas Dallas where he graduated Magna Cum Laude and a daughter who graduated from Texas Tech University. Mary taught 11 years for McKinney ISD at the Elementary and Middle School levels. After retiring from public school in 2004 Mary opened her own tutoring business. She became a Certified Yoga teacher in 1998 and is currently teaching at Grateful Yoga in Allen. She has taught Yoga for Kids and ran several Summer Yoga Camps in McKinney. Her passion for dance led her to open Joyful Dance Studio in McKinney for 9 years. She enjoys spending time with her two granddaughters, playing with her Golden Retriever and going on bicycle rides with her husband.

Ms. Mary teaches: Yoga & Creative Writing and Texas History.

Gray Matter Staff:

Andi VanGoey is an energetic and enthusiastic person. She’s been passionate about climbing for the last three years. She enjoys pushing herself, and the sense of accomplishment from completing increasingly difficult climbing routes. She loves animals of all kinds. She worked for the Boy Scouts of America as an educator about snakes and reptiles, and currently provides physical therapy assistance for a friends dog.

She’s excited to meet all her new friends at Gray Matter, and be able to help make everyone’s experience there a little more positive every day!

Jen Mrla-Gray is the owner and director of Gray Matter. She has her Bachelor of Social Work degree from the University of Texas, has been involved in several businesses since 2000, and has homeschooled her 2 kids since 2008. She has always looked for ways to outsource what she felt she could not teach (or did not want to), and happily enrolled her kids in The Prometheus Academy in 2015. When Prometheus decided to close its doors at the end of the 2017-2018 school year, she decided that this community resource was too important to shut down.

When Ms. Jen’s not knee deep in school administration, marketing, and planning, she enjoys learning about history and this amazing world through travel (and even the mysterious underwater world through scuba diving).

Ms. Jen is very excited about the opportunities that Dual Enrollment offers Texas homeschoolers!