Faculty & Staff.

Principal: Zapico, Jaime

Mrs. Zapico received her M.Ed. in Administration and B.A. in Elementary Education from the University of New Orleans. Mrs. Zapico was Middle School Principal of the Year in 2013 and High School Principal of the Year in 2014.

Assistant Principal: Higgins, Katie

Mrs. Higgins has been teaching since 2004. She earned a B.S. in Biological Sciences in 2002 and a M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction in 2004 from Louisiana State University. She is certified in 7-12 Science and Gifted Education. She also achieved National Board Certification in 2010. Mrs. Higgins is the department chair for Gifted and Talented, HS Student Government sponsor and helps organize prom each year.

Counselor: Rivera, Cheri, M.A., PLPC, NCC

Mrs. Rivera is a Provisionally Licensed Professional Counselor (PLPC) and a Certified School Counselor in the state of Louisiana. She graduated with her Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, and then earned her Master’s Degree in both Clinical Mental Health Counseling and School Counseling at the University of Holy Cross, New Orleans.

Avila, Julie

Ms. Avila is a first generation Honduran-American living in New Orleans. She graduated from University of New Orleans with a B.A. in Secondary Spanish Education, and is currently working towards her Master's in Spanish at University of New Orleans. She has been teaching all levels of high school Spanish for 14 years, and has worked at Warren Easton, Mandeville High School, Xavier's Upward Bound Program, LSMSA, and La Tech as a dual enrollment instructor. Ms. Avila travels abroad with her high school students to Spain. Previous trips, in 2007 and 2010, included 7 cities for 10 days. She will be teaching Spanish I,II, and III this year.

Banks, Derrick

• B.A. Political Science, Louisiana State University

• Certifications: PE/Health K-12, Elementary Education

• CPR/AED trained by American Heart Association

Mr. Banks began working as a paraprofessional in the Jefferson Parish School System in 2004 and as a PE teacher in 2007, having worked all but the 2010-2011 year at Terrytown Elementary. He has also served as Henry Ford Middle School’s Assistant Football Coach from 2009-2011 and served as Thomas Jefferson Boys’ Basketball JV/Assistant Coach from 2011-2015. He will teach Health, PE, and ACT Prep, and serve as the Varsity Girls’ Basketball coach and Varsity Baseball assistant coach for the 2016-2017 school year.

Bordelon, Cheryl

For the past nineteen years, Mrs. Bordelon has had the privilege of teaching English Language Arts to honors level and advanced middle and high school students. After getting her B.A. in Secondary English Education from U.N.O., she taught English to grades eight through twelve at Archbishop Chapelle High School for sixteen years. She began teaching in Jefferson Parish Public Schools at Haynes Academy for Advanced Studies, and spent a year at Marrero Middle School before joining the Patrick Taylor faculty. Currently, Mrs. Bordelon is pursuing her Master’s degree with a concentration on Gifted Education while sixth and seventh graders delight her in the classroom.

Butler, Karen Verret ("Kay")

PFTSTA Founding Teacher (HS Mathematics, Engineering, Technology, Gifted)

  • Mu Alpha Theta Sponsor (HS Mathematics Honor Society)
  • Chi Alpha Mu Co-Sponsor (Alg 1 / Geometry Honor Society)
  • MATHCOUNTS Co-Sponsor (MS Math Club - grades 6-8)
  • Youth Alive Faculty Advisor (MS/HS Cross Denominational Youth Ministry)
  • Parent Co-op Faculty Liaison
  • JFT Building Representative

Certification / Education:

  • LA Teaching Certificate: Secondary Mathematics, Biology, Academic Gifted
  • LSU College Readiness Dual Enrollment Teacher Certification - Math 1021 College Algebra 2016
  • LSU College Readiness Dual Enrollment Teacher Certification - Math 1022 College Trigonometry 2016
  • LATM Louisiana Outstanding High School Mathematics Teacher 2011
  • National Board Certification: Adolescent and Young Adult Mathematics 2007
  • PLTW Certification: Introduction to Engineering Design (IED) 2005
  • PLTW Certification: Gateway to Technology (GTT) 2004
  • Education Specialist: Curriculum & Instruction / Academic Gifted - LSU 1996
  • Master of Arts: Curriculum & Instruction / Mathematics - LSU 1996
  • Bachelor of Arts: Education / Mathematics / Biology - Nicholls State 1991
  • Associate: General Studies - Delgado Community College 1989
  • Grades 1-12 - JPPSS Schools 

Caulfield, Emily

Emily Caulfield earned a B.S. Degree in Biology and a B.S. Degree in Health Studies from Texas Woman’s University in Denton, Texas. She has taught high school biology, biology intervention and now begins a new chapter in middle school. Her teaching career began in Rockwall, Texas, where she was born and raised, until she moved here with her family in the Summer of 2015. A new chapter has begun for her and her family and she embraces the challenges, opportunities, and experiences that New Orleans and the Bayou life has to offer. Science and teaching are some of her passions and the bayou life gives her many unique learning opportunities. At Patrick Taylor, Mrs. Caulfield will be teaching 6th and 8th grade science and is looking forward to a FANTASTICAL year. Go Red Raiders and Geaux Tigers!!!

Curran, Thomas

Mr. Curran received a B.A. in English Literature from Assumption College in Worcester, Massachusetts and a M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of New Orleans. A first generation American of Irish descent, Mr. Curran has a deep appreciation of his culture and its contribution to literature. He also enjoys traveling and photography.

Mr. Curran teaches the following courses: English II Honors, English III Honors, Publications: Yearbook.

Duckworth, Liz

Ms. Duckworth is a native of New Orleans. She earned a B.S. in Special Education from the University of Alabama, a Master’s in School Counseling from the University of Missouri in St. Louis, and both English and gifted certification from the University of New Orleans. With 30+ years of experience, she has taught at Mercy Academy, Cabrini, John Ehret, and Helen Cox—and has fond memories of each. Now entering her third year at Patrick Taylor, Ms. Duckworth will happily be teaching English III: AP Literature and Composition.

Godshaw, Amanda

Ms. Godshaw received her B.S. in Genetics from Clemson University (Go Tigers!) before completing her M.S. at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville. Her thesis research allowed her to spend her weekends backpacking in the Smoky Mountains from spring to fall while she was there. Ms. Allison then spent three years in Milwaukee, Wi where she taught Biology and Chemistry classes and completed her certification program for secondary education. She moved to New Orleans during the summer of 2015 and now teaches Chemistry, AP Chemistry, and Senior Project at PFTSTA.

Graber, Brian

Brian Graber holds a BA in music from the university of Memphis and a MM in Education from Loyola University. Mr Graber has taught music for 23 years and has also participated part time as instructor at The New Orleans Center of Creative Arts and Loyola University.

In addition to Music Education, Mr. Graber plays professionally as both a trumpeter and saxophonist and has recorded and performed with famous musicians like Tori Amos , Better than Ezra , Bruce Hornsby , Robbie Robertson (The Band) , OK GO , Art Neville, George Porter Jr. to name a few. Brian is also on the movie soundtracks to Twister and for the less known HBO film Jimmy Hollywood starring Joe Peschi.

Brian loves music technology and uses it on his Macintosh laptop to compose, write and record his original compositions. “Technology is for everybody.”

For more information, please visit: http://briangraber.com/

Grindstaff, Maggie

Mrs. Grindstaff attended school in Spain, Argentina and Guatemala before graduating with a degree in archaeology from Brigham Young University in Provo, UT. She spent several years working as an archaeologist in Central America and the United States before becoming a stay-at-home mom to her two kids. In 2009, she certified as a teacher and taught bilingual education in Texas before coming to Patrick Taylor.

Mrs. Grindstaff will be teaching:

  • 6th Grade English
  • 6th Grade Math

Guthrie, Angela

Mrs. Guthrie received her B.S. in Mathematics Secondary Education from the University of New Orleans in 2009. She received her Master's in Education in Curriculum and Instruction at UNO, focusing in Secondary Math and Gifted/Talented Education in 2012. She has Louisiana Teaching Certificates in Secondary Mathematics, Secondary Social Studies, and Mild/Moderate Special Education K-12. Mrs.

Guthrie's role at Patrick Taylor Academy includes:

  • Geometry teacher
  • 6th grade PowerSkills teacher
  • Math Department Chairperson
  • Middle School Student Government Sponsor

Hampton, Alicia

Mrs. Hampton received her B.A. in French with a minor in History from Southeastern Louisiana University. She attended the University of New Orleans to earn her secondary teaching certification in Social Studies. Prior to joining Patrick Taylor, Mrs. Hampton taught for five years at Mount Carmel Academy.

Ingargiola, Amanda

Mrs. Ingargiola was born and raised in New Jersey and is thrilled to finally call herself a NOLA local. (She won’t miss the cold, but she will miss snow!) Mrs. Ingargiola earned her B.S. in Elementary Education and English from The College of New Jersey in Ewing, NJ. She spent the first fifteen years of her career teaching middle school Gifted and Talented English courses and feels right at home at Taylor teaching Gifted English. She loves her family and pets, football, baking cookies, riding bikes, and is excited to learn more about the history of the enchanting city she calls home. Geaux Tigers!

Johnson, Andrew

  • Bachelor's degree: History & Geography (LSU)
  • Master's degree: Education, Curriculum & Instruction
  • Working on Gifted/Talented certification & Master's + 30
  • Certified 6-12 Social Studies
  • Social Studies Department Head

Go Tigers!

Kahn, Elizabeth

In August of 2006, Ms. Kahn was hired to create the first library at PFTSTA. Since that time she has stocked the shelves with over 7000 print volumes and over 600 electronic resources. She was named the 2011 School Librarian of the Year for Louisiana by the Louisiana Association of School Librarians (LASL). In the fall of 2011 she was presented with the Gale TEAMS Award for Middle School along with teacher, Lisa Valence. In June of 2012, she was given the Information Technology Pathfinder award by the American Association of School Librarians (AASL). In June of 2013, along with teacher Lisa Valence, she received the Technology Innovation Award from the Special Interest Group Media Specialists (SIGMS) of the International Society of Technology in Education (ISTE). She was named a 2014 Fund For Teachers' Fellow along with teachers Cheryl Bordelon, Kelly Maher, Janell Simpson and Lisa Valence. In 2016, she was named a Local PBS LearningMedia Digital Innovator for Louisiana. Since January 2012, she has been reviewing books, apps and digital resources for both School Library Connection and School Library Journal. Ms. Kahn loves being a school librarian as it is a job that fulfills her passion for books, reading and technology.

You can visit the library 24/7 by following this link: www.pftstalibrary.com


Kelley Nides, Karen

Mrs. Kelley earned her B.A. in education from the University of New Orleans and her M.S.T. in Mathematics from Loyola University. She has been a PFTSTA Mathematics Teacher since 2005.

Mrs. Kelley's role at Patrick Taylor Academy is:

  • 8th Grade Math Teacher (Algebra)
  • 9th Grade Math Teacher (Geometry)
  • Chi Alpha Mu Co-Sponsor (Algebra 1/Geometry Honor Society)
  • Mu Alpha Theta Co-Sponsor (High School Mathematics Honor Society)

Kingsley, Caitlin

Ms. Kingsley earned her B.A. in history and Spanish language from Dickinson College (Carlisle, PA) in 2009. After teaching and coaching for 5 years in Houston, TX and Bogotá, Colombia, she completed her M.A. in Secondary Education from the University of Alabama in the spring of 2015. She joined the PFTSTA staff in the 15-16 school year. In addition to her responsibilities in her social studies classroom, Ms. Kingsley also coaches volleyball and track, and is the 504 coordinator. She enjoys embracing her status as a "permanent tourist" (as her high school students call her) while learning more about the culture and history of New Orleans and Louisiana.

Klump, Natalie

Mrs. Klump (Learning Support) earned a B.A. in Speech and Hearing Disorders with a minor in Spanish and a M. Ed. in Special Education from Edinboro University of Pennsylvania. She enjoys the outdoors and spending time with her family.

Klusendorf, Susanna

Originally from New York City, Ms. Klusendorf is a happy fish out of water in the South. She graduated from Tulane University with a B.S. in mathematics and earned her certification through the Tulane Teacher Preparation and Certification Program. She teaches math and 7th grade technology at Patrick Taylor. Ms. Klusendorf furthers her technology interests by leading the Tinker Lab and Middle School Robotics clubs.

Kraus, Rebekah

Rebekah Kraus earned her B.S. in Electrical Engineering from Tulane University and is a Registered Professional Engineer in the state of Louisiana. Mrs. Kraus currently teaches Science and is excited to bring her love of all things STEM to Patrick Taylor. She is also the swimming coach. Go Tigers!

Leonard, Michelle

Mrs. Leonard is a middle school science teacher at Patrick Taylor. She received her B.S. in Science Education and Biology at the University of Southern Mississippi in 1994. Mrs. Leonard has taught middle school science in Mississippi, Florida, and Louisiana. She will be teaching 6th and 7th grade science . She is excited about teaching at Taylor this year and is looking forward to a great year.

Maher, Kelly

  • M.Ed. with an emphasis in educational technology from Northwestern State University
  • B.S. Business Administration from the University of Florida (major: finance)
  • Louisiana Teaching Certificates: Secondary Mathematics, Computer Literacy, Computer Science, Educational Technology Facilitator

Kelly Maher teaches the technology and computer science courses at Taylor, including PowerSkills, Web Mastering, and AP Computer Science. Ms. Maher also serves as Technology Coordinator and Web Master for the school's web site: http://www.pftsta.com. Ms Maher was named Louisiana Computer Using Educators (LACUE) Region 1 Educator of the Year, Jefferson Parish Public School System Distinguished Digital Educator in 2014 and Patrick F. Taylor Teacher of the Year in 2010. Ms. Maher has written several articles for eSchool News and eCampus News:

Below are links to ACT Prep resources and the school web site, which may provide useful information for students, parents, and teachers.

McCloskey, John

Mr. McCloskey received his Bachelor's in Music Education from the University of Louisiana at Monroe and his Master of Management in Statistical Process Control from the University of Redlands. He taught middle school and high school band for eight years before entering the United States Navy Music Program as an instrumentalist, and later served as Drum Major/Ceremonial Conductor for US Navy Band Great Lakes near Chicago, Illinois. After a two year stint as an executive for the Illinois State Retirement Systems, he returned to his two passions: education and music. Mr. McCloskey is proud to be the Director of Bands at PFTSTA.

Nolting, Robyn

Robyn Nolting is a Talented Theatre and Speech teacher for grades 8-12. She has been acting professionally and directing since 2001. She has taught Theatre Fundamentals, performance, movement, and Acting for the Camera for seven years and is proud to continue her work with the students of Patrick F. Taylor. She is a graduate in Communications at Loyola University and MFA Theater graduate from UCLA.

Norris, Sid

Sid Norris began his study of the piano at age seven.

By age 16 he had performed both the Prokofieff 3rd Piano Concerto and the Grieg A Minor Piano Concerto as soloist with the New Orleans Philharmonic Orchestra. Other orchestral performances include a Beethoven "Emperor" with the Houston Symphony and the Rachmaninoff "Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini" with the Santa Barbara Symphony Orchestra.

Mr. Norris earned a Bachelor of Music in Piano Performance from the University of Texas at Austin studying with the internationally acclaimed professor of piano John Perry. His master's degree is from Tulane University in Piano Performance. More recently, Mr. Norris earned accreditation from the Gordon Institute in early childhood music. Under Dr. Gordon's inspired mentorship Mr. Norris learned strategies for teaching music skills to anyone: pianist, vocalist, or instrumentalist.

Patrick, Linda

Mrs. Patrick has a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree earned in sculpture at Newcomb College and Master of Arts degree in teaching visual art earned in painting and drawing studies at Tulane University. She has a National Board Certification in teaching visual art, early adolescent through young adulthood. Mrs. Patrick has been a teacher in the Talented in Visual Arts program since 1994.

Ritter, Meghan

Ms. Ritter has been teaching high school and middle school English since 2003. She moved to New Orleans in 2010, and had the great fortune of joining the Taylor family in 2013. A New York native, Ms. Ritter is a graduate of Long Island University (C.W. Post Campus) where she received her B.A. in English Education and M.S. in Adolescent Education. An alumna of the Greater New Orleans Writing Project at UNO, Ms. Ritter strongly agrees with the organization’s belief that “teachers of writing must also write.” As such, in addition to writing occasional film and music reviews, she is currently 78,320 words into the first draft of her first novel -- not that anyone’s counting! She hopes the finished product will see the light of day sometime this century. Ms. Ritter looks forward to continuing to share her passion for reading and writing with her Taylor Tigers. Among her other interests are scary movies, Internet culture, and animals (especially cats)!

Strong, Shelby

Shelby Strong is a born and raised Westbanker who earned a B.S. in Mathematics from the University of New Orleans and found her calling in teaching. She can often be found discussing mathematical practice, education reform, and geek culture. She has served as a Louisiana Teacher Leader and is a proud member of LATM, NCTM, AMLE, and ECET2. She is thrilled to share her passion for mathematics with PFTSTA this year.

Theriot, Scott

Mr. Theriot grew up right down the street from Patrick Taylor in Waggaman, LA. He has been a theatre instructor in Jefferson Parish and a Taylor Tiger since 2006. He earned his MFA in Acting from the University of New Orleans in 2003 and his BFA in Performing Arts from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette in 1999. Besides teaching theatre, Mr. Theriot is a loving father and husband, a fitness enthusiast, and an amateur musician.

Valence, Lisa

Mrs. Valence is a retired principal of Westwego Elementary School who has returned to her first love, teaching. A graduate of Boston College, she completed her Masters in Education at the University of New Orleans. She has taught over 30 years in elementary and middle school settings. Mrs. Valence also served her community as Councilwoman for the City of Westwego, 2001-2008. She received The Model Classroom technology grant from JPPSS for the 2011-12 school year, the Gale TEAMS Award for Middle School, QSM grants in 2011, 2012, 2013,and the SIGMS Award at ISTE 2013.

Mrs. Valence is currently teaching 6H Math.

Watson, Shaye

Mrs. Watson recently moved to New Orleans with her husband from Denton, Texas. She earned her BFA from The University of North Texas in Art Education. She spent the past 8 years teaching middle and high school art. Mrs. Watson has also worked as a professional photographer for the past 15 years. She was the lead photographer for a local sports magazine in the DFW area for 11 years. Her photography portfolio also includes weddings and portraits. Aside from her photography business, Mrs. Watson is also a fine art photographer and printmaker. Her artwork has been shown in various art galleries, including juried shows. Mrs. Watson joined the PFTSTA team as a Talent Art Teacher in 2016.

Webster, Greg

Over the past decade, Greg Webster has lived and worked in a half-dozen countries on five continents. He has been driven by the belief that every experience yields evermore perspectives of the world as well as personal, professional, and intellectual growth. Some of Mr. Webster’s past work includes volunteering in Mali in West Africa, teaching at a university in China, as well as working as a government teacher at a high school in South Carolina. Before moving to New Orleans, Mr. Webster most recently lived 3 years in Ecuador where he taught high school history and theory of knowledge at The American School of Quito.

Mr. Webster began to recognize the potential for growth from travel while a student at the University of South Carolina where he took full advantage of an opportunity to study abroad in the Alps of Northern Italy. After graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism, Mr. Webster furthered his studies with a Master of Arts in Teaching Social Studies degree from The Citadel in his hometown of Charleston, SC. Between his travels and studies, Mr. Webster has also been able to earn certifications for advanced fluency in Spanish as well as Teaching English as a Foreign Language. He has also had the privilege to visit the ruins of Angkor Watt, the Great Wall of China, and Machu Picchu. Moreover, no matter what time zone Mr. Webster has found himself in, he has always been loyal to wake early or stay up late to cheer his Gamecocks on to victory!

Wegener, Fran

  • Certification in Secondary Mathematics, University of New Orleans
  • M.S. in Chemical Engineering, Purdue University
  • B.S. in Chemical Engineering, University of Rochester

Ms. Wegener worked for the former Union Carbide Corporation (now Dow Chemical Company) for 8 years before changing professions. After obtaining certification in Secondary Mathematics in 2005, she taught or tutored from the middle school through the post-secondary school levels for 7 years, primarily in part-time or short-term positions, including several at Taylor. She began teaching full-time in 2012 in St. James Parish, but was able to return to Taylor in 2013. During the 2016-17 school year, she will teach AP Calculus AB and Advanced Math. She also teaches AP Statistics when it is offered, and serves as MATHCOUNTS sponsor.

White, Danielle

Ms. White received her B.A. in Elementary Education from Coastal Carolina University, where she ran on scholarship for Cross Country and Track and Field. She was also certified for PE and Health in 2004. She has taught in California, Florida, Connecticut, as well as Louisiana, collectively for ten years in subjects covering Outdoor Education, PE, Health, Reading, and Math. Ms. White also coaches Cross Country and Winter and Spring Track. She has coached athletics for ten years; two years at Coastal Carolina as assistant coach for Cross Country and Track, four years in Florida, and four years in Louisiana as head Cross Country coach. She is originally from New Jersey, and has two beautiful young children.

Womack, Brad

  • Masters in Sports Management - United States Sports Academy 
  • B.S. Kinesiology - University of Louisiana @ Lafayette
  • Certified Health & Physical Education, Social Studies
  • Athletic Director
  • Louisiana Certified First Responder & American Heart Association Certified CPR Instructor
  • Level 1 USA Track & Field Certified Coach

Mr. Womack has been teaching since 2000. He has coached at Patrick Taylor since 2009. He has coached a variety of sports over his career, but his favorite is cross-country. He enjoys exercise and running. His wife is an elementary teacher in Jefferson Parish. His daughter attends Airline Park Academy, and he has a young son.

Worthylake, Rebecca

Dr. Worthylake teaches Life Science and Biology at Patrick Taylor, sharing her expertise gained from earning a PhD in cell biology and running a research lab at LSU Health Sciences Center. She enjoys working with students to share her passion for science and research.