About Us


Alexandra Elliot, PhD, Director/Founder

Dr. Alexandra Elliot is a certified teacher, certified reading specialist, and certified special education teacher with over 25 years of teaching experience.  In addition to being a reading/dyslexia specialist, she has taught general education, special education, and gifted/talented education.  She has a Master of Science degree in Education (Reading Specialist), and a second Master of Science degree in Special Education .  In addition, she has a PhD in Clinical Psychology with a Concentration in Neuropsychology.  Her areas of expertise are dyslexia intervention (Orton Gillingham), dysgraphia intervention,  dyscalculia, gifted/talented (2e), and executive functioning.  She has presented her research on reading interventions and working memory at the International Literacy Association, National Academy of Neuropsychology, and other national conferences. While offering private dyslexia and special education services to children in Austin, she saw a need for a school that could better meet children's needs.  Bridges Academy Austin is designed to meet children's needs in a supportive environment in which students thrive at any level.

Mallory McKeever, M.Ed., Assistant Director - Reading  Specialist

Mrs. McKeever is a certified teacher, certified reading specialist, and administrator.  She holds two Master of Education (M.Ed.) degrees, including an M.Ed. in Reading from the University of Texas at Tyler and an M.Ed. in Educational Leadership from Stephen F. Austin State University.  Additionally, she received her Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in English with a concentration in Multicultural Literature and a minor in History from the University of Texas at Arlington.   Mrs. McKeever has been with Bridges Academy Austin since the school opened. She has experience teaching English language arts and social studies. In addition, Mrs. McKeever provides 1:1 dyslexia therapy.  Whether working with students above level or below level, Mrs. McKeever differentiates instruction to ensure all students’ needs are met.  She has also assisted in curriculum design and district professional development. Additionally, she has served as a Mentor Teacher and earned Teacher of the Month on several occasions. Mrs. McKeever believes the learning process should be fun and creates engaging and relevant lessons with each individual student in mind. She offers support and guidance as she helps her students become lifelong learners, readers, and critical thinkers.

Lead Teachers

Elena Killough, M.A.  - Elementary Team and Art

Mrs. Killough is a talented teacher with certifications in Elementary Education (Core Subjects) and English as a Second Language.  She has over 25 years of teaching experience as a reading teacher, ESL specialist, and art specialist.   She has also earned certifications in English Language Arts and Reading (8-12) and Secondary German (8-12).  She is proficient in English, Russian, German, and  Latin.  In addition, she is an ISLA Certified Trainer of Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol, a TEA Certified TOP Rater, and has been certified through the Center for Applied Linguistics Best Literacy Administrator.   Mrs. Killough has taught at Bridges Academy Austin since the first year the school was open. 

Mrs. Stothard - Early Childhood/Primary Team

Mrs. Stothard is a certified teacher in core subjects for early childhood through eighth grade. She attended Kansas State University where she received her Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary Education accompanied by a minor in Special Education. Before coming to Texas, Mrs. Stothard spent the past 18 years of her career working in preschool through eighth grade classrooms in Kansas, Illinois, and California. Mrs. Stothard strongly upholds that all children and their prospective classroom communities are unique and important. She believes that her role as an educator is to provide a stable, uplifting, and welcoming space to aid in enabling each student’s academic and personal development. Mrs. Stothard and her husband of 25 years have a daughter in Dallas, a son at Baylor University, and two dogs at home. For fun, she loves spending time with her family and cheering on the San Francisco Giants.

Mrs. Ralian - Early Childhood/Primary Team

Mrs. Ralian is a certified teacher with expertise in evidence-based reading instruction.  She also has a certification in English as a Second Language (ESL).  She received her Bachelor of Science in Communication Disorders from University of Texas at Austin and holds a Master of Science from Cardinal Stritch University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Mrs. Ralian has experience teaching kindergarten through third grade.  Creating safe, enriching, and differentiated classrooms is essential to Mrs. Ralian in order for students to grow and become confident leaders, lifelong learners and critical thinkers. Before teaching, Mrs. Ralian worked with non-profit organizations providing services to homeless Veterans and children and adults with special needs. When she is not working, Mrs. Ralian stays busy with her husband, three teenage children, and pets.  She is an active volunteer with the Vandegrift High School robotics program and New Hope Animal Rescue.

Mrs. Kjar - Early Childhood Team and Spanish I

Mrs. Kjar (AKA "Mrs. Care") earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of Texas at Austin, and she earned her master’s degree from St. Edward’s University.  She has over 15 years of teaching experience in early childhood education and Spanish.  She is a kind and patient teacher who brings out the best in children.  She has been with Bridges Academy Austin since the school opened, and students love to have her as their teacher.   She also provides support in other classes.

Mrs. Gibson - Middle and High School ELA/Social Studies

Mrs. Gibson is a certified teacher with over 20 years of experience in education. She earned her teaching certificate and Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology from Sam Houston State University.  Mrs. Gibson has experience teaching advanced placement English, special education inclusion, and reading intervention in Leander ISD and Willis ISD.  In addition, Mrs. Gibson has developed English language arts teaching materials for major educational publishers. She has a strength in differentiating instruction for a variety of learners.

Mr. Esparza - Science and Math

Mr. Esparza is a certified teacher in biology and life science. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Kinesiology with a minor in Biology. Additionally, he has taught multiple grade levels and subjects ranging from 7th grade science to AP Biology. He always finds a way to make sure his students receive the proper instruction appropriate for their learning needs. He has also coached multiple sports including football, basketball, track, and cross country, and he was the head boys' soccer coach in a public school system. Before Mr. Esparza started his teaching/coaching career, he worked in a parks & recreation program. Esparza believes that the learning process should be engage students to explore their curiosities with the world and to push students to find creative solutions to problems. Mr. Esparza also believes that a student learns best in an environment in which they feel safe and valued. He will always be there for any student who needs extra encouragement. 

Mr. Farrar - High School Math and Spanish II

Mr. Farrar has a BA in Economics with High Distinction from the University of Virginia, and was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa. Mr. Farrar started his career at IBM, as a Systems Engineer. He went on to numerous executive roles in information technology companies, including as founder and CEO of Spontaneous Networks.  After more than 30 successful years in IT, Mark entered his second career, in education.  He specializes in middle and high school math and science.  In addition, he teaches Spanish I & II.  Mr. Farrar is a talented educator who individualizes to each student.

Nicole Caldwell, PhD 

Dr. Caldwell has a PhD in special education and has worked with students from ages preschool through high school since 2005. She has been a teacher at Bridges Academy Austin since the school opened.  Her background and experiences include private schools, Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) programs, Montessori elementary school, and tutoring. She holds certifications in elementary education, K-12th grade special education, lower elementary Montessori teaching, Montessori art teaching, and Pivotal Response Treatment (a naturalistic teaching approach for students with autism). Dr. Caldwell also teaches graduate courses for future special education teachers and has presented at various conferences, including the University of North Texas Adventures in Autism Intervention and Research Conference.  Dr. Caldwell loves making learning fun and meaningful through hands-on activities and project-based learning, where students can be creative and develop collaborative problem-solving skills. In her spare time, she enjoys photography, reading, hiking, and spending time with her family.

Additional teachers and staff include specialists, elective teachers, assistant teachers, teacher's assistants, and administrative staff.  The qualifications of our faculty and staff are exceptionally high.