Though Gretchen Allan earned a degree in journalism from Abilene Christian University in 1991, her heart’s desire has always been to teach. She worked as the director of communications for two non-profit organizations—the Greater Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce and The Arc of Texas–before she became a mom. Since then, she has worked from home part-time as a freelance writer and graphic designer, writing stories and creating materials for The Arc, Brentwood Christian School, and other non-profit and for-profit clients. Five years ago, she also began homeschooling. More than anything, she loves to learn, and believes that teaching is the very best way to really comprehend something new.
Gretchen met her husband, Nathan, while at ACU, and they have now been married for 23 years. They have three beautiful, but wildly different daughters, Mackenzie (15), Karynna (12) and Season (9). They settled in Cedar Park 17 years ago. Together, The Allans like to hike, canoe, camp, work in the yard, and spend quiet time at home. As a family, they spend the majority of their time away from work and school involved at their home church, Highpoint Fellowship. Gretchen has been very active in both children’s ministry and youth ministry, and she served as president of the board of directors for Highpoint’s preschool for many years. She has temporarily taken a step back from those ministries to focus on her newest ministry: teaching a certain class of fifth-grade cuties at Fortis.
Mr. William Brannan- Head of School
Mr. William Brannan is a pastor at Life Springs Church in Liberty Hill, Texas. With his wife Stephanie, they have been in ministry for over 20 years. They began in youth ministry with the Word of God Community in Ann Arbor, Michigan. They pioneered outreaches in the high schools, middle schools and local colleges. William then spent 5 years as a missionary pastor in Northern Ireland before returning to the United States as a church planter. He studied Biblical Languages, Religious Studies and Music at Concordia University. He later earned his MDIV from Trinity Seminary where he is currently working on a Doctor of Religious Studies.
Mr. Brannan’s passion is to infect the next generation with the dream of Kingdom of God, with the goal of raising up future leaders that will promote a thoroughly biblical faith and worldview. He believes that the quality and content of the education at Fortis Academy is designed for that very purpose, and considers it an honor to be part of the staff.
Mr. David Denison – School of Logic and Rhetoric
David Denison loves teaching, and is excited to be teaching at Fortis Academy this year. He earned a B.S. in Mathematics Education and a B.A. in Piano Performance from Lee University in Cleveland, TN, and then an M.S. in Curriculum and Instruction from U.T. (the other UT…University of Tennessee). He taught full time public school math for 11 years, at which point God called his family to make a switch and homeschool. He has been homeschooling his daughters for the last 5 years, but is excited to see what God has planned for him and his family at Fortis this year.
David has been married to his college sweetheart Elli for 17 years. They have 5 daughters: Zoe and Hannah 13 (twins), Ariel and Esther 11 (twins…again), and Noah 8 (yes, a girl Noah…see Numbers 27). They moved from Knoxville, TN to Austin in 2015. As a family, they enjoy playing music, sports (especially tennis), and anything else outdoors.
Mr. Mark Dolan – School of Logic and Rhetoric
Mr. Dolan has over 25 years of Christian classroom, homeschool, and leadership experience. He holds undergraduate and master’s degrees in Christian education. A student of the Bible and a lifelong learner and reader, Mark enjoys working his way through the classics of Western literature for self-improvement and for teaching young people and adults. In addition to classroom teaching, his experience has included Christian and classical school leadership, consulting, public speaking, and dragon slaying. Mark and his wife Pat live in Georgetown where Pat also has her piano studio. Together they enjoy gardening, reading, listening to music, and pursuing their interest in natural history.
Mrs. Shelia Finch – Admin Assistant and Registrar
Mrs. Finch has loved being part of the Fortis family for the past 4 years. She and her husband, Joseph will celebrate 39 years of marriage this year and have two daughters, a son-in-law and two precious grand “darlings”, both which attend Fortis. She worked many years in public and private schools, as well as in rehabilitation for children, serving as a liaison between parents, physicians and therapists. Her love for children and their spiritual development is the reason that she taught Bible class for 20+years. She feels strongly that children should be surrounded by love and encouraged to carry God’s word in their heart and into the world, realizing that they are the future. Mrs. Finch enjoys being the “Nana” and the “Nurse” to all of her Fortis children. She loves to travel and enjoy God’s beautiful creations, spend time with her family and spoil her grandchildren.
Mrs. Shelley Franklin- School of Logic and Rhetoric
Shelley Franklin is excited to be teaching this year at Fortis Academy. Mrs. Franklin has a Bachelor of Arts degree in History from The University of Texas at Austin. After working in sales for a year, she attended Texas State University to complete her teaching certification. She began her teaching career at Dripping Springs Middle School. After the birth of their first child, she was called to minister to her children at home. She has classically homeschooled her three treasures for the last twelve years. In 2008, Mrs. Franklin cofounded a local small business where she directed summer camps and developed curriculum for Lego Robotics school programs. Through this business venture, she found her passion for science. She has been teaching middle and high science to other homeschoolers for the past six years.
Mrs. Franklin has been married to Mark for twenty years. They have three children, Bailey, Elizabeth and Matthew. Mrs. Franklin loves the outdoors, raising animals and aquaponic gardening. She serves on the Williamson County 4-H Adult Leaders Association and the Williamson County Livestock Show Board. She can also be found cheerfully serving others through her home church, First Baptist Church Georgetown. Mrs. Franklin has a passion for teaching science through a biblical worldview and instilling a love for learning in her students. She is thrilled to be a part of this wonderful community at Fortis.
Mrs. Julie Hudson – Second Grade
Mrs. Hudson is thrilled to be teaching again at Fortis Academy! She graduated from Texas State University with a Bachelor’s in Education. She worked in Special Education for a year at Austin ISD, taught 4th grade for three years in Florence ISD, and was blessed to join the Fortis Family where she taught 4th grade for 4 years. Mrs. Hudson has been married to her husband, Jason, for 12 years. They have been blessed with two children: Hannah (6) and Corbin (2). They love doing things as a family, especially listening to music, reading, playing games and spending time outside. Mrs. Hudson is thankful that Fortis provides the opportunity to parents to teach their own children while also benefiting from the support of other parents and classroom teachers.
Mrs. Johnson is excited to be a part of the Fortis Academy family again this year. She graduated from Hope College in Holland, Michigan with a degree in Psychology and moved to Texas where she worked counseling adolescents in private and public school settings for eight years. She has spent the last 15 years homeschooling her children and teaching classes in educational co-ops and homeschool enrichment programs. She is passionate about fostering a love for God and a life-long love of learning in her students. She has been married to her husband, Bryan, for 22 years, and they have three children. They are active in their church where Mrs. Johnson in serves in student ministry and AWANA. When she has free time, she enjoys reading, gardening, spending time with family and friends, and hanging out at the pool.
Mrs. Mason is excited to be teaching in an environment where God truly comes first. Born in Spain, she moved to the United States at the age of 10. She graduated from Texas A&M in 2000 with a BS in Elementary/Early Childhood Education. She taught Kindergarten for 5 years in Georgetown before having kiddos. She is passionate about teaching and instilling in her students a love and excitement for God and learning.
Mrs. Mason has been married to husband, Matt, for 14 years. They have 3 precious blessings: Kendall 10, Taylor 9, and Colt who is almost 6. They are full of life and there is never a dull moment around their home. Mrs. Mason’s interests include reading, teaching her kids at home (what a blessing!) and spending time with her family doing things outdoors.
Mrs. May is a graduate of Concordia University at Austin with a bachelors degree in education and a minor in mathematics. She taught elementary school for several years in Leander ISD and was a math curriculum specialist for the district before she began staying home with her first born. She worked from home for 6 years aligning curriculum for textbook publishers and most recently taught Prekindergarten at Bethany School.
Mrs. May and her husband, Tyler, have two children, Taylor and Leighton. Mrs. May feels so blessed that Gods plan included her and her family being a part of Fortis and is excited to do what she loves! In her free time she enjoys doing volunteer work as a Child Passenger Safety Technician, reading, cooking, and spending time with her family.
Mrs. Heather Johnson – School of Logic Math (6th grade)
Mrs. Johnson is excited to be joining Fortis Academy this year. She has a B.A. in Mathematics from the University of Texas. She has experience teaching both Saxon and Singapore Math. Heather and her husband Chris live in Liberty Hill with their two children Cade (13) and Cara (11). Her daughter Cara will be joining her at Fortis and this will be their first year homeschooling. Heather and her family had the opportunity to live in Penang, Malaysia for two and a half years and discovered a love for traveling (and food) and have been able to visit many different countries. Mrs. Johnson cannot wait to see what God has planned for her and her family this year at Fortis Academy.
Mr. Ken Paone considers it a privilege to be a teacher at Fortis. He’s originally from Brooklyn, New York, and studied music at Berklee College of Music in Boston. Mr. Paone has also traveled extensively throughout Latin America.
He homeschooled his children and those of other families for over 17 years. Since coming to the Austin area, Mr. Paone has worked as a private tutor, teacher, ESL instructor, and saxophonist.
Mr. Jean Raveney – School of Logic & Rhetoric Humanities
Mr. Raveney is very glad to be a part of Fortis Academy this year. He graduated from the University of Texas with degrees in philosophy and theology. For the last two years he has worked as a tutor and TA at AGST for their Greek class, and also spent the last school year at Brentwood Christian School as a substitute teacher.
His scholastic interests range over epistemology, the philosophy of science, metaphysics and logic. He plans to remain in academics to pursue a doctorate in philosophy, after which he hopes to continue to teach in the university setting as a profession.
Mr. Raveney is married a wonderful woman, Christina; and other than reading, studying, and eating (he’s a huge aficionado for books and food!), he enjoys spending time playing with his son (Winston) and doing activities with him such as: hiking, camping, fishing, boating, and playing soccer or swimming.
Mrs. Alicia has been a part of the Fortis family since the start of the Mother’s Day Out program in 2010. Teaching, loving, and nurturing our littlest Fortis Falcons brings Mrs. Alicia days filled with joy and laughter and she feels blessed to watch her students grow as they continue with Fortis following their precious preschool years.
Mrs. Alicia lives in Cedar Park with her husband of 13 years, Jeff, and her two children Peyton and Layla who are students at Fortis. She is passionate about giving her children a classical, Christ-centered education and about serving other families in her role at Fortis. As a teacher and a parent she feels absolutely blessed that God’s plan brought her to Fortis Academy where she strives to be a blessing to other families as much as they are a blessing to hers.
Mrs. Ruckel has been an involved member of the Fortis team as parent, volunteer, substitute teacher, and cheer-leader for several years and is thrilled to now be teaching in the classroom as well. Gifted with a heart for children and blessed with varied opportunities to foster that gift, she went from helping her mother with their in-home pre-school to The University of Texas at Austin where she graduated with honors.
Through her teaching experiences, Mrs. Ruckel has developed an appetite for classical, Christian education and passionately seeks to emphasize to students that Christ is central and essential to ALL things that pertain unto life.
A native Texan, Mrs. Ruckel first met husband, Jeremy, at the young age of 13 at a local bible camp. They have enjoyed 14 years of marriage, adding Clara (10), Royce (8), Caleb (5), and various farm animals to the mix along the way. Mrs. Ruckel’s very favorite verse is Proverbs 9:10, The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding.
Mrs. Rebekah Silvers – 2nd Grade
Rebekah Silvers has been with Fortis Academy from the beginning. With a degree from Texas A&M, she began as a first Grade teacher and then quickly moved into an administrative role, serving as the Grammar School Principal and then Head of School. Mrs. Silvers is so excited to now be teaching again. Her heart has always been in the classroom. She has been married to her husband Jay for 11 years. They have two children, Kerrington and Landon who both attend Fortis Academy.
Mrs. Silvers believes in the UMS model of education because it provides the time necessary to fulfill the commandment in Deuteronomy 6 to diligently teach her children who the Lord God is. Fortis is very thankful to have her lead and guide our school, we are blessed by her faith and services.
Mrs. Sheila Torres – Third Grade
Mrs. Torres graduated from Apostolic University International with a bachelor’s degree in Theology with a concentration in Christian Education. She has seven years’ experience in early and elementary education in a private school. After a year as a parent of a Fortis student she saw the impact in both the education and spiritual development in her daughter. She is excited about joining the Fortis team in order to instill this next generation with a true Christ centered education. Mrs. Torres is married, and has 3 wonderful girls, 2 who are attending Fortis. She is very active in her church where she serves on the worship team and in the children’s ministry.
Mrs. Roxanne Vernor – Director of Sports
Roxanne has been committed to Fortis Academy for 6 years and loves the ministry of making disciples through education and athletics. One of the most exciting aspects to the program for Roxanne is to challenge a young person, who is not sure if they are yet an athlete nor if they want to be, to their full potential, then having that same child witness their own potential. Inspired by Dungy’s Mentor Leader, she focuses on developing a strong character and sportsmanship in the athletes. Instilling a driven spirit to never give up, no matter what the circumstances. As much as she loves athleticism, she loves God’s word on the athlete. A verse she always keeps in mind is 1 Timothy 4:8 – For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is
Her biggest prayer and ministry is that all her athletes would have a personal relationship with the Lord and glorify in Him in the wins, the losses and everything in between.
Mrs. Jan Windsor-Fifth Grade
Along with her husband Chris, Jan was first introduced to the model of classical Christian education during their home-school venture in the 1990s. In 1996 they were privileged to be involved in the formation of a classical Christian school that their 3 children attended and where Jan taught. Jan holds a BS degree in Behavioral Science from Berry College and a Masters degree in Elementary Education from Texas State University. She has 15 years of classroom experience teaching 3rd -8th grades – 11 of those in classical Christian schools. In addition, she has served regularly as a lead teacher in Children’s Ministry programs for over 35 years. Chris and Jan live near Liberty Hill where she enjoys gardening, playing with their 4 young grandchildren, and reading to her 91-year old father. Excited to join the Fortis family, Jan looks forward to learning new things and growing in the grace and knowledge of theLORD with her students.