Get to Know 2016-2017 ATLAS Academy Teachers

6th Grade

Mrs. Cunningham graduated from Southwest Texas State University with a Marketing Degree. In 2009, she answered her calling as a teacher. After three years in elementary education, Mrs. Cunningham teaches 6th grade ELA. She has been married for eleven years and has two active boys. With her family, she enjoys soccer, softball and all outdoor activities.

Ms. Horton teaches 6th grade World Cultures.  Her teaching experience is in teaching AP Human Geography and PAP World Geography at high school.  She taught for 16 years at Arlington Lamar High School. She grew up in the Waco area and just this last summer moved back to the area.  Mrs. Horton is married to Dr. Travis Horton. He also works at Tennyson with the AVID program.  They have two daughters.  Her older daughter, Laurel, is seven and in 2nd grade, and her younger daughter, Islay, is five and in kindergarten.  Her hobbies include taking her kids to different activities, spending time with her husband and making award winning jam.

Mr. Jones teaches 6th grade science. Mr. Jones has lives in Waco since he was 6 months old after relocating here from Memphis, Tennessee. Although he started elementary school in Waco ISD, he graduated from Midway and then attended Baylor University, earning a degree in Forensic Science with minors in Biology and Chemistry. He has taught in Waco ISD for 4 years, moving from Waco High School to ATLAS to teach 6th grade science and to coach in 2015.  

Ms. Middlebrooks is the 6th grade math teacher. She holds a Masters of Education from Georgia College. Ms. Middlebrooks has 24 years of teaching experience in elementary, middle, and high school. This is Ms. Middlebrooks' fifth year at ATLAS Academy and enjoys working with the UIL competitions.

7th Grade

Mrs. Rodriguez teaches 7th grade English.  She has spent all of her teaching career at Tennyson Middle School.  She graduated from Tarleton State University with a Bachelor of Science in Interdisciplinary Studies and a Master of Education in Educational Administration.  Mrs. Rodriguez is married to Mr. Roy Rodriguez, and they have five sons.  Aidan is a senior at Waco High School, Ryan is a fourth grader at Mountainview Elementary, Cole is a first grader at Mountainview Elementary, and they have six month old twins, William and Reid.  Her hobbies include cheering for the San Francisco 49ers and the Texas Rangers, baking, and reading.

Ms. Sykes teaches 7th grade math.  Her teaching experience is in elementary and middle schools.  In Waco ISD she has taught at Parkdale Elementary, Lake Air Intermediate and Tennyson Middle School.  Middle school is where she feels she belongs, because she finds middle school age to be fascinating.  Ms. Sykes is married to Mr. Allen Sykes, and they have two grown sons.  Her son Brian and his family live in St. Louis, MO.  Her second son, Kevin, is a Chiropractor in Waco. Her hobbies include playing hand bells for First Methodist Waco, reading, playing pickleball, and watching sports.

Mr. Garth teaches 7th grade Texas history. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Education, Composite Social Studies, from Baylor University.  He is also a former radio sportscaster and entrepreneur.  He is married to Sue Garth, a Hillcrest PDS Pre-K teacher, and they have two daughters, Amanda Niemeyer of China Spring and Kimberly Batson of Waco.  They also have two grandchildren, Brady (8) and Baily (5).  Mr. Garth has also published two books.  Off the Air and Out of Touch, Pat Cassidy Novels.  He has taught at Midway Middle School, Sabine and Vernon Parish Schools in Louisiana, Newton and Jasper, Texas.  

Ms. Prather
is proud to be the 7th grade science teacher. She has been teaching for four years, with the past three in Waco ISD teaching middle school science. Ms. Prather graduated from Northern State University in Oklahoma with a Business Administration and Tourism Management degree. Formerly, she  has worked in the accounting field. After her children were all in school, Ms. Prather went back to college to obtain teaching certification. She is married and has three sons and one daughter. Ms. Prather volunteers in the community as a Master Gardener and District Boy Scout Program Chairman. Her loves are teaching science, spending time with family and friends, gardening and camping. She is dedicated to the educational goals of her students and strives to promote a classroom culture that supports hard work and diligent efforts.

8th Grade

Mr. Villa teaches 8th grade science. He enlisted in the United States Marine Corps in 2001. In 2006, he was discharged and started a career in business in Waco, TX, but in the spring of 2008, he was recalled to the military for another year. Mr. Villa received his Bachelor of Arts degree from Rockhurst University in Kansas City, MO. Although he majored in History and Philosophy, Mr. Villa couldn't stay away from the Natural Sciences, graduating with as many hours in science as he did with hours in his major course of studies. While at Rockhurst, Mr. Villa also acquired a passion for research, writing and community service. In 2011, Mr. Villa returned to Waco to manage the company's most recent business acquisition. In 2012, Mr. Villa decided to pursue his long held desire to become an educator and is excited to share his knowledge and love of learning with the students in the science classroom at ATLAS Academy.

Mrs. Adams teaches 8th grade English. She has twelve years experience teaching high school, most of which has been Pre-AP and AP English. Mrs. Adams is really excited to be working with eigth graders because she knows what will be expected of them in advanced courses in high school and she is confident that she can help prepare them for what is ahead. Mrs. Adams is a Texas Tech graduate with a Master's Degree in Language and Literacy. She recently moved to Waco after traveling around the United States per her husbands job. She is thrilled to be back home in Texas near family and friends and is looking forward to working with the Atlas students this year.

Ms. Jansing teaches 8th grade U.S. History. She has been teaching in Waco ISD for seven years at Cesar Chavez Middle School and Tennyson Middle School. She originally went to Baylor University to study Business Administration, but quickly realized that education was her calling. Mrs. Jansing is married to her husband Trey, and has one son, Aaron who is currently in the second grade. Her hobbies include vacation and travel planning, as well as reading and watching Baylor Bears football. 

Ms. Welden teaches 8th grade math and Algebra I. She was born and raised in Robinson, TX, and went to Southwestern University in Georgetown, TX where she received a Bachelor's in Education with a minor in Math. She has always been interested in teaching gifted students, as well as students with special needs. This is her third year teaching math in Waco ISD.


Mr. Viladevall teaches 7th grade research and mini-courses. He has worked in public education for 26 years and although he has worked at all levels, he considers himself a "middle school person" through and through. He is honored and privileged to be able to work with all of the ATLAS students. The daily interaction with the students always brings a smile to his face and not a day goes by where he doesn't learn something from them! He has been married to his wife for 26 years and they have two beautiful children, Madison and Maxwell. Madison is a senior at Texas Tech University where she is studying elementary education and Maxwell is a freshman at Blinn College where he plans to transfer into Texas A&M to study Agricultural Economics.

Mrs. Lyles
teaches 8th grade research and mini-courses. She has taught a variety of subjects from psychology, sociology, personal finance, accounting, and cultural anthropology to name a few the past 13 years at the high school level. Mrs. Lyles is married to Mr. Lyles, and they enjoy their three daughters ages 25, 22, and 17 and their granddaughter, Miss Kelby who is 4 years old. 

Ms. Ruggles teaches 6th grade research as well as two mini-courses. She has been teaching in varying venues for over 16 years, and taught middle school Language Arts in the LaVega ISD. Her oldest son served over four years in the Air Force and is currently going to college. Her younger son is also attending college, and her daughter is a junior in high school. Ms. Ruggles enjoys horseback riding (hunters and dressage), sailing, reading, and watching football.