Christi Schwarz  DSC_0004

Main Lesson Teacher

Growing up with a wonderful French grandmother influenced Christi to get a B.A. in French and Cultural Studies. When she was sixteen, she began working for a chiropractor who inspired her to become a massage therapist.  After ten years of being a massage therapist, Christi knew it was time to have kids.  It was with the birth of her two children that her life learning journey truly began.  She has learned more as a homeschool mom that she ever did in school!  

Christi has taught in various cooperative homeschool settings for the past five years. She was a valued teacher for several years at Springs Enrichment Academy.  When teaching anything from art history, ancient Roman history, literature, or creative writing, Christi focuses on making the lessons as fun and inspiring as possible.

Her daughter, age 13, is successfully attending her first year at the public junior high in Wimberley.  Her son, age 9, is attending ARS.

 When she is not driving her kids somewhere fun, Christi enjoys meditating, reading, playing games with her family, and learning and practicing Pranic Healing.


Piaf Azul  Piaf pic

Main Lesson Teacher     

Piaf AzuI earned a B.A. in Latin American Studies from UT Austin as well as a Texas teaching certificate in 2002. Over the course of 12 years, she has supported families in a variety of settings, including teaching in public school, Waldorf homeschool co-ops, Montessori preschool, and as the director of Harmony Homeschool. In addition, she is a DTI post-partum doula and a certified as an Attached at the Heart Trainer parent educator.

Piaf has been homeschooling since 2009 using a hands-on and individualized approach with her two daughters, now 11 and 6. In her rare moments of spare time, she enjoys making art, writing and daydreaming.


Candy Wellins   Candy

Main Lesson Teacher



Michelle Larios  Michelle

South Site Director & Kids Of Kindness Teacher

Michelle Larios holds a B.A. degree in Sociology and Anthropology and a M.A. in Child Psychology. She has a combined 12 years of experience teaching Pre-K, as well as training and mentoring Pre-K and Kindergarten teachers from public and private schools through out the Austin area in appropriate teaching practices for children 3-5 years of age. Michelle has taught in bilingual and multi-aged classrooms. In addition, Michelle teaches reading at Winning Learners; a very successful and proven reading program to help children reach their reading potential. Michelle also teaches the Spanish classes at ARS.

Michelle is originally from Mexico City where she met her husband of 15 years. They settled in Austin almost 17 years ago to start a family. They have two children, now 8 and 7. Michelle has homeschooled her children for 5 years now.

Michelle loves spending time outdoors with her family and traveling whenever possible. Seeing children be excited about learning is so rewarding for her.


Sue Simmons Sue Simmons

Mathematics Teacher

Sue Simmons earned a B.S. from Brigham Young University and an M.B.A. from the University of Utah.  Rather than pursue business, she started teaching math at LDS Business College in Salt Lake City.  When her husband finished his training at the Violin Making School of America, they moved east to the wonderful little town of Lititz, PA.  Lititz is known for Wilbur Chocolate and Sturgis Pretzels; when the wind is right, you can step out your front door and smell the chocolate in the air.  While there, she taught at The Janus School, a private school for students with learning disabilities.  Eventually, they moved near Lockhart to enjoy life in the country and be close to the in-laws (Simmons Family Farms).  Lockhart has good smells too, brisket and burning mesquite wood.

When her kids were little, work consisted of a lot of reading and math tutoring.  Now, Sue works for Learning List evaluating math curricula.  She also works for Pam Harris Consulting, a professional development team that trains math teachers on how to improve their craft.  Her approach to teaching math is greatly influenced by Cathy Fosnot and Pam Harris – math is not memorizing facts and procedures, math is constructing relationships between numbers and mathematical ideas and how they work in the world.  Good math teachers don’t tell you how to solve a problem, they guide you to experiences that make you able to solve your own problems.

Sue and Jacob have three children – Jane is 12 and attends Lockhart Junior High,  Ben is 9 and is homeschooled, and Charlie is 2 and gets into everything.  Sue enjoys gardening, reading, baking, and sitting around the campfire.  One of her greatest joys is helping a self-declared math hater become successful, and even say that they now like math.


Felissa Taylor

North Site Director & Kids of Kindness Teacher

Felissa was granted a B.A. degree in Liberal Arts from Stephen F. Austin State University, and a M. Ed. Degree in Curriculum and Instruction from Texas State University.

She has taught bilingual and second language learners in many capacities, and is the founder of Día de los Niños Spanish Enrichment Programs, which serves the preschool and homeschool community.

In addition, she is co-author of the HILO™ Curriculum – a curriculum currently adopted by neighboring school districts to teach Spanish to young children.

Felissa and her husband, Nathan first met through friends at University and later happened to be neighbors. Together they have 2 children and their family enjoys time hiking, traveling, and cycling together.

“I am pleased to be a part of Austin Rising School. It is refreshing to know that in a time where there is so much stress and demand put on children, Austin Rising School offers a sanctuary for the child to thrive. It is a place where students can feel safe to express themselves, nurture and be nurtured, explore, and grow– all within a supportive community of families.”


Main Lesson Teachers



learnmore@austinrisingschool.com     512-917-4212