In any school, success and failure are almost entirely a function of the people that are responsible for the interaction with the children. At Paragon we embrace the philosophy that in order to have the best school, we must have the best teachers. At Paragon that is exactly what we attempt to do. We recruit staff members from among the very best in the profession. We are committed to rewarding them with compensation and benefits that rival the very best public and private schools in the state. Our teachers are not just staff members; they are team members and they take that approach towards their jobs and responsibilities at Paragon. What results is a superior education for the students involved. Our teachers are given the academic freedom to be creative and effective in the classroom and in the lives of the kids. Our administrative structure is designed to enhance the teachers'effectiveness and not hinder it with endless "administrivia" and edicts aimed at fulfilling ineffective policies. Instead, we demand a great deal from them and year after year they deliver performances that make Paragon a place where kids enjoy the challenges and rewards of an effective educational program.
Founder / Headmaster David McGrath arrived in Austin twenty-three years ago to begin his college education at the University of Texas. There he earned his Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Masters in Educational Psychology while competing as a member of the Longhorn football team. Following graduation from UT, Mr. McGrath served as school counselor and director of admissions for Hyde Park Junior-Senior High School for three years. He obtained both teaching and administrative experience at the middle school and high school levels. After a stint as an academic counselor in the Student Affairs Office of UT's Women's Athletic Department, Mr. McGrath became a founding member of the Paragon Team and currently serves as the school's headmaster.
Mr. McGrath is a member of several state and national associations and honor societies including: the Texas Counseling Association, the Association of College Admissions Counselors, the Mensa Society, Phi Kappa Phi, and Psi Chi. He is currently a member of the National Association of Elementary School Principals and the National Association of Supervision and Curriculum Development.
"What if middle school was a positive and grounding experience that prepared students for the responsibilities and challenges of adulthood? What if middle school was a time when students received extra attention and guidance from caring teachers? What if the entire campus, curriculum and faculty were built around the needs and strengths of middle school students only? 'What if' has become 'What is' Paragon Prep."
Founder/Business Manager Mr. Hathaway holds a Bachelor's of Business Administration in finance from The University of Texas at Arlington. Mr. H started his professional career as an investment specialist in Shreveport, Louisiana. During this time, he sought refuge from the boiler room by volunteering with kids in different school and sports settings. The time he spent working with kids was much more rewarding than his job. In the spring of 1997, Mr. H quit his "day job" to come help start Paragon. It was a very scary but easy decision.
Over the years, he has worn many hats at Paragon: teacher, athletic director, coach, bus driver, janitor, physical plant, birthday singer, Slurpee provider, trip leader, and many more. Mr. Hathaway is currently teaching 6th grade pre-algebra, coaching basketball and track & field, and is Paragon's business manager. He is also currently serving his 12th straight year as "Director of Fun."
"Paragon is such a unique environment, and the students are a great reflection of this environment. The students have the balance of a great work ethic, great attitude, know how to have fun, and have a great sense of humor. I wish I had a "Paragon" when I was navigating the awkward waters of middle school!"
Math Teacher Marilyn Dougherty McArthur has had a varied teaching profession. After graduating from Louisiana State University she spent several years teaching elementary school. She is the mother of 4 children - now grown, and a proud grandmother of five. Mrs. McArthur spent 16 years as a stay-at-home mother before re-entering the teaching profession. Upon returning to teaching she earned a masters degree in education from Louisiana State University at Shreveport, with an emphasis on teaching of gifted and mathematics. She has continued her graduate education, in mathematics and school administration. Mrs. McArthur has taught seven years in Shreveport, LA, five years in Page, AZ, and has completed eight years at Paragon Prep. These venues have given her varied experiences from gifted classes to multi-cultures.
Mrs. McArthur is a member of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, the Association of Supervision and Development, and the Council of Presidential Awardees. She has been a speaker at state, regional and national mathematics meetings. In 1997, Mrs. McArthur was awarded the Presidential Award for Excellence in Teaching of Mathematics, representing the state of Arizona.
"We live in a mathematical world. Mathematical competence opens doors to productive futures. Due to the advancement of technology the level of mathematical and critical thinking had dramatically increased. Mathematical students of today are entitled to a set of mathematical basics that will enable them to compute fluently and to solve problems creatively and resourcefully."
5th Grade Teacher
Basketball Coach Bob Cash earned a degree in Accounting from the University of Texas, at Austin in 1980 and spent the next seven years employed in the public accounting, and real estate appraisal fields. However, a yearning to teach young people resurfaced and he returned to school, Southwest Texas State University, to earn a teaching certificate and a Masters of Education.
Before coming to Paragon in August 2000, Bob spent the previous ten years working with some wonderful fifth graders and teachers at Oak Hill Elementary School in Austin. At Oak Hill, Bob was selected Teacher of the Year in 1994, and nominated by a former student then recognized in Who's Who Among American Teachers for 2000. He has a love of math, American history and sports.
"The energy, resiliency, and eagerness possessed by young people is motivating. Helping them acquire knowledge and understanding while strengthening values such as love, dedication, perseverance, responsibility, and respect is not only rewarding but a blessing."
Science Teacher Sarah earned her Bachelor's degree in Environmental Science at Colorado College. She also met her husband Mitch there. They moved to Albuquerque together after college, where she pursued a teaching certificate in Secondary Science at the University of New Mexico. Sarah taught 6th grade Earth Science in Albuquerque for three years. She has lived in Austin for three years with her husband and they are now raising their daughter, Lillian here. Sarah has taught at Kealing Middle School for two years, teaching 6th grade science and Forensics as an elective. Her favorite part about teaching is the kids experiencing science hands-on through lab experiments and real world applications.
Sarah has always traveled and worked pursuing her passion as a teacher, from being a park guide and naturalist in Seattle teaching children about wild salmon to coaching team level gymnastics in Florida. She looks forward to working with new students and is excited to join the Paragon Family.
Social Studies Teacher Will Reynolds graduated with a Bachelor's Degree in Economics from Wake Forest University in 1983. After graduation he worked in banking and commercial real estate in Washington D.C.
In 1992, seeking challenge and reward, Will decided to change careers and entered a Masters program in Education at George Washington University during the evenings while substitute teaching during the day. He has taught Middle School Social Studies in Washington and Austin for fifteen years. He and his wife Heather have a thirteen year old son, Henry.
"While I certainly want my students to leave my class with a wealth of knowledge, I realize that I need to do more than fill their heads with a bunch of facts. To be successful, I must teach them how to be a student and make them want to be a student. The great part about Paragon is that the line between work and play is blurred: We work hard, but we know how to have fun doing it."
7th & 8th Grade Latin Teacher Hilary Long studied Classics, or Latin and Ancient Greek, at the University of Cambridge in her native England. She taught in both London and Perth, Scotland before marrying and moving to Texas. Mrs. Long spent six glorious seasons working for both the British and American schools of Archaeology in Athens and Rome before deciding upon a career in teaching and returning to Cambridge to embark upon a teaching degree. Mrs. Long has three children, Olivia, Molly and Henry and lives on a small ranch in the Hill Country with her menagerie of animals. Mrs. Long particularly enjoys the Latin team 'sport', certamen at which the Paragon Latin Club traditionally excels. Mrs. Long is extremely happy to be back teaching at Paragon after a two year hiatus, during which time she raised the latest addition to the Long Family. Mrs. Long had previously taught at Paragon for five years.
"doce ut discas" ("teach that you may learn") may seem like a rather selfish teaching philosophy to have but it is certainly true for me, particularly at a middle school with intelligent, motivated students. I learn daily from my students. I learn or rather am inspired by their determination and incredible work ethic and their fresh perspective on an old topic. Students enrich me and in turn that makes me a better person and, I hope, a better teacher."
Head Football Coach
Head Basketball Coach Coach Bobby Schwartz is a graduate of the Master's program at the University of Texas and holds a Double Major BA from USC. He is a Texas State certified teacher and has completed 30 hours of work towards his PHD. Coach Schwartz comes to Paragon from the college ranks after serving as an Assistant Coach to the Men's Basketball team at St. Edwards University where in his first year they won the first Heartland conference championship in school history, first Heartland conference tournament title and earned a bid to the NCAA tournament. Before ST. Edward's he was the assistant men's Basketball Coach at Concordia University and served as Athletic Director and Head Basketball Coach at St. Mary's where his varsity team went 65-0 over three seasons. Coach Schwartz is currently a member of the (NABC) National Association of Basketball Coaches and a former member of the American Coaches Federation. In 2007 Coach Schwartz was named the National Director of the American Jewish Coaches Association of College Basketball Coaches.
As a strong believer of continuing education in the field of coaching, Coach Schwartz has completed the NABC Coaches Professional Development series training for the last four years. Coach Schwartz is an ordained Rabbi and serves as Chaplain to the Critical Incident Response team of the Texas State Troopers under the Department of Public Safety for the past five years. Prior to that Coach Schwartz served as chaplain to the Austin Police Department.
"When people ask me what is it like to work as a Coach and a Rabbi I tell them its the same job. Both professions are about helping motivate and inspire young people to be their very best."
Art Teacher Emily Bolt graduated from the University of Texas at Austin. She studied both Visual Arts and English focusing on painting, drawing, and creative writing. Emily has taught in various arenas in Austin and creates out of her in home studio. She started teaching as a visual and performing arts instructor at the Dougherty Arts Center. Next, she combined her interest in social work, psychology, and art, working as a therapeutic child care specialist at the Helping and Home for Children and facilitating murals with at-risk youth at several Austin middle schools through Communities in Schools. Emily experienced the transformative power that making art holds. She went on to teach art to students with disabilities at the Maverick school, and worked with Amala Foundation's One Village Project facilitating art and fundraising shows with immigrant and war refugee children from around the world. Mr. McGrath found her teaching private lessons and directing an art camp The Art Pad Studio in the summer of 2009. She is honored and elated to now be teaching at Paragon. She hopes to help students contribute to the Paragon culture and enliven their campus with creativity. Emily is continually inspired by the students she teaches. She strongly believes that the process of making art helps improve creative critical thinking, visual intelligence, and self-awareness.
Registrar, Receptionist Monica Lopez completed her undergraduate degree in May 2010 at The University of Texas at Austin. She earned her Bachelor of Science in Applied Learning and Development with a major in Youth and Community Studies and a minor in Psychology. She plans to earn a Master's Degree in Educational Counseling and to continue her passion to help our youth.
Science and Health Teacher Debi Hoskins teaches 7th and 8th grade science classes as well as High School Health at Paragon. Mrs. Hoskins has been teaching science for the past 16 years at both public and private schools. The last 6 years she has worked at Lago Vista High School teaching Freshman Biology and Senior Anatomy & Physiology. Prior to Lago Vista, she taught at Gabriel Richard High School in Riverview, Michigan. Over the years, she has taught Biology, Zoology, Chemistry, Physical Science, Anatomy & Physiology and Health.
Debi earned a Bachelors of Science in Biology and Health from Abilene Christian University and a Masters degree from Marygrove College. She enjoys many outdoor activities such as gardening and camping, but her passion is scuba diving. She enjoys traveling in the summer with her husband to a variety of countries in Central America. She is currently taking Spanish classes and hopes to become bilingual. She loves spending time with her family as well as all of their pets.
"I love teaching science because it explains the world in which we live. Science is interesting and practical. Science explains how a car works, why the dog follows you around the house, and why salt on the sidewalk makes ice melt. Science allows you to understand why the first hill on the roller coaster is always the largest. It also explains why barrier reefs provide some of the most amazing diversity of life in the world. I love sharing my curiosity of the world with my students."
English Teacher Mrs. LaGrone has been in the education business for the past 19 years at both public and private schools and has had extensive teaching experience. Mrs. LaGrone is an experienced AP English teacher, a secondary reading specialist, and loves teaching more than anything. She has taught at a number of area high schools and most recently as a Master Teacher for the U-Teach Program at the University of Texas. Mrs. LaGrone earned a Bachelor of Arts in Art History at the University of Texas at Arlington. She also earned a Master of Science in Reading at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi.
"Middle-school students have such energy and passion, both of which shift dramatically and often. I love being in the middle of such active learning experiences. I believe that middle-schoolers need teachers who are willing to make appropriate adjustments to facilitate learning. While students need guidance in academic pursuits, they also need guidance as they are learning to become responsible members of society. I value Paragon's mission and goals and look forward to helping them happen for my students."
English and World Cultures Teacher Anne Buechler is Paragon's 6th Grade Humanities Teacher. She teachers the 6th grade English and World Geography classes.
Anne moved to Austin in 2010 and has been working as the Program Manager of Campus and Community Engagement for Austin Partners in Education. Anne brings with her over 10 years of experience in both public and private schools. Her experience includes teaching, curriculum development, and school administration. Prior to coming to Austin, Anne taught at the Davidson Day School, a Pre-K through 12th grade independent school in Davidson, NC. There she taught English, World History, Civics, American History and Spanish to 5th through 11th grade students. Before Davidson, Anne worked at Avon Old Farms School and Miss Porter's School, both in Connecticut.
Anne is a wife and mother of three. She holds a BS in English from the University of Connecticut.
Administrator Lindsay Porter graduated from the University of Alabama with a Bachelor's degree in Telecommunications and Film, with minors in Marketing and Psychology. After college, she spent 8 years in the Motion Picture Film Industry as a camera technician in Florida, Colorado, and Alabama. When motherhood called, Lindsay fine tuned her photography skills from home, while homeschooling her children. After preschool teaching, freelance photography, and working as a website administrator for a fashion boutique, Lindsay found her way to Paragon.
Working for Paragon, Lindsay takes pictures, creates student videos, develops advertising campaigns, drives the school bus, monitors 5th - 8th grade mornings and lunches, and most of all-- has the opportunity to interact with students during a transformational time in their lives.
"I have found the perfect job that utilizes all of my skills. I love photography, graphic design, and marketing-- especially for a school I believe in. I also love talking with the students and helping them with the Paragon journey. There is something educationally fantastic happening here and I feel so fortunate to be a part of it."