Middle School Specialists & Support Team

More About Middle School

Here's the audio from our parent meeting on Sept. 16, 2021.

Shanna Weiss

Head of Middle School

Shanna is responsible for all aspects of the Middle School: day-to-day operations, curriculum and programming, the students, the faculty, finances, and communication. Shanna is charged with ensuring excellence in all division areas in accordance with the mission of the school. Shanna collaborates regularly with the Lower School Head to maintain a strong, comprehensive K-8 program and collaborates closely with teachers and members of the support staff to ensure that each child is learning to the best of their ability and is thoroughly prepared for the demands and rigors of high school. You are always welcome to contact her at sweiss@austintrinity.org.

Joan Frost

Assistant to the Head of Middle School

Joan facilitates the work of the Middle School Head and ensures that the Middle School office and division runs smoothly. She supports the MS teachers and specialists so they can work at maximum capacity in a positive, supportive work environment. Some of her responsibilities include keeping Middle School attendance records; assisting with emergency drills and procedures. Joan is also the Substitute Coordinator for Trinity, charged with assisting teachers with classroom coverage in the event they are unable to be at school. She handles the recruiting, hiring, training, and supervising of our contract substitutes. Her e-mail is jfrost@austintrinity.org.

Chris Ernest

Middle School Dean of Students

Chris ensures the Middle School community and school culture reflects Trinity’s mission and core values. Specifically, he's specifically responsible for programs, instruction, and issues related to community standards and student life. He works closely with the Counselor, Chaplain, and Director of Co-curricular Programs with regard to the Advisory and service-learning programs; provides mentorship, guidance, and support to colleagues and Student Council members; and partners with parents to support the needs and interests of our adolescent students. Chris also serves as a fifth-grade advisor and teaches the Trinity Yearbook elective. His email address is cernest@austintrinity.org.

Karyn Rayburn

Middle School Academic Dean

Karyn works closely with the Middle School Head to ensure that the Middle School’s curriculum and instruction is designed, coordinated, and implemented within and across disciplines according to the school’s vision. As leader of the Curriculum Development Team, she collaborates with teachers and departments on goal-setting, curriculum alignment and mapping, grading and assessment, and program evaluation; and helps coordinate and lead faculty professional development and training to inspire and facilitate our work in this area.  Karyn also serves as the Tornado News elective and Innov8 teacher, and she's an integral part of the recruiting, onboarding, and training of new faculty. On top of all of that, she's also an eighth grade advisor. You can reach Karyn at krayburn@austintrinity.org.

Beth Malcom

Middle School Director of Co-Curricular Program

Beth’s duties include overseeing Advisory, service learning, class trips, and Creative Arts/Electives in the Middle School. She works closely with the Dean of Students, Academic Dean, and Head of Middle School in an effort to ensure that Trinity’s co-curricular programs provide rich, measurable experiences for our students. She's also a seventh grade advisor and teaches the 7/8 Service Leadership Corps elective. Beth can be reached at bmalcolm@austintrinity.org.

TJ Hendricks

Director of Athletics & PE

TJ and the rest of the Tornado Athletics team staff oversee the development, organization, and supervision of the K-8 PE curriculum and instruction and the Middle School Athletics program.  The main goal in Athletics is to help each adolescent achieve individual athletic success while providing all students the opportunity to represent their school with pride, develop a deepened sense of school spirit, and find success in life. TJ coordinates the communication needed to have Trinity participate in league athletic competition. TJ can be reached via email at thendricks@austintrinity.org.

Courtney Childers

Middle School Counselor

Courtney promotes and directly supports the development of personal attitudes, skills, and behaviors in students, and she proactively works with the Middle School staff to help ensure that our programs are effectively carrying out this goal. Courtney counsels students and parents; consults with faculty and staff, parents, and outside professionals; leads small group and Advisory discussions and lessons; organizes special programs for students, parents, and faculty; provides community referrals; advocates, mediates, and mentors. She is a resource for all as we help our young adolescents strive for academic, social, and emotional growth. Her email is cchilders@austintrinity.org.

Karon Law

Middle School Learning Specialist

Karon monitors the academic progress of students to ensure that all learners’ needs are met according to the school’s mission and educational best practices. She assists teachers in identifying students with learning differences and interpreting various assessment data, and works collaboratively with faculty and administration to devise strategies for differentiating instruction in the classroom and developing support plans to meet the needs of all students. Karon provides direct support to students with learning differences by offering one-on-one screening, instruction, and mentoring; confers with the Head of Middle School regarding course placement; and works closely with parents and teachers to ensure necessary supports are in place to maximize each student’s learning. Karon can be reached at klaw@austintrinity.org.

Wimberley Mickle

Instructional Support Specialist

Wimberley assists the Learning, Literacy, and Math Specialists on the administration and reporting of periodic student benchmark assessments. Additionally, Wimberley regularly joins the fifth-grade English and math classes to offer additional small group instruction and individual support as our students transition from the Lower School. Wimberley can be reached at wmickle@austintrinity.org.

Mark Pietka

Middle School Math Specialist

Mark works closely with the Middle School math teachers in furthering the goals of the mathematics program. In addition to teaching Extensions and SOAR classes and joining math classrooms to provide additional support, Mark helps monitor student progress and the effectiveness of our mathematics curriculum and instruction. He oversees the math-related Extensions program, coordinates the administration of periodic benchmark assessments and data reports, and engages math teachers in school-wide professional development efforts. Mark’s email is mpietka@austintrinity.org.

Suzie Smartt

Middle School Literacy Specialist

Suzie works closely with the English department in furthering the goals of the Middle School reading and writing program. In addition to teaching Extensions and SOAR classes and joining English classrooms to provide additional support, Suzie helps monitor student progress and the effectiveness of our practices with regard to developing foundational literacy skills. She oversees the literacy-related Extensions program, coordinates the administration of reading assessments and data reports, engages teachers in professional development opportunities, and supports history and science teachers with reading comprehension instruction. Suzie’s email is ssmartt@austintrinity.org.

The Rev. Kenneth Malcolm


Ken oversees all aspects of the School Chaplaincy program including daily services, special school wide events, and service learning. As a member of the school leadership team, he is charged with forging connections with organizations across the greater Austin community and beyond. Ken teaches the seventh and eighth grade Religion classes and coaches Middle School athletics. Father Ken’s email is kmalcolm@austintrinity.org.

Craig Cannon

Assistant Chaplain

In addition to his role as eighth grade advisor and history teacher, Craig serves as Assistant Chaplain. He leads Chapel regularly and works closely with the Chaplain and Director of Co-curricular Programs to coordinate our school-wide service learning program including helping students account for service hours for graduating “with distinction.” Craig’s email is ccannon@austintrinity.org.

Cheray Ashwill

Director of High School Placement & Alumni Relations

Cheray assists Trinity students in finding the best-fit options for high school and maintaining communication with them after they graduate and become alumni. Her primary goal is to provide information, support, and guidance to our students and families as they engage in the process of deciding which high school they will attend. Cheray’s responsibilities include assisting students with interviewing skills, application essays, and test prep; meeting privately to consult with students and parents; coordinating the recommendation and transcript paperwork process; building relationships with public, private, and boarding schools; and advocating on behalf of Trinity students. You can contact her at cashwill@austintrinity.org.

Sarah Julsonnet

Middle School Librarian/Media Specialist

Sarah oversees all aspects of the library program as well as the instruction of research, inquiry, and information literacy skills in the Middle School. Sarah works closely with the Lower School Librarian and Technology Integration Specialists in both divisions to ensure students and teachers are effective users of ideas and information and to empower students to be critical thinkers, enthusiastic readers, skillful researchers, and ethical users of information. Sarah teaches library lessons, gives book talks, sponsors the Critics Club, organizes school-wide reading initiatives, delivers research instruction in various classrooms, teaches Extensions classes, and serves as a sixth grade advisor. Sarah’s email is sjulsonnet@austintrinity.org and you can find resources from her on the Middle School Library page and the Library & Tech Resources tab on the portal.

Sarah Venkatesh

Middle School Technology Teacher and Integration Specialist

Sarah V. teaches D-Lab, elective courses, Innov8, and sponsors the school Robotics Club and Team. Sarah is also charged with overseeing all aspects of technology teaching and instructional technology usage in the Middle School. The primary goal is to ensure students are learning key skills and mindsets, and that technology is being used effectively to leverage student learning across the disciplines. She serves in a leadership capacity to ensure effective integration of technology skills and concepts across the division providing training and support to students and teachers in the context of their classrooms, teaching and holding students accountable to the Acceptable Use Guidelines, and coordinating collaborative professional development efforts in faculty meetings and workshops. You can reach Sarah at svenkatesh@austintrinity.org and find helpful resources on the Library & Tech Resources tab on the portal.

Patrick Green

Middle School Academic Enrichment Instructor

Patrick plays a key role in the collaborative development, coordination, and promotion of specialized academic enrichment opportunities outside the classroom. In addition to his teaching duties, Patrick is specifically responsible for Model United Nations and PSIA, and works closely with students as a coach and mentor in preparation for competitive performances in these programs. He also is a fifth grade teacher and advisor and math Extensions teacher. You can reach him at pgreen@austintrinity.org.

Brian Sossamon

Director of Technology

Brian manages the Trinity technology environment. He provides day-to-day technical support to the faculty/staff and students with help from the other members of the IT department. He works closely with all department heads and leadership, along with each member of the faculty and staff, to make both strategic and practical decisions to ensure we have the best technology and services to support and enhance teaching and learning at Trinity. You can reach him at bsossamon@austintrinity.org.

Sandy Smith

School Registrar & Database Manager

As a member of the IT department, Sandy manages Trinity’s student information management system, Veracross. She provides staff with Veracross training and support and assists families with technical issues related to Veracross. As the school registrar, Sandy handles all administrative tasks related to report cards and official transcript requests. You can reach Sandy at ssmith@austintrinity.org.

Kim Haas

Database Associate

Kim is responsible for a range of database activities and IT support related tasks, including development and maintenance of the Veracross Database. She also provides training materials related to the database, and also provides backup Registrar support. You can contact Kim at khaas@austintrinity.org.

Christopher Gonzales

Technology Associate

Christopher provides expert support to students, faculty, and staff in response to Trinity technology help desk and walk-in requests. He works directly with students as technology difficulties arise within our one-to-one laptop program, assists our Technology Teacher in providing hardware training to students and faculty, helps facilitate sound at special events, and works closely with the Director of Technology as they oversee software, hardware, and special projects. His email is cgonzalez@austintrinity.org.

Rory Hearse

Director of Auxiliary Programs

In addition to coordinating outside use of Trinity’s campus facilities, Rory oversees Camp Trinity and After the Bell (ATB) programs, instructors, and proctors. These auxiliary programs are an important part of safely and productively engaging students in life outside the typical school day. You can contact Rory at rhearse@austintrinity.org.

Jo Ellen Luin

School Nurse

Jo Ellen is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the infirmary and for managing health and wellness programs for the Trinity community. As a licensed and registered nurse, she is charged with ensuring that our students, faculty, and staff receive proper medical care in the case of illness or accident and assists in the administration of medication to be taken at school. She processes health forms, communicates between school and home regarding health needs, and ensures that our records and procedures are in compliance with state health regulations. Jo Ellen also arranges for screenings and other periodic testing services to be done at school as a convenience to our families. You can contact Jo Ellen at jluin@austintrinity.org.