Ascension Faculty and Staff
Dena Howard graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education from Louisiana State University and a Master of Education from Centenary College. Later she completed her Ancillary Counselor K12 Certification at Louisiana State University in Shreveport. She worked in Caddo Parish Public Schools as an elementary teacher for 13 years and as a school counselor for 10 years. Dena retired from the public school system in 2014 and began working at Norris Ferry Community Church as the Children’s Minister. Dena is married to Jeff Howard and they have two sons, Tyler and Matthew.
Laura Bankston is currently working as a part time Administrative Assistant and Teacher’s Aide at Ascension. Laura graduated from Louisiana Tech University with a Bachelor of Science in Family and Child Studies with a concentration in Child Life. Laura grew up in Ruston, LA then moved to Dallas after graduation where she received her certification as a personal trainer from the Cooper Institute and worked as a personal trainer. She and her husband moved to Shreveport in 2010. Laura is passionate about her family and loves working with children. She and her husband decided to join Ascension starting in the 2015/2016 school year because of the desire to be a part of a culture of learning that puts Christ at the center of all things. She attends Norris Ferry Community Church with her husband, Matt and two daughters, Addison and Melody.
Jennifer graduated from Stephen F. Austin with a degree in interdisciplinary studies. She spent 14 years of her teaching career at a local Caddo Parish Magnet school teaching third grade ELA. She then moved to teaching third grade at a Christian private school and privately tutoring students. Jennifer was drawn to ACS because she wanted the freedom to talk about her faith and was looking for a curriculum that was not only focused on Christ but would not change each year. She recognized that at Ascension the children were not only loved but a love of knowledge was instilled. She loves being able to come to work each day with a faculty that prays together and work well together.
Jennifer has been married to her husband Allison for 11 years and they have a six year old son who attends Ascension. She has enjoyed seeing the love that has been given to her son while at ACS and the love of learning that has developed in him.
Amanda Chandler is the first grade teacher at Ascension Classical School. She graduated cum laude from East Texas Baptist University in 2005 with a degree in Elementary education, a specialization in Reading/ELA and a minor in music. The following fall she began classroom teaching and has taught in schools, at church, and at home over the last eleven years.
She began teaching classically in 2011 at Providence Classical Academy and was the first teacher to begin working at Ascension Classical School in 2014. One of the things that drew her to help start Ascension was a love for the classical model and a desire to disciple students to love Christ. She is excited to partner with parents to help each child become the man or woman that God created them to be. She desires her students to learn first a love and devotion to God and secondly a love for learning. She believes that these two goals when achieved will lead to all other true accomplishments in this life. Her desire is for herself, her family, and her students is to stand before God one day and hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant!”
Amanda is married to Ryan Chandler, who is a loan analyst by day and a musician by night. He continues to help create some of the songs that we sing at Ascension. They are parents to four fabulous and often crazy children named Samuel-10, Evie-8, Elijah-6, and Ava-3. Evie and Elijah attend Ascension and are in Second grade and Kindergarten this year.
Daphne Mijalis is the 2nd grade teacher at Ascension Classical School. She earned her undergraduate degree in Elementary Education from LSU in Baton Rouge in 2008. Upon receiving her degree, she became a certified teacher of grades K-8. She is Highly Qualified in Pre-K, Elementary Education, Middle School Science, and Middle School Social Studies. She began teaching 4th grade at St. Thomas More in Baton Rouge. After starting her family and returning to Shreveport, she began teaching preschool. She is thrilled to be back in the elementary classroom and especially proud to be a part of the accelerated curriculum at Ascension Classical School. She enjoys watching her students develop a love for learning that will stay with them as they grow. She is married to her husband, Alexander, and together, they have three children, Jonathan, Mark, and Evie.
Jennifer Anderson grew up in Shreveport, Louisiana where she began drawing and painting at a very young age. Her talents were further encouraged in high school and at Baylor University where she received her BFA in graphic design and painting.
Following college, Jennifer moved to Dallas, Texas. She worked as a graphic designer and art director at an advertising agency for three years while painting in her spare time. In 1998, she decided to pursue painting full time and moved to Manhattan where she spent eight years studying at the Art Students League of New York under the instruction of Frank Mason, a contemporary master of Dutch portrait and plein air painting. She studied figure and portrait painting in New York and traveled to Stowe, Vermont each summer to study plein air painting with Mr. Mason. During that time, she also spent several months in Washington, D.C. under the instruction of Robert Liberace at the Art League School.
Jennifer resides in Shreveport with her husband and their three children. She treasures her responsibility as a wife and mother and appreciates the opportunity to see life through the eyes and imaginations of her children. She is passionate about classical art and about teaching children the beauty that can be discovered when artists use their gifts to glorify God.
Sarah is the PE teacher at Ascension. Her philosophy for PE is for it to first of all be fun and enjoyable for everyone, second, to provide an opportunity to expend some focused energy and lastly to instill a lifelong desire and appreciation for physical exercise. Ascension’s focus on educating the whole man, physically, spiritually, and academically was a key factor in not only teaching but sending her children as students as well.
Sarah has a BS in Human Movement Science, Kinesiology from Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge and has been with Ascension since the first Kindergarten class.
Sarah and her husband James have three children: Clara, Dean, and Caroline. She enjoys horseback riding, sewing, and playing cattle rancher at her family’s small Texas ranch.
Katie Mook was born and raised in Buffalo, New York. She obtained her bachelors degree in music education with a concentration in voice from the Crane School of Music in Potsdam, NY. After graduation in 2005 Katie received a scholarship from VH1 Save the Music Foundation to start a choral program in a middle school in Brooklyn, NY. After two years in Brooklyn, she traveled to Baton Rouge where she earned her masters degree in music education from LSU. Following graduation in 2009, Mrs. Mook taught PK-4th grade music and 4th and 5th grade choir at Sacred Heart Academy in Baton Rouge. She married her best friend in 2010 and moved to his hometown of Shreveport later that year. During her first two years of teaching in Shreveport she was an itinerant choir director for Captain Shreve High School and Caddo Magnet High School. In the fall of 2013 she became full time choir director at Caddo Magnet High School. While she was there she led her choirs to district and state choral festivals as well as All State Choir. For two years in a row, Caddo Magnet High School had the highest number of singers from the Shreveport area take part in the All State Choir. Mrs. Mook also worked with the drama departments at both Captain Shreve and Caddo Magnet. She was the music director for several musicals including “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” and “Guys and Dolls.” Mrs. Mook is excited to be a part of the Ascension Classical School family and looks forward to experiencing what God has planned in the lives of all of her students.
Diane received her bachelor’s degree from Northwestern State University, her master’s degree and Reading Specialist Certification from Centenary College and her Educational Specialist Degree from Louisiana State University. She has presented workshops at Reading Conferences in Arkansas, Tennessee and Louisiana. Diane has taught Pre Kindergarten, Kindergarten, First Grade, Second Grade, and Third Grade, and also served as a Reading Interventionist.
After 28 years of teaching in several public and private schools, Diane retired from Shreve Island Elementary School, a year-round school with an excellent reputation. Being retired meant she could do all the things that she didn’t have time to do while teaching. After two years of retirement, a friend of hers asked her to consider applying at Ascension Classical School. She said, “It is a perfect fit for you!” The chance to invest in the lives of these children and parents was an exciting and challenging opportunity that Diane readily accepted. It has been a joy and an honor for her to teach in an environment where we seek to lead our children into a life-changing relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ.
Diane has been married 47 years to Tom Lawhon. They are active members of Ellerbe Road Baptist Church and are involved in the Gideon ministry. They have two children, a son, Dr. Reet Thomas Lawhon IV, an anesthesiologist who lives in Brooklyn, NY, and a daughter, Carol Ann Soltz, a grant writer, who lives in Anaheim California. They have four grandchildren and love to travel New York and Southern California!