CAST Schools » CAST Schools » Advanced Learning Academy » CAST Schools and San Antonio ISD Announce New Principals at Advanced Learning Academy
CAST Schools and San Antonio ISD Announce New Principals at Advanced Learning Academy


Current Associate Principal Dr. Maricela Alarcón has been promoted to Principal of the Advanced Learning Academy 4th-12th grade campus. Additionally, Jennifer Barber, presently serving as Associate Principal, has been promoted to Principal of the Advanced Learning Academy prek-3rd grade campus. While the two campuses will operate with their own Principals, ALA will continue to function as a single community and school. Both promotions will be effective with the 2024-2025 school year.

Kathy Bieser, founding Principal of Advanced Learning Academy (ALA), will begin working on school design with SAISD and the CAST Network with the incredibly important task of designing and expanding campus and network high-quality learning experiences for all children. The Advanced Learning Academy in San Antonio ISD opened in 2016 and joined CAST Schools in 2018. As Principal, Bieser led a design team through a series of conversations with parents, district leaders, and community leaders to create a school that will inspire other organizations. Today, the prek-12 Advanced Learning Academy serves over 1,000 students across two campuses and celebrates 141 alums.

“ALA is successful because of our community’s combined commitment to include district leaders, campus support teams, and educators. Thank you to our wonderful parent community for honoring us and allowing us to lead your children’s learning, especially our students. They are why ALA exists and have provided me tremendous joy and purpose over the years,” shared Kathy Bieser.

With over 14 years of experience in education, Jennifer Barber has served the Advanced Learning Academy for the past seven years and the Euclid Prek-3 campus as Senior Coordinator of Operations, Assistant Principal, and, most recently, Associate Principal. She obtained her Bachelor’s in Business Administration in Management from the University of Texas at San Antonio and a Master of Science in Educational Leadership from Trinity University.

Dr. Maricela Alarcón, affectionately known as Dr. Mari, is honored and excited to lead the 4th-12th grade Advanced Learning Academy on the Fox Tech Campus. An SAISD alum herself, Dr. Mari has over 19 years of experience in education and has served in various capacities, from classroom teacher to Principal, as well as Partnership Coordinator at ALA, where she helped connect students to work-based opportunities. Dr. Mari earned her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Sociology from Rice University, a Masters in Bilingual Education from Our Lady of the Lake University, and a Doctorate in Educational Leadership from the University of Texas at San Antonio.

Families are invited to congratulate Dr. Mari Alarcón and Mrs. Jennifer Barber on Tuesday, May 28, from 4:30-5:30 p.m. at the Advanced Learning Academy Learning Staircase on the Fox Tech campus (637 N. Main Ave., San Antonio, TX 78205). Both new principals and Kathy Bieser will be available to greet families and answer any questions.ALA_Principals

About the Advanced Learning Academy

The Advanced Learning Academy (ALA) was founded in 2016 in San Antonio ISD to lift the ceiling on learning for all members of the educational community. In 2019, ALA joined the CAST Schools Network. Since its opening, ALA has committed to providing 21st-century opportunities within a caring and open community that fosters deep thinkingproblem-solvingcreative design, and real-world application of learning.



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The Centers for Applied Science and Technology (CAST) Network is a tax-exempt organization as described in Section 501 (c) (3) of the Internal Revenue Service code. CAST Schools are partnership schools with a focus on STEM careers, project based learning and work-based learning. Key partners include public school districts, higher education institutions, and local employers from target industries.