School Leadership

Linda August, Principal

Linda August has been in education for 18 years. She earned a Master's degree in Counseling from New York University (NYU) and a School Building Leadership certificate from City University of New York, Baruch College. She started her educational work in a school in lower Manhattan (NYC). She thought she would be there for a couple of years and stayed there for twelve. It was at this school that she really learned something about education. She learned to be more patient, to laugh, and to work toward something she believed in. She learned that students thrive when adults are structured, believe in them, say sorry when they make mistakes and are flexible. She moved to CO in 2015 and worked in the same school for five years before coming to AAL. She has worked on the non-profit side of education, in youth development, student activities, teaching, advising, counseling and has administrative experience. The various roles have provided her a unique perspective of education. As the Principal of AAL, her goal is to help our students be successful by supporting the educators who work tirelessly in and out of the classroom. She is proud to work alongside such caring, dedicated people. When she is not working, she is with her husband and her two daughters, a 7-year old who is smarter than her and an 8-year old adopted child who is helping her find the resolve to forgive, grow and be more patient than she thought she was capable of. Random things: She is a triplet and any sitcom with people yelling at each other makes her laugh. 

Rachel Bryce, Assistant Principal

Rachel Bryce has been working in education for 9 years teaching PreK-12 and higher education in three different countries.  Her experience ranges from working in public schools and charter schools, to international and private schools and academies. She holds a bachelor's degree from Kennesaw State University, as well as a Master's in Teaching from the American College of Education.  Throughout her career, she has worked as a Curriculum Developer at an international academy where she developed and implemented programs for students of all ages and all different nationalities.  She has also served as an Academic Manager, where she trained teachers in research-based practices to give them the tools to lead their students to success.  After 3 years growing with Third Future Schools, she is excited to step into her new role as one of the Assistant Principals at the Academy of Advanced Learning.

Mary Higgins PhD, Assistant Principal

Mary Higgins has been in education for 9 years. She started her teaching career as a third-grade teacher in South Carolina and has continued working in a variety of educational settings including instructional coaching, higher education, and most recently administration. She graduated from Messiah College in central Pennsylvania with her Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education. She also holds a Master's degree in Instructional Accommodations from Francis Marion University and a Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction from The Pennsylvania State University. At Penn State, she supervised student teachers, co-taught elementary education methods courses, and led professional development seminars in the nationally recognized Professional Development School partnership between State College Area School District and The Pennsylvania State University. She moved to Colorado in 2017 and worked in the Department of Teaching and Learning at the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs as an inclusion coach, researcher, and adjunct faculty member. Her teaching experiences at both the PreK-12 and higher education levels demonstrate her commitment to student learning, teacher growth, and collaborative partnership work. Last year, Mary joined the AAL as an assistant principal primarily focused on supporting the Upper Team Center. As we start the 2020-2021 school year, Mary is excited to continue being a part of the Academy of Advanced Learning community! 

Alex Walter, Assistant Principal

Alex Walter has been in education for 9 years.  He started his teaching career as a Middle School History Teacher in Newark, NJ for the Uncommon Schools Network. He holds a Master's degree in Secondary Education from Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, CT. He has spent most of this career in the classroom as a Social Studies Teacher. During that time, he has focused on providing his students with a strong understanding of historical knowledge and challenging students with new understandings of the world. Transitioning out of the classroom and into the role of Assistant Principal he wants to focus on holding students to high expectations both academically and behaviorally. He also wants to provide students, teachers, and staff with the necessary tools to help student growth on all levels. 

Jocelyn Armendariz, Quarter 5/Summer Assistant Principal

Jocelyn Armendariz has been in education for 9 years. She has a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education from New Mexico State University, and is expecting a Master’s degree in Educational Administration from Eastern New Mexico University in July. Her experience in education began in The Gambia, West Africa. There, she worked with a team of educators from all over the world to develop a literacy program for local schools. Following her time in West Africa, Jocelyn continued seeking opportunities within the field of education. She taught in Moscow, Russia for two years before returning to Colorado in 2018. Settling near her home state has allowed her to enjoy the perks of living close to family and friends. 

Leigh Fishman, Quarter 5/Summer Assistant Principal

Leigh Fishman is from Maryland, but has been living in Colorado for a little over 2 years now. She is going into her third year of being a part of the team at the Academy of Advanced Learning and has experienced many roles including the 7th and 8th grade Art of Thinking Teacher. She is currently working towards her masters in Educational Leadership with the University of Denver and will be certified to be a principal next summer! Her passion outside of education include puzzles, spending time with her loved ones including Weimaraner Ryder, fashion, and crime television shows. She is looking forward to being one of your assistant principals for Quarter 5!

Brenda Balderas, Office Manager

Brenda Balderas has been with the Academy of Advanced Learning since the beginning. She is the 'face' of AAL! She welcomes everyone who enters the doors. Brenda believes in strong parent-school relationships, and works diligently to ensure communication is effective and efficient. Brenda lives in the community and is thrilled to be working at a school that is having such a powerful impact on students, families, and the community. She is a mom of two beautiful boys who keep her very busy. 

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Academy of Advanced Learning
431 N. Sable Blvd, Aurora, CO 80011
720.500.5252 +
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