Experience the Joy of learning

The Joule School  

Welcome to The Joule School (R)

Madison McAndela

A former gifted student herself, Madison graduated college at age 19 in Bellingham, Washington.  She holds a certificate in School Leadership from Harvard University, as well as a dual Masters of Education in Gifted/Talented Educational Psychology and Teaching.  She served as a gifted/talented coordinator and teacher in public education before founding The Joule School, a vision she had developed as a young child dissatisfied with her education in public school.  In addition to serving as Head of School at Joule, she is the regional Gifted Youth Coordinator for Mensa of Central Texas.  

Madison began her career as a Montessori early childhood educator, and adheres to a student-centered, hands-on teaching methodology.  She holds 6 subject certifications and has taught in Texas, Arizona, and the Navajo Nation in New Mexico.  During her teaching career she has worked with gifted children in public, private, and charter schools, teaching kindergarten through Advanced Placement (AP) high school classes.  In addition, she has developed courses and texts for students across the country as a curriculum author with educational publishers for the public school sector.  She has also served as a speech and debate coach, Destination Imagination state-certified coach, and National Honor Society sponsor.   During school breaks, she resides in the small Dutch town of Nijmegen, The Netherlands.


Merissa Russell-Hammer

Merissa is a truly international teacher: a British American who grew up in Holland, Belgium, Ireland, Denmark, and the United Kingdom.  She earned her M.A. in Creative Writing in London, England and her BA in Communications/Literature in Brussels, Belgium.  

As she spent her entire life in Europe, Merissa is trilingual.  Her love for language first led her into education in an École de Langues in Brussels, teaching English and Dutch to French-speaking children aged 3 to 14 with storytelling and hands-on activities.  In addition to her work in the field of writing, language, and literature, Merissa also holds a certificate in filmmaking which she earned in Ebeltoft, Denmark.  She has worked as a professional storyteller and filmmaker, and brings her creative side into the classroom.  

Merissa has a long-term passion for teaching  and children’s development. She is passionate about guiding children in becoming independent individuals in an environment where their giftedness can thrive.  She joined Joule after settling in Austin, TX, where she teaches the primary grades and immersion French classes.   

Erin Meyer

Erin has spent the past 15 years in education, teaching primary through elementary grades as well as serving as a faculty associate at the arts-oriented National High School Institute of Northwestern University.   Erin has an extensive background in creative performance, and her classroom is a constant buzz of quirky voices and puppets.  After graduating with a B.A. in Drama from Trinity University, she served as a nonprofit arts education administrator, arts educator, teaching coach, and as a program director for theater enrichment programs in the public school sector.  In her work with primary students, she developed interactive performance programs for young children which teach self-awareness, self-regulation, friendship, and teamwork.   

Erin brings a diverse range of skills in both arts and technology to the upper elementary program at Joule.   Under her tutelage, students study fiber arts, stop-motion animation, programming, set design and performance, yoga, and gardening.  She provides a great balance of academic challenge with diverse hands-on activities everyday.

Monique VanWaeyenberghe

Bio coming soon!

Jim James

Dr. Jim James is a pianist of unique breadth and depth, with a wide range of experience in solo, chamber, and collaborative playing.   He earned his Doctorate in Piano Performance at the University of Texas and Master of Music degree from the University of Missouri.  Additionally, Jim holds a Bachelor of Music degree in Piano Performance and a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Lawrence University in Wisconsin, and spent a semester studying at the École Normale de Musique in Paris, France.  

In 2002, Jim took first prize in the Badger Piano Competition of the Wisconisin Music Teachers Association.  He later played John Adams Grand Pianola Music as a soloist with the UT Wind Ensemble in a performance featured on NPR’s Performance Today.  Dr. James continues performing solo and collaborative music in the Austin area, including frequent performances with the Austin Chamber Music Society.  He teaches private lessons in piano at The Joule School.