832-797-1725   |  academics1st@gmail.com

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Carrie has over 20 years experience teaching English, History, and Writing. She teaches students from all over the United States to internationally in India. Read more.

All Level Instructor (Lead Teacher)

Curriculum Architect



Keith holds both an Art and Law degree, and believes that "good education is essential to a life well-lived." Read more.

Level 1-2 Instructor



Leah graduated from Pennsylvania State University with a degree in Secondary Education: English and Communications and has six years of teaching experience. Read more.

Level 1-2 Instructor


Paige partnered with Carrie Barker to create Academics1st after successfully launching a Math andd Science tutoring platform, Adventure by Learning. Paige runs the behind-the scenes operations and general parent correspondance.

Business Director




Carrie Barker

Carrie is married and an empty-nester, living vicariously through her three adult boys.  She graduated from Texas Tech University with a triple major in English, History and Education, and has teaching experience in both public and private schools.  She enjoys showing students how the study of English and History ideas are intertwined with culture, allowing for a greater appreciation and understanding of historical context which inspires an author's story. Since blending History and English is her passion, many of her students have participate in the National History Day Writing competition with placings at the state level and national level.

Previous experience includes teaching grammar, academic & creative writing for the Austin Chinese Education Services for several years. She continues to offer dual credit English/ History courses to select Firelight Academy students.  In addition, she is currently teaching students from all over the United States to internationally in India with Academics1st 

Keith Howell

Keith Howell is a life-long Texan. He has been married 30 years and has raised 2 children. He has both an Art degree and a Law degree, which makes him either a struggling artist or a recovering lawyer. Perhaps he's both.


One thing he knows is that good education is essential to a life well-lived. He has taught students from Kindergarten age through college ages over the last 20+ years. He also worked over 13 years with an educational textbook and game publisher, and he currently self-publishes and freelances as an illustrator and designer when he is not teaching in the local schools.

Leah Brown Popova

Leah graduated from Pennsylvania State University with a degree in Secondary Education: English and Communications. She holds teaching licenses in both Pennsylvania and California. She has six years of experience in the education field as well as a Cross Cultural Language and Academic Development (CLAD) certificate from the California Teachers for English Language Learners (CTEL) Program at Alliant University. She always strives to give students the best learning experience possible. She looks forward to meeting your child and helping them grow! 


Leah has a wide variety of interests and loves to learn new things about teaching practices and other cultures. In addition to teaching and learning, she enjoys reading, creating art, knitting, baking, and traveling!