Why We Started A School

My name is Anna Emerick-Biad, and I am the Founder of Mission Academy along with my husband, Chris. I am also the mom of six incredible children.

As parents, Chris and I have always agreed on the importance of providing our children with an exceptional education. We both value lifelong learning, the entrepreneurial spirit, and being contributing members of our community. We wanted our children’s education to reinforce these core values. Beyond what any standardized test could measure, we also wanted our children to experience learning in a way that would be both inspirational and relevant, and that would equip them with the skills and character needed to live meaningful lives in the real world.

When envisioning what that might look like, we saw an environment where happy learners would come together to engage in interesting hands-on projects and thoughtful discussions.

We saw exemplary character being positively reinforced. And we saw children learning how to set personal goals, advance at their own pace, and hold themselves accountable.

Seeing first-hand that this was not the experience our children were having (in traditional school or while homeschooling), we decided there had to be a better way. That’s how our adventure as micro-school builders began, back in 2016, the year we launched Acton Academy Mesilla Valley.

Since then, we have watched that little school flourish into a thriving community of over 100 learners in six different studios. We have also learned a great deal about being ‘edu-preneurs’ and thoughtfully considered what steps we would need to take in order to keep growing and serving the families of Mesilla Valley. That’s why in June 2022, we transitioned AAMV to Mission Academy.

If you want to learn more about our school, please book a tour. We look forward to meeting you!

-Anna & Chris Biad

OUR

MISSION

“Our mission is for there to be freedom in the school experience, one that is fueled by a passion to learn and a drive to think independently. We do this by offering a real-world education customized to the unique gifts and talents of our learners so they develop the character, determination, and knowledge needed to live a meaningful life.”

CORE VALUES

MEET OUR TEAM

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Anna Emerick-Biad

Founder

Anna is a mom of six, wife, and founder of Mission Academy. Some have said she is a mom on a mission to reinvent what school looks like in Las Cruces. Between us, the fuel that has powered her through launching a school is LOVE and a deep belief that all children deserve a meaningful and relevant education.

David Guillen

President of the Board

David has built a successful career around serving learners at all levels through effective classroom instruction, academic counseling, and school administration. His current vocational focus is in the tech sector,  where he applies modern learning principles toward making software products more approachable for users through the use of video, virtual events, and eLearning content.

Matt Abrams

Board Member

Matt Abrams is a seasoned tech executive and the Director of Engineering at Amazon Web Services, where he drives innovation.
Since moving to Las Cruces, NM in 2015, Matt has been an active board member of Mission Academy, inspired by its positive impact on his children. He holds a Master’s in Electrical and Computer Systems Engineering, blending technical expertise with strategic leadership in the tech industry.

Atilana Herrera

Board Member

Atilana Herrera has been a Las Crucen for over 30 years.  She is married and has four children and two grandbabies.  She is an Associate Broker in real estate and loves hanging out with family and enjoying new adventures outdoors and traveling. 

Paul Smith

Board Member

Paul Smith grew up in Las Cruces and graduated from a liberal arts college in Michigan. After gaining campaign experience at the Presidential, Senatorial and Congressional level, Smith was named a Chief of Staff in the U.S. House, serving constituents from Iowa's First District before returning to New Mexico. As a consultant based in Las Cruces, Smith works with businesses, non-profits, and campaigns across New Mexico and the nation to help develop effective strategies and achieve their goals.

Kristan Hodgkins

Board Secretary

With a background in administrative assistance and membership retention, Kristan brings a wealth of organizational skills and community engagement experience to Mission Academy as the Board Secretary. After dedicating several years to roles focused on administrative support and fostering lasting relationships, she transitioned to staying home to raise her children, further honing her multitasking abilities and commitment to community.
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Liane Conaway

Program Director

Liane keeps our school running at peak performance. She has a big heart and is deeply committed to each student and their family ensuring they receive an excellent educational experience while at Mission Academy.
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Kristy Meyer

Assistant Guide and Office Admin

A long-ago transplant to the Mesilla Valley, Miss Kristy brings 30+ years of experience in child care and homeschooling to the proverbial table, with a few years of office administration as well. She is a devoted wife, the super-proud Mama K of 4 amazing sons and 2 daughters in love, and a delighted Grand Mama K to 3 cherished grandbabies. Children are her passion and her life's work.
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Dan Bocher

Timbernook Outdoor Guide

Dan was born and raised in Wisconsin (Go Pack!) and graduated from the University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire. In 2007, after a year and a half working as a preschool teacher, he moved to Maui. He began working with the special needs community and spent several years as a hiking and zipline guide. In Maui, he met and married his wife, Sarah. Sarah and Dan moved to Alaska in early 2017. In late November, they relocated to Las Cruces with their two dogs and cat.

Christian Aragon

STEM Guide

Christian is passionate about leading young people in owning their education and growth as learners. His love for education started at a young age and has allowed him to guide learners in different sectors since graduating from NMSU. He's a new father to a baby girl and loves sports, fishing, and Star Wars.

Wanda Wilson Powe

Art Guide

I am a native New Mexican from Hatch and a graduate of New Mexico State University. I am currently licensed in Elementary Education K-8 and in Early Childhood Education with an endorsement in Visual Art. I am retired from Las Cruces Public Schools. For the past four years, I taught art in Wichita, KS. Art is my passion, and I look forward to guiding Mission Academy learners to tap into their creativity.

Aida Montes

Middle School Guide

I have been in education for 28 years, licensed in NM and TX.  I started my career in Las Cruces at Vista Middle School, then opened Camino Real Middle School, before returning to Vista.  I relocated with my family to San Antonio, and have been teaching high school for the last 20 years.  My roots are in NM.  My husband and I have 3 beautiful grown children. We enjoy going on vacations wherever there is water. I love to sit by the beach and read. Reading is my passion.

Stephanie Williams

Elementary Guide

Stephanie holds a dual degree in Special and Elementary Education from NMSU and brings a diverse range of experience to our community. She has previously taught Elementary Special Education in LCPS, served as a resource room coordinator, and contributed her expertise as a special education resource for both charter and private schools in Scottsdale, AZ.
Stephanie is deeply committed to inspiring young minds through teaching. Her skills include IEP Development, curriculum development, classroom management, and individualized learning.

Miss Sigrid

Reading Specialist

I’ve been an educator since 1988. I took one extended break from teaching, and I retired from the Las Cruces Public Schools in 2022. I have Bachelor's and Master's degrees from New Mexico State University, and the NM Public Education Department licenses me in Special Education and Secondary Social Studies. My teaching licenses are Level III-B, and I am “highly qualified” in English Language Arts, Science, and Social Studies.

Miss Niamh

Elementary Guide

Niamh is a recent transplant to New Mexico after spending the last year teaching in Rwanda. Niamh grew up in Tennessee and graduated from the University of Tennessee in 2021. In her free time Niamh loves hiking, going to coffee shops, and walking with her 2 dogs. She is very excited for her first year at Mission Academy.
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Cassandra Contreras

Montessori Studio Guide

Miss Cassandra is a passionate Montessori educator with twenty years of experience working with young learners. She especially loves to weave cooking and art experiences into her work with her students.

Holly Morris

Elementary Guide

Holly and her husband John relocated to Las Cruces from Las Vegas, NV. Holly is a theatre educator working with middle and high school students for the past 20 plus years. She and John enjoy exploring their new hometown and taking daily walks with their dog Joey.

Mr. Nick Gomez

Elementary Guide

Nick holds a Master's Degree in Education from the University of Phoenix and has been working in education for over ten years. He currently coaches middle school boy's basketball and varsity girl's softball. Nick enjoys playing musical instruments (guitar, bass, and drums). When he has free time, he loves to play most sports.
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Elysha Rae DelaCruz

Montessori Guide

Elysha has worked with children for 12 years and is a lifelong Las Cruces resident. With a background and education in early childhood education, she loves making a difference in children's lives. She has two boys and is a proud soccer and basketball mom.
tony mitchell mission academy staff, private school in lascruces, lascruces best school, lascruces school, montessori school, kindergarten, high school in lascruces, middle school lascruces, lascrucesprivateschool, lascruceskids, missionacademylc, pblschool , mission academy, public school lascruces, PBL school, Steam school , Alternative school, Project based learning , Entrepreneurship school for kids 

Tony Mitchell

P.E Coach

Tony was born and raised in Boston in a family of 9 kids. He acquired an AS, BS, and MA and was a teacher for 23 years. Semi-retired, coach Tony enjoys working with students helping them develop a passion for athletics and good sportsmanship.  
anna mission academy founder, private school in lascruces, lascruces best school, lascruces school, montessori school, kindergarten, high school in lascruces, middle school lascruces, lascrucesprivateschool, lascruceskids, missionacademylc, pblschool , mission academy, public school lascruces, PBL school, Steam school , Alternative school, Project based learning , Entrepreneurship school for kids 

Anna Emerick-Biad

Founder

Anna is a mom of five, wife, and founder of Mission Academy. Some have said she is a mom on a mission to reinvent what school looks like in Las Cruces. Between us, the fuel that has powered her through launching a school is LOVE and a deep belief that all children deserve a meaningful and relevant education.

David Guillen

President of the Board

David has built a successful career around serving learners at all levels through effective classroom instruction, academic counseling, and school administration. His current vocational focus is in the tech sector,  where he applies modern learning principles toward making software products more approachable for users through the use of video, virtual events, and eLearning content.

Matt Abrams

Board Member

Matt Abrams is a seasoned tech executive and the Director of Engineering at Amazon Web Services, where he drives innovation.
Since moving to Las Cruces, NM in 2015, Matt has been an active board member of Mission Academy, inspired by its positive impact on his children. He holds a Master’s in Electrical and Computer Systems Engineering, blending technical expertise with strategic leadership in the tech industry.

Atilana Herrera

Board Member

Atilana Herrera has been a Las Crucen for over 30 years.  She is married and has four children and two grandbabies.  She is an Associate Broker in real estate and loves hanging out with family and enjoying new adventures outdoors and traveling. 

Paul Smith

Board Member

Paul Smith grew up in Las Cruces and graduated from a liberal arts college in Michigan. After gaining campaign experience at the Presidential, Senatorial and Congressional level, Smith was named a Chief of Staff in the U.S. House, serving constituents from Iowa's First District before returning to New Mexico. As a consultant based in Las Cruces, Smith works with businesses, non-profits, and campaigns across New Mexico and the nation to help develop effective strategies and achieve their goals.

Kristan Hodgkins

Board Secretary

With a background in administrative assistance and membership retention, Kristan brings a wealth of organizational skills and community engagement experience to Mission Academy as the Board Secretary. After dedicating several years to roles focused on administrative support and fostering lasting relationships, she transitioned to staying home to raise her children, further honing her multitasking abilities and commitment to community.
liane mission academy staff, private school in lascruces, lascruces best school, lascruces school, montessori school, kindergarten, high school in lascruces, middle school lascruces, lascrucesprivateschool, lascruceskids, missionacademylc, pblschool , mission academy, public school lascruces, PBL school, Steam school , Alternative school, Project based learning , Entrepreneurship school for kids 

Liane Conaway

Program Director

Liane keeps our school running at peak performance. She has a big heart and is deeply committed to each student and their family ensuring they receive an excellent educational experience while at Mission Academy.
kristy mission academy staff, private school in lascruces, lascruces best school, lascruces school, montessori school, kindergarten, high school in lascruces, middle school lascruces, lascrucesprivateschool, lascruceskids, missionacademylc, pblschool , mission academy, public school lascruces, PBL school, Steam school , Alternative school, Project based learning , Entrepreneurship school for kids 

Kristy Meyer

Assistant Guide and Office Admin

A long-ago transplant to the Mesilla Valley, Miss Kristy brings 30+ years of experience in child care and homeschooling to the proverbial table, with a few years of office administration as well. She is a devoted wife, the super-proud Mama K of 4 amazing sons and 2 daughters in love, and a delighted Grand Mama K to 3 cherished grandbabies. Children are her passion and her life's work.
cassandra mission academy staff, private school in lascruces, lascruces best school, lascruces school, montessori school, kindergarten, high school in lascruces, middle school lascruces, lascrucesprivateschool, lascruceskids, missionacademylc, pblschool , mission academy, public school lascruces, PBL school, Steam school , Alternative school, Project based learning , Entrepreneurship school for kids 

Cassandra Contreras

Montessori Studio Guide

Miss Cassandra is a passionate Montessori educator with twenty years of experience working with young learners. She especially loves to weave cooking and art experiences into her work with her students.

Christian Aragon

STEM Guide

Christian is passionate about leading young people in owning their education and growth as learners. His love for education started at a young age and has allowed him to guide learners in different sectors since graduating from NMSU. He's a new father to a baby girl and loves sports, fishing, and Star Wars.
elysha mission academy staff, private school in lascruces, lascruces best school, lascruces school, montessori school, kindergarten, high school in lascruces, middle school lascruces, lascrucesprivateschool, lascruceskids, missionacademylc, pblschool , mission academy, public school lascruces, PBL school, Steam school , Alternative school, Project based learning , Entrepreneurship school for kids 

Elysha Rae DelaCruz

Montessori Guide

Elysha has worked with children for 12 years and is a lifelong Las Cruces resident. With a background and education in early childhood education, she loves making a difference in children's lives. She has two boys and is a proud soccer and basketball mom.
dan mission academy staff, private school in lascruces, lascruces best school, lascruces school, montessori school, kindergarten, high school in lascruces, middle school lascruces, lascrucesprivateschool, lascruceskids, missionacademylc, pblschool , mission academy, public school lascruces, PBL school, Steam school , Alternative school, Project based learning , Entrepreneurship school for kids 

Dan Bocher

Timbernook Outdoor Guide

Dan was born and raised in Wisconsin (Go Pack!) and graduated from the University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire. In 2007, after a year and a half working as a preschool teacher, he moved to Maui. He began working with the special needs community and spent several years as a hiking and zipline guide. In Maui, he met and married his wife, Sarah. Sarah and Dan moved to Alaska in early 2017. In late November, they relocated to Las Cruces with their two dogs and cat.

Brooklynn Wootton

Elementary Guide

Brooklynn is excited to be joining Mission Academy! She graduated from Eastern New Mexico University and is in her fifth year of teaching. Brooklynn taught second and third grade at Fort Sumner Elementary and NMDCA. She loves to bake and has two dogs she adores! She's excited to bring to Mission an experience filled with learning, curiosity, and fun!

Wanda Wilson Powe

Art Guide

I am a native New Mexican from Hatch and a graduate of New Mexico State University. I am currently licensed in Elementary Education K-8 and in Early Childhood Education with an endorsement in Visual Art. I am retired from Las Cruces Public Schools. For the past four years, I taught art in Wichita, KS. Art is my passion, and I look forward to guiding Mission Academy learners to tap into their creativity.
tony mitchell mission academy staff, private school in lascruces, lascruces best school, lascruces school, montessori school, kindergarten, high school in lascruces, middle school lascruces, lascrucesprivateschool, lascruceskids, missionacademylc, pblschool , mission academy, public school lascruces, PBL school, Steam school , Alternative school, Project based learning , Entrepreneurship school for kids 

Tony Mitchell

Coach

Tony was born and raised in Boston in a family of 9 kids. He acquired an AS, BS, and MA and was a teacher for 23 years. Semi-retired, coach Tony enjoys working with students helping them develop a passion for athletics and good sportsmanship.

Aida Montes

Middle School Guide

I have been in education for 28 years, licensed in NM and TX.  I started my career in Las Cruces at Vista Middle School, then opened Camino Real Middle School, before returning to Vista.  I relocated with my family to San Antonio, and have been teaching high school for the last 20 years.  My roots are in NM.  My husband and I have 3 beautiful grown children. We enjoy going on vacations wherever there is water. I love to sit by the beach and read. Reading is my passion.

Miss Sigrid

Reading Specialist

I’ve been an educator since 1988. I took one extended break from teaching, and I retired from the Las Cruces Public Schools in 2022. I have Bachelor's and Master's degrees from New Mexico State University, and the NM Public Education Department licenses me in Special Education and Secondary Social Studies. My teaching licenses are Level III-B, and I am “highly qualified” in English Language Arts, Science, and Social Studies.

Stephanie Williams

Elementary Guide

Stephanie holds a dual degree in Special and Elementary Education from NMSU and brings a diverse range of experience to our community. She has previously taught Elementary Special Education in LCPS, served as a resource room coordinator, and contributed her expertise as a special education resource for both charter and private schools in Scottsdale, AZ.
Stephanie is deeply committed to inspiring young minds through teaching. Her skills include IEP Development, curriculum development, classroom management, and individualized learning.

Miss Niamh

Elementary Guide

Niamh is a recent transplant to New Mexico after spending the last year teaching in Rwanda. Niamh grew up in Tennessee and graduated from the University of Tennessee in 2021. In her free time Niamh loves hiking, going to coffee shops, and walking with her 2 dogs. She is very excited for her first year at Mission Academy.

Mr. Nick Gomez

Elementary Guide

Nick holds a Master's Degree in Education from the University of Phoenix and has been working in education for over ten years. He currently coaches middle school boy's basketball and varsity girl's softball. Nick enjoys playing musical instruments (guitar, bass, and drums). When he has free time, he loves to play most sports.

Holly Morris

Elementary Guide

Holly and her husband John relocated to Las Cruces from Las Vegas, NV. Holly is a theatre educator working with middle and high school students for the past 20 plus years. She and John enjoy exploring their new hometown and taking daily walks with their dog Joey.