Angela Apte

    As the first-generation child of an Indian father and Scottish mother, Ms. Apte spent much of her early life traveling and trying to make sense of her family’s two distinct cultures. She found most of her answers (and most of her happiness) in books and stories. As a teacher, she loves to connect students with texts and to encourage them to follow their curiosities as they develop their own ideas and writing. Ms. Apte studied Journalism and English at Marquette University and holds a Master of Fine Arts from Virginia Commonwealth University where she was awarded two writing fellowships and the American Academy of Poets Catherine and Joan Byrne Poetry Prize. After stints in the newspaper business in Wisconsin and Texas, she began her career teaching in HISD and is happy to have landed at HSPVA in 2013 as a faculty member in the Creative Writing Department. 


    Courses: Sophomore Creative Writing Workshop, Digital Story Telling, Into to Poetry, Advanced Poetry

    Email: aapte@houstonisd.org



    Judith Switick (Department Chair)

    A native Houstonian, graduated from St. Agnes Academy before heading off to New York University's Tisch School of the Arts to study dramatic writing. Since earning her bachelor of fine arts, she has waitressed in London, slept in a hammock in the Lacandon jungle, taught English in Seoul, and dragged her children across the border between Thailand and Cambodia. In the midst of her travels, Ms. Switek earned her master of education degree in curriculum and instruction at the University of Houston. While there, she participated in the New Play Festival and was both thrilled and terrified to see her one-act play on stage. After graduation and armed with her teaching certification, she taught at Southwest Schools for several years before being hired as an English teacher at HSPVA. She is currently building HSPVA's new Creative Writing Program, for which she prepared by studying the craft of writing in Prague as a Fund for Teachers Fellow. In her spare time, Ms. Switek likes to fold laundry and unload the dishwasher. And read, of course. And write.


    Courses: Reading Like Writers, Senior Concerns, Intro to Screenwriting, Advanced Screenwriting, Idea Development

    Email: jswitek@houstonisd.org


    Guadalupe Mendez

    Originally from Galveston, TX, Lupe Mendez (Writer//Educator//Activist) is the author WHY I AM LIKE TEQUILA (Willow Books, 2019), winner of the 2019 John A. Robertson Award for Best First Book of Poetry from the Texas Institute of Letters. He is the founder of Tintero Projects which works with emerging Latinx writers and other writers of color within the Texas Gulf Coast Region, with Houston as its hub. Lupe earned his Masters of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from the University of Texas @ El Paso and his work can be seen in print and online formats including The Best American Poetry 2021, the Kenyon Review, Gulf Coast Journal, the Texas Review, the L.A. Review of Books, Split This Rock, Poetry Magazine and Poem-A-Day from the Academy of American Poets. Mendez is the 2022-2023 Texas Poet Laureate and has been an educator for 20+ years.


    Courses: Intro to Poetry, Social Justice Writing, Literary Performance


    Email: Guadalupe.Mendez@houstonisd.org




    Brendan Bourque-Sheil is a playwright, dramaturg, and narrative non-fiction writer. His plays have been produced or developed by Stages Repertory Theatre, The Rec Room, Death and Pretzels Theatre Company, and The Landing Theatre Company, where he serves as Playwright-in-Residence and Literary Associate. In his work with The Landing, Brendan oversees script development projects for Houston playwrights, and The Micro-Theatre Project, which commissions writers to create plays set in houses around the city of Houston. For the past five years, he's worked with the Alley Theatre's Department of Education and Community Engagement in developing and implementing theatre programming for schools, veterans, and bilingual communities. He frequently contributes stories to the monthly live show Grown-up Storytime and KPFT’s So What’s Your Story? He's been a finalist for the Reva Shiner Comedy Award and the Houston Press Theatre Award for Best New Play. He's been recommended by the Chicago Reader and profiled by Arts and Culture Texas Magazine. He is a member of the Dramatist's Guild and the inaugural Rec Room Writers Group. 


    Erika Jo Brown the author of the poetry collection I’m Your Huckleberry (Brooklyn Arts Press, 2014). She teaches writing and literature at the University of Houston. Since 2016, she’s led weekly creating writing workshops at MD Anderson Children’s Cancer Hospital through WITS. Brown earned her MFA from the Iowa Writers Workshop and her PhD in Creative Writing and Literature at the University of Houston, where she won the Inprint Donald Barthelme Prizes in Poetry.


    Patricia Duran is excited to be teaching acting at HSPVA. She is a professional actor and voice actor from Houston. Duran is a founding company member and Associate Artistic Director of Mildred’s Umbrella Theatre where she has acted, directed, and designed numerous productions. She has also worked locally with Stages, A.D. Players, Main Street Theater, Catastrophic Theater, Classical Theater, and the Alley Theater. Duran was recognized by American Theatre Magazine as one of 20 Theatre Workers You Should Know and received awards from The Houston Press in 2020 for Best Everywhere We Looked Player and in 2019 for Best Actress in The Hunchback of Seville. She is also a founding artist of Gravity Players where she performed in The Last Days of Judas Iscariot, which The Houston Chronicle called one of the best theatre productions in 2017. She has performed Off-Broadway and regionally at Virginia Repertory Theatre. She also loves voice acting! And has voiced numerous anime characters. For six years, she taught theater at Westbury Christian School. She is a proud member of Actors’ Equity Association. Besides acting, she loves to travel, read, bake, and cook. Much love to her uber talented hubby Philip Hays and sweet puppy, Valentine.


    Baylea Jones earned a BA in English from Louisiana State University and an MFA in Creative Writing from Western New England University. Her fiction has been named an honorable mention in Glimmer Train and she was selected as a finalist for the New Letters Prize. She has appeared on the Writing Class Radio podcast, served as managing editor of Common Ground Review, and has written for HuffPost, Electric Literature, BuzzFeed, Medium, and more. She lives in Houston with her wife where she teaches at the High School for the Performing and Visual Arts, Houston Community College, and GrubStreet. She is represented by Annie DeWitt at The Shipman Agency and is currently working on a memoir.


    Sara C. Rolater is a graduate of Rice University and received her MFA in fiction at the University of Houston, where she served as an assistant editor in fiction for Gulf Coast and where she has taught composition and creative writing for the past nine years. She has also taught for Inprint, Writespace, and Writers in the Schools, written for Citysearch Houston and offcite.org, and has been a fellow at the Writing Immersion Retreat in Bali and at the Byrdcliffe Artist in Residence program in Woodstock, New York. Her work has appeared in Ghost Town and Gulf Coast. This is her seventh year as a consultant at the High School for the Performing and Visual Arts, where she's taught intro and advanced fiction, creative nonfiction, journalism, and textual collage. 


    Jan Saenz is a writer and freelance editor. She earned a BA in Theatre from Stephen F. Austin State University. To this day, she credits theatre as being the foundation of her love for storytelling. She works as a writing coach for Lone Star College-University Park. She has led writing workshops for various Houston-based non-profits, including Writespace and Canopy Cancer Survivorship Center at Memorial Hermann. She resides in Northwest Houston with her husband and two children.