About AESA Prep Academy


science_boysAcademic Excellence for the Scholar, Athlete & Artist (AESA) Prep Academy is a k-12th grade college prep school in Austin, TX.

AESA is designed to allow our students to have a completely individualized academic plan. AESA’s philosophy and design creates an environment that is engaging, motivating, and truly enjoyable. We believe students cannot learn and develop the important skills and values needed for today’s competitive landscape if they are not enjoying and having fun with their education and school’s community/culture.


  • Flexible and traditional schedules
    AESA works with each student individually to create an academic program that will accommodate their unique needs. Examples include an accelerated path for advanced scholars, an intensive training program for athletes, or fine art studio time.
  • Small class sizes
    AESA keeps class sizes small to ensure that every student is engaged directly and given the opportunity to participate in their learning. Class sizes vary from 2-8 students.
  • SACS accreditation
    AESA’s curriculum is SACS accredited (The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools) and is based on National Standards, the PSAT, the SAT and the ACT. Click the hyperlink to learn more about the prestige and difficulty of earning such an accreditation.
  • NCAA approved courses
    AESA is NCAA approved to ensure students’ eligibility with Division I, II, and III colleges and universities.
  • Wide Range of Dual Credits
    Our students distinguish themselves academically by taking dual credit courses through AESA’s partnership with the University of Texas at Austin and UC Berkeley. AESA’s dual credit program gives our students a chance to experience university-level coursework, prove competency to college admissions, and a head start in the pursuit of graduating college.
  • SAT/ACT Prep Program and AESA’s Philosophy 
    AESA understands a quality SAT/ACT score is critical to attending a top-level university. That’s why AESA provides SAT/ACT Prep courses, purely designed to help prepare our students to earn a great score. AESA students begin SAT/ACT prep years in advance and coursework is individualized for each student. These prep courses usually have no more than 5 students in each class. AESA students take multiple practice examinations and upon completion of the program, he or she is fully prepared to earn a great score!

Smaller by Design – When Bigger Isn’t Better

A pivotal reason why AESA students are so successful is because AESA is a small school. Every school year, AESA roughly has an entire student body population of 100 students. This smallness is part of our philosophy, is by design, and allows us to do things other public and private schools simply cannot.

  • Culture Control
    Everyone within a school contributes to the culture either positively or negatively. Positive students and teachers strengthen culture while negative students or teachers break culture down. The smaller the school is, the easier it is to manage and maintain a positive culture. Schools that are too large (which most are in our opinion), are simply incapable of managing negative influences. AESA views this phenomenon as an opportunity and with our small design, we are able to take advantage and produce incredible results. About AESA 2
  • No Hiding/Getting Lost in the Cracks
    AESA class sizes and classroom design do not allow our students to passively sit back and/or literally hide behind other students. Students sit together at a round table with their teacher and in combination with the AESA teaching philosophy, students are strongly compelled to be engaged and actively learn.
  • Flexible and Individualized Curriculum/Schedule
    Due to AESA’s small design, we are able to cater to your child’s specific needs. Whether your child is an accelerated student, needs more attention in certain areas, or has time consuming extra-curricular activities such as being an athlete; we can design a specific academic plan and school schedule to meet your child’s specific needs. Larger schools simply do not have the capacity to cater to all of their students’ specific needs.
  • Where Everyone Knows Your Name
    AESA is small enough that virtually every student, teacher, and staff member knows each other’s name. This phenomenon may seem insignificant but it has an incredibly positive psychological effect upon your child. Studies show when the people around you know your name, you have a greater sense of belonging, importance, and value; key components to building confidence. Knowing each other’s names builds stronger relationships between peers and their teachers. It actually creates a physically and psychologically safer environment too. Studies show that students are five times less likely to verbally bully one another and ten times less likely to physically harm one another simply by knowing each other’s name.
  • More Leadership OpportunitiesAbout AESA 2
    Whether it’s through model UN, student government, or our mentor program, AESA students have more opportunities to take on leadership roles simply due to less competition. In schools with thousands, even hundreds of students, leadership roles are limited to just a handful of students. The majority of students will never get to have those experiences. That is not the case here at AESA. All of our students have plenty of voluntary and mandatory leadership roles to partake in.

The AESA Community and Culture – Why Culture is So Important?

As humans, we are evolutionarily deigned to be social. We have an innate sense and desire to ‘fit in’ and get along with the other people in our social constructs. To achieve this desire, we as humans will alter our behavior, even our thoughts and opinions to align with the socially accepted norms within a community.About AESA 2

Adolescents are just beginning to form their views and are extremely impressionable. Studies have shown that your child’s peers have an incredibly strong influence on his or her behavior and outlook on life. In fact, it is believed his or her peers may even have a stronger influence than his or her parents do in certain areas.

This phenomenon is incredibly important to recognize and manage properly. That is why here at AESA, we focus on maintaining a positive culture and one that allows our members to reach their full potential. We have zero tolerance for anyone who contributes to our culture negatively.

Some of the Values and Behaviors Our Culture Embraces

  • A strong drive and pursuit of academic excellence. 
    A “too cool for school mentality” is viewed as childish and counterproductive amongst our students.
    About AESA 2
  • We are goal-oriented, gritty, and motivate ourselves and our peers to do their best in all aspects of life.
  • We are one big family. We are helpful, giving, and build each other and our community up.
  • We are welcoming, inclusive, and respect others.
  • We are kind, friendly, and always positive with one another.
  • We value physical and mental health as well as increasing emotional intelligence and social skills.

Our Philosophy on Teachers – If You Want the Best, You Have to Treat Them Like the Best

Many of us recognize that many teachers are underpaid, overworked, and simply lack the respect they deserve. However, here at AESA, we understand the importance of these individuals and how their role is fundamental to student success.About AESA 2

We also recognize the difference between good teachers and GREAT teachers. Good teachers ensure students are learning the material and are graduating on to the next grade level. Great teachers go a step further than simply ensuring the material is being learned. A great teacher fundamentally changes a young person’s life. Great teachers not only produce better results from their students but they instill the values and characteristics in our children that lead to happier and more fulfilling lives.

Here at AESA, we attract GREAT teachers because we treat them how they ought to be treated! Our teachers are properly compensated with above average salaries and benefits. Earning a teaching position at AESA is highly competitive and thus only the best ultimately earns the position. Teachers at AESA have less students to manage which means less time grading and more time focusing on what they love doing, teaching! Teachers at AESA have 23 more days off than public and some other private schools in Austin (our students too). Happy teachers and students equals a better and more effective learning experience.

Memorable, Empowering Learning Experiences

AESA-unEvery student at AESA is a member of our Student Government and Model UN, and participates in debates, performances and speeches designed to deliver memorable, empowering learning experiences.

AESA’s educational programming is based on principles of respect for family, education, and morality. Our students are scholars, artists, and athletes who put their hearts into pursuing their passions – it is the mission of AESA Prep Academy to help them succeed by providing academic, cultural, and social programming within the framework of a positive, nurturing, and stimulating academic environment

Beautiful Campus

campus_treesAESA Prep Academy is located in the beautiful hill country of Dripping Springs, just west of Austin TX.

Our campus, surrounded by peaceful oak and cedar trees, is designed to be welcoming and inspiring for our students. Our classrooms are organized around large tables with group seating for a variety of room arrangements. Our main building displays grand columns and hill country modern decor for a professional, collegiate atmosphere.


Life Long Success

It is AESA’s goal to prepare each student for the future and deliver the academic advantage of an elite preparatory program as they approach college.

We work with each graduating student to help with the college admission process and scholarship applications. As a result, our initial 20 graduates received a total of $1,192,000.00 in scholarship monies.


The Origins of AESA Prep Academy

Originally, AESA the acronym stood for ‘Academic Excellence for the Student Athlete’. This was because AESA was first created to support highly-competitive junior tennis players in the Austin area. A former Dean of Students and 30-year education veteran, Barbara Garza (founder), had twin boys that competed at the highest levels of junior tennis. Her sons (Michael and Adrian) trained for hours every day and frequently traveled to compete in tournaments across the state and nation. This demanding schedule meant Michael and Adrian needed an education that was flexible and would allow them to pursue their tennis goals. Despite her children needing a flexible schedule, Barbara strongly believed a quality education was a must have. Barbara and her family were not alone. There were numerous local tennis players and their families in need of a flexible and but equally as important, a quality education. This demand lead to Barbara founding AESA in 2009. The school started with just four student athletes, two of them being her own twin boys. Over the next two years, AESA attracted two dozen highly competitive junior tennis players.About AESA 2

As word spread about AESA, an incredible phenomenon began to occur in 2012. Due purely to AESA’s quality education, great teachers, and fun culture; AESA was attracting solely academic students, not just student athletes. Over the next couple of years, AESA multiplied and quickly grew to a student population nearing triple digits. AESA decided to cap its’ student population at roughly 100 students. AESA’s smallness is the fundamental reason for its’ success and superior education.

Today, the majority of our attendees are purely academic students, no longer student athletes. This shift in student identity created a hiccup in our name AESA. Thus, we felt what the original acronym stood for (Academic Excellence for the Student Athlete) was no longer accurate. So, we changed what the acronym stands for to what is now – Academic Excellence for the Scholar, Athlete, and Artist.