Valor Network Team

Valor | Flagship Academy Team

Scott Campbell

Lead Teacher: 6th Grade Social Studies

Bio

Scott Campbell

Lead Teacher: 6th Grade Social Studies

Mr. Campbell and his family moved from Washington, D.C where he served as the Assistant Principal at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology. He received his M.S. in Secondary Education and B.A. in Political Science with minors in History and Secondary Education from the University of Tennessee. At UT he was the was awarded the Volunteer of Year and Torchbearer awards. He also received his Ed.S. from The George Washington University in Washington, DC in Educational Leadership and Administration. 

Mr. Campbell started his teaching career as a student teacher at Fulton High School in Knoxville, TN before moving with his wife to Durham, NC.  There he served as a teacher, department chair, varsity soccer coach, moot court sponsor, and founder of student leadership retreat at J.F. Webb High School in Oxford, NC. From NC, Mr. Campbell and his wife moved to Birmingham, AL where was a teacher, varsity soccer coach, cross country coach, and created a student leadership retreat. After his wife was offered a position in Washington, D.C., they moved to Capitol Hill and Mr. Campbell served at two schools in DC area.  The first was Phelps Architecture, Construction, and Engineering High School and the second was Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology.  In his career Mr. Campbell has taught AP United States History, AP United States Government and Politics, World History, US History, Economics, Civics, and Ethical Leadership.  

Mr. Campbell served as an Assistant Principal, AP U.S. Government and Politics College Board Exam Table Leader, he has presented at two national education conferences, was selected as the 2011 DC represented for the Presidential Academy for American History and Civics, was the 2007 Region Soccer Coach of the Year, and 2008 Teacher of the Year for J.F. Webb High School. He is excited to join the Valor community and learn from scholars, colleagues, and families that make Valor unique.

When not teaching you can find Mr. Campbell and his wife chasing around their son outside or smoking some barbecue. He still plays soccer, basketball, and volleyball and loves learning bad jokes.

Travis Commons

Principal

Bio

Travis Commons

Principal

Dr. Commons began his lifelong career of working with and for children as a Child Care Specialist in his home state of Indiana. Humbled by this important, but under-appreciated work, he began to explore the ways in which children learn, grow, and are often misunderstood. After his teacher training at Ball State University Teachers College, he worked as an elementary school teacher and then migrated from his Indiana roots to Chicago to take on the challenge of clinical special education in an urban hospital setting. His deep work with children and their families piqued his curiosity about how to prepare teachers to be influential in the lives of their students, and he left the classroom to pursue academia. While acquiring his Ph.D. at UIC, he had the opportunity to coordinate an alternative certification program for urban special education teachers in Chicago and to teach as part of the College of Education faculty. This work provided Dr. Commons with a valuable perspective on the complexity of the teaching profession and inspired him to return to the classroom and teach in the charter schools in Chicago.

As Dean of Scholars at Rowe Elementary, Dr. Commons revamped and oversaw the implementation of the scholar culture program at the school, creating significant measurable improvements in the school’s climate. As he transitioned to Assistant Principal at Rowe, his leadership work was recognized by the Illinois Network of Charter Schools, who recognized him as the state’s Charter Innovator of the Year in 2012.

Dr. Commons has been honored and privileged to be a part of the founding team at Valor. Outside of Valor, he loves all things culinary (especially the eating part!), reading a great piece of fiction, and playing with his Great Dane, Wyatt.

Torie Davidson

Lead Teacher: 5th Grade Reading

Bio

Torie Davidson

Lead Teacher: 5th Grade Reading

Torie Davidson’s love for students and her passion for their learning became undeniable her first year at DePauw University when she tutored middle school students at a rural Indiana school. It was during this experience that she recognized firsthand how student achievement has little to do with students’ own abilities and more to do with the opportunities given to them by their teachers, resources, and communities. The middle school students she was responsible for tutoring that semester rekindled the value of education her grandfather and family instilled in her in a new and powerful way. From then on, she made it her goal to serve and advocate for students in order to bring all students the empowering educational opportunities they deserve.

After graduating from DePauw University with a Bachelors of Arts in English Literature and Art History in 2013, Torie moved to Nashville to pursue her passion for teaching with Nashville Teaching Fellows. Having grown up in Memphis, she was not only thrilled to move back to the South but to engage with a more diverse population of students. She graduated from NTF and continued her teaching career at Cane Ridge High School where she taught senior English and was able to proudly watch two classes of seniors graduate. With their own fiery spirits, these two graduating classes constantly challenged her and motivated her to work harder to find methods and strategies to be a more intentional, creative, and devoted teacher. In the upcoming 2015-2016 school year, Torie cannot wait to begin her journey at Valor, to return to the middle school age group that captured her heart, to continue to serve Nashville’s students, and most importantly to learn from her incoming 5th grade students.

When Torie isn’t at school, she likes to explore as much as she can. Her explorations might involve trying a new yoga class, discovering a new hiking trail, tackling a new paleo recipe, catching up with friends over coffee, adding distance to her half marathon training, listening to live music at local venues, or settling into a favorite book.

Sahara Evans

Compass Coach

Bio

Sahara Evans

Compass Coach

Sahara Evans is a native of Pittsburgh, PA., and has lived in Nashville since 2000. Her appreciation for numerous cultural backgrounds and her focus on community collaboration has led her to study abroad in Egypt and Spain, as well as a number of volunteer opportunities. Sahara is a strong advocate of hands-on, inquiry-based learning. She involves youth in a variety of community service, and problem-solving infused activities that provide them with opportunities to use their strengths to help others. Since 2002 Sahara has spent many years working in the nonprofit sector. She also worked at the YMCA of Middle Tennessee, where she received the Strong Woman award. Sahara enjoys traveling with her family, reading and spending time with her French Bulldog who has been described as a “lazy diva”.  Sahara received both her Bachelor of Science and Master’s Degree from Tennessee State University, in the field(s) of Speech Pathology and Audiology, and Public Administration

Jamie Gutter

Assistant Principal

Bio

Jamie Gutter

Assistant Principal

Mr. Gutter is moving into a leadership role after teaching fifth grade math for two years at Valor Flagship. In the past two years, he has served in different leadership positions, coaching teachers on high leverage instructional techniques and serving as the Math Department Chair. Before Valor, Mr. Gutter worked at Glenview Elementary School, working with a diverse community of learners to help reach their full potential. Mr. Gutter taught for third grade for two years and then moved up to fourth grade for his third year to help his students and their families prepare for the transition into Middle School. Mr. Gutter loves working with young students, and helping them realize what they are capable of accomplishing through hard work, collaborating with others, and being willing to take chances to be successful.



Mr. Gutter is originally from North Carolina, where he attended the University of North Carolina. He was a Public Policy and Economics major, and did a lot of work in North Carolina in the political and policy world for non-profits, consulting groups, and political campaigns. He also tutored an at-risk student while in North Carolina, and helped coach different basketball teams and worked at summer basketball camps in the area. Mr. Gutter moved to Nashville to join Teach For America, and he has remained teaching past his original two year commitment. Mr. Gutter holds a M.Ed. in Instructional Practice from Lipscomb University. Mr. Gutter stayed involved with Teach For America by facilitating training sessions for new teachers in Nashville about best practices to be used in the classroom once he completed his two year commitment. Mr. Gutter also participates in a fellowship of other young educators interested in becoming school leaders.



In his spare time, Mr. Gutter loves watching and playing basketball. He also enjoys cooking and reading non-fiction books about history and politics. Mr. Gutter recently got married, so he loves spending time with his wife, two cute nephews and whole family.

Jamie Helgeson

Lead Teacher: 5th Science

Bio

Jamie Helgeson

Lead Teacher: 5th Science

Ms. Helgeson moved to Nashville a year ago from Seattle, Washington, where she was born and raised. She studied Elementary Education at the University of Washington in Seattle and is currently finishing up her Master’s degree from Lipscomb University. She started working at Valor as the 5th grade science teacher last year and quickly fell in love with the community.

In her free time, she loves to be outside, whether it’s hiking, running, or just enjoying a walk. Ms. Helgeson loves Husky football (go dawgs!) and kicking back with friends and family. Ms. Helgeson is ecstatic to start her second year here at Valor!

Alicia Hunker

Lead Teacher: 6th Grade Math

Bio

Alicia Hunker

Lead Teacher: 6th Grade Math

Mrs. Hunker moved to Nashville from Dallas, Texas in 2013 where she was born and raised. She studied Elementary Education at St. Mary’s University in San Antonio Texas. After teaching for seven years she discovered her teaching niche was middle school math, which led her to Valor. Passionate about motivating scholars through intentional learning experiences, positive guidance, encouragement, and feedback made joining the Valor team a natural choice.

In her free time, Mrs. Hunker loves to attend her husband’s concerts all over the country, giving them an opportunity to explore the world together. She is also an ultra-marathoner and will have completed 21 marathons by the end of the year. Mrs. Hunker is ecstatic to begin her second year at Valor!

Amelia Klug

Lead Teacher: 5th Grade Social Studies

Bio

Amelia Klug

Lead Teacher: 5th Grade Social Studies

Ms. Klug, a native of Florida, received her undergraduate degree in Public Administration with minors in Education and Non-Profit Management from the University of Central Florida. Passionate about serving her university, she was inducted into the Order of Pegasus–the highest honor given to a UCF student. She served on the Teach For America recruitment team for two years in college, working to bring the best and the brightest campus leaders into the field of education.

Ms. Klug joined the Valor Team as a 5th grade Social Studies teacher last year after began her teaching career as an English Language Instructor for the New York Mets Baseball Academy in the Dominican Republic. During her time with the Mets, she prepared Dominican professional baseball players for life and culture in the United States.

Ms. Klug has a strong interest in global education systems, focusing her UCF Honors In The Major thesis on factors that affect high and low performing education systems around the world. Last year she spent time volunteering in an city orphanage and indigenous village in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala, where she gained passion and drive to ensure all children are given a high quality education.

Outside of school, Ms. Klug loves live music venues, coffee shops, art, volunteering, traveling, and being outdoors. She feels incredibly lucky to be a part of the Nashville and Valor community!

Alana Raybon

Lead Teacher: 6th Grade Reading

Bio

Alana Raybon

Lead Teacher: 6th Grade Reading

Alana Raybon found her calling to education while working with troubled teens at a youth home in Colorado, and later as a paraprofessional in a 2nd grade classroom. After graduating from the University of Northern Colorado, with a B.A. in Education, she married and moved to Texas where she taught for 10 years as as a 3rd-7th grade lead teacher to a diverse population. While teaching, she has been a mentor to new and student teachers, a school accreditation advisor, and a tutor. Now in her second year at Valor Collegiate Academies, Alana is excited about continuing her education while embarking on a master’s degree in educational policy at Vanderbilt.

Alana grew up in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains in the “Mile High City” of Denver. Alana’s teaching is inspired by fond memories of her teachers at the British primary school she attended during1st through 3rd grade. As a child, she competed in figure skating, took dance lessons, and loved reading Nancy Drew mysteries. Alana is also a published author, blogger and mother to three young children and a teenage stepson. In her spare time, she enjoys playing dolls with her two girls, sword fighting with her son, discussing philosophy with her stepson, exercising with her husband, and reading science fiction.

Asenat Rodriguez

Assistant Principal

Bio

Asenat Rodriguez

Assistant Principal

A Houston, Texas native, Ms. Rodriguez began her career in education at Houston’s highly ranked YES Prep in 2007 after earning a B.A. in Mathematics from Salem College. Inspired to expand her cultural lens, she moved abroad to South Korea where she taught at a public South Korean elementary school. She spent nearly two years there teaching, learning, and traveling. Nashville became a home for her three years ago when she began to pursue her graduate studies at Vanderbilt. Ms. Rodriguez’s M.Ed. in Human Development Counseling, fused with her teaching and personal experiences, informs much of her approach to nurturing balanced individuals in academic settings. It also allows her to integrate her passion for aesthetic and space design with the social/emotional experience of education.

In her spare time, Ms. Rodriguez enjoys exploring new places, dining out, and spending time out in the sun. 

Matt Samples

Lead Teacher: 5th Grade Math

Bio

Matt Samples

Lead Teacher: 5th Grade Math

Matt Samples is a Philadelphia-area native who found a new home in Nashville by way of attending Vanderbilt University. He earned his B.A. in Public Policy Studies while at Vanderbilt while also finding a passion for educational equity and ensuring that all students have access to an excellent public education. Along the way, he fell for his future wife, Tori, and the city of Nashville. He joined the Teach for America Nashville corps in 2012 and taught sixth grade social studies and math at Liberty Collegiate Academy, a charter middle school in East Nashville, for two years. While at Liberty, he led students to significant academic gains in both social studies and math. After completion of his two-year commitment at Liberty, Matt and Tori went to Tanzania for three months doing mission work and then spent three months in Switzerland studying at a theological center called L’Abri. 

At the moment, Matt is completing a M.Ed. in Instructional Practice from Lipscomb University, adjusting to a new home in South Nashville, and preparing for the upcoming school year. In his free time, Matt loves to read and practice Swahili and French with his wife, stay actively involved in his church, watch in anything related to Vanderbilt sports and volunteer teaching an English class to refugees here in Nashville. He is beyond excited to return to the sixth grade math classroom at Valor this year!

Carlyn Wudel

Apprentice Teacher

Bio

Carlyn Wudel

Apprentice Teacher

Ms. Wudel moved to Nashville 30 years ago from Boston, Massachusetts. Ms. Wudel graduated from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville with a Bachelor of Science in Communications. Ms. Wudel worked as the Assistant Director of Fundraising for Big Brother Big Sisters, Nashville for three years. In 2004, Ms. Wudel and her family moved to Michigan for two years, where Ms. Wudel was the Development Director for Spectrum; a non-profit helping children and adults with addiction. Ms. Wudel moved back to Nashville in 2006 and stayed at home to raise her three children. Carlyn has three children, ages 22, 20 and 17. Carlyn will be sending her last child off to college next fall. Becoming an empty nester has led Carlyn to pursue a Master of Education at Lipscomb University, she will finish in May, 2017.

Carlyn’s favorite past times include: spending time with her family, walking her dogs, reading great books and traveling. Carlyn is a devout Michigan football fan….GO Blue!!

Carlyn is excited to be a part of the Valor team, and looks forward to the next year as an apprentice teacher, on the Flagship 6th grade team.

Zachary Adams

Lead Teacher: 7th Grade Science

Bio

Zachary Adams

Lead Teacher: 7th Grade Science

Zachary is starting his fifth year teaching this academic year. He has been teaching 7th grade science for the past two years at Nashville Prep. At Nashville Prep Mr. Adams’ students had the highest TCAP scores of any open-enrollment school in the city. He began his career in education as a Teach For America corps member in the Mississippi Delta in 2012. Zachary was a policy fellow at the Mississippi Department of Education and co-authored a report outlining a more flexible model of graduation requirements that became state law. Zachary spent this last summer providing research support to the Tennessee Department of Education on initiatives related to college and career readiness. Zachary graduated cum laude from Houghton College and is currently pursuing his master’s degree at Vanderbilt University in education policy.

Wilson Boyd

Lead Teacher: 7th Grade Social Studies

Bio

Wilson Boyd

Lead Teacher: 7th Grade Social Studies

Mr. Boyd is a Mississippi native and graduate of its public schools. After a stint as a newspaper reporter in Vicksburg, MS, he joined Teach for America in Philadelphia, PA in 2005 and has been working in education since then. Most recently, he was dean of students for DSST: Byers Middle School in Denver. He is excited to return to Nashville, his adopted hometown, after a three-year sojourn to the Mile High City. He sincerely hopes he is able to see a Super Bowl parade in Nashville like the one recently held in Denver.

Mr. Boyd has a B.A. in economics from Mississippi State University, a M.S.Ed. from the University of Pennsylvania, and was a CORO Fellow in Public Affairs. His wife also teaches 7th grade and they have a toddler who keeps them on their toes. Outside of school, Mr. Boyd enjoys running, swimming, hiking, and searching for the perfect hot sauce.

Ashley Cunningham

Lead Teacher: 6th Grade Science

Bio

Ashley Cunningham

Lead Teacher: 6th Grade Science

Ms. Cunningham, a Massachusetts native, graduated from the University of Massachusetts with a Bachelor of Arts in English and Political Science in 2009. Immediately after graduation, Ms. Cunningham moved to Seoul, South Korea to teach English as a Second Language. This adventure allowed her to combine her two biggest passions: education and travel. After returning from Korea, Ms. Cunningham moved to Nashville and began a new journey as a fifth-grade science teacher at Liberty Collegiate Academy, where her students achieved the highest 5th grade science growth scores in the state of Tennessee. While teaching at Liberty, Ms. Cunningham completed her Masters degree in Educational Studies from Johns Hopkins University. The incredible sense of community and joy at Valor as well as the focus on the social and emotional growth of its scholars is what drew Ms. Cunningham to make the move to Valor.

In her free time, Ms. Cunningham is obsessed with reading and traveling. She has traveled to 25 countries and loves trying exciting new foods, learning about different cultures and meeting inspiring people around the world.

Mike Elko

Director of Operations

Bio

Mike Elko

Director of Operations

Michael joins the Valor team after working in multiple roles for RePublic Schools including, Assistant Principal of RePublic High School, Director of Extracurricular Activities for all Nashville based RePublic Schools, and Literacy Coordinator at Liberty Collegiate Academy. Prior to working for RePublic Schools, Michael taught 7th grade literacy in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Michael graduated summa cum laude from the University of South Carolina with a B.A. in Experimental Psychology and Political Science. He is an avid sports fan and enjoys working out and reading in his spare time.

Victoria Engelhardt

Lead Teacher: 7th Grade ELA

Bio

Victoria Engelhardt

Lead Teacher: 7th Grade ELA

A Kentucky native, Ms. Engelhardt attended Georgetown College outside of Lexington where she received a B.A. in Communication and Media Studies, and was awarded a fellowship to study at Regent’s Park College, Oxford University. Upon returning from Oxford, she developed her love of teaching as a high school English teacher through Teach For America Appalachia in the small town of Barbourville, Ky. While there, Ms. Engelhardt completed a Masters of Education degree in Teacher Leadership through Georgetown College and was named the TFA Appalachia Teacher of the Year in 2014.

In the summer of 2015, Ms. Engelhardt relocated to Nashville to focus on education policy through the Urban Leaders Fellowship. She heard Todd Dickson speak and immediately knew Valor was where she needed to be. There was just one problem: Ms. Engelhardt had received a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship and was moving to Taiwan in two weeks. After a week of interviews, Ms. Engelhardt became the first hire of the 2015-2016 school year and left the US completely thrilled that she would be coming back to work at Valor.

During her time in Taiwan, Ms. Engelhardt taught 4-6th grade English as a Foreign Language and was an adjunct faculty member at the National Kaohsiung Normal University’s Center for Language and Culture. She has spent the last year developing a love of meditation, mangoes, and listening to the stories of every person she meets.

Mariah Green

Lead Teacher: 5th and 6th Grade Writing

Bio

Mariah Green

Lead Teacher: 5th and 6th Grade Writing

Ms. Green is from Canton, Ohio–the home of President William McKinley and the Pro Football Hall of Fame City. Born, raised and educated in the Buckeye State, Ms. Green brings great pride, tenacity and resiliency to Music City. Prior to moving to Nashville, Tennessee, she attended Miami University of Ohio where she majored in Social Justice Studies and minored in Rhetoric/Writing and Political Science. Not only did Ms. Green focus on her grades, but she also worked outside of the classroom to advocate for the needs of Miami University students as the Secretary for Diversity Affairs in Associated Student Government and as the President of the Diversity Affairs Council (DAC). As the President of DAC, she initiated Unity Day to bridge the gaps between minority and majority groups on campus. As a result of her commitment to service on and off campus, she received the Outstanding Social Justice Studies major, Outstanding Student Organization and President’s Distinguished Service Award.

Upon graduating,Ms. Green embarked on a journey as a 2014 Metro-Atlanta, Teacher for America Corps Member where she taught 10th grade Literature & Composition. Through her time in Atlanta, Ms. Green worked both inside and outside of the classroom to advocate on behalf of the needs of scholars by initiating and executing the 1st school tradition–Unity Week, which consisted of celebrating the birthday of the school’s namesake, Langston Hughes and hosting a cultural festival, talent show, and pep rally with an Atlanta-based rapper.

Ms. Green is ecstatic about bringing her passion for social justice, diversity and unity to Valor as a 5th and 6th grade writing teacher. She wants scholars to develop a deep passion for writing by seeing their cultural identity in the work so that they may ultimately develop a voice to advocate for their individual and collective needs in the world.

Laura Beth Hodge

Special Education

Bio

Laura Beth Hodge

Special Education

A Tennessee native raised in Georgia, Mrs. Hodge is thrilled to be starting her teaching career in Nashville! In May 2015, she graduated from Samford University in Birmingham, AL with a bachelor’s in K-6 general and special education. She then immediately began her master’s degree in High Incidence Disabilities in SPED on scholarship at Vanderbilt’s Peabody College. In the midst of graduate school, getting married, and working part-time, Mrs. Hodge stumbled on a Valor job advertisement in a Vanderbilt newsletter and immediately applied.

Valor’s unique mix of academic rigor and joy captured her attention, and she is so excited to help every scholar succeed at this wonderful school! Apart from teaching, Mrs. Hodge loves to workout, read, cook, travel, and go on walks with her husband and dog.

Arlene Linger

Office Manager

Bio

Arlene Linger

Office Manager

Lindsey Longoria

Special Education

Bio

Lindsey Longoria

Special Education

Ms. Longoria grew up in an Air Force home, and therefore moved around a lot during childhood. Her many “hometowns” include: Tampa, Florida, D’Iberville, Mississippi, Las Vegas, Nevada, Yigo, Guam, and Woodbridge, Virginia. Most recently, she attended Messiah College in Grantham, Pennsylvania, where she earned her Bachelor of Arts in Youth Ministry, and spent a semester abroad living and studying in Uganda. Ms. Longoria is ecstatic to be joining the Valor Flagship team as she pursues her Master of Education in Instructional Practice at Lipscomb University. While she may be new to the Nashville area (she just got here in June 2016), nothing can stop her passion for working with young people, particularly those with diverse learning needs. Her great passion in life is community-building, and she hopes to put down deep roots in this city.

When she is not in the classroom, Ms. Longoria treats the world as a classroom, and is always searching for new places to explore, including: local restaurants, scenic hiking spots, and new dog parks to hang out with her goldendoodle puppy, Peter. Ms. Longoria also has experience working in a bakery, and she treats baking as a mindfulness practice, so if you are ever in need of a fresh-baked treat or recipe, seek her out.

Carley Peats

Lead Teacher: 7th Grade Math

Bio

Carley Peats

Lead Teacher: 7th Grade Math

Ms. Peats was born and raised in Camden, Maine and made her way to Nashville after completing her undergraduate degree from Quinnipiac University in Hamden, Connecticut. Upon moving to Nashville, Ms. Peats joined Nashville Teaching Fellows and started her teaching career at Madison Middle School as a 6th grade math teacher. Following her time at Madison, she taught 7th grade math at Nashville Prep before making her way to Valor! She is ecstatic to continue teaching math and to work with the incredible 7th grade scholars at Flagship. She is currently pursuing her M.Ed at Lipscomb University.

Prior to teaching in Nashville, Ms. Peats taught English and reading at an orphanage in Lilongwe, Malawi and was a classroom assistant in Guatemala City, Guatemala where she discovered her love of teaching and helping others. Aside from teaching, Ms. Peats loves traveling, boating, and all fitness classes.

Michelle Prinzo

Lead Teacher: 5th and 6th Grade Math

Bio

Michelle Prinzo

Lead Teacher: 5th and 6th Grade Math

Ms. Prinzo is an Ohio Native and proud alumni of the University of Cincinnati. After earning a Bachelor’s of Science in Early Childhood Education and a Bachelor’s of Arts in Communication from the University of Cincinnati Ms. Prinzo moved to Nashville with the 2011 Teach for America Greater Nashville Corps. Ms. Prinzo spent 5 years working in MNPS, most recently as a 3rd grade teacher at Haywood Elementary. During this time Ms. Prinzo also earned an EL endorsement and Master’s degree in Teaching, Learning, and Leading from Lipscomb University. As a teacher Ms. Prinzo is most passionate about differentiating instruction so that each scholar can make as much growth as possible.

Beyond the school day you will find Ms. Prinzo practicing yoga, hiking with her dog Tala, planning her next travel adventure or curling up with a good book.

Steph Tanner

Compass Coach

Bio

Steph Tanner

Compass Coach

Born and raised in Western Massachusetts, Ms. Tanner received her BFA in Photography from Columbia College Chicago. While in Chicago she worked for the Center for Community Arts Partnerships tutoring in Chicago Public Schools and running a family resource center. This, coupled with her personal experiences in the public education system, propelled her to join Teach For America in 2011. As a 2011 Appalachia charter corps member, Ms. Tanner taught Spanish to 7th-12th grade students in the small town of Barbourville, KY. During her three years teaching she was recognized as the Tri-County Teacher of the Year in 2015, as well as founded and still runs an organization that enables Appalachian high schoolers to travel and serve abroad.

While teaching, it became clear to Ms. Tanner that she loved working in a school, but teaching wasn’t quite the right role for her. She loved building strong relationships with students and families, and felt passionately about ensuring that students were being supported not just academically but also social and emotionally. Because of that, she decided to attend graduate school at the University of Virginia where she just earned her Masters in Education in School Counseling.

Outside of the education world, Ms. Tanner is a die-hard New England sports fan, can be found petting every dog that walks past her on the street, and is constantly searching for the next greatest spot to eat. She’s excited to begin her work with VCA and get to know the various communities that make up this great city.

Sam Moxley

Apprentice Teacher

Bio

Sam Moxley

Apprentice Teacher

Mr. Moxley is a native to Nashville where he went to Julia Green for elementary school, Christ the King School for grades 5 and 6, and then Montgomery Bell Academy for the rest of middle school and high school. He then went Belmont University where he earned a bachelor’s degree in history and minored in education. Mr. Moxley became part of the Valor team through Nashville Teacher Residency program. NTR is a brand-new program designed to recruit and train effective teachers for the Nashville community and Valor is one of the schools they have partnered with for their inaugural year. Mr. Moxley comes from a family full of educators as both of his parents have taught English in Nashville for most or all of their professional careers.

Outside of Valor and NTR Mr. Moxley is an avid outdoorsman who loves to kayak, hike, camp, rock-climb, and generally spend all of his free time outside the house. When not doing outdoorsy things Mr. Moxley is extremely passionate about ultimate frisbee. He started playing in high school at MBA and has been competing for the last 10 years. He has played at the college level as well as the semi-pro level for several different teams, but has transitioned more into a coaching and administrating role in the last year. He is an assistant coach for Tennessee’s women’s team (Encore) and the head coach for the Belmont women’s team (URSA). He is also on the board of directors as the League Coordinator for Nashville Ultimate Machine (NUM) which organizes all things ultimate in Nashville.

Steve Nelson

Apprentice Teacher

Bio

Steve Nelson

Apprentice Teacher

Mr. Nelson was born and raised in Texas. As a young man, he played bass guitar in a garage band and earned a varsity letter for football. After high school, Mr. Nelson spent two years volunteering for his church in the Philippines. Years later, he would again volunteer, this time as an infantry soldier in the 101st Airborne Division, where he served with distinction from 2006 – 2010, deploying to Iraq and Afghanistan. After his enlistment, Mr. Nelson used the GI Bill to graduate cum laude from Texas State University with a History degree. The years Mr. Nelson spent as a missionary and a soldier instilled a deep commitment to social justice and education. He loves teaching and serving the scholars at Flagship.

In his free time, Mr. Nelson enjoys tennis, jogging, reading, NPR, and live music.

Katlin Stodard

Apprentice Teacher

Bio

Katlin Stodard

Apprentice Teacher

Emily Fish

Associate Teacher

Bio

Emily Fish

Associate Teacher

Ms. Fish was born and raised in Nashville, where she attended University School of Nashville for many years. She studied Environmental Science and Education Studies at The Colorado College. During her college summers, Ms. Fish worked at a variety of summer camps in North Carolina teaching hiking, backpacking, and rock-climbing skills to kids of all ages. Her experiences working at summer camps and coursework in Colorado College’s Education Studies department helped solidify her desire to work with students and share her love for learning with them. After completion of her undergraduate degree in 2014, Ms. Fish returned to Nashville and soon after enrolled in Lipscomb University’s Master’s of Education program. She has since received her M.Ed. in Instructional Practice as well as her TN Teaching License. Ms. Fish is currently certified to teach Middle Grades (4-8) and Secondary Biology (7-12). She is thrilled to be spending her first year of teaching on the 7th grade team at Valor!
In her spare time, Ms. Fish enjoys tending to her garden, reading a good book, and singing in her church choir.

Elyse Johnson

Apprentice Teacher

Bio

Elyse Johnson

Apprentice Teacher

Ms. Johnson was born and raised in Stone Mountain, Georgia by her mother and aunt. After graduating from high school, Ms. Johnson attended Tennessee State University. During her time at Tennessee State University, Ms. Johnson played trombone for the marching band and have two works that were published. After obtaining her bachelor’s degree in English with a minor in Philosophy from TSU, Ms. Johnson was chosen to be apart of a new teacher residency program called Nashville Teacher Residency. Ms. Johnson’s first year of teaching will be at Valor, and she is very excited to be here! In her spare time Ms. Johnson enjoys playing video games, community service, painting, and making delicious desserts.

Saniha Lakani

Apprentice Teacher

Bio

Saniha Lakani

Apprentice Teacher

Saniha Lakhani was born in Queens, New York. Eventually, she moved to Tennessee in 2006 and made Franklin her new home. After earning the International Baccalaureate Diploma at Franklin High in 2013, Ms. Lakhani decided to attend Belmont University where she joined the Honors Program and earned the title of Belmont Scholar upon graduation. She thoroughly enjoyed her college experiences and participated in several extracurricular activities including Belmont Ambassadors, Bruin Recruiters, and Student Accountability Council Board. Ms. Lakhani held two internships during these years where she worked at Senator Alexander’s State office in Nashville and at the Department of Commerce’s Nashville Export Center. She graduated in three years with a Bachelors of Science in International Economics with double minors in French and Education. Currently, Ms. Lakhani is a member of Nashville Teacher Residency Program, and she is working toward her TN teaching license.

Ms. Lakhani obtained a lot of her experience working with the youth through leadership roles at her Jamatkhana, a worship place for Shia Imami Ismaili Muslims. For several years, she served as a Volunteer Resource Management (VRM) Youth Facilitator, where she guided all of the youth volunteers in serving efficiently and competently. Likewise, she led numerous positive youth development initiatives to help create a holistic environment for the youth. In addition, Ms. Lakhani received many opportunities at the Religious Education Center (REC) within her Jamatkhana. After gaining a year of teaching experience, she became Head of Instruction in 2014 and then Head of Operations in 2015. This year, Ms. Lakhani has been graciously honored to receive the opportunity of becoming REC Principal. She is deeply humbled by this opportunity and hopes that her experiences at Valor will better guide her in leading REC with her team.

Ms. Lakhani is extremely excited to work at Valor! She is looking forward to meeting her students and learning more about the diverse communities that create Valor!

Kaytlyn Lowhorn

Apprentice Teacher

Bio

Kaytlyn Lowhorn

Apprentice Teacher

Ms. Lowhorn is thrilled to spend her first year teaching at Valor|Flagship!! After growing up in nearby Hendersonville, Tennessee, she spent her college years at Belmont University in Nashville. She graduated Magna Cum Laude from Belmont in May 2016 with a Bachelor’s of Science degree in History; she will be pursuing her Master’s of Arts in Teaching at Belmont throughout this school year. While in college, she was very involved in Big Brothers Big Sisters, which solidified her love for mentoring programs. Valor’s focus on mentoring is one of the first things that caught her eye about the school.

When not in school, Ms. Lowhorn loves to spend her free time cooking, hiking, exploring Nashville, and going on cruises. She cannot wait to spend the school year learning and growing alongside her 5th grade scholars!

Tonya Stewart

Special Education Paraprofessional

Bio

Tonya Stewart

Special Education Paraprofessional

Heather Berg

Associate Teacher.

Bio

Heather Berg

Associate Teacher.

Ms. Berg, a Florida native, is a proud graduate of the University of Virginia (go hoos!). While there, she majored in Leadership and Public Policy and spent her time outside of the classroom moderating dialogues, volunteering in classrooms, and mentoring refugee youth in the Charlottesville community. Her real passion, though, was the student organization she co-founded, UFUSED (United for Undergraduate Socioeconomic Diversity). As a first generation, low-income college student herself, she recognized a huge need for better support and resources for students from similar backgrounds and advocacy for policies that protected these students. It was largely this experience and her own background as a low-income student in a broken public school system that fueled her passion for education. She’s been blessed with some truly life-changing teachers and recognized that students’ ability to succeed and reach their fullest potential was mostly a product of their environment and education, and is committed to ensuring that every student has access to an incredible education and the opportunity to develop and pursue their own passions and life paths.

Ms. Berg moved to Nashville immediately after graduation and spent her first year teaching 5th grade ELA at Nashville Prep. She cherished the opportunity to grow students as readers, and is passionate about literacy both in and outside the classroom. While participating in a summer fellowship, she heard Todd Dickson speak and immediately knew that Valor was the right school for her. Their commitment to diversity, social-emotional development, and building a joyful culture all rang true to her and she feels so lucky to be part of the Valor community.

When not in the classroom, Ms. Berg loves to explore. She is a wanderlust at heart and at 35 countries deep, is almost always planning or daydreaming about her next trip. Around Nashville, she’s most often going hiking, listening to live music, exploring our food scene, or cozying up with a good book.

Valor | Voyager Academy Team

Jamie Bennett

Lead Teacher: 5th Science

Bio

Jamie Bennett

Lead Teacher: 5th Science

Jamie Bennett will join the Voyager family as the 5th grade Science teacher. She was born in Nebraska, spent her younger years in Massachusetts, and has lived in Tennessee since she was eight.

Jamie recently graduated from Tennessee State University with a Masters in Elementary Education and K-6 licensure. In 2011, Jamie graduated from the University of Tennessee at Martin with a Bachelor’s in Cell and Molecular Biology, but was unsure of her future goals. In 2012, she started teaching Pre-K and instantly knew she belonged in the classroom. In 2015, Jamie joined the Valor team as an apprentice teacher. She has also been the director for Camp Eagle Pride summer camp for the last two summers.

In her spare time, Jamie loves crafting, reading, and spending time with her husband Josh and their German Shepherd, Duke.

Amber Buchanan

Associate Teacher

Bio

Amber Buchanan

Associate Teacher

Mrs. Buchanan is a native Nashvillian. She earned her Bachelor’s in social welfare and creative writing from Augustana College in Rock Island, Illinois in 2014. While in college, Mrs. Buchanan spent her summers working for a non-profit called Mountain TOP located in Grundy County, Tennessee. She helped develop and run a day camp program for 6-11 year olds in the community which focused on developing perseverance while breaking the cycle of poverty. After graduating, Mrs. Buchanan moved back to Nashville to be an Americorps service member at the Martha O’Bryan Center. She loved the work she did with young people in diverse communities and decided to pursue this passion at Valor in 2015.
Mrs. Buchanan is currently in her final year of her Master’s program for Elementary Education with an ELL certification at Lipscomb University. When she isn’t doing homework, Mrs. Buchanan likes hiking with her best friend Ms. Landry, visiting new countries with her husband, and cheering on the Tennessee Volunteers.

Katie Castellón

Lead Teacher: 7th Grade Social Studies

Bio

Katie Castellón

Lead Teacher: 7th Grade Social Studies

Mrs. Castellón’s is thrilled to be returning to the Valor|Voyager team this year! Her love of teaching began overseas while working at an orphanage in Cochabamba, Bolivia with children between the ages of 1 to 6. This experience motivated her to launch into a career helping diverse student populations find success both in the classroom and in life. She spent six-months working with Communities in Schools of Richmond, serving at-risk students and helping them to stay in school. In the end, her heart called her back to Bolivia where she spent three years teaching 6th grade and coordinating ESL at the American International School of Bolivia.

Originally from Wilmington, Delaware, Mrs. Castellón completed her undergraduate studies at the University of Notre Dame, majoring in Sociology and Peace Studies. Aside from attending football games, during her time at Notre Dame, she spent countless hours in area schools volunteering with a conflict-resolution program (Take Ten) and giving ESL lessons. She continued her formal education from abroad while in Bolivia and completed her M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction for English Language Learners at George Mason University in 2014.
After five years overseas, Mrs. Castellón came to Nashville to be closer to her family and to join the Valor community. In her free time, she enjoys exploring Nashville with her husband, running, reading, and trying her hand at new recipes. After five years overseas, she is excited to be back in the US and looks forward to the year to come!

Jessica Corriveau

Lead Teacher: 5th Grade Reading

Bio

Jessica Corriveau

Lead Teacher: 5th Grade Reading

Jessica Corriveau most recently hails from Michigan where she attended the University of Michigan and obtained her undergraduate degree and master’s degree in urban pedagogy. While in Michigan, Mrs. Corriveau met and married her husband, and she taught middle and high school in Detroit as a Teach for America corps member. Before Michigan, she lived with her family in Shanghai, China and Taiwan for eleven years even though her family claims the many Italian American enclaves of New York City as their hometown.

Mrs. Corriveau followed her husband to Nashville a year ago, so he could begin his medical education at Vanderbilt University. She was excited to discover the city also contains her ideal teaching job– a place that values strong academics and student emotional learning. She is thankful to begin another year teaching her favorite subjects, reading and writing, to Voyager’s incoming fifth graders.

Matt Cutler

Lead Teacher: 6th Grade Reading

Bio

Matt Cutler

Lead Teacher: 6th Grade Reading

Born and raised in California, Matt grew up in Los Angeles and received a B.A. in Modern Literary studies from UC Santa Cruz. After college he spent a few years in Chicago, where he gained experience as a volunteer after-school tutor for a diverse group of middle and high school students. It was this work (and more particularly the young folks he met while there) that inspired Matt to pursue a Masters in Education and secondary-level teaching certification at Vanderbilt’s Peabody College. 

Matt is excited to return to VCA for his second year, having begun his Valor story as an apprentice teacher. Matt is a firm believer in the power of stories, and he is particularly passionate about supporting scholars as they develop their creativity and self-empowerment through writing. When he is not talking to others about expressing themselves or communicating their ideas, Matt can usually be found bicycling, gardening, or spending some quality time with his pet cat, Kiki.

Sarah Giblin

Principal

Bio

Sarah Giblin

Principal

Ms. Giblin began her career as an educator in 2005 as a Teach For America Miami-Dade corps member. She taught 6th, 7th, and 8th grade reading and writing in one of most sunny, but educationally divided cities in the country. Ms. Giblin also worked on staff at Teach for America, where she served as an instructional coach for new teachers and piloted a Literacy professional learning community that led all teachers to nearly double their impact on scholar reading growth.



A graduate of Loyola Chicago, Ms. Giblin moved back to the Windy City in 2009 to join the founding leadership team of Rowe Elementary School, a college-prep elementary charter school, where she worked as a teacher, literacy interventionist, and Academic Dean (the founding second grade class just graduated from 8th grade this past June!) During that time, she also completed graduate coursework at Dominican University to deepen her instructional knowledge.



Ms. Giblin joined the Valor team in 2013 (“Year 0”) and worked to write the curriculum for Valor’s founding year. (She also recruited Dr. Commons to move to Nashville and become the principal at Flagship!) She moved to Nashville in the spring of 2015 to become the founding principal for Voyager. Ms. Giblin’s favorite thing about Voyager is the diverse community of scholars, families, and teachers. She also loves morning arrival, literature seminar, and Weekend Rollout!

In her free time, when she isn’t reading about balanced literacy or strategic reading behaviors, Ms. Giblin enjoys spinning, yoga, running (she recently ran a Personal Best in a half marathon), knitting, and spending time with her niece.

Kylea Howell

Compass Coach

Bio

Kylea Howell

Compass Coach

Kylea is new to the Nashville area, having recently moved from the San Francisco Bay area where she grew up.  Although she was not quite prepared for the humidity, she loves everything Nashville has to offer.
 
Kylea received a Bachelor’s degree in Human Communications and Family Studies from Arizona State University where her interest was sparked by courses in child and adolescent development and early intervention. After graduating with her B.A., Kylea returned to the Bay Area where she worked for Seneca Family of Agencies, a non-profit mental health agency that provides supportive services to at-risk youth and families. It was her three years of experience working with this population that sparked her desire to pursue a Master’s degree in Psychology at Pepperdine University and continue to provide supportive services and coaching to families and community members around mental health and positive behavior interventions. Kylea worked full time for the Manhattan Beach Unified School District as an Intensive Behavior Interventionist while completing her two year graduate program at Pepperdine. 
 
After receiving her Master’s Degree in 2014, Kylea returned to Seneca Family of Agencies in Northern California where she joined the Allied Interventions (“All In!”) partnership. This partnership collaborated with public and charter schools to create a system of integrated academic, behavioral, and therapeutic supports in order to prevent student struggles while educating school staff on trauma informed practice and positive behavioral interventions. 
 
In California, Kylea enjoyed playing co-ed soccer, rooting for Bay Area professional teams (49ers and Giants), hiking, running with the family dog, swimming and spending time with her friends and colleagues. She looks forward to continuing these activities in Nashville.

Emily Peterson

Director of Operations

Bio

Emily Peterson

Director of Operations

Ms. Peterson is entering her second year at Valor and is excited to be joining the Voyager team as the Director of Operations. Previously, she was the Operations Coordinator supporting both Valor schools. Ms. Peterson joined Valor Collegiate Academies after spending 2 years as the Central Operations and Data Manager at Match Education in Boston. At Match Education, she supported in-district high school math tutoring programs, including a gold-standard study by the University of Chicago Urban Education Lab on the efficacy of 2:1 tutoring in improving outcomes and reducing violence in at-risk youth. Prior to that, she was a Match Corps Fellow at Match Middle School, where she tutored 6th through 8th graders and supported new school development.

Ms. Peterson graduated from the University of Oregon in 2011 with a bachelor’s degree in political science. Following graduation, she taught English to small groups of 7th through 12th grade students in rural Spain.

In her free time, Ms. Peterson enjoys traveling and exploring new places, diving into a good book, and riding horses.

Liza Landry

Apprentice Teacher

Bio

Liza Landry

Apprentice Teacher

Ms. Landry was born and raised in Amherst, New Hampshire. She earned her Bachelor’s in Sociology with a minor in Philosophy at Keene State College in Keene, New Hampshire. After graduating from Keene State in 2014, she moved to Nashville to begin her career working with children as an Americorps Elementary Education Specialist at the Martha O’Bryan Center. After her service year, Ms. Landry chose to work at Valor for its attention to diversity and passion for social emotional learning. She worked as the 2016-2016 6th grade Math Specialist and is excited to continue this role. Ms. Landry is currently in the Nashville Teacher Residency program to pursue her teaching license. In her spare time, Ms. Landry enjoys cooking, baking, hiking and hanging out with her best friend Mrs. Buchanan.

Katie Marshall

Lead Teacher: 5th and 6th Writing

Bio

Katie Marshall

Lead Teacher: 5th and 6th Writing

Katie first discovered the joy of teaching while she was in high school, when she was asked to serve as a tutor in a struggling Algebra 1 class. She loved helping students master something they had previously struggled with. From there she went to Oklahoma Christian University, where she graduated with a B.F.A. in 2007. After her college training, Katie moved to Yichang, China, where she taught English for two years at the China Three Gorges University. Living in China deepened her appreciation for different perspectives and for strong community.
Katie moved back to the U.S. in 2010 to manage a small law firm in Oklahoma City, while she prepared for graduate school. During that time, Katie’s passion for literacy led her to volunteer with the Oklahoma City Literacy Center, helping adults learn to read and write. She then moved to Chicago and earned her M.A. in English from Loyola University Chicago in 2012, where she continued to volunteer, this time with the Loyola Literacy Center. After earning her master’s degree, Katie taught writing and literature courses at both the City Colleges of Chicago and Prairie State College in Chicago. She also worked as a tutor in the college’s writing center. Teaching in Chicago increased Katie’s passion for diversity in education, and her desire to give every student access to outstanding instruction. Katie moved to Nashville in 2014 to teach English at Nashville Prep Charter School in northwest Nashville. She taught 7th grade literacy and global lit to an amazing group of students before joining Valor’s team in 2015.
Aside from her love of literacy, Katie also enjoys running, biking, and mountain-climbing. She reads voraciously in her free time and can’t wait to share many of her favorite books with her students.

Dan Nealis

Lead Teacher: 6th Math

Bio

Dan Nealis

Lead Teacher: 6th Math

After having graduated with a B.A. in Political Science from Dickinson College in Carlisle, PA, Dan’s first real experience in education came while serving as a Corp’s Member with City Year Greater Philadelphia. There he served as a mentor, tutor, and role model to at-risk students in a West Philadelphia high school. After completing his year of service, Dan taught English abroad in South Korea. While abroad, he taught students ages 5-16 and truly immersed himself in Korean culture.  

Upon returning home to Philadelphia, Dan committed to becoming a certified teacher. He was soon accepted into the Philadelphia Teaching Fellows program and taught high school and middle school math for 2 years at Mastery Charter campuses. With the desire to explore a new city and part of the country, he accepted a position at KIPP Academy Nashville last year.  

Dan is extremely honored and excited to join the Valor community. He is most excited about growing as a teaching professional and forging relationships with both students and colleagues at Valor. During his free time, you can find him working out, playing or watching basketball, rooting on Philadelphia sports teams, and attempting to learn to cook.

Allie Pedinoff

Special Education Teacher

Bio

Allie Pedinoff

Special Education Teacher

Ms. Pedinoff is a New Jersey native who attend college at the University of Delaware. There she earned her Bachelors of Science in Elementary Ed and Special Education. Immediately following graduation, Ms. Pedinoff moved down to Nashville to join the 2013 Teach for America Corps. She spent her first two year in Nashville teaching at a Charter school where she taught 7th grade math and then found her heart in Special Education. While teaching, she earned her Master’s Degree from Lipscomb University in Teaching, Leading, and Learning (Administration). While teaching, she knew something was missing and that is when she discovered Valor. Becoming part of the Valor team was a natural choice as encompassed positive feedback, emotional growth and support for scholars, a diverse population, and high academic rigor. Ms. Pedinoff is beyond excited to be jumping into her second year at Voyager! In her spare time she enjoys anything active, exploring Nashville, and reading a good book!

Emily Smith

Lead Teacher: 5th Grade Social Studies

Bio

Emily Smith

Lead Teacher: 5th Grade Social Studies

Ms. Smith joined the Valor team after teaching in her hometown of Arab, Alabama for two years. She had the pleasure of teaching 9th and 10th grade World History her first year, and Pre-AP United States History the second year. She is a sports enthusiast and has enjoyed coaching both soccer and basketball at her previous school. Ms. Smith received her Bachelor’s degree in History and Secondary Education from the University of North Alabama in 2013. She is very eager to be a part of the Valor team because of the outstanding reputation and potential of the school. 

In her free time, she enjoys reading, drinking coffee, doing Zumba, watching history documentaries, listening to live music, watching Alabama football (roll tide) and spending time with friends and family. Ms. Smith developed a passion for traveling after studying abroad in London with the history department at UNA. She loves meeting new people, experiencing different cultures, and going on adventures. She recently led an educational trip to Italy and Greece with a dozen of her former students. She looks forward to sharing her love for history and learning with her students at Valor. 

Shaina Tey

Lead Teacher: 7th Grade Math

Bio

Shaina Tey

Lead Teacher: 7th Grade Math

Ms. Tey is so excited to move up with her Valor scholars to the 7th grade this year! Her passion for teaching and career in education began in 2010 when she joined the Nashville Teaching Fellows. Ms. Tey taught 7th and 8th grade math and science for three years at JFK Middle School in Antioch, earned her M.Ed. from Belmont University in 2012, and joined the 7th grade founding team at Cameron College Prep in 2013. In 2015, she joined the founding team at Valor Voyager.
At Cameron College Prep, Ms. Tey and her team were able to make significant academic gains with their students, achieving the highest mathematics growth scores in the state of TN during the 2013 -2014 school year. At Cameron, she taught ELL 8th grade math and Algebra I, and she also served as an instructional coach and as 8th grade level chair. Ms. Tey loves teaching mathematics because she loves using challenging problems to help her students cultivate the skills and mindsets that will be required for post-secondary success, including persistence, resilience, resourcefulness, and a view of mistakes as learning opportunities.

Born in Oklahoma, Ms. Tey spent her childhood years in Singapore, where most of her extended family still lives. She went to middle school in the Bay Area of California and high school in Houston, Texas. In 2006, Ms. Tey moved to Nashville to attend Vanderbilt University (Go Dores!), graduating in 2010 with a degree in Human and Organizational Development and Economics. When she is not teaching, Ms. Tey loves being active – she especially enjoys rock climbing, Barre classes, and running outside! She also enjoys exploring new cities, reading, baking and cooking for her friends, watching live hockey (Go Preds!), and spending time with her adorable niece and nephew.

Kim Worley

Special Education Paraprofessional

Bio

Kim Worley

Special Education Paraprofessional

Mrs. Worley is a native of Nashville, Tn. Graduated from Antioch High School in 1988. Worked in the Metro School System for 10 years as a paraprofessional and 10 years as a private ABA therapist. She is very passionate about special needs children and helping them reach their fullest potential.

In her free time she loves spending time gardening, grilling out, spending time with her husband of 28 years, 3 children, 5 grandchildren and friends.

Yessenia Islas

Special Education Paraprofessional

Bio

Yessenia Islas

Special Education Paraprofessional

Knick Dixon

Assistant Principal

Bio

Knick Dixon

Assistant Principal

Mr. Dixon was born in West Germany and raised primarily in the “Bull City”, Durham, NC. He earned a BA in History and Ethnic Studies from East Carolina University and attended graduate school at both Duke University and Cumberland University, where he earned a Master of Arts in Education. Dixon began his career in education in 2004, as an 8th grade social studies teacher in Greensboro, North Carolina. The following year, he helped found KIPP: Pride High – one of the highest performing public schools in NC. During his tenure at Pride, he taught Civics and Economics, designed a course titled Social Justice, served as grade team leader, varsity basketball coach, step team coach, and wore several other hats.

In 2009, Dixon relocated to the central part of the state and taught United States and World History at Cary Academy, the top independent private school in the state of NC. Alongside his teaching responsibilities, he advised student affinity groups, and led the girls basketball team to runner-up in the conference tournament.

In 2011, Mr. Dixon transitioned to Nashville as a recipient of a highly selective school leadership fellowship facilitated by the KIPP Foundation. He taught 7th grade social studies and led Saturday Academy at KIPP Academy Nashville, and was recognized as a Level 5 (exemplary) teacher for consecutive years. In 2014, Dixon became the founding Dean of Students at KIPP Nashville Collegiate and led a school culture that has become a model of high performing charters across the country.

In his spare time, Mr. Dixon enjoys spending time with his lovely wife of 6 years and their energetic 3 year old daughter. He is an avid backyard griller, Knicks and NY Giants fan, enjoys reading John Grisham books, and watching legal thrillers. He is honored and delighted to be a member of Valor Collegiate Academies!

Rebecca Jacobson

Lead Teacher: 5th and 6th Math

Bio

Rebecca Jacobson

Lead Teacher: 5th and 6th Math

Ms. Jacobson is originally from western Colorado, but moved to Nashville in 2010. She completed her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Spanish at Vanderbilt University where she also conducted research on children’s language development. After graduation, she decided to pursue teaching through the Nashville Teaching Fellows program. For two years, Ms. Jacobson taught 2nd and 3rd grade at Haywood Elementary before eventually coming to Valor. She is especially passionate about helping students to discover their personal strengths and develop robust problem-solving and critical thinking skills that are applicable to the real world.

In her spare time, Ms. Jacobson loves to read research articles, cook, watch movies, and hike with her dog, Finley. She also loves learning languages (she is fluent in Spanish and Portuguese) and playing the drums.

J. Robert Lindsey

Lead Teacher: 6th Science

Bio

J. Robert Lindsey

Lead Teacher: 6th Science

Mr. Lindsey is thrilled to join the Valor team as a sixth grade science teacher at Voyager. Mr. Lindsey was born and raised in Kentucky, but made his way to Nashville in 2012. Before moving to Music City, Mr. Lindsey taught fifth grade science for two years in Kentucky. While living in Nashville, Mr. Lindsey taught sixth grade science at Liberty Collegiate Academy (where his students had the highest state science test scores in all of Nashville that year), and, most recently, Mr. Lindsey taught third grade literacy and math at Inglewood Elementary in east Nashville.

Along with education, Mr. Lindsey’s other passion is theater. Before teaching in Nashville, Mr. Lindsey traveled around Mexico, South America, and Alaska as a performer for Disney Cruise Line. He has also had the opportunity to perform with many professional theatre companies in Kentucky and Tennessee as well as serving as a teaching artist for The TheaterBug, a Nashville-based children’s theater.

When he’s not teaching or performing in a show, Mr. Lindsey loves running, yoga, baking, and spending time with his dog, Payton.

Maribel Martinez

Office Manager

Bio

Maribel Martinez

Office Manager

Maribel joins the Valor team after working as an Office Manager for Citizens of the World Charter School Williamsburg in Brooklyn, New York. She was one of the founding staff for CWC-NY when they opened two schools in the Brooklyn area. Maribel is fluent in Spanish and is familiar with American Sign Language.

Maribel enjoys spending time with her teenage boys and enjoys playing video games with her family and friends. On a serious note, she has an Associate’s degree in Business Management with Kaplan University where she graduated with honors and on the Dean’s list.

Michelle Merica

Apprentice Teacher

Bio

Michelle Merica

Apprentice Teacher

Ms. Merica was born and raised in Las Vegas, Nevada with her grandparents, mom, and two siblings. She attended American University in Washington, D.C. to study Literature with a focus in African American Literature and Print Journalism. Throughout college, she worked in restaurants and thought that eventually she would open one of her own, until she started tutoring on the side. This little “side job” brought her such joy that she decided to make it her life’s work. She moved to Nashville and worked in Special Education. Now, she is currently at Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College studying Secondary Ed. English. In her first year at Vanderbilt, she taught freshman at East Nashville Magnet, substitute taught at the Linden-Waldorf school, and assisted in developing curriculum for the Wisdom of Elders fellowship. She is incredibly grateful for the opportunity to teach at Valor Collegiate.

In her spare time she loves hiking with her dog, reading, gardening, and having loved ones around her kitchen table.

Michelle Morris

Special Education Teacher

Bio

Michelle Morris

Special Education Teacher

Mrs. Morris is native to Georgia, having moved to Tennessee in 1999. She pursued her Bachelor’s degree in Education at University of Phoenix. She obtained her Master’s degree in Education through Ashford University. Mrs. Morris’s career in education originated in the Head Start Organization, where she sat on the Board of TAEYC (Tennessee Association for the Education of the Young Child) and SCAEYC (South Central Association for the Education of the Young Child). Her influence on early childhood education is evident today in legislation within the Head Start organization for support of whole family.

Having completed the New Teacher Project through Nashville Teaching Fellows, Mrs. Morris found a home at Valor. Valor represented all of the values that Mrs. Morris sought as an educator. She is thrilled to be beginning her 2nd year at Valor, having been part of the founding team at Valor Voyager.

Outside of her passion for teaching and helping her scholars reach for the stars, Mrs. Morris is an avid Disney fan. She enjoys planning trips for family and friends, and vacationing at Disney Parks. When at home, she enjoys family time with her husband of 22 years, her three children, their spouses and her 3 grandchildren.

Sydney Omweg

Apprentice Teacher

Bio

Sydney Omweg

Apprentice Teacher

Ms. Omweg was born and raised in Yorktown, VA. She moved to Nashville in 2012 to attend Belmont University. After receiving a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Psychology and Elementary Education, she is currently pursuing a Master of Arts in Teaching from Belmont. During her undergraduate career at Belmont, Ms. Omweg was a member of the women’s soccer team. She previously worked at a daycare center, called Bright Heights Learning Center. This will be Ms. Omweg’s first year teaching, and she is very excited to spend it at Valor. Outside of school, Ms. Omweg enjoys coaching soccer, going to country music concerts, and watching football.

Steven Palmer

Lead Teacher: 7th Grade ELA

Bio

Steven Palmer

Lead Teacher: 7th Grade ELA

A Middle Tennessee native, Mr. Palmer grew up just outside of Nashville in Coopertown, TN. From there, he attended the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga where he earned his B.S. in Political Science with a minor in English Literature. While completing his academic work, Mr. Palmer held many leadership roles at UTC including Vice President of the Student Body and two-time Social Issues, Equity, and Diversity Chairperson for the Student Government Association.

After completing university, Mr. Palmer joined the Teach for America Appalachia Corps and was placed at Harlan Independent in Harlan, KY. During his tenure at Harlan Independent, Mr. Palmer taught courses in 8th Grade ELA and Writing, 9th Grade ELA, 11th Grade ACT Prep, and 12th Grade Writing Seminar. As Director of the Harlan High Drama program, Mr. Palmer directed both The Odd Couple and The Mind of Ray Bradbury. Furthermore, he served as both the Harlan Elementary Academic Team Coach and the Harlan High School Assistant Academic Team Coach.

In 2016, he was able to share his experiences of teaching in rural Appalachia back to Chattanooga by being a keynote speaker in the TEDX Chattanooga event. Mr. Palmer’s TEDX speech, entitled “Learning Appalachia: My Time Teaching in Coal Country” detailed the need for the region to invest in retaining the most creative and brightest young minds to spur economic and cultural development.

When not teaching, you can find him drinking way too much coffee with his nose in a book, trying out new restaurants around Nashville, and playing Pokemon GO with his niece.

Keana Russell

Apprentice Teacher

Bio

Keana Russell

Apprentice Teacher

Ms. Russell is entering her first year at Valor as one of the stretch and expedition teachers! Born in Ohio and raised in Goshen, Kentucky with her five younger brothers,
Ms. Russell moved to Nashville to pursue a degree in Public relations, but after accidently being placed in an Education class, found a love for teaching Elementary and Middle School scholars. She went on to pursue a degree in Education at Lipscomb University. Outside of teaching, Ms. Russell enjoys spending time reading, watching Science Fiction movies, and seeing live music in all the great spots that Nashville has to offer!

Kendra Shirey

Compass Coach

Bio

Kendra Shirey

Compass Coach

Ms.Shirey was born and raised in a small farming community in West Michigan. She attended Michigan State University, where she volunteered with organizations serving Lansing students and double majored in Arts & Humanities and Professional Writing. After graduation, Ms. Shirey moved to Nashville as a 2012 Nashville Teach for America corps member, and taught 5th grade at Jere Baxter Middle School in East Nashville. Following her corps commitment, Ms. Shirey continued teaching for an additional two years at KIPP Nashville College Prep where she also served as the 5th grade team leader. Ms. Shirey’s passions for creating positive classroom cultures and supporting all scholars to meet high expectations led her to the Compass Coach role, and she could not be more excited to serve in this capacity for the 2016-2017 school year!

JD Skipworth

Apprentice Teacher

Bio

JD Skipworth

Apprentice Teacher

Mr. Skipworth is a recent graduate from the University of Tennessee with a bachelor’s in Supply Chain Management and International Business. Throughout college he was exposed to many diverse communities that sparked a passion for empowering communities and after graduating college, the past experiences of working with kids and families continued to form a desire in him to seek opportunities to work in creating space for others to flourish. Joining Valor as an apprentice in partnership with Nashville Teacher Residency has provided the perfect opportunity to live out his passion for empowering communities through the opportunities of excellent education. The culture of joy and the opportunity for diverse groups to come together and learn from and grow with each other makes valor so attractive to him. He is excited to work and learn alongside so many amazingly talented and passionate teachers and staff.

When not at Valor, Mr. Skipworth enjoys being with friends, sharing good food, experiencing a great story, being active and finding the next outdoor adventure to be had. He also enjoys getting to know the city of Nashville and all of the amazing people and places that make it so special.

Jackson Sprayberry

Assistant Principal

Bio

Jackson Sprayberry

Assistant Principal

While working towards his Bachelor of Arts in Political Science at Lipscomb University, Mr. Sprayberry believed he would end up working as an attorney. However, his experience as a corps member with Teach For America altered that trajectory. As a corps member, he taught US Government at Central High School in Memphis, Tennessee. He also served as a Corps Member Advisor and School Director for Teach For America’s summer institute, where he trained new teachers and their coaches as they prepared to enter the classroom.

After his corps commitment, Mr. Sprayberry remained in Memphis and in the field of education, transitioning to Freedom Preparatory Academy Charter Schools, where he joined the founding high school team. While at Freedom Prep, he served as a Pre-AP World History Teacher, Social Studies Instructional Coach, and Dean of College Counseling on the school’s leadership team.

Most recently, Mr. Sprayberry served as Development and Partnerships Officer with The College Initiative, a college-access nonprofit, based in Memphis. However, after earning his Master of Science in Secondary Education from The Johns Hopkins University, he decided to step back into a school setting.

While his love for the city of Memphis runs deep, the incredible work happening at Valor made it hard to resist the opportunity to move back to Nashville and join the Valor team. He considers himself lucky to be given the opportunity to work with the families, scholars, and staff members that comprise the Valor community. When not at Valor, you can catch Mr. Sprayberry reading The New York Times, listening to NPR, drinking coffee (black, of course), or maybe playing his Xbox One.

Porsha Stallings

Apprentice Teacher

Bio

Porsha Stallings

Apprentice Teacher

Mia Steele

Lead Teacher: 6th Grade Social Studies

Bio

Mia Steele

Lead Teacher: 6th Grade Social Studies

Kaitlyn Vanhook

Lead Teacher: 5th Grade Math

Bio

Kaitlyn Vanhook

Lead Teacher: 5th Grade Math

Born and raised in Texas, Mrs. VanHook grew up in Austin and received a B.A. in Political Science from Texas Christian University. While in college, she gained experience as a volunteer after-school tutor in Fort Worth and participated in a community development project in Nicaragua. These experiences (and the students she met) inspired her to pursue a career in teaching. She moved to Nashville and joined Teach For America in 2012 and earned her Master’s of Education at Lipscomb University while teaching.

New to the Valor team this year, Mrs. VanHook is looking forward to experiencing the joy and community at Valor. She is a self-proclaimed “math nerd” and absolutely loves teaching fractions. In her free time, she enjoys traveling, reading, playing board games, and going on walks with her husband.

Reggie Whatley

Special Education Paraprofessional

Bio

Reggie Whatley

Special Education Paraprofessional

Maggie Watkins

Lead Teacher: 7th Grade Science

Bio

Maggie Watkins

Lead Teacher: 7th Grade Science

Scott Willis

Apprentice Teacher

Bio

Scott Willis

Apprentice Teacher

Mr. Willis is a South Carolina native who attended college at Sewanee: The University of the South, where he earned a B.A. in History, minored in Classical Languages and played on the baseball team. Mr. Willis moved to Nashville in the summer of 2015 and is currently pursuing his Master’s degree in Secondary Education at Vanderbilt with certification in Social Studies. He previously taught 8th grade Latin at Episcopal Collegiate School in Little Rock, Arkansas and also helped coach 5th and 6th grade football and varsity baseball. Mr. Willis is thrilled to be back in the classroom at Valor after spending the previous two years working as a legal assistant in Atlanta, GA and wavering over law school. Outside school, Mr. Willis can be found exploring Nashville’s superb live music scene, watching Clemson Tiger sports, or on the golf course searching in vain for his ball.

Chelsea Perritt

Apprentice Teacher

Bio

Chelsea Perritt

Apprentice Teacher

Raised just 45 minutes south of Nashville, Chelsea has always had a love for kids but she also had another passion, music. So in 2010 she attended Lipscomb University where she received a Bachelor’s degree in Marketing in hopes of one day working in the music industry. Little did she know that the course of her life would change drastically where she would soon find her way at Lipscomb’s doorstep once again for something completely different, teaching. She is now very thankful that she was faithfully led into the path of teaching.

Previously, she has traveled on mission trips to The Bronx, New York and Dominica (no, not the Dominican Republic :), where she worked with the kids there. She also worked at Franklin Road Academy in Nashville for 4 years with their after-school program, which is where her idea for teaching grew. She is currently at Lipscomb earning her Masters in Education, specifically in middle school ELA and ELL.

She has a love for travel and hopes to combine her love of kids and traveling together one day. In the future, she has a goal of teaching abroad and a softer goal of hitting all U.S. National Parks (as well as some out-of-country ones) so cheer her on! Chelsea is incredibly excited to be a part of the Valor community and is looking forward to learning so much with these awesome kiddos this year!

Lauren Woodson

Special Education Teacher

Bio

Lauren Woodson

Special Education Teacher

Mrs. Woodson was born and raised in Selma, Alabama. She earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Auburn University in the field of K-12 Special Education, with an emphasis in Transition Studies. While in grad school, she was a special education paraprofessional at an elementary school, serving students with physical, intellectual, and medical disabilities. In the fall of 2015, Mrs. Woodson moved to Nashville, Tennessee. She completed her first year of teaching special education at a middle school within Metro Nashville Public Schools.

Mrs. Woodson comes to Valor excited for her second year of teaching and ready to pioneer the first special education life skills classroom for this school. She is incredibly passionate about serving students with disabilities and enjoys helping them identify their strengths, interests, and preferences so that they can have a high quality of life. Mrs. Woodson is also looking forward to getting her students involved in the Best Buddies and Special Olympics programs here in Nashville.

In her spare time, Mrs. Woodson enjoys spending time with her family and friends, exploring new restaurants, and hosting board game nights.