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.