Valor Voyager Academy Team

Jamie Bennett

5th Grade Science

Bio

Jamie Bennett

5th Grade 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

Compass Teacher

Bio

Amber Buchanan

Compass 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 recently attained her Master’s in Elementary Education with an ELL certification at Lipscomb University.  When not at Valor, she enjoys hiking with her best friend Ms. Landry, visiting new countries with her husband, and cheering on the Tennessee Volunteers.

Katie Castellón

Assistant Principal

Bio

Katie Castellón

Assistant Principal

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

5th Grade Reading

Bio

Jessica Corriveau

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

8th Grade Reading

Bio

Matt Cutler

8th 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 Weir

Compass Coach

Bio

Kylea Weir

Compass Coach

Kylea moved from California to Nashville in July of 2015. Days after her move, she joined the Voyager team as they prepared for their founding year.  Kylea came to Voyager with 6 years of behavioral support experience, working for a mental health agency as a behavior counselor for at-risk youth. She graduated in 2014 from Pepperdine University with a Master’s in Psychology.  Kylea just got married this past May and is super excited to start her 3rd year at Voyager as Mrs. Weir (formerly Ms. H

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

8th Social Studies

Bio

Liza Landry

8th Social Studies

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

5th and 6th Writing

Bio

Katie Marshall

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

6th Grade Math and RTI

Bio

Dan Nealis

6th Grade Math and RTI

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.

Emily Smith

5th Grade Social Studies

Bio

Emily Smith

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

6th Grade Math and RTI

Bio

Shaina Tey

6th Grade Math and RTI

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

J. Robert Lindsey

Theater

Bio

J. Robert Lindsey

Theater

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 Hernandez

Office and Operations Coordinator

Bio

Maribel Hernandez

Office and Operations Coordinator

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.

Sydney Omweg

6th Grade Science

Bio

Sydney Omweg

6th Grade Science

Ms. Omweg was born and raised in Yorktown, VA. She was drawn to Nashville in 2012 when she was recruited to play soccer for Belmont University, and soon fell in love with the city. While at Belmont, she obtained a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Psychology, and she obtained a Master of Arts degree in Teaching. This will be Ms. Omweg’s second year at Valor, and she is very excited to return here. Outside of school, Ms. Omweg enjoys coaching soccer, going to country music concerts, and watching football.

Steven Palmer

7th Grade Reading

Bio

Steven Palmer

7th Grade Reading

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

6th Grade Reading

Bio

Keana Russell

6th Grade Reading

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 accidentally 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

Assistant Principal

Bio

Kendra Shirey

Assistant Principal

Ms. Shirey was born and raised in Sparta, MI. She attended Michigan State University, where she  double majored in Arts & Humanities and Professional Writing and spent time volunteering with organizations dedicated to underserved students. After graduation, Ms. Shirey moved to Nashville as a 2012 Nashville Teach for America corps member and spent two years teaching 5th grade ELA and Social Studies while also earning her Master’s in Education from Lipscomb University. Ms. Shirey continued teaching middle school English for an additional two years and developed leadership and coaching skills through her role as a 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 at Valor in 2016. She is honored to serve the Voyager community as an Assistant Principal this year, and looks forward to the many memories and moments of joy to come!

JD Skipworth

5th and 6th Grade Math Teacher

Bio

JD Skipworth

5th and 6th Grade Math 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.

Mia Steele

6th Grade Social Studies

Bio

Mia Steele

6th Grade Social Studies

Kaitlyn Vanhook

5th Grade Math

Bio

Kaitlyn Vanhook

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. Mrs. VanHook 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

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 college, Mrs. Woodson served with the Best Buddies and Special Olympics programs, making her even more passionate about working with individuals with disabilities. She is thankful to be returning to Valor for her third year of teaching.

In her spare time, Mrs. Woodson enjoys spending time with her husband, playing board games with friends, exploring new restaurants, traveling, and watching Auburn football.

Natalie Pendley

7th Social Studies

Bio

Natalie Pendley

7th Social Studies

Natalie Pendley is a Texas native, who is excited about living in Nashville! She earned her B.S. in Youth and Community Studies from The University of Texas at Austin and has been working at Yes Prep North Central in Houston for the past six years. At North Central over six years, she taught 6th, 7th, and 8th grade and served as the Dean of Students for the Middle School for three years.

In her free time, Natalie loves to be outside, and play sports like flag football and basketball. When she is not playing sports, she is probably reading or spending time with her two dogs Molly and Monroe. Ms. Pendley is STOKED about coming to Valor and meeting all of the parents and students! She is also excited about exploring Nashville and would love any recommendations!

Makenzie Torres

Special Education

Bio

Makenzie Torres

Special Education

Makenzie Torres is a New Jersey native, who moved to Nashville after joining the Teach For America 2015 corps. She earned her B.S. in Psychology from Lafayette College and her Masters in Special Education at Lipscomb University. For the past two years she has worked as a special education teacher for grades 7 & 8 in North Nashville, while also serving as the school’s special education coordinator.

During her years as a special education teacher she developed a passion for differentiation in order for her students to reach their fullest potential. At some point during her first year teaching she went to a local non-profit to get donated books for her classroom and ending up meeting her future husband, JC. They were married a Casa Azafran, right down the street from Valor!

At the moment, Makenzie enjoys running at Shelby Park, trying new recipes and drinking large amounts of coffee. She is always on the lookout for ways to make lessons more engaging, and uses this as justification to spend a lot of time/money at the dollar spot in Target. She can’t wait to join the Valor team next year!

Elizabeth Ponce

Art

Bio

Elizabeth Ponce

Art

Ms. Ponce is originally from New Orleans, La. She lived in Ecuador, for her middle school and high school years. This experience of growing up in her father’s home country, shaped her into the person she is today. She earned her undergraduate degree in Studio Art from Georgia State University, and earned her Master of Science in Education from Johns Hopkins University. Ms. Ponce taught Spanish at Grassland Middle School in Williamson County, for 6 years. She also produced the daily morning announcements broadcast for 4 years. She was also the set director for the school play, for 5 years in a row.

In her spare time, she enjoys drawing, painting, photography, reading, and cooking. She loves spending time with family and friends. Ms Ponce is very excited to join the Valor Collegiate Academy team in the 2017-2018 school year!

Alesha Harmon

7th Math

Bio

Alesha Harmon

7th Math

Alesha is the mother of Michael Jeremiah, a young man of Valor Flagship, and Ava Marie, a vivacious two-year-old. Although both of her children have been born and raised in Nashville, Alesha is originally from Chicago, IL. She moved to Antioch, TN as a high school junior and is a graduate of Metro Nashville Public Schools.

Alesha received her Bachelors of Journalism from the University of Missouri- Columbia. She went on to obtain her M.Ed in Instructional Practice as well as her Educational Specialist degree from Lipscomb University. Over the past 6 years, Alesha has had the pleasure of teaching 6th and 7th-grade students as well as coaching teachers leading 2nd-11th grade STEM classrooms.

In addition to her passion for education, she has a heart for the arts. She has been involved in dozens of musical theater productions across the country, teaches Zumba classes, and is a former cheerleading coach (hoping to dust off her pom poms in the near future). She enjoys merging her passions, so you are likely to hear our students singing and chanting about the rules of adding/subtracting positive and negative numbers.

Raleigh McCool

7th & 8th Writing

Bio

Raleigh McCool

7th & 8th Writing

Raleigh is from — wait for it — Nashville, Tennessee, and has tried to leave several times, only to be drawn back by family, friends, food, and lately, the exciting educational opportunities in his hometown.

After graduating from Lipscomb University with an English degree in 2011, Raleigh spent five years working at Crema Coffee Roasters (Nashville’s best, in his estimation) and freelance writing, where he covered his beloved Memphis Grizzlies for a popular blog. He always knew he wanted to teach, though, and returned to Lipscomb for his certification in 2016. Raleigh comes to Valor after completing his first year as an English and Social Studies teacher at Thurgood Marshall Middle Prep, also in south Nashville.

When he’s not at school, Raleigh makes time for reading, writing, going on walks, and eagerly shouting for the Grizzlies and Atlanta Braves. He is extremely jazzed to join the Valor team!

Ja’Mille Donaldson

Special Education

Bio

Ja’Mille Donaldson

Special Education

Ja’Mille is a native of Greenville, MS and absolutely loves her southern roots. She is the only girl of four boys. She loves basketball, reading and her family. After teaching in her hometown’s school district for a year and a half, she decided that it was time to show off her Delta flare.

Ja’Mille received her undergraduate degree in special education from Mississippi State University. While at State she realized that her presence in the classroom wasn’t an option. She needed to teach and nothing was going to stop her. She finds great pleasure in educating young minds.

Ja’Mille is extremely excited to be moving to a new city, relaunching her career and meeting all of the scholars of Valor.

Mary Cooper

8th Math

Bio

Mary Cooper

8th Math

Mary is a Nashville native who is so excited to be returning home after living in Washington D.C. for the past three years. She earned her B.S. in Public Health from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she also served as Student Body President. During her time as Student Body President she became passionate about education (and college basketball). After graduating, she joined Teach For America in Dallas where she taught Physics and AP Physics for two years. She then moved to Washington D.C. to teach Algebra 1 and Geometry in Washington D.C.

When she isn’t at school, Mary can be found at the some of the great parks around Nashville with her Mom and dog, Sirius, doing yoga, or exploring the great Nashville restaurants. Mary is so excited to be back home in Nashville and join the Valor community!

Derek Henson

Compass Coach

Bio

Derek Henson

Compass Coach

Growing up, Derek split time between rural East Texas and Pittsburgh, PA. He graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with a B.A. in English Literature and an M.A.T. in Secondary English Education. After graduation, Derek spent three years as a middle school English teacher in Houston, TX. Most recently, he worked as a Wilderness Therapy Field Instructor in Asheville, NC.

When Derek isn’t working, you will most likely find him sitting in the shade with a good book, hiking through the wilderness, catching a baseball or hockey game, or listening to spoken word poetry. Derek misses the mountains of Western North Carolina, but is super jazzed to join the Valor team!

Brandi L. Tucker

7th Science

Bio

Brandi L. Tucker

7th Science

Ms. Tucker began her teaching career at John Early Paideia Magnet Middle School in Nashville, TN in 2006 where she taught 7th and 8th grade science. After relocating to Memphis, she continued to teach middle school and elementary school science. Each year, Ms. Tucker has seen her students grow academically and socially. Ms. Tucker loves teaching science and it is her goal to have each of her students to think, speak, and act as a scientist would.

During her career, she has been afforded numerous opportunities to expand her knowledge in her field and has had the opportunity to serve in various leadership positions. She has been featured in Science Scope Magazine for the National Science Teachers Association. The article gave information about her involvement and the positive effects of the Vanderbilt University “Scientist in the Classroom Partnership” with Metro Nashville Public Schools. In addition, Ms. Tucker served on the McGraw-Hill Tennessee Advisory Science Textbook Committee in 2008 to design a science textbook that addressed the needs of all learners. The textbook was adopted in 2009. Ms. Tucker has also had the opportunity to coach and implement school improvement plans specifically for science teachers as an Educational Consultant in various school districts.

Originally from Daphne, AL, Ms. Tucker is truly a southern girl at heart. Ms. Tucker received her B.S. in Biology from Alabama A&M University and an M.Ed in Curriculum and Instruction from Middle Tennessee State University. She believes in giving back to her community as well. She has implemented mentoring programs for young girls as a classroom teacher, serves as an alumni consultant for the Youth Motivation Task Force for Alabama A&M University, and participates in other community service projects. In her free time, her hobbies include reading, hanging out with family and friends, and traveling.

Kayla Pratt

Special Education

Bio

Kayla Pratt

Special Education

Mrs. Pratt is a West Virginia native moving to Nashville. She attended Glenville State College receiving her degree in Elementary and Multi-categorical Special Education. She is currently pursuing her masters in Education Leadership through Marshall University. During the last three years, Mrs. Pratt taught Special Education and had the privilege of working with students of all exceptionalities. She has a passion for education and lifelong learning opportunities, and cannot wait to join the Valor team in the 2017-18 school year.

When she’s not at school, Mrs. Pratt and her husband enjoy the outdoors, music, and spending time with friends and family. They cannot wait to enjoy all the things Nashville has to offer!

Alyssa Telang

Special Education

Bio

Alyssa Telang

Special Education

Ms. Telang is a proud Michigan native. She attended the University of Kentucky, where she studied Kinesiology and also played on the women’s soccer team (GO WILDCATS!!) for four years. She then moved to Nashville to be an assistant coach for the women’s soccer team at Lipscomb University for two years. Her most recent adventure was the fulfillment of a childhood dream, spending a year overseas in Iceland playing professional soccer. Teach for America has brought her back to Nashville in 2017, and looks forward to joining the Valor Team this year!

Ms. Telang is passionate about mentoring and building fun, trusted relationships. She enjoys spending time with people (over tea, riding bikes, rollerblading, or anything outdoors), reading, or playing sports. Music is her love language; she also loves laughter, pancakes, peanut butter, and a good oatmeal chocolate chip cookie. She’s stoked to join in the joy of being a part of the Valor community!

Sam Clements

8th Science

Bio

Sam Clements

8th Science

Sam grew up in Athens, GA and graduated from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill with degrees in Biology and Chemistry. He is joining the Valor team this year as an 8th grade science teacher at Voyager. Sam found his passion for child development and teaching while working at Cheley Colorado Camps, a summer camp in the Rockies. Through these many experiences, he decided to join the 2017 Teach for America Corps in Nashville after graduation to continue his interest in serving diverse communities.

When Sam is not at school, he enjoys watching any and all UNC sports (Go Heels), exploring the outdoors and hiking, listening to the live music that is offered in Nashville, and reading. He is really excited about this year and joining the Valor team!

Bill Hosko

Paraprofessional

Bio

Bill Hosko

Paraprofessional

Originally from Michigan, I spent five years working with adults with special needs in the role as a mentor. I taught job and independent living skills to adults seeking employment, with the hopes of one day living independently. After moving to Tennessee, I spent an additional two years working within schools as an associate teacher counselor, as well as an assistant director of an after school program.

I have obtained degrees in both Religion and Education from Liberty University over the last few years. I am currently enrolled in a Masters of Education program, with an emphasis on Special Education. After completing my graduate degree, I aspire to continuing working in the education sector as either a teacher or a counselor.