As we kick off the 2022-2023 school year, you may notice a few new smiling faces on campus. We are so pleased to welcome new friendly faces to our faculty and staff. Among our amazing new FRAmily members, we have teachers from across the country, new staff from the local Nashville community, and faculty from places in between. Each coming with different backgrounds and stories, we feel so blessed to have each of these talented and respected educators join our community!
Take a minute to read about each of our new Panthers and their background.
McKenna Allen will be a pre-kindergarten teacher assistant for the full year this year after serving as a teacher assistant for the second half of last year. McKenna earned her B.A. in early childhood education from the University of Washington and will be completing her M.Ed. in counseling from Liberty University later this year.
Sarah Cady will be teaching 1st grade this year and will be an assistant coach with LS cross country. Sarah earned her B.A. in early childhood education from Auburn University and spent the past year teaching 1st grade in Colorado. Sarah danced competitively throughout middle school and high school danced in the ensemble at Auburn. Sarah’s academic experiences throughout her childhood were rooted in faith and he is excited to be a part of the inclusive Christian community at FRA.
Bethany Darsinos is joining us as a teacher assistant in the lower school. Bethany earned her B.S. in history from Middle Tennessee State University and her M.A. in elementary teaching from Trevecca Nazarene University. Most recently, Bethany taught for three years at St. Bernard Academy here in Nashville.
Stephanie DeSantis will be working as a Heart to Heart teacher in the lower school this year and will be an assistant coach with girls varsity track and field and girls varsity basketball. Stephanie earned her B.S. in exercise physiology from Bridgewater State University in Massachusetts and her M.A. moderate disabilities from Endicott College in Massachusetts. Stephanie played varsity basketball at Bridgewater State and was captain of the team her senior year. Most recently, Stephanie was a special education teacher at Fisher elementary school in Massachusetts for the past three years.
Jenna Lamm will be serving as LS assistant head this year after six years as a teacher and grade level coordinator in our middle school. Jenna earned her B.S. in secondary education and English from Vanderbilt University and her M.A. in independent school leadership from Vanderbilt University.
Kathryn Lewis will be a pre-kindergarten teacher this year after serving as a teacher assistant last year. Kathryn will also be an assistant LS cross country coach. Kathryn earned her B.A. in art from Millsaps College in Mississippi, her M.A. in art education the University of Alabama and her Ph. D. in art education from Penn State University. Prior to coming to FRA, Kathryn taught for over 20 years as both a university instructor and k-12 educator.
Megan Mitchell is joining us as a teacher assistant in the lower school. Bethany earned her B.A. in elementary education from Clemson University and her M.Ed. in literacy from Clemson University. Most recently, Megan was a kindergarten teacher at Trinity School in Atlanta
Elizabeth Orr will be teaching kindergarten this year and will be an assistant coach with MS lacrosse. Elizabeth earned her B.A. in humanities from Sewanee, The University of the South and her M.A. in elementary teaching from Manhattanville University in New York. Most recently, Elizabeth taught kindergarten for two years in Connecticut. Elizabeth loves sports and played varsity lacrosse at Sewanee, The University of the South. “At FRA I will encourage my students to think of the academic world and their faith as being connected, and will make my classroom a safe, fun place to learn and try new things”.
Amanda Phelan will be teaching 3rd grade this year and assisting with LS ASPIRE. Amanda earned her B.A. in psychology from The University of North Carolina, Charlotte and her M.A. in elementary teaching from The University of North Carolina, Charlotte. Most recently, Amanda taught 2nd grade for four years in Guatemala. Prior to that she taught 2nd grade for five years in Charlotte, North Carolina. Amanda played soccer and basketball in high school and continues to love these and many other sports.
Amanda is excited about the FRA mission: “working in secular schools I have not been able to openly express my faith, but having the opportunity to do so within an inclusive Christian community is something I’m really looking forward to”.
Jenna Rice is joining us as a teacher assistant in the lower school. Jenna earned her B.S. in applied science from Lipscomb University. Prior to coming to FRA Jenna worked with school groups at the Adventure Science Center in Nashville.
Kristin Schmoke is joining us as a pre-kindergarten teacher assistant in the lower school. Her husband Chris is joining us as the US dean of student life. Kristin earned her B.A. in elementary education from Hillsdale College in Michigan and her M.S. in elementary education from Grand Valley State University in Michigan. Kristin taught both first grade and pre-kindergarten in California for seven years and prior to that taught pre-kindergarten in Michigan for six years.
Courtney Tyree is joining us as a teacher assistant in the lower school. Courtney earned her B.A. in psychology from The University of Tennessee, Knoxville and her M.S. in elementary education from The University of Tennessee, Knoxville. She is the pre-school choir director at Forest Hills Baptist Church and prior to that was a kindergarten teacher at The Covenant School for three years. Courtney “feels called to help children grow in Christian setting” and is “honored to be joining the FRA community”.
Karley Whitehead will be a kindergarten teacher this year after serving as a Faculty Fellow last year. She will also be assisting with MS volleyball and MS softball. She earned her B.A. in elementary education from The University of Tennessee- Chattanooga.
Sean Adams is serving as a teacher assistant for our MS and US Heart to Heart students this year. In addition, Sean will be a varsity football assistant coach and an assistant coach with both middle school and upper school track and field. Sean earned both his B.S. and M.S. in sport management from Arkansas State University
Hasan Clayton will be teaching 7th grade English this year after teaching middle school English at both Nashville Classical Charter School and Kipp Academy, both in Nashville, for the past five years. Hasan will also be an assistant coach for MS football, MS basketball, and MS track and field. Hasan earned his B.A. in psychology from Vanderbilt University and his M.Ed. in child studies from Vanderbilt University. As an undergraduate, Hasan also participated on the varsity football team at Vanderbilt for two years before an injury ended his playing days. Hasan looks forward to “being able to express my faith at school and being able to be there for students as they navigate the challenges of middle school”.
Amy Crace will be teaching 5th grade social studies this year after teaching middle school social studies and AP history for the past ten years at the American School of Kuwait. Amy earned her B.A. in history from Georgetown College in Kentucky. Amy is excited to return to the states and is looking forward to “being a part of a community where I can share my faith and where students have the freedom to express themselves”.
Arthur D’Angelo will be teaching 7th grade math this year and will be the head MS football coach. Arthur earned his B.S. in economics from the University of Pennsylvania and his M.A. in middle school education from Liberty University. Prior to coming to FRA, Arthur served as a graduate assistant with the Western Kentucky University football team and was a math teacher and football coach at Pope John Paul II high school. Arthur enjoys working in a Christian school “because I can bring my faith to work and can help students grow academically, athletically, and spiritually”.
Jamaal Haywood will be teaching 5th grade math this year and will be an assistant MS boys basketball coach after teaching middle school math at several area schools for the past eleven years. Jamaal earned his B.S. in business administration from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville and his M.A. in elementary education from Trevecca Nazarene University. Jamaal is “committed to knowing every student well” and looks forward to “helping each student develop his/her unique talents”.
Keith Jones will be teaching two sections of MS English, will be an assistant varsity football coach, will be an assistant track and field coach, and will assist Dr. Thomas in the office of Diversity, Community and Inclusion this year after teaching and coaching at Pope John Paul II high school last year. Keith earned his B.A. in psychology from Kenyon College in Ohio and his M.A. in liberal arts from Vanderbilt University. Keith was an all-conference football player at Kenyon and served as a graduate assistant football coach at Vanderbilt for three years while earning his Master’s degree. “Jesus loved everyone and it is our responsibility to treat everyone with a sense of humanity, even when we disagree about things”.
Yvonne Kordus will be teaching 8th grade math this year and will be an assistant MS girls soccer coach after teaching middle and upper school math in both Nashville and Spain. Yvonne earned her B.S. in middle school education from Liberty University in Virginia. Yvonne played on her high school soccer team and has coached soccer as well. Yvonne “looks forward to helping students see the beauty and goodness in how the Lord has created the world and helping each student grow in their mathematical confidence and skill”.
AnneMarie Chambers will be teaching MS Spanish this year and will be an assistant MS cross-country coach after teaching Spanish and coaching cross-country at Darlington School in Georgia. AnneMarie earned her B.A. in Spanish at Maryville College in Tennessee, where she was a Presidential Scholar and a member of the cross-country team. “I work to treat each student with the knowledge that they are part of the body of Christ and this lens fosters strong relationships that can meet the challenges of difficult subject matter”.
Tommy Phillips will be teaching 8th grade history this year and will be an assistant MS baseball coach after teaching MS social studies, and coaching both baseball and football, at Woodland Middle School in Williamson County for ten years. Tommy earned his B.A. in history from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville and his M.A. in secondary education from Lipscomb University. Tommy is excited about the FRA mission, believing it “leads students to develop a passion for community, grow in the spirit of inclusion, and mature into life-long learners”.
Lisa Schaad is our new head varsity volleyball coach and will also serve as an assistant athletic director. Lisa was previously the head volleyball coach at Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy where her teams accumulated a 137-45 record, three state final four appearances, and Lisa earned four district coach of the year honors. Lisa earned her B.S. in healthcare administration from Western Kentucky University.
Ashley Willits is our new Choral Director. Most recently, Ashley served as the Choral Director at Notre Dame High School in California while also teaching courses at San Jose State University in their music department. Ashley is also a seasoned performer, appearing in over a dozen opera productions over the past ten years and has won awards in multiple vocal competitions. Ashley earned her B.A. in music at the University of California, Santa Barbara, her M.A. in teaching at Santa Clara University and her Master of Vocal Performance from San Jose State University. “When faith, love, respect and honesty are integrated into teaching and learning, a closer understanding of God’s purpose for one’s life is discovered”.
Stacey Banks-Houston is our new director of entrepreneurial leadership. Stacey earned her B.A. in business administration from Ursuline College in Ohio, her M.B.A. from Cleveland State, and her Ed. D. from Northcentral University. Stacey is an accomplished entrepreneur, was Executive Director of the Small Business Development Center in Cleveland, Ohio for six years, was Director of the Women’s Business Center in Tampa for four years, taught at Baldwin-Wallace University in Ohio, and is President of her own consulting firm, Banks Group Consulting. In addition, she has been a part of the Entrepreneurial Leadership program at University School in Cleveland, Ohio for the past three years.
Cassie Bates will teach world history and AP human geography in the upper school this year after teaching both subjects in Williamson County for the past ten years. She also coached softball and served as both the WorldQuest and Student Council advisor. Cassie earned her B.A. in history from Lee University in Tennessee and her M.A. in secondary education from Lee University. “I’m excited about being able to express my faith where I work and look forward to challenging my students to reach their potential”.
Hayden Copeland will be teaching our bible classes in the upper school this year and will be our head varsity golf coach after serving as a 5th grade social studies teacher for the past two years. Hayden earned his B.S. in business management from Clemson University and his M.A. in Christian Education from Dallas Theological Seminary.
David Gallagher will be our boys varsity basketball coach and will be teaching pre-calculus and calculus. David earned his B.S. in mathematics and secondary education at Auburn University, Montgomery where he played varsity basketball and was named male scholar-athlete of the year two consecutive years. He earned his M.L.A. in teaching mathematics at the Harvard Extension School and his Ed. S. in educational leadership from Georgia State University. For the past ten years David served as a math teacher, dean of students, cross country coach, and basketball coach at John Millege Academy in Georgia. While at Millege, David earned Teacher of the Year honors three times and his basketball teams reached the final four in the state playoffs four times and won the state championship in 2021. He was named state coach of the year in 2021 and thirteen of his players earned all-state recognition over the past ten years.
Justin Geisinger is our new head football coach after being in the same position at Pope John Paul II high school for the past six years. His 2021 Pope John II team reached the state semi-finals. Justin earned his B.S. in human and organizational development from Vanderbilt University. Justin was a four-year offensive line starter for the Vanderbilt football team, earned academic all-American honors as a senior, was named captain as a senior, and was on the university deans list each of his four years. After graduating from Vanderbilt, Justin played in the NFL for five seasons.
Matt Hanson will be the new offensive line coach for our football team and will serve as a strength and conditioning coach for both our middle school and upper school after being a football coach and strength and conditioning director at Pope John Paul II high school for the past five years. Matt was also an English teacher at Pope John Paul II for three years. Matt earned his B.A. in English at Birmingham Southern College, where he also played football for four years.
Amanda Kellum will be our new upper school administrative assistant. “I have always loved a school environment. Being around people in all different stages of life and learning is life giving for me.”
Ben Suitt will be teaching 9th grade English and working with upper school digital publications this year after serving as substitute English teacher last year. He earned his B.S. in business from Wake Forest, his MTS (masters in theology) from Emory, and his Ph.D. in religion from Boston University. He worked in the Boston University writing center for three years and taught multiple undergraduate writing seminars.
Chris Schmoke is our new upper school dean of student life and he will also be an assistant varsity football coach. Chris earned his B.A. in secondary science from Northern Michigan University. Chris comes to FRA from Polytechnic School in California, where he was a science teacher and dean of student life for the past fourteen years. He was also the head varsity football coach and head varsity track and field coach at Polytechnic for the past thirteen years and his football teams won nine conference championships. Prior to Polytechnic, Chris was a science teacher and football coach at Petoskey high school in Michigan, where he grew up. “I look forward o working in a school that both challenges students and puts the teachings of Jesus at the center of everything that is done”
Maddi Devey, as a second year Fellow, will be teaching two sections of English I and will be working with the Admissions Office as well. She will also be an assistant coach with varsity soccer. She earned her B.A. in English from Gettysburg College.
Patrick Ramey will be working with Mark Williams in 7th grade social studies this year and will be an assistant coach for MS boys cross-country, MS boys basketball, and MS boys track and field. Patrick earned his B.A. in history from Wake Forest University.
Lauren Little will be working with Sonia Higdon in physics this year and will be an assistant coach for MS girls cross-country, MS girls basketball, and MS girls track and field. Lauren earned her B.S. in mechanical engineering from Auburn University.
ADVANCEMENT AND COMMUNICATIONS
Blake Clifton is our new Digital Communications Specialist and Website Manager. He earned a Communication Media degree from North Carolina State University and most recently was the Media Relations and Content Creation Coordinator at The University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.