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Faculty & Staff

One of the strongest assets that makes Paideia Academy so special is our amazing faculty and staff. They share a vision of excellent education and a passion for their subjects that form a strong commitment to the students and their success.

When hiring faculty, we look beyond a teaching credential. Our first priority is to find teachers of strong Christian faith who love learning themselves, and who, in turn, inspire students to learn. In tandem with these aptitudes, we seek teachers capable of teaching in the classical Christian model. All of our teachers receive continual training in classical and Christian education methods as well as other ongoing education in their particular field of study. Many of our current teachers have graduate degrees, and others are pursuing graduate studies.

Our team is of one mind and one purpose in classical Christian education. This solidarity helps us reach new heights each year.


Mark Hamilton

BA, Latin and BA, Classical Studies, University of Georgia; MA, Latin, University of Georgia. Serving Paideia Academy since 2015.

"I am greatly blessed to be a follower of Christ. I am further blessed to be married to my beautiful wife Jessica and to be the father of three wonderful boys, Wallace, Silas, and Thatcher. As an educator I have the unique opportunity to daily be surrounded by and to work with a group of people charged with training image bearers, those made in the image of God. I consider it my profound honor to have been called by God into this ministry and greatly appreciate the experiences he has given me through the years as a teacher, coach, administrator and mentor to fellow educators and students alike. I consider the work that Paideia is doing to be of the utmost importance in partnering with parents to raise their children in fear and admonition of the Lord and am excited to be a part of such an excellent school."

Lower School Principal

David Rowe - Lower School Principal; Upper School Dean of Students

Serving Paideia Academy since 2017.



Pre-K and Kindergarten

Kayla Anderson - Pre-K and Kindergarten Teacher

BS, Child and Family Studies major, Early Childhood Education minor, University of Tennessee; MS, Child and Family Studies, University of Tennessee. Serving Paideia Academy since 2012.

"It is truly a joy and privilege to be a part of the Paideia faculty. I believe it was God’s providence that brought me to Paideia to assist parents in training the next generation to make disciples of Jesus Christ. I first became interested in the classical approach to education while completing my undergraduate degree at the University of Tennessee. After praying for some time for the Lord to guide me to a Christ-centered classical school, God blessed me with the opportunity to teach at Paideia Academy. Soli Deo Gloria!"

Danielle Grissom - Kindergarten Teacher

BS, Biblical and Theological Studies, Boyce College. Serving Paideia Academy since 2014.

"I am filled with an overwhelming thankfulness for the opportunity to serve the children and families of Paideia Academy. I initially came to Paideia as a weekly volunteer in the first grade classroom. My eyes were opened to the approach of classical education, and I was amazed to see every subject taught for the glory of God. What a joy it is to watch the gospel lived out among the faculty and staff and to see the Good News taking root in the hearts of the students! 'But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.' Psalm 85:15"

Lori Cox - Pre-K Assistant; Administrative Assistant

BA, Speech Pathology and Audiology, University of Tennessee. Serving Paideia Academy since 2016.

My husband Blaine and I have 2 children who are students at Paideia, and we are extremely thankful for this school family we have grown to love so much. I have worked as a volunteer with children in schools and our church for many years, as well as having a part-time career in banking and finance.  My time in the office and with the Homeschool Umbrella families has been so rewarding and spending two mornings a week in the Pre-K class with Mrs. Anderson is a complete joy and honor.

Sarah Garber - Kindergarten Assistant

Serving Paideia Academy since 2017.



Grammar School

Katy McKinney - First Grade Teacher

BS, Education, Samford University. Serving Paideia Academy since 2015.

"Before the blessing of my four kiddos came along, I taught 5th grade at Christian Academy of Knoxville and 2nd grade to English Language Learners at Mt. View Elementary School in Nashville, TN. Our family was a part of the homeschool umbrella at Paideia for five years as we homeschooled from the suburbs of west Knoxville, to the cloud forest of the Guatemalan highlands, and back to the beautiful farmland of Lenoir City. Through all the transitions, I have most enjoyed teaching my children how to read. Our son entered Paideia in 4th grade, and we quickly fell in love with the heart of education taking place at the school. I am so thankful that the Lord opened the door for me to teach and journey with Paideia families as their children become confident readers and explore God's creativity throughout science, math, and history. My prayer is that in my classroom my students will experience a taste of the depth of Christ's love for them. Eph. 3:14-21"

nergevalerieValerie Nerge - First Grade Teacher

BS, Early Childhood and Elementary Education, Auburn University. Serving Paideia Academy since 2016.

How wonderful our heavenly father is! God has blessed me with the opportunity to serve in a wonderful Christ centered school. I have wanted to teach since I was a young child, and God has opened the doors and surrounded me with amazing teachers to work with. This is my fourth year teaching, and my first year at Paideia. I was born and raised in south Florida where I met and married my high school sweetheart. We have three beautiful children, two of whom attend Paideia with me. The Paideia community has been such a comfort and help to our family as we discovered soon after we arrived in TN that my husband had cancer. I'm in awe of how our heavenly father works and takes care of his children. It is an honor to serve at Paideia academy with a staff that loves Jesus more than anything.

mcconnellpattiPatti McConnell - Second Grade Teacher

BA, English major, Elementary Education minor, University of Tennessee; MS Curriculum and Instruction Major, University of Tennessee. Serving Paideia since 2016.

"God put a calling in my heart for teaching when I was a child, and it has been a blessing to teach over the past twenty years in the classroom and as a homeschool mom. My husband and I have three children: Luke, Molly, and Maddie. Our son, Luke, is a graduate of L&N STEM Academy, and I am very grateful to have Molly and Maddie here with me at Paideia. After graduating from college, I taught Kindergarten and first grade before coming home to teach my own children. I fell in love with classical education during our homeschool years when we became involved in Classical Conversations. At Classical Conversations my children were able to participate in classes that incorporated all three stages of classical education for their prospective ages, and I could truly see the benefits of classical education unfolding. One stage naturally built upon another as they were learning how to become independent, critical thinkers. God has graciously transitioned us into Paideia Academy where my children are fed spiritually in the truth of God’s word as a foundation for all they do academically. I am so thankful for our educational community that is unified in their vision to raise up students who love the Lord and want to put Him first in all they do! It is a joy to be a part of the Paideia staff."

Barbara Williams - Second Grade Teacher

BM, Wesleyan College. Serving Paideia Academy since 2005.

"I have been teaching for 25 years covering grades K through 12.  I have taught second, third, and fourth grades while at Paideia.  I was also a choir director for 12 years directing preschool choirs through adult choirs. I have done solo work in churches and in the community. I was a lead teacher for six years serving as interim head mistress in another classical Christian school. I have four children and seven grandchildren."

Amy Hamill - Third Grade Teacher

BS, Early Childhood and Elementary Education, University of Alabama at Birmingham; MEd,  emphasis on Teacher Leadership , Grand Canyon University. Serving Paideia Academy since 2015.

"I am very excited to be a part of the Paideia family. My teaching background includes six years as 4th grade teacher at Evangel Classical Christian School in Birmingham, Alabama, where I received a lot of classical training. I also worked at Providence Classical Academy in Shreveport, LA, where I taught 5th grade and had the privilege to be a lead teacher and serve other teachers as well as students. Through God's sovereignty and graciousness, He moved us here where I am excited to continue my ministry in classical education. I look forward to many wonderful years!"

Kelly Platillero - Fourth Grade Teacher

BS, Elementary Education, University of Tennessee, Summa Cum Laude; Serving Paideia Academy since 2008.

"I taught in Knoxville for three years before my husband Paul and I attended Capernwray Bible School in England and moved to Alicante, Spain. We ran a short-term Bible school and conference center in Spain for almost ten years. I joined the Paideia faculty as the 3rd grade teacher from 2008-2014, then took a year off to homeschool one of my girls. I returned to the school in 2015 in my current role. I love teaching and consider it an honor to serve at Paideia. I have two beautiful girls, Elisabeth Joy and Annie Grace.

Cari Welsh - Fifth Grade Teacher; Homeschool Umbrella Coordinator

BA, History, University of Tennessee, Summa Cum Laude; MS, Information Science, University of Tennessee, Magna Cum Laude. Serving Paideia Academy since 2017.

I am beyond excited and honored to have the opportunity to teach Fifth grade at Paideia. I have had the pleasure of being a part of the Paideia community for 6 years. My oldest daughter, Lilly, started in Kindergarten and is in the Class of 2024. My youngest daughter, Piper, is following her in the Class of 2027. History is one of my passions and I quickly became passionate about classical Christian education. Seeing students grasp a concept they’d struggled with or watching that “lightbulb” moment when a connection was made was rewarding, but I always felt the greatest reward was watching even the youngest students see, feel, and hear God’s Word breathed into every subject and discussion. I am deeply blessed and honored to have the opportunity guide the 5th grade students towards not only those moments of connection, but also towards a deeper understanding of God’s Word and His creation.

Pam de Lorenzo - Latin

BS, Education, Franciscan University; Associates Degree Nursing (RN), Kent State University. Serving Paideia Academy since 2014.

"My family and I came to Paideia after 10 years of homeschooling classically. God opened the doors, and we moved to Knoxville specifically for our children to attend Paideia, so it is a blessing to now be serving at the school. Our son Conlan is a graduate in the Class of 2016, and Hayden is in second grade.  I want my students to hear and see from my life that 'the Lord is Good; His mercy is everlasting. And His truth endures to all generations.'"

Cathy Tanner - Bible; Science

Serving Paideia Academy since 2011.

“During our family’s homeschooling years our goal was to provide a Christ-centered education for our daughter.  In 2008, we were ready to seek the aid of a school with the same aim, and in His kindness the Lord directed us to Paideia Academy.  Its emphasis on a Christ-centered, covenantal, and classical education appealed to us immediately, and our family enthusiastically joined this precious community. Over the next three years I served frequently as a substitute teacher and experienced the unique blessing of having an inside glimpse of the environment in which our daughter was growing academically and spiritually in knowledge and grace.  Since joining the staff I have tremendously enjoyed the privilege of shepherding, teaching, and learning along with our students for the ever-increasing glory of our Savior Jesus Christ!”

vandebrakeshaneShane vande Brake - English Grammar

BA, Spanish, King College; MA Spanish literature, University of Tennessee, Knoxville; PhD, Modern Foreign Languages, University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Serving Paideia Academy since 2016.

"I have taught Spanish to college students for most of my career, but God led me to Paideia as both a parent and a teacher.  Although my background is primarily in Spanish, much of my teaching has been spent on explaining the mechanics of the English language to students. After homeschooling my own children for a year, I recognized a calling to teach children.  It is my desire to bless Paideia by encouraging students in their walk with the Lord and by inspiring them to be lovers of learning. I also hope that my love of languages is contagious, piquing the students' interest in other cultures while strengthening their established tie to Latin. My husband Matthew and I have three children: Miles, Eden, and Isa."

Kim Chandler - Assessment and Accommodations Program Coordinator

BA, Sociology, Biola University; Multi-subjects Credential, K-8, University of California, Irvine; MEd, Curriculum Instruction, emphasis on Staff Development, California State University at Fullerton; National Board Certified Teacher, Early Childhood Generalist. Serving Paideia Academy since 2015.

"I have taught grades Kindergarten through fifth, but a majority of my teaching experience is in grades 1-3. I have served as a literacy coach, and mentor/master teacher in California, and after a move to Knoxville, as a second grade teacher and mentor teacher at Farragut Primary School. Our children began their journey with Paideia Academy in the fall of 2013. We have been blessed by the spiritual, emotional, and academic growth we have seen in both of our boys since that time. I am so blessed and thankful to be at Paideia with my boys as I serve as the Assessment and Accommodations Program (AAP) coordinator. It is my prayer that God will direct the implementation of the AAP to support the educational experience of Paideia students, families, and teachers. My husband Erik serves as a staff pastor at Fellowship Church, and we have two lively, curious and energetic boys, Jude and Elijah."

Beth Ann Bertram - Grammar School Assistant

BS, Agriculture, University of Tennessee; MS, Agriculture in Food Science, University of Tennessee. Serving Paideia Academy since 2015.

"Our family is deeply grateful to have a rich academic environment at Paideia Academy where 'sola scriptura' forms the core of all curricula. I am privileged to support the teachers who will educate each child in this classroom through the exemplification of Christ’s love. It is my purpose to seek God and to be a resource in His provision, and I am honored to serve His children. I worked as a food scientist overseeing the research and development of new food products for 17 years and have worked as a substitute teacher for 2 years before coming to Paideia. My husband Max and I have three boys – Josh, Alex and Magnus."

Upper School

bakermarkMark Baker - English; Omnibus; Rhetoric; Dean of Apostles' Hall, Dean of Upper School Faculty

BA, Biblical Studies major, English Literature minor, Bryan College; MDiv, Biblical and Theological Studies, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary; PhD Candidate in Biblical Theology,  Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. Serving Paideia Academy since 2011.

“Follower of Jesus. Husband of Ashley. Father of Elias, Owen, Eleanor, and Alister. I have a passion to educate and mentor young people in the disciplines of Veritas, Fiducia, Caritas: Truth, Faith, Affection. As a Humanities Teaching Fellow and Dean of Apostles’ Hall, I love teaching the great books through Augustine’s rubric that “All truth is God’s truth.” My joy is then to focus all instruction on the strengthening of the faith of my students through the direction of the one great Book, namely, the Word of God. Finally, my aim is for increased love of God and love of neighbor as we apply Truth to our lives in greater measure.”

Kent Capps - Omnibus; Biblical Greek; Apologetics; Dean of Nicene Hall

BA, Religion, Biblical Greek minor, Carson-Newman College; MDiv, Biblical and Theological Studies, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary; ThM Biblical Theology, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary; PhD, Biblical Spirituality (in process), The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Serving Paideia Academy since 2011.

"In addition to several years of vocational ministry, I have taught Greek, Latin, Biblical Worldview, and History of Philosophy for a few years in classical Christian schools. My academic interests include (inter alia) the Septuagint, biblical theology, classical languages, and the colliding worlds of thought in the Greco-Roman period (including the Patristics). You can also find me on a golf course or scheming about how to turn my lawn into a turfgrass paradise. My desire for my students is that they will grow in wisdom to think from primary sources (ad fontes!) about truth, beauty, and goodness, and that this wisdom will deepen their love of God and others and shape them into the character of Christ. My wife, Candace, and I have three children - Lydia, Jude, and Hudson - who attend (and love) Paideia Academy."

Darren Nelson - Math; Dean of Athanasian Hall

BA, Mathematics, Oklahoma Baptist University; Educational Certification (K-12), California State University, MA, Biblical Studies (in process), Reformed Theological Seminary. Serving Paideia Academy since 2014.

"I have taught high school mathematics in some capacity for over twenty years but have been on break from full-time classroom teaching in order to home educate our own children. Those days are ending this year as our youngest leaves for college (Lord willing!). God’s opening up a mathematics position at Paideia is providential as I phase out of home education and enter a new phase of life. I am very excited about the opportunities to show God’s love, beauty, and creativity through math. My theological interests are biblical inerrancy, hermeneutics, and apologetics – all things concerning Truth."

Ashley Farrington - Literature; English; Omnibus

BA Furman University, History; MA Pittsburg State University, History. Serving Paideia Academy since 2016.

"I am absolutely thrilled to begin my teaching career at Paideia Academy. I love serving God by ministering to students' hearts. My background is in history, particularly 19th century American history; however, I also love theology and literature. Omnibus is the perfect combination of my academic interests. My goal is to encourage students to continually seek God each day and to love each other as brothers and sisters in Christ. I love classical education because it engages students with the material they're learning and makes them critical thinkers. In my spare time, I enjoy reading and horseback riding. My husband, Jeffrey, and I have a two year old little boy named Jase."

Rachel Sanders - Latin; Omnibus

BA, University Scholars: Classics, Baylor University; MA, Classics, University of Kansas; Every Child Can Suzuki Violin Pre-Training; Serving Paideia since 2016.

“Although I am new to the teaching world, I have experience teaching college students during my MA program at KU. I have also taught violin for six years and tutored Latin and Greek while at Baylor.  My husband and I got married in January 2016 and moved to Knoxville in August for him to attend graduate school at UT. Knoxville has already begun to feel like home, and I am blessed to have the support of the faculty and families here at Paideia and a loving welcome from the students.”

Jennifer Stowe - Science; Guidance Counselor

BS, Neuroscience, Furman University; MS, Psychology, The Florida State University. Serving Paideia Academy since 2012.

"I began working at Paideia in January 2012 as the Homeschool Umbrella Coordinator. I have enjoyed creating a classical community that goes beyond our school’s borders. This year I will begin teaching Physical Science, Biology, and Anatomy and Physiology to the Upper School students.  I love science, and I love being in the classroom again.  We will be creating a usable garden space literally from the soil up, as well as exploring the technology of aquaponics! I am also continuing to serve as the Guidance Counselor for the Upper School.  I am so thankful to have gotten to be a part of our first graduating class, and I will look forward to new adventures every year.  I love watching students grow and change as they make decisions about their future.  Our entire family enjoys being part of this Christ-centered and classical school."

Nathan Tarr - Omnibus

BA Political Science and BA German, Wheaton College; MA Theological Studies, Nazarene Theological Seminary; MDiv, The King's Seminary; ThM Historical Theology, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary; PhD Biblical Spirituality, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Serving Paideia Academy since 2015.

I have had the joy of being married to Devon since 2001, and the honor of planting and pastoring Christ Church Knoxville since 2005. This year, all five of our children are attending Paideia and it is a privilege to serve this school which continues to serve our family so well. In teaching literature, history, and theology, I resonate with George Knight's reminder that "the function of literary study in a christian school is not to help us become 'learned' in the greater writers of past and present, but to help us through some of their writings to view the issues at stake in the controversy between good and evil with more clarity and sensitivity." It is a delight to watch this sensitivity develop in my students, and in myself, as we study together.

Janet Wrye - Math

Serving Paideia Academy since 2016.





Janice Fancher - Art

Attended Art Academy of Cincinnati and Cleveland Institute of Art, Ohio. Serving Paideia Academy since 2015.

"This makes my thirtieth year teaching art in a Christian school, homeschooling co-op, private lessons or in an after-school program at public schools. My first passion is investing in each student's walk in their relationship with Jesus Christ. My second passion is to teach the 'how to's' of creating beautiful art. I'm very excited and thankful to be a part of the Paideia school family."

Melanie Leach - Theatre; Administrative Assistant

BA, Communications, University of Tennessee. Serving Paideia Academy since 2013.

"I am thankful to serve the families of Paideia Academy in the school office.  It is a small way for me to give back to the community that nurtured my son Aidan, who is now an alumnus of Paideia.  This year, I have also taken on the joy-filled challenge of developing a theatre program for our Upper School students. "

mcclurkinbrysonBryson McClurkin - Physical Education

AS, Exercise Science, Pre-Allied Health Certified, Certified Personal Trainer. Serving Paideia Academy since 2016.

"I have loved the Paideia community since my first day in 4th grade. I am overjoyed that God blessed me with the classical Christian education I received at Paideia Academy. Now I am able to bless and be blessed by teaching young ones about health, coordination, sports, and team work in the Christ-centered environment that helped raise me."

Mary Chris Rowe - Music

Serving Paideia Academy since 2017.





Candace Hale - Director of Operations

Serving Paideia Academy since 2010.

"While a Paideia parent since 2007, it was a complete surprise and wonderful blessing from God to also be given the opportunity to serve the Paideia family as a full-time staff member.  I am still completely overjoyed that I get to be here every day!"

Tisha Clapp - Director of Advancement

BS, Communications, University of Tennessee. Serving Paideia Academy since 2012.

"My husband, Charles, and I are blessed to have been a part of Paideia Academy since its inception as both volunteers and parents.  Our family is committed to the benefits of a classical Christian education and is more impressed with Paideia Academy every year as we see increasing fruit in our children's lives. I love being a part of the touring and admissions process for new families as they are making this big decision about their own children's education."

Ronnie Wilson - Assistant Athletic Director

Serving Paideia Academy since 2017.