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Battle Ground Academy has added 19 new team members for its Lower, Middle and Upper School faculty and school staff for the 2020-21 school year. 

“At Battle Ground Academy, we are fortunate to attract teachers from all over the country and close to home, who come together to create a vibrant learning community,” Head of School Will Kesler said. “This group of faculty and staff will support and inspire the next generation of BGA graduates and will help them to thrive during their time in school and beyond.”

The new faculty and staff include:

Hardie Buck, Assistant Athletic Director and Offensive Coordinator and Offensive Line Coach: Buck comes to BGA from Evangelical Christian School in Memphis, where he served as dean of students and assistant varsity football coach. Prior to his time at ECS, Buck coached football at Oregon State University, Jacksonville State University, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and University of Florida. Buck has a bachelor’s degree in marketing from the University of Alabama, where he played football and won two BCS National Championships (2009, 2011.)

Patrick Chaplin, Technology Department: Chaplin comes to the school from Parallon and attended David Lipscomb University, where he studied English and accounting. Before working with Parallon, Chaplin worked with TennCare Redet processing applicants and determining eligibility levels in the legal department. In his free time, Chaplin volunteers with inner-city ministries, teaching and providing meals to inner-city children. 

Sallie Cole, RN, Lower School Nurse: Cole comes to BGA from the Williamson Medical Pediatric Emergency Room. She has an extensive background in hands-on pediatric patient care as well as experience as a nurse educator with the Vanderbilt Eskind Pediatric Diabetes Clinic. She holds a bachelor’s degree in nursing from Belmont University School of Nursing.

Heather Cornett, US History:Cornett comes to BGA from Summit High School, where she taught honors world history and U.S. history, and served as the co-chair of the social studies department. Cornett holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Belmont University and is expected to complete her master’s degree in education at Lipscomb University in December. 

Dr. Jenn Demers, US Science: Dr. Demers comes to BGA from the Marianapolis Prep School in Thompson, Conn., where she taught cross-curricular engineering and computer science as well as physics and chemistry. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Physics from Westminster College in Salt Lake City, and a doctorate in Engineering Sciences from Dartmouth College. In addition to teaching and developing computer science curriculum, Demers will lead the Upper School robotics program. 

Maritza Dreux, Assistant to the Head of Upper School: Dreux comes to BGA from the Westland School in Los Angeles, where she has accrued 13 years of experience in the independent school setting. Among her duties at Westland, she served as the assistant to the head of school, facilities and technology coordinator as well as admissions assistant. She holds an associate degree from Marymount College and a bachelor’s degree in political science from California State University, Dominguez Hills.

Valiere Gamble, Director of Human Resources: Gamble comes to BGA from Gobbell Hays Partners Inc. with 20 years of experience in human resources. Gamble is a Senior Certified Professional with the Society of Human Resource Managers. She earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology from Middle Tennessee State University.

Angela Gist-Dowlen, Seventh-Grade English: Gist-Dowlen joins BGA with extensive experience in instruction, student support, and advising. Gist-Dowlen serves as an adjunct professor at Trevecca Nazarene University and Fisk University. She has experience at the middle-school level at Bridges Academy and has spent the past several years at Fisk University coordinating curriculum and working with the IB program. Gist-Dowlen holds both a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in English from Tennessee State University and is pursuing her specialist in education degree at MTSU. In addition to her classroom duties, she will provide support for both the Middle School Learning Center and the Equity & Inclusion Program.

Kristin Gladish, Lower School Music Teacher: Gladish comes to BGA from Indianapolis, where she most recently taught music at the Harrison Hill School of Inquiry and Performing Arts. She is a graduate of Florida Southern College and holds a Master of Music from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Gladish is a highly trained music educator and brings a wealth of expertise to BGA’s learning community.

Alexia Gould, Fourth Grade: Gould earned her Bachelor of Business Administration from Loyola University before following her calling to teaching. She earned her Master of Elementary Education from Vanderbilt University and is licensed to teach kindergarten through sixth grade. She taught intermediate grades at Scales Elementary, and most recently, she taught second grade at Oak Hill School. She is experienced in both the Lucy Calkins workshop methods and the Singapore approach to mathematics.

Steven Iannuccilli, US Science: Iannuccilli comes to BGA from Xavier High School in New York, where he taught biology and anatomy and physiology and served as an adjunct professor of biology at St. Joseph’s College in Brooklyn, N.Y. Iannuccilli holds a bachelor’s degree in biology from Saint Francis College in Brooklyn, and a master’s degree in secondary education from Saint John’s University in New York. In addition to teaching science, Iannuccilli will coach baseball and serve as the Upper School community service director. 

Nathan Johnston, US Speech and Debate: Johnston will join BGA as the speech and debate teacher and coach. He comes from Trinity Preparatory School in Winter Park, Florida, where he was an upper school social sciences instructor and the director of forensics. He also was the district chair for the Florida Panther District of the National Speech and Debate Association. Johnston holds bachelor's degrees in both political science and journalism and electronic media from the University of Tennessee, a master’s in history from the University of Texas at Arlington, and a master’s in educational leadership from the University of Central Florida. 

Sydnee “Syd” Lindblom, US English: Lindblom comes to BGA from Indianapolis, where she taught eighth grade English at The Orchard School and was the head varsity swim coach for University High School. She holds bachelor's degrees in both English and classics from Kenyon College, and a Master of Arts in Teaching in secondary English from Brown University. Lindblom is a former collegiate swimmer with coaching experience at the collegiate and high school levels, and will coach in the school’s swimming program.

Kristan Pridgen, LS Administrative Assistant and Office Manager: Pridgen joins BGA after a successful career in the music business and entertainment industries, which included roles with William Morris Endeavor, Viacom, EMI and Country Music Association. Pridgen holds a bachelor’s degree from Western Kentucky University.

Rabihah Riley, Fourth Grade: Prior to teaching in Williamson County, Riley engaged learners in an inquiry-based instructional program at an International Baccalaureate school in South Korea. Riley holds a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa. In addition to robust professional development in the inquiry approach, she has attended the Reading Institute and the Klingenstein Summer Institute, both at the Teachers College at Columbia University.  

Alejandra Sandia, Instructional Teaching Assistant: Sandia joins BGA Lower School’s learning support team as an instructional teaching assistant. Alejandra received her bachelor’s in mass communication from the Universidad Católica Andrés Bello in Caracas, Venezuela. She earned her Master of Education from the Bank Street College of Education in New York with an emphasis in early childhood education. Alejandra has a broad range of experiences in early childhood programs with child-centered and inquiry-based educational philosophies.          

Lauren Self, Director of Communications: Self comes to BGA from Parker Mason Marketing Group in Franklin, where she served as vice president. Prior to Parker Mason, Self served as the associate director of enrollment marketing at Abilene Christian University in Abilene, Texas, and as an account executive at McNeely Pigott & Fox Strategic Marketing in Nashville. Self earned her Bachelor of Science in journalism and mass communication from Abilene Christian University. 

Clay Stafford, US English: Stafford joins BGA as writer in residence and creative writing teacher for the 2020-21 academic year. Stafford is an American award-winning author, screenwriter, playwright, producer, director, showrunner and actor of film, television and stage. He is an international bestselling author and filmmaker with over 3.9 million books sold and work distributed in 16 languages. Stafford holds a bachelor’s degree from Union Institute & University and a Master of Fine Arts from the University of Miami. 

Luis Zuniga, US History:Zuniga recently completed his Master in Secondary Education at Vanderbilt University and has been teaching in the Williamson County Schools district. Zuniga brings a wealth of experience to BGA having enjoyed a successful corporate career where he served as a manager in areas of marketing, finance, and communication. Luis earned his bachelor’s degree from Duke University and holds a Master of Business Administration from the University of Virginia.

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