GPS Introduces New Faculty And Staff; New Roles In Head's Council

Friday, August 16, 2019
The new faculty, staff and Head's Council members at GPS
The new faculty, staff and Head's Council members at GPS

GPS is kicking off the 2019-20 school year and welcomes new faculty, staff and roles in the Head's Council.

New roles in Head's Council:

Ali Gant joined GPS in June 2019 with two decades of development experience in higher education, independent schools, and human services. Ms. Gant holds both a bachelor’s degree in English and Master in Public Administration & Policy from the University of Georgia (Athens). She is also a certified fund raising executive. Prior to moving to Chattanooga, Ms. Gant held major and planned giving roles with the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta, Mercy Care, The Westminster Schools, and the University of Georgia. Ms. Gant is a sustaining member and former board member of the Junior League of Atlanta and Athens, adding Chattanooga as her third AJLI chapter. She was a charter member of the Women of UGA Council, a 12-member ambassador committee of the UGA Alumni Association. Ms. Gant has served on the board of AFP-Atlanta, Ferst Readers for Childhood Literacy, and UGA SPIA Young Alumni Council. A strong supporter of education in an all-girls environment, Ms. Gant spent six summers at Camp Nakanawa for Girls (Crossville, Tn.) from ages 11-18. While an undergraduate at UGA, she met her husband, Chris (McCallie '97), whose positive experience with single-sex education mirrors hers. Together, they have three boys, the oldest two being identical twins (McCallie ‘26) and the youngest an elementary school student.

After five years as GPS Director of Strategic Communications and Marketing, Bilda Acuña Small has expanded her role to serve as chief enrollment and communications officer. In this new position, Ms. Small will oversee the admission of new students, reenrollment of existing students, and marketing communications. The synergy created by the combination of these functions will expand the school's ability to build its admission pipeline strategically and make stronger and more meaningful connections with families. Ms. Small joined GPS in 2014 after an 18-year career at Unum in marketing communications and market development. In her last role at Unum, she served as assistant vice president of Hispanic Markets, where she directed an extensive initiative to extend the company’s philosophy of catering to Spanish-speaking customers at every key service touchpoint. Ms. Small’s experience includes market analysis and growth strategy, consumer behavior, consumer advocacy, and designing a seamless consumer journey. She has extensive experience in talent development and team management. A graduate of the University of Central Florida, Ms. Small is also an Addy Award winner and in 2014 was named one of the top five Latina Executives of the Year by LATINA Style magazine. In 2015 she was the La Paz Latina Leader of the Year recipient. She has served on the board of Girls, Inc., and volunteers her time as a consultant with nonprofits. She and her husband, Frank, have three sons.

New GPS Faculty and Staff: 

Andy Arick holds both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in English and will teach English 9 and 10 at GPS. Mr. Arick taught the past year at Franklin Road Academy in Nashville and began teaching in 2015 in southern Alabama. Mr. Arick attended and graduated from David Brainerd High School and has a long familiarity with GPS through alumnae friends and cousins. A long-time soccer player and a girls’ soccer coach throughout his teaching career, he will serve as an assistant coach for the GPS Middle School soccer team.

Sarah Clardy joins GPS as interim learning specialist for the 2019-20 school year. Ms. Clardy previously served as the exceptional education teacher and department chair at Normal Park and prior to that she was in the same position at Red Bank Middle School. In these roles, Ms. Clardy worked with teams of teachers to identify best practices for individual student success and worked with middle school students to improve comprehension, mathematical problem solving, public speaking, and executive functioning skills. She earned a bachelor's degree in Organizational Management from Covenant College, a master’s in Special Education from the University of Tennessee, and will soon begin a program to earn her Ed.S. in School Psychology, also from UT. In her time at Normal Park, Ms. Clardy was considered a true advocate for students and an innovative partner with teachers. 

Reed Dillard is the new ninth-grade modern world history teacher. He joins GPS with a wealth of teaching experience, including 6-12 certification with endorsements in economics and government in all-girls education; he has lived in Chattanooga since 2007. After graduating from UTC in 2011, Mr. Dillard spent his first six years teaching at CGLA before moving to Orchard Knob Middle School to teach seventh grade. He has also spent a great deal of time on the GPS campus coaching middle school lacrosse for the past two seasons. Mr. Dillard will also bring his expertise to the Upper School as the 10th-grade dean.

Katelyn Dix holds a B.A. in English and an M.Ed. in reading education. She will teach English 12 and AP Literature. Ms. Dix worked at the Howard School, where she taught for the last year after moving from Massachusetts with her husband, Mark Krawczyk, GPS theater teacher. Ms. Dix taught for four years at Boston-area schools and her teaching career began in 2005 in Baltimore, Md. She has taught in a wide variety of public schools and has worked with all high school grade levels, so she comes to GPS (her first independent school) with a wealth of experience and a deep interest in the field of education. 

As an undergraduate at Hope College in Holland, Michigan, Dr. Brandon Guernsey  majored in French and international studies, minored in biology, and spent a full year studying abroad between France and Mali in West Africa. After receiving his bachelor’s degree, he served as an agroforestry volunteer for the U.S. Peace Corps for three years in Selibaby, Mauritania, collaborating primarily with local women’s gardening cooperatives on agricultural initiatives. The experience of living and working in the greater French-speaking world heightened his interest in African culture and, along with his background in French, led him to focus on francophone Africa for his graduate studies at the University of Virginia, from which he earned a master’s degree and his Ph.D. D.r Guernsey has previously taught French language, literature, culture, and film at his undergraduate alma mater, Hope College, and most recently at St. Mary’s College of Maryland. In addition to teaching French, he will also serve as an assistant coach for the rowing team.

Martha Hanzelik joins the GPS physical education department as eighth-grade PE and health and fitness teacher. Ms. Hanzelik most recently served as the PE Department Chair at Signal Mountain Middle School as well as a physical education teacher and softball coach. Prior to her time at SMMS, Ms. Hanzelik was a PE teacher and coach in Denver, Co., where she began her career in education. She holds a B.S. in physical education and secondary education as well as an M.S. in teaching and learning. A multisport athlete in high school and college, Ms. Hanzelik most notably played Division I softball for four years at MTSU, gaining recognition as the MTSU Female Student Athlete of the Year in 2009. In addition to teaching PE at GPS, Ms. Hanzelik will also coach varsity and middle school volleyball during the upcoming school year.

A GPS graduate from the Class of 1981, Ann Hodge Morgan will manage The Bow, the GPS store. Ms. Morgan holds a bachelor’s degree in business management from UTC and has completed coursework toward her master’s in middle school education. She is also the daughter of an alumna and the mother of two alumnae, Sarah ’12 and Katie ’14. In her spare time, Ms. Morgan enjoys learning, reading, walking, and biking. 

A native of Mexico City, Claudia Rodriguez obtained bachelor’s and master’s degrees in psychology before moving to Atlanta to become a research assistant at the University of Georgia. Shortly thereafter, she moved to Chattanooga with her family, where she began her teaching career. Since 2016, Ms. Rodriguez has been a Spanish teacher for young children at The Bright School as well as for more seasoned learners at the Chattanooga School of Language. She joins the World Languages department as the seventh-grade introductory Spanish and Spanish I teacher and brings to GPS a rich cultural background, a love of learning, and a passion for teaching students of all ages. 

April Ross joins GPS as the new Middle School computer science teacher. Ms. Ross most recently worked at Tech Town, where she developed robotics and coding curriculum for middle and upper school students in Hamilton County Schools, including CGLA. Prior to entering the world of education, Ms. Ross was an analyst for TVA, where she provided support to senior product owners and managers as well as developed financial analysis applications. Ms. Ross holds a Bachelor of Science degree in electrical and computer engineering, a master’s in biomedical engineering, and a master’s in electrical engineering. During her time as a graduate student, Ms. Ross also interned at NASA, where she worked on the Mars Rover robot. Additionally, she is certified in back-end engineering and coding and has completed multiple semesters of work in computer information systems. In her role at GPS, Ross will co-teach the sixth-grade computer science classes with Karen Richards, lead the seventh- and eighth-grade computer science program, and serve as the faculty advisor to our MS Robotics teams. 

Laurie Perry Vaughen is a long-time Chattanooga resident but has been living in Nashville for the last six months and working at Abingdon Press as a production editor. Most recently she taught at Chattanooga’s Center for Creative Arts school, where she led a creative writing elective class for sixth- through eighth-grade students. Ms. Vaughen has a Bachelor of Science degree in sociology and cultural anthropology, a Master of Arts in English, and a Master of Fine Arts in poetry and creative nonfiction. Additionally, she is a published essayist and an award-winning poet.

Laura Vedas holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration and a master’s in accounting. She most recently served as the Upper School Dean of Learning, Upper School Student Life Coordinator, and Bible teacher at Davidson Academy, a pre-K through 12th-grade school in Nashville, Tennessee. This year she completed her Masters of Education in Independent School Leadership. Ms. Vedas has a desire to provide a strong influence for young women in their ability to communicate, persevere, empathize, problem solve and live a life of integrity. Her focus on strong academics and strong character development perfectly align with the GPS mission and vision.

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