Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Our New Faculty and Staff

This has been a busy summer at HA. While the students have been frolicking in the pool and lounging on the beach, Mrs. Boothe, members of the lower school faculty, and I have spent much of our time interviewing and hiring a number of new teachers.  Consequently, I thought I would fill everyone in on the teachers who have chosen to join the Houston Academy family for next school year. 

Extended Day Program Director

Emily Granger
Emily Granger will be our new Extended Day Program (EDP) Director. Ms. Granger has an Associate of Science degree in early childhood education from Wallace College and is currently enrolled at Troy-Dothan, working on her B.S. degree. Emily comes with outstanding credentials and substantial experience running after-school programs.  I expect our daycare to be interactive and educationally oriented. 

Emily has a daughter named Olivia Anne, who is going into the third grade. She also has a dachshund named Mille, who Olivia views as her “sister.” Emily enjoys crafting with Olivia, junking flea markets, antiquing, watching Auburn football games, playing tennis, and reading.

Lower School Physical Education

Ginny Adams
Mrs. Adams is a certified teacher with a degree from Auburn University-Montgomery, and she is also a certified United States Tennis Association tennis professional. In addition to her 20 years of teaching in public schools, Ginny has spent the last two years working at HA as a teaching assistant and our as our JV tennis coach. In addition, many of our students have been taking tennis lessons from her over the past two years.  Personally, in my capacity as a "tennis parent," I've been thrilled with how well she has worked with our children as a coach.  We expect great things from her in PE, as well. 

Ginny is married to Scott Adams, and she has two children Sissy, a rising 7th grader at HA and Will, a ninth grader at Northside Methodist Academy. In her spare time, Ginny enjoys reading, playing, teaching and coaching tennis, and going to the beach.

3 Year-old Preschool

Chera Lee
Chera Lee will be our new 3P teacher.  Mrs. Lee has a B.S. in Early Childhood Education from the University of Alabama. Previously, she has taught 2P, 3P, 4P, kindergarten, and 2nd grade.  Additionally, Mrs. Lee has served as a teaching assistant and tutor and Grandview Elementary here in Dothan. Previously, she taught at Brookwood Forest Elementary and Grantswood Elementary in Birmingham. Chera is meticulous and assiduous, and has been a fantastic volunteer here at HA. 

Chera is married to Stuart Lee, and she has two children who attend HA – Douglas is in 3P and Mary Lawrence is in kindergarten. Her interests include running, reading, shopping, baking with her children, and spending time with family and friends.


Cara Dennis
Cara Dennis will be teaching kindergarten this year. Cara was a member of the first third grade class at Houston Academy in 1970. She graduated from The University of Alabama with a degree in early childhood education and received her masters from Troy University in early childhood education.

Cara has been married to Mark Dennis for 29 years. They have 4 children, 3 of whom have graduated from Houston Academy. Carolyne is 23 and is a nurse at Children's Hospital in Birmingham. Catie (21) and Jackson (18) are both students at Auburn University. Sam is 9 and is going to be in the third grade at Houston Academy. Cara is a member of First United Methodist Church, and she loves to spend time at the beach with her family.  

Tiffany Sulsberger
Tiffany Sulsberger holds a B.S. in Early Childhood Education from Georgia State University with an endorsement in Mathematics. She also earned an M.A. in Secondary Biology from Western Governors University.

Tiffany’s hometown (Rome, Georgia) is very near my old “stomping ground” in Northwest Georgia.  Last September, her husband, Scott, took a position with Hornsby Tire Distributors and they were relocated to Dothan. Tiffany’s two children both attend HA. Her daughter, Lauren, will be in 5K, and her son, Ryan, will be in 3P.

Anne Zeron
Anne Zeron will be our new 5K teacher assistant. Mrs. Zeron grew up in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida and graduated from The University of Alabama where she met her husband, Bryan.  Anne moved to Dothan three years ago from Jacksonville, Florida where she worked as a teacher’s assistant at St Mark’s Episcopal Day School.

Anne has two children, Mary Blake and George.  In between running her kids from activity to activity, she enjoy reading, exercising, and spending time with her family, which includes her dog, Oliver.

Learning Specialist

Lauren Thomas
Lauren Thomas is joining us this year as our Learning Specialist. She graduated from Auburn University (Magna Cum Laude) with an M.S. and B.S. in Communication Disorders from Auburn University. While working on her Masters Degree, she received the Outstanding Graduate Clinician Award, as selected by the professors and faculty at Auburn. She has also received Orton-Gillingham certification, which allows Lauren to work with students with dyslexia and other reading issues.

Ms. Thomas grew up in Dothan. She is the daughter of Jim and Pam Thomas.  Lauren loves Auburn football, going to Braves games, and running.

Upper School Learning Specialist and Registrar

Pamela Sewell
Pamela Sewell is joining the HA staff as the Registrar and Upper School Learning Lab Learning Specialist.  Mrs. Sewell taught in both public and private schools in Mobile and Phenix City for 10 years.  She taught special education, academic enrichment, algebra, geometry, and world history.  Mrs. Sewell has a B.S. in health education from Florida State University and an M.Ed in specific learning disabilities from University of South Alabama. 

Pamela was born in Dothan, but grew up in Panama City, Florida.  Mrs. Sewell is married to Dr. Joseph Sewell II and they have two children, Dr. Joseph H. Sewell III (a 2006 graduate of HA) who is in his second year of residency at University of South Alabama Medical Center and Ryan, who is currently in the ninth grade at Houston Academy.  In her spare time, Mrs. Sewell enjoys spending time with family and friends, traveling, and going to sporting events

3rd Grade

Jo Ellen Nelson  
Ms. Nelson will be one of our third grade teachers this year.  She holds a B.S. from University of Alabama and an M.A. from Troy University in Elementary Education. Jo Ellen has worked as a third grade teacher and Instructional Coach in Dothan City Schools. Basically, Jo Ellen has been working with other teachers to improve their own teaching. Jo Ellen has a great deal of passion for children and for education.

On the personal front, Jo Ellen has three children: Joe, who is a world history teacher and head soccer coach and varsity academic coach at Northview; Sara, who is a senior at Troy University pursuing a medical career; and Virginia, who will be starting at Tuscaloosa this fall to pursue her dream of becoming a special education teacher. Jo Ellen loves to exercise (she ran the 2014 Peachtree Road Race in Atlanta), to garden, and to read. One day, she hopes to write a children’s book!

5th Grade

Erin Barragry
Erin Barragry comes to us from Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  She attended the University of Minnesota where she received both her B.S. and M.S. in education and was a member of Rho Lambda Honor Society.  For those of you who are not familiar, the University of Minnesota has one of the top schools of education in the United States. Moreover, we are very excited about the technology skills and experience she will bring to H.A.

Ms. Barragry is looking forward to a new (and warmer) adventure here in Dothan. Outside of school, she loves to golf, hike, camp, travel, play games, and bake. Other interests include country music and going to football games.

6th Grade

Lisa Cohen
Lisa Cohen will be teaching 6th grade next year. She is joining us from Jacobson Sinai Academy in Miami, Florida, where she was a 6th and 7th grade teacher. Lisa graduated Cum Laude with a B.A. in Political Science and Economics from New Jersey City University. Currently, she is enrolled in an Educational Master’s program in Curriculum and Instruction with a focus on digital leaning. Not surprisingly, Mrs. Cohen is excited about H.A.’s technology initiative and looks forward to using her technology integration skills in the classroom.

Outside of school, Mrs. Cohen has been a teacher of martial arts for many years. She currently holds the rank of Senior Master as a 6th degree black belt. She also is very committed to working with various charitable organizations, but her greatest source of pride is her children. She and her husband, Melvyn, love to travel.

Sandra Egan
Sandra Egan will teach our third section of 6th grade this year. Ms. Egan holds a B.S. in Education from the University of Houston with an additional certification in teaching talented and gifted children. Most recently, she taught 5th and 6th grades in Corpus Christi, Texas.  Earlier in her career, she was named teacher of the year at her school in Santa Fe, New Mexico.  Sandra has come to Dothan due to her husband’s relocation with his job at Boeing.

Sandra is married to Bill Egan, and they have two children. John is 24 and is in graduate school at the University of Texas-Austin, and Brittany is 21 and is a dental assistant in Corpus Christi, Texas.  Brittany is getting married in May 30, 2015! Sandra enjoys scrapbooking, jewelry making, and gardening. 

Upper School Chorus and Music

Julie Arthur
Julie Arthur will take over our extraordinarily successful chorus program.  Julie has a B.A. in Music with an emphasis in Musical Education from Azusa Pacific University (CA), and an M.A. in Music, with an emphasis in coral conducting from San Jose State University. 

Julie possesses strong qualifications to lead any instrumental or choral program.  She has strong experience as a classroom teacher AND as a private music instructor.  She has helped organize and run a high school and junior college choral festival and has organized performance opportunities for her private students.  Julie's youth ensemble (through the Smith Academy of Singers) successfully performed with the Imperial Valley Master Chorale, as well as in a concert of its own.  As a conductor she conducted the world premier of “Our Father, Lord and Shepherd” by Phil Shakleton, and she recently conducted a group of singers on stage with the Rolling Stones! We are also very excited that she is an accomplished strings performer, and we plan on adding a strings program here at HA.  When we do so, we will have the only strings program in the Wiregrass. 

Julie is from a very small town in California. She and her husband, Peter, just got married last July, and they spent their first year of marriage living in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Julie loves having tea parties and traveling the world, and her hobby is learning languages.  She does not have any children, yet, but she is "dying to get a puppy!" 

Mrs. Holman, Mrs. Boothe, and I could not be more pleased with the hires we have made this spring and summer. We have been lucky enough to find people who are not only outstanding in their field, but also have a passion for young people. Please join me in welcoming this outstanding group of new teachers to the HA family!