News Post

New Faces in 2018-2019
New Faces in 2018-2019

It has been a busy hiring season at SAS, and we are excited to welcome several new faculty members in the 2018-2019 school year.

J.R. Ankney

J.R. Ankney, Music Teacher/Music Director
J.R. Ankney will be the school's music teacher and musical director. Mr. Ankney is an experienced arts administrator, boarding school teacher, and conductor with outstanding successes in the classroom, theatre, and church sanctuary and on the stage. He built successful music programs at several independent day and boarding schools, including Lancaster Country Day School in Lancaster, Pa., St. Anne's-Belfield School in Charlottesville, Va., Verde Valley School in Sedona, Ariz., Shattuck-St. Mary's School in Faribault, Minn., St. Edward's School in Vero Beach, Fla., and Chapel Hill-Chauncey Hall School in Waltham, Mass. He was most recently Director of Music at St. James Episcopal Church in Lancaster, Pa., where he developed a unique Saturday night service with music drawn from popular sources such as U2, Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, and the Indigo Girls. Mr. Ankney established and conducted a semi-professional ecumenical choir, MiContraFa, which performed little-known a cappella works from the Medieval, Renaissance, and Baroque eras. His choirs have toured England, Scotland, Czech republic, Germany, France, and Poland, and he has performed at Carnegie Hall, Riverside Church in New York City, and Westminster Abbey. Mr. Ankney holds a bachelor's degree in music education from Berklee College of Music and studied vocal jazz and conducting.

Peggy Ankney

Peggy Ankney, Physics Teacher
Dr. Peggy Ankney will teach Advanced Physics and Conceptual Physics. Dr. Ankney holds a B.S. in Physics from University of Wisconsin-Parkside, an M.S. in Physics from North Texas State University, and a Ph.D. in Physics from the University of Central Florida. Her doctoral thesis was entitled Exciton Saturation and Spin Relaxation in GaAs/AlGaAs Multiple Quantum Wells. Dr. Ankney was most recently a Physics Lecturer at Penn State Harrisburg where she taught introductory physics and laboratories. She also taught physics at Lancaster Country Day School, Mary Baldwin University in Staunton, Va., Coastal Carolina University in Conway, S.C., Grand Valley State University in Allendale , Mich. Dr. Ankney formerly sat on the development committee and as a question leader, table leader, and reader for The College Board, helping to write and review questions for the AP Physics 1 exam as well as scoring the exams and training scorers. She has served as a researcher at the University of Virginia, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Saint Andrews University, and Argonne National Laboratory. She has received research grants from the American Chemical Society and the National Science Foundation and has six research publications. Her presentations have ranged from high level physics research at the NATO Advanced Studies Institute to making holograms with elementary school children.

Melissa Askins

Melissa Askins, Admission and Accounting Associate
Melissa Askins holds an Ed.S. in curriculum and instruction from Tennessee Tech, an M.A. in education from Cumberland University, and a B.S. in accounting from University of Charleston. She has worked in the Manchester and Tullahoma middle schools as a math, language arts, and English teacher. She has previous experience in accounting, financial analysis, human resources, office management, and financial aid management. She received VFW Post 10904's 2017 Citizenship Education Award and has, over the years, served as BETA club co-sponsor, homecoming co-planner, Cub Scouts treasurer and chairperson, tennis coach, writing club sponsor, and student council sponsor. Her son Jon will be in the 7th grade.

Beth BarksdaleBeth Barksdale, Assistant Chaplain
Beth Barksdale holds a Master of Divinity, magna cum laude, from Wake Forest University and a B.A. in psychology and communications from Salem College. Her master's thesis is entitled An Integrated Theological Earth Care Curriculum for Faith Based Independent Schools, and she is proficient in theological reflection, liturgy and worship, pastoral care and counseling of youth and adults, and mission partnerships for student engagement. Other educational training includes Education for Ministry (EFM) through the University of the South and Harvard Business School's Key Executive Leadership Program. Beth's second career in ministry follows her life's work as the President/CEO of CCi, a national patient communications company headquartered in Winston-Salem, N.C.

Neal Johnson

Neal Johnson, Mathematics
Neal Johnson is a 2015 graduate of the University of the South with a degree in mathematics. He was a member of the varsity football team and twice named to the Southern Athletic Association Honor Roll. His graduation project was on the statistical theory behind modeling NFL and NCAA football overtimes. Since graduation, Neal worked as a healthcare IT consultant in Frankfort, Kentucky and Assistant Director of Annual Giving and Student Philanthropy Coordinator for the University of the South. In addition to teaching Algebra I and Math 7, Neal will be assistant coach for Cross Country and Track & Field.


Cheryl MacPherson, Assistant Dean and Director of Middle School
Cheryl MacPherson, a native of Alexandria, Virginia, is currently a secondary teacher, residential faculty member, and head cross country coach at Besant Hill School, a coeducational boarding and day school northwest of Los Angeles. Over her career she has taught U.S. history, human geography, world history, social studies, language arts, and English for Speakers of Other Languages. She formerly taught at the Colegio Americano de Guatemala, American Nicaraguan School, and Gunston Middle School in Arlington, Virginia. In addition to her classroom teaching experience, Cheryl brings experience in curriculum mapping, English language instruction, theme-based course development, differentiated course instruction, new teacher mentoring in instructional design and classroom management, experiential student travel, and Model United Nations programming. Cheryl holds a B.A. from Fordham University. She is a proud alumna of Semester at Sea, Fall 2000. She holds an M.Ed. in secondary education from The George Washington University. She is currently an Education Specialist candidate in educational leadership and administration at The George Washington University.

Christine Monahan

Christine Monahan, History Teacher and Lead House Parent
Christine Monahan will join us as a history teacher and lead house parent. Christine holds a B.A. in history from College of the Holy Cross with a concentration in African American Studies. She earned her M.A.T. in social studies from Rivier University. She is currently working on an M.Ed. Tech from Boise State. Over her 15-year teaching career in both public and private schools, she has taught American Government, U.S. History, Contemporary Issues, Religion, and English. She most recently served as a history teacher, dorm parent, and advisor at Cheshire Academy, teaching U.S. History, Military History, US Government and Policies, African American History, and Current World Issues. Christine's additional duties have included mock trial, drama, technology integration, crisis planning, Key Club, and dance team. Christine is married to incoming Director of College Counseling Dan Monahan. They will live in Colmore.

Dan Monahan

Dan Monahan, Director of College Counseling
Dan Monahan was most recently director of college counseling at Cheshire Academy, a coeducational boarding school in Connecticut. Dan planned and administered all aspects of the college counseling process at Cheshire, beginning with academic career planning in the ninth grade and continuing with guidance in the sophomore and junior years, as well as the Senior College Workshop, Cheshire Academy College Fair, and college athletic recruiting program. He also served as an advisor and assistant football and track and field coach and as house head for 55 senior and post graduate students, as well as supervising eight dorm parents. He formerly served in leadership roles in admission and enrollment management at Stonehill College in Easton, Mass. and Daniel Webster College in Nashua, N.H. Dan holds a B.A. in History from College of the Holy Cross, where he played varsity football, and a M.S. in Management Non-Profit Leadership from New England College. He has been an active member of the New England Association for College Admission Counseling and was selected as a Professional of the Year by the organization in 2016-17.

Marcus Murphy

Marcus Murphy, International Student Coordinator and Chinese Teacher
Marcus Murphy taught Chinese at McCallie School for six years, directed the international student program, and was an outdoor program leader and a member of the school's Diversity and Inclusion Council. He is a 2007 graduate of Sewanee with a B.S. in Natural Resources and a minor in Asian Studies. He received his M.A. from Qingdao University in Teaching Mandarin as a Second Language. While in Qingdao, Marcus worked as a Chinese and English instructor, a free-lance journalist and photographer, and started Qingdao Adventures, an adventure tourism and environmental education company. He is Wilderness First Responder certified.

Anna Palmer

Anna Palmer, Admission Counselor
Anna Palmer will join us as Admission Counselor. Anna is a graduate of the University of the South with a major in psychology and minor in business. She was a Wm. Polk Carey Fellow in the university's Babson Center for Global Commerce and has spent the past year working as the university's Student Sustainability Coordinator. In this role, she mentored nine student fellows and managed the website and promotion of the university's sustainability office. She was formerly an advertising account coordinator, a dorm proctor, and an administrative intern for a faith-based counseling practice in Fort Worth, Texas. She also worked as a camp counselor teaching dance, horseback riding, fishing, soccer, and chorus.

Thomas Priestley

Thomas Priestley '96, Math Teacher
St. Andrew's-Sewanee 1996 alumnus Thomas Priestley returns to SAS to join the faculty as a teacher of mathematics. Thomas, who grew up in Sewanee, received his B.A. in Philosophy from Davidson College and his M.Ed. in Learning and Instruction with an emphasis on Mathematics from Vanderbilt University. He has eleven years of teaching experience, having taught mathematics, geography, cultural studies, earth science, and creative writing for international schools in China, Slovakia and, most recently, in Malta. He also student taught at Vanderbilt University and led college preparation and citizenship courses for East Nashville High School. Over the years, Thomas has sponsored or coached school activities in study skills, SAT preparation, leadership, badminton, glee club, musical theater, volleyball, and tennis.


Amanda Skrezckoski, Athletic Trainer
Amanda holds a degree in athletic training from University of Wisconsin La Crosse. She completed her internship with a sports medicine clinic in Stevens Point, Wisconsin, and has worked with college athletes in soccer, softball, track and field, baseball, and football.

Pamela Taylor

Pamela Taylor, School Nurse
Pamela is a registered nurse with a degree in nursing from Motlow Community College. She has worked in health departments, hospitals, acute care facilities, and as an elementary school nurse in Coffee County. While pursuing her degree, she was one of four students awarded an Outstanding Clinical Achievement Award. She is also certified as an emergency medical first responder.

Kira Tharp

Kira Tharp '12, Alumni and Campaign Assistant
Kira is a 2017 graduate of the University of the South with a major in English. Her work experience includes a year as a teaching assistant at the Centro de EducaciĆ³n Creativa/Cloud Forest School in Costa Rica, an internship with a communications firm in Winter Park, Fla., providing clerical and reception support for an acupuncture practice, and honing her skills for customer service and working under pressure in the food service industry. As a student, she volunteered as a tutor and peer health educator. She is fluent in Spanish.

John Wheeler

John Wheeler, Father Flye Fellow
The Father Flye Fellowship is an annual one-year internship created for recent college graduates who are considering a career as a boarding school faculty member and/or coach. John is a 2018 cum laude graduate of The University of the South with a B.A. in English. He was a varsity baseball player at Sewanee, Community Service Chairman of ATO, and on the Dean's List and Student Disciplinary Board. He attended Montgomery Bell Academy in Nashville where he played football and baseball, was a summer sports camp counselor, and was president of the school's Best Buddies chapter which helps young adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. He served as a dorm counselor for the Sewanee Young Writers Conference and a tutor at Cowan Elementary School. He is also an Eagle Scout. John's interests include modern literature, creative writing, American history, anthropology, community engagement, baseball, football, hiking, and fishing.

Curt Williams, Golf Coach
Coach Williams amassed a coaching and teaching career of 23 years in Georgia before retiring and moving to our area. He coached baseball, football, and golf and taught special education, history, and economics. In 13 seasons as Head Boys' Golf Coach at Sequoyah High School (Cherokee County, Ga.), he led his team to a region title, two runner-up region titles, one appearance in the state championship tournament, and a county golf title. Several of his golfers went on to play at the next level. In 2012, Coach Williams was selected Cherokee County Boys Golf Coach-of-the-Year by the Cherokee Tribune (Canton, Ga.) and The Lakeside Ledger (Canton, Ga.) newspapers.

Nicholas Womack

Nicholas Womack, Computer Support Technician
Nicholas is a graduate of Franklin County High School and Lenoir Community College's paramedic program and is currently completing a degree in information technology security and virtualization through Colorado State University. He has eight years of experience as a paramedic, IT administrator, and training officer in the emergency medicine field. He has appeared in community theatre in the region alongside several SAS students. In addition to his theatre interest, Nicholas is an avid outdoorsman who enjoys camping and climbing. He is SCUBA certified.

Several people have assumed new or additional roles this year. Former assistant chaplain, The Rev. Molly Short, is now Chaplain. Head of the Upper School Kelley Black is Associate Head of School and Academic Dean. Dean of Students Laura Clay is Assistant Head of School. And, Dr. Viva Reynolds is Educational Technology Coordinator in addition to her teaching duties.