Alumni Spotlight

Grace butler

Grace Butler attended Ironwood for 5 years and graduated in 2016.  The flexible schedule during the school year also allowed her to be very competitive in the equestrian sport and even compete in England and France while still gaining a quality education. Because of the customized course plan Ironwood provides, Grace was able to graduate high school a year early and use her time until attending college the next year to gain some college credits and valuable experience in her field of interest.  Now, Grace is a senior at Auburn University studying Animal Science and she was recently accepted to Auburn’s School of Veterinary Medicine.  In addition to attending classes, she is also the president of the Auburn Eventing Team, which has won the national championship in the sport of eventing for the past 2 years. Grace is also a leader in her greek sorority on campus, volunteers at a wildlife rehabilitation center, and stays on top of a busy class schedule. 

Drew turner

We love stories that come full circle. Ironwood Academy alum Drew Turner was adopted as an infant from Russia. After attending Ironwood Academy through high school, Drew graduated from Lee University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Communication, majoring in digital media and studio production. Upon graduating, Drew has been working as Digital Media Coordinator for HopeHouse International, a ministry that serves orphans by finding loving homes in their own countries in Eastern Europe. Please check out and considering supporting this worthwhile ministry of faith, hope and love. We are so proud of Drew, not only for his accomplishments and hard work, but also for his amazing and generous heart! 

olivia owen

Olivia Owen attended Ironwood Academy for 5 years. Because of Ironwood’s flexible schedule she was able to compete internationally, riding horses in over 8 countries, while still excelling in her studies. After graduating a year early in 2017, she took a gap year during which she lived in Europe and rode for the U.S. team. These experiences in partnership with Ironwood’s challenging college-preparatory curriculum prepared her for both college and the professional world. Olivia is now a senior honors student at the University of Kentucky, where she double majored in Business Management and Finance with a minor in International Business. She was chosen for a global scholar pathway that enables her to continue her international interests by taking specialized international business classes and studying abroad. In addition to her classes, Olivia was very involved in her sorority, and served as President.  Upon graduation, Olivia was hired by Bank of America's global headquarters in Charlotte, NC, where she works as a financial analyst.

caleb varga

Caleb Varga attended Ironwood Academy for 3 years. Like his sister Gracie Jacob, Caleb also enjoyed the flexibility of Ironwood Academy because he has traveled as a drummer for various musical acts since the age of 14. Caleb started attending Ironwood Academy in 7th grade and finished high school early as a dual enrolled student in Columbia State Community College. Currently, Caleb is finishing his junior year at Liberty University online and expects to graduate in March of 2022 with a bachelor’s degree in Worship Studies. Additionally, he is about to be fully licensed as a Tennessee Real Estate Agent with Keller Williams in Spring Hill. Some of Caleb’s fondest memories of Ironwood Academy are going down the road to lunch with his classmates, playing football outside during lunch, math class with Lynn Peck, and performing in the annual Ironwood Academy Talent Show. Ironwood Academy created a solid foundation for Caleb to build upon, and gave him the confidence to continue pursuing his musical gift and passion for music. 

Emily watson

Emily Watson graduated early from high school, having taken full advantage of Ironwood Academy’s hybrid program featuring strong academics, exceptional teachers, and a flexible schedule.  She received a Bachelor of Business Administration degree in Marketing and also a Masters of Business Administration from Lipscomb University.  To only be 21 years of age, Emily has worked hard and accomplished so much.  We are so proud of her! 

brian ericson

Brian Ericson attended Ironwood Academy for four years and graduated in 2015. Ironwood’s excellent instructors and academic programs developed his love for writing and the arts, so he continued his education at Lee University and majored in English writing. While in college, Brian was an editor for the school paper, a tutor in the writing center, a campus tour guide, and a freshman orientation leader. He was also heavily involved in the theatre program and served as the vice president of Lee’s chapter of Sigma Tau Delta, the international English honor society. Brian graduated summa cum laude in 2019 and now lives back in Nashville, where he works full-time as a political contributor to Young Voices, a nonprofit based in Washington, D.C. 

Madeline watts

Madeline Watts attended Ironwood Academy for four years and graduated in 2016. She is now a senior at Tennessee Tech University studying graphic design and she runs cross country, indoor and outdoor track and field for the university. Maddie runs long distance events such as the mile, 3k, and 5k.  She also competed at the American Championships in West Virginia where she placed 1st in age group and 6th overall in the US for women in the 10k trail event. 

mitch parker

Congratulations to Ironwood Academy alumnus, Mitch Parker, who was accepted to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. During his time at Ironwood, Mitch was Student Council President and received our Outstanding Leadership Award. 

gracie varga

Gracie Jacob (Varga) attended Ironwood Academy for 3 years. Ironwood’s flexible schedule allowed her to pursue her music and songwriting while she frequently traveled throughout the United States to perform with her band. After graduating from high school early, Gracie obtained the experience and education needed to start her own business and married her husband Joey Jacob at the end of 2016.  In 2020, Gracie launched her own online clothing boutique called Graeish ( and continues to be involved in the songwriting industry through Bridge Worship. Gracie believes the hybrid model of Ironwood Academy and the relationships she had with students and faculty, helped shape her into the entrepreneur she is today. Her hope is to use her business endeavors to encourage women to find Christ-centered confidence in every season of life. 

Trevor Gersmehl & 

danielle starmer

Trevor Gersmehl graduated early from Samford University with a degree in sports management.  He is engaged to be married in June to another Ironwood Academy alumna, Danielle Starmer.  Danielle also graduated from Samford University with a degree in Nutrition and Dietetics and is a registered dietitian.