Faculty

Ironwood Academy has a reputation for hiring the best teachers in the State. Our Instructors are highly experienced and engaged professionals with advanced degrees. They are passionate about the subjects or grade that they teach. At Ironwood, we believe strongly that teachers should be extremely well paid and empowered because a truly great teacher can make all the difference in how a young person sees his or her future. We provide an environment that allows teachers to use all of their creative skills and giftedness and we reward them for going beyond the norm to reach and challenge our students. As a result, the students at Ironwood Academy are the beneficiaries; they are being taught by the best of the best. 

Terry L. Morris

Executive Director 

Terry Morris serves as Executive Director of Ironwood Academy. She has over 35 years experience in entrepreneurial non-profit leadership, as well as corporate strategy and development experience with global, publicly-traded companies. For 20 years, she held various executive leadership positions with a German healthcare company, a Dallas-based real estate conglomerate, and she was a capital markets consultant to PricewaterhouseCoopers for its Fortune 100 clients.  In 2011, Terry and a small group of parents and teachers founded Ironwood Academy as a rigorous college-prep tutorial for middle and high school homeschool students in the Nashville area. She currently serves as President of the Board of Directors and co-administers the program with Lynn Peck. Terry was selected for the Governor's Task Force on Alternative Education Models for the State and she has advised other local area private schools and non-profits on compliance matters, transparency, and governance best practices. Terry holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Education from the University of Tennessee and a Master of Business Administration degree from the University of Texas. She is a Tennessee-certified teacher and, as a single mom, homeschooled her own son, Stephen, who graduated from the University of Tennessee and now lives and works in Knoxville. 

Lynn Peck

Administrator & Math Instructor

Lynn Peck is the Administrator of Ironwood Academy, responsible for all academic affairs, and she serves as Math Chair. She brings her outstanding teaching skills to our middle and high school students.  Lynn graduated summa cum laude (with highest honors) from Vanderbilt University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Mathematics. She also has a Masters of Education degree in Secondary Education from Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College, where she graduated with a GPA of 3.9 out of 4.0.   Lynn’s love for middle school students stems from her time at the Harpeth Hall School where she taught for six years covering Standard and Honors Pre-Algebra, Math 7, Honors Algebra 1, and Honors Geometry.


Previously, Lynn taught Algebra I and Statistics at Ravenwood High School.   Ravenwood is not only where Lynn first started her teaching career before transferring to Harpeth Hall, but it is also where she met her husband, Josh Peck.  Josh currently teaches Robotics and Engineering at Ravenwood.  Lynn and Josh have two children: a 15-year old son, Brody, and an 13-year old daughter, Avery.

ELizabeth elfers

English Instructor

Elizabeth Elfers joined Ironwood Academy in 2021 to teach English to our high school students.  She also teaches our high school EQ course.  Elizabeth holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Xavier University in English and Theology, where she graduated summa cum laude (with highest honors).  She also has a Master of Theological Studies degree, summa cum laude, from Vanderbilt University Divinity School where she was a Founders Medalist.  In addition, in 2011, she was a Fellow in the Vanderbilt University Cal Turner Program for Moral Leadership.


Elizabeth has extensive experience in teaching, administrative leadership, and youth mentoring.  Most recently, from 2015-2020, she was Dean of Campus Ministry and Student Life at Father Ryan High School in Nashville.  In her leadership role, Elizabeth provided direction and oversight of student service opportunities such as Room in the Inn, Special Olympics, and Relay for Life, as well as overseeing student mission trips.  Prior to her tenure at Father Ryan, Elizabeth facilitated youth and adult volunteer opportunities as Co-Director of Lydia’s House in Cincinnati, Ohio.  She previously served as Associate University Minister at the University of San Diego for four years facilitating domestic and international immersion experiences for college students, leading faith-sharing groups and providing one-on-oe spiritual direction.  Elizabeth taught Great Books and Theology at Pope John Paul II High School and was a Writing Consultant at Vanderbilt University’s English Language Center tutoring international students. Her extensive classroom experience in all grade levels, combined with her passion for reading, writing, and providing leadership development for youth and young adults, makes Elizabeth a tremendous addition to Ironwood Academy’s dream team faculty.  She and her husband, Jim, who is a Spanish teacher at Pope John Paul II High School, have been married seven years and are the proud parents of a five-year-old daughter, Margie, and a three-year-old son, Oscar.  In her free time, Elizabeth volunteers for the homeless through Room in the Inn and other charitable organizations.  She is a Franklin, Tennessee native and her entire family is local.  Elizabeth plays guitar, enjoys live music, and she loves reading, especially works by Jane Austen, John Steinbeck, and J.K. Rowling.

Debb hayes

Emotional Intelligence (EQ) Instructor


Deborah Hayes returns to Ironwood Academy as EQ (Emotional Intelligence) Instructor with 30+ years of professional educational experience as a classroom teacher (public and private). She is a published author, curriculum developer, teacher trainer, and national speaker at educational conferences. She also homeschooled her three sons for several years. She has a strong passion for helping equip young people in the areas of emotional intelligence and well-being.

 

She completed both her undergraduate degree and graduate teacher credentialing work at California State University, Sacramento, majoring in Liberal Arts/Education with a concentration in Communications Studies. She taught public school for several years in central California and the inner-city of Los Angeles. Debb was named “Best New Educator” her second year in the classroom. In addition to her tenure as a classroom teacher, she has significant experience in writing and developing curriculum and training materials for educational institutions and publishers. She has authored multiple best-selling teacher resource books and over one hundred curriculum guides and materials for publishers. One of her earlier books was adopted as a textbook for the teaching program at New York State University. She continues to write and create content for online educational resources. For many years, Debb’s national speaking engagements include educational conferences such as the International Reading Association, the National Educational Computing Conference, and the American Library Association

Debb is passionate about learning and using life tools that promote positive mental, emotional and physical health. She is the Chair-Person of the Advisory Council at Vanderbilt Behavioral Health Hospital. She is also a state-wide presenter of the End the Silence program. End the Silence is a program designed for middle and high school students (as well as school staff and families) to help educate, empower and increase knowledge in discussing mental health. She loves teaching EQ and helping build its custom curated curriculum for Ironwood students.

 

Debb and her husband, Steve, have lived in the Franklin area for thirty plus years. They have three grown sons and recently welcomed two lovely daughters-in-love to their growing family. She loves reading, writing, travel, kayaking, and paddleboarding. And cookies. Let us never forget the cookies.

Dawn Breese

English Instructor

Dawn Breese joined Ironwood Academy in 2022 to teach middle school Language Arts. She holds both a Bachelor of Science degree and a Master of Science degree in Educational Leadership from California State University at Fullerton, where she graduated summa cum laude (with highest honors). Mrs. Breese has been an educator for over 30 years as a teacher, a principal, and as a district administrator in Anaheim, California.  She has multiple subject teacher credentials as well as cross cultural, language and academic development credentials.  In 2018, she was designated by the California State Legislature as “Woman of the Year” and chosen as a “Woman of Distinction” by the California Assembly District 65.  Mrs. Breese was “Administrator of the Year” in 2019-2020. The schools that she led won the California Gold Ribbon School award for two years.  She is adept at establishing high standards for children’s academic and social growth and is a proven leader in classroom management.  Mrs. Breese has extensive experience in designing instruction that significantly improves achievement for all learners. She completed four professional development courses designed to improve students' evidenced based writing. In addition to her interest in writing, she is passionate about teaching students how to use their reading skills for advanced learning and literary analysis. Mrs. Breese has been married to her husband, John, for 27 years and they are raising their rescued fur baby named Enzo (a 60-lb standard-sized Schnauzer).  In her spare time, she enjoys traveling, cooking, wide reading, live music, and long drives through the beautiful Tennessee countryside.

Catherine gunter

Science Instructor

Catherine Gunter joined Ironwood Academy in 2021 with over 20 years of experience teaching science to middle and high school students.  Catherine holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry, as well as a Masters of Education degree in Secondary Science Education, from the University of Georgia.  


Most recently, Catherine taught Chemistry and AP Chemistry at Franklin Road Academy as a long-term substitute teacher, in addition to privately tutoring area middle and high school students in math, science, Spanish II, and study skills.  Catherine’s middle school teaching experience includes sixth grade science at J.T. Moore Middle School and fifth and sixth grade science at The Covenant School. At the high school level, she taught regular, advanced, and honors Chemistry at Ravenwood High School.  Catherine began her teaching career at Providence High School in Charlotte, NC, where she taught regular, advanced, and honors Chemistry.  There she received the First Year Teacher of the Year award.  Catherine is proficient in intermediate Spanish and is a Tennessee state-certified teacher with a “highly qualified” endorsement in Chemistry for grades 7-12.  Catherine and her husband, Oliver, have lived in the Nashville area for 15 years where he is a Professor of Surgery at Vanderbilt University.  They have two sons, David (17) and Marshall (16), who keep the family busy going to travel soccer games throughout the southeast.  When not on the pitch, her family enjoys time on the lake with friends, entertaining, and traveling. 

Allison Jarrett Timmons

Art Instructor

Allison Jarrett Timmons returned to Ironwood Academy in 2021 as our Art Instructor for all grades. Allison holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication Studies with a Concentration in Studio Art from Furman University in Greenville, South Carolina, as well as a Master of Arts degree in Art Education from New York University’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Human Development. Allison has taught all ages in a variety of settings, from traditional schools to homeschool tutorials to college to community education. She served as an Adjunct Instructor and Teaching Artist at Watkins College of Art, Design and Film and Watkins Community Education, as a 3-D art teacher at Father Ryan High School, a ceramics instructor at high schools and camps in New York, and as a private art instructor with her own studio, Art School. No matter who she is teaching, Allison’s primary goal is to teach the creative process, and to encourage students to take risks with their work and try new things. She enjoys teaching through contemporary art using traditional and non-traditional media and materials, and wants all of her art students to believe in their own innate creativity.


Allison was raised in Nashville and attended Father Ryan High School. When she is not teaching, she volunteers her time with the American Legion Auxiliary Volunteer Girls State Program, a citizenship and leadership program for high school girls. Her own artwork and creative projects include lettering, embroidery, writing, sculpture, and quilting with her mother Anita. Allison and her husband Matthew have two young daughters, June and Alex,, and they spend their free time together playing music, renovating their Donelson home, and chasing after their silly dog Gracie.

KATIE HOEPFNER

Math Instructor

Katie Hoepfner joined Ironwood Academy to teach middle and high school math during the 2023-2024 school year.  She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Middle Level Education, as well as a Master of Science Degree in Teaching and Learning, from Illinois University where she graduated with honors.  Katie has over eleven years of experience teaching math in grades 6th through 9th.  Before starting at Ironwood, she taught Pre-Algebra, Honors Pre-Algebra, and Algebra 1 at The Ensworth School in Nashville.  Previously, she taught 8th grade math in the Rutherford County School system.  From 2013 to 2019, Katie taught 6th grade math in the Pontiac, Illinois CCSD, where she created two interdisciplinary STEM units and served on the Illinois Math & Science Partnership Program.  She began her teaching career in the Urbana, Illinois school system teaching 7th grade math.  When she is not teaching, Katie enjoys spending time with her husband Chris, her son Murphy, and their dog, Sadie.

Amy Skillicorn

Social Studies & Math Instructor

 Mrs. Amy Skillicorn has joined Ironwood Academy for the 2024-2025 academic year.  She will teach social studies to our middle/upper elementary students and one math course.  Mrs. Skillicorn graduated from the University of Southern California with a Bachelor of Arts in Classics.  She also earned a Post Baccalaureate Certificate from the University of Pennsylvania, as well as a Master of Arts degree from the University of Georgia.  Mrs. Skillicorn is presently completing her Doctor of Philosophy in Latin from the University of Florida.  She expects to earn her Ph.D. in May 2025.   Most recently, Mrs. Skillicorn taught at Ensworth Middle School in Nashville for the past six years.  At Ensworth, she designed and implemented curriculum, including creating gamification activities for her students, and she was the World Languages Department Chair.  Given her extensive educational background and experience in ancient civilizations, Latin, Greek culture, and the Classics, Mrs. Skillicorn is uniquely qualified to teach our upper elementary school history courses.   In addition to her classroom experience, Mrs. Skillicorn’s online educational business has created 182 products with cutting-edge Google slide games, gamification apps, and digital escape rooms.  No doubt our student can expect to have an innovative and engaging learning experience with her.  She has sold voluminous teaching content through TeachersPayTeachers where her educational tools are in great demand.  She regularly tutors elementary and middle school students in Math, Science, and Social Studies.  She began her teaching career in Macon, Georgia where she taught Latin and AP Latin at a private academy; there she also coached students who yearly placed in the National Latin Exam, National Classical Etymology Exam and the National Latin Vocabulary Exam.  Mrs. Skillicorn is a frequent speaker at educational conferences sharing her knowledge of classroom transformations, gamification, and student engagement.  

Wendy conner

Science & Math Instructor

Wendy Conner teaches math and science in our early elementary program.  Wendy has been teaching for 18 years. Most recently, she taught third grade math and science at Pegram Elementary Fine Arts Magnet School where she was voted Teacher of the Year for 2019-20. Mrs. Conner is passionate about students learning in an environment of exploration and play. She started and maintained a school garden teaching students math and science concepts in an outdoor classroom. She also initiated Makerspace learning and mentored other young teachers in using it in their classrooms.


Wendy was instrumental in building Ironwood’s elementary and middle school science programs.  Previously, she taught fourth grade and middle school science at Nashville Christian School where she was voted Teacher of the Year for 2006-2007. She began her teaching career as a fifth grade teacher at Meigs Magnet School in Nashville. Wendy holds a Bachelor of Science degree and teaching certificate from Trevecca Nazarene University.  Wendy and her husband, Glenn, have been married for 30 years and they have two children:  Abby, an Ironwood Academy alumna and graduate of Lee University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Graphic Design; and Aiden, who is 14 years old. Wendy is a member of Rolling Hills Church in Nashville and enjoys working with their ministries to women and children in crisis. In her free time, Wendy enjoys gardening, cooking and reading. She also loves traveling and hiking with her family. 


Eric Massengill

Social Studies Instructor 

Eric Massengill joined Ironwood Academy in 2022 and teaches US History, World History and Government.  He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in History from Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU).  For twenty years, Mr. Massengill has primarily taught students in the homeschool setting and also tutored privately.  He has experience teaching at all grade levels, from elementary through high school, and he has taught Tennessee History, American Pop Culture, and World Geography.  Most recently, he co-led a current events class at Ironwood Academy titled:  The United States in an Uncertain World.  When he is not teaching, he loves spending time with his wife, Amy (who is a Biology Professor at MTSU) and their two grown daughters, Katie and Ashleigh.  They are active members of LifePoint Church.  Mr. Massengill also enjoys performing in community theater productions and oil painting.  “Mr. M,” as he is affectionately called by the students, is one of Ironwood Academy’s most popular teachers.


Phillip Vinson

Spanish Instructor

Mr. Phillip Vinson joined Ironwood Academy's full time faculty in 2024. Phillip is currently an adjunct professor at Tennessee Tech University (his alma mater) where he earned a Bachelor's degree in Spanish & Health Sciences. He also has a Master's degree from the Universidad de Alcalá in Learning and Teaching Spanish as a Foreign Language. Mr. Vinson teaches Spanish I and Spanish II. 



ABBIE JENNINGS HAYS

Elementary Instructor

Abbie Hays joined Ironwood Academy as an instructor for the 2023-2024 school year of our second grade class.  Most recently, Abbie taught second grade for five years at a charter rewards school in the Metro Nashville school system.  She is trained in the Orton-Gillingham method for reading instruction.  As a Nashville native, Abbie graduated from Harpeth Hall high school and holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary Education from Auburn University, with a minor in Human Development and Family Studies.  She has been married for three years to her high school sweetheart, Wilson Hays, and they have a son, Huck.  When she is not teaching, Abbie loves spending time with her husband, their son, and their boxer Nala.  She enjoys walking, reading and creating beautiful flower arrangements.

Kathy Boyd

Kindergarten Instructor

We are delighted and proud to announce that Ms. Kathy Boyd will return to Ironwood Academy to teach Kindergarten for the 2024-2025 academic year.  She attended Belmont University and earned a Bachelor of Science degree, as well as a Masters of Education degree, from Middle Tennessee State University.  Kathy has 38 years of teaching experience in public and private schools, including Ironwood Academy.  She retired from teaching First Grade at Christ Presbyterian Academy in 2022, where she was a beloved member of their faculty.  In 2013, Kathy was selected as Teacher of the Year for the Franklin Special School District (FSSD).  Kathy is a member of Brentwood Methodist Church and an active member of the D.A.R. Old Glory Chapter, as well as being a sustaining member of the Junior League of Nashville. She has two grown children and one grandchild, her precious Violet.  In her free time, Kathy helps care for Violet and she loves bike riding, drawing and painting and Pilates.  

Carlie Richey

Elementary Instructor

Miss Carlie Richey has joined Ironwood Academy’s stellar faculty for the 2024-2025 academic year.  Miss Richey will be team-teaching in Ironwood Academy’s new Teacher Mentor Program, designed to train and equip young teachers in educational best practices for hybrid homeschool tutorials. She will be teaching first grade this fall, working in conjunction with and under the mentorship of one of Ironwood Academy’s experienced elementary instructors, Mrs. Abbie Hays.   Miss Richey is a recent graduate of Liberty University with a Bachelor of Elementary Education degree.  She is presently completing her practicum teaching in first grade at Grace Christian Academy in Franklin, Tennessee.  Carlie has also taught fourth grade at Poplar Grove Elementary, as well as teaching third grade at Johnson Elementary School, and also at Liberty Christian Academy.  Throughout her college career, Carlie has worked as both a tutor and a nanny for homeschooled students ranging from first to 11th grades.  Miss Richey has prior experience individually tutoring several Ironwood Academy students. She comes highly recommended by her previous employers and teaching supervisors who praised her calm and loving demeanor, her patience, and her expertise in planning and delivering meaningful lessons for young students.  In her free time, Carlie enjoys exploring God's creation through hiking, kayaking, and camping. She also enjoys gardening and sewing.