Ironwood Academy has a reputation for hiring the best teachers in the area. 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.
Dr. Joshua Straub
Emotional Intelligence (EQ)
Curriculum Director & Instructor
Dr. Keri Tarantino
Emotional Intelligence (EQ) Instructor
Kerith (Keri) Tarantino, Psy.D. was trained as a clinical psychologist at Rosemead School of Psychology in La Mirada, California. She approaches clinical work and teaching with an understanding of human behavior and emotion through the lens of theology and faith. She has a passion for helping others grow to be uniquely the way God created them. Keri was a recipient of the Health Professional Scholarship Program through the United States Army during her graduate training and went on to be commissioned as an officer in the US Army to begin her career as a psychologist. She completed her internship training at Eisenhower Army Medical Center in Augusta, Georgia and her residency training at Madigan Army Medical Center in Tacoma, Washington.
She deployed to Iraq in 2008-2009 with a Combat Stress Control Detachment from Ft. Bragg, North Carolina, where she served as a clinical psychologist. She earned a bronze star medal for her efforts to promote psychological care to those impacted by combat exposure and traumatic brain injury. Upon completion of four years of active-duty service in the military, Dr. Tarantino served as the post-doctoral residency program director at Madigan Army Medical Center, where she developed a passion for teaching.
Keri has provided psychological assessment services to children and adults across the lifespan following her time with the military. After relocating to the Nashville, Tennessee area in 2018, she has been on staff with the Learning Lab and Highlands Professional Group, where she provides assessment services to children and adults. She also serves as the clinical supervisor at the Learning Lab. Keri remains connected with the military where she offers consultation and assessment services.
Keri is married to her husband, Gus, of 19 years and they have two children, Olivia (11) and Anthony (8). She has a passion for working with children in her church, where she currently assists with developing a ministry for families with special needs. She enjoys being on their family farm in Burns, Tennessee, hiking, kayaking, gardening and running with their spoiled dog, Nash.
Social Studies Instructor
Emotional Intelligence (EQ) Instructor
Melanie Lemon joined Ironwood Academy in 2021 to teach Language Arts in the elementary program. Melanie has over 20 years teaching experience and is a Tennessee state-certified teacher. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary Education, as well as a Master of Education degree, with an emphasis in administration and supervision, from Middle Tennessee State University. For the past four years, Melanie has worked as a regular and beloved substitute teacher at Grace Christian Academy in Lieper’s Fork, TN. Melanie’s colleagues have raved about her expertise as a teacher and her excellent rapport with students. Previously, Melanie taught second and fourth grades at Walnut Grove Elementary for seven years. From 1999 to 2005, she taught at Erma Siegel Elementary School in Murfreesboro. Melanie began her teaching career in Georgia, having taught third and sixth grades there before moving to Tennessee. She has been a member of Franklin First United Methodist Church for 15 years, as well as a community volunteer and leader for a local non-profit group. Melanie and her family enjoy being outside. They like to spend time with family and friends as often as they can get together. When she’s not teaching, Melanie enjoys volunteering, walking, hiking, and cooking.
Science & Math Instructor
Allison Jarrett Timmons
Social Studies & English Instructor
Linda Black (seated in far right chair in photograph) teaches Social Studies 8 and Language Arts 6. Linda has a Bachelor of Science degree in Education from Illinois State University and a Master’s degree in Education from Western Kentucky University. She has more than 30 years of teaching experience in middle school language arts, social studies, and math. Most recently, Linda taught sixth grade English Language Arts at Spring Hill Middle School and at Whitthorne Middle School in the Maury County School System for 9 years. For two years, she was a test administrator for City Colleges of Chicago Europe in Ramstein, Mannheim, Heidelberg, Kleber, and several other locations in Germany. Linda is a certified teacher in the State of Tennessee. In her free time, Linda is active in her church, various Bible study groups, and a ministry for widows called Coffee and Conversations. She loves spending time fishing, hunting, and kayaking at her family farm in Bon Aqua, TN with her children and eleven grandchildren.
Science & Math Instructor
Tiffany Anton joins Ironwood Academy as a Math and Science Instructor for 2021-2022. She teaches Chemistry, Algebra I and II, and Science 8. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry as well as a Master of Business Administration (MBA) in Entrepreneurial Studies from Kennesaw State University. Tiffany comes to us with industry experience as a Quality Control Chemist for a major chemical company and a chemical distributorship, both in Atlanta, GA. More recently, she has taught Chemistry and Math classes at Rutherford Tutorial Academy as well as homeschooling her three daughters.
Julie Lankford joins Ironwood Academy as an elementary teacher. She has over 20 years of experience in early childhood education in homeschooling and in public school for 20 years. Julie has a Bachelor of Science degree in Early Childhood Education from Baylor University and is a certified Tennessee teacher. For eight years, Julie taught kindergarten and pre-kindergarten in the Metro Nashville Public Schools having previously served as a substitute teacher. She has written curriculum for Lifeway Christian Resources and designed a pre-K curriculum guide for teachers. She is the Preschool Choir Director for Nashville First Baptist Church, a position she has held for over 30 years. In addition, Julie is a clinician at music workshops and has written music education curriculum for Growing in Grace. She worked with the Nashville Children’s Choir (Belmont Academy) for twelve years and traveled with the NCC’s touring choir. Julie has been homeschooling for 17 years and has helped many families get started homeschooling using a tutorial. She has taught parenting classes on how to integrate math and language into everyday activities and conducted continuing education workshops for early childhood teachers. The Lankfords were one of the instrumental families at Ironwood Academy when it was founded in 2011. Her daughter, Caroline, attended Ironwood Academy and is now a senior at Lee University majoring in Nursing, with a minor in Spanish. When she is not teaching, Julie enjoys walking and hiking, singing, working jigsaw puzzles, riding roller coasters, and traveling with her children.
carmen andonian, r.n.
First Aid/CPR & Wellness
Carmen Rich Andonian, R.N., joins Ironwood Academy as its school nurse and teaches Wellness & First Aid/CPR to high school students and parents. Carmen is a registered nurse in the states of Tennessee and New York, with over twenty years of experience in health care. She is certified in basic life support (CPR), advanced cardiac life support, pediatric advanced life support, and she is a nationally certified emergency medical technician. Carmen attended the University of Tennessee and graduated from St. Thomas Aquinas College of Nursing and from Creighton Medical University’s EMT program. She began her nursing career at Vanderbilt Medical Center and later at Vanderbilt University Medical Center’s emergency Level I trauma center and Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital emergency department. During that time, she also hosted the popular daily health segment called “Carmen Cares” on WSM-FM radio and on WSMV News Channel 4, sponsored by Vanderbilt Medical Center. Carmen has extensive experience as a travel emergency room nurse, having worked at the Mayo Clinic Scottsdale Arizona, Maricopa Medical Center, Phoenix Children’s Hospital, and Paradise Valley Hospital Emergency. In addition, she worked at several adults and children’s emergency rooms including Columbia Presbyterian Children’s Hospital, Lenox Hill Hospital pediatric emergency room and postpartum/newborn nursery, Bellevue Pediatric Intensive Care, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, and North General Hospital in Harlem, New York. Carmen served as head nurse for West End Pediatrics and as the nurse to mothers and newborns. Carmen has been a frequently featured guest health expert on Fox and Friends and in other news markets. Carmen is fulfilling her mission of improving lives, lifestyles, and health care systems through medicine, media, and education. Carmen is famous in Nashville for having been an incredibly popular “super nanny” to many families while she was in college and nursing school, and she is affectionately known to us as Nurse Carmen. She and her husband, Eric, who is an Army veteran who was deployed to the Middle East, are parents to five children: Wills, Eliza, Hannah, Cece, and one on the way.