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Welcome to Templeton Academy Nashville!


As a parent, a teacher, and an educator, I’ve made this special school my home from its founding day, when my daughter entered its doors as a newly minted 8th grader. Now I am watching her prepare to graduate, along with 17 other vibrant young Templeton souls, and I am profoundly grateful for this place that has given so much to her, to me, and to our family. When I applied for the role of Operations Manager in year two, I remember saying that I wished a place like Templeton had been available for me when I was growing up, and I often hear that sentiment echoed by our parents, many of whom spend time on campus regularly.

Templeton is unique, both in the Nashville education landscape, and in the much larger national arena. Our students are as varied as their number, each having a specific reason for being here: a desire for self-expression, a love of hands-on learning, a connection to a small and supportive community, a place to explore their passions. We are extroverts and introverts, leaders and collaborators, explorers and creators, artists and scientists. But in all that multiplicity, all that range of purpose and drive, we all share one essential thing: we needed a specific place to be seen, supported, challenged, and loved, and we found it in Templeton Academy.

Our core principles capture the essential functions of our community. In Core Advisory, we actively seek self-understanding, as well as how our identities interact with our communities, ranging from family to school to city to world. Project-Based Learning is our core academic expression, where we combine research, trial and error, analysis, and revision in tailored, hands-on demonstrations of concept mastery. Through weekly Field Work, we pair conceptual understanding with real-world applications to understand how physics explains the motion of a pinball machine, how archival practices preserve invaluable historic sources, or how a jury comes to a verdict in a double murder trial. Together, these three core principles add up to Deeper Learning, which asks students to move well beyond the “what” of education and into the “how” and the “why” – How did Nashville’s status as the home of the 19th amendment change the course of women’s suffrage? Why does the price of soybeans have a direct bearing on the stock market? How can studying historic court cases reveal the essential components of public speaking? 

Our goal is to help our students pursue their own foundational “why” – what brings them joy and allows them to serve others? What unique contribution would they like to make to their home, their city, their industry, their art? Through asking big questions, developing critical reasoning skills, and recognizing that education of the whole person expands to every aspect of who we are as emotional, psychological, academic, and civic beings, we can challenge preconceived notions of what school is and instead create a place where education is as it should be: exciting, tailored, personal, engaging, and the foundation of a life rooted in inquiry and compassion.

Learning is supposed to be thrilling; it should light students up and energize them to be part of the scholarly conversation. We’d love to show you around and share more about education as it should be. Click below on the inquiry form to get started!

Welcome from the WolfPACK!
Erica Steakley, Ph.D.
Head of School


Inquire About Nashville Admissions

Templeton Academy seeks a diverse population of students (grades 5 – 12) who bring energy and commitment to the learning process. We’d love to share more about attending our Nashville campus.

Inquire About Nashville Admissions

Templeton Academy seeks a diverse population of students (grades 5 – 12) who bring energy and commitment to the learning process. We’d love to share more about attending our Nashville campus.

Calendar of Events

There are no upcoming events.

Meet the Team

AllStaff
Operations Manager | she/her

Dr. Erica Steakley

College & Guidance Counselor | he/him

Waleid El-Chaer

Admissions and Marketing Coordinator | she/her

Kathleen Metzger

7th Grade STEM + HS Geometry | she/her

Rachel Godfrey

Humanities Dept Lead + HS Humanities + 8 Grade Humanities | he/him

Scott Field

High School Art | she/they

Jessi Goodwin

5th/6th Humanities | he/him

Travis Batista

Middle School Science Teacher | he/him

Cody Wordlaw

HS English Teacher | she/her

Allyn Spacek

HS Math Teacher | he/him

Cannon Joiner

Teacher | he/him

Joe Scearce

Middle School STEM | he/him

Tanner Kane

Spanish Teacher | she/her

Natalie Aviles

Adjunct | she/her

Dr. Savanna Rae Starko

Operations Manager | she/her

Dr. Erica Steakley

Dr. Erica Steakley is a lifelong learner who feels most at home in a lively and innovative school environment like Templeton Academy. Originally from Nashville, Dr. Steakley attended Belmont University for her B.A. and M.A. in English before pursuing her Ph.D. at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. Following grad school, she lived and worked in Los Angeles, teaching at both Loyola Marymount University and California State University Northridge, before taking on the role of development and communications director for a private progressive school serving preschool through middle school students. Dr. Steakley is excited to be joining Templeton Academy as operations manager because she is already a member of the parent community and has come to love the way in which Templeton puts students first and challenges them to be partners in their education. Dr. Steakley lives with her husband Clay and daughter Dot (and Norman and Echo, the cats) in Bellevue. She loves reading and writing, puzzles and brain games, cats and koalas, anime and mysteries, and dark chocolate. She also loves to meet people, so stop by the desk and say hello!

erica.steakley@templetonacademy.org:erica.steakley@templetonacademy.org

College & Guidance Counselor | he/him

Waleid El-Chaer

Waleid is a Nashville native (or “unicorn,” as he says), pursued a degree in Biochemistry and History, with minors in English and Psychology, at Austin Peay State University to satisfy the need to grow and learn about a broad range of subjects. His continuing education focused on Behavioral Counseling to help those in need looking to help with at-risk teens. With more than six years of front-line experience with social work and working with those most in need in the city of Nashville, Waleid is excited to share these experiences, as well as his passion to help young people succeed, with the Templeton Community. Waleid is also Dungeon Master with 14 years of experience leading Dungeons and Dragons campaigns, as well as the vocalist and bassist for a Nashville-based melodic death metal band. He quotes his father’s advice as the inspiration for why he runs the gamut in his interests: “the only thing no one can take from you is your education from life and school.” Waleid looks forward to getting to know the high school families!

waleid.elchaer@templetonacademy.org:waleid.elchaer@templetonacademy.org

Admissions and Marketing Coordinator | she/her

Kathleen Metzger

Born in Tennessee, Kathleen Metzger spent a large part of her childhood in Georgia before attending university in the Pacific Northwest. She holds a B.S. in Business and Marketing from Oregon State University with a minor in English. Following graduation, she lived and worked in the Portland area before returning to Nashville 10 years ago. 

Starting at an early age, Kathleen began volunteering with organizations focused on food security, shelter security, and animal rescue, on the front lines delivering care and as a board member. She developed and honed her marketing skills through work in technology and service companies, in addition to her volunteer service.

Kathleen fervently believes in the Templeton mission to help Students find their passions and missions while instilling a lifelong curiosity and love of learning. She is excited about the alignment of her own story with the Templeton mission and is so pleased to be part of the team.

A lifelong word nerd and music lover, Kathleen can often be found spending her off-time at a show in town or recharging at home with a good book and a good record on the turntable.

nashvilleadmissions@templetonacademy.org:nashvilleadmissions@templetonacademy.org

7th Grade STEM + HS Geometry | she/her

Rachel Godfrey

Rachel Godfrey is a Nashville native who decided to return home after attending undergrad at Appalachian State University in the beautiful Boone, NC. As a naturally curious person, she graduated with a degree in communication studies with minors in sociology and interior design. After graduation, Rachel started with Nashville Teacher Residency and taught Math Intervention classes, 7th and 8th grade math, and some Algebra 1 within her first year, and became a Level 5 (amount of student growth 1-5) teacher for 7th grade math in her second year. Because of Rachel’s experience with math in middle and high school and her background of interior design, she has a passion for making math more tangible and real-world applicable. She is excited to be teaching STEM which allows students to see that math and science can come together and change the world for the best! When she is not teaching, Rachel loves to travel anywhere possible and try new restaurants… But on a daily basis, she loves to cook, walk her chocolate lab around Germantown, and listen to podcasts (and play along with Jeopardy, she loves random trivia). Be sure to ask her for any Nashville food recommendations!

rachel.godfrey@templetonacademy.org:rachel.godfrey@templetonacademy.org

Humanities Dept Lead + HS Humanities + 8 Grade Humanities | he/him

Scott Field

Scott Field grew up in central Pennsylvania. He studied history at Swarthmore College and started teaching math and science in Washington DC a few years after graduating. The work resonated with him so he moved to Santa Fe, NM to earn a Master’s in Liberal Arts at St. John’s College. He has been teaching and coaching middle and high school students for 20 years in English and history in Washington, DC, Boston, and Nashville. While working at Currey Ingram, Scott opened the Third Coast Comedy Club, temporarily stepping down from teaching to help the business grow. Married, he has two teenage sons, a rescue dog, two stray cats, and countless microbes. 

scott.field@templetonacademy.org:scott.field@templetonacademy.org

High School Art | she/they

Jessi Goodwin

Jessi Goodwin is a mixed media artist, graphic designer, and art instructor who has been teaching K-12 art in the Nashville community for almost a decade. She earned her BFA in Visual Art from Huntingdon College in 2002, and is currently pursuing her Master of Arts in Art Education degree through AOE University. In recent years she has had the immense honor of sharing her love of the arts and art history with middle and high school artists at WEB Tutorial and has also instructed K-7 art students at One Tree Montessori. Her material and studio experience includes: 2D and 3D design skills, drawing, watercolors, acrylic painting, sumi-e ink illustration, ceramics, collage, pastels, printmaking, textiles, digital and advertising design, photography, artistic activism, and art history. Jessi adores contemporary art and believes that absolutely everyone is capable of unique artistic creation if given the opportunity to experiment and cultivate their visual voice.

jessi.goodwin@templetonacademy.org:jessi.goodwin@templetonacademy.org

5th/6th Humanities | he/him

Travis Batista

Travis Batista graduated from Middle Tennessee State University with a Bachelor’s degree in Global Studies and a minor in History. He grew up just outside of Nashville in White House, TN. His favorite way to spend my time is with his wife and daughter. He started his career in education through the Nashville Teaching Fellows program during the summer of 2016 and completed a Masters in Arts of Teaching just last summer. In college, he found a love for experiencing new cultures and travel especially through exploring local food. So far, he’s made it to three continents and several countries. Asia and its many dumplings are at the top of my list to explore next. His goal is to bring his travels to the classroom while teaching both Social Studies and ELA. He hopes to inspire his students to experience the world beyond their front doors.

travis.batista@templetonacademy.org:travis.batista@templetonacademy.org

Middle School Science Teacher | he/him

Cody Wordlaw

Cody Wordlaw graduated from Tennessee State University with a Bachelor’s degree in Agricultural Sciences focused in Environmental Sciences. He was born in East Memphis, Tennessee and raised in West Memphis, Arkansas. His favorite way to spend time, is playing with his two mini yorkies, husbandry for his reptiles, and staying active! He started his career in education through Enriched schools as a long term Quest Educator and soon after acquired his own classroom as a Science Teacher and permanent classroom of scholars. In college, he reunited with his first love, Science, after being a musician for 12 years. He is also planning to further his education with a Masters in Business Administration. His goal is to take everything he knows about science and make it hands-on!! He hopes to encourage and inspire students about the wonderful world of science, while making it fun and memorable.

cody.wordlaw@templetonacademy.org:cody.wordlaw@templetonacademy.org

HS English Teacher | she/her

Allyn Spacek

Allyn Spacek (she/her) was raised in New York City, and holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from CUNY Hunter College, and a Master of Arts in English from Westfield State University in Westfield, Massachusetts. She has taught middle school English for five years, along with Social Studies for two of those years. She is thrilled to be a part of the Templeton Academy community! 

Ms. Spacek went to a high school that was inquiry- and project-based, and was inspired to pursue teaching because of the amazing experiences and teachers at that school, as well as her own father, a former English teacher. She strives to instill the same love for learning in her own students.

Ms. Spacek loves to learn, travel, and explore, and has lived for those interests: she and her husband Andy, along with their three children (Ruby, Cole, and Duncan) have traveled around the US in their RV, and regularly spend time in Andy’s hometown of Prague, Czech Republic.

allyn.spacek@templetonacademy.org:allyn.spacek@templetonacademy.org

HS Math Teacher | he/him

Cannon Joiner

Cannon Joiner is originally from Georgia, but the mountains of North Carolina have his heart. He graduated from Appalachian State University in 2016 and thereafter pursued a career in data-driven advertising for 5 years. He’s very excited to meet and motivate high school students to change their relationship with math and find new and intentional ways to use it to change the world around them for the better. He’s the father to a difficult 7-year-old pup named Barkley, and loves movies.

cannon.joiner@templetonacademy.org:cannon.joiner@templetonacademy.org

Teacher | he/him

Joe Scearce

Joe Scearce grew up in the Nashville area. He studied Anthropology and History at the University of Tennessee before receiving his Master’s in Education at Middle Tennessee State University. He began his teaching career in Metro Nashville Public Schools before moving to Albuquerque, NM where he taught Social Studies for five years. When he’s not teaching, you can catch Mr. Scearce at a Nashville Predators or Nashville SC game, or maybe wandering around a state park. At home he enjoys reading, writing, trying to keep his plants alive, and listening to loud music with his cat.

joe.scearce@templetonacademy.org:joe.scearce@templetonacademy.org

Middle School STEM | he/him

Tanner Kane

Tanner Kane was born and raised in the mountains of Northern California before relocating to Nashville. He attended Chico State University, receiving a bachelor’s degree in Science Education and a California Science teaching credential. After teaching middle school science and math for 3 years in Chico, he moved to Nashville with his band to try and play to a bigger audience. However, his love and passion for teaching brought him right back to school. Outside of the classroom, he loves to work with his hands on many different activities, such as DIY building projects, motorcycle and bicycle building and maintenance, graphic and video design, and PLENTY yard work. All of which help to create fun and relevant math and science activities in the classroom! Tanner values math and science skills that help you in the real world, and he hopes that he can pass these skills on to you! On the weekends you can find him riding his motorcycle, playing a show with his band, or working part-time at Shelby Ave Bicycle co. Say hello if you see me!

tanner.kane@templetonacademy.org:tanner.kane@templetonacademy.org

Spanish Teacher | she/her

Natalie Aviles

Natalie Aviles is absolutely thrilled to be a part of the Templeton Academy community teaching Spanish to middle and high school Students. As a native Spanish speaker from Colombia, South America, the Spanish language is an integral part of Ms. Aviles’ cultural heritage, and she feels profoundly connected to this beautiful language. Teaching Spanish is more than a profession; it is her fervent passion, and she is eager to share it with our wonderfully diverse student body. Her own educational journey includes a degree in Communications from Lipscomb University and she is currently pursuing a postgraduate program in Social Media Management at Belmont University. Studies show us that learning Spanish during the 5th and 6th grade age offers numerous benefits, including enhanced cognitive skills, improved problem-solving abilities, and heightened creativity, and that bilingualism and multilingualism open doors to a world of opportunities in our interconnected global society. Ms. Aviles is excited about a fantastic school year filled with language, culture, and personal growth that our students will experience as they become confident Spanish speakers and cultural explorers.

natalie.aviles@templetonacademy.org:natalie.aviles@templetonacademy.org

Adjunct | she/her

Dr. Savanna Rae Starko

Dr. Savanna Rae Starko loves being an educator! She views education as synonymous with connection.  She is a connector of people through shared knowledge.  She earned her B.A. degrees in Mathematics and Physics from Washington and Jefferson College, a small college outside of Pittsburgh, PA, in 2016.  She then went on to earn a Ph.D. in High Energy Physics from Vanderbilt University in the Spring of 2020.  Following graduate school, she began her role as Senior Lecturer and Course Coordinator for Introductory Physics for the Life Sciences at Vanderbilt.  In this course, her student population primarily consists of students on a premedical track, and Dr. Starko loves the opportunity to teach future doctors not what but how to think.  She is the recipient of the Harriet S. Gilliam Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching in 2022.

During the third year of her Ph.D. program, Dr. Starko became a registered yoga instructor (RYT-200).  She later went on to earn her 300-hour certificate to become a 500-hour registered yoga instructor (RYT-500) in the Fall of 2021.  She teaches yoga at Small World Yoga in Edgehill.  Whether in front of an academic classroom or a room full of yogis, she loves the opportunity to share knowledge.  She believes that knowledge is free, meant to be shared, and inextricably binds all people.  She is passionate about inclusive STEM education and works diligently to create spaces of belonging.  Dr. Starko very much looks forward to contributing to Templeton Academy’s reputation of ensuring that all students are seen, heard, and valued.

savanna.starko@templetonacademy.org:savanna.starko@templetonacademy.org