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Dear Visiting Families,

For years, I dreamed about opening a school in my hometown of Nashville… a place that truly celebrated students and reflected the real world. I imagined coffee shop outings and creative projects. I could see circles and presentations, whole school assemblies, and more. Slowly, I watched that dream come closer to reality as we selected the building space, hired staff members, and admitted families.


Kalee Barbis, Head of School
“We are blending the lines of learning and living — bringing our whole selves (curiosity, passion, and bravery) to school.”

Students embraced our space, our staff, and our culture, creating something extraordinary. We had, in our founding year, literally laid the foundation for years to come in Nashville. In the words of Edith Wharton, “There are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle or the mirror that receives it.” With open hearts, we created a beautiful community.

Our Students engage in deep project-based learning. Our 5th graders imagined what school could look like by building models, our 8th graders dropped eggs from the roof for physics, and our high school biology students created ecosystems. Our Students have deep conversations in Core Advisory exploring identities, discussing anti-racism, and imagining ways they will change the world.

Thank you in advance for signing on to learn more about Templeton Academy. We look forward to getting to know you and potentially welcoming you to the Wolf PACK. —Kalee

P.S. – Here is a link to our most recent virtual Exhibition Day commemorating the end of Term 2 – beautiful work from our great Students!

Press related to Templeton Academy Nashville:
  • Nashville Voyager: Exploring Life & Business with Kalee Barbis of Templeton Academy (November 10, 2021)

  • 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.

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    Meet the Team

    AllStaff
    Head of School Nashville | she/her

    Kalee Barbis

    Nashville Director of Admissions | she/her

    Tee Wilson

    Operations Manager | she/her

    Dr. Erica Steakley

    7th Grade STEM + HS Geometry | she/her

    Rachel Godfrey

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

    Scott Field

    Spanish & 8th Grade Humanities Teacher | she/her

    Meg Perry

    5th/6th Humanities | he/him

    Travis Batista

    Middle School STEM Teacher | he/him

    Will Jones

    High School Art | she/they

    Jessi Goodwin

    7th/8th Grade Humanities | she/her

    Rachel Oakley

    7th/8th Grade Teaching Assistant | she/her

    Gabrielle Saliba

    7th/8th Grade Math ad HS Algebra II | she/her

    Lydia Schumake

    College & Guidance Counselor | he/him

    Waleid El-Chaer

    Humanities Teacher | she/her

    Shelly Hoffman

    HS Math Teacher

    Cannon Joiner

    HS Science Teacher

    Alondra Woodard

    MS and HS Humanities Teacher

    Mike Garvin

    Head of School Nashville | she/her

    Kalee Barbis

    Kalee is the founding Head of School for Templeton Academy. Kalee is a Nashville native with a decade of educational experience Educated at the University of Tennessee, Lipscomb, and Vanderbilt Universities. Kalee is deeply committed to personalized, experiential education. She has a strong track record in developing relationships with students and teachers, and cultivating a student-centered classroom.Kalee spent the past three years in Washington DC, founding Washington Leadership Academy, an XQ Super School focused on reimagining high school, as the assistant principal. Prior to that, Kalee taught in Nashville for six years. She is excited to return home to bring Templeton Academy to the city.

    kalee.barbis@templetonacademy.org:kalee.barbis@templetonacademy.org

    Nashville Director of Admissions | she/her

    Tee Wilson

    Tee Wilson is an experienced leader who has achieved success in organizational development, brand building, new media marketing, project management, and strategic planning. Tee holds a BA in Communications and a Masters in Secondary Education. Her background includes progressive experience and leadership roles across multiple industries, including national non-profits, higher education, real estate development and entrepreneurship. She possesses transferable skills that prioritize developing strategies with measurable results. With over 25 years of experience, Tee brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise that is unmatched in her field. As a military spouse, Tee has worked for a wide variety of notable organizations including The United States Air Force, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Remington College, Loyola University New Orleans, Ingram Book Company and Coldwell Banker. As Director of Admissions, Tee will be managing our recruitment and retainment activities, brand strategy and our diversity and inclusion programming. Her creative thinking combined with her true commitment to the mission of Templeton Academy makes her a welcome addition to the team.

    tee.wilson@templetonacademy.org:tee.wilson@templetonacademy.org

    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

    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

    Spanish & 8th Grade Humanities Teacher | she/her

    Meg Perry

    Meg Perry is a lover of languages, communication in all its forms, and human connection. At the age of 11, she began teaching herself Spanish in order to communicate with a Mexican classmate’s family. In the spring of 5th grade, having become very close with the family, Meg decided she would hop into their car and join them on their first trip back home to Monterrey. To this day, she is grateful as she is astonished that her parents agreed to put their 11 year-old daughter into a car headed for Mexico. It served as the catalyst to what would become her passion and her livelihood. An Oklahoma City Native, Meg came to Nashville with a scholarship to Belmont University’s Vocal Music program and an aspiration to be the next Shania Twain or Faith Hill. That dream wasn’t realized, but Meg did end up teaching Spanish to their kids. Insert that cry-laugh emoji here! A semester of study abroad in Spain led Meg to change her major from Music to Spanish, as the Spanish-language and culture spoke to her in such a way that she’d devote her life to sharing it with others. Meg spent 9 years teaching at The Ensworth School, 3 years at NIA House Montessori (her son’s school), and a semester at The Episcopal School of Nashville. Meg also owns a small business called Spanish Club – a program of her design offering all-ageSpanish lessons and adult courses.

    meg.perry@templetonacademy.org:meg.perry@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 STEM Teacher | he/him

    Will Jones

    Will Jones is a graduate of Freed-Hardeman University with a B.S in Communications and a background in Health & Wellness. He is a personal trainer with a passion for educating others on living the best possible life they can. His hobbies include training in the gym, reading, and anything to do with challenging himself to think outside the box. His love for teaching children about today’s societal issues and solutions is extremely important and shines through in his classes. Mr. Jones believes every child has a gift that sometimes needs a little help unwrapping to the world!

    will.jones@templetonacademy.org:will.jones@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

    7th/8th Grade Humanities | she/her

    Rachel Oakley

    Rachel Oakley is almost a Nashville native, coming to town in 2003, and proud to call the city home for nearly 20 years now. A recent graduate of Denison University, Rachel’s degrees in Environmental Studies, Art History, and Visual Culture with a focus on writing and education, fostered a lifelong learner attitude, developed her inquisitive worldview and prompted a career in academics. Previously working with Metro Nashville Public Schools, she emphasized ingenuity and creativity in her 3rd/4th grade art classroom. Encouraging students to think “outside of the box” during discussions and projects is her greatest passion, and you can expect to see exciting works come from her Humanities classrooms. Beyond the classroom, Rachel has been involved in environmental activism, ultimate frisbee, and radio broadcasting. She spends her free time walking nature trails, working in her garden, spoiling her cat, and growing her small greeting card company. This year, Rachel is most looking forward to analyzing poetry with ELA classes and being involved in student organizations. Something you probably don’t know about her? She was a cheerleader and even played the part of mascot in high school pep rallies. Rachel cannot wait to bring that school spirit to Templeton Academy!

    rachel.oakley@templetonacademy.org:rachel.oakley@templetonacademy.org

    7th/8th Grade Teaching Assistant | she/her

    Gabrielle Saliba

    Gabrielle Saliba first joined the TA WolfPACK as a dance educator. Previously a professional dancer, she began teaching dance to children and adults at the age of 15. Mrs. Saliba co-founded two successful dance schools and was the Director of Dance for Global Education Center. She has spent the past 16 years working with girls and women as both a choreographer, Co-Leader, and Director for Act Like A Grrrl, an arts organization that promotes the creation and performance of personal narrative writing. She enjoys creating shows, coaching other artists, and laughing at her husband, Mr. Field.

    gabrielle.saliba@templetonacademy.org:gabrielle.saliba@templetonacademy.org

    7th/8th Grade Math ad HS Algebra II | she/her

    Lydia Schumake

    Lydia Schumake is originally from Ohio and a graduate of Tennessee State University. She is continuing her graduate work at Trevecca Nazarene University. She has been in the education field for five years – for two of those years, she taught 7th and 8th-grade math. She has enjoyed playing volleyball since high school and through college – since college, she now referees those volleyball games. She is a wife and mother who loves sports, spending time with her family, and baking for the Nashville community with her home organization, Nashville Peacemakers.

    lydia.schumake@templetonacademy.org:lydia.schumake@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

    Humanities Teacher | she/her

    Shelly Hoffman

    Shelly Hoffman hails from the greatest city in the great state of Texas–AUSTIN! She and her family recently relocated to Nashville for her husband’s career. Way back in the ‘90s, Shelly earned Bachelors of Arts in English and Journalism. After college, she worked as a news reporter and photographer and, later, as assistant to the publisher at Texas Monthly magazine. During that same time period, Shelly watched her brilliant brother struggle in the traditional school system. Knowing that school could be so much more, Shelly decided to try to change the system from within. Shelly is now in her ninth year of teaching and is thrilled to be part of Templeton Academy teaching high school English, government, marketing, and yearbook. Shelly enjoys biking, swimming, hanging out with family and friends, loud music, and kitchen dance parties.  

    shelly.hoffman@templetonacademy.org:shelly.hoffman@templetonacademy.org

    HS Math Teacher

    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

    HS Science Teacher

    Alondra Woodard

    Xe. (“zee”) Woodard has been teaching for 9 years. They started in the preschool classroom and moved their way up through high school experiencing the dynamics of all grades. Concentrating in the special education setting, Alondra has explored and executed curriculums within non-traditional learning. This is their first experience in a project-based learning environment but they are excited to bring a fresh perspective to differentiated instruction. They are excited to grow with the Templeton community and integrate their family amongst such a diverse population of individuals.  

    alondra.woodard@templetonacademy.org:alondra.woodard@templetonacademy.org

    MS and HS Humanities Teacher

    Mike Garvin

    Though born in northern Mississippi, Mike Garvin spent his formative years in Murray, Kentucky. There, competing for the Murray High Tigers in the Kentucky Speech Leagues, he discovered his passion for performance—theatrical, literary, and improvisational. Thus bitten, he took his show on the road northbound to Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, where he earned a B.S. and began his M.A. work in the Department of Speech Communication, concentrating in Performance Studies. During this stint, he fell in love with teaching and improv coaching. From there, following his passion pursuits even further north, he spent five frigid (and character-building) winters in Chicago’s improv training centers and on its stand-up comedy stages. Alas in 2017 he returned to the south, relocating with his partner to Nashville to thaw out and be closer to family. 

    Mr. Garvin performs on the Mainstage cast at Third Coast Comedy Club, and teaches multiple levels of improv classes for their training center. He also serves as Education Program Manager for Unscripted, a non-profit that works to heal, empower, and connect the community through improv. (Concurrently for 3 years, an alter-ego of Mike served as the live-science magician at Nashville’s Adventure Science Center.)  

    This year, he’s looking forward to sharing his passion for learning, and love of characters and their stories with the 5th and 6th grade WolfPACK. Our goals for this school year are to:     

    • Develop an appreciation and aptitude for the transportive and transformational power of reading by immersing ourselves in stories from perspectives and experiences that differ from our own. 
    • Encourage and cultivate our own voice: building confidence and competence in using language and literary conventions to share and create our own stories.   
    • Begin forming and honing our analytic skills: understanding how a text is making meaning, then using these texts- through quotation and citation- to inform our own ventures into text based meaning making

    mike.garvin@templetonacademy.org:mike.garvin@templetonacademy.org