The Templeton Way
Mission: To revolutionize access to Student agency by nurturing young people from all backgrounds into purposeful adults who use their gifts in a way that brings them joy and serves others.
Vision: A world full of purpose-driven lifelong learners prepared to thrive in college, career and life.
Nurturing Student Agency
Templeton Academy is revolutionizing access to Student agency, meaning that our Students have voice and choice in their learning and ownership of their goals. Each Student is on their own educational journey. We believe that the best fuel for that journey is wrestling with good questions rather than simply reciting the correct answer. Further, we believe in not only learning to know, but learning to do, and most importantly, learning to be. Through this process, a Student finds their purpose. How do we actually do this? What does it look like? We invite you to review our best practices below.
The Templeton Core Foundations curriculum is focused on learning how to learn. Students come to understand that their job is putting in the work to educate themselves. Whereas a teacher’s job is to be a “guide on the side” rather than a “sage on a stage,” Students work to master critical skills such as resourcefulness, conscientiousness, creativity, curiosity, resilience, persistence, stress management and time management. They set SMART goals, are supported and held accountable with Peer Advisors and more senior Learning Coaches, developing active listening, collaboration, compassion and empathy — thereby becoming Peer Advisors and Learning Coaches themselves. Ultimately, all work is shared with the school community and larger community at quarterly Community Exhibitions, fueling constant reflection, assessment, action and growth.
The City As Classroom
Templeton Academy prioritizes learning from authentic experiences and interacting with the world around us. Thus, we use our longer learning blocks to learn by doing — leveraging the resources of the city from museums, to libraries, to gyms and green spaces. In addition, the focus is on giving back to the city, as projects for courses are deeply intertwined with the community and its needs. Going beyond typical community service, students work with community-based organizations helping devise solutions to their current challenges.
Our Academic model is built around Student agency, defined as giving Students voice and choice in how they learn. And our goal is structured agency — a learning community that is both Student and teacher designed and led. Academic blocks of two hours over a 10-week term provides substantial time for rich, Socratic discussions, independent and community projects. We use the academically rigorous model of Gold Standard Project-Based Learning that focuses on authenticity and real-world connections, contains rigorous reflection and revision, and whose efficacy in increasing higher-level thinking skills and key success skills is well-documented.
A Culture of Inclusion
Templeton Academy is committed to eliminating biases and racism in our community. To that end, we are:
ENGAGING in ongoing anti-bias, anti-racist education training for all staff members, focusing on uplifting our own uniquenesses while honoring the differences of others;
RECOGNIZING the biases and privilege that permeate our interactions with families, staff, and children;
SUPPORTING each other in understanding and dismantling our personal biases and privilege;
RESTRUCTURING our systems to eliminate barriers to accessing quality education;
INCORPORATING lessons that teach how to acknowledge, honor, and celebrate our students, staff, and family differences.
Developing Soft Skills
Templeton Academy’s model is inherently designed to hone students’ soft skills. EMPATHY, CONSCIENTIOUSNESS, SELF-REGULATION, PERSEVERANCE, and TIME MANAGEMENT can be learned most effectively through project-based learning. While a student can readily measure their cognitive gains in pre- and post-testing, they do not always take time to reflect on their own work, be it successes or challenges, in specific non-cognitive skills. Having students judge their own efforts — especially in an area where they exercised effective failure — helps them understand that developing resilience is ultimately more meaningful than say, memorizing the state capitals. Deliberately adding reflection and growth to our lesson design helps students add goal-setting and self-reflection to their educational experience and helps prepare them for long-term success.
Meet the Team
John Templeton (Temp) Keller is Co-founder and President of Templeton Academy. Also Co-founder and President of Templeton Learning, Temp serves on the boards of the Loomis Chaffee School, Austin Achieve Public Schools and the African Leadership Foundation. He received his B.A. from Princeton University and his M.B.A. from The University of Chicago.
Mandy Brooks is a graduate from University of Texas at Austin, she began her professional career at the independent bookstore, BookPeople, as their Marketing and Events Director. From there she made the leap into the nonprofit world becoming the Managing Director for Mainspring Schools, one of the most highly accredited Early Education Centers in the state. Her experience at the school strengthened her love of learning and understanding about how social/emotional wellness is just as important to child development. She now serves on the school’s Board of Directors. Most recently she worked as Donor Relations Manager at the United Way for Greater Austin. She is excited to bring her lifelong love learning and organizational skill set to Templeton Academy.
Dr. Laura DeLima
Dr. Laura DeLima is the Head of School at Templeton Academy D.C. An experienced educational leader with 15 years of experience in the field, she has started two progressive secondary schools, the second of which she became one of the most successful campus in the Fusion Academy national network of schools. She balances deep knowledge in adolescent development, education policy, and pedagogy with exceptional skills in strategic planning, personnel development, operational and financial management, and is committed to using her unique combination of knowledge and skills to developing schools that bring personalized, purpose-driven, project-based and empowering education to young people. Dr. DeLima holds a B.A. from Vassar College, a Masters in Education Policy from the University of Wisconsin, and earned her Doctorate in Education from The George Washington University.
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.
Nicole Weston is the Director of Admissions and Outreach for Templeton Academy- DC. Nicole brings with her a wealth of experience in the field of education spanning over 20 years and across public, private non-profit, and private for-profit settings. Nicole has served as a high school teacher, director of student support & outreach, assistant director, and head of school. She is passionate about strengths-based education and fascinated by innovative school models that make strengths-based learning a priority and a reality. In addition to her work in the field of education, Nicole is also a certified expert life coach.
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!
(she/her) is originally from East Texas, but has called Nashville home for the past 8 years. She is a graduate of Belmont University where she studied Leadership and Communications; this is also where she discovered her passion for working with students! Prior to joining the Templeton team, Ms. Atkinson worked with a wide range of students from early childhood as a Pre-K teacher to college students as an access and success counselor. In addition to working with students, Ms. Atkinson also holds a video production and digital media certificate from the Nashville Film Institute and has worked with a variety of local non-profit organizations as a digital content creator and community engagement consultant. When she’s not at school, you can find Ms. Atkinson hanging out with her two dogs (Honey and Prince!), exploring Nashville’s green spaces, or binge-watching the Great British Baking Show.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
Caitlin Towers is a lifelong lover of literature and language who teaches English and French and Templeton Academy DC. She received her undergraduate degree at Middlebury College in Vermont, where she double majored in Comparative Literature and Russian Language while also minoring in Education. She received her Masters Degree at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies in Monterey, California, where she specialized in language education and taught graduate-level French courses. Previous to joining the team at Templeton, she taught and served as an English and Foreign Languages Department Head at a middle and high school in Washington DC. Caitlin seeks to integrate interdisciplinary elements and student interests into her teaching, and encourages all of her students to bridge the gap between classroom learning and their own passions and goals.
Calvin L. Foster
Calvin L. Foster was born in Brooklyn, New York, and became interested in Calculus as a senior in high school. This interest grew to a passion, propelling him to receive his Master’s Degree in Pure Mathematics. Always drawn to tutoring in high school and college, Calvin was hired by his alma mater as an adjunct professor upon his graduation. As the years passed, he found that his passion for math within the classroom drew him to work with elementary, middle, and high school students as well. With profound respect for the pedagogy of the classroom and a true connection to the math courses that he teaches, Calvin strives to facilitate and foster understanding, enthusiasm, and mastery of the math topics he teaches.
Lily Kern is thrilled to bring her eight years of experience in therapeutic and educational settings to serve students, parents, and staff at Templeton. She received her Master’s in Clinical Social Work from Catholic University and her Master’s in Special Education from George Mason University. Lily believes in the interconnectedness of socio-emotional well-being and academic success and seeks to create a learning environment where students feel both challenged and supported. When she’s not at school, Lily loves singing classical music and thinking about interior design.
Rachel Stagner is STEM Coordinator for Templeton Academy-DC and also teaches high school science. Rachel has a B.S. in Fisheries & Wildlife Management with a minor in Environmental Studies from Michigan State University and dual Master’s Degrees in Science and Education from Portland State University. Previously, she taught science for over 10 years in Portland, Oregon before moving to DC to serve as an Albert Einstein Distinguished Educator Fellow at NASA headquarters during the 2018-2019 school year. She has been teaching at TADC since the 2019-2020 school year and is most proud of having started a STEM Project Development course that has allowed our students to win awards at a national level. She was also recognized as a 2023 Presidential Award of Excellence in Math and Science Teaching (PAEMST) finalist in science for DC.
Bobor Jones has been teaching history and art at Templeton Academy since 2020. As an avid explorer of museums and historic sites, he is also Templeton DC’s Field Work Coordinator. He began teaching history in the DC area in 2015. He earned his B.A. in History from Colorado College, where he also minored in Studio Art, and obtained a Master’s in History from Georgetown University. Outside of school, he spends his time reading, hiking, traveling, listening to podcasts, and making art.
Nerina Meli teaches Math, Science, and Technology at Templeton Academy DC. Originally from New Jersey, Nerina came to Washington, DC to attend the George Washington University. There she majored in Computer Science and minored in Sustainability. Since then, Nerina has been teaching STEM concepts to students all around the DMV area. Her experiences tutoring, leading summer groups, and teaching have led her to fall in love with helping students learn. Nerina’s passion is to explore how math and technology can be integrated into creative projects. In her free time, she enjoys traveling, playing volleyball, reading, and crafting
Chloé Richier teaches English and French at Templeton Academy. She received her undergraduate degree in English language and literature and her Masters degree in American literature from Sorbonne Nouvelle University in Paris, France. She also earned a diploma for teaching French as a foreign language from Grenoble Alpes University. Prior to moving to DC, Chloé was teaching middle-school and high-school English and Literature in northeastern France. When she’s not at Templeton, she is pursuing her Ph.D in American Literature and performs with several dance companies across the area.
Vernon Meidlinger teaches Science and Math at Templeton Academy DC. He received his BA in Geology from Augustana College in Illinois and his MA in Teaching from the Richard Gilder Graduate School at the American Museum of Natural History in New York. Prior to working at Templeton Academy, Vernon taught in the New York City public school system. In addition to working to make Science accessible and compelling to Students, Vernon also draws comics and produces music.
Linda duBuclet is the Writing Instructor at Templeton Academy D.C. After a career in journalism that included stints with NBC television, The Washington Post, and Pacifica Radio, Linda went into teaching—what she calls “the family business.” To transition from news to school, Linda earned an M.A. degree in Education and Human Development at George Washington University and became a certified teacher. With more than 30 years of instructional experience, Linda has taught writing on elementary, secondary, and university levels in both the public and private sectors. Linda is dedicated to having students see value in the writing process and gain confidence in their ability to use written communication to influence real-world outcomes.
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.
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.
Dr. Ashleigh Maxcey
Dr. Ashleigh Maxce is a Senior Lecturer and Research Assistant Professor in the Psychology Department at Vanderbilt University. In her laboratory, Dr. Maxcey studies memory and forgetting. She earned her PhD and MA from the University of Iowa in Cognition & Perception and her BA from Purdue University. At Vanderbilt she teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in research methods, statistics, positive psychology, cognitive psychology, and general psychology. At Templeton, she teaches Psychology of Politics and Biology. She has a passion for helping students embrace topics they previously found daunting and bridging topics to applications outside the classroom. At home, Dr. Maxcey lives with two kids in high school, one child in middle school, one large cat, and one small dog.
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!