Faculty & Staff
Mrs. Alaniz holds a B.A. in International Relations and Spanish from Samford University and has many years of experience as a Spanish teacher and tutor. She recently completed a teacher training course with seminars specific to 3rd grade through Rockbridge Academy, a flagship classical Christian school in Maryland. Before joining the faculty at HRA, Mrs. Alaniz became familiar with our classrooms as a long-term substitute for multiple years. She has one son at HRA.
Mrs. Anderson graduated from Boyce College in Louisville, KY, with an Associates in Biblical and Theological Studies. She and her husband, Kyle, have been serving in music ministry for over 10 years, and they have two children, Hudson and Gracie. Mrs. Anderson enjoys reading, crafts, and music. It’s her smile that greets every guest in the front office at HRA.
A Cookeville native, Mrs. Barnhart holds a B.S. in Elementary Education (K-8) from TTU. She taught in the public school system for 15 years before taking a few years off. She joined the HRA faculty in the fall of 2017 as a first grade teacher. Mrs. Barnhart has 3 girls, all of whom attend HRA. She and her husband, Ryan, go to Post Oak Presbyterian Church, where Ryan is the pastor. Grew up in Cookeville
Mr. Carmen has been an associate minister in the Christian Churches and Churches of Christ for twenty-one years with ministries in Ohio, Indiana, and Tennessee. He graduated from the Cincinnati Christian University in 1995 with a B.S. degree in Biblical Studies (emphasis Psychology) and in 1999 with a M.A. degree in Biblical Studies (emphasis Old Testament). In 2012 he graduated from Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary with a M.Div. in Professional Ministry. Over the years teaching opportunities in private schools and churches have afforded him the privilege of explaining, applying, and affirming the Bible’s teachings through a deeper understanding of theology, history, and apologetics. His wife, Sondra, is a Park Ranger for the Army Corps of Engineers. Together they enjoy traveling and sightseeing, exercise, their church, and just being together.
Mrs. Click holds an MA in Theatre Studies from Regent University and a BA in Theatre from UT Knoxville. After a brief period of time in the professional theatre she gave her life to Christ Jesus and focused on missions and theatre ministry. Mrs. Click teaches Theatre Appreciation at Motlow State, directs the Theatre students at HRA, and is currently in the process of beginning a theatre company that will present social impact plays in our local schools and churches. She attends Stevens Street Baptist Church where she teaches college age girls and is involved in the children's ministry.
Mrs. Cason has a Bachelor's degree from the College of Charleston and a Master's degree from the University of Hawaii at Manoa. From a young age, she spent her time in choirs, church bands, string and symphony orchestras, and chamber music groups. She spent her college years developing her language skills, teaching language classes, giving private lessons in various musical instruments, and traveling. After getting married, she taught preschool and eventually returned to teaching music privately. She provides musical accompaniment at Dodson Chapel United Methodist Church in Rickman, TN, where she and her family have attended church since 2017.
Mr. Crockett holds a bachelor’s degree in Business and Marketing from Tennessee Tech University and has over a decade of administrative and educational experience from his time serving as a pastor in multiple local church bodies. Before committing to full-time ministry, he worked in sales and marketing for a number of years and also served as an HRA board member during the school’s early years. He has 3 daughters attending HRA, and his wife, Jenny, is also a teacher and Marketing Director for the school.
Mrs. Crockett graduated from TTU with a Master’s in Business Administration. She also has a B.S. in Environmental Science from TTU. Following the completion of her college education, she began work in the marketing department at Cookeville Regional Medical Center. During her career at CRMC, she served in multiple positions from Marketing Coordinator to Community Wellness Manager to Physician Marketing. She left CRMC to stay at home with her three daughters: Carly, Camryn, and Carrigan. When God opened the door for her to be a part of Highland Rim Academy, she gladly walked through it. In addition to Marketing & Development, she teaches Upper School PE. Mrs. Crockett is married to Darrin Crockett, Associate Pastor of VineBranch Community Church.
Mr. Duncan graduated from Tennessee Tech University with a Bachelor's degree in Secondary Education. His study at university focused mostly on history, but he is passionate about all of the humanities. He is thankful to be a part of a school where Christ is central to all and the liberal arts are used to cultivate wisdom and virtue in students. As Headmaster, he desires to continually strive for excellence in all areas of the school that God may be glorified through the fulfillment of HRA's vision. He and his wife Stacey have two young sons, John David and Henry.
ELLEN MARIE ELY
Mrs. Ely graduated from TTU in 2007 with a degree in Elementary Education K-8 and began teaching at HRA the very next year. She currently teaches grammar, literature, Latin, and Christian Studies for various grades. She is married to Adam Ely. Mrs. Ely also serves as an Assistant Preschool Director at Stevens Street Baptist Church. She enjoys reading, scrapbooking, hiking, and cooking.
Mrs. Fikes holds a B.A. in English Literature from the University of Tennessee Knoxville, and she also went on to finish a J.D. from the UT College of Law. Before starting a family, she worked as a lawyer in Murfreesboro. Mrs. Fikes is also currently working on a Masters in Divinity in Christian Ministry through Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. She is the mother of 2 HRA students.
DR. BARBARA GANNOD
Dr. Gannod completed her undergraduate education at Calvin College, earning B.S. degrees in Mathematics and Computer Science as well as Secondary Education certification. She also earned her M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Computer Science from Michigan State University. After working as a university professor at Arizona State University for nearly a decade, God called her to stay home with her children and focus on their development and education. Her family moved to Ohio in 2006, and she began homeschooling her three, and eventually five, children. While in Ohio she was an active part of a homeschool co-op, where she taught a variety of ages and subjects and served on the administrative team for the co-op. In 2016, Dr. Gannod’s family relocated to Cookeville, and they became a part of the HRA family. Dr. Gannod enjoys sharing her passion for the study of mathematics with students. When she’s not pondering infinity or wondering what God’s favorite number is (3, 7, 12, 40, (1 + √5)/2 -- the possibilities are endless!), she enjoys doing Taekwondo. Currently, she is a 3rd degree black belt.
DR. KATHERINE LANGENBERG
Dr. Langenberg will be teaching upper school science classes beginning this fall. She holds a degree from the University of Tennessee Knoxville in Cell Biology and Genetics as well as a Doctor of Medicine from the University of Tennessee College of Medicine in Memphis. She completed her Pediatric residency at UT/ LeBonheur Children's Medical Center in Memphis and practiced pediatrics in both West and Middle Tennessee. Eventually, Dr. Langenberg left clinical practice to stay home with her children. She is pleased to be in the classroom sharing her passion for studying God’s creation. Dr. Langenberg lives in Overton County with her husband Mark, their 5 daughters, and a variety of pets.
Mrs. Lesko graduated from Tennessee Tech in May 2012. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree with an emphasis in Elementary Education K-6. She currently teaches 4th grade. She is also the Athletic Director and HRA’s Cross Country Coach. Mrs. Lesko and her family attend Life Church, where she is a connect group leader for 7th grade girls on Wednesday nights and 8th grade girls on Sunday mornings. Her husband also serves as a connect group leader. She loves to spend time with her family. As cross country coach, she shares a passion for running with her oldest son, and she is excited about growing the cross country program at HRA. Her sons, Gage and Gavin, both attend HRA.
Mrs. Marsh graduated from Truett-Mcconnell College in 2011 with a degree in Early Childhood Education. She previously taught fourth grade in Fort Worth, Texas. She and her husband Jared recently welcomed a new addition their family, a precious daughter. They enjoy outdoor sports, travel, and books.
Mrs. Moore holds an Associate Degree in Paralegal Studies, and she brings a vast amount of organizational experience to HRA. She will also be teaching the ACT Prep course and serving as a college advisor for high school students. She has 3 sons, one serving as active duty in the Air Force, one serving as a reserve in the Air Force, and one who is in high school at HRA.
Samantha Neal graduated Tennessee Tech in 2001 with a B.S. degree in Animal Science. Her husband, Ronnie, is the Pastor of Salem Church where she also leads worship. They have three children, Austin, Maddison, and Elijah, all of whom have attended Highland Rim Academy since Kindergarten. Mrs. Neal left the professional world when their youngest son, Elijah, was born. She accepted the much-needed position of Teacher’s Aide when Elijah started school. Mrs. Neal is a tremendous help to all of our teachers here at HRA, and she makes it possible for so many classrooms to run more efficiently. Her position has since expanded to include K-4 recess and PE.
Mrs. Overstreet has been an HRA parent since 2013, She has a passion to see the vision of the school thrive in the community she loves and calls home. She is a Cookeville native with a BS in Business Administration from TTU. Her husband TJ serves as the Discipleship/Small Groups pastor at First Baptist Church Cookeville. Together, Casey and TJ also run a very successful Advocare business where they have become National Leadership Team members.
Mrs. Overstreet has also been deeply involved in the Cookeville community. She is a Leadership Putnam graduate, a former Habitat for Humanity Board Member, and a current Hope Center Executive Board member. Casey's fundraising event experience includes serving as chairperson for a number of committees and events: Cooking on the Square, Heart of the City Playground Public Relations, and CCM's Gangster Gala and Invention Convention.
Paula Pardue teaches visual arts for Primary through Upper school. She attended Watkins Fine Arts College and graduated with a certificate in metals from TTU Appalachian Center for Crafts. She is thankful for the opportunity to share her love of art with the students at HRA. She and her husband Bill have three children Elizabeth, Ben, and Thomas. They are active members of Christ's Community Church where she has been teaching Sunday school for many years.
Mrs. Pearson graduated from Middle Tennessee State University in December 2015 with a degree in Early Childhood Education. Originally from Murfreesboro, she 2nd grade for a few years in the public school system before coming to HRA. A few of her favorite things are cooking and baking in the kitchen, exercising, being outside, and spending time with friends and family.
Mrs. Price, a native of Cookeville, TN, holds a BA from TTU in Early Childhood Education. She is certified to teach K-3 in TN. For eight years, she owned and operated Happy Hearts Children's Center, a private, Christian preschool in Grove City, PA. Mrs. Price also taught 6th grade math in Houston, TX, for a year before moving back to Cookeville in 2008. Before coming to HRA, she taught in the LEAPS program and served as a substitute teacher at Capshaw Elementary school. She is an active member of The River Community Church where she mentors young college women, facilitates bible studies, works as a youth leader, and serves on the finance committee. Community involvement is a priority for Mrs. Price. She enjoys face painting, jogging, rock wall climbing, and spending quality time with her son, Drew.
Mrs. Putman graduated from Lipscomb University with a BA in English, and she holds a teaching certificate from TSU. She come to HRA with a great deal of teaching experience. Prior to moving to Sparta, TN, she taught in the Preschool Department and in the 5th grade at Goodpasture Christian in Nashville, TN. Mrs. Putman also served as the Preschool Director and Pre-K teacher at First Steps Preschool in Sparta for 15 years. She also taught the 2-year-old class at the Jefferson Avenue Mother's Day Out program for 7 years. Mrs. Putman and her husband, Tony, have twin daughters who recently graduated from Lipsomb University.
Mrs. Sullivan is a licensed teacher who is highly qualified to teach grades K-8. She graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education from TTU in 2002. She has taught 3rd grade for 6 years in the White County Public Schools. Mrs. Sullivan is married to John since 2001 and they have one son, Jace, who has attended HRA since Kindergarten. Mrs. Sullivan and her family are members of Bear Cove Baptist Church in Sparta.
Mrs. Toussaint is a licensed teacher who graduated from TTU. She has a degree in Secondary Education with an emphasis in history. Alexis has a life-long passion for literature and is excited for the opportunity to teach some of her favorite books while communicating a Christian worldview. Alexis and her husband, Joseph, have one son and are preparing to welcome a daughter. They attend Midway Baptist Church.
Mrs. Werries has her Bachelor’s degree in Mathematics Education with minors in History Education and Bible. After teaching in Florida for three years, she moved to Washington, D.C. where she furthered her passion for education by working for a Congressman on education issues. This led to her next position, which returned her to the teaching field, instructing Congressional staff at the House Learning Center. After taking time off to stay home after the birth of her children, she has returned to the classroom teaching mathematics and Latin.
Mr. Whittington completed his Bachelor’s degree in Religion and Master’s degree in Philosophy at Liberty University. He is proficient in Latin, Greek, Hebrew, Symbolic Logic, and German. He grew up in Franklin, TN. Upon graduating college he moved to the Chicago area where he worked as a Philosophy Professor at the College of DuPage and Ivy Tech Community College. Additionally, he has spent the past several years working in youth and college ministry. His family is very excited to move back around Predators and Titans fans. His wife Emily is a nurse, and they have a daughter named Hadassah. He has focused much of his academic research on C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien. He also has a published chapter in Sean McDowell’s New Evidence That Demands a Verdict. Mr. Whittington loves reading, playing hockey, drinking coffee with almond joy coffee creamer, and spending time with his family.
Born and raised in Cookeville, TN, Mr. Williams is the K-8th grade general music and 9-10th grade chorus teacher. He attended Northeast Elementary, Prescott Central Middle, Avery Trace, and Monterey High. He had a love for athletics and music that guided his childhood involvement in both areas. These are the passions led him to pursue a music degree in college at Samford University. After graduation in May 2017, he returned home and began substitute teaching at HRA in order to gain experience in his pursuit of being a teacher. Mr. Williams also coaches 5-6th grade basketball at ATMS and baseball at Monterey High School. He is adding to his coaching experience with the high school boys team here at HRA as well.
Mrs. Willis graduated from Berry College in 1997 with a degree in Early Childhood Education. She went on to get her Master’s Degree from Lincoln Memorial University. She is married to Chris Willis and has two children, Andrew and Joanna. They both attend HRA. She enjoys reading and a variety of sports and games.
Mrs. Wright serves as the Assistant Head of School and Academic Dean for grades K-12. She also teaches various classes in literature, history, theology, rhetoric, and Senior thesis. She holds a BA in English Literature from UT Knoxville with a minor in Elementary Education and an MA in Curriculum and Instruction from TTU. Mrs. Wright has enjoyed serving families and faculty at HRA since the founding in 2007. She makes her home with her husband Jeff and their four young children in the scenic outskirts of White Co.
Thank you for your interest in Highland Rim Academy. Here you will find the necessary information regarding the teacher application process.
The HRA school board seeks to hire individuals who by their lives can:
Testify to being a born again Christian
Demonstrate active involvement in Christian ministry through membership of a local church
Demonstrate a love for and desire to work with children
Demonstrate a love for and knowledge of certain academic subjects
Demonstrate a calling and gifting by God to teach
Individuals applying for a teaching position at HRA must have a minimum of a four year undergraduate degree from an accredited institution. If you are interested in employment at Highland Rim Academy, please send a resume and cover letter to our Headmaster at the following address:
Highland Rim Academy
Attn: Employment Office
P.O. Box 3022
Cookeville, TN 38502
The employment committee will review all applications. Should an applicant be considered as a potential candidate for hire, the school will contact that individual to set up a teacher interview.
It is recommended that all applicants take time to read through our web page carefully to get a clear understanding of our statement of faith, philosophy of education and what is meant by classical Christian education.
If you have any questions, feel free to contact the school office at 931-526-4472.