Girls Preparatory School has welcomed the following new faculty to its team of teachers:
Andy Arick, English teacher
Arick holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in English and teaches English 9 and 10 at GPS. Arick taught for the last year at Franklin Road Academy in Nashville and began teaching in 2015 in southern Alabama. A long-time soccer player and a girls’ soccer coach throughout his teaching career, he will serve as an assistant coach for the GPS Middle School soccer team.
Sarah Clardy, interim learning specialist
Clardy previously served as the exceptional education teacher and department chair at Normal Park. Prior to that, she was in the same position at Red Bank Middle School. In these roles, Clardy worked with teams of teachers to identify best practices for individual student success and worked with middle school students to improve comprehension, mathematical problem solving, public speaking and executive functioning skills. She earned a bachelor’s degree in organizational management from Covenant College, a master’s in special education from the University of Tennessee and will soon begin a program at UT to earn her Ed.S. in school psychology.
Reed Dillard, modern world history
Dillard joins GPS with a 6-12 certification with endorsements in economics and government in all-girls education. He has lived in Chattanooga since 2007. After graduating from UTC in 2011, Dillard spent his first six years teaching at CGLA before moving to Orchard Knob Middle School to teach seventh grade. Dillard will serve as the 10th grade dean.
Katelyn Dix, AP literature and senior English teacher
Dix holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and a Master of Education in reading education. She worked at the Howard School, where she taught for the last year after moving from Massachusetts with her husband, Mark Krawczyk, GPS theater teacher. She has taught in a wide variety of public schools and has worked with all high school grade levels. GPS is her first independent school.
Ali Gant, chief development officer
Gant joined GPS in June 2019 with two decades of development experience in higher education, independent schools and human services. She holds a bachelor’s degree in English and a master’s in public administration and policy from the University of Georgia at Athens. She is also a certified fund raising executive. Prior to moving to Chattanooga, Gant held major and planned giving roles with the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta, Mercy Care, The Westminster Schools and the University of Georgia.
Dr. Brandon Guernsey, French
As an undergraduate at Hope College in Holland, Michigan, Guernsey majored in French and international studies and spent a full year studying abroad between France and Mali in West Africa. After receiving his bachelor’s degree, he served as an agroforestry volunteer for the U.S. Peace Corps for three years in Selibaby, Mauritania, collaborating primarily with local women’s gardening cooperatives on agricultural initiatives. The experience of living and working in the greater French-speaking world heightened his interest in African culture and led him to focus on francophone Africa for his graduate studies at the University of Virginia, from which he earned a master’s degree and his Ph.D. Guernsey has previously taught French language, literature, culture and film at his undergraduate alma mater, Hope College, and most recently at St. Mary’s College of Maryland. In addition to teaching French, he will serve as an assistant coach for the rowing team.
Martha Hanzelik, health and fitness
Hanzelik most recently served as the physical education department chair at Signal Mountain Middle School. Prior to her time at SMMS, Hanzelik was a PE teacher and coach in Denver, Colorado, where she began her career in education. She holds a Bachelor of Science in physical education and secondary education and a Master of Science in teaching and learning. In addition to teaching PE at GPS, Hanzelik will coach varsity and middle school volleyball.
Claudia Rodriguez, Spanish
A native of Mexico City, Rodriguez obtained bachelor’s and master’s degrees in psychology before moving to Atlanta to become a research assistant at the University of Georgia. Shortly after that, she moved to Chattanooga with her family, where she began her teaching career. Since 2016, Rodriguez has been a Spanish teacher for young children at The Bright School as well as for more seasoned learners at the Chattanooga School of Language. She joins the GPS World Languages department as the seventh-grade introductory Spanish and Spanish I teacher.
April Ross, middle school computer science
Ross most recently worked at Tech Town, where she developed robotics and coding curriculum for middle and upper school students in Hamilton County Schools, including CGLA. Prior to entering the world of education, Ross was an analyst for TVA, where she provided support to senior product owners and managers as well as developed financial analysis applications. Ross holds a Bachelor of Science in electrical and computer engineering, a master’s in biomedical engineering and a master’s in electrical engineering. During her time as a graduate student, Ross also interned at NASA, where she worked on the Mars Rover robot. Additionally, she is certified in back-end engineering and coding and has completed multiple semesters of work in computer information systems. In her role at GPS, Ross will co-teach the sixth-grade computer science classes, lead the seventh- and eighth-grade computer science program and serve as the faculty advisor to the Middle School robotics teams.
Bilda Acuña Small, chief enrollment and communications officer
After five years as GPS director of strategic communications and marketing, Small has expanded her role to lead the admission team. In this new position, Small will oversee the admission of new students, reenrollment of existing students and marketing communications. Small joined GPS in 2014 after an 18-year career at Unum. In her last role at Unum, she served as assistant vice president of Hispanic markets. A graduate of the University of Central Florida, Small is also an Addy Award winner and in 2014 was named one of the top five Latina Executives of the Year by LATINA Style magazine. In 2015, she was the La Paz Latina Leader of the Year recipient
Laurie Perry Vaughen, English
Vaughen is a long-time Chattanooga resident but had been living in Nashville and working at Abingdon Press as a production editor. Most recently, she taught at Chattanooga’s Center for Creative Arts school, where she led a creative writing elective class for sixth- through eighth-grade students. Vaughen has a Bachelor of Science degree in sociology and cultural anthropology, a Master of Arts in English, and a Master of Fine Arts in poetry and creative nonfiction. Additionally, she is a published essayist and an award-winning poet.
Laura Vedas, upper school dean
Vedas holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration and a master’s in accounting. She most recently served as the Upper School dean of learning, Upper School student life coordinator and Bible teacher at Davidson Academy in Nashville. This year, she completed her Master’s of Education in Independent School Leadership.