Meet Our Teachers

Highlands Latin Nashville is a curriculum-centric tutorial. At the heart of HLN is our faculty of teachers who teach this curriculum. Masterful in the classroom, they are knowledgable, enthusiastic, and prepared.

2020-2021 Teachers

Kindergarten through Second Grade Primary Classes:

  • Kindergarten: Lead-Crystal Melton, Assistant-Fleming McWilliams
  • First Grade: Lead-Heather Lett, Assistant-Gretchen Mruk
  • Second Grade: Lead-Valerie Lomax, Assistant-Joann Hoye

Grammar and Upper Classes, Third through High School:

  • Latin
    • Prima Latina: Hannah Bader
    • Latina Christiana: Angel Pregont
    • First Form: Nicole Risner
    • Second Form: Jessica Phillips
    • Third Form: Lauren Cardwell
    • Fourth Form: Amy Abell
  • Classical Studies
    • Greek Myths: Hannah Bader
    • Famous Men of Rome: Lee Ann Hill
    • Famous Men of the Middle Ages: Tamra Boyce
    • Famous Men of Greece/Horatius: Nicole Risner
    • Book of the Ancient Greeks/Iliad/Odyssey: Amy Abell
    • Greek Tragedies: Lauren Cardwell
    • Metaphysics: Chris Bradstreet
  • Literature/Poetry
    • Literature A (Charlotte’s Web, etc.): Hannah Bader
    • Literature B (Lassie, etc.): Lee Ann Hill
    • Literature C (Robin Hood, etc.): Tamra Boyce
    • Literature D (The Hobbit, etc./Horatius): Nicole Risner
    • Literature E (Treasure Island, etc.): Jennifer Avrit
    • Literature F (Beowulf, etc.): 2021-2022
    • Literature G (Mockingbird, etc.): Annie Carter
    • Literature H (Tale of Two Cities, etc.): Lauren Cardwell
    • Literature I (Divine Comedy): 2021-2022
    • Literature J (Anna Karenina, etc.): Katie Zimmerman-Clayton
  • Classical Composition
    • Intro to Composition/EGR I: Hannah Bader
    • Fable: Tamra Boyce
    • Narrative: Lee Ann Hill
    • Chreia/Maxim: Nicole Risner
    • Refutation/Confirmation: Jennifer Avrit
    • Common Topic: Veronika Akins
    • Encomium/Invective/Comparison: Sarah Bell Earley
    • Characterization/Description/Thesis/Law: Katie Zimmerman-Clayton

Thursday courses for sixth through twelfth grade:

  • Mathematics:
    • Understanding Math: Nicole Risner
    • Pre-Algebra: Amy Abell
    • Algebra 1: Amy Abell
    • Algebra I/Introductory Physics Math Support: Joe Akins
    • Algebra 2: Amy Abell
    • Geometry: 2021-2022
    • Pre-Calculus (Offered Mondays 8-10 AM): Jeffrey Abell
  • Science
    • Trees/World of Biology: Tamra Boyce
    • Earth Science: Tamra Boyce
    • Physical Science: Joe Akins
    • Introductory Physics: Joe Akins
    • Chemistry: 2021-2022
    • Biology: Joe Akins
  • Traditional Logic I & II: Andy Melton
  • Material Logic & Classical Rhetoric: 2021-2022
  • U.S. History: 2021-2022

Our Teachers


Amy Abell

  • San Francisco State University, BA Humanities/Liberal Studies
  • Multiple Subjects Teaching Credential, K-12 (California)
  • Tennessee Educator License, K-6

Amy has lived in California, New York, and several southern states.  Mother of four children, she is a veteran of home schooling after 18 years.  In addition, she has tutored students individually and taught in public and private schools and church classrooms.  Amy enjoys reading, quilts, and traveling.  She is committed to following Christ in the pursuit of knowledge, faith, love, and service.

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Jeffrey Abell

  • MTSU, BBA Information Systems 

Jeffrey is a veteran of homeschooling on the student side of things. He is a data analyst by day, tennis player in the late afternoon to early evenings, and nerd always. Jeffrey is curious about thought and behavior, the patterns that exist in both, and how each affects the other. He is currently work on a MS in Information Systems, Business Intelligence at MTSU.

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Joe Akins, PhD

  • Western Governors University, BS Nursing
  • Pasadena City College, AS Nursing
  • Caltech, PhD Experimental Geophysics
  • University of Connecticut, BS Geology/Geophysics

Currently Joe works as a registered nurse (RN) at Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital.  Prior to his work as an RN Joe was a Navy corpsman with the Marines. He also earned a PhD in experimental mineral physics from Caltech.  With this broad experience Joe hopes to pass on his enthusiasm for understanding God’s Creation and our role in it.

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Veronika Akins

  • UCLA, BA English
  • Cal Poly Pomona, Multiple Subject Credential
  • University of La Verne, Masters Educational Psychology

It was my childhood dream to become a teacher and I have been an educator for 23 years now. Teaching is so enjoyable for me that I decided to homeschool my son and daughter. By instructing others, I learn so much myself. I am indebted to my teachers for helping me accomplish the goal of being the first in my entire family to graduate from college. I love the Truth, Goodness, and Beauty found in a Classical education and I’m excited to share it with others.

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Jennifer Avrit

  • Lipscomb University, BA English Education & French
  • ESL Certification

Jennifer has lived in the Nashville area since she graduated from Lipscomb University in 2015.  After graduation, she taught 9th grade English at Hillwood High School for two years.  Today, she stays home with her two children, teaches English as a second language online, and helps write and coordinate lessons for the children’s ministry at her church. 

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Hannah Bader

  • Lipscomb University, BA Accounting and Spanish
  • CPA Certification, retired
This will be my third year teaching at HLN and my second year teaching the third grade class.  We began our homeschool journey with Memoria Press 5 years ago upon the suggestion of my trusted friend, Magistra Phillips, and we haven’t looked back.  I am passionate about classical education, and it has been a joy to watch my children and my HLN students grow and learn in wisdom and character over the years.  I graduated from Lipscomb University with a double major in Accounting and Spanish and worked as an auditor/accountant for 8 years before “retiring” to stay home with my 2 girls.  When we are not schooling, I spend as much time as I can in the kitchen or at my sewing machine, baking and stitching whatever elaborate creation I can dream up.  

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Chris Bradstreet

  • Grove City College, Philosophy & Theology
  • University of Pittsburg School of Law

Chris Bradstreet Esq. is an entertainment attorney and principle at Street Talk Media, a personal management and music marketing firm based in Nashville. Chris majored in Philosophy & Theology as an undergraduate at Grove City College, focusing most on Political Science, before attending the University Pittsburgh School of Law. He has practiced law in New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Tennessee.


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Tamra Boyce

  • Southeast Missouri State University, B.S. in Education, History minor

Teaching at Highlands is such a privilege, and such a joy!  Having taught in a number of settings, I find this place uniquely wonderful!  I get to teach about things I love: creation, history, writing, and literature, and I get to teach interesting young people who love to learn.  We’re a great match!  My in-between times are often filled with family.  My husband of over 35 years and I have 3 daughters and 4 young grandchildren.  I also enjoy outdoor activities like grilling, gardening, star-gazing, and bird watching.

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Lauren Cardwell

  • The University of Virginia, BA English and French
  • New York University, MFA Poetry Writing

I am over the moon to be teaching Latin, literature, writing, and classical studies. Having experienced the fruits of classical education during my secondary and university years, I knew I wanted to take a classical approach when I began homeschooling my own children in 2013. Over the years, I have enjoyed teaching creative writing, theater, literature, and language in a variety of settings. More recently, I have been working as a mother of four, a doula, a childbirth educator, and a writer. Life is abundant these days, and I find that a good run, spiritual time, playing with my kids, and hanging out with my husband help to keep my head clear and my heart light.


Sarah Bell Earley

  • Brown University, BA Environmental Studies
  • Trinity School for Ministry, MAR Biblical Studies

I am a North Carolina native who has now experienced two tornadoes, a 500+-year flood, and six years of homeschooling in East Nashville. I love learning, reading, writing, creative projects, color, new recipes, visiting new places, and making lists. I’m looking forward to this year at Highlands! 

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Lee Ann Hill

  • MTSU, BS Theatre with Journalism Minor

Growing up in West Tennessee, I did not realize my grandmother’s bookshelf was leading me towards the love of classical education. My college degree in Theatre with a minor in Journalism is hardly used. And after traveling around the country, I found myself working as a children’s librarian in Nashville. Children’s literature is my favorite. Having read all the old classics and some new ones, I am excited to be teaching about them. This will be my 6th year homeschooling. I enjoy swimming, nature, reading, and book clubs.

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Joann Hoye

  • Vanderbilt University, BA English and Spanish
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, MA Comparative Literature
A native of Nashville, I lived for 17 years in the triangle area of North Carolina, where I went to grad school, taught Spanish to all ages from preschool through college, met my husband, and had our son.  We moved back to Tennessee when our son was 3 years old, and soon started feeling pulled to homeschool him.  My husband and I both love classical education and are so happy to have Highlands Latin as part of our homeschooling journey.  I am excited to be a part of the faculty!  I have loved teaching both English and Spanish in the past, both here and in Spain, where I had the privilege of living twice, once in Madrid and once in Barcelona.  I love children, books, flowers, walking and hiking in nature, baking, cooking, traveling, foreign languages, planning lessons, making up songs, games, and activities for teaching, jigsaw puzzles, birdwatching, singing, being with friends and family, and quiet time with God, among many other things.


Heather Lett

  • Samford University, BS Early Childhood & Elementary Education

I have always had a heart and passion for education. From my days of babysitting, to mission trips, to Sunday School teaching, to formal education, my heartbeat has always been to teach and love on children.  I received my bachelors degree in Early Childhood/Elementary education from Samford University and taught first grade up until my first child was born in 2005 and decided to come home. Two additional children later I am still enjoying my time being a stay at home mother.  My husband and I felt led to homeschool our 3 this year and when we discovered Highlands Latin we immediately fell in love.  I am so looking forward to being back in the classroom!

Valerie Lomax

Valerie Lomax

  • Ball State University, BS in Dietetics

Hi, my name is Valerie Lomax. I am a daughter, sister, wife, mother, and “Checed” (my grandmother name, which means “lovingkindness” in Hebrew.) I love life! Making up motions to the Word and watching children grow are two of my favorite things in life. God has saturated our home with life!  My husband, Tom, and I are the grateful parents of ten children, ages 15 to 34 and four grandchildren.  We have homeschooled our children with the focus of “when I am weak, He is strong” and “love never fails.” And Jesus has never failed us!  I am honored to teach your children this year at Highlands Latin Nashville.

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Fleming McWilliams

  • Belmont University, Vocal Performance & Music Business

Our family began the homeschool journey in 2014 as our son was entering fifth grade. After discovering Memoria Press, we decided to order the First Grade Classical Core Curriculum for our daughter. That big box of books changed our lives and our homeschooling experience. I am truly honored to be part of Highlands Latin Nashville. It is a privilege to spend the day with your children and witness the “lightbulbs” and connections being made in the kindergarten classroom. There is no better sound than poetry recited by a five-year-old voice! In addition to being a homeschooling mom, I am a private voice teacher, and director of the singing program, Girls Up Loud. In my spare time, I make music with my husband under the name Fleming and John

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Andy Melton, PhD, LPC-MHSP

  • Ozark Christian College, BA Biblical Literature
  • John Brown University, MS Clinical Mental Health Counseling
  • Trevecca Nazarene University, PhD Counselor Education and Supervision
Andy is an HLN parent of 9th and 11th graders. His children have been full-time HLN students since 2016 and his wife Crystal (immediately below!) teaches Kindergarten. He has a Masters degree in clinical mental health counseling and a PhD in counselor education and supervision. He owns and operates Melton Counseling Group, a counseling practice in East Nashville, and specializes in working with couples, entrepreneurs, and adult anxiety.  

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Crystal Melton

Crystal has homeschooled her son and daughter since 2009.  She was introduced to Memoria Press in 2014, and her love of the curriculum has grown every year. For the 6 years, Crystal served as Rapha House Freedom Stylist Director.  Rapha House Freedom Stylist is a non-profit ministry that works to prevent sexual exploitation among young women in Cambodia by equipping them with the trade of cosmetology.  Crystal has been married to Andy, her high school sweetheart, for over 17 years. They live in the East Nashville area with their two children. To be able foster a love of learning within a vibrant community is a blessing to be part of. I look forward to loving and nurturing the children of Highland Latin Nashville Cottage School.   

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Gretchen Benko Mruk

  • Marietta College, BS Sports Medicine/Athletic Training
  • University of Alabama Birmingham, MS Physical Therapy
  • Simon School of Business, MBA

After careers in healthcare and medical device marketing, I am now enjoying my latest and most treasured career, that of full-time mom and homeschooler of triplets. I am so grateful to have found Memoria Press and Highlands Latin Nashville. Watching my 3 little ones conquer kindergarten only deepened my appreciation for this program. The education is beautiful, intimate, and complete. I love reading, yoga, and being outdoors.


Jessica Phillips, Director

  • Lipscomb University, BA Bible, Minors Greek and English

Jessica is a Tennessee native who lives with her husband and four children in Goodlettsville. Their family has been homeschooling since 2010. She is the creator of the annual Sodalitas Gathering, the Memoria Press conference for homeschool parents. Jessica is an avid reader, a people-connector, and treasure-seeker of beautiful things in the natural world.


Angel Pregont, Director

  • University of Tennessee, BA History, Minor Business
  • Indiana University, MS Ed Higher Education and Student Affairs

Before moving to Nashville and starting a family I worked in Financial Aid at Indiana University and in Residence Life at Indiana Wesleyan University.  My love of education naturally led to a desire to homeschool my five children, which I’ve been immersed in since 2005.  I enjoy reading, being outside, and drinking coffee on my front porch in the mornings.  

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Nicole Risner

  • Lipscomb University, BA Bible, Youth/Family Ministry Minor
  • Lipscomb University, MA Biblical Studies
  • Lipscomb University, MEd with emphasis in Administration

I began the journey of homeschooling my two daughters in 2015.  During this time, I have enjoyed making the shift to classical education and studying Latin!  Before homeschooling I taught in public schools for five years and worked in youth ministry for ten years.  I love reading, playing soccer, and camping with our family. 


Katie Zimmerman-Clayton

  • Samford University, BA in English, History minor
  • Vanderbilt University, MA in English

This is Katie’s fifth year teaching at HLN. Her teaching experience has been varied, from elementary ESL overseas to college writing courses in the US. More recently, she spent eight years teaching high school English and providing college counseling at an independent school. These days, Katie is home with her young children, while also running a scholarship foundation. She loves reading, good conversation, gardening, and the Tour de France.