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. We encourage you to come see them in action at one of our winter or spring observation days.

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: hiring
    • Encomium/Invective/Comparison: Sarah 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: hiring
  • 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.

Jennifer Avrit HLN Photo

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. 


Hannah Bader

  • Lipscomb University, BA Accounting and Spanish

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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

While not exactly “Wonderwoman”, I am a woman of wonder, for I love to connect with God by discovering His wonders!  Sharing those discoveries, or helping others discover them, too, is such a blast; hence my new position of teaching Earth Science this year.  I’ve been teaching for years in many forms, from Girl Scouts and children’s church, to public and private schools, and now in homeschool tutorials.  My husband of 33 years and I have three daughters and three grandchildren.  

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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.

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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.


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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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 past 6 years, Crystal has 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.   

Gretchen Benko Headshot HLN

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 am looking forward to assisting Mrs. Lomax with the second grade and bringing my passion for U.S. History to the upper classmen. I love reading, yoga, and being outdoors.

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Caleb Obregon

  • Lipscomb University, BS Molecular Biology, Chemistry minor

Born and raised in Kissimmee, Florida, Caleb grew up bilingual in English and Spanish which imparted to him a deep seated appreciation for language learning and led to his studies in German and Italian. Caleb also enjoys playing Alto Saxophone with various local groups, a hobby that often serves as his creative outlet. Caleb spends his spare time volunteering at his local church and as an interpreter at Siloam Family Health Center. Above all else, Caleb is a follower of Jesus Christ, a journey that his been enriched by the works of C.S. Lewis and Ravi Zacharias. 


Jessica Phillips, Director

  • Lipscomb University, BA Bible, Greek and English minor

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.  

Eric Quiram HLN Photo 2019

Eric Quiram

  • Virginia Tech, BS Psychology
  • Towson State University, BA Jazz Studies & Music Education
  • Vanderbilt University, MTS Theological Studies

Raised in Maryland, he studied Psychology at Virginia Tech (Go Hokies!), pursued a second Bachelors in jazz studies and music education at Towson State University and more recently completed a masters of Theology at the Vanderbilt’s Divinity School. In addition to serving as an elder at City Church, Eric also loves carpentry, invests and manages real estate, and builds new homes in the neighborhoods around HLN. He loves the eclectic nature of East Nashville and resides there with his wife Mandy and his two daughters and son, Lorelei, Hazel, and Amos. 

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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. 

Sarah Pierce


Katie Zimmerman-Clayton

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

This is Katie’s fourth 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.