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.

2019-2020 Teachers

Kindergarten through Second Grade Primary Classes:

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

Grammar and Upper Classes, Third through High School:

  • Third Grade All-day Class: Hannah Bader
  • Latin
    • Latina Christiana: Angel Pregont
    • First Form: Nicole Risner
    • Second Form: Jessica Phillips
    • Third Form: Lauren Cardwell
    • Fourth Form: Amy Abell
  • Classical Studies
    • Famous Men of Rome: Lauren Cardwell
    • Famous Men of the Middle Ages: Tamra Boyce
    • Famous Men of Greece/Horatius: Nicole Risner
    • Book of the Ancient Romans/Aeneid: Amy Abell
    • Cicero: Chris Bradstreet
  • Literature
    • Literature B (Lassie, etc.): Lee Ann Hill
    • Literature C (Robin Hood, etc.): Tamra Boyce
    • Literature D (The Hobbit, etc./Horatius at the Bridge): Nicole Risner
    • Literature F (Beowulf, etc.): Katie Zimmerman-Clayton
    • Literature I (Divine Comedy): Lauren Cardwell
  • Classical Composition
    • Fable: Lee Ann Hill
    • Narrative: Lauren Cardwell
    • Chreia/Maxim: Nicole Risner
    • Refutation/Confirmation: (hiring)
    • Common Topic: (hiring)
    • Encomium/Invective/Comparison: Katie Zimmerman-Clayton

Thursday courses for sixth through twelfth grade:

  • Mathematics:
    • Understanding Math: Nicole Risner
    • Pre-Algebra: Amy Abell
    • Algebra 1: Amy Abell
    • Geometry: Amy Abell
  • Science
    • Trees/World of Biology: Tamra Boyce
    • Earth Science: Tamra Boyce
    • Physical Science: (hiring)
    • Introductory Physics: (hiring)
    • Chemistry: Caleb Obregon
  • Material Logic & Rhetoric: (hiring)
  • U.S. History: Gretchen Mruk


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.


Hannah Bader


Tamra Boyce Headshot

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.  

Lauren Cardwell Headshot

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

  • Middle Tennessee State University, 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.

FlemingMcWilliams headshot

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

I have always loved children, learning, and sharing; so, having the opportunity to combine them at Highlands Latin Nashville is very exciting. I have a Bachelor’s degree in Sports Medicine and a Master’s degree in Physical Therapy. After practicing for 10 years, I went back to school for my MBA and worked as a marketing director for a medical device company that created the first device to successfully treat major strokes. Both careers have been incredibly rewarding. Now, I am embarking on my latest and most treasured career–full-time mom and homeschooler of 5-year old triplets. I have a grateful and ardent heart when it comes to HLN and all it offers our children. I am looking forward to assisting Mrs. Lett and her first grade students this year while my three children tackle Kindergarten. 

Caleb Obregon Headshot

Caleb Obregon


Jessica Phillips, Director

  • Lipscomb University, BA Bible, Greek and English Double-Minor

Jessica is a Tennessee native who lives with her husband and four children in Goodlettsville. Homeschooling since 2010, she has particularly enjoyed delving into classical education with her children using Memoria Press. 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.  

Nicole Risner Photo

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 a little over three years ago.  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 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.