Staff and Faculty
Lagra Newman, Founder and Head of School
Lagra Newman is the Founder and Head of School at Purpose Prep. Ms. Newman has a proven track record of transformative academic outcomes for students in district and charter schools. Ms. Newman began her career in education as a Teach For America corps member in Los Angeles, where she received the highest rating for the academic performance of her students in both math and reading. She then served as a Recruitment Director for TFA’s Atlanta Region. As a charter leader in Washington, DC, Ms. Newman is the recipient of the Transformer Award as the highest performing teacher in her charter network of over 400 teachers, which marked student academic gains of over two years and the highest percentage of students meeting and exceeding grade level benchmarks. After Ms. Newman served as Director of Instruction, her school was recognized for achieving the highest percentage of student achievement results within her charter network of 13 schools and for being within the top five charter schools in Washington, DC for academic growth on state assessments. Ms. Newman completed the Fellowship with the highly selective Building Excellent Schools, which enabled her to study over 30 of the highest performing charter schools in the nation. Ms. Newman earned a BA at Vanderbilt University, a MA in Teaching at Loyola Marymount University, and a M.Ed in Public School Leadership from Teachers College of Columbia University.
Brittany McCullough, Founding Director of Operations
Brittany McCullough is the Founding Director of Operations at Purpose Prep. As a native of Nashville, Ms. McCullough joined the Purpose Prep team because she believes in the importance of a strong education. Ms. McCullough has experience in administration, operations, and sales, particularly in her role as Business Account Executive for a Nashville-based telecommunications company. During her time in telecommunications, she was recognized as a top performer, holding the number one sales representative title for 14 consecutive months in the mid-south region. Following this experience, Ms. McCullough decided to pursue her desire and passion to work in the field of education. Prior to joining Purpose Prep, she worked in higher education where she served as a Finance Advisor for a local university. Ms. McCullough received her B.B.A. from Belmont University and obtained her MBA from Trevecca Nazarene University. In 2015, after the completion of a fellowship program, Ms. McCullough became an alumna of Education Pioneers.
Michelle Bancroft, Dean of Curriculum and Instruction
Michelle Bancroft was a founding teacher at Purpose Prep and enters into her fourth year. She is now the Dean of Curriculum and Instruction for K-1 and the Special Education Coordinator. Ms. Bancroft has studied and implemented research-based approaches to provide individualized instruction to all K-12 students in both general education and support classroom settings, and she has implemented remediation services to developing readers in grades K-5. Prior to joining Purpose Prep, Ms. Bancroft taught first grade in Oakton, Virginia. From these experiences, Ms. Bancroft believes that every child is capable of learning at the highest level. She obtained her Bachelor's Degree in Elementary, Special, and Early Childhood Education from Mansfield University of Pennsylvania and holds a Master’s Degree in Literacy from SUNY Binghamton. Ms. Bancroft was a 2015 Blue Ribbon Teacher for Metro Nashville Schools and was a 2015 Tennessee Charter School Center Elementary Teacher of the Year finalist.
Shauna Russell, Dean of Curriculum and Instruction
Shauna Russell was a founding teacher at Purpose Prep, and now supports teachers in her role as Dean of Curriculum & Instruction for the upper academy. She has been a founding teacher in Kindergarten, first, and second grade at Purpose Prep, and has developed literacy curriculum every year, last year serving as Instructional Lead for the second grade team. Ms. Russell moved to Nashville to teach through the Nashville Teaching Fellows program in 2011. Prior to Purpose Prep, she taught Kindergarten in a blended English Learner/General Education classroom for two years at Glengarry Elementary School. Ms. Russell was awarded the Blue Ribbon Teacher Award by Metro Nashville Public Schools in 2014 and 2016, and was the recipient of the Tennessee Charter School Center's honor of 2015 Elementary Charter School Teacher of the Year: Nashville/Chattanooga region. Shauna is honored to have the privilege of educating children and putting them on the path to college. Ms. Russell graduated with honors from the University of Michigan, where she received her B.A. in Linguistics.
Delvis Hargrove, Office Manager
Delvis Hargrove is the office manager at Purpose Prep. She is originally from West Tennessee and recently moved to Nashville. Ms. Hargrove has more than 15 years of administrative assistant experience with 11 of those years in education. Ms. Hargrove chooses to work in the educational environment because she enjoys supporting the process of helping students obtain the education they deserve. Ms. Hargrove graduated from Argosy University with a B.A. in Psychology.
Kayla Case, First Grade Teacher and Instructional Lead
Mrs. Kayla Case is a first grade lead teacher and is entering her fourth year at Purpose Prep. She currently serves as first grade’s Instructional Lead, guiding her grade level to meet Purpose Prep’s high academic expectations. Mrs. Case is beginning her third year teaching first grade in Tennessee State University. In Purpose Prep’s inaugural year, Mrs. Case was the Skills Teacher, providing scholars with additional instruction to meet our rigorous learning goals. Mrs. Case is passionate about educating children and honored to be a part of a high performing school. Kayla earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Interdisciplinary Studies/Elementary Education from Middle Tennessee State University, graduating Magna Cum Laude. She also obtained her Master’s Degree from Middle Tennessee State University in Curriculum and Instruction, graduating Summa Cum Laude.
Meghan Choice, Third Grade Teacher
Meghan Choice is a third grade teacher at Purpose Prep. Before moving to Nashville, Meghan taught middle and high school special education in South Carolina for two years as a 2014 corps member of Teach For America. Ms. Choice earned a degree in Elementary Special Education and a Spanish minor from Indiana University, graduating Magna Cum Laude. She is excited to be joining such a supportive community where the teachers and staff share a deep commitment to the academic and character development of each and every scholar.
Jennifer Cox, Second Grade Teacher
Jennifer Cox is a second grade teacher at Purpose Preparatory Academy. Ms. Cox graduated from Tennessee State University where she earned her B.A. in Interdisciplinary studies with a focus on Psychology and Sociology. While continuing her Masters of Education program at Tennessee State University, she is excited about being in such a positive learning environment where success is key. Ms. Cox is dedicated and ecstatic to teach in a rigorous environment where she can provide scholars’ with the tools they need to achieve academic success and set them on their path to college!
Sean Cox, Physical Education Teacher
Stuart Dale, Kindergarten Teacher
Stuart Dale is a kindergarten teacher at Purpose Prep. Ms. Dale was born and raised in Nashville and is proud to be serving the children of her home city. Before working at Purpose Prep, Ms. Dale worked as a preschool teacher at Christ Presbyterian Academy. After graduating from Auburn University with a B.S. in Human Development and Family Studies with a concentration in child development, Ms. Dale enrolled in the Masters of Education program at Lipscomb University where she is still a student. Ms. Dale is very passionate about teaching and is incredibly excited to begin her journey at Purpose Prep!
Chris Degler, Teacher Fellow
Chris Degler is a Teacher Fellow at Purpose Prep. Originally from Lexington, KY, Mr. Degler moved to the Nashville area last year. Mr. Degler, graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Music Education from Morehead State University in 2014. With an emphasis in percussion, Mr. Degler has performed with several different groups and most notably performed with a percussion group in China. Mr. Degler has a passion about teaching in such a rigorous environment that pursues student excellence.
Jasmine Gregg, Third Grade Teacher
Jasmine Gregg is a third grade teacher at Purpose Prep. In 2016, Ms. Gregg joined Nashville Teaching Fellows to pursue her passion in education. Prior to joining, she worked at Kroger as a manager. Ms. Gregg is a graduate of Georgetown College with a B.A. in English and a Minor in Asian Studies. Ms. Gregg is extremely proud to be a part of the fabulous Purpose Prep community, and is looking forward to creating an environment for students to achieve great things!
Sarah Guest, Third Grade Teacher
Sarah Guest is excited to join Purpose Prep on the third grade founding year teaching team while participating in the Nashville Teaching Fellows program. Ms. Guest graduated with a B.S. from Peabody College at Vanderbilt University, majoring in Education Studies and Economics. Prior to joining the Purpose Prep team, she worked in the financial services industry and calls Nashville "home" after spending 10 years living in various parts of the eclectic Nashville community. As a passionate advocate for educational equity, Ms. Guest is excited to use the knowledge and context she gained through her education and career to guide her students on their path to success!
Katelyn Hadder, Skills Teacher
Katelyn Hadder is a skills teacher at Purpose Prep. Ms. Hadder is also a 2016 Teach For America, Greater Nashville corps member. She is a Virginia Beach, Virginia native and a recent graduate of The University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Ms. Hadder received her BS degree in Special Education, with a dual concentration in Educational Interpreting and Deaf Education. Passionate about the call for social/educational equity in the Nashville area, Ms. Hadder is adamant about advocating for her students through her role on the Special Education team at Purpose Prep.
Dania Henry, Second Grade Teacher
Dania Henry is a second grade teacher at Purpose Prep. Ms. Henry is a 2016 Teach for America corps member, who joined in order to become an active advocate for educational equity. On May 26, 2016, Ms. Henry moved to Nashville from Daytona Beach, Florida where she attended Bethune-Cookman University, and received her B.A. in Psychology. Ms. Henry is adamant and passionate about every student receiving a learning experience that inevitably prepares them for success in the future.
Lindsey Lochridge, First Grade Teacher
Lindsey Lochridge is a first grade teacher at Purpose Preparatory Academy. Originally from Pulaski, TN, she went to the University of Tennessee, Knoxville where she earned her undergraduate degree in Kinesiology. Then, she was brought back to the Nashville area to complete her Masters in Exercise and Nutrition Science at Lipscomb University. Ms. Lochridge started at Purpose Prep as a fellow teacher in March 2016. She is very excited and proud to be a part of Purpose Prep team as a lead first grade teacher this year for 2016-2017!
Sonja Lyle, Second Grade Teacher
Sonja Lyle is a second grade teacher at Purpose Preparatory Academy. Originally from Louisville, Kentucky, Mrs. Lyle recently moved to the Nashville area after getting married earlier this year. Before joining Purpose Prep faculty, Mrs. Lyle spent a year in Lima, Peru teaching English to children of all age levels, and adult professionals. A graduate from Pensacola Christian College, Mrs. Lyle earned a B.A. in English and a minor in History. Mrs. Lyle has a sincere passion to see her scholars achieve academic success and is thrilled to be teaching in a rigorous environment that encourages children to pursue college.
Kelly MacLachlan, Second Grade Teacher
Kelly MacLachlan is a second grade teacher at Purpose Prep. Ms. MacLachlan has lived in the Nashville area since she was three years old. She worked at a local preschool in Brentwood and discovered her passion for working with children. She attended Auburn University and received a degree in Early Childhood Education in May of 2016. Ms. MacLachlan is grateful to be joining such an invested group of teachers who strive to provide students with a joyful, challenging learning environment.
Nicole Morris, Music Enrichment Teacher
Nicole Morris is the music enrichment teacher at Purpose Prep. She studied Vocal Music and Pedagogy and earned a B.A. in Vocal Performance from Fisk University. In 2007, Ms. Morris had the opportunity to visit Ghana, Africa with the Fisk Jubilee Singers. She has sang with artists from many different genres, including Kid Rock and Mandisa Hundley. Most recently, she was featured on John Carter - Cash's (son of music legend Johnny Cash) album. Miss Morris believes music is the greatest language and that everyone should learn to speak it. With this belief in mind, she has begun to teach music theory and the theory of Vocal music. "I was born with music inside me. Music is one of my parts….. no different than my lungs, feet, or my heart. It is just as necessary to me as food and water and was a force already within me. Music isn’t just what I do - it’s who I am.” This statement is solidified by her many endeavors concerning the world of music. At Purpose Prep, she is fostering our scholars' appreciation and love for music.
Nathan Mount, Third Grade Teacher
Nathan Mount is a third grade teacher at Purpose Prep. This is Mr. Mount’s second year at Purpose Prep. Mr. Mount moved to Nashville to teach through the Nashville Teaching Fellows Program in 2015 and is passionate about laying the foundation for scholars to build on their path to college. Prior to moving to Nashville, Mr. Mount graduated from Gonzaga University with degrees in History and Psychology. Under his psychology degree, he studied Educational Psychology, Community Psychology, and Social Psychology and is eager to see all three disciplines merge together to create a productive and positive learning atmosphere at Purpose Prep.
Katherine Nelligan, Third Grade Teacher
Katie Nelligan is a third grade teacher at Purpose Prep. In 2015, Ms. Nelligan joined Teach for America to pursue her passion in education. Prior to moving to Nashville, she worked at an international healthcare and education consulting firm in Washington, D.C. Ms. Nelligan is a graduate of Franklin & Marshall College with a B.A. in International Relations and a Minor in Japanese, and is currently pursuing her Master’s in Education at Lipscomb University. Ms. Nelligan is extremely proud to be a part of the Purpose Prep community, and is looking forward to watching her scholars grow their brains!
Pi’Airra Pettus, Kindergarten Teacher
Pi’Airra Pettus is a kindergarten teacher at Purpose Prep. Ms. Pettus graduated from Middle Tennessee State University with a B.A in child development and family studies with a minor in Spanish. She is currently pursuing her Master’s degree in Mastering the Art of Education. She is passionate about setting a sturdy educational foundation for her scholars. She is very dedicated and committed to helping scholars grow their brains through rigorous curriculum! She’s ecstatic to see the growth of scholars.
Tanjarae Porter, Kindergarten Teacher
Tanjarae Porter is a kindergarten teacher at Purpose Prep. Prior to joining the Purpose Prep team, Mrs. Porter taught 6th grade science and social studies after moving to Nashville in 2014. Upon graduating from college in 2012 with a Bachelor's in Dance Education, Mrs. Porter was granted the opportunity to pilot a dance program at a middle school in her home town of Memphis, TN. Mrs. Porter is currently pursuing her Master’s in Curriculum and Instruction with concentration as a Reading Specialist. Mrs. Porter is excited about her incoming kindergartens as she is ready to help them grow into reading masters, mathematicians, scientists and historians.
Brandy Putman, First Grade Teacher
Brandy Putman is a first grade teacher at Purpose Prep. Ms. Putman is originally from Adams TN. She attended Austin Peay State University, graduating with a degree in Early Childhood Education in May 2016. She moved to Nashville to pursue her dream of teaching. She is excited to watch all scholars develop the tools to attend college.
Elizabeth Pratt, Kindergarten Teacher
Elizabeth Pratt is a Kindergarten teacher at Purpose Preparatory Academy. Originally from Trezevant, TN Miss Pratt recently moved to the Nashville area to fulfill her dream in teaching. Before joining Purpose Prep faculty, Miss Pratt was an active volunteer in many tutoring centers and participated in college cheerleading. A graduate from Bethel University, Miss Pratt earned a B.A. in Early Childhood Development. She will be continuing her education towards getting a degree in Special Education. Miss Pratt has a passion for impacting and educating scholars so that they are college bound.
Alita Terry, Second Grade Teacher
Alita Terry is a second grade teacher at Purpose Preparatory Academy. In 2015, Ms. Terry joined Teach for America to actualize her dream of being an educator. Prior to joining Teach for America, Ms. Terry worked as an administrator in the Pediatric Department at Meharry Medical College. Ms. Terry is a graduate of Florida State University and holds a Master’s degree in Public Administration from American University in Washington, D.C. Ms. Terry is extremely honored to be a part of the Purpose Prep family, and is looking forward to cultivating college bound scholars!
Kelsey Thomas, Third Grade Teacher
Kelsey Thomas is a third grade teacher at Purpose Preparatory Academy. Mrs. Thomas moved to Nashville to join the movement of urban education reform. Before moving to Nashville, Mrs. Thomas attended Tennessee Technological University. She graduated Magna Cum Laude with a degree in Early Childhood Education with a dual certification in Special Education. Mrs. Thomas is excited to pursue her passion of educating scholars at Purpose Prep so that they can reach their greatest potential.
Brittany Trapani, Second Grade Teacher and Instructional Lead
Brittany Trapani is a second grade teacher at Purpose Prep. Before moving to Nashville in 2014, Ms. Trapani taught third grade in Memphis for three years. An alumna of Teach for America, she was a member of the 2011 Memphis Corps. She is passionate about educating children and ensuring that they are on a path to a college education. Ms. Trapani earned a degree in Elementary Education from the University of Memphis graduating Magna Cum Laude. Ms. Trapani studied the importance of small group instruction and the impact on student achievement in her Master's program. She graduated Summa Cum Laude with a Master’s in Education from Christian Brothers University.