Staff

Lagra Newman, Founder and Head of School

Lagra Newman is the Founder and Head of School at Purpose Prep Academy. 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.

Shauna Russell, Director of Academics

Shauna Russell is the Director of Academics at Purpose Prep Academy. 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. She was a founding teacher at Purpose Prep and developed the literacy curriculum for the Kindergarten, first, and second grades, serving as an Instructional Lead before transitioning out of the classroom in 2016 to support teachers as Dean of Curriculum and Instruction. In the 2016-17 academic year, the school was recognized as a Tennessee Reward School for academic achievement, ranking within the top 5% of schools in the state of Tennessee. Purpose Prep is the first elementary school representing North Nashville to ever have earned this distinction in the history of the city. She has also served as adjunct faculty for Weekend Warriors with Building Excellent Schools, and as an advisor for Relay’s Texas Instructional Leadership Professional Development program. Ms. Russell graduated with honors from the University of Michigan, where she received her B.A. in Linguistics. She completed Relay's National Principals Academy Fellowship in 2017 with distinction. 

 

Tikoya Tipton, Dean of Scholars

Tikoya Tipton is the Dean of Scholars at Purpose Prep Academy. Ms. Tipton received both a Bachelor’s in Family and Consumer Science with a minor in Child Development and a Master’s in Elementary Education from Tennessee State University. She has a passion for working with children and is excited to be a part of a great learning community. Ms. Tipton looks forward to watching the scholars grow their brains each year.

Jason Matthews, Operations Manager

Jason Matthews is the Operations Manager at Purpose Prep Academy. Mr. Matthews received a Bachelor's in Education with an emphasis in Physical Education and a minor in History from Lincoln University.  Mr. Matthews is pursuing a Master’s in Sociology. Mr. Matthews is proud to be part of the team and he looks forward to contributing to the success of Purpose Prep.  

Terrye S. Davis, Operations Coordinator

Terrye S. Davis is the Operations Coordinator at Purpose Prep Academy. Ms. Davis received a Bachelor’s in Business Administration from the University of Mississippi. Her successful academic career has given her some of the greatest gifts, including the genuine desire to contribute to the academic success of others. Ms. Davis is excited to transfer her skills into the rising success of Purpose Prep. 

Brandon Hughes, Operations Assistant

Brandon Hughes is the Operations Assistant at Purpose Prep Academy. Mr. Hughes received a Bachelor’s in Sports Science from Tennessee State University. He has a strong background working with Nashville’s inner city kids. Prior to working at Purpose Prep, Mr. Hughes worked with Metro Nashville Parks and Recreation. Mr. Hughes is honored to be at Purpose Prep and is eager to make an impact.

Darren W. Armstrong, Leadership Fellow

Darren W. Armstrong is a Leadership Fellow at Purpose Prep Academy. Mr. Armstrong received a Bachelor’s in Business Administration from Morehouse College, and a Masters in Business Administration from Vanderbilt University Owen Graduate School of Management. Mr. Armstrong is drawn to education recognizing the importance of creating access, closing gaps, mentoring, and investing in our youth’s ability to defy the status quo. Believing in the mission and vision of Purpose Prep, Mr. Armstrong is excited to be a member of this incredible team.

Delvis Hargrove, Office Manager

Delvis Hargrove is the Office Manager at Purpose Prep Academy. Ms. Hargrove received a Bachelor’s in Psychology from Argosy University. Ms. Hargrove chooses to work in the educational environment because she enjoys supporting the process of helping students obtain the education they deserve.

Samantha Beck, Office Assistant

Samantha Beck is the Office Assistant at Purpose Prep Academy. Mrs. Beck attended Volunteer State Community College with studies in Elementary Education. Her decision to work in education stems from her desire to assist in the growth and education of students. She is excited to flourish with Purpose Prep and be a part of such an amazing community of teachers, staff, and families.

Onya Parker, Family Engagement Coordinator

Onya Parker is the Family Engagement Coordinator at Purpose Prep Academy. Mrs. Parker received a Bachelor’s in Elementary Education from Bethune-Cookman College. As Family Engagement Coordinator, Mrs. Parker continues to pursue her passion for education by ensuring all Purpose Prep fourth graders advance to high performing, college prep middle schools on their path to college.

Courtney Brooks, Content Specialist

Courtney Brooks is a Content Specialist at Purpose Prep Academy. Ms. Brooks received a Bachelor’s in Psychology and Master’s in Education from Tennessee State University. Prior to joining Purpose Prep, Ms. Brooks taught Reading for K-2 students throughout Metro Nashville. Ms. Brooks is a published author who enjoys reading in her past time. As a Reading Mastery teacher, she uses her knowledge to help grow the brains of every scholar within her reach. Ms. Brooks is very passionate about teaching! She believes that education is the gift that keeps on giving, and she plans to utilize that gift to help guide her students on their path to college and to prepare their minds for a bright, and bold future.

Katherine Nelligan, Content Specialist

Katherine Nelligan is a Content Specialist at Purpose Prep Academy. Ms. Nelligan was a founding-lead teacher in the second, third and fourth grades at Purpose Prep, serving as Instructional Lead for the fourth-grade team before transitioning out of the classroom to support teachers. Working alongside the leadership team, Ms. Nelligan developed the third and fourth-grade ELA curriculum, pioneering the school’s Close Reading framework. Prior to Purpose Prep, Ms. Nelligan attended Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, PA, where she received her B.A. in International Relations with a minor in Japanese. She also earned her M.Ed. in Curriculum & Instruction from Lipscomb University and is a proud Teach for America alumna. Ms. Nelligan is honored to be part of a community of driven educators, inspiring activists and dedicated community partners.

Faculty

Melinda Bascom-Harvey, Intervention Coordinator

Melinda Bascom-Harvey is the Intervention Coordinator at Purpose Prep Academy. Mrs. Bascom-Harvey received a Master’s in Business Management from San Diego State University and a Master’s in Education with an endorsement in English as a Second Language PreK- 12 from Lipscomb University. Prior to working at Purpose Prep, Mrs. Bascom-Harvey held a hybrid role as a second-grade Literacy Teacher and EL Specialist at a charter elementary school in Nashville. Mrs. Bascom-Harvey is originally from Guyana, South America and has two beautiful daughters, Charli and Gabby. She loves to travel, walk, and spend time with her family. She looks forward to providing targeted instruction to students throughout the school year. 

Jordaun Brooks, Fourth Grade Teacher

Jordaun Brooks is a fourth grade teacher at Purpose Prep Academy. Ms. Brooks received a Bachelor’s in Child and Family Studies focusing on Interdisciplinary Early Childhood Education from Berea College. Prior to moving to Nashville, she worked at the Child Development Laboratory of her alma mater as well as took on the role of middle school girls’ basketball coach at Berea Community School. She is grateful to be continuing her journey with such an invested group of vibrant teachers here at Purpose Prep! She plans to provide students with a motivating, yet challenging learning environment to instill in them the ability utilize the tools they have obtained in order to succeed. 

ShaRika Barbee-Brown, Kindergarten Teacher

ShaRicka Barbee-Brown is a kindergarten teacher at Purpose Prep Academy. Ms. Brown received a Bachelor’s in Mass Communications with a concentration in Speech and Drama with honors from Tennessee State University. Ms. Brown has always had a passion for teaching children, and she is excited and prepared to have an amazing year with her new scholars.

Jennifer Cox, Second Grade Teacher

Jennifer Cox is a second grade teacher at Purpose Prep Academy. Ms. Cox received a Bachelor’s in Interdisciplinary Studies with a focus on Psychology and Sociology, and a Masters in Education from Tennessee State University. 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 Enrichment Teacher

Sean Cox is the Physical Education teacher at Purpose Prep Academy. Mr. Cox received a Bachelor’s in Geography from Ball State University. Mr. Cox loves spending his free time with his wife and daughter, going to parks and traveling. He is very proud to be a member of Purpose Prep and can’t wait to challenge his students.

Chris Degler, Music Enrichment Teacher

Chris Degler is the Music Enrichment teacher at Purpose Prep Academy. Mr. Degler received a Bachelor’s in Music Education with an emphasis in percussion from Morehead State University. Mr. Degler has performed with several different groups and most notably performed with a percussion group in China. Mr. Degler implemented the Clarinets with Purpose program at Purpose Prep. He has a passion about teaching in such a rigorous environment that pursues student excellence.

Nathaniel Douglas, First Grade Teacher

Nathaniel Douglas is a first grade teacher at Purpose Prep Academy. Mr. Douglas attended Clark Atlanta University in Atlanta ,Georgia where he majored in Education and Minored in vocal performance. He has served as an educator for over a decade in both public and private school in Shelby County.

Mackenzie Fox, First Grade Teacher

Mackenzie Fox is a first grade teacher at Purpose Prep Academy. Ms. Fox received a Bachelor’s in Child Development and Family Studies from Middle Tennessee State University and a Master’s in Education with a major in Curriculum and Instruction from Tennessee State University. In her free time, she loves to visit the Farmer’s Market, go to concerts, cook, and spend time with friends. She also enjoys trying out new and fun restaurants around town. Ms. Fox is excited and proud to represent Purpose Prep.  

Myleah Gallagher, Fourth Grade Teacher

Myleah Gallagher is a 4th grade teacher at Purpose Prep Academy. Ms. Gallagher received a Bachelor’s in Elementary Education with a secondary English endorsement and a Master’s as a Reading Specialist from Austin Peay State University. Ms. Gallagher is proud and honored to work with her college bound scholars, and is looking forward to another rigorous and joyful year at Purpose Prep Academy! 

Jasmine Gregg, Third Grade Teacher

Jasmine Gregg is a third grade teacher and an Instructional Lead at Purpose Prep Academy. Ms. Gregg received a Bachelor’s in English and a Minor in Asian Studies from Georgetown College. 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!

Christina Harpold, Fourth Grade Teacher

Christina Harpold is a fourth grade teacher at Purpose Prep Academy. Ms. Harpold received a Bachelor’s degree from Vanderbilt University, and is currently pursuing a Master’s Degree from Relay Graduate School. Ms. Harpold is a Teach for America corps member. She is excited to join the Purpose Prep team and see the academic and personal growth in students. She is passionate about creating opportunities for her students and pushing them to be the best they can be.  

Dania Henry, Second Grade Teacher

Dania Henry is a second grade teacher and an Instructional Lead at Purpose Prep Academy. Ms. Henry received a Bachelor’s in Psychology from Bethune-Cookman University and a Master’s in Education from Relay Graduate School. Ms. Henry is a former Teach for America corps member, who joined in order to become an active advocate for educational equity. Ms. Henry is adamant and passionate about every student receiving a learning experience that inevitably prepares them for success in the future.

Jeremy Hubrins, First Grade Teacher

Jeremy Hubrins is a first grade teacher at Purpose Prep Academy. Mr. Hubrins received a Bachelor’s in Early Childhood Education/Childcare Management from Rust College. He is excited to join Purpose Prep to share his love and eagerness for learning with his students as well as working with a great teaching and administrative staff.

Meredith Meador, Fourth Grade Teacher

Meredith Meador is a 4th grade teacher at Purpose Prep Academy. Ms. Meador received a Bachelor’s in Elementary Education from Texas A & M University, and is a certified English Language Learner (ELL) teacher. Ms. Meador is a Teach for America corps member. She has wanted to be a teacher since she was a little girl and is extremely excited to be a part of the growth and development of her scholars!

Jena Milliken, First Grade Teacher

Jena Milliken is a second grade teacher at Purpose Prep Academy. Ms. Milliken received a Bachelor’s in Public Relations and Marketing from Gonzaga University. Ms. Milliken is a Teach for America corps member. She seeks to ignite the spark that lies within each child and is thrilled to embark on her journey as a Purpose Prep teacher.

Ri'an Murphy-Wilson, Kindergarten Teacher

Ri’an Murphy-Wilson is a kindergarten teacher at Purpose Prep Academy. Mrs. Wilson received a Bachelor’s in English from Tennessee State University, and is currently pursuing a Master’s in Elementary Education. She is excited to be able to support the scholars that give her purpose for the work she continues to do.

Emily O’Mary, Kindergarten Teacher

Emily O’Mary is a kindergarten teacher at Purpose Prep Academy. She received a Bachelor’s in Early Childhood Education from Auburn University, and is currently pursuing a Master’s in Early Childhood Education. Ms. O’Mary is excited to be joining the Purpose Prep team and serving the community of North Nashville. She can’t wait to continue learning from the staff and scholars!

Tanjarae Porter, Movement Enrichment Teacher

Tanjarae Porter is the Creative Movement teacher and Reading Interventionist at Purpose Prep Academy. She received a Bachelor’s in Dance Education from the University of Memphis and a Master's in Education with the concentration of Reading Specialist. Prior to joining Purpose Prep as a kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Porter taught sixth grade science and social studies.  Mrs. Porter looks forward to exposing scholars to the arts through dance as well as integrating the arts through academia. She also looks forward to assisting scholars with meeting their reading goals and growing their brains. Mrs. Porter believes that all students can and will learn!!!  

Brandy Putman, First Grade Teacher

Brandy Putman is a first grade teacher and an Instructional Lead at Purpose Prep Academy. She received a Bachelor’s in Early Childhood Education from Austin Peay State University. She loves to challenge her students to become the powerful scholars they are intended to become and is dedicated to preparing our scholars to graduate college.

Keara Redden, Second Grade Teacher

Keara Redden is a second grade teacher at Purpose Prep Academy. She received a Bachelor’s from the University of Central Arkansas. She is certified in Elementary Education K-6. Ms. Redden is super excited to engage scholars and watch them thrive throughout the year.

Jacquie Skokna, Skills Teacher

Jacquie Skokna is a skills teacher at Purpose Prep Academy. She graduated from the Belmont University Honors Program with a B.A. in English Writing and has taught creative writing classes to adults through Nashville Community Education and Dismas House. A 2019 Teach for America Corps member, Jacquie is pursuing her M.A.T. in elementary and special education intervention through Relay Graduate School of Education. She is thrilled to be a team member of Purpose Prep and to provide equal access and extra support for all learners.

Abiola Patterson Williams, Special Education Coordinator

Abiola Patterson Williams is the Special Education Coordinator at Purpose Prep Academy. Mrs. Williams received her Bachelor’s in Early Childhood Development from Kaplan University and a Master’s in Special Education from Lipscomb University. She also received an endorsement in English as a Second Language PreK- 12 from Trevecca University. Before working at Purpose Prep, Mrs. Williams worked as a Special Education teacher at a charter elementary school in Nashville. Mrs. Williams is originally from Guyana, South America, and has three kings Jordan, Jeremy, and Jace. She loves to travel, meet new people, and spend time with her family. Mrs. Patterson Williams looks forward to a great year of success with Purpose Prep scholars.

Hannah Serling, Third Grade Teacher

Hannah Serling is a third grade teacher at Purpose Prep Academy. Ms. Serling received a Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology from Franklin & Marshall College, and is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Education at Relay Graduate School. Ms. Serling is a Teach for America corps member. She is very excited to watch her third graders grow as scholars and as individuals!

Sarah Stackhouse, Second Grade Teacher

Sarah Stackhouse is a second grade teacher at Purpose Prep Academy. She received a Bachelor’s in Psychology from Sewewanee: The University of the South. She is currently a Teach for America Corps member, and is pursuing a Master’s in Elementary and Special Education Intervention through Relay Graduate School of Education. Mrs. Stackhouse is very excited to join the Purpose Prep team and to watch her second graders grow as scholars and as individuals.

Colby Way, Kindergarten Teacher

Colby Way is a kindergarten teacher at Purpose Prep Academy. Ms. Way is a graduate of Ashford University with an M.A.Ed. in Early Childhood Education and is pursuing another Master’s in Teaching. Ms. way is a Teach for America corps member. She is thrilled about her upcoming kindergarten scholars, as she is ready to help mold these young learners into mathematicians, scientists, historians, and reading masters. 

Yolanda Webb, Kindergarten Teacher

Yolanda Webb is a kindergarten teacher at Purpose Prep Academy. She received a Bachelor’s in Family and Consumer Sciences with a Child Development and Family Studies concentration from Middle Tennessee State University. She has a Master’s in Family and Consumer Sciences from the University of Tennessee Martin. Ms. Webb taught in the North Nashville area prior to joining Purpose Prep. She understands how big of a role the village plays in the lives of future leaders and cannot wait to inspire her scholars. 

Gianna Webby, Kindergarten Teacher

Gianna Webby is a kindergarten teacher at Purpose Prep Academy. She received her bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education and Special Education from King’s College. She has always been passionate about working with children and is excited to be joining the Purpose Prep team!

BriAngela Weston, Third Grade Teacher

BriAngela Weston is a third grade teacher at Purpose Prep Academy. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Education from Middle Tennessee State University. Ms. Weston taught first grade prior to joining Purpose Prep. She is a Teach for America corps member, and is dedicated to giving all children regardless of race, class, gender, or socio-economic status a fair and rigorous education. Ms. Weston is so excited to start the school year in third grade. She loves to shop, read, and binge watch Netflix shows.

Colleen Whetzel, Third Grade Teacher

Colleen Whetzel is a third grade teacher at Purpose Prep Academy. Ms. Whetzel received a Bachelor’s in Elementary Education from College of Charleston. She is excited to join the Purpose Prep team and become a part of the school community. She is prepared to create a safe, motivating, exciting, and hard-working classroom environment.