About Us » STEAM Team




Dinara Bowers- Russian

Здравствуйте! Zdravstvuyte! Hello!
I was born and raised in Kazan, Russia. I received my Bachelor’s Degree in Foreign Languages and Literature from Kazan State University in 2007 and my Master’s Degree in Instruction and Curriculum Leadership from the University of Memphis in 2014. When I lived in Russia, I taught English and Spanish to children of different ages and also worked as an interpreter and translator. I have previously taught Russian in the elementary school and this is my fifth year with Shelby County Schools. I have always been passionate about learning and teaching foreign languages. My goal is to provide engaging lessons in Russian Language and the biggest reward for me is when I hear my students speaking Russian. I spend my free time with my family. I enjoy walking in the park, riding a bike and travelling. I am excited to be a part of STEAM Academy and the opportunity to develop the Russian Program. I am looking forward to starting this exciting school year!

Contact: bowersd1@scsk12.org

Micah Thomas- 6th Grade Science and Social Studies

I am Micah Thomas originally from Little Rock, AR. I have a masters degree in education and over ten years teaching experience. I love learning and enjoying life. :)
​Contact: thomasmd1@scsk12.org

Padlet: www.padlet.com/mrsthomas


Anita Long- 7th/8th Pre-Algebra 

I am super excited about starting my 18th year as an educator.  I’m a military brat that traveled quite a bit growing up.  I graduated high school in Maine, then pursued high education at the University of Memphis. As a scholar athlete, I was later inducted into the Hall of Fame.  I earned both my Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from the U of M.   I’ve been married for 25 years and have two awesome kids! My 3rd child is my black lab, “Jag.” I spend my summers coaching AAU track field, which is my favorite sport!  I’m looking forward to a great year here at STEAM!  Go Knights!

Contact: Longah@scsk12.org 



Bill Johns- 7th and 8th Grade ELA

Hello! My name is Mr. Johns . I am extremely proud to be teaching 7th and 8th grade English at MSSA and very excited to get to know you and your students. I was born and raised in Memphis, Tennessee and attended PDS, Briarcrest, Memphis State, and most recently the University of Memphis (MAT & MS in Reading). Before deciding to teach, I was an Area Director for Young Life in East Memphis, a Student Ministry Director in Ponte Vedra Beach, FL. and in Memphis, TN at Independent Presbyterian Church. My wife, Luanne, and I met in fourth grade, dated in high school, and married in 1986. We have 4 children who each attended or are attending Shelby County Schools. We also have two unbelievable sons-in-law and two incredible grandchildren (twins, 8 months old)! When I get a chance, I enjoy painting, trail riding, and hiking/camping. I also am second in line to the throne of Mars which only effects my summers. Again, I am really excited about the year and looking forward to serving your students and you.

 Contact: johnsw@memphissteam.org 


Julian White- 7th Grade STEM/6th Social Studies 

Julian White was born and raised in Memphis, Tennessee in a household of educators, where he discovered a passion for teaching. Julian received a Bachelor of Arts Degree in History from the University of Memphis, where he was a five-year member of the Mighty Sound of the South Marching Band. While at the University of Memphis, Julian discovered his talent and love for Mathematics when he was asked to tutor peers and local middle and high school students. Julian started his career teaching percussion, history, and mathematics at the Bowie Learning Center, a school for gifted and learning disabled students. Julian’s experience served him well in his two years teaching Algebra 1 and Geometry at Cordova High School. Julian also enjoys playing and teaching percussion groups such as Gateway Indoor Percussion in St. Louis, MO and The Cavaliers Drum and Bugle Corps from Chicago, IL. When he isn’t teaching or drumming, Julian is spending time with his dog, Ollie and family in Germantown, TN. Julian is very excited to join STEAM where he can share his passion for Music and Mathematics.

Contact: whitej6@scsk12.org

Alysha Bird- 7th Grade CLUE 

I earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology and a Master of Arts in Teaching degree with a concentration in instructional and curricular leadership from the University of Memphis. I love the city of Memphis and am proud to call it my life long home.

Contact: birda@scsk12.org

Website: padlet.com/birda1/7

Candy Pollan- Optional Coordinator

I have enjoyed working with students and parents in the Memphis area since 1983! I have taught 1st, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th grades, and recently re-certified as a National Board Certified Teacher. I am currently the Optional School Coordinator and PLC Coach for MSSA. I am the proud mom of Lacey, a kindergarten teacher in DeSoto County, and Zack, a junior at the University of Memphis. I also spend a lot of time playing with my grandkids, Lyla and Coleman.

Contact: pollancl@scsk12.org


Kelly Nelson- 7th and 8th Grade ELA

Ms. Nelson here! I am the 7th and 8th grade ELA teacher here at Maxine Smith. I LOVE my job because this school is the BEST, and the students help keep me young and hip :) Outside of teaching I have 3 awesome dogs and love living in Midtown!!
Contact: nelsonk1@scsk12.org

Padlet: https://padlet.com/kellynelson/7thgrade and https://padlet.com/kellynelson/8thgrade


Kevin Carpenter- Choir and Beginning Band

Hello! I'm a second generation teacher that leads bands and choirs at both the Maxine Smith STEAM Academy and Middle College High School. I was raised in and around music throughout my entire childhood: in school, at church, and at home. During my time at the University of Memphis's Rudi E. Scheidt school of music, I participated in a variety of ensembles including the Mighty Sound of the South, various concert bands, 901 Jazz, and the collegiate choir. Outside of music, I was heavily involved in the Tennessee Intercollegiate State Legislature, where I served as a representative of the UofM. I firmly believe that music education is incredibly valuable to a student's well-rounded education, which is why I am incredibly happy and excited to teach the "A" side of STEAM!

Contact: carpenterk@memphissteam.org


Tamra Gathright-Billings- 7th and 8th Grade STEM

I am an enthusiastic educator with excitement for Science. With 7 years of teaching experience, I have taught 6th grade science and 8th grade STEM. As a current STEM instructor, I enjoy challenging my students’ creativity and higher order thinking as we use STEM to solve problems. I am a graduate of Tennessee State University where I earned a B.S. in Biology and a M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction. I have also successfully completed STEM training through Project Lead the Way at Northwestern State University of Louisiana.

Contact: gathrightt@scsk12.org

Raven Lomax- 7th Grade Science

I am Raven S. Lomax, a native of Memphis, TN. I enjoy reading, shopping, and watching movies. I just graduated with a degree in biology and chemistry. I love working with children and learning as they learn cohesively. I’m very passionate about helping others in anyway possible.

Contact: Lomaxr@memphissteam.org  


 Nicholas Adams- 7th Grade Social Studies

Contact: adamsnc@scsk12.org


Noelia Warnette-Jones- Dance and Theater

Noelia Warnette-Jones is a native New Yorker, who has been dancing since the age of seven. She is a graduate of the Alvin Ailey American Dance School where she trained professionally in dance. She furthered her education and received her BFA in Dance from Marymount Manhattan College and came to Memphis in 2000, to join the University of Memphis Dance Department as an adjunct professor, teaching jazz and beginner ballet. While teaching at the University Of Memphis, she taught Modern dance and beginner Jazz for Midsouth Dance Academy, Jazz and Hip-Hop at Studio B, Jazz at the hope and Healing Center, and is currently a five year full-time dance teacher for Shelby County School system. She is a six year veteran of the Memphis Grizzlies Dance Team. Her first debut in Musical Theatre was at Playhouse On The Square in the production “HairSpray” along with “Ragtime”, “Footloose”, and “Legally Blonde”, in which she was the assistant choreographer at Playhouse On The Square. She was Dorothy in the “Wiz” and Deena in “Dream Girls” at the Hattiloo Theatre, Lilly in “Annie”, Ronnette in “Little Shop Of Horrors”, and Mrs. Brown in the Musical “Camp Rock”. Theatre Memphis “Chorus Line” as Diana Morales and as an Ensemble dancer in Color Purple. Her film credits includes “Malcolm X” as a principle dancer and body double for Jada Pinkette-Smith in the movie “Bamboozled”. She is currently teaching at the Markel Ballet School at the Jewish Community Center from ages 3yrs to 12yrs old. She has a passion for teaching students and developing the whole child.

Contact: warnettejonesn@scsk12.org


Morgan Smith-6th Grade Math  

 I was born and raised in Memphis, TN. I am so glad to be able to call this place home. I graduated from the University of Memphis in August 2017 with a degree in Elementary Education (K-6). I have always wanted to teach children in many ways; not just academically. I am so excited to be able to do what I dreamed of doing my entire life. 
Contact: smithm@memphissteam.org

Padlet: padlet.com/SmithMorgan18 


​Terry Jordan - Science/Social Studies 

I am Terry Jordan, MSSA’s new 8th grade science teacher. I have been teaching Microsoft Office at Remington College for the past two years while earning a master’s in education at the University of Memphis. Teaching others about the hidden world found through science has always been a passion of mine. I am very excited to be a part of the team here at MSSA as their goals and visions of educational excellence match my own.


Padlet: TBD

Contact: jordant@memphissteam.org  


 Kyle Kuusisto- Physical Education

Kyle Kuusisto is the Physical Education teacher at the STEAM Academy. He has a Master of Public Health degree from the University of Memphis as well as a Bachelor of Science in Physical Education from Augsburg College. Prior to joining the STEAM Academy, Mr. Kuusisto taught at Westhaven Elementary for ten years. Mr. Kuusisto was born and raised in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He enjoys running, cycling, swimming, and spending time with his family and friends accompanied with good food and music. Mr. Kuusisto looks forward to serving the students, school and community of the STEAM Academy with a challenging and stimulating physical education curriculum anchored in a supportive, active environment. 
Contact: kuusistok@scsk12.org

Steven Spangler- Band and Orchestra

Born and raised in Lancaster, Ohio, I received my B.A. in Music Education at Muskingum University. I then began my teaching career in Lake Havasu City, Arizona where I led the award winning bands and orchestras at Lake Havasu High School. In 2011 I came to Memphis, Tennessee to teach with Memphis City Schools. I have performed with many performing groups and symphonies over my career including the South East Ohio Symphony, the Mohave Valley Symphonic Winds and the Lake Havasu Regional Orchestra, as well as performing with many professional acts in all styles and genres of music. As a musician and educator, I believe that music is essential to the education of a well-rounded individual. I am excited to be a part of the Maxine Smith STEAM Academy and look forward to this upcoming school year.

Contact: spanglers@scsk12.org


Yureka Pirtle-Counselor

Born and raised in Holly Springs, MS, I obtained my Bachelor of Science in Educational Psychology, Master of Science in School Counseling and Educational Specialist in School Counseling all from Mississippi State University “Go Bulldogs”. I began working as a Professional School Counselor for Memphis City Schools in 2009, prior to becoming a school counselor I served in several other mental health positions within the Parkwood Behavioral Health System. As a level 5 counselor my goal is to meet the needs of all students. I am elated to be joining the staff of the Maxine Smith STEAM Academy and I am looking forward to an exciting and innovating school year.

Contact: pirtleys@scsk12.org

Teresa McGuire-Counselor

Knights C. A. R. E.! My name is Teresa M. McGuire, and my motto is “Motivating Minds for Success!”  As a school counselor, I am passionate about working with students to exceed their dreams as they realize Destination 2025 for college- and career-readiness. This is my first year at Maxine Smith Steam Academy after returning to Shelby County Schools. My experience includes academic counselor for the University of Memphis, where I earned a bachelor’s degree in Journalism and master’s in Counseling. I am a former middle school teacher, counselor and  high school counselor. I enjoy writing poetry, traveling and walking for fitness. 

Contact: mcguiret@memphissteam.org 


Amber Rocha  - 7th Grade CLUE 

I am a graduate of the University of Memphis where I earned my Bachelors of Science in Education in 2018. This will be my first year teaching, I student taught at Riverdale Elementary and Middle last year and I am excited to be at Maxine Smith this year! I am passionate about literature, music, and student centered learning! I can't wait to begin this year!

Contact: rochaa@memphissteam.org 


Clay Davis

Padlet: padlet.com/davissteam/algebra

Contact: davisc7@scsk12.org



Reed Willis  - ART

Mr. Willis has taught art at Maxine Smith STEAM Academy for 4 years, and is also the art teacher for Middle College High School. He received his degree in art from the University of Memphis. In the art classroom, students learn about art history, art criticism and art production.

Padlet: TBD

Contact: willisrh@scsk12.org


Margarette Norris - Volleyball and Girls Basketball Coach



I am your SCS Nutrition Services Supervisor and Athletic Director. I am the Head Coach of Lady Knights volleyball, softball and Knights basketball here @ Maxine Smith STEAM Academy.

Are you interested in applying for the STEAM Academy?

Shelby County Schools is searching for STEAM teachers (Science, English, Math, CTE, Fine Arts, and Social Studies). STEAM teachers work collaboratively with the instructional team to design and deliver STEAM lessons that are aligned with state and national objectives using technology to enhance student achievement. The STEAM teachers will be located at the STEAM School and collaborate with SCS central office, Christian Brothers University, and other STEM schools. This position reports to the STEAM School Principal. The STEAM educator will have experience delivering content based on their endorsement area.

The STEAM School will allow CBU Department of Education faculty access to all classrooms for professional development purposes, thus creating a professional relationship among CBU Education faculty and the School faculty.

CBU Department of Education faculty will provide the STEAM School faculty with ongoing professional development several times per year as coordinated by the STEAM School administration and CBU Department of Education faculty.

CBU Department of Education Faculty and the STEAM School administrators will meet regularly to discuss progress, concerns, etc.

For more information about applying to teach at the STEAM Middle School, visit: www.teachmemphis.org