Friday Faculty Feature

Each Friday we will feature one of our faculty members, who you will get to know a little better.

March 17, 2017 

Ashton Swims

Learning Community 1 Teacher
B.A. Union University
At Sumner Academy Since: 2016


Today's Faculty Feature is LCI teacher Ashton Swims! This is Mrs. Swims' first year at Sumner Academy. She received her B.A. from Union University.

How do you engage your students?

As a kindergarten teacher, I feel it’s important to help my students develop a deep love of learning. My kindergarteners love to play games. I often use games to review or reteach skills. Some of their favorites are the ten frame game and sight word bingo. In my experience, happy children learn better. 

What is your favorite spot in Sumner County? 

Sumner Academy of course! I recently moved to this area and I have enjoyed getting to know and becoming a part of this sweet community. 

What is your best advice to a student who may be discouraged?

I might ask, how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. I would explain to the student that, when you’re getting overwhelmed, it’s important to stop, step back and start with what you know. My goal is to help my students become independent learners and great problem solvers. 

What is your favorite Sumner Academy tradition?

This was my first year being involved with Sumner Academy’s Science and Social Studies Fair. We spent the whole day learning from other students throughout the school. My sweet kindergarteners did an amazing job giving their speeches about animals and their habitats. Seeing my students so excited about learning and sharing their knowledge with other classes made me proud to be a part of this event.


January 20, 2017 

Connie Cude


Lower Middle School Coordinator

MS Science, Health and Social Studies

Environmental Club Advisor

Junior Honor Society Advisor


B.S. Georgia State

M. Ed. Vanderbilt


Who was a teacher you admire?


There are two:


My first and second grade teacher at Caldwell Elementary in Nashville.  She showed me that school was a safe place and encouraged reading. Thank you Mrs. Jere.


 My 11th grade American History teacher at Hendersonville High School.  At the height of the Vietnam War she encouraged informed debate and dissent in the time of a nation divided.  From her I learned to come prepared to a debate, but don't  be afraid to disagree.  Thank you Mrs. Payne.  I did get a chance to thank her in person a few years back.


Both of these individuals showed school is a place where you can be loved and both insisted you learn.  I try to follow these simple guidelines in all the teaching I do.



What do you do in your spare time?


I love to cook, try new recipes and new combinations of food and spices.  I also love to read (thanks Mrs. Jere) and I care for all my many varied animals as well as my husband and children.



What is your favorite spot on campus?


I have 2 - I love my room.  It is a place to teach, reflect and plan.  I also love the cafetorium at all times.  It is a place teeming with life, a place to connect with our school community.



What is your favorite Sumner Academy tradition?


Definitely the school trips!  I enjoy the day field trips, exposing students to new places and ideas. I really love the Barrier Island trip where students are first introduced to how science can be learned in the field.  All of these experiences build trust and encourage bonding.


January 27, 2017


Karen Koder


Art Teacher

Art Club Sponsor


Sumner Academy since: 2016


B.A. Tennessee State University

M.Ed. Union University



How do you engage your students?


I try to engage my students in various ways, mainly by experimenting with different art media or using unusual sources for tools - for example using plaster strips to create larger-than-life sized crayons or using small squares of cardboard (1" X 1.5") instead of paintbrushes to create paintings of trees. One of my favorite lessons is teaching the second graders how to mix colors by using food dye, frosting and vanilla wafers to create a color wheel. This lesson not only engaged their minds but their stomachs too! 


What do you wish you had more time to do?


I really like my schedule here at Sumner Academy, especially as compared to a large public school. I have enough time for planning and prep time between classes.


What is your advice to a student who may become discouraged?


In art class, my advice to any student who may become discouraged is to keep at it. Perseverance and practice are very important not only in art class but in everything we do. I often provide the analogy of an athlete. Does a baseball player always hit a home run? Does he/she practice before games, etc?


What is your favorite Sumner Academy tradition?


Since, this is my first year at Sumner Academy I have not yet experienced all the wonderful traditions.  I am looking forward to the Related Arts show this spring, scheduled for Sunday, April 9th from 2 – 4 pm in the William E. Hovenden Student Center on Sumner Academy’s campus.



February 3, 2017


Sarena Pettit


Middle School Spanish

Spanish Club Sponsor


Sumner Academy since: 1978


B.A. Vanderbilt

M.Ed. Western Kentucky



If you weren't a teacher at Sumner Academy, what would you be?


I would be a teacher in another school with similar mission and beliefs as Sumner Academy. If that were not possible, I would work with the Hispanic population as an interpreter in a hospital, law office or in helping them acquire housing, aid, etc.


What is your favorite Sumner Academy field study?


My favorite S.A. field study – day trip to the Mexican restaurant, where the students have to order in Spanish.  For the 8th grade, it is a “Burro Day” where they must speak in Spanish the entire trip. The 8th grade trip to San Antonio is my favorite overnight trip.  The students enjoy multiple opportunities to use their Spanish in the culturally rich environment while we are there.


What is the most favorite part of your job?


My favorite part of my job is working with the students in the classroom, encouraging them to use their talents in imaginative, creative and fun ways in class.  It is extremely rewarding to watch the students master a skill or concept and then joyfully apply it in the lesson.


What is your favorite Sumner Academy tradition?


Eighth grade graduation is my favorite S.A. tradition.  As faculty members share their stories about the graduates, we are all drawn into a celebration of our graduates, their accomplishments and their hopes and dreams. 

Friday Faculty Feature


February 10, 2017


Judy Sharp


LC II Coordinator

LC II Teacher


At Sumner Academy since: 1993


B.S. Fairmont State College



When did you first know you would choose a career in education?


I didn’t know at the time, but now looking back I guess I have wanted to be a teacher since I was five years old and my mom brought my baby brother Billy home. I wanted to teach him everything like his alphabet and numbers, and he was only a week old. Day after day I tried, but my mom said he was just too little and he couldn’t learn that yet. Finally, when he wasn’t responding I moved on to my doll babies. I sat my Tiny Tears’ dolls down and taught them how to read my Tip and Mitten and Jack and Janet books. As I got a little older I had to babysit my neighbors Teri and Tami. You guessed it; I wanted to be their teacher. Before long they kept asking me to help them to read and do homework. After that I was asked to be an assistant Girl Scout leader so I could teach crafts and help the girls memorize their pledge. A Sunday School teacher was the next step. Then, someone said, ”You should be a teacher Judy.” I said to myself I guess I should. So where did it begin?  I’d say I was directed from God 60 plus years ago to fulfill what he wanted for me. I have been blessed with my career.


What is your favorite book and why?


My favorite book is the BIBLE. It gives me strength, hope, guidance, direction, answers to questions, food to my body and PEACE to my soul. I can read it over and over and each time get something new. The words are my rock.   


How do you engage your students?


I feel I engage my students by capturing their attention with a story that they can relate to at the present time or something in their past.  I love to start my lessons by gathering them around my rocking chair as many times as I can during a day and say, “Did you know?” or “Guess what happened last night.”  “Has this ever happened at your house?” To me it is like when a fisherman baits his hook with the best bait he has, he looks over the water for the perfect place to catch the best fish, then cast his line into the water. The little fish are swimming around and then they see the bait, they bite and they are HOOKED. That’s what I like to call engaging my students.  Once you have their total attention, you can now present the lesson and teach.


What is your favorite Sumner Academy tradition?


My favorite part of Sumner Academy would have to be when my students come to see me at school or my home and remind me of what I did for them in my 23 years of teaching at Sumner Academy. When they say please come to my wedding, or you won’t believe it Miss Sharp, you were my teacher, and now you are my sorority sister, or I’m having a baby and you can’t retire until they have you, or no one believed that I needed glasses to learn to read but you finally convinced my mother, when you brought in dried cereal and let us read under the tables on Friday, when you brushed my hair and put it in braids before anyone else came to class.

February 17, 2017


Ioana Scott

At Sumner Academy since 2007


Middle School Social Studies and Literature

Volleyball Coach

Quiz Bowl Coach


B.A. Middle Tennessee State


What were you like as a child?


I had a very type A personality.  I was a very high achieving child and always excelled academically and in sports. I am an INTJ just like Emperor Palpatine. I no longer feel the need to take over the galaxy, though.


Who is/was a teacher you admire?


Mr. Fawley. He was my AP US History teacher. He stood out because he loved history. He made a traditionally boring subject very interesting by his enthusiasm. I want to do the same for others because it is such an exciting topic.


What do you do in your spare time?


In my spare time I love to read and play Civilization. I also enjoy cooking, but my kids do not enjoy that as much.


What is your favorite Sumner Academy tradition?


There are so many things I love at Sumner Academy. The best day that I always look forward to is Career Day. I love listening to people talk about how much they love their jobs.

Friday Faculty Feature


February 24, 2017


Scott Morris


At Sumner Academy since 2011


Physical Education

Athletic Director

Basketball and Soccer Coach


B.A. Canisius


Why did you decide to be a teacher and coach?


I was given the opportunity in 1991 when I graduated High School to coach my former Middle School basketball team, to see if it would be something, I would enjoy. The next school year I enrolled in college to begin my pursuit of a teaching degree.  Seeing how I could make such a difference in a child's life by giving them the opportunity and tools to become life long active learners is something I am glad I pursued!


What is your favorite lesson to teach in physical education class?


My favorite lessons are the hockey unit and my Star Wars obstacle course.  I enjoy teaching hockey because I loved playing hockey growing up and I can share that same enthusiasm and joy with the kids.  With my Star Wars obstacle course, I get to incorporate not only my love for the movies, but core subjects from the classroom into my lesson, such as math, science, and history


Describe Sumner Academy to someone new.


Sumner Academy is a place where your child can grow academically with small classroom sizes and a strong curriculum.  The school offers many opportunities for your child to grow outside the classroom, with clubs, quiz bowl teams, student council and athletics. Our students learn the importance of being responsible at an early age and it helps them, as they get older. Our school is a family and we care about every child that walks through our doors


What is your favorite Sumner Academy tradition?


My favorite tradition is the eighth grade speeches for graduation.  I enjoy writing about the individual eighth grader I have been assigned, it is my way of sharing all the highlights that individual student has achieved at Sumner Academy. The best part about graduation is that it makes you realize just how special each student’s unique story is at Sumner Academy and you get to be the storyteller.

Educating independent thinkers since 1973.


We believe in teaching a love of learning.


We believe in teaching with patience.


We believe in valuing the differences each student brings.


We believe in collaborating with parents.


We believe in creating and promoting a safe environment.


We believe in fostering social and personal responsibility.

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