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Middle School Teacher Bios

Caitlyn Adams - Lower Middle School Science Teacher

I grew up in Cabot, Arkansas and graduated from Cabot High School. After graduating, I began my college career at Arkansas State University in Beebe where I acquired my Associates Degree in Science and Liberal Arts. I then transferred to the University of Central Arkansas where I pursued a Bachelor's Degree in Middle Level Education. I recently graduated from UCA and started my career at The Anthony School in January of 2022. I am thrilled to be surrounded by the most amazing coworkers, students, and families. There is no other place that I would rather be!


I still live in Cabot with my husband, Jordan, and our two cats, Jack and Millie. However, our family will be growing by two tiny feet very soon. Jordan and I are expecting a baby boy in December of 2022! In my free time, I enjoy reading, hiking, doing crafts, and hanging out with my friends and family. 


Carolyn Caig – Upper Middle School Language Arts Teacher

I grew up in Russellville, Arkansas and attended Baylor University where I received my bachelor’s degree in education and my master’s degree in English literature. I taught English at a women’s university in Shimonoseki, Japan for two years. I then returned to the United States and took a teaching job at Kilgore College in Kilgore, Texas. There I taught developmental English, world literature, and writing. After five years there, I married and moved back to Arkansas where I stayed home with my two boys, both graduates of The Anthony School. I returned to teaching in 2015, taking a job as an 11th grade AP English teacher at eStem High School for two years before joining The Anthony School as a middle school language arts teacher in 2017. 

 

I have taught a wide variety of grades, but there is something very special about middle school students. I teach 8th grade English literature and 7th grade writing, grammar, and composition, and I love it. I especially enjoy working with my students on the academic writing they will be asked to do when they enter high school. When I am not at work, I enjoy spending time with my family and dogs, watching movies, baking, and gardening.     

 

Deni Clark - Lower Middle School History Teacher

After graduating from Arkansas Tech University, I began my teaching career in 1987. Schools have certainly changed for the better over the years, and I’ve continued to learn, improve, and grow just like my students. I am excited to begin my 28th year of teaching and my 13th year at The Anthony School. I have taught many grades and subjects over the years, and even taken a few years away from teaching, but I’ve landed my dream job teaching US history to 5th and 6th graders at TAS. The history classes in our lower and upper middle schools use a project based learning approach that allows kids to investigate, research and create projects based on the units we study. Students enjoy collaborating on projects and learn so much from each other and the research-creation process. I am always amazed by their creativity and love for learning. 

 

Teaching is my passion, but I also love to travel and be outdoors hiking, kayaking, or working in my yard.  I am also a photo bug, crafty, and love to play cards and games. You could describe me as a dog and animal lover for sure. My black lab, Gunner, is my shadow and faithful companion, especially since the loss of my husband Mike in 2017. 

I adore my two adult children and their spouses, Abby & Miles French and Preston & Shelby Clark. Preston and Shelby are expecting their first child in late December so I am very excited about becoming a grandmother! I am blessed with a great family, good health, and a wonderful place to work. The Anthony School is an amazing place for kids to learn and grow, and I love being a part of it!  

 

Natalie Darnell - Lower Middle School Language Arts Teacher

As soon as I learned to read, I was in love. The Baby-sitters Club and Nancy Drew Mystery StoriesHarriet the SpyThe Diary of Anne Frank, the back of a Pert Plus shampoo bottle… no text was safe from my bespectacled eyes. I also loved to write, and this resulted in cringeworthy poems about mermaids or mundane short stories about the secret lives of Jupiter’s moons. 

 

I’ve never lost my passion for the written word, though, and it has served me well. I attended the University of Arkansas on a Chancellor’s Scholarship where I graduated Magna Cum Laude from the Departmental Honors Program in English. While still in college, I had the privilege of receiving the Sturgis Study Abroad Scholarship and was able to study drama in England. As you might imagine, this experience only encouraged my love of language.

 

After teaching for several years, I paused my career in the classroom to focus on the craziness of motherhood.  Even then, I volunteered with local organizations and was able to pass the power of words onto others. I had the joy of tutoring a struggling adult reader so she could confidently read to her own child. I chaired a community project that focused on young readers in Little Rock with the goal that they be competent, grade-level readers by the end of third grade.


Being able to share my passion for the written word with children at The Anthony School  is such an honor. This is my eighth (and a half) year teaching English Language Arts. My three sons have attended TAS since Pre-K, my two nieces also attend TAS, and my husband, Dr. Scott Darnell, attended TAS in his youth. We absolutely love this school and are dedicated to the values that it upholds. 

 

Besides teaching, I spend my time trying to keep up with my very energetic sons (with my husband’s assistance, of course), attempting various artistic endeavors, reading mysteries and historical fiction, riding my bicycle, and sneaking naps in when possible (which is basically never).

 

Graeme Ellzey – Middle School Art Teacher

Ever since I can remember, art has been a part of my life. Having grown up with two artist parents and a home-based professional art studio in my backyard, much of my childhood was spent painting, drawing, and working with clay in my "creative playground." I have been surrounded and influenced by professional artists and teachers, and I value the importance of providing a safe space where children may freely explore and focus on the process of creating. 

 

Prior to teaching at The Anthony School, I offered after school art classes, summer art camps, and private art lessons for several years to 1st through 9th graders. This is something that I still thoroughly enjoy today. I am currently in my 10th year of teaching 3rd through 8th graders, and I am grateful each day to have the opportunity to share my enthusiasm and passion for the visual arts.

 

Outside of the classroom, I enjoy furthering my own artistic endeavors through working in my home studio and traveling to visit art museums. Over the years, I have expanded my own personal portfolio and accepted commissions. 

 

My students’ artwork has been accepted and placed into highly competitive regional and state art exhibitions, including the Arkansas Arts Center’s Young Arkansas Artists Exhibition, central regional Arkansas Art Educators Exhibition, and the Curbside Couture Fashion Show at The Clinton Presidential Center. In addition, I have been published in one of the leading art educator magazines, Arts & Activities. 

 

I cannot wait to work alongside Anthony students and instill in them the same passion and excitement for art that I have experienced. It’s going to be a great year!

 

Chris Elsworth – Middle School PE and Aftercare

I was born in Brussels, Belgium to an Irish/English Mum and a New York Father. Though  mainly raised in the United States, I’ve been lucky to be able to travel back to England as well as to Europe extensively throughout my childhood. I’ve lived in New York, Philadelphia, Northern Virginia and DC, and the illustrious state of Arkansas! Family and community are incredibly important to me and I love experiencing new cultures, food, music, sport, and most of all people. 

 

I graduated with my Bachelors and Masters Degrees in Applied Communication from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. I’ve also been licensed in my four year capacity as an Academy Coach at the Little Rock Rangers by the US Soccer Federation, The Irish Football Association, and the Football Association of England. As of 2022, we have had five players signed by MLS Academies as well as having our first Academy product play for the Rangers First Team this past season. Football (soccer) has been my life since I was a young lad, so if you want to talk football with me I’m always available! 

 

My passions outside of work include martial arts, animals, recording music and going to live shows, stand-up comedy and acting, public speaking, playing sports of any stripe, gardening (turning into my grandad) and spending time with friends and family. 

 

I own a Communication Consultant business with my brother Andrew as well as my own public speaking business. Having lost my father due to a long Parkinson’s Disease battle I’ve luckily been able to utilize my experiences to try and help others, especially young men, who have lost their fathers. 

 

Jeremy Estell – Middle School French Teacher and Music Director

I grew up a country-boy in Sheridan, AR where I spent countless hours running cross-country, playing guitar, and fishing in my pond. I graduated from Hendrix College in 2000, and then sailed across the Atlantic in 2002 to find my new home in France.  After 10 years as an educator and musician, my family and I moved back to Arkansas and I promptly began working at The Anthony School in 2012 as the French teacher.  This is my TENTH year teaching at TAS and I still LOVE my job!  My job rocks because I get to have fun with middle-schoolers in French class, share my love of music with kiddos (1st-4th grade), and coach middle school cross-country and track.  I am also the tech director for the Middle School plays and co-teach with Ms Podesta the 8th grade musical theater elective.  Needless to say, I stay busy! (And life is good!!!)

 

I am the proud father of two little French-American monsters who love being goofballs and dancing on the couch. I still love running, making music and I love hanging out with my wife and kids, our 2 cats (Jack and Zip-Zap), and our 3 chickens (Ninja, Bubbles, and Chex). 

 

Abby French - Lower Middle School Math Teacher

I’m thrilled to start my eighth year of teaching and my fifth year at TAS. I am beyond excited to teach math to these awesome kiddos. I fell in love with TAS after my mom, Deni Clark, started working here years ago. I love being on a team with my mom and three other amazing teachers. 

 

I grew up on a Fish Farm right outside of Little Rock. I attended schools through the Little Rock School District because my mom taught there. I received my degree at Henderson State University. 

 

I currently live in Benton with my husband, Miles, and our three dogs, Tucker, Copper, and Sam. Miles and Sam are one of Benton Police Department’s K9 teams. When I’m not at school, I love to play games, hike, hang out with my family, play with my dogs, and make crafts. 

 

Adele Jackson – Upper Middle School Math Teacher

Welcome to Middle School Math! I am thrilled for the opportunity to continue building a math foundation for our students at The Anthony School. I have been in the classroom since 2000 and have been teaching at TAS since 2010. Although I have taught all subject matters in elementary school, my passion has always been math. I am excited to create a love of learning in my middle school math students.

 

My husband, Lee, and I have lived in Little Rock since 2005. I am a swim mom to Ellen (11th grade at MSM) and a soccer mom to William (8th grade) who have attended TAS since PreK. We also have an 11 year old Westie named Charlie. I was born in Little Rock, but raised in Alexandria, Louisiana. I then graduated from Texas A&M. So, I am well versed in the SEC and love to root for the Tigers, the Hogs, and the Aggies! I also LOVE the New Orleans Saints. Our family enjoys going to Lake Ouachita with our friends and attending swim meets and soccer games.

 

Please always feel free to ask questions and reach out to me when needed. I love learning, teaching, and The Anthony School!

 

Adam McEvoy – S.T.E.A.M. Coordinator

I see education as my lifework, and I have been an educator in various capacities including classroom teaching, environmental education and museum education for the past 18 years. As an educator, I strive to spark this same love of all things STEAM-related in others, to empower them to learn new skills, to foster their creativity, to cultivate their curiosity, and to inspire them to be lifelong learners.

 

My whole life I have felt like I am exploring a new, alien world! There is always something unique to discover and learn about everywhere I look. I am at my happiest and most fulfilled when I am sharing these new and interesting discoveries, especially all things related to Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math. STEAM education makes life better for all!

 

In my free time I enjoy spending time with my wife and two daughters, hiking, camping, making things, and puttering around the garden.

 

Sara Mafakheri – Spanish Teacher

I was born in Tehran, Iran. Six years ago, I moved to the United States with my husband and our daughter. I received my bachelor of Spanish in Iran and began teaching Spanish in several language institutes for more than 10 years. Since I love literature, especially poems, I have translated poems from Spanish to Farsi, my native language, and published them in a few literature magazines. I have also worked for an agricultural company as a Spanish interpreter. 


After moving to the United States, I began volunteering to teach Spanish during an after school program at Baker Elementary. In addition, I was a volunteer at the Interpreter Office at Arkansas Children’s Hospital. I began a Masters Program in Spanish (while I was teaching two college level classes) and received my Master of Art in Spanish from University of Central Arkansas in May 2020. I immediately started teaching Spanish II and Spanish III to eighth and ninth graders at eStem Junior High in downtown Little Rock. 

 

This is my first year at The Anthony School. I will be teaching Spanish to all middle schoolers. My daughter, Ana, will be in the 6th grade this year at The Anthony School. We both are very excited. 

 

Grant Nolen – Elementary School PE

This is my first year as an educator, but it will be my twelfth year inside of The Anthony School. I grew up in Little Rock and attended The Anthony School from Pre-K3 up through 8th grade, with the exception of 9 weeks which is a story for another time. I attended Catholic High School for Boys and was the Student Body President, the part-time maintenance man, and the captain of the Physical Fitness Team. We won the National Championship all four years I was a student there. That allowed me to do pullups next to my best friends in San Diego, and I realized that fitness and being healthy can open doors and take you to cool places. I graduated from The University of Arkansas at Fayetteville in May 2022 with a degree in Philosophy, and a lot of semi-completed degrees due to changing my major five times. I was the pledge class president of Phi Delta Theta (the one with the big blue doors if you’ve driven around Fayetteville), and I was fortunate enough to spend six semesters in the EMPOWER Program. Now, when I am not in the TAS gym teaching, I will be attending Bowen School of Law in the evenings for the next four years, so I will likely become one of the only P.E. teachers with a law degree around these parts.


In high school and college, I separated myself from the more rowdy groups and people started to look to me for advice on exercising and eating cleaner. I started as a volunteer trainer, which evolved to writing nutrition and exercise plans for friends, teachers, professors, and even strangers. I am a CrossFit Level 1 trainer, and I will be working on earning my CrossFit Kids certification over the next few months when I have a spare moment.


Aside from all of this, in my free time (which soon I will have very little of), I enjoy playing with my Australian Shepherd, going to CrossFit, eating large quantities of food, drinking copious amounts of caffeine, and spending time with my family and my girlfriend. I love all people, and I am a huge advocate for mental health. Stop by to chat or email me anytime. If you see me in public, please say hello! I’m frequently spotted at Zaza’s and Loblolly.

 

Nicole Podesta – Upper Middle School Language Arts and Play Director

I have been teaching for over 20 years, and I have been lucky enough to have spent almost 18 of those years at The Anthony School. Both of my daughters attended PreK- 8th grade at TAS, and we are so proud to call this place ‘home’. 

 

While here, I have taught a variety of subjects including 7th and 8th grade Literature; 6th, 7th, and 8th grade Composition; Intro to Communication; Speech, Debate; Creative Writing; and Study Skills. In addition, I direct the middle school fall play and every elementary play. I am a certified iTheatrics instructor through MTI, and have over 100 hours of theater education training through iTheatrics and Broadway Teaching Group. In 2019, I received the Freddie G. Fellowship Award for Excellence in Directing through Music Theater International and the Junior Theater Festival, and I spent a week in New York studying under Broadway directors, choreographers, and technical directors. This year, I am so excited to teach 7th and 8th grade Literature and Grammar (ELA). I feel bad for anyone who doesn’t get to do what I do every day. How very privileged I am to be part of this amazing community of students, teachers, and families. 

 

Chris McDaniel – Upper Middle School Science Teacher

I have been teaching at The Anthony School since 2002. I am a Little Rock native and a graduate of Catholic High School for Boys. I graduated from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock with my Bachelor’s in Biology in 1993, from the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville with my Master’s in Microbiology in 1996, and from the University of Central Arkansas with my Master’s in Physical Therapy in 1999. I have taught for a short time at the college level.

 

At The Anthony School, I teach 7th Grade Life Science and 8th Grade Physical Science. I won Little Rock Family Magazine’s Amazing Educator Award in 2014. Although I enjoy all areas of Science, my favorite areas are Cell and Molecular Biology, Biochemistry, and Human Physiology. I am strongly committed to The Anthony School, to its Mission Statement, and to providing the best education for my students. I love being part of The Anthony School team!

 

Matt Spivey – Upper Middle School History Teacher

I have been an educator for 21 years, 13 of which have been at the Anthony School.  My children have attended TAS since they started school in PreK3 and are now in the 8th and 5th grades. My wife is also a teacher at TAS teaching Pre-K and Lower Elementary about World Cultures. Needless to say, the Spivey family is fully immersed in the “Anthony life” and we love it.

 

While at TAS I have taught 6th – 8th grade Social Studies. I coach soccer in the spring and offer some after school guitar lessons to a few students when the school day ends.  Over the years in Social Studies we have developed a project based learning approach that allows kids to investigate, research and create projects based on the units we study.  It is remarkable to see the level of work and amount of creativity the students possess. I get to see it play out everyday, which makes this school a place where I love to work!

 

Adam Sullivan - Lower Middle School Language Arts Teacher

I am an Arkansas native who loves movies, video games, theatre, music, Disney, books, board games, and enjoying as many of those fun things as possible with my wife Elizabeth and my son Rory. If my dogs, Niko and Beckett, get to play, too, then all the better.


Theatre and education have defined my professional life. While I quickly uncovered a passion for theatre, I was slower to recognize education’s grasp on me. My formal education is in theatre (I have a B.A. in it from Harding University and an M.F.A. in Directing from University of Southern Mississippi), but I learned to love teaching in the many educational contexts my theatrical work allowed me to occupy. From the theatre scene shop to the rehearsal room to the classroom, I have taught ages preschool to adult and have found kinship with those who thrive on collaboration, creativity, and curiosity. I have witnessed and experienced the joy that comes from intellectual discovery and am proud to be a full-time educator. 


I have always enjoyed school, and I truly love the process of learning. I am excited to bring my experiences from life and theatre to The Anthony School and to enrich myself alongside my students and colleagues. I am confident that, in doing so, I will learn just as much from The Anthony School community as they will from me. 

 

Amanda Taylor – Librarian & Director of Programming

“Think before you speak. Read before you think.” -Fran Lebowitz

 

I have been the librarian at The Anthony School since 2006. I received my Bachelor's degree from Centenary College of Louisiana. I moved to Little Rock in 1995, where I met my husband of 23 years. After moving to Little Rock, I was lucky enough to become friends with Stephanie Johnson, a former Anthony School faculty member who introduced me to the school. I have a Master’s Degree in Library and Information Science from University of Southern Mississippi. My husband, Shawn, and I have two daughters, both Anthony School graduates. Being a teacher/parent gives me a unique perspective on the benefits of an Anthony School education.

 

Young adult literature has taken off, and there are more wonderful authors and fabulous books for middle school students than ever before. One of my favorite parts of my job is selecting books for the students and then discussing with them what they are reading. 

 

In addition to being the school Librarian, I am the Director of Programming. I can’t wait to work with everyone on school programs, dates, and events! 

“Sometimes the bravest and most important thing you can do is just show up.” -Brene Brown

 

Jeremy Teeter - Coding & Computer Programming Instructor

Professionally, I’ve lived many lives and those that know me well refer to me as a “renaissance man.” I’ve loved The Anthony School since our first visit in the summer of 2014. I’ve served on the ParentCrew as carpool chair, PantherDads chair, vice-president, and president. I’ve also served as a director on the Board of Trustees, but it’s with the most pride that I serve as a teacher in this fanTAStic community. I have two children currently attending TAS and cannot imagine a better environment in which they could grow up.  

 

My formal education is a Bachelor of Arts in Graphic Design/Drawing and a minor in Computer Science from the University of Central Arkansas. I draw inspiration for my current efforts from over a decade of leveraging custom enterprise software in the printing industry, years of volunteering with educational programs including the EAST Initiative, and more recently providing functional data science expertise in the political arena. 

 

Ashton Winkelmeyer – Facilities Manager and PE

I have been in education for over a decade. Since graduating with my Bachelors in 2010, I’ve gone on to earn my Masters Degree in the Art of Teaching, a State of Arkansas Teaching Certificate, an English as a Second Language (ESL) Endorsement, a Technology Endorsement, and Levels F, E, and D of my National Soccer Coaching Certificate through United States Soccer. This is my 9th year at The Anthony School. I also work as a soccer coach for the Little Rock Rangers. I am currently running for Arkansas State Representative for District 74.