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Lower School Staff

The Churchill Academy staff specializes in Elementary Education services for special needs students with unique learning differences.

Annette Sikes

Annette Sikes came to Churchill Academy in 2007 after having taught in the Montgomery County School system for 21 years.

She has worked as an educator for 46 years in total; five of these years as a reading coach.

She holds a bachelor’s degree in Education and a master’s degree in Reading Education.

Annette’s primary goal in teaching is to “see that each child reaches his potential and stretches beyond”

She received her degrees from Troy State University and Auburn University Montgomery.

Email: aSikes@ChurchillAcademy.net

Jay Sansom

Coach Sansom earned his Bachelor’s degree in Collaborative Education from Auburn University-Montgomery in 2006.

Before earning this degree he was employed by Montgomery Public Schools for nine years as a paraprofessional in both resource and inclusion settings.

His teaching experience consists of seven years with special education populations of all ages. He also has many years of experience coaching basketball, football and baseball.

Currently, he is the Pastor of Patsburg Baptist Church and is pursuing his Master’s degree in Divinity. Those who’ve worked with Coach Sansom previously describe him as a team player, and a professional educator who “truly cares for his students.”

Kelly Gunnels

Kelly Gunnels has 10 years of teaching experience with children in pre-school to 7th grade.

In her prior teaching position, she also served as an Elementary Coordinator and was responsible for overseeing SACS accreditation and assessment efforts.

Her experience includes work with special needs students as well as students learning English as a second language.

She holds a Bachelor of Science in Human Development and Family Studies from Auburn University.

Email: kGunnells@ChurchillAcademy.net

Dawn Hilley

Dawn began teaching 19 years ago when she received her Bachelors in Education from Troy University and her Masters in Education, specializing in learning disabilities, from Troy University.

Dawn’s goal as a teacher is to meet each child where he/she is, and work from that level to build an understanding of concepts.

She believes that it is important to work in such a way that the child feels respected and supported.

She says, “I genuinely enjoy working with children, and I enjoy seeing them achieve to the best of their abilities.”

Email: dHilley@ChurchillAcademy.net

Jessica Harden

Jessica holds an Associate Degree from Central Alabama Community College and a Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education from Faulkner University.

She came to Churchill fresh out of college, but she has proven herself to be a natural teacher. This is due in part to the fact that she taught pre-school full time while taking her college courses.

Jessica creates a positive, structured learning environment in which students are both challenged and nurtured.

She plans to pursue her Master’s degree in special education because she has, in her words, “a passion for children with differing abilities.”

Leigh Parker

Leigh Parker came to Churchill Academy as a parent in 1999.

Before long, we recognized her unique talents and recruited her as a substitute teacher. In 2004, she began teaching full time in the lower school. She gradually worked her way up through the classes and in 2006, she began teaching in the high school.

Leigh sees her work at Churchill Academy as a calling. She states that making a difference for students with special needs is what she was “meant to do.”

Leigh has a real desire to meet each student’s needs and to motivate them to do their best.

She has always shown a significant commitment to the students and the mission of the school.

Email: lparker@ChurchillAcademy.net

Hope Cassidy

Hope Cassidy has been with Churchill since 1998, when she enrolled her daughter Catlin.

She later placed her two older children with us, and as her children grew up at Churchill, she she has worn multiple hats and enriched our program in many ways.

This year she is using her creative talents and volunteering to develop and implement our lower and high school art programs.

She will also continue to work with high school students and young adults in our CHILS (Churchill Independent Living Services) program and will serve as the Committee Chair for our Scouts.

Email: hCassidy@ChurchillAcademy.net

Kathy Farquhar

Kathy has been a teacher for 38 years.

She has a Bachelors in Special Education from Auburn University.

Kathy came to us from Dalraida Elementary School, where she was Teacher of the Year from 2000-2001.

In 2001 she was inducted into the Honors Society of Education.

Kathy attends Frazer United Methodist Church where she was a kindergarten Sunday school teacher for 13 years and now directs the Preschool/ kindergarten children’s choir.

Email: kFarquhar@ChurchillAcademy.net

Tammy Soloman

Tammy came to Churchill Academy with 12 years of teaching experience.

She received her B.S. Education from David Lipscomb University in Nashville, TN.

Her primary teaching goal is to foster each child’s self esteem while helping them to reach their academic goals.

Tammy says, “I strive to provide a motivating environment that encourages the love of learning.”

Email: tSoloman@ChurchillAcademy.net