We are excited to welcome the newest members of St. Mary’s Faculty and Staff. Below you’ll find short bios and photos of our new employees, as well as updates about a few people who are transitioning into different roles.
Grace Allen, SMP Teacher
A Memphis native, Grace received both a bachelor’s degree in child development and a master’s degree in nonprofit administration from the University of Memphis. Over the last decade, Grace has worked with children in Tennessee in numerous settings, from schools to hospitals, and even as a dance instructor. Recently, she has subbed at St. Mary’s in the ECC and Lower School. Outside school, Grace loves to travel and spend time with her family and two Labradors.
Helen Fentress, SMP Teacher
Helen graduated from the University of Memphis before heading to New York City, where she earned a master’s in education at Hunter College. Helen has since worked as an educator in Memphis and New York City. Helen enjoys perusing the farmer’s market and walking her dogs in her free time.
Hannah Penn, JK Teacher
Since graduating from the University of Memphis College of Education, Hannah has taught in public schools for two years. When she’s not teaching, Hannah spends time training her new puppy, Boomer.
Allison Warren, SK Teacher
Allison received a bachelor’s degree from the University of Missouri before continuing her education at Bank Street College in New York City, where she earned a master’s degree in education. Allison has worked in early childhood education for over twenty years in Michigan, New York City, Alaska, and Memphis, where she taught JK at St. Mary’s for seven years. Her love of nature keeps her hiking and camping whenever possible.
Erin Lyttle Do ’98, Fifth Grade Math & Social Studies Teacher
Erin received a bachelor’s degree from Furman University and a master’s degree from Duquesne University before living in Nashville and working as a legislative research analyst. Erin has experience teaching 5th and 6th-grade math, Algebra I, Geometry, and AP Statistics. When she’s not working, she’s usually driving her daughters, Claire (’29) and Samantha (’30), to sporting events around Memphis.
Emma Edge, First Grade Teacher
Emma and her husband Henley moved from Chattanooga to Memphis last month. After earning a bachelor’s degree from Auburn University, Emma worked as a 5th-grade teacher in Chattanooga for two years. She also attended an all-girls middle and high school and is excited to rejoin the world of all-girls education. Outside of school, Emma loves cheering on her Auburn Tigers and running her small business.
Dominique Gates, Administrative Assistant to Head of LS
Originally from Memphis, Dominique attended Middle Tennessee State University, where she received a bachelor’s degree. She began her career in education as a preschool teacher in Franklin, TN. After moving back to Memphis, Dominique worked as a teacher and administrative team member for Memphis Shelby County schools and as a local high school track coach. This year will be her second year coaching St. Mary’s Middle School Cross Country and Middle and Upper School Track & Field teams. Dominique is passionate about bettering the lives of Memphis youth, and outside of her work at St. Mary’s, she serves as a Junior League Memphis member and mentor.
Mekea Johnson, LS Science & Robotics Teacher
After receiving a bachelor's degree from Webster University, Mekea began her career in education. She has taught 1st, 2nd, and 3rd graders and served as an elementary school librarian. This year will be Mekea’s 15th year of teaching. Outside school, she enjoys reading, dancing, spending time with her family, and catching up on her favorite shows.
Taylor Olsen, Fifth Grade Teacher
After receiving her bachelor's degree, master's degree in education, and a reading specialist certificate from the University of Virginia, Taylor began her teaching career. She has taught in public and independent school systems, most recently at Norfolk Academy in Virginia. After relocating to Memphis for her husband's job, Taylor has become active in the St. Mary's community through substitute teaching and her two daughters' activities.
Sarah Rager, Second Grade Teacher
Sarah received a bachelor's degree from the University of Alabama and a master's degree from the University of Memphis and has worked as a 1st- and 2nd-grade teacher for more than seven years. She taught in Tuscaloosa, AL, and in Memphis at Idlewild Elementary. When she's not on campus, you can find Sarah chasing around her toddler, Rhett, or cheering on the Crimson Tide.
Amber Stewart, LS Spanish Teacher
A Georgia native, Amber received a bachelor’s degree in business administration and a master’s degree in public administration from Georgia State University. Amber previously worked as a Spanish teacher in various Memphis charter schools. A former Peace Corps Volunteer in the Dominican Republic, Amber is passionate about all things international and currently learning Italian, her third language. She also has a two-year-old named Camden.
Mary Elizabeth Washburn, LS Creative Movement Teacher
Mary Elizabeth has 19 years of experience teaching music in Shelby County. She received a bachelor’s degree from Lambuth University, a master’s degree in education from Bethel University, and Orff Certification from the University of Memphis. Mary Elizabeth loves reading, running, spending time with her family and beloved dog Pete, and wholeheartedly cheering on the Memphis Grizzlies. Her daughter Wesley will be starting 8th grade this fall at SMS and is in Youth Ballet Memphis, and her husband stays very busy running a creative agency in Midtown.
Nicole Hindman, North Campus School Nurse
Before beginning her nursing career, Nicole received her Master of Nursing Science from the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. Nicole has more than 20 years of nursing experience in inpatient and outpatient pediatric settings. Outside work, Nicole spends her time with her husband cheering on their kids at sporting events, including her daughter, who plays on the Middle School soccer team at St. Mary’s. Nicole also enjoys playing tennis and reading in her free time.
Ben Graunke, Sixth Grade History Teacher
An Illinois native and huge Chicago Bears fan, Ben studied at St. Louis University's College of Education before pursuing a master's degree in teaching at National Louis University. Ben has taught Spanish for the last eight years and is excited to transition to History and Ensemble Filmmaking at St. Mary's. His wife Nica is a St. Mary's alum (Class of 2010), and his daughter Natalie is joining St. Mary's Place this year.
Yari Torres, MS Learning Specialist
Before beginning her career in education, Yari earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in social work from the University of Tennessee Knoxville. With 12 years of experience in education, Yari has served as a Spanish teacher, ELA teacher, Reading Interventionist, Grade Level Chair, and Content Instructional Coach. She served as a mentor teacher through Memphis Teacher Residency and Relay and was selected as a fellow for Teach Plus and SCORE. In her free time, Yari enjoys traveling, reading, watching true crime documentaries, and hanging out with her rescue dog Grizzlie, named after the Memphis Grizzlies.
Margo Huber, US Physics Teacher
Before coming to St. Mary's to teach physics, Margo studied at the University of Memphis. When she's not sharing her love for physics with her students, you can find Margo spending time with her 10-month-old puppy, coaching volleyball, or playing darts.
Rachel Markovitz, US French Teacher
Rachel earned a bachelor’s degree from Washington University in St. Louis, a Master of Business Administration from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, and a master’s degree from Rhodes College. She has more than 20 years of experience teaching French in the Memphis area at various public and private high schools. Rachel enjoys traveling, cooking, biking, and playing pickleball during her spare time.
Emily Metz, Ninth Grade History Teacher
Originally from Richmond, VA, Emily studied history at Virginia Tech, where she also played club rugby. Emily earned a master's degree from Mississippi State University and has six years of experience teaching various history and social studies courses to high school students at St. George's Independent School. On weekends, you can find Emily reading, still playing rugby with the Memphis Flamingos, or cheering on the Hokies.
Taylor Ragan ’07, Performing Arts Teacher
After graduating from the University of Mississippi, Taylor moved to Los Angeles, where she has spent the past 10 years working as a commercial actor. In her free time, she loves exploring new cities and the outdoors with her husband Gene and their German Shepherd named Presley.
Maggie Robertson, Ninth Grade English Teacher
Before beginning her teaching career, Maggie received a bachelor’s degree from Trinity Western University and a master’s degree from New York University. Maggie has a Ph.D. from the City University of New York Graduate School and University Center. She has spent the last 10 years teaching English and journalism and received the Bonnie Hufford Tennessee Media Adviser of the Year award in 2020. Outside of school, you will find Maggie cooking, hiking, reading, or attempting to get her spirited two-year-old, Imogen, to brush her teeth.
Jana Smigielski, Ninth Grade Mind & Body Wellness Teacher
A Memphis native, Jana received a bachelor’s degree in social work from Union University and a master’s degree in education from Freed Hardeman University. Jana previously worked at a Memphis non-profit that serves inner-city youth. A licensed school counselor, Jana is passionate about mental and physical health. Jana lives with her husband Troy and their dog, Scooter
Whet Smith, US World History and Government Teacher
Growing up in Houston, Whet was taught by none other than Albert Throckmorton. After receiving a bachelor’s degree from Georgetown University, a law degree from Harvard, and a master’s degree in public affairs from the University of Texas, Whet worked as a lawyer for 13 years, spending most of that time running his elder law firm. Whet then changed course and got into education, and he has spent the last three years teaching history, government, and forensic science in Las Vegas. He also coached Mock Trial, leading his team to multiple state championships, a fourth-place National Championship finish, and an Empire National Invitational Championship. When he’s not teaching, Whet enjoys good food, good film, good literature, the Houston Astros, and road trips.
Mark Van Voorst, US Statistics & Algebra Teacher
Before beginning his career in education, Mark attended California Polytechnic State University and then went on to pursue a master's degree at Northern Arizona University. Mark has 25 years of teaching experience and school leadership experience as a high school principal. When he's not in the classroom, Mark is cheering on the sidelines of sporting events, attending his students' plays and musicals, or on a pool deck coaching his favorite sports—swimming and water polo.
Miranda Cully, Chaplain
Before receiving her Master of Divinity from the Candler School of Theology at Emory University, Miranda earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Central Arkansas and a master’s degree in southern studies from the University of Mississippi. Miranda has served in Episcopal churches in Atlanta and Memphis for 10 years. Miranda enjoys reading classic novels (Anna Karenina being the latest) and caring for her flower and vegetable garden. A few of her favorite things include roller skating, her cat Dolly, outdoor walks, the Enneagram, deep conversation, and her husband, Brian.
Karen Ullman Pai, Instructional Support
Karen earned a bachelor's degree from Randolph-Macon Women's College. After eight years of substitute teaching, Karen is delighted to join the St. Mary's staff. This year, Karen will serve as the long-term substitute in the 3rd grade (Ms. Allen) and 4th grade (Ms. Ferguson). Prior to working at St. Mary's, Karen was a radiation therapist treating cancer patients in Boston, New York City, and Washington D.C. Karen and her family moved to Memphis in 2007. Her daughters Eve (10th) and Lucy (8th) have been SMS girls since they were three. The Pai family enjoys walking or biking in Overton Park, Shelby Farms, or the Wolf River Trail.
Whitney Plumpton, Communications Advisor
Before beginning her career in public relations and marketing, Whitney received a bachelor’s degree from the University of Oklahoma and a master’s degree from Boston University. She worked for several years in New York City, where she had the opportunity to work with Fortune 100 companies and international branding agencies. Whitney then moved to Memphis, where she worked for 10 years as Chief Marketing Officer at the Chi Omega Executive Headquarters. She and her husband Brendon have two Turkey daughters, Katherine (1st) and Lauren (JK), and she currently serves as Treasurer for the Parents Association here at SMS. In her free time, Whitney likely has her nose in a book or is in yoga class.
Amy Poag, Director of Counseling
Amy received a bachelor’s degree from Davidson College and a master’s degree in counseling from the University of Memphis. She began her career as a hospital-based therapist and in an eating disorder treatment program. For the past seven years, Amy served as a school counselor for 7th and 8th-grade boys at Memphis University School. She and her husband Josh have three daughters, Celia, Charlotte, and Alexandra. Outside of school, Amy loves to play tennis, read books, and travel.
Kendall Visinsky, Assistant Athletic Director
After receiving a bachelor’s degree from Washington & Lee University and a Master of Business Administration from Vanderbilt University, Kendall worked in the human resources field for 20 years. After returning to school to pursue a master’s degree in teaching, Kendall taught at White Station Elementary. With a 6th and 9th grader at St. Mary’s, Kendall has spent the last 12 years as a Turkey parent, coach, and volunteer. She devotes her free time to cheering on her daughters at various sporting events.
A few members of the faculty & staff are moving into new positions.
Holly Hensarling, Director of Student Life
After 19 years of teaching history, Holly takes on another role as Director of Student Life. Holly graduated from the University of Mississippi and continued her education at the University of Alabama, receiving a Master of Arts. Aside from teaching, Holly has held many other roles at St. Mary’s, including soccer coach, cross country coach, and Student Council and Pep Club sponsor.
Windy May, Sixth Grade Math Teacher
Former 5th-grade math teacher Windy May is moving to the Middle School. Windy has more than 20 years of teaching experience, including three years at St. Mary’s. Windy received bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Mississippi. She also coaches the Lower School Cross Country team. She has two SMS daughters: Brooks, a sophomore, and Wesley, a seventh grader. Outside school, Windy enjoys spending time with her family, hiking, and cheering on her Rebs.
Meagan Michael, MS/US Innovation Lab
After five years in the Lower School as a Science Teacher, Meagan is moving across the street to lead the Middle and Upper School Innovation Lab. A University of Memphis alum, Meagan has 10 years of experience teaching in the STEM fields. Meagan has been recognized as VEX Robotics TN Teacher of the year twice and took five teams to the World Robotics Championships, including last year’s team that made the finals. In her free time, Megan is most likely chasing around her two-year-old or training for her next marathon.
- Early Childhood
- Lower School
- Middle School
- Upper School