Meet Our Teachers

At Progress Learning, we are proud to have dozens of passionate and dedicated educators on our team. These educators come from a variety of educational backgrounds and have decades of combined classroom experience. Their knowledge, expertise, and contributions are what truly set us apart and allow us to better support the work teachers are currently doing in the classroom. Get to know them below!

Amy Brown

Current Position: Chief Product Officer

District: Cobb County, GA, Glynn County, GA, Jefferson City, GA

Campus: Glynn Academy, Pope High School, Jefferson High School

Educator in: Georgia

Subject: High School Math

Time Period: 7 Years

What is your best advice for a 1st year teacher?

Don’t be afraid to ask for help from veteran teachers at your school. Teachers love to collaborate and share resources.

Brent Alumbaugh

Current Position: Customer Success

District: Williamson County Schools (TN), Conroe ISD (TX), Bartow County Schools (GA)

Campus: Franklin High School, Oak Ridge High School, Woodland High School

Educator in: Tennessee, Texas, Georgia

Subject: AP Government, US History, World History, Special Education

Time Period: 20 years

What is your best advice for a 1st year teacher?

Make sure your district/school subscribes to Progress Learning…it will make your life a lot easier.

Becca Baker

Current Position: Training Manager

District: Allen ISD

Campus: Green Elementary

Educator in: Texas

Subject: 4th Grade Math & Science

Time Period: 9 years

What is your best advice for a 1st year teacher?

This is a marathon, not a sprint! Take it all in stride this year. Above all, do what’s best for kids.

Elizabeth Buchanan

Current Position: Account Executive

District: Fulton County Schools and Gwinnett County Schools in Georgia

Campus: Esther Jackson Elementary (FCS) and Chesney Elementary (GCS)

Educator in: Georgia

Subject: 1st grade and 3rd grade

Time Period: 11 years

What is your best advice for a 1st year teacher?

Getting to know your students and showing them that you care will decrease the amount of time you spend on disciplinary issues in your classroom.

Dodie Carmichael

Current Position: Director of Implementation

District: Bellflower Unified School District

Campus: Mayfair High & Middle School

Educator in: California

Subject: 1st, 5th, 6th, and 7th grade English and World History

Time Period: 22 years

What is your best advice for a 1st year teacher?

1. Ask questions, plan with your colleagues, and work with a mentor. 2. Spend the first two weeks teaching students to be in control of their own actions in a consistent classroom environment. 3. Have positive expectations, have fun, and don’t forget to bring your sense of humor.

Coral Ericson

Current Position: Content Marketing Specialist

District: El Dorado County Office of Education

Campus: Charter Home Study Academy

Educator in: California

Subject: Science

Time Period: 7 years

What is your best advice for a 1st year teacher?

Ask for help! Don’t isolate yourself, seek out mentorship from senior teachers.

James Fleming

Current Position: Vice President of Academics

District: Bellflower Unified School District

Campus: Mayfair Middle, High School & District Office

Educator in: California

Subject: Middle School Science, Assistant Principal, Director of Assessment, Accountability, and Research

Time Period: 16 years

What is your best advice for a 1st year teacher?

The content isn’t the most important thing. Your first duty is to teach them to be kind and capable little humans. They may forget what a mitochondria does, but they’ll never forget how you make them feel.

Josh Fendley

Current Position: Academics Operations Manager

District: Garland ISD

Campus: Pearson Elementary

Educator in: Texas

Subject: Math

Time Period: 8 years

What is your best advice for a 1st year teacher?

Listen to your team leads and instructional coaches.

Heather Floyd

Current Position: Customer Success Manager

District: Gordon County Schools

Campus: W.L. Sw ain Elementary

Educator in: Georgia

Subject: 2nd and 5th Grade Teacher

Time Period: Approximately 4 years

What is your best advice for a 1st year teacher?

Find a mentor that you can trust, and be open to their advice.

Kanon Hess

Current Position: Account Executive

District: Lewisville

Campus: Camden Hill Montessori

Educator in: Texas

Subject: Montessori

Time Period: 4 Years

What is your best advice for a 1st year teacher?

It’s ok if you don’t get everything taught you had planned in the week. It’s important to make sure your students are learning at a pace that is right for them. It’s also important to Remind ourself that your classroom might be the only safe place for your student. Create an environment where every student feels safe, seen and appreciated. Their voices matter and it is our job to echo it into this world!

Lana Johnson

Current Position: Senior Academic Manager

District: Dickinson ISD, Bishop CISD, Driscoll ISD, Calallen ISD, Bastrop ISD

Campus: Education Service Center – Region 2

Educator in: Texas

Subject: Academic Math

Time Period: 31 Years

What is your best advice for a 1st year teacher?

Relationships are the most important factor in learning. Care enough to connect with your students, to have high expectations, to follow-through, to reach to out to their parents, to find out why…why they are tired or late or angry…Teaching is one of the toughest jobs in the world, but it is also one of the most important and most rewarding! You DO make a difference!

Brett Kushner

Current Position: Enterprise Trainer

District: Hillsborough

Campus: SLAM Tampa

Educator in: Florida

Subject: 6th Grade ELA & Principal

Time Period: 7 Years

What is your best advice for a 1st year teacher?

Be as planned and prepared as you can be, but it’s okay if things don’t go the way you want/expect them to go. Use every opportunity to improve your teaching practices by learning from mistakes and be open to feedback from those around you.

Trey Loker

Current Position: Senior Academic Manager

District: Harrisonburg City Public Schools

Campus: Waterman Elementary

Educator in: Virginia

Subject: Fifth Grade

Time Period: 18 years

What is your best advice for a 1st year teacher?

Show how much you care about each student. Let them know they are wanted in your classroom.

Mackenzie Maddox

Current Position: Onboarding Manager

District: Mesquite ISD

Campus: Tosch Elementary

Educator in: Texas & Arizona previously

Subject: 5th Grade Math and Science at Tosch in Mesquite ISD, prior to that 6th, 7th, and 8th grade math in Arizona in the Florence Unified School District.

Time Period: 4 years

What is your best advice for a 1st year teacher?

Building healthy and trustworthy relationships with your students is the key to class management and gaining respect from your students.

Rhonda McNamara

Current Position: Program Trainer

District: Hillsborough

Campus: SLAM! Tampa

Educator in: Florida

Subject: Math

Time Period: 13 years

What is your best advice for a 1st year teacher?

Building relationships with your students is key.  Once you have that in place, everything else will follow.

Lauren Reavis

Current Position: Customer Success Manager

District: Celina Independent School District & Allen Independent School District

Campus: O’Dell Elementary & Green Elementary

Educator in: Texas

Subject: Math, Science, Social Studies

Time Period: 4 years

What is your best advice for a 1st year teacher?

Give yourself grace, ask all the questions and don’t be afraid to ask for & accept all the help you can get!

Kim Reiter

Current Position: Academic Manager

District: Lubbock, Richardson, Wylie

Campus: Parsons, Richland, Cox

Educator in: Texas

Subject: 3rd, 4th, 6th grade – Reading, Writing, Math

Time Period: 19 years

What is your best advice for a 1st year teacher?

Get to know the students on a personal level and make learning relevant to them.

Spring Renz

Current Position: Customer Success

District: Plano ISD & Anna ISD

Campus: Shepard Elementary & Rattan Elementary

Educator in: Texas

Subject: Kindergarten – 2nd grade

Time Period: 9 years

What is your best advice for a 1st year teacher?

Take everything one day at a time, ask for help and don’t be embarrassed by a mistake.

Melanie Sherman

Current Position: Senior Academic Manager

District: Grand Prairie ISD

Campus: South Grand Prairie, HS

Educator in: Texas

Subject: High School Sciences and CTE

Time Period: 5 years

What is your best advice for a 1st year teacher?

Remember that there is always tomorrow, not everything has to be done today.

Tony Spear

Current Position: Academic Manager

District: Plano ISD & Frisco ISD

Campus: Carpenter Middle School & Hunt Middle School

Educator in: Texas

Subject: U.S. History, World Geography/Cultures, Texas History, AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination)

Time Period: 12 years

What is your best advice for a 1st year teacher?

Always remember that you may be the only bright spot in a child’s life – take every opportunity to show every kid that you care.

Emily Swanson

Current Position: Mathematics Academic Manager

District: Los Angeles Unified School District

Campus: University High School, Venice High School

Educator in: California

Subject: Math and Computer Science

Time Period: 4 years

What is your best advice for a 1st year teacher?

What’s your best advice for a first year teacher?” Focus on getting to know your students and building relationships. Remember that first year of teaching is really difficult for everyone and you‚Äôre not supposed to have everything figured out. Meet students where they are and find ways to build off of their various strengths that they bring to the classroom.

Alek Turner

Current Position: Community Engagement Specialist

District: Crandall ISD

Campus: W.A. Martin Elementary

Educator in: Texas

Subject: ESL Teacher and Instructional Coach

Time Period: 9 Years

What is your best advice for a 1st year teacher?

It’s ok if you don’t get everything taught you had planned in the week. It’s important to make sure your students are learning at a pace that is right for them. It’s also important to build relationships and make sure they know you always care.

Felicia Zorn

Current Position: Vice President of Customer Success

District: Forsyth County Schools (GA), Gordon County Schools (GA), and Hamilton County Schools (TN)

Campus: Vickery Creek Middle, Ashworth Middle, East Lake Elementary

Educator in: Georgia & Tennessee

Subject: 8th ELA/Reading, 6th ELA/Reading, 4th Grade All Content

Time Period: 5 years

What is your best advice for a 1st year teacher?

Don’t reinvent the wheel. There are lots of resources to help you lay a solid foundation. Each year, you can build on what you taught previously – add more detail, dive deeper into the standard, etc. Find a mentor and collaborator in and outside of your school. Take care of yourself and know that it is totally normal to experience a wide range of emotions day in and day out. Remember why you are there. You are making a difference!

Joanna Bennett

Current Position: Customer Success Manager

District: Celina ISD

Campus: Celina Middle School, O’Dell Elementary, Lykins Elementary

Educator in: Texas

Subject: 7th & 8th Grade ELAR & Elementary Digital Learning Specialist

Time Period: 12 Years

What is your best advice for a 1st year teacher?

Remember that it takes time to become an expert. Every teacher that you admire had a first year. Ask the questions, give yourself grace, and enjoy the gift of getting to wake up each day with the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of your students!