Jessica White – Head of School
Jessica is a co-founder of Mid-South Gifted Academy. A National Board Certified Teacher with 15 years of experience, Jessica has worked in different school settings to create challenging and engaging, child-centered learning environments for gifted and high-achieving students. She recently completed the Memphis Leadership Scholars Program at the University of Memphis, earning an Education Specialist degree with a license for school administration.
Through her years of teaching high-ability children, Jessica became passionate about finding the best ways to reach and teach these students. Having completed extensive training in the Responsive Classroom approach, she has acquired numerous tools and strategies to help students build academic and social-emotional competencies. Jessica has spent the past two years researching the micro-schools movement, on a personal quest to address the need in the community to provide another educational option for gifted learners. Jessica resides in Collierville with her husband and four children. She is a fierce advocate for gifted children and is excited about creating a school to meet their unique academic, social, emotional, and creative needs.
Amanda Nixon – Lead Guide & Director of Enrichment Programs
“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” – Nelson Mandela. Inspired by this quote, Amanda devoted 14 years of teaching to researching and implementing effective practices that develop world changers.
She believes students should be given opportunities to engage in activities that spark their curiosity, show off their talents, challenge their intellect, and bring them joy. These opportunities are created through classroom experiences that take them beyond curriculum guidelines, as well as through extra-curricular activities such as Destination Imagination, Perennial Math Club, newspaper, robotics, STEM, and arts and crafts clubs.
Amanda received her Bachelor of Science in Education from the University of Memphis and went on to obtain her Masters of Education from Union University. She served as a Math coach for Shelby County Schools and the state of Tennessee. She had the honor of being selected as a Tennessee Educator Fellow for SCORE (State Collaborative on Reforming Education) and served as a curriculum writer for Shelby County Schools. Through these experiences, she developed practices to emphasize student-centered learning and advocate for all learners.
Amanda lives in Bartlett with her husband and three sons, Dylan, Noah, and Logan. In her spare time, she loves to go on adventures with her family, read, play games, and solve logic puzzles. She is beyond thrilled to join the team at Mid-South Gifted Academy.
Jennifer Morris – Co-founder
Jennifer is a co-founder of Mid-South Gifted Academy. With extensive experience in instructional design, program implementation and management, and facilitation in adult training and education, she has worked diligently to ensure learners of all types have access to resources and information that meet their needs. She’s particularly passionate about using emerging education methods to encourage curiosity and self-discovery within the gifted community. She believes that learning should be joyful and curiosity should always be encouraged.
She holds a B.A. in History from the University of Central Oklahoma. She is a contributing author to the Oklahoma Career Tech textbook, Law Enforcement 1, written for high school students. She is the instructional designer of numerous training programs and courses. Jennifer has also authored several articles for Character First Magazine, an educational resource for K-12 teachers. She is the Director of Development for the non-profit, GHF, which seeks to provide resources for parents of gifted children.
When she’s not busy with MSGA, Jennifer enjoys hiking and camping around the great state of Tennessee with her husband and kids.
Claire van Drimmelen – Assistant Guide & Enrichment Specialist
After homeschooling her first child for a year, Claire realized education was her true passion and calling. Her experience as a homeschool parent, as well as a gifted student in the CLUE program in her elementary and junior high years shaped her ideas about excellence in education.
Following a mindset of discovery, project-based learning, critical thinking and curiosity, Claire spear-headed a curriculum change for her church Sunday school to a Montessori-based program called Catechesis of the Good Shepherd. During the implementation of this program, Claire ensured all Sunday school teachers received comprehensive training, and partnered with teachers, students and parents to create a joyful student experience. She has 175 hours of Montessori-based training. However, she says her greatest teachers are the children.
Claire believes true learning happens when children explore and create. “When we give them the opportunity to explore their interests and free them from the bonds of worksheets, beautiful things happen.”
Claire brings extensive experience in arts and crafts, group games, gardening, nature exploration, yoga, and creative play to Mid-South Gifted Academy. She also enjoys camping, dancing in her kitchen and reading. Claire holds a Bachelor of Arts in Public Relations from the University of Memphis. She resides in Germantown with her husband and three children.