Meet our Faculty

Mary Abney

Kindergarten

Biography: Mary Abney has taught Kindergarten at Saddle Ridge Elementary and Middle School since it opened in 2013. She has previously taught Kindergarten, first grade, second grade, fourth grade, and was the Title 1 Reading Interventionist. Mrs. Abney has 27 years of experience as a teacher in Walker County schools.

She is married to Shaw Abney. They have two children;Walker is a sophomore at GSW and William is an 8th grader at Saddle Ridge. 

Education: Bachelor of Science in Education, Georgia Southwestern University; Masters of Early Education, Berry College; Education Specialist in Leadership, Lincoln Memorial University

Monica Cannon

Fourth Grade

Biography: Monica Cannon is an experience educator in the Walker County Schools District. She has 7 years of educational experience in Walker County with five of those years at Saddle Ridge Elementary School. She has worked in kindergarten as a paraprofessional, as a virtual 4th and 5th grade teacher, and is not teaching 4th grade mathematics. 

She is currently attending Kennesaw State University to complete her Masters degree in Educational Technology. She is married to her highschool sweetheart, Chris. They have three children, Alexa, Grayson, and Jewells. Mrs. Cannon resides in Rock Spring Georgia and enjoys getting to know her students to encourage a love of learning. 

Education: Bachelors of Arts in Education, Western Governors University. 

Jennifer Cooke

Second Grade

Biography: Jennifer Cooke is a new educator in the Walker County School District. She recently completed her career change in the Spring of 2021, from healthcare to teacher. She is part of our 2nd grade team here at Saddle Ridge.

She has been married to her husband, Daniel, since January 2007. They have two children, Sarah and Mason. Mrs. Cooke resides in Rock Spring and loves to support her students in all of their endeavors in school and outside of school.

Education: Bachelors of Science in Education, Western Governors University

Jessica Cotter

Fourth Grade

Biography: Jessica Cotter is the 4th Grade Science and Social Studies teacher at Saddle Ridge Elementary and Middle School this year. This is her fourth year in education. She has previously taught 2nd grade for three years at Saddle Ridge. She loves being a Mustang and takes so much pride in being a Saddle Ridge teacher. She graduated from Berry College in 2018 with an Early Childhood Education degree and an ESOL endorsement.  

She lives in LaFayette, Georgia and was raised in Walker County her whole life. She is a dog mom to a puppy named Lilly. When she is not at school, she spends a lot of time with her friends and family. She loves to go hiking, have picnics, and loves to travel. 

She loves the Saddle Ridge community and is proud to be a Mustang!

Education: Bachelors of Science in Education, Berry College

Cathy Decker

Sixth Grade Science

Biography:  Cathy Decker is beginning her 24th year in the Walker County School District. Her first 15 years were spent teaching Science, Social Studies, and Language Arts at LaFayette Middle School, while the most recent 8 years have been teaching Science at Saddle Ridge. 

She is married to Brian, who is also a middle school teacher. They have 2 boys, Elijah and Cayden, who attend school at Saddle Ridge. Mrs. Decker enjoys spending her summers traveling and camping all over the country. She also enjoys gardening and reading. 

Education: Bachelors of Science in Middle Grades Education, University of West Georgia; Masters of Instruction, Central Michigan University

Madison Edwards

Fourth Grade

Biography: Madison Edwards is a third year teacher in the Walker County Schools District. She teaches 5th grade Reading and ELA. This year she is excited to dive into teaching Science as well.

Madison is newly married and loves to camp in her free time with her husband and chocolate lab. This year she is excited to assist with the softball team and encourage the Lady Mustangs!

Education: Bachelors of Science in Education, Dalton State College

Paige Hawkins

Fourth Grade Inclusion

Biography: Paige Hawkins is beginning her 16th year in education, and this will be her 4th year working in special education at Saddle Ridge. Mrs. Hawkins has experience working with grades K-8, but she has spent most of her career in Elementary Special Education. 

She holds a Master's degree in Early Childhood Education and Special Education (k-12) from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. She has been married to Jason for 17 years, and they have a 6 year old son named Wyatt, who will be a first grader at Saddle Ridge this year. Mrs. Hawkins is a lover of the great outdoors and sports, and she enjoys helping with their small family business outside of school. Mrs. Hawkins is looking forward to a successful and fun-filled school year with all of the upcoming 4th grade students. 

Education: Masters of Early Childhood Education/Special Ed., University of Tennessee at Chattanooga

Jonathan Headrick

Third Grade Inclusion

Biography: Jon Headrick began his teaching career in the Walker County Schools District. He has been blessed to begin his career at Saddle Ridge Elementary and Middle School and has been there for 5 years. 

Mr. Headrick serves in Special Education as an inclusion teacher for the 3rd grade. He holds a Bachelors of Science in Education from the University of Georgia (GO DAWGS!). He is currently serving as the golf coach for the Mustangs. He is married to his beautiful wife, April. Mr. Headrick resides in Rock Spring and loves to support his students in all of their endeavors. 

Education: Bachelor of Science in Education, University of Georgia

Melissa Lemons

Media Specialist

Biography: Melissa Lemons has been the Media Specialist at Saddle Ridge for seven years. This is her 27th year in education in Walker County. 

Mrs. Lemons is married to Jay Lemons who is the Physical Education teacher at Gilbert Elementary. They have two children who both attend LaFayette High School; Andrew is a senior and Erin is a sophomore.

Education: Bachelors of Science in Elementary Education, University of Alabama; Masters of Elementary Education, Berry College; Masters in Leadership, University of West Georgia; Masters in Media, University of West Georgia; Specialists Degree in Instructional Technology, University of West Georgia

Marty Martin

Fourth Grade

Biography: Marty Martin is an experienced teacher in the Walker County School District. I have been at Saddle Ridge School since it opened in 2013. This will be my 23rd year in education, and my 9th year at Saddle Ridge. While at Saddle Ridge, I have worked in the 4th and 5th grades, but most of my teaching career has been in Science Education. This year I will be teaching Language Arts in the 4th grade.

I grew up in Chickamauga, Georgia and attended Georgia Southwestern University and graduated from the University of Georgia with both undergrad and graduate degrees. I have been married to my husband, Brent for 21 years, and we have two sons. Ross will be a senior this year at LHS and Andrew will be an 8th grader at SR this year! We also have a very special dog named Spots, who has been a part of our family for 10 years. Outside of school, my family can often be found on athletic fields. My boys love sports and play football, baseball, and soccer. I cannot wait to meet our 4th graders, and I look forward to a successful and fun-filled year! Go Mustangs! 

Education: Bachelors of Science in Geology & Physics, Georgia Southwestern University; Masters of Science, University of Georgia

Ali Parker

Third Grade

Biography: This year will be Mrs. Parker’s tenth year teaching, and her seventh year in third grade. She has  also taught fourth grade as a departmentalized reading and writing teacher. She absolutely loves teaching third grade. It was her favorite grade in school and the reason she wanted to be a teacher! It is Mrs. Parker’s mission to instill a love of learning in all of her students.

Mrs. Parker grew up in Duluth, GA but moved to the Chattanooga area in 2012 to complete her student teaching. After graduating from Berry College in 2012 with a Bachelor's Degree in Elementary Education she spent six years teaching in Hamilton County. In 2018 she made the move to Saddle Ridge and feels truly blessed to be a part of the SR family!

She is married to her wonderful husband Derek who is also a teacher at Saddle Ridge. They have one little boy named Luke who is a year and a half. He is the light of their lives. They also have a very energetic dog named Brooks who has quickly become Luke’s best friend.

Education: Bachelor of Science in Education, Berry College

Derek Parker

Advanced Math Teacher

Biography: Derek Parker grew up in Walker county and graduated from LaFayette High School in 2002.  Derek has been teaching in Walker County for 15 years.  He started teaching at LaFayette Middle School in January 2007.  He taught at LMS until 2013.  He started teaching at Saddle Ridge Middle School in 2013.  He taught 10 years as a 6th grade Math teacher and the other 5 years as an Advanced Math Teacher.

Derek is married to his wife, Ali, of 7 years.  They have one son, Luke, who is one year old.

Katie Parnell

First Grade

Biography: Katie Parnell is an experienced educator in the Walker County Schools District.  She started teaching third grade at Cherokee Ridge in 2001. In 2002, she began teaching first grade. Mrs. Parnell moved to Saddle Ridge Elementary & Middle School in fall of 2013.  She is beginning her 21st  year in education.

Mrs. Parnell is married to her husband, Shawn. They have one daughter, Libby Kate. They reside in LaFayette. Mrs. Parnell loves first grade and working with small children. Mrs. Parnell takes very personally the responsibility of teaching children to read. She has very high expectations for her students and enjoys seeing them succeed.

Education: Bachelor of Science in Human Development; Masters of Education in Curriculum and Instruction

Casey Payne

Fifth Grade Inclusion

Biography: Casey Payne is an experienced teacher in the Walker County School District.  He began his career for three years as a physical education teacher at Rossville Middle School. He spent the next two years at LaFayette High School before serving Walker County’s Special Education central office as a transition specialist for students with disabilities for three years. He then found a home at Saddle Ridge for the past three years. Over his 11 years of teaching, he also served as LaFayette High School boys’ soccer coach for 8 years.

Casey is married to his beautiful wife Kelli for 11 years.  They have three girls, Brooklyn (17), Dallas (10), and Emmy Belle (6).  Coach Payne resides in Rock Spring and is a member of Center Grove Baptist Church. Along with being a Mustang, Coach Payne also loves cheering on his girls in all their sports and activities, health and fitness, and cheering on the Georgia Bulldogs whenever possible! Go DAWGS!!!

Education: Bachelor of Science in Education, University of Georgia (GO DAWGS!); Masters of Education, Jacksonville State University; Education Specialist in Instructional Technology, Kennesaw State University

Rick Penland

Eighth Grade Inclusion

Biography: Rick Penland is a special education teacher in the Walker County Schools District.   He has been married to his wife, Kendra,  for 15 years. They have four children (Anabelle - 12, Owen - 9, Olivia - 7, and Aaron - 5). He received his Bachelors in Secondary English Education from the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga and Masters of Education in Special Education at Carson-Newman University. He taught seven years in the Hamilton County school system and two years at Georgia Northwestern Technical College. This will be his sixth year teaching at Saddle Ridge.

Jamie Peppers

Second Grade

Biography: Jamie Peppers is an experienced educator in the Walker County Schools District. She will begin her 9th year in her teaching career.

She has been a paraprofessional in Kindergarten for four years, a second grade teacher for 3 years, and a first grade teacher for one year. This will be her fourth year in second grade. She is an assistant manager for the Saddle Ridge Football team. Go Mustangs!  She is currently enrolled in Georgia Southern University working towards her Specialist degree in Elementary Education.

She is married to Hank Peppers, who teaches and coaches basketball at LaFayette High School. They have two young kids, Cali and Luke. Jamie resides in LaFayette and loves to support her students in all of their endeavors in school and outside of school.

Education: Bachelor of Science in Education, Western Governors University; Masters of Elementary Education, Georgia Southern University

Amy Phillips

Elementary Gifted

Biography: Amy Phillips is the elementary gifted teacher in the Kaleidoscope classroom and Saddle Ridge’s Positive Behavior Intervention and Supports (PBIS) coach. This year begins her 24th year serving the students of Walker County. She believes that experiences, over the past twenty-three years, have taught her that teaching is more than an academic endeavor.  Teaching is about caring and building relationships with others.  It is about love: love for students, colleagues; community and education. Mrs. Phillips has taught first grade, third grade, and is in her 9th year as the elementary, K-5, gifted teacher. She has a heart for students and the Saddle Ridge community and works hard to support learning opportunities.

Mrs. Phillips holds an Educational Specialist degree in Curriculum and Instruction from Lincoln Memorial University and is Elementary, Gifted, and Level 1 Google Certified.  She is a teacher leader, problem solver, and creative thinker. She resides with her IT savvy husband, Kurt, and 9-year old son, Keatley, who is a Saddle Ridge fourth grader.  Saddle Ridge is her “home away from home” and the classroom is one of her happy places.

Education: Bachelor of Science in Multidisciplinary School Learning P-8, University of Tennessee at Chattanooga; Masters of Elementary Education, University of Tennessee at Chattanooga; Education Specialist, Lincoln Memorial University

Cheryl Puckett

Sign Language Interpreter

Biography: Cheryl Puckett is an experienced Sign Language Interpreter. She has had the honor of interpreting for Walker County Schools since 2009. She currently holds the National Interpreter Certification and the Ed:K-12 recognition with the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf. She has been an educational interpreter for 21 years, but also serves the Deaf community in other settings.

She currently lives in Ringgold, Georgia with her husband, Ron and two spoiled dogs Hippie and Henry. She loves gardening, quilting, fast cars and loud motorcycles.

Suzanne Queen

Seventh Grade Inclusion

Biography: Mrs. Suzanne  Queen is an experienced special education teacher in the Walker County School District.   She is beginning her 18th year in Walker County and her 3rd year at Saddle Ridge.

Suzanne has been married to Gerald for 28 years. Their son Braden is a senior at LaFayette High School. They are the bereaved parents of Jordan Queen.  The Queen family resides in LaFayette and loves to support students in the community with eyeglasses provided Thru Jordan's Eyes. In her personal time, she enjoys spending time with family, attending LaFayette First United Methodist church, and traveling. 

Education: Bachelor of Science in Education, Liberty University.

Jordan Ramey

Sixth Grade ELA

Biography: Jordan Ramey is beginning his 8th year of teaching, all of which have been at Saddle Ridge. Mr. Ramey has coached Quiz Bowl, Vex Robotics, and Golf in the past. He enjoys reading books, taking photographs, camping, and hiking.

Mr. Ramey also serves on the Board of Directors for the Walker County Educators Federal Credit Union. He is married to Kyley Ramey, who teaches at LaFayette High School. He holds an Education Specialist degree in Secondary English Education from Kennesaw State University. He and his wife live in LaFayette.

 Mr. Ramey is always ready for the next adventure! Go Mustangs!!!

Courtney Rider

Fifth Grade

Biography: Courtney Rider is an experienced teacher in the Walker County Schools District. She is a 5th grade Math and Social Studies teacher at Saddle Ridge Elementary & Middle School. Mrs. Rider has been teaching for 15 years.

She holds a Bachelor of Science in Education from Middle Tennessee State University. She also has obtained her Math Endorsement on her professional Georgia teaching certificate.  She is married to her husband, Erik.  They have three children, Lylah, Dax, and Hunt.  Mrs. Rider resides in Chickamauga and loves to support her students and community.

Education: Bachelor of Science in Education, Middle Tennessee State University; Math Endorsement

Lisa Roerdink

Eighth Grade Science

Biography: Lisa Roerdink has been a teacher at LaFayette Middle School teaching ELA for 12 years and at Saddle Ridge teaching physical science for 7 years. She is earning her masters in science education with a STEM certification from Northeastern State University in Oklahoma. 

She has been married to her husband Jeff for 19 years and has two children, Kayla (20) and Jude (12)

Kaleena Scoggins

Seventh Grade Math

Biography: Kaleena Scoggins is an experienced teacher in the Walker County Schools District.  She has taught at Saddle Ridge since it opened in 2013.  Prior to that she taught at LaFayette Academy from 2005-20013.

She holds an Educational Specialist degree in Math Education from Kennesaw State University.  She has been married to her husband, Jason, for 12 years.  They have three children, Evan (20), John David (3), and Novalee (2).  Mrs. Scoggins loves to hike, travel, and spend time with her family.  She also has a black belt!

Amanda Tanner

Second Grade

Biography: Amanda Tanner is an experienced educator in the Walker County Schools District. She is beginning her 5th year as an educator in Walker County. 

Mrs. Tanner has been a Pre-K educator in the Hamilton County school system and she has taught Kindergarten, first grade and second grade in Walker County. She will begin her 11th year in her teaching career. 

She holds a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Elementary Education and Special Education in all subject areas through 12th grade.  She is happily married to Scott.  They have two small children, Brantley and Elise.  Mrs. Tanner resides in Ringgold and loves to support her students in all of their endeavors in school and outside of school.

Education: Bachelor of Science in Education, University of Tennessee at Chattanooga
 

Lance Underwood

Seventh Grade SS

Biography: Mr. Underwood is in his seventh year as a teacher in the Walker County Schools District.  He joined Saddle Ridge Elementary & Middle School in fall of 2015 as the 7th Grade Social Studies Teacher.
He is currently serving as the Head Men’s Tennis Coach at LaFayette HIgh School.

Mr. Underwood is a LaFayette naitive and a graduate of LaFayette High School. He holds an Educational Specialist degree in Secondary Social Studies from Kennesaw State University. He enjoys time spent outdoors and with family, and he also loves the opportunity to be a part of his students growing into successful young adults.   

Go Mustangs!

(and Go Dawgs!!)

Joey Varnell

Kindergarten

Biography: Joey Varnell is an elementary education teacher for the Walker County School District.  He has been at Saddle Ridge Elementary and Middle School for two years now. He is beginning his 3rd year teaching. Mr. Varnell has served as a First Grade Teacher, a Virtual Teacher for both Kindergarten and First Grade and now a Kindergarten Teacher in his 3 years of experience.

He is currently working on earning his Masters Degree from West Georgia University with plans to graduate in the Spring of 2023.  He is married to another teacher, Maddie, whom he met while working on his Education Degree. We do not have any children but have plans for them in the future. Mr. Varnell loves preparing and educating the young minds of the future and is always seeking for more ways to grow in the field of education

Education: Bachelor of Science in Education, Dalton State University; Masters of Elementary Education, West Georgia University.

Sam Walthall

Sixth Grade Math

Biography: Sam Walthall is starting her sixth year of teaching in the Walker County Schools District.  Mrs. Walthall has previously served as a Special Education teacher and a Fourth/Fifth Grade Math teacher.  This is her fourth year teaching Sixth Grade Math.  Mrs. Walthall is also the Head Coach of the Lady Mustangs softball team.

She went to UTC, where she played centerfield for the Lady Mocs softball team. She holds an Educational Specialist degree in Leadership from Valdosta State. Mrs. Walthall and her husband, Barrett, reside in Chattanooga and cheer for the Mocs at as many sporting events as they can attend.  Mrs. Walthall loves to support her students and her softball team.  She wishes to push them to be the best person they can be in the classroom and on the field

Brianna Watkins

Sixth Grade Inclusion

Biography: I feel beyond blessed to be embarking on my second year at Saddle Ridge Elementary & Middle School.  I am certified to teach K-8.  Last year I was blessed to work with the amazing elementary staff as a Kindergarten teacher.  This year I am extremely excited and just as fortunate to work alongside the middle school staff. I am grateful for the opportunity to be a versatile employee so that I am able to work with such a wide range of ages and abilities.

I am a proud mother to a smart and beautiful daughter who attended Saddle Ridge throughout all of her middle school years.  She is now in the honors program as a freshman at Lafayette High.  I look forward to this upcoming school year.  It’s an honor to be part of your  children’s education and to make a difference in their lives.

Stacie Wilson

Special Education

Biography: Stacie Wilson is an experienced teacher in special education in the Walker County Schools District.  She previously taught at LaFayette High School in a variety of settings, and has been with Saddle Ridge Elementary & Middle School since 2015. She is beginning her 15th year as a special education teacher.

She holds a Bachelor of Social Work from the University of Georgia and a Masters of Arts in Teaching, Special Education from Valdosta State University.  She is married to her life long love, Brandon.  They have four children, Julia, Brady, Bentley, and Briley.  Mrs. Wilson resides in LaFayette and loves to be on their farm with her family.  She loves to see her students supported and successful in all areas of their lives.

Tony Wolfe

Sixth Grade SS

Biography: Tony Wolfe is an experienced educator in the Walker County Schools District.  He has been at Saddle Ridge since it’s opening in 2013.  He is beginning his 16th year as an educator, having spent the first seven years at LaFayette Sixth Grade Academy.  

He holds an Educational Specialist degree in Curriculum and Instruction from Lincoln Memorial University.  He is married to Kelly.  They have two children Hannah and Jacob

Kelley Woods

First Grade Inclusion

Biography: Kelley Woods is an experienced special education teacher.  She had the honor of being the first Early Intervention Pre-K teacher at Saddle Ridge Elementary from the fall of 2014 through 2019.  She has been the First Grade Inclusion teacher for the last 2 years.  Mrs. Woods enjoys children and seeing them grow in their knowledge, and develop a  love of learning.  

 She is married to her husband of 22 years, Kerry.  They have 3 children, Carter, Judson, and Meghan.  Mrs. Woods resides in Walker County. She loves to support and serve her community.

Education: Associates in Early Childhood Education, Georgia Northwestern Technical College; Bachelors in Special Education, Western Governors University

Rebekah Wright-Searels

Agriculture Education

Biography: Rebekah claims East Tennessee as home, specifically Maryville, Tennessee where her family’s farm stretches over 500 acres in Blount County. From Rebekah’s earliest days, she has admired her grandfather for his work ethic, and his commitment to their family farm. Through his actions, he has taught Rebekah that nothing is worth owning if you have not first worked for it. This ethos has prevailed throughout Rebekah’s own career in education and the life that she has cultivated from it.

Rebekah is a graduate from the University of Tennessee with a degree in Agriculture Leadership, Education, and Communications. She has spent her career thus far serving and teaching high and middle school agriculture in Georgia, Tennessee, and Arizona and at the university level at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville. She has a passion for this industry; but above that, Rebekah has a passion for people and a love for communications, education, and programming, she looks at life as an adventure full of opportunities to make positive differences!