Partners

Doris Bourne

Doris Bourne is an educational assistant at Fair Garden Preschool who has been with the Knox County Schools since 1992. She attended Tusculum College. Doris loves to read in her spare time.

Andrew Bonsted

Andrew Bonsted is a freshman Undergraduate Research Assistant majoring in Computer Science at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

In high school, he founded and ran a monthly math workshop for elementary school students to help them find a passion for math through fun math-related activities. In his free time, Andrew likes to be outdoors with friends, play chess, and cheer on the Carolina Panthers.

Charles E. Flowers, Jr.

Charles E. Flowers, Jr. is a doctoral student in the Department of Child and Family Studies at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Prior to graduate studies, he was a second-grade teacher with the Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools.

Flowers’s research interests include investigating how contexts support the learning and social emotional development of children in early childhood educational settings and during their elementary school years. Overall, his objective is to inform the development of policies and programs aimed at improving the life chances of children and families.

Darelene Greene

Darelene Greene is a Co-PI on the CRRAFT project and the Title 1 Pre-K Instructional Coach for Knox County Schools. Green earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Early Childhood Education for Appalachian State University as well as a master’s degree from Lesley University in Curriculum and Instruction with a Specialization in Creative Arts and Learning. Greene currently serves ten schools, including the two partner preschools within CRRAFT. She has served in this role for five years.

Prior to her current role, Greene was a Pre-K and 1st Grade teacher for 30 years. While in the classroom, She was awarded Beaumont Magnet Elementary School Teacher of the Year in 2012 and was the Extraordinary Teacher Featured in the Knoxville News Sentinel. In her free time, she enjoys traveling, shopping, and enjoying great food.

Rebecca Hickey

Rebecca Hickey is a certified Teacher with Rebecca Hickey is a certified Teacher with Knox County Schools currently serving as Lead Teacher at Fair Garden Preschool. She has worked at Fair Garden since 2010. She was awarded teacher of the year in 2019 and 2021. Rebecca graduated from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville in 2009 as a part of the Department of Child and Family Studies with a Bachelor of Science degree in Human Ecology with her concentration in Early Development and Learning PreK-K.

In her free time she enjoys kayaking and visiting as many waterfalls as possible with her husband and two boys. 

Amie Kahovec

Amie Kahovec is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Child and Family Studies at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville (UTK). Prior to the doctoral program, Amie received her B.S. from Northern Illinois University and her M.S. from UTK.

Amie’s research interests include youth exposed to domestic violence and the legal systems. Specifically examining the formal and legal system disclosure decisions of youth exposed to domestic violence, as well as the ways children experience formal and legal systems within the context of exposure to domestic violence.

Abbey Kochman

Abbey Kochman is an undergraduate student at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville majoring in Therapeutic Recreation and minoring in Child and Family Studies. She currently works as the Social Media and Outreach Coordinator at The Little Gym of W. Knoxville-Farragut, where she also teaches gymnastics to children from 4 months-12 years old.

Abbey spent a year working as the Worship and Tech Intern at Stonecreek Church in 2019. She also was a Platform Lead Counselor at Camp Arrowhead in 2020 where she planned and executed a daily curriculum for the 200+ campers in attendance each week, and also created online camp modules for families to use at home.

In her free time Abbey enjoys reading, baking, playing musical instruments, and yoga.

James Larsen

James A. Larsen, PhD is the postdoctoral researcher on the CRRAFT project in the Department of Theory and Practice in Teacher Education at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. He joined the project in July 2021 after completing his PhD in Human Environmental Sciences at the University of Missouri.

Larsen’s current program of research focuses on individual and contextual factors that contribute to early childhood cognitive development and learning. He is particularly interested in the ways caregivers, teachers, and early learning environments influence children’s divergent thinking and problem-solving skills. His scholarship also explores new methodologies and measures for studying various dimensions of early childhood learning and development.

Sara Meghabghab

Sara Meghabghab is a freshman Undergraduate Research Assistant at the University of Tennessee- Knoxville. She is majoring in Medical Laboratory Science on the Pre-Medical track. She hopes to pursue a career as a pediatrician in the future.

Since June of 2020, Sara has worked as both an Assistant Youth Development Specialist and a Youth Development Specialist at various elementary schools for the YMCA of East Tennessee. This experience has taught her the importance of robotics in elementary aged children. 

In her free time, she likes to read and spend time with her family and friends. 

Sarah Qureshi

Sarah Qureshi is entering her 8th year with Knox County Schools at Sam E. Hill Primary as a PreK teacher. She has previously presented workshops on higher order thinking questions and on Handwriting Without Tears and fine motor skill development. She is a new mother to identical twin girls.  

Sarah was also a mentor coach and teacher with Douglas Cherokee Head Start for two years, where she presented to teachers about childhood nutrition, social emotional learning, and other topics pertaining to the CLASS observation system.

In her free time, Sarah loves traveling, trying new restaurants, and collecting children’s literature. 

Tabatha Rainwater (she/her)

Tabatha Rainwater is is a Graduate Research Assistant in STEM education for the Department of Theory and Practice in Teacher Education at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. She completed her first year of doctoral studies in 2020-21.

Prior to graduate school, Rainwater was formerly a mathematics teacher at Austin-East Magnet High School. She was awarded Austin-East Teacher of the Year in 2019. She enjoys engaging with teachers and families and blurring the lines between mathematics and science by creating fun informal learning opportunities. You can learn more about Rainwater at her website: https://sites.google.com/vols.utk.edu/tabatharainwater/home

Jennifer Raley

Jennifer Raley is a Title 1 Pre-K teacher for Knox County Schools. She has worked with Satellite (emotionally disturbed), 1st and 2nd grade, and with 2-5 year old children of recovering addicts for Helen Ross McNabb.

She currently works with 4-year olds and this is her 7th year working for Knox County Schools. Jennifer graduated from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville in 2011 with a Masters of Science in Education (with a concentration Deaf education and an endorsement of K-6).

Porscha Settlemeyer

Porscha Settlemeyer is a PreK teacher at Sam E. Hill Primary entering her 8th year in this role. She graduated from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville with her degree in Child and Family Studies and a PreK-3 licensure. She served as a student intern for one year in a 1st grade classroom prior to beginning in her current position. Porscha was awarded Teacher of the Year during the 2017-2018 school year and was recently recruited to take part in the Aspiring Assistant Principal Program at Tennessee State University. She is bilingual in Spanish and English.

Porscha has three children – two daughters ages 6 and 4, as well as a son who is an infant. In her free time, she enjoys traveling, shopping, and dining.

Tabatha Rainwater (she/her)

Indrani Singh

Indrani Singh is a Graduate Research Assistant in Teacher Education in the Department of Theory and Practice in Teacher Education at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. She is currently in the final year of her Ph.D. program.

Indrani’s current research program focuses on “Mathematics Anxiety: Secondary Students’ Avoidance of Elective Mathematics” that impacts secondary mathematics enrollment and future career paths. In addition, she was awarded the Dr. Marva Rudolph Scholarship for Diversity and Engagement in 2021. 

Indrani has 27 years of experience in K-12 education. Before joining graduate school, she was the principal of a K-12 school in India. She hopes to promote positive mathematical identities in students by making them believe in themselves and be convinced that “Winners Never Quit.”

Mason Thomas

Mason Thomas is an Undergraduate Research Assistant in his freshman year studying Environmental and Soil Sciences at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

After graduating he plans to work in the Science Communication field. His hobbies include writing, gardening, and hiking, and his favorite children’s book is A Bad Case of the Stripes. He hopes to eventually work with well known educational personalities to help the next generation learn to love science.

Hannah Thompson

Hannah Thompson is a doctoral student in the Department of Child and Family Studies at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Prior to graduate studies, she was an Infant Early Childhood Mental Health Consultant in Orange County, California. 

Hannah’s research interests include supporting the early education workforce development, practitioners; beliefs and attitudes, equity in early childhood, science education, social emotional development and challenging behaviors, and adverse experiences in early childhood.

Taja Welch

Dr. Taja M. Welch is a Pre-K 3 teacher at Fair Garden Early Learning Center.  She has taught preschool for 5 years and has taught at Fair Garden for the last 3 years. Prior to teaching at Fair Garden she taught 1st grade at Sunnyview Primary, and private Pre-K at Garden Of Discovery Learning Center.  She has been with Knox County Schools since 2006. She received her Master’s in Curriculum and Instruction, and her EdD in Curriculum and Instruction and Educational Leadership from Lincoln Memorial University in 2011 and 2016.

Her research interests include learning styles and investigating how African American Single Mother Perceptions affect the education of their preschool age children. She has presented her research at LMU’s 1st annual research day in 2016 as well as done several research presentations for the undergraduate classes of her dissertation chair. Most recently she was asked to participate as a presenter  in a series  panel discussions entitled Courageous Conversations through LMU with her mother Dr. Olga M. Welch, and  has been involved with the CRRAFT program and had a project funded by Donor’s Choose.  In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her family and friends, traveling, working out, and working as a private tutor.

Jade Williams

Jade Williams is an Undergraduate Research Assistant in her junior year who is studying Early Childhood Education for Preschool and Kindergarten. She currently works as an after school teacher at Sacred Heart Cathedral School

After graduation, Jade plans to be a preschool teacher. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her husband, writing, and painting, and she has a personal goal of writing and illustrating children’s books one day.

Kyli Wooten

Kyli Wooten has been a PreK teacher at Fair Garden Preschool for the past 18 years. She received her undergraduate degree from Eastern Tennessee State University and a graduate degree from Grand Canyon University. In addition to serving as lead teacher in a 3-year old classroom, Kyli regularly mentors preservice and new teachers, serves on the leadership team, and tutors K-12 students. She has co-presented workshops on Conscious Discipline and math instruction. 

In her free time, Kyli enjoys running, participating in triathlons, and spending time outdoors. She has a great love for children and animals.