third grade teacher
Avery Beeson, an experienced educator with roots in Spartanburg, is joining the Lower School this year as a third grade teacher. Ms. Beeson spent 15 years teaching third and fourth grades in Montgomery County, Maryland, and the last three years teaching at an IB PYP International school in Brazil. She brings a demonstrated knowledge of inquiry-based learning and the Writing Workshop approach and is committed to cultivating student agency in learning. Ms. Beeson has a Master of Arts in teaching from Trinity University and a Bachelor of Arts in art from Hood College. Outside of school, she enjoys gardening, reading, traveling and taking care of her two puppies.
Middle School history
David Bloxham is joining the Middle School team this year as a fifth and sixth grade history teacher. Mr. Bloxham is passionate about history and teaching. He looks forward to passing on a shared excitement for learning to his students. Mr. Bloxham recently earned a master’s in teaching with a focus in secondary history from Converse College. He has a bachelor’s in psychology from the University of South Carolina. When he’s not working, he enjoys taking walks with his Golden Retriever, cooking and spending time with family.
Middle School soccer coach
Graham Brewer will lead the Middle School Griffins Soccer Team this year after serving as assistant varsity soccer coach last year. He has experience playing soccer for Dorman High School and Carolina FC. Coach Brewer also helped to set up and run the Spartanburg adult soccer program at the YMCA.
business office administrative assistant
Kelly Cino joins the business office this year as administrative assistant. Ms. Cino recently worked as a product cost assistant at Revman International, Inc. Before that, she spent 11 years at JM Family - Aviation at the Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport as a senior administrative assistant. Ms. Cino earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Canisius College in Buffalo, N.Y. She moved from Florida to be closer to family, including her son and two grandchildren.
Upper School VISTAS
Scott Davis joins the Upper School faculty this year to work with students enrolled in the VISTAS program. Mr. Davis comes to SDS from Centennial Middle School in Co. where he served as a middle school special education teacher and assistant track coach. He also has experience teaching special education at the elementary level. Mr. Davis earned a bachelor’s from Brevard College and is currently completing his master’s in education from Western Colorado University - Gunnison. When not in the classroom, he enjoys spending his free time outdoors.
Upper School math
Kristen Foy is joining the Upper School math department this year to teach algebra 1 and 2. Ms. Foy brings experience teaching in independent, public and virtual schools, most recently at Florence Chapel Middle School in Spartanburg District 5 for the last three years. She previously taught at the high school level at Christ Church Episcopal School in Greenville and at Palmetto High School in Williamston and also taught virtually at S.C. Connections Academy. Ms. Foy earned a master’s from Furman University in secondary school leadership and a bachelor’s from Clemson University in mathematics and secondary education. She and her husband are big football fans who enjoy watching games together.
varsity swim coach
Coach Ashli Gaines-Phillips returns to the deck this year as the Griffins’ head swim coach. She coached at SDS for the 2015, 2016 and 2017 seasons, leading the Griffins to state championships each year. She and her wife, Upper School dean and photography teacher Paige Gaines-Phillips, have two children at SDS, Wren and Sam.
Griffin alumna and SDS parent Rebekah Gladson joins the Day School faculty this year as a school counselor. Ms. Gladson has worked in education in Spartanburg District 2 since 2013, most recently as a school counselor at Oakland Elementary School. She earned a Master of Science in Education, School Counseling, from University of the Southwest and a Bachelor’s in Psychology from the University of South Carolina. Ms. Gladson is a Griffin “lifer,” attending SDS from 4K-12th grade. Her daughter, Quinn, is in second grade at SDS.
Hayley Harrell will serve as the head coach of the varsity girls volleyball team this year. Coach Harrell is a graduate of College of Charleston where she played on the Cougar volleyball team. Hayley earned a graduate degree from the University of Liverpool in the UK.
second grade teacher
Leah Hedge comes to the Day School this year as a new second grade teacher. She most recently served as an English language arts teacher at Fairforest Middle School in Spartanburg District 6. She also taught fifth grade at Chapman Elementary School and began her career in education as a kindergarten teacher. Ms. Hedge earned a Bachelor’s and Masters in Elementary Education from the University of South Carolina Upstate. She is a huge fan of the Clemson Tigers and also enjoys traveling, reading, exploring and learning with her family.
head of Lower School
Sunny Huckaby joined the Day School community in June as the new Head of Lower School. Mrs. Huckaby most recently served as Assistant Head of School at Southfield School in Shreveport, La. and brings 21 years of experience in early childhood and elementary programs. Before moving into the role of Assistant Head of School, she served as Southfield's Preschool Director for six years, playing an integral part in developing and opening a new preschool building in 2015. She also has extensive experience as a classroom teacher. Mrs. Huckaby earned a Master of Education in Early Childhood education from Northwestern State University and a Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education from Louisiana State University Shreveport. Mrs. Huckaby and her husband of 25 years, Sean, have two college-age children, Carson, a student at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, and Madison, who attends the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville. Outside of school, she enjoys reading, outdoor activities, traveling and spending time with friends and family.
kindergarten assistant teacher
Susan Jeffords returns to SDS this year as a kindergarten assistant teacher. Ms. Jeffords most recently worked for seven years as a 4K teacher at First Presbyterian Church. Prior to that, she served for two years as SDS director of admissions. She also has experience as a middle school teacher in Spartanburg District 5. Ms. Jeffords earned a master’s in school administration and supervision and a bachelor’s in elementary education from Clemson University. She and her husband, Loy Jeffords '77, are both Griffin alumni and have three alumni children, Hollace, Lawton and Celia.
Extended Day faculty
Morgan Meeks will join the Extended Day program this year. She recently earned an Associate of Arts degree from Spartanburg Community College and has experience working as a substitute teacher. She is married to SDS alum Austin Meeks '10.
varsity boys basketball coach
Coach Gregg Nibert brings 41 years of coaching experience to the Griffin basketball program. Coach Nibert served as the head basketball coach at Presbyterian College for 28 years, earning the distinction of the winningest coach in the program’s history with more than 400 wins during his time at the helm. Nibert twice led the team to South Atlantic Conference championships and was named South Carolina Coach of the Year. Most recently, he’s worked as a P.E. teacher and assistant football and basketball coach at Spartanburg Christian Academy. Nibert began his coaching career in 1979 as an assistant coach for Rice University in Houston, Texas. He also coached basketball at Furman University before moving on to Presbyterian College. Nibert earned a master of education administration from the University of South Carolina and has a bachelor of science in physical education and health from Marietta College. He is the founder of Camp of Champions, Inc., a long-running team basketball camp for junior high, JV and varsity teams.
Middle School volleyball coach
SDS graduate Kaylee Owens ‘17 returns this year to coach the Middle School volleyball team. Coach Owens played volleyball for the Griffins before studying early childhood education at Converse College. She has also worked with the SDS Extended Day program.
Middle School math
Laura Peeler joins the Middle School math department this year after spending more than a decade teaching middle school math in Cherokee County schools where she was twice honored as a school Teacher of the Year. Ms. Peeler most recently taught at Gaffney Middle School but has also taught at Granard Middle and The Village School of Gaffney. Before moving to Gaffney, she taught for three years in Lexington District 1. She earned a Bachelor of Science degree in elementary education from the College of Charleston. Ms. Peeler and her husband, Boone, are parents to two SDS students, Beau in sixth grade and Savannah Jayne in ninth.
fourth grade teacher
Hayley Pickens will return to SDS this year to teach fourth grade students. Ms. Pickens most recently taught fifth and sixth grade students at Meeting Street Academy and before that worked in the SDS Lower School as a preschool assistant, Middle School PE teacher and coach. She recently earned a Master of Arts degree in elementary education from Converse College and also has a Bachelor of Arts degree in communications from Georgia College. Ms. Pickens and her husband, Aaron, recently welcomed a baby boy, Gash. They enjoy staying active and hiking in the mountains.
Middle School VISTAS
The VISTAS program welcomes Kellie Pifer as a new Middle School teacher this year. Before joining the Griffins, Ms. Pifer spent 13 years at Ben Franklin Middle School in Fargo, N.D., teaching English, drama and career exploration. She earned a master’s in differentiate education from Concordia University St. Paul, a bachelor’s in English education from Minnesota State University Moorhead and a bachelor’s in communications and theatre from Winthrop University. In her free time, she enjoys hiking, reading and theatre.
Director of Extended Day
Beth Ryan brings new leadership to the SDS Extended Day program this year after joining the Extended Day faculty last year. Ms. Ryan has a background in administration and sales with more than 30 years of experience in meeting planning, travel, retail and education. She previously served as the executive personal assistant to the president at The Suzuki School in Atlanta and also worked as an elementary media specialist. Ms. Ryan earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Government and Foreign Affairs from the University of Virginia, Charlottesville. A Spartanburg native, Ms. Ryan returned home after living in France and five different states. She enjoys spending time outdoors, doing crossword puzzles and spending time with her husband, Tim, and their two college-aged children. She also loves playing board games and looks forward to a little friendly competition with her Extended Day students.
Cathy Smith joins the Lower School faculty this year as a kindergarten teacher. Ms. Smith has 20 years of classroom experience, all of it teaching kindergarten and first grade. Her experiences include Drayton Mills Elementary, Oakbrook Preparatory School, Westminster Day School and Boiling Springs Elementary. Ms. Smith has a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration from Eastern Illinois University and a Master’s Degree in Early Childhood Education from Converse College. She enjoys quilting, reading and hiking in the mountains with her husband.
Middle School literature and writing
After spending a semester as a long-term substitute in the Middle School last spring, Tyler Spencer officially joins SDS this year as a sixth grade literature and writing teacher. Before coming to the Day School, Ms. Spencer spent four years with the Project Hope Foundation, working with students with Autism in a one-to-one and classroom setting. She earned bachelor’s degrees in psychology and sociology and anthropology from Washington and Lee University and is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Education from Converse College. Away from work, she enjoys spending time with her two dogs, Winnie and Mowgli.
Middle School science
Kaylyn Stevenson will join the Middle School science department this year. Ms. Stevenson comes to SDS from Holy Comforter Episcopal School in Florida where she taught middle school science for five years and also coached award-winning teams for a space and aeronautics competition and worked at the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory to design science summer camps for middle school girls. She earned dual Bachelor of Science degrees in biological science and secondary science education from Florida State University and will soon complete a Master of Science in Education degree in special education from Purdue University. When not teaching, she enjoys traveling, spending time outdoors, hiking or biking with her dog, Duke, or volunteering with the Junior League of Spartanburg.
Extended Day faculty
Stacey Vinesett joins the Extended Day team this year. Most recently, she worked as a self-contained assistant in Spartanburg District 7 for three years. She also brings four years of experience as a preschool teacher at the St. Paul United Methodist Church Preschool. Ms. Vinesett graduated from Winthrop University with a Bachelor of Science degree in business administration.
Extended Day faculty
Alumna Ella Webster ‘16 is returning to SDS this year to work with the Extended Day program. She recently earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in creative and professional writing from Converse College and has experience working with students as a summer teaching assistant for a Wofford College writing camp and as a peer consultant in Converse’s writing center. She also worked as a student employee in Converse’s Alumnae Office.