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KNOXVILLE — The new Tennessee Governor’s Academy for Mathematics and Science, managed by the University of Tennessee, has named its inaugural teaching staff.

The instructors have a diverse array of backgrounds and experiences that will greatly contribute to TGA’s unique learning environment, according to TGA Executive Director Vena Long.

“As a staff, this group brings a tremendous combination of classroom teaching experience and rich personal experience,” said Long, who is also associate dean of UT’s College of Education, Health and Human Science. “All of them have made outstanding impressions in their careers thus far.”

Lead teacher will be Theresa Hopkins. Hopkins, a teacher of calculus, holds a doctorate in mathematics education from UT, along with a master’s degree from Middle Tennessee State University and a bachelor’s from UT. She has 12 years of secondary teaching experience.

Physics will be taught by Bennett Adkinson. He earned his master’s degree in science education, along with a bachelor’s degree in college scholars from UT. In addition to being a certified physics teacher, Adkinson is certified to teach theater, and has spent time the past two summers teaching English at Tsinghua University in China. Currently pursuing his doctorate at UT, he has three years of secondary teaching experience.

Shannon Suddath will be the academy’s humanities teacher. She earned a master’s degree in education along with a bachelor’s degree in history and English from UT. Suddath has seven years of secondary teaching experience, and is currently pursuing her educational specialist degree at UT.

Debra Dandaneau will help develop the academy’s physics curriculum, as well as serving as an instructor and overseeing students’ laboratory experiences on the UT campus. A member of the UT physics faculty, she earned a doctorate in physics from the University of Colorado, a master’s in education from Wright State University, as well as a master’s in electro-optics and a bachelor’s in physics from the University of Dayton.

The teaching staff will be joined by a staff of graduate assistants:

– Thomas Hodges, mathematics, earned his master’s degree at UT and his bachelor’s in mathematics at Belmont University. A second-year doctoral student, he has six years of experience teaching secondary mathematics.

– Yan Wang, mathematics and Mandarin, earned her master’s in mathematics education at UT, and her bachelor’s in mathematics from ChongQing University in China. A native speaker of Mandarin and fluent in English, Wang taught secondary mathematics in China before moving to the U.S.

– Whitney Locke, school counselor, earned her master’s in education from MTSU in school counseling along with her bachelor’s degree from East Tennessee State University. A doctoral student in counselor education at UT, Locke has three years of school counseling experience.

TGA’s inaugural class will begin school this August. Located on the campus of the Tennessee School for the Deaf in Knoxville, TGA is designed to give Tennessee’s top students in mathematics and the sciences a unique learning experience.

Jay Mayfield (865-974-9409,