Twelve new teachers have joined the faculty at Center Hill High School. Among them are a former powerlifter, a mother of six, and a world traveler.
“We have a lot of diversity and experience as far as background goes,” said Alisha Green, who coordinates the mentoring program for new teachers at CHHS. “I think they will benefit us by bringing a variety of experiences.”
By Randi Terry
Spenser Allen, a first-year teacher, is a graduate of Center Hill High School and the University of Memphis.
“I graduated here,” he said. “There is good administration, both scholarly with the principals, and athletically with Coach (Alan) Peacock.”
Before joining the CHHS faculty, “I trained professional athletes,” said Allen, who will be teach Biology and help coach football.
By Stephen Shol
Alex Cain, a World History teacher, is beginning his first year at Center Hill High School with plenty of experience.
“I’ve taught for 13 years,” Cain said. “This will be my 14th year.”
Cain spent 12 years at Forrest City High School in Arkansas and a year at Germantown High School in Tennessee. Before teaching World History, Cain taught Economics and German. He graduated from the University of the South and later attended Arkansas State University for his master’s degree.
“The people that I’ve met so far are really nice,” he said about his new CHHS family.
At home, Cain’s family is growing.
“I have another child on the way, actually any day now,” he said, noting that the new baby will be his fourth daughter. He and his wife also have a son.
By Sherrice Wright
Leslie Cliburn is a first-year teacher in the Special Education department. However, he is not new to the halls of Center Hill. He spent the previous school year as an assistant teacher here.
Cliburn earned his degree in education from the University of Mississippi.
“I chose Ole Miss over Harvard,” he said with a laugh.
Cliburn said he is embracing the family atmosphere at CHHS because it’s much like the tight-knit closeness of his own family. He added that what he loves most about working here “is being able to Mrs.Case’s beautiful smile each morning.”
A fun fact about Cliburn is that when he was in college and participated in powerlifting competitions, his name was listed as the fourth strongest woman in the country in his weight class.
By Connor Hutto
For Sara Flowers, teaching Algebra I at CHHS is starting a new chapter of her career. She previously taught math at Southaven Middle School and is also a former sixth-grade science teacher.
Flowers, being a mother of five, is well-prepared to deal with high schoolers. In fact, she has a sophomore at Center Hill, Chelsee Ayers. Her oldest child is 22 years old and is also a teacher.
Flowers majored in education at the University of Mississippi. At CHHS, she said she is most excited about “working with the very welcoming and helpful staff as well as teaching Algebra.”
By Paige Lockett
Randy Griffith teaches both chemistry and physical science. He has been teaching for 16 years.
“I’ve taught at Boston High School, Macon Road Baptist School, Fayette Ware High School, and Harding Academy” Griffith said.
Griffith has been to four different colleges and is working on his fourth degree.
“I received my undergraduate from Stanford University, and I went to medical school at the University of Tennessee. I received my masters from the University of Memphis, and I am working on my masters of administration at Free Hardeman”, said Griffith.
“I am a football coach, and I love the football team. The other faculty members are very friendly”, said Griffith.
He says that the one thing that he would like the CHHS family to know is that his family is very important to him. When asked what is one thing about him that might surprise people, Griffith said that he played college basketball even though he was short.
By Kylen Wicks
Hannah Joyner is no stranger to the Center Hill family. As a 2013 graduate, she left quite a legacy here. Joyner was a three-time state champion as a member of the Center Hill Dance Team, she is listed in the Hall of Fame, and she achieved a 30 in a subject on the ACT.
“I really enjoyed my time here at Center Hill as a student,” said Joyner, who graduated from the University of Memphis and is beginning her first year as a ninth-grade English teacher.
She said she loves that the teachers at CHHS care about their students. “The teachers are not here for just a paycheck, but to shape and contour a Mustang champion,” she said.
By Annie Chan
Helping others has always been a passion for Melissa Smith, a new special education teacher at Center Hill.
“It’s important to look past their disability,” said Smith, who was motivated to become a special education teacher because of her belief that it is crucial to provide opportunities to every student.
After five years as an assistant at Pleasant Hill Elementary, Smith is beginning her first year as a teacher at CHHS.
“I have six kids,” Smith said. “All have come through Center Hill. Four have graduated and two are still in high school.”
Because her children have been a part of the Center Hill family, Smith said she is familiar with and impressed by the staff, environment, and most importantly, the academics.
By Lavincia Lakes
This school year, J.J. Terry is working here as a teacher for the first time ever. He will be teaching Marine Aquatics, Environmental Science and Biology II. So far, Terry said he already has a couple of things that he likes about Center Hill High.
“I like the structure of the school and the administration,” he said.
A graduate of the University of Mississippi-DeSoto, Terry is married to CHHS math teacher Judy Terry. Their daughter, Randi, is a CHHS junior.
Terry said he likes to ride horses in his spare time.
Mary Frances Thrash
By Randi Terry
Mary Frances “Pudden” Thrash got her nickname from her father.
“I’m named after his mom, but he started calling me Pudden before we left the hospital,” Thrash said.
The team roper and barrel racer was on the rodeo team at Mississippi State University and finished out her degree at the University of Mississippi. She comes to Center Hill as an Algebra II teacher for her first full year in the classroom.
“This is my second semester,” she said, explaining that last spring she was a permanent sub in the math department. “I like the students, and staff, and we have great administration. I like the consistency here.”
Thrash’s husband, Devon Thrash, is also a new teacher at Center Hill this year. They have two children.
By Haley Parker
Chandler West spent her youth as a world traveler. She has visited all but two continents, yet even after seeing the rest of the world, she decided to stay close to home.
West, who teaches English II and 11th-grade Accelerated English, said she is enjoying CHHS.
“Everyone has been so nice and welcoming,” she said. “Awesome first impression.”
A graduate of Lewisburg High School, West has a degree from the University of Mississippi and is licensed to teach History, Biology and English. She previously was a second-grade assistant teacher at Center Hill Elementary.
Also new to The Hill is Amber Smith, who will teach Biology.