New Faculty-Staff Off to Great Start
We have welcomed 10 new faculty and staff members this fall, and they are off to a great start!
Daniel Black, Director of Athletics Social Media
Daniel Black ’18 joins the staff as director of Athletics social media and teacher of Media Arts. He completed a degree in communications with a concentration in journalism from Mississippi State University in 2022. While in Starkville he was a blogger for SB Nation and a writer for Rivals.com. For the past several years, he has served as the MUS assistant sports information director. He lent his talents to the Communications Office in summer 2019 as an intern, and he has written freelance articles for “MUS Today,” the school’s alumni magazine. While at MUS he was a student assistant to Athletics, and he received the Lee Murray Spirit Award and Communications Award. Many will remember his spot-on impression of Baseball Head Coach John Jarnagin.
Drew Hinote, Instructional Technology Teacher
Instructional Technology Teacher Drew Hinote comes to MUS after 13 years teaching technology at Woodland Presbyterian School, where he created a computer science curriculum and taught students in grades 5-8. In addition, he created the Be a Gentleman Club, a Shark Tank invention competition, and the Robotics Club, the latter developing into a Vex Robotics competitive team. He coached football and cross country and served as Woodland’s head track coach for 12 years, winning five city championships. After earning a bachelor’s degree in American Studies at the University of South Florida, he worked for 10 years as a producer, videographer, and project manager. Hinote now teaches coding to seventh graders and computer applications to sophomores. Speaking on the rapid evolution of technology, he said, “This frequent change makes the task of being creative with my curriculum easy; the challenging part is pushing students to understand the history and imagine the future that technology offers.”
Gabe McDermott, Maintenance
Gabe McDermott joins the Maintenance staff, bringing experience in HVAC/R and construction. He served as lead technician at Superior Mechanical Solutions in Munford for the past year. From 2020-22 he worked at Hughes Mechanical, performing HVAC and refrigeration work on tugboats. At B&H Home Improvement from 2018-20, he learned intermediate carpentry and specialized in measuring and hanging sheetrock, placing flooring, and installing roofing. He earned an associate degree in computer networking from Dyersburg State Community College and attended the National Security Seminar in Washington, D.C.
Chima Onwuka, Upper School Counselor
Chima Onwuka ’13 returns to his alma mater to serve as Upper School counselor after earning a bachelor’s in psychology from University of Tennessee, Knoxville and a master’s in clinical mental health counseling from Walden University; launching a small business and an associated non-profit; serving as a therapist in several settings; and delivering inspirational speeches along the way (including an MUS chapel). Most recently, he served as an outpatient therapist with Ellie Mental Health and a residential counselor and clinical liaison at Youth Villages. In the past he worked as a recreational therapist for Memphis Mental Health Institute. Onwuka is the owner of Grind City Kicks, an online apparel and shoe brand, and the nonprofit Grind City Cares. He has been named to Memphis Flyer’s Top 20 under 30 (2021) and UTK’s Volunteer Top 40 under 40 (2022) lists. He received the Citizenship Award at Walden University (2022) and the Service Medallion (2017) issued by The Jones Center for Leadership and Service at UTK.
Steve Phillips, Director of Plant Operations
Steve Phillips joins MUS as Director of Plant Operations upon the retirement of Willie Hollinger. He brings varied experience in HVAC/R systems, EMS system management, construction, and team management, all in Memphis. Most recently, he oversaw lead inside sales for Ed’s Supply Co., an HVAC contractor supplier. From 2010-22 he was the lead HVAC technician at Hughes Mechanical where, among many responsibilities, he kept records on biannual preventative checks on 750 units in up to 40 locations; trained new technicians on policies, procedures, and safety; and served as the lead tow-boat technician, providing HVAC and refrigeration service to river tow boats. He created safety procedures for the Hughes-owned service vessel. Previously, he spent eight years as a contractor and construction manager for Chittom Enterprises. He earned an associate degree in HVAC/R from Vatterott Career College and trained for 12 years under Ralph Hughes, Jr., the president of the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers.
Bryan Scott, Music Instructor
Bryan Scott joins the Arts Department as a music instructor following 11 years as director of bands at White Station Middle School where he taught beginning, concert, and advanced band. A percussion specialist, he also created a percussion ensemble class using his own curriculum that focused on drumming and music styles from around the world. His bands earned multiple superior ratings at regional and national adjudication concerts, and nearly half his advanced band students were selected for All-West Tennessee honor bands. While teaching at White Station, he also led workshops on percussion technique and repair for West Tennessee band directors. Previously, he served as director of bands at Fayette Academy for three years. He received a bachelor’s in music education from the University of Tennessee at Martin and a master’s in percussion performance from the University of Wisconsin in Madison. In addition to teaching private lessons, he has served as a percussion instructor at MUS and other schools, and he has performed as a percussionist for dozens of productions and as an adjudicator for numerous marching contests.
Ross Spain, Lower School Assistant Principal
Ross Spain has joined the Memphis University School faculty as the Lower School assistant principal, Admissions associate, and basketball coach. Spain comes from Presbyterian Day School where he served as director of Student Life since 2009.
“Ross brings a deep understanding of reaching and teaching boys, and he has a strong resume with Memphis independent schools,” Headmaster Pete Sanders said. “Our PDS alumni will remember him well from service-learning projects, character education classes, mentoring groups, and after-school and summer sports. He has brought his leadership and interpersonal skills to the Lower School team, led by Interim Principal McKee Humphreys ’01.”
Before his Student Life role at PDS, Spain was at Hutchison School where he served as Lower and Middle School athletic director (2008-09), Middle School dean of students (2005-08), and physical education teacher/coach (2004-05). After earning a Bachelor of Science in Education from The University of Memphis, he taught at Lucy Elementary School in Millington (1997-99) and PDS (1999-2004).
Scott Truitt, IT Network and Systems Administrator
Scott Truitt joins the staff as IT network and systems administrator, bringing a broad understanding of computer hardware and software, including installation, configuration, management, troubleshooting, and support. Previously, he served as network manager for Bartlett City Schools (2013-23) where he was responsible for managing the Local Area Network (LAN) and Wide Area Network (WAN) for 11 schools and the Central Office. He supervised the installation and maintenance of Avigilon servers and cameras, managed the VOIP phones, and collaborated with vendors to support the organization. With Shelby County Schools for 10 years, he worked as network supervisor (2011-13) and senior systems administrator (2003-11). He earned an associate degree in electronics engineering technology from Southeast College of Technology.
Evan Warner, Instructor in Mathematics
Instructor in Mathematics Evan Warner joins the faculty to teach Precalculus and Honors Algebra II. As math instructor at Evangelical Christian School from 2020-23, he taught two levels of Geometry and co-taught Engineering. Previously, following a year of mentorship with Memphis Teacher Residency at Soulsville Charter School, he remained at Soulsville for five more years, teaching Algebra 1 and Integrated Math and serving as the 9th grade team leader. For several summers, he was a counselor and then head counselor at Alpine Camp for Boys. After completing a bachelor’s degree in biomedical engineering at UT Knoxville, he earned a master’s in education from Union University. In his third year of teaching, he said he had an epiphany: “When students own their work and finding solutions, they remember the solution paths and are more willing to engage with challenging content.”
Kim Weiss, Campaign Coordinator
Kim Weiss has joined the Memphis University School Development Office as campaign coordinator. In this new position, Weiss works closely with Director of Advancement Perry Dement and Headmaster Pete Sanders in the design and implementation of a capital and endowment campaign. Before joining MUS, Weiss served as executive director of the Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) program at Shelby County Juvenile Court. She has also served many organizations over the years as a community volunteer. A graduate of Girls Preparatory School in Chattanooga, she earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Georgia.