Meet the Board


Co- President:  LeAnn Simmerman[email protected]:  LeAnn Simmerman is honored to serve as a Teacher of the Gifted in Maury County Public Schools.  For the past 12 years, she has worked with gifted and twice exceptional students in all grade levels.  After graduating from East Tennessee State University with degrees in Special Education and History, she began her career as an elementary Resource Teacher in Johnson City Schools.  LeAnn previously served on the Students with Disabilities and Gifted Students Sub-committee for funding review and TN Board of Education Gifted Focus Group.  She earned an appointment to the national Discovery Education Network Leadership Council and is recognized as a LEGO Master Educator.  LeAnn and her family live in Middle Tennessee but hold strong ties and consider “home” to be East Tennessee.

​Co-President- Dr. Kristy Mall[email protected]:  Dr. Mall is a teacher in a school for gifted and high achievers and teaches during the summers in Vanderbilt's Programs for Talented Youth.  She has taught for 28 years.  She is the SENG (Supporting Emotional Needs of the Gifted) liaison for the southern region, and serves on the advocacy committee for the National Association for Gifted Children in addition to her work on the board. She presents nationwide at conferences about gifted and twice-exceptional students. She is the mother of two twice-exceptional children:  a daughter that is gifted with ADHD and a son that is gifted and has high functioning autism.  She is passionate about advocating for and working with gifted children and their families. 

Past President-Anne Rucker[email protected]:  Teaching is a second career for Anne Rucker. She originally trained to be a lawyer and practiced briefly in Memphis before moving to Nashville where she taught paralegals.  Anne graduated from Mississippi State University with a degree in political science and then University of Memphis where she earned a juris doctorate (J.D.).  She obtained her license to teach from Aquinas College and her masters from Arkansas State University.  Anne taught elementary school for 9 years in Williamson County before moving to gifted education as a gifted teacher in middle school and now at the high school level. 

President Elect - Monica Dempsey, Bartlett Schools, ​[email protected]:  Monica Dempsey lives in the Memphis area and has taught Kindergarten, 2nd grade, 3rd grade, 4th grade, and has now been the gifted education teacher for the past three years for Bartlett City Schools. Her gifted education experience began when her oldest two (who are now 21 and 19) qualified as gifted in elementary school. She presents for her district in-service on occasion. She’s been married for 25 years, visits her son’s business (Belltower Artisans, a pottery studio and coffeeshop) often, loves talking to her daughter who is at the University of Tennessee, and tries to keep up with her youngest who is a junior in high school.

Vice President, East - Michele Tarricone, St. John Neumann Catholic School, Knoxville, [email protected]:  Michele received her bachelors and master's degrees from the University of Tennessee.  She has been teaching in Knoxville for twenty-three years in both public and Catholic schools in fourth through eighth grades. This year she helped develop the enrichment program for advanced students at St. John Neumann Catholic School. Michele and her husband enjoy travelling and visiting their grandchildren.

Vice President, Middle - Ashley Holmes, Clarksville-Montgomery County School System, [email protected] Ashley Holmes is the Lead Teacher of the Gifted for Elementary Schools in Clarksville.  She enjoys advocating for gender equity in advanced STEM education, and was recognized with a perfect score for her Master’s capstone on the topic at Vanderbilt.  In her current role, she supports school staff members in establishing fair screening and assessment practices for identifying gifted children.  Specifically, she works to establish equitable, data-based strategies for identifying historically underrepresented populations of gifted children, particularly EL students, students of underrepresented minority groups, twice-exceptional students and students from low-income backgrounds.  Ashley is happy to be a gifted educator and member of the TAG Board, with the support of a community of expert educators who advocate for maximizing services and securing appropriate funding for gifted programming across the state.

Secretary-Valerie Meiners-Smith, Crosswind Elementary, Collierville Municipal School District, [email protected]:  Valerie Meiners-Smith has been teaching for 17 years.  Her most recent 6 years of teaching have been in the elementary gifted education setting.  Valerie’s passion for gifted education grew from a desire to keep all learners engaged. Valerie is currently a Gifted Differentiation Coach for Crosswind Elementary in the Collierville Municipal School District.  She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education from Ball State University, a Masters of Education from Indiana Wesleyan University, a Graduate Certificate in Gifted and Talented Education from Ball State University, and a license in Educational Leadership from Christian Brother’s University.  Additionally, Valerie is a Nationally Board Certified Teacher. In her free time, she enjoys traveling, reading, and spending time with her family.

Advocacy - Dr. Megan Parker Peters, Lipscomb University, ​[email protected]:  Dr. Megan Parker Peters is the Interim Associate Dean, an Associate Professor, and the Director of Accreditation, Assessment, and Research in the College of Education. She is a licensed psychologist and licensed school psychologist who has earned the designation as a Nationally Certified School Psychologist. Dr. Parker Peters specializes in researching and assessing gifted and twice-exceptional learners. She is the co-recipient of the 2016 Hollingworth award for excellence in research publications in gifted education and the 2017 recipient of the Jo Patterson Award for her contribution to gifted education in the state of Tennessee. She is the co-author of Teaching Tenacity, Resilience, and a Drive for Excellence, which was awarded the 2019 TAGT Legacy award. She is also the immediate past-president of the Tennessee Association for Independent Liberal Arts Colleges of Teacher Education.

Dr. Parker Peters has published articles related to the social emotional needs of gifted learners. She also serves on the board of the Tennessee Association for the Gifted and has served the editorial boards of the National Association for Gifted Children’s publications, Teaching for High Potential and Parenting for High Potential.

​Treasurer - Allison Argo[email protected]:  Allison Argo has served as an elementary educator for 15 years, working in both suburban and urban settings. Two years ago, at the encouragement of a coworker, she began working as a Gifted and Talented Educator with Metro Nashville Public Schools and believes she has truly found her calling! Allison graduated from Cumberland University with both her undergraduate and Masters degrees. She is currently pursuing her Ed. S in Leadership and Innovation from Fort Hayes State University. Allison is also a Javits- Frasier Scholar with the National Association for Gifted Children. She is married to a fellow educator and enjoys traveling, hiking and gardening.

Parent Liaison - Alli Finney, ​[email protected] :  Alli Finney is a former first grade teacher with a long-time passion for gifted education. When her son was born, she began the full-time job of finding creative outlets suitable for his busy mind. In 2012, Alli joined and later became President of Williamson County Gifted Support (WillCoGS) with a mission of supporting, educating, and empowering gifted students and their families. Working as TAG’s Parent Liaison has been a rewarding natural extension of that local work. Along with her husband and son, Alli enjoys traveling and learning about different places, people, and cultures.