Get to know your FYE Instructors

lindsay hyden

Lindsay Hyden

As the Associate Director of Campus Recreation here at UTC, I love coming to work every day and thrive on educating others on how to live a healthy, more productive lifestyle. My passion is fitness and with a master’s degree in Clinical Exercise Physiology from here at UTC, my goal is to lead by example each day.  I love being outdoors in our beautiful city and spending my free time with my husband and 2 sons. I am also a certified Spin Cycle Instructor and teach weekly at the Aquatic and Recreation Center on campus.  







bryon kluesner

Dr. Bryon Kluesner

Dr. Kluesner earned his Bachelor of Science in Health Care Management in 1992 from Southern Illinois University, Carbondale (SIU-C). He completed his Master of Science in Rehabilitation Administration in 1998 and his Doctor of Rehabilitation (Rh.D.) in 2003, also from SIU-C.  In October 2006, Dr. Kluesner moved to Chattanooga to take a position as the Adaptive Technology Coordinator in the Disability Resource Center at UTC. In 2008, he received his Assistive Technology Applications Certification (ATAC) from California State University, Northridge. He is currently a co-facilitator for the first year experience for students attending UTC and enrolling in the MoSAIC program for college students with autism. Dr. Kluesner is an Adjunct Faculty professor for the UTC School of Education. He teaches "Advanced Instructional Technology" and "Strategies for Inclusion." He also teaches the "First Year Studies: The UTC Experience" course. Dr. Kluesner is a fan of Stephen King novels.



caesar wood

Caesar Wood

Caesarjoined the division of student development at UTC in October 2012 as the Director for Campus Recreation and I have been blessed to work with a great staff since coming to UTC.  Effective July 1, 2015, I have been promoted to the Executive Director of Campus Recreation and University Center.  My new office is located in the University Center and I now report to Tim Johnson, Assistant Vice Chancellor for Housing and Residence Life.  I am challenging my staff to meet the ever changing needs of our students and strive to be customer service orientated in everything we do on a daily basis.  My past experiences and passion to make UTC a better place is what drives me on a daily basis.  I believe Campus Recreation and the University Center will pursue excellence and improve every day in all that we do to enrich the lives of the students we serve. 

I came to UTC from the University of North Texas in Denton, TX, where I served as the Associate Director for Recreational Sports for 15 years. I have been involved in the recreation field since 1993 and a proud member of NIRSA (National Intramural Recreational Sports Association) where I am a member of the (RCRSP) Registry for Collegiate Recreational Sports Professionals.  I call Huntsville, TX my hometown, which is 45 minutes north of Houston, TX and where I attended Sam Houston State University as an undergrad, go Bearkats! I graduated from SHSU with my bachelors of Science degree in Kinesiology in 1996.  After my undergraduate days, I attended Georgia Southern University in Statesboro, GA where I obtained my Master of Science degree in Recreation Administration in 1998.   I have two awesome children, Josh Wood and Noah Wood, who keep me going with their energy and athletic adventures on a daily basis.   I have been married to my beautiful wife, Christy Wood, for 12 years whom I have known for 14 years, and could not do it without her as she is the rock and keeps me going!   I love to play golf and enjoy coaching my two boys in basketball and baseball as they grow up, fast too!

lisa tarr

Tonia Martin

Tonia currently serves as the CRM (Customer Relationship Management) Database Administrator within the Enrollment Services Division.  She has been at UTC for fourteen years serving in various areas from Financial Aid to Banner Systems.  She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice and Political Science from East Tennessee State University, a Masters in Higher Education Administration from Syracuse University and a Master’s in Public Administration from UTC.   She has adjunct taught several different classes in Political Science over the years, but LOVES teaching FYE classes the most!   She and her husband stay very busy with three sons in Boy Scouts, soccer, and their church.

debbie cantrell

Debbie Cantrell

Debbie has been a math educator for over 30 years. A graduate of UTC, she has taught at both the secondary and collegiate levels. Debbie and her husband, Chuck, have one son who is a senior at UTK. She loves reading, yoga, Pilates, dogs, and chocolate!








stacie grisham

Mary Marr

Mary Marjorie Weber Marr joined the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga Walker Center for Teaching and Learning in April  2014 as a Senior Instructional Developer. She has 15 years experience as an Academic Technology Consultant. She also has experience as an adjunct faculty member with TBR's Regents Online Degree Program and UTC's FYE program. Within the WCTL her primary role is supporting faculty in UTC’s mission of excellence in instruction and student learning.

Mary enjoys working with faculty on specific areas of interest, including using technology to enhance student learning. She is involved with faculty across campus, from New Faculty Orientation, Adjunct Faculty Orientation, the Course Redesign Program, Quality Matters, and one-on-one teaching and learning faculty consultations. She is interested in empathic teaching, deeper learning, and growth mindset.

Mary also participates in the Read2Achieve program on campus and Freshman Orientation sessions through the WCTL's ThinkAchieve program.

Mary still feels new to Chattanooga, having been a lifelong Memphian and graduate of The University of Memphis (Go Tigers!). She has a BA ('95) in Art History and Theater, and an MAT ('97) in Education. She enjoys learning about her new hometown and all of the beautiful parks and mountains in the area.



stephanie henderson

Stephanie Henderson

Stephanie graduated from Michigan State University with a MFA in Production Design not so long ago fulfilling a life-long dream of becoming a Costume Designer.  Shespends five weeks of her summer as Costume Designer in Italy working with La Musica Lircia an opera company for young singers.  She currently lives with her husband and owns two golden retrievers, a parakeet and Monty, the horse.  The only drawback to Living in TN is that her son PJ still lives in Michigan.





carling wilson

Carling Wilson

I graduated from Mars Hill University with a Bachelor’s in Athletic Training in 2007. I then went to Western Carolina University to complete my Masters Degree in College Student Personnel in 2009. Throughout my college career and post graduate employment I have had the opportunity to work within a variety of campus departments such us: Campus Recreation, Camps/Conferences, Champs Life Skills for Athletes, Financial Aid and Housing. I am currently the Assistant Director of Occupancy Management for the Housing and Residence Life department for UTC. Simply put…I manage the room assignment, room change and housing billing. After 5pm and on the weekends I enjoy mountain biking, hiking, working around the house and hanging out with my family and friends.



jamie harvey

Jamie Harvey

Jamie F. Harvey, EdD serves as Assistant Professor in the Health and Human Performance Department at the University of Tennessee Chattanooga. Her departmental emphases are advising and teaching health and physical education students with service on various committees where she has taught for 31 years.  

For anyone working with other people, collegiality embraces the attitude of camaraderie, inclusiveness and selflessness. To be an effective colleague means you are available and approachable, yet not afraid to ask for assistance. Colleagues are consistently respectful; holding each other accountable and supporting one another when needed. Driven by power, status and/or ego-laden attributes create struggling imbalances amongst teams of people; thus, thwarting progressive efforts. Regardless of position, individuals need to focus on what is contributed for the whole team (multiple people) rather than personal gain (the individual).


 tracye poolTracye Pool

Tracye has been an employee of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga since 1991. She has taught ACT preparation classes for Center for Professional Education, and, for 20 years, she has taught a variety of classes for the English Department, including Professional Writing, Rhetoric and Composition, Developmental Writing, and Writing for Social Sciences. She has also taught The Real Skinny: Anorexia in Medieval Saints and Contemporary Women, for UTC’s Women’s Studies Department. In Fall 2013, she designed and taught the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga's pilot program with Coursera, an online education platform. She currently serves on the English Department’s Composition Committee.

At Georgia Northwestern Technical College, she taught dual enrollment English. She has also taught memoir writing for a non-profit literacy program. She is Past-President of the Chattanooga Council of Teachers of English (CCTE), and currently serves as the CCTE’s National Council of Teachers of English Liaison. She is a member of the Chattanooga Writers Guild and Past-President of the Arts and Education Council and former Chair of the Conference on Southern Literature. She presented a paper on Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) at the Conference on College Composition and Communication in March, 2015. She has contributed short stories, articles, and poems to Healthscope Magazine, Adobe Abalone, Confection Magazine, Apollo's Lyre, and the National Council of Teachers of English Writer's Gallery. She has also co-written a chapter about MOOCs for Trends in Training (Cambridge Scholars Publishing Ltd.: in press). She has written newsletters, grant proposals, training manuals, and promotional materials for non-profit organizations and corporations. She is Past-President of the Mizpah Congregation Sisterhood and served as Co-Chair of The Festival of Trees. She has volunteered for the Boys and Girls Club of Chattanooga, The Arts and Education Council, The Anti-Defamation League, Health House of Chattanooga, and the Chattanooga Jewish Community Religious School.



Vikki Bernotski

I am an Academic Advisor in the School of Education. I earned my Bachelor’s Degree in Classics from College of Charleston and my Master’s at The Citadel in Student Affairs and College Counseling. I love working with our future teachers at UTC.  I have a dog, Shadow, who runs with me daily and keeps me in check!  Chattanooga is full of great places to visit and things to do!  In spare time I love to travel and make crafts of varying sorts.


Mark Rehm                                                                                     

Mr. Rehm currently serves as the Associate Director of Clinical Services at the Counseling and Personal Development Center, and has been working at UTC for over six years.  His passion in counseling is to help students develop their unique identity through strength building and by overcoming the traumas that hold them back. This will be the third year that Mr. Rehm has taught First Year Studies and he loves to interact with students outside of his role as a professional counselor. When not enjoying his work life at UTC, Mr. Rehm can be found spending time with his wife and 4 month old baby Justice, or out on the tennis court or working in his backyard.



Nikita O'Connor

Hi! I’m Nikita O’Connor. I  currently work as a Resident Director in Lockmiller Apartments and as a personal trainer for the ARC. I have my Master’s Degree in Higher Education from Florida State University and I am currently pursuing my Educational Doctorate in Learning and Leadership at UTC. I enjoy working with students because their time in college is an integral part of their life and I find it rewarding to help them along in their journey.  In my spare time I like to spend time outdoors and be active. I enjoy running, biking, camping, hiking, and paddling.  


Perry Storey

Director of the University of Tennessee Chattanooga Challenger STEM Learning Center


Perry came to the University of Tennessee Chattanooga (UTC) Challenger STEM Learning Center in July 2013 after 18 years as Principal of Notre Dame Catholic High School in Chattanooga, Tennessee.  His additional prior work experiences include Director of Employment and Training Programs Cleveland State Community College in Cleveland, Tennessee; Senior planner at the North Georgia Regional Planning Commission in Dalton, Georgia and at UTC in Student Services and Housing.  Perry is a two time Graduate from UTC holding a Master of Education and ED.S. in Educational Administration and Supervision. This is his third year teaching a First Year Experience class.


Rebecca Dragoo

Rebecca Dragoo is a Chattanooga native. She graduated with her undergraduate degree from The University of Georgia (Go Dawgs!). In May 2015 she became a Moc when she completed her Master of Business Administration degree at UTC (Go Mocs!). She has worked in the Records Office at UTC for 4 years now. She has a bearded husband (Will), a precious baby girl (Florence), and an adorable mutt (Eve). This is her second year teaching USTU 1250 and she’s really looking forward to another great group of students!


Avalon Gourlay

Avalon Gourlay came to UTC as a Freshman in 2001 and has been either a student, faculty, or staff member since then. She graduated with a degree in Psychology and continued her studies at UTC by earning a Master of Science in Research Psychology. Avalon enjoys being part of the UTC community and is actively engaged with the campus through teaching and working as the Certification Officer in the School of Education. In her free time, she going on adventures with her husband, (who she met studying abroad!), 2 year-old daughter, and Shaka the (best) dog. 



Joel Baxley

Director of Visual Art Education, Southeast Center for Education in the Arts


Joel has worked as an artist and a teacher in a variety of settings. He has created commercial art and design for print and electronic media, designs for stage productions, and works of fine art for show and commission.  He has taught children and adults including experiences as an art specialist, a college instructor, and a teaching administrator.  He has presented on visual art and arts integration nationally, including the Annenberg Connecting with the Arts workshop series.  




Laurie Melnik

Executive Director, Southeast Center for Education in the Arts


Laurie Melnik is the Executive Director for the Southeast Center for Education in the Arts (SCEA) at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga where she also oversees theatre education programming for the center. At SCEA, Laurie cultivates multi-organizational collaborations around strengthening arts teaching and learning across diverse populations and interdisciplinary contexts.  Culturally responsive pedagogy and asset-based community development maintain a strong presence in Laurie’s work as she works across sectors to help communities realize and maximize their creative potential when solving critical problems. She is a member of the American Alliance for Theatre and Education where she served as a Professional Development Co-Chair and was recently elected to their Board of Directors. She has an M.F.A in Theatre with a concentration in Theatre for Young Audiences from the University of Central Florida, an M.P.A. in Nonprofit Management from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, and is a 2013 Holmberg Arts Leadership Institute alum.




Deardra McGee

Deardra McGee has been an employee of UTC for over 20 years. After working 11 years with the GEAR UP program here at UTC, she joined the Center for Advisement and Student Success (CASS), now Center for Advisement, in the fall of 2011 where she works as the Academic Advisor for “undecided” first-time freshman. She is also the coordinator for the undecided living learning community “Discover & Declare” providing dedicated programming and resources to undecided students living in Decosimo Residential Hall.

Deardra received her Bachelor’s degree in Sociology from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga in 2008 and later received her Masters of Professional Studies: Strategic Leadership from Tennessee Technological University. In addition to teaching the FYE course, Deardra also teaches a MINDSET (1) hour credit course for freshman during the spring semester. This course is designed for first-time freshman on academic probation after their first semester in school. Deardra participates in any and everything freshman centered!

Deardra enjoys her work with undecided students in helping them “discover and declare” the best major/career option for their future. She LOVES that “AHA moment” she’s able to experience with students as they spend their first year of college exploring self, others and the world around them! She has four amazing adult children and two beautiful grandbabies (Jonathan and JoJo) and spends her time spoiling them. Deardra LOVES football and is a BIG Dallas Cowboy fan!