Faculty and Staff


Jo Cullen

Executive Director

Jo is from England and moved to America in 2008 when her husband was relocated with Eastman. She graduated from the University of York, England, with a Bachelors degree in English and Education. She completed a post grad in Elementary education and went on to teach in elementary schools in England for 16 years. She became a school principal there in 2002. During this time, her younger son was diagnosed with autism. She completed a post grad certificate in Aspergers Syndrome at the University of Sheffield, and also underwent TEACCH training with Professor Gary Mesibov.

Jo is the Executive Director of Jeremiah School, responsible for all operations for the school. She manages faculty, students, curriculum, and liaison with parents. She also works hard on marketing, fundraising, seeking out new students, and generally raising awareness of the school within the community. She lives with her husband and younger son in Johnson City; her elder son is a student at Clemson University.

Patti Dunlap


Patti Dunlap has a Bachelors degree from Northern Michigan University and a Masters degree from Fayetteville State University. She is certified in elementary education, special education, and educational leadership.  She has taught students with a variety of ages and abilities, as well as been principal in elementary and middle schools.  She has also served as a director of exceptional children and other special programs.  Patti is passionate about working with students, making decisions based on what is best for them, and building strong support networks with colleagues and families.

Patti and her husband Dean have recently followed their dream of moving to a cabin in Roan Mountain. They have 5 grown children, all married, and 10 grandchildren with more on the way.  They love spending time with their growing family, as well as exploring the mountains of Tennessee.  Patti is excited to continue her career as part of the dedicated team at Jeremiah School.

Andrew Baxter

Academic Program Instructor

Andrew Baxter is a native of Johnson City who holds an MEd. in Elementary Education K-6 as well as an MEd. in Special Education K-12.  He first began working with young people of all abilities back in 2007 through the ETSU Renaissance Camps and decided he wanted to pursue education. He has taught 5th grade Math and Science at Boones Creek Middle School, worked as an interventionist at Grandview, worked in Sullivan County as a resource teacher and just completed a year in Kingsport City Schools in a self-contained room for students with autism and co-occurring disabilities.

While in graduate school for special education, he worked as a research assistant under the guidance of Dr. Pamela Mims.  He also worked closely for the Attainment Company, Inc.  It was during this time, Andrew became inspired by the amazing teachers and students he had the pleasure of working with.

As a parent and husband himself, he firmly believes that education is a family enterprise and that important decisions should be made in a collaborative spirit. He is thrilled to be on this journey with the incredible staff and students of the Jeremiah School.

Susan Van Slyke


Susan Van Slyke is a native of Wisconsin who earned her B.S. degree in psychology and worked part of her career in the mental health field. She returned to graduate school a few years after she married her husband Jeff, who was a Major in the Air Force, while being stationed in San Antonio, TX. There she earned her M.Ed. with dual certification in ec-6 generalist and ec-12 special education. She has taught piano to many students, including two with autism. After spending many years traveling in the Air Force, she and her family now live in Jonesborough. Susan has two children, Henley 14, who attends University School and Hannah 21, finishing school and pursuing a military career. She also has a love for animals, especially dogs; she has three spoiled dogs, and two cats.
Susan is excited to be a part of Jeremiah School and to truly make a difference in each student’s life. She strives to provide the best individualized support for each student and makes each student feel loved, supported, accepted and understood.

Heather Poston

Teaching Assistant/Enrichment Program Director

Heather Poston is a native of Bristol, Tennessee. She attended the University of Tennessee and North Carolina State University where she earned her Bachelors of Science. She now resides in Johnson City with her husband, Brian, and two kids, Knox and Harper.

Heather has previously volunteered with the Special Olympics and the CDC class at Fairmont Elementary School. She has a passion for working with children. During her free time she enjoys spending time with her family, fitness and running, being outdoors, and photography.

Alexis Turner


Alexis Turner is a native of Johnson City, TN. She attended ETSU, where she holds a BA in Psychology, and Georgia Southern University, where she earned an MA in Experimental Psychology with an emphasis in Teaching. She holds a cognitive and behavioral intervention certification as well as an Advanced Autism Specialist certification. She fell in love with teaching while working as an online ESL instructor where she served students of all ages and abilities. Alexis has worked as a computer and technology teacher at Harold McCormick Elementary School and as an early childhood educator.

Alexis is a dedicated lifelong learner who devotes much of her time to research. Her most recent research has investigated the impact of hands-on, play-based learning curricula for students with Autism. In 2019, Alexis was invited to present at the Internatioal Early Childcare Conference where she spoke on creating inclusive classroom spaces for students with Autism and co-occuring disorders.

In her free time, Alexis enjoys reading, teaching and studying mixed martial arts, and spending time with her two cats. She is so thankful that God opened doors for her at Jeremiah School.

Sam Hodges


Sam Hodges is originally from Statesville, North Carolina. She attended Meredith College and received her Bachelors in Psychology. While at Meredith she also worked at the Meredith Autism Program, a preschool which used Applied Behavioral Analysis to help children with Autism prepare to enter Kindergarten. MAP is where she fell in love with working with this population! She moved to Johnson City in order to gain her Masters of Arts in Clinical Mental Healthy from East Tennessee State University. She lives in Johnson City with her husband and her adorable dog!  In my free time she loves to run, travel, and go to the lake.

Jessie Smythe

Office Administrator

Jessie Smythe hails from Elkins, West Virginia. She lived there for most of her life, but moved to Tennessee when she decided to attend Bryan College in Dayton Tennessee. During her time at college, she was part of many campus organizations, most notably, Student Government, where she assisted with planning and other administrative functions. Jessie was also leader of the Senior Adult Ministry. She received her degree in Corporate Communications, and moved to Johnson City after graduating. Jessie is married to her husband, Luke, who she met at Bryan College.

Jess has such a passion for people, whether old or young, and making sure they feel seen and loved is what keeps her going. She also enjoys baking, being outside, writing, and spending time with family. Jessie believes that God can use her gifts of administrative work and service as a way to minister to others, and is happy to serve and be an integral part of Jeremiah School and its mission.