Meet Our Teachers!

Courtney Spence

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Courtney Spence was born and raised in Richmond, Va.  She attended Loyola College in Baltimore, Maryland where she graduated with her undergraduate degree in Elementary Education.  During her time at Loyola College she was a member of the Lady Greyhound’s Soccer Team.  Courtney continued her education at Regent University by earning her master’s degree in Educational Leadership and Gifted Endorsement.

Courtney loves teaching and being a life-long learner.  This is Courtney’s 16th year in education, 11 years were spent in a variety of classrooms spanning from grades 3-8 to include  being a classroom teacher as well as a gifted resource teacher.  The past 4 years she was the assistant principal of Poquoson Primary.   

Courtney is excited to continue her teaching career with the FLEx program as a kindergarten teacher.  Courtney loves traveling, boating, being outdoors, and spending time with family.

Meryl Innerfield

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First Grade

Meryl Innerfield is from New York, but has been in Virginia for almost 15 years! She went to school in SUNY Oneonta in upstate New York. This is Ms. Innerfield’s 14th year teaching, and her 11th year teaching first/second grade.  

Ms. Innerfield loves to teach virtually, and was the 20-21 Elementary School Teacher of the Year in Hampton City Schools!  During that school year, she taught a 100% Virtual Class. She is also a graduate of the HCS Teacher Leadership Series, and has worked as the New Teacher Mentor Lead at her school for the past four years. 

Ms. Innerfield loves science fiction! Her favorite T.V. show is Dr. Who and her favorite movie is “Return of the Jedi” (A Star Wars movie from the original Trilogy). Her puppy, a Yorkipoo who likes to sit under her desk while she teaches, is even named “Jedi”. Ms. Innerfield enjoys playing D+D with her kids, and working in the garden all year round.

Nikki Gaydos

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Second Grade

Nikki was born and raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She completed her undergraduate and master's degree at Duquesne University. 

After graduating with her masters degree, Nikki moved to Virginia and began her teaching career in Loudoun County, Virginia where she taught third grade. Nikki then spent a year teaching third grade with Virtual Virginia.

Nikki is excited to continue her teaching career with the FLEx program as a second grade teacher. She is passionate about building relationships with her students and families. Her favorite subject to teach is math because she believes in making it fun and relatable to students. 

Nikki now lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with her husband, daughter and two dogs. She enjoys spending time with her family, reading and doing yoga

Kristen Rueb

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Third Grade

Born and raised in San Antonio, TX  Kristen traveled to Virginia to pursue her college endeavors.  She received a Bachelor's & Master’s in Special Education at Liberty University. Kristen is licensed in both Elementary Education and Special Education K-12.

Her teaching career started with the SECEP program as a K-4th grade Special Education Teacher. After spending 5 years as an elementary Special Education teacher she landed a Special Education high school teaching position.  She worked as a 4th grade teacher in NPS and then a 3rd grade teacher at VBCPS for 3 years.

During the pandemic, Kristen taught virtually from 2020-2021 and then concurrently from 2021-2022.  She enjoyed and thrived teaching virtually as she saw many students flourish in their education despite the atypical setting. 

Her greatest accomplishments are her two children and dog.  She enjoys watching TV shows, shopping, spending time with her family and crafting. 

Mike Lewis

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Fourth Grade

Born just over the border of northern Virginia while his family was living in Fairfax, VA, Mr. Lewis’ family soon moved to Virginia Beach by the time he was two years old, where he has lived ever since.  After graduating from Salem High School in 1997, Mr. Lewis attended Tidewater Community College and Providence Bible College & Theological Seminary to be a pastor.  While working in the church, he gained an appreciation for working with all kinds of people.   

After fifteen years of working in churches, including Hampton, VA, Mr. Lewis went back to school to study education to become a teacher.  In the last ten years, he has earned three degrees in education, including a masters in Special Education and a post-masters Educational Specialist degree in Educational Technology and Online Learning.  He is currently working on a PhD to learn as much as possible about teaching students in an online setting.  

Since beginning his educational journey, Mr. Lewis has taught every elementary grade level from kindergarten to fifth grade.  Mr. Lewis has spent the last six years working with fourth and fifth grade students.  Educational technology has always been a major part of his classroom environment, which made the shift to online learning natural.  During the pandemic, Mr. Lewis wrote and shared 4th grade virtual materials with a network of teachers across his district.  Teaching with FLEx will be his fourth time teaching virtually, and he looks forward to an awesome year of building great memories with his new students. 

In his free time, Mr. Lewis, hangs out with his wife and four daughters, plays music, binges tv shows, plays video games, and reads lots of books.


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Special Education

Jessica grew up in Upstate New York and moved to Virginia in 2004.  Over the years, she has explored many career paths including floral design, real estate flipping and management, and restaurant services.  After her son was born in 2008, she switched gears by being a stay at home mom.  While raising her son, she discovered her true passion, teaching kids!  She enrolled in the 2+2 program between a local community college and Old Dominion University.  She obtained her Bachelors of Science in Special Education in the winter of 2015.  

For the past nine years, Mrs. Thomas has been part of the Hampton City Schools family.  She was an inclusion teacher at Thomas Eaton Middle School for two years and before joining the FLEx team in 2022, was at Christopher Kraft Elementary for seven years.  While at Kraft, Jessica taught special education students within the general education/inclusion and self-contained special education settings.  During the 20/21 school year, Mrs. Thomas taught students within the self-contained special education setting utilizing a hybrid model.  It was during this time that she realized that some students, even those with disabilities, thrive within the virtual learning setting. 

Jessica currently lives in Hampton with her husband, son, and dog Ruby.  She loves reading, crafting, sewing and anything having to do with art.  Mrs. Thomas loves the water and takes every opportunity she can to enjoy it.  

Candace Horsley

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Fifth Grade

Candace was born and raised in Elizabeth City, North Carolina.  She later moved to Suffolk, Virginia where she completed highschool at Lakeland.  After highschool she  went to Aiken Tech in South Carolina on a softball scholarship and completed two years of her degree.  She then came back home and finished her teaching degree at Norfolk State University.  She has recently received her Master’s in Education at Western Governors University. 

Candace has been teaching for Suffolk Public Schools for 8 years.  Prior to that she was a teacher assistant and substitute teacher.  She enjoys working with students and thier growing mindset.  She plans to pursue a PhD in the future, for Curriculum Development and Online Instruction.

She currently resides in Northern Suffolk with her husband and three children.  In her free time she tutors for Tidewater Friends of Foster and is involved with her children's sports.  She is passionate about the outdoors and being as healthy as possible.   She stays busy on the weekends with motocross, soccer, camping and boating. 

Stacey Smithley

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Fifth Grade

After graduating from the University of Tennessee with a degree in Biomedical Engineering, Stacey moved to Washington DC to work for the National Academy of Science.  During this time she completed a Master of Forensic Science (Crime Scene)  at George Washington University. Stacey began working as a Crime Scene Investigator for a local jurisdiction. She returned to school at Old Dominion University and completed her teaching license for PreK-6th grade.  She taught 4th and 5th grades in Newport News Public Schools for 4 years and 4th grade in York County School Division for 3 years.  Stacey recently took a job teaching for Hampton City Schools as a FLEx teacher for 5th grade. 

When not at work, Stacey loves being outdoors, whether it is backpacking, hiking, or paddle boarding.  She also enjoys spending time with her two daughters, granddaughter, and her dog, Ruby.


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Sixth Grade

Jennifer was born and raised in Hanover County, just north of Richmond. She went to Longwood University where she received her bachelor's degree in Liberal Studies with a certificate to teach Pre K - 8th grade. She plans to pursue a master's degree in Instructional Technology and Design in the future.

She spent the first 22 years of her career teaching in Hanover County. The first 19 years were spent teaching at Bell Creek Middle School where she attended 6th - 8th grade. While there, she taught 6th-grade history and then went on to build the school’s alternative education program where she worked closely with students and their families in grades 7 and 8, teaching math, history, and language arts. In 2020, she chose to move to Hanover County Online School where she taught Math 6, 7, 7/8, and 8 over the next three years. Her time online reignited her love for teaching.

Jennifer is so excited to continue her career with Hampton City Schools and the FLEx program. Her favorite thing about teaching is the relationships she is able to build with her students and their families and she can’t wait to get to know all of the FLEx 6th graders.

Jennifer currently lives in Mechanicsville, VA with her sister, dog Neville, and cat Sammy. She has a niece and two nephews who are her world. She loves spending time with family and friends, listening to audiobooks and music, and being outside when the weather is nice. 


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Sixth Grade

Kelly was born in Canada and moved to Virginia when she was 10 years old . She studied Forensic & Investigative Science at West Virginia University and then Middle School Education at Old Dominion University.  

After graduating with her masters degree from ODU, Kelly began teaching with Newport News Public Schools. After 7 years of teaching, Kelly became an instructional technology coach with Williamsburg-James City County Schools and then Newport News Public Schools. 

Kelly is thrilled to join the FLEx community and teach 6th grade math and science. She is enthusiastic about all things math and science as well as making learning an interactive experience. Although she has a science background and loves science, Kelly's favorite subject to teach is math. 

Kelly lives in Newport News with her husband, son, and two cats. She enjoys spending time with her family, lifting weights, reading, and roller derby.