Ms. Annette M. Higgins, M.Ed.
Annette Higgins has been an advocate for STEM education in Fulton County for over 20 years. She earned both a B.S. (Biology) as well as a M.Ed. (Educational Leadership) from Pennsylvania State University. Ms. Higgins also attended graduate school at Mercer University for certification in middle grades math and science.
Throughout her career, Ms. Higgins has successfully launched a STEM based elementary charter school in Roswell, which earned the Governor’s Bronze award in its first year of operation. She also created a STEM College and Career Readiness Program (K-12) for several local charter schools and built the math program at a start-up charter middle school. Under her guidance, students became the highest performing in Fulton County and the school was eventually awarded the national Blue Ribbon. The Mathematics Association of America honored Ms. Higgins with the 2009 EM Sliffe Award, which recognizes distinguished mathematics teaching.
Most recently Ms. Higgins served as Assistant Principal for Mill Springs Academy where she sponsored a program nominated for the Technology Association of Georgia STEM award.
Principal Higgins lives in Milton and is devoted to her family and pets. She is a volunteer for Canine Assistants and currently lives with a school therapy dog, Tippet, who also looks forward to meeting the students of FAST.
Ms. Higgins has positively impacted the lives of many Fulton County students in all grade levels with her experience in traditional public, charter and private schools. We are very excited to have her on our team.
Ashley Stinger, Ed. S
FAST Assistant Principal (Kindergarten-3rd)
Ashley Stinger earned a B.S. in Elementary Education from the College of Saint Rose, a M.S. in Literacy from The University of Albany, and an Ed.S in Early Childhood Education from Georgia State University. She has taught kindergarten and first grade, having experience in both public and private settings. For the past 6 years, Mrs. Stinger worked as the Curriculum Coordinator at Atlanta Academy in Roswell, Georgia.
Mrs. Stinger has 8 years of experience attending institutes at Teachers College at Columbia University, studying Lucy Calkin’s Units of Study in Reading and Writing. She implemented the workshop model at her previous institution, and she is excited to see it begin here at the Fulton Academy of Science and Technology. Mrs. Stinger also has extensive experience with Singapore Math and Math in Focus curriculum. She coaches educators and leads professional development on the successful integration and implementation of Singapore Math.
Mrs. Stinger is married with two daughters, and is a new FAST parent this year.
Ms. Alexandria Bragg, Ed. M.
FAST Assistant Principal (4th -7th)
Alex Bragg earned a B.S. from Auburn University, a M.A.T. from The University of West Alabama, and an Ed.M in Education Leadership from Columbia University. She has taught high school in the Cobb County School District and middle school at a charter school in the Fulton County School District. Most recently, Ms. Bragg served as the Head of 8th Grade, the Middle School Design Thinking Coach for the Mount Vernon Institute for Innovation, and 7th and 8th grade social studies teacher at Mount Vernon Presbyterian School in Atlanta, Georgia.
In addition to these roles, Ms. Bragg served as a coach and team member for the Atlanta K-12 Design Challenge, a partnership with Atlanta area independent schools, Fulton County Schools, and the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design at Stanford University (the d.School) charged with utilizing design thinking to innovate Atlanta’s schools. Driven by her passion for transforming schools, Ms. Bragg was invited in the spring of 2014 to attend a White House Social with Dr. Jill Biden, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, and 19 fellow educators around the country to discuss education reform. She enjoys sharing her passions and reflections on her professional blog, and her article Moving from isolated teachers to connected R&D teams across multiple schools was recently published by Harvard University’s Transforming Teaching Project.
When she is not at school, Ms. Bragg enjoys giving back to the community through her involvement with the Junior League of Atlanta and as a Board Member of Rebuilding Together Atlanta. She is married to Patrick, and they love spending time with friends, family, and their fluffy and adorable cat, Seattle.
Ms. Courtney Downs
Courtney Downs comes to FAST with 9 years of experience in education. Ms. Downs started her teaching career as a Language Arts teacher at a charter middle school, eventually becoming the department chair for Language Arts. In addition to teaching Ms. Downs also coached the soccer team and the Model UN team. The Model UN team won many accolades during her tenure, even participating in an international competition in New York City at the United Nations Center.
From there, Ms. Downs moved to the private sector, teaching middle school Reading and Language Arts at Mill Springs Academy, a values based education community. While at Mill Springs, Ms. Downs mediated life-space interviews (conflict resolutions) and facilitated in student centered community meetings.
In addition to teaching Ms. Downs also coached basketball and soccer and led the middle school team to a third place win in their conference.
In her spare time you can find Ms. Downs on a soccer field (indoor and outdoor teams) or on a walking trail with her mini Australian Shepherd named Rooney, named after soccer player Wayne Rooney. Both Ms. Downs and Rooney can be found Saturday and Sunday morning watching the Premiere League.
Mr. Mark Gerl
FAST Innovation Director
Mark Gerl (rhymes with “barrel” or “peril”) comes to FAST with 14 years of educational innovation experience. He is a fourth generation teacher, following his mother, grandmother and great grandmother in school work. For eight years, he was a Systems Administrator, earning a commendation as one of the International Top 20 “SysAdmin of the Year” for 2009 from BigFix.com and the Large Installation System Administrators Association. Mr. Gerl then followed his passion for education and moved into a classroom setting at the Galloway School as a K-4 Technology Coordinator. During this time his project-based, hands-on learning environment was featured in the book “Loving Learning” by Tom Little and Katherine Ellison.
Recently Mr. Gerl moved into an Instructional Design Specialist role, while also teaching Middle School and High School Engineering and Technology classes. In this role Mr. Gerl developed classes that were named as a Top Five STEM program for 2015-2016 from Technology Association of Georgia and this coming year will be serving as a PBS Digital Media Educational Innovator for the State of Georgia.
In his spare time Mr. Gerl enjoys flying paper airplanes, kites and model rockets. He lives in Woodstock with his wife and 2 sons and is on a never- ending quest to brew the perfect cup of coffee. His favorite book is “The Phantom Tollbooth” by Norton Juster.
Mrs. Brittany Brookshire
Brittany Brookshire joins the FAST team as the school’s first counselor. Mrs. Brookshire has a B.S. in Psychology from Georgia State University, and a M.Ed in Professional School Counseling from the University of Georgia. She is state and nationally certified; recognized by both the state of Georgia as well as the National Board of Certified Counselors. Mrs. Brookshire began working with children 8 years ago. In addition to working in an educational setting, Mrs. Brookshire spent many years working closely with occupational, speech, and physical therapists in a clinical setting. These experiences provided her with invaluable insight into child development and education.
Mrs. Brookshire enjoys creating programs for use with individual students, small groups, and classrooms, and she hopes to implement a number of interventions here at FAST. She hopes to continue educating students about topics she feels strongly about such as empathy, emotional well-being, technology safety, friendship, standing up to bullying, career exploration, and much more. She is passionate about advocating for her students and hopes her office will be a safe place for all!
In her free time, Mrs. Brookshire enjoys traveling, reading, and spending time with her friends, family, and her husband, Cody. She also thoroughly enjoys her wonderful pets, “Snug” the dog, Lexi the cat, and Beau the horse!