We are excited to announce that Mount Pisgah Christian School has named veteran educator and coach, Matt Hixenbaugh, as its new Assistant Head of Upper School and Head Boys Basketball Coach.
April 10, 2019
For the past 13 years, Hixenbaugh has been the head boys basketball coach at the Mary Institute and Saint Louis Country Day School (MICDS) in St. Louis, Missouri. While at MICDS, Hixenbaugh earned the Eugene A. Hecker Chair for distinguished teaching in the humanities. He also led his team to District, Metro League and ABC League Championships while being named District Coach of the Year multiple times.
"I am humbled and honored by the offer to become the Assistant Head of Upper School at Mount Pisgah Christian School," Hixenbaugh said. "This is a great opportunity for our family and we feel blessed to become part of the Mount Pisgah community."
Over an 18-year head coaching career including tenures at MICDS, Winter Park High School (Winter Park, FL) and Trinity Preparatory School (Winter Park, FL), Hixenbaugh amassed 290 career wins. He has been a speaker for Nike Championship Basketball Clinics, ISACS Conferences, the Midwest Education Technology Conference and Summit for Transformative Learning in St. Louis.
Hixenbaugh is a proud graduate of Washington University, where he played for his mentor, Mark Edwards. During his time in Winter Park, Florida, he was named Florida State Coach of the Year for the 2005-06 season as his team advanced to the state championship game. Over his career, he has coached more than 40 players who have gone on to participate in NCAA athletics.
“I applaud our search team for their rigor and dedication in finding the best candidate,” said Head of School, Ruston Pierce. “Matt’s wealth of experience both in the classroom and on the court will enrich our students and the School community. I look forward to seeing how his leadership will advance Mount Pisgah’s mission of providing an outstanding college-preparatory education grounded in Christian faith and values.”
Hixenbaugh is happily married to wife Calista. The couple has a 7th-grade daughter, Cloey.
He will transition into the new role on a full-time basis starting June 1st. Please join me in welcoming Matt, Calista and Cloey to our MPCS family!
Ruston Pierce, Head of School
News and Announcements Archive
Mount Pisgah had a total of fourteen players named to the All-Region or All-Area teams for Fall 2018 sports. See the complete lists below:
The Mount Pisgah Varsity Football team had 9 players selected for the Georgia High School Association All-Region Football teams for the 2018 season. The Patriots finished the season with a 3-7 overall record. The players who were recognized are:
First Team – Offense
Connor Norwood (QB) - Senior
Chase Grande (WR) - Senior
First Team – Defense
Lukas Aden (OL) - Senior
Nick Jackson (DL) - Sophomore
Second Team – Offense
Nick Speros (WR) - Sophomore
Second Team – Defense
AJ Crawford (DL) - Freshman
Jakob Wooten (DB) - Senior
Mikey Nardella (LB) - Senior
Greyson Stevens (TE) - Junior
The Mount Pisgah Varsity Softball team had 3 players selected for the Georgia High School Association All-Region Softball teams for the 2018 season. The Patriots finished with an 10-13 overall record for the season and made it to the first round of the State Tournament. The players who were recognized are:
Tori Dalton - Junior
Grace Hudson - Freshman
Megan Messinger - Junior
The Mount Pisgah Varsity Volleyball team had two players selected for the Georgia High School Association All-Area team for the 2018 season. The Patriots finished with a 13-21 overall record for the season and made it the semifinals of the Area Tournament and the first round of the State Tournament. The players who were recognized are:
Taylor Bater - Senior
Brooke Bini - Junior
Mount Pisgah Christian School is excited to announce the hiring of Mr. Tom Wood as Director of Advancement. Tom comes to Mount Pisgah with 30 years of experience in fundraising and leadership within the education, foundation and the non-profit sectors. He started his career at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago where he was involved in one of the first successful billion-dollar campaigns in the country. He and his wife, Sherry, moved to Atlanta in 1990, where Wood led the fundraising efforts at three Christian organizations including the In Touch Foundation with Dr. Charles Stanley, Leading the Way with Dr. Michael Youssef and Whitfield Academy for the past 15 years.
Tom has also consulted with a number of independent schools, ministries and non-profit organizations across the country, most recently with Families First, a foster care agency in Georgia. Wood received his Bachelors of Arts in Communication from Moody Bible Institute and earned his Masters of Business Administration in Entrepreneurship from Kennesaw State University. He is known nationally for the work he has done in non-profit fundraising. Mount Pisgah Head of School Ruston Pierce shares, “We are very fortunate to hire a man of his caliber to lead our advancement efforts. I am excited to work with Tom, and I know his character will be a perfect fit in the Mount Pisgah community.”
Mr. Wood had this to say about his philosophy of advancement, “I was fortunate as a young man to have been mentored by several godly men who taught me that raising money is as much a ministry as the work of the organization. They instilled in me the importance of creating personal relationships with your supporters, having the mindset of the Apostle Paul when he wrote, “Not that I seek the gift itself, but I seek for the profit which increases to your account.”
Tom and Sherry have two college-age children and Sherry teaches children with special needs at Teasley Elementary, a Cobb County public school. “Sherry and I have faced many challenges in our lives, but one of the most demanding has been parenting our two children in a post 9/11 world. The best decision we ever made was sending our children to Christ-centered private schools. Both schools provided faculty and coaches who invested in their lives far beyond the classroom and playing field. I have worked with many organizations and ministries over the year and nothing is as important as the work of a school in partnering with parents to develop boys and girls into godly men and women. I am excited at what I see God doing at Mount Pisgah under Ruston Pierce’s leadership and I am honored to have an opportunity to partner with this community in training the next generation of leaders.”
Tom Wood will start working full time at the beginning of September, yet will be with us part-time for the month of August as he transitions into this role.
Get to Know Janey Smith Learning Specialist, Middle and Upper Schools
We are happy to announce an expansion to Mount Pisgah’s student learning team with the addition of Mount Pisgah alum Janey Smith (‘08). Mrs. Smith will serve as a Learning Specialist, working specifically with our Middle and Upper School students. She joins a team that already includes Learning Specialists Caprice Pickering (Lower School) and Vicki Smith (Middle School).
Maiden name: Gibson
Year graduated from MPCS: 2008
College/Degrees: BSE, Early Childhood/Special Education/Elementary/Collaborative Education, Samford University and M.Ed., Early Childhood Special Education, Peabody College at Vanderbilt University
Where’ve you been: In Nashville, I was an instructional coach for Metro Nashville Public Schools. I also taught inclusion pre-k at the Susan Gray School, the lab school on the campus of Peabody College at Vanderbilt University, and at Kirkpatrick Elementary in East Nashville.
Family: My husband, Nate, and I have been married for 4 years. We have 2 girls - Jaylin, whom we adopted from South Africa in March 2017, and Addy K, who was born in November 2017.
Why education: From a very young age, I knew I wanted to be a teacher. My mom loves to tell a story about me at age 2 setting up a classroom in my playroom for all my dolls and stuffed animals and pretending to be the teacher. I love learning, and I love helping students figure out how they best learn. Nelson Mandela said, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” I believe that a strong educational foundation can equip students to develop their individual strengths and passions and leverage these to serve others.
What you loved most about MPCS as a student: As a student at MPCS, I loved being part of a Christian community, the focus on spiritual development and service (especially our mission trips to Montana, Russia, and Costa Rica), and participating in athletics.
Why are you excited to join the team: I am so excited to join the MPCS team in an Academic Support role for Middle School and Upper School! Mount Pisgah is a wonderful community to be a part of, and it is so special to be able to come back to teach at the place I went to school. I am looking forward to collaborating with teachers and students to provide academic support.
Carly Morris (’09) Returns to Mount Pisgah - Veteran Educator/Coach to Teach Language Arts, Coach Volleyball
Carly Morris, a 2009 graduate of Mount Pisgah Christian School, is returning home to the Patriots.
Morris will rejoin Mount Pisgah in the fall, holding a variety of roles throughout the Middle School after spending the past five years teaching and coaching at King’s Ridge Christian School in Alpharetta, Ga.
In the classroom at Mount Pisgah, Morris will teach Middle School language arts. Beyond the classroom, she will be part of a new school-wide Student Life team, working primarily with Middle School students. On the athletics staff, Morris will serve as head coach of the Middle School Girls Volleyball squad and an assistant for the Girls Varsity team.
“We’re beyond thrilled to have Carly back home again,” said Marie Woods, Head of Middle School. “As a graduate of Mount Pisgah, she represents the best of what we do. A passionate educator, exemplary student leader, and dedicated coach, Carly will elevate our students to achieve and lead in line with our mission of preparing them for college and life beyond the classroom.”
Morris, who went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in English from Samford University in 2013 after graduating from Mount Pisgah, began teaching at King’s Ridge Christian School later that same year. There, Morris taught English, and coached volleyball. She was head coach for the varsity team while also serving as the program coordinator, overseeing both junior varsity and middle school volleyball teams.
As a Mount Pisgah student from grades 3-12, Morris said the connections she made with her teachers are her fondest memories. Now as a teacher herself, she aims to create those same bonds with her students.
“Here, the ministry of the teachers isn't confined to a room with four walls,” Morris said of Mount Pisgah. “The teachers have the opportunity to coach, mentor, and lead their students in a variety of different ways that are unique to the Mount Pisgah student experience. It is the teachers and other leaders who uphold the beliefs and vision of the school, equipping students to be servant leaders, to be empathetic and understanding, and to make contributions in a world that desperately needs Christ-like leaders. Those teachers are the ones who prepared me for college and for this moment, as I assume the same role that they once played in my life. I am so excited to get started and to once again be a Patriot!”
Morris is the daughter of Bob Morris and Mary Ann Morris, Mount Pisgah’s Head of Upper School.
Ryan Livezey Accepts Position as Mount Pisgah Director of Athletics
Veteran School Administrator Will Also Remain on Football Staff
April 2018 - After a lengthy search that attracted more than 160 candidates, Mount Pisgah Christian School has named veteran school administrator and coach Ryan Livezey as its new Director of Athletics.
Livezey spent the past year serving as assistant head coach of Mount Pisgah’s football team as well as teaching Middle School social studies. He’ll transition into the new role over the next 4-6 weeks before assuming the role on a full-time basis in June.
Livezey, who holds a master’s degree in education from Mercer University and has taught at the middle school and high school level since 1997, served as the 11th Grade Boys’ Dean at Holy Innocents’ Episcopal School for seven years and assistant athletic director in 2007-08 before coming to Mount Pisgah.
“I am humbled and honored to be given the responsibility to lead the Athletic Department at Mount Pisgah Christian School,” Livezey said. “In the short time I have been here, I have seen first-hand the tremendous faith-centered coaches and teachers who work with our student-athletes. I am excited about building upon the past successes of our athletic program and partnering with our school leadership to lead us to new heights.”
The 2009 Region Coach of the Year, Livezey spent 14 years as head football coach at Holy Innocents’ after establishing its football program in 2003. He guided his teams to a 67-56 (84-59 overall) record over 11 seasons at the helm of the varsity program.
A graduate of Norcross (Ga.) High School and a three-time All-Southern Conference player as a defensive lineman at Furman University, Livezey’s football coaching career spans more than two decades, beginning at the Marist School in 1996. He also spent the 2002-03 season at Winder-Barrow High School before joining Holy Innocents’.
“I am thankful to our search team for their diligence in a very difficult search,” Head of School Ruston Pierce said. “Ryan Livezey embodies the guiding principles of Mount Pisgah, and I can’t wait to see the growth of our athletic department that will take place under his leadership. He brings a wealth of knowledge and will do an excellent job helping our athletic programs taking the next step to become a key driver of our school climate.”
Livezey, 47, and his wife, Pam, have been married 21 years and live in Peachtree Corners. The couple have two daughters, Amelia and Emma. Emma is a current 7th grader at Mount Pisgah.
Mount Pisgah Introduces Marcia Bettis as New Head of Preschool
Mount Pisgah Christian School welcomes Marcia Bettis as its new Head of Preschool. Marcia brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to our preschool program having served 17 years as a teacher, assistant director, and director.
Mrs. Bettis, whose first day will be Monday, Feb. 26, was most recently Director of Grace Children’s Center in Chattanooga, Tennessee, where she was responsible for all aspects of budget, teacher training, admissions, human resources, and state licensing. This wealth of knowledge will be invaluable as we grow and develop our preschool programs.
“The early years of a child’s life are critical when it comes to their development,’’ Bettis said about her preschool education philosophy. “It’s important to recognize and understand that each child’s learning style is unique, and it’s our responsibility as teachers/caregivers to provide each child with the opportunity to develop their individual skills, knowledge, and attitudes in a secure and consistent environment. It’s important to build a strong relationship between families and staff for each child, and imperative to have an “open door” policy to maintain good communication. My goal is to give each child the loving care and guidance he or she needs during the early years, and provide a variety of learning experiences that allow each child to develop socially, physically, emotionally, and spiritually.”
While in Chattanooga, Bettis spent six years at Grace Baptist Academy working alongside Sheree Du Preez, Mount Pisgah’s new Head of Lower School. During their time together, Grace Baptist achieved its highest enrollment in school history.
“I am very excited to add Marcia to our team,” Head of School Ruston Pierce said. “She is a tireless worker who loves kids and families in ways I wish I could emulate. Her connection with Sheree will be invaluable as we work on synergizing the school and preschool. Our families will love her because they will see quickly how much she loves them and their children. Our teachers will grow dramatically with her help and encouragement. This is a huge win for all of our families.”
Marcia and her husband, Jimmy, are relocating to Canton, Georgia. She has two adult daughters, Ashley and Katie, and her son, Ben, is a 7th grader who will be attending Mount Pisgah in the fall. Marcia also has a grandson, Jude, and two stepchildren, Blake and Lila. We are excited to welcome the Bettis family to our community.
Mount Pisgah Christian School is pleased to announce the hire of Sheree Du Preez as its new Head of Lower School, culminating an extensive search for a visionary educational leader to help guide its students and school to a bright new future.
Du Preez comes to Mount Pisgah with three decades of educational experience in the U.S., Africa, and most recently Dubai, UAE, where she served as the Assistant Head of School for Mirdif Private School. During her time in education, Du Preez has spent seven years as an elementary school teacher, two years as director of gifted programming, 15 years as an elementary principal, and five years as a head of school.
This background has enabled her to develop a vast understanding of teacher training, best practices in education, program and curriculum development, differentiated instruction, effective communication, intercultural competencies, data-driven teaching and learning, strategic planning, collaboration/team building, and biblical integration.
“Sheree is one of the best educational leaders I have ever seen,” Mount Pisgah Head of School Ruston Pierce said. “Her teachers display incredible personal and professional growth, she loves children for who they uniquely are and conveys that love to them, and she runs a school of excellence. Nothing less. I am thrilled to add someone of her caliber. She will do great things at Mount Pisgah.”
Du Preez, who was selected from over 40 applicants, previously held positions as Assistant Head of School and Head of Lower School at Grace Baptist Academy in Chattanooga, Tennessee, between 1997-2011.
Mount Pisgah’s search team was especially impressed with Du Preez’s education philosophy, which aligns with many of the school’s Guiding Principles.
“I believe strongly that a quality elementary school is one that works to find inner passion for learning and curiosity in students,” Du Preez said. “It is paramount that elementary school educators seek to develop students as independent, active learners and understand that all students learn differently. An excellent education needs to address the whole child, not simply focus on traditional academic skills. Only the combination of academic skills, strong character development (service, kindness, integrity, etc.), and strong biblical training will prepare students for God’s purpose for their lives.”
Over her career in education leadership, Du Preez has also demonstrated the effectiveness of working alongside her team to support all aspects of a child’s development.
“My greatest strength is building congenial, mutually respectful relationships with those that I work with and working as a team to bring about excellent student performance and growth,” Du Preez said. “Collaboration and establishing trust are essential to effective school leadership and ultimately student progress.”
Du Preez holds a Master’s Degree of Education in Administration and Instructional Leadership. She has presented numerous seminars on topics including leadership development, developing child-centered educational programs, and understanding by design. She will be moving to Johns Creek this semester with her husband, Jan. She has two adult children, J.R. and Emma, who live in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and two step children, Jandre and Derik, who live in Cape Town, South Africa.
Du Preez will assume her role after her transition back to the U.S. has been completed.