Sims Academy of Innovation and Technology

Dual Enrollment




Ms. Kickbush is native to Bishop, Georgia and a graduate of Oconee County High School. She graduated with her Bachelors of Science in Agricultural Education in 2012 from the University of Georgia. She earned her Masters of Education in Agriscience in December 2016. Ms. Kickbush serves as one of the FFA advisors for Apalachee High School. She enjoys teaching the Horticulture pathway and seeing students grow through their involvement in FFA.



Audio & Video Technology



A native of Dunwoody, Mrs. Mclaine attended Berry College where she received her BS in Animal Science. After graduation she moved to Ohio in order to gain work experience on a dairy farm.


She returned to Georgia to attended the UGA Athens and Tifton campuses where she completed her MS in Animal Science and conducted research on heat stress in dairy cattle.


She become involved in teaching as part of an NSF fellowship while at UGA. After graduation she began teaching science at Turner County High School where she remained for three years before moving to Gwinnett county to teach science at Central Gwinnett High School for five years.


"Now, I am excited to be teaching Biotechnology at Sims Academy! When not teaching I am active in my church, enjoying the outdoor activities in this area, planning my next trip, or spending time with family and friends."





Chef Michael McEvoy has been in the foodservice industry for over 30 years and has worked in many segments of the field. He began his career as an ACF apprentice in a fine dining restaurant and continually developed his skills and techniques in chef positions that followed. Michael realized early that training was an integral part of being a chef and began to incorporate training into his day-to-day routine. After joining the Marriott Corporation in 1990, he started a chapter of the “Marriott’s Chef Guild” for the metro Atlanta area, which had a focus on training cooks on fine points of culinary techniques. Eventually, he became a District Training Coordinator for Marriott while being the executive chef in the Georgia Power headquarters in downtown Atlanta.


Chef McEvoy is beginning his fifth year as an instructor of the Culinary Arts Pathway, with the continued desire of taking the pathway to the highest level of achievement possible, teaching the associates what they need to know in order to be a professional culinarian.




Culinary Arts


Mrs. Rankine was born and raised in the beautiful tropical island of Jamaica. She attended Shortwood Teachers’ College and graduated in 1999 with a diploma in teaching Home Economics Education. A few years, after migrating to the U.S.A., she attended Charter Oak State College where she earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Family and Consumer Science and Connecticut State Teacher Certification in Family Consumer Science Education. She taught Food and Nutrition, Fashion and Fabrics, Housing and Interior Design, Parenting, Child Development and Marriage and Family Life for eight years in Connecticut. She relocated to Snellville, GA with her husband and 2 daughters after living in Connecticut for 15 years. She recently graduated from the University of Bridgeport where she earned a Master of Science degree in Human Nutrition.


Steven Griffing is a retired Nuclear Machinist Mate from the United States Navy. He received his undergraduate degree in Engineering and Technology Education from the University of Georgia.


His industry experience includes 6-years on nuclear submarines; 3-years as a nuclear power plant operator, reactor operator trainee; and 6-years as an Asst. Engineer, Plant Operations and Director of Facilities for Emory Medical Centers.


Steven previously taught Advanced Engineering at Grayson Technical High School; his teams have won the Electrathon "Run for the Peaches" Competition in Quitman, GA 2-years in a row, and recently took second place in a regional competition at Barber Motorsports Park in Leeds Alabama.


Mr. Griffing is excited to announce that the Sims Academy is starting a local chapter of the Technology Students Association (TSA) here at the Sims Academy. He is the local Advisor, as well as serving on the TSA State Board of Directors.




Mrs. Chitty started the Marketing and Hospitality Programs when Sims Academy opened in 2014-2015.  Under her leadership the program earned the Stamp of Excellence while becoming industry certified in 2018-2019. Mrs. Chitty attended the University of Georgia where she earned her Bachelor’s degree in Workforce Education, and attended Valdosta State University where she earned her Master’s degree in Adult and Career Education, graduating with honors from both universities. During her time at Sims, she has taught marketing, entrepreneurship, and hospitality, all while running two to four profitable school based enterprises at one time and coaching DECA members to state championships.



Newcomer Academy


Mrs. Wilson in her 12th year working in Barrow County.  After graduating from the University of Georgia with a degree in Foreign Language Education, Mrs. Wilson began her career teaching Spanish at Apalachee High School.  After five wonderful years teaching Spanish, Mrs. Wilson’s love for languages evolved into a new phase of her career when she began teaching English as a Second Language.  Here her passion for language and culture flourished.  Mrs. Wilson worked in ESOL for four years at Apalachee, and then in the 2016-2017 school year she proposed and launched a Newcomer Academy for Barrow County. At the Newcomer Academy she works with high school students new to the U.S. with limited English proficiency.  She views her responsibilities as unlocking the potential of each student through language and facilitating and nurturing each student’s mind and talents.  She strives to motivate, encourage, and inspire learners.


Amber Chandler is originally from Pensacola, Florida.  She moved to Georgia in 1995 and now considers it her home.  She has worked in various types of employment which include substitute and pre-school teaching, childcare, customer service, medical assisting and transcription. Amber was, also, a small business owner of a children’s consignment store in 2008.  She was a homemaker for several years until she began substitute teaching with the Barrow County School System.  She is now a paraprofessional with Sims Academy.


She is a Gwinnett Technical College alumni where her focus was on a health/life science degree; she received a diploma in medical assisting and became certified in 2004.  She transferred to Liberty University and continues to pursue a degree.


Amber loves to spend time with her husband and children, thrift shopping and writing.  Upon the loss of her oldest child to AML – leukemia in 2010, she created a blog about a mother’s journey through life after the loss of a child to cancer. She self-published a book about her blog in 2014.  After connecting with many mothers like herself, she created and administers a support group for women all over the world who’ve each lost a child to cancer.






Originally from Alcalá de Henares, the city of Cervantes, in the province of Madrid (Spain) I have been living in the United States for more than twenty years. I am married and have a daughter attending the University of Chicago. I have a degree in linguistics from Universidad de Alcalá de Henares, Spain and a masters in Spanish Literature from UGA.  I write as a hobby, especially short stories.



Special Education


Leah Helderbrand earned a BSEd from The University of Georgia in 2004. Mrs. Helderbrand is K-12 certified in Special Education General Curriculum, Special Education Adapted Curriculum, and Health and Physical Education. She teaches the YES Program at Sims Academy with the goal of helping students find a career after high school.



Becky Phillips has been a part of Barrow County Schools for 22 years working at Winder Barrow and Russell Middle, Kennedy Elementary, and Winder Barrow High School. She started as a Special Education paraprofessional then received her BS in Early Childhood Education from North Georgia College & State University. After teaching several years, she went back to school and completed her M.Ed in Post Secondary Education from Troy University in 2008 and her Ed.S in Curriculum and Instruction from Lincoln Memorial in 2011.  Outside of school, she is actively involved in working with adults with disabilities through a social club called Club Friends along with many church related activities. Ms. Phillips has two granddaughters ages 12 and 8 that also keep her on the move.



Mrs. Harris grew up in Buford, GA and graduated from North Gwinnett H.S. She worked in Business and Industry for over 20 years, prior to deciding to return to school to receive her teaching certification and Bachelor’s degree in Business Education from the University of Georgia. Her first teaching job was a Jackson County Comprehensive High School and taught at Winder-Barrow High School for two years. She has also received her Technology education certification.


She has been a yearbook adviser, FBLA adviser, FBLA State Adviser, and has had many FBLA Competitive winners, including State and National winners.  She has volunteered for over 14 years with the Boy Scouts of America. She’s been married to Brian for 28 years, with 2 children, Chase and Morgan.