Staff & Teachers


Melissa Goodman


Melissa Goodman has been working in education for the past four years. She started as the front office coordinator, assisting with the opening of another school and helping the registrar with enrollments and attendance. After two years, she transitioned to a local school district, where she worked as a media center aide and in the Community Education department, registering students for paid programs. Melissa brought her expertise in running a front office to the Valor AZ team. Prior to working in education, she owned a small business and stayed home with her two children and four dogs. Melissa loves reading, playing pool and hanging out with her family during her down time.


Cristopher Gillespie

Math Teacher

Cristopher Gillespie has a Bachelor of Arts in Education with an emphasis in Mathematics from Ottawa University. He is currently certified in the state of Arizona in secondary education and mathematics. For the past five years, Mr. Gillespie has been teaching mathematics at the high school and college levels. Mr. Gillespie is enthusiastic about learning and student success, hoping to bring out the best in every child. He also enjoys computer science, carpentry and hiking among other hobbies.

Melissa Harris

ELA Teacher

Melissa Harris has earned a Bachelor of Arts in English with a minor in psychology and a concentration in middle grades education with high qualifications in social sciences from the University of Northern Colorado. She will soon complete her Master of Arts in Teaching with an emphasis in inquiry-based education and literacy from Colorado College.

Ms. Harris is certified to teach secondary English in the states of Colorado, Tennessee and Arizona. She has been teaching English language arts since 2001 to students at every level from seventh grade through college.

Outside of teaching in the language arts classroom, Ms. Harris has served on many educational committees, including curriculum adoption and development, team leader, department representative, gifted and talented liaison, RTI lead, and PBIS coordinator. She has also enjoyed advising student groups, including yearbook, student council, World Affairs Challenge, newspaper and various book clubs.

Exploring the world is Ms. Harris’ ongoing quest. She loves traveling, hiking, attending concerts and local celebrations, visiting museums and gardens, reading, and socializing with friends, family and her two cats.

Alex Lipschutz

Alex Lipschutz has a Bachelor of Arts in History from Arizona State University and holds an Arizona State Teaching Certificate with an endorsement in Social Studies. With a thorough knowledge of his content, Mr. Lipschutz brings fresh enthusiasm to his classroom and seeks to reach all students with a personal connection. In his free time, Mr. Lipschutz enjoys sports, reading, and spending time with friends and family.

Andrea Murphy

Science Teacher

Mrs. Andrea Murphy is the middle and high school science instructor for Valor Preparatory Academy. Andrea previously worked as a Biomedical Researcher for Midwestern University, College of Veterinary Medicine, where she taught graduate students various laboratory techniques and the science behind the “magic”. In addition Andrea taught for Jr. Achievement, teaching 1-3 grades entrepreneurship and financial stewardship. Andrea’s educational philosophy is that every child learns differently, thus student inquiry will deepen understanding and engagement while the scientific method along with compassion, understanding, and perseverance can be applied to all aspects of life.

Andrea received a Master’s Degree in Biomedical Sciences from Midwestern University in Glendale, AZ. She is currently an editor for Course Source – Evidence based Teaching, is a member of various professional organizations, and recent recipient of the Clarke M. Williams grant to advance student success through the innovative use of technology. Andrea also received a Bachelor’s Degree in Science and an Associates in Arts where she received honors from the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society. Andrea holds a certification in Teaching Secondary Education and is a certified subject matter expert in both Biology and General Science.

When not at school, Andrea can be found with her family at the lake or water park. Andrea also enjoys science in the kitchen (cooking), swimming, and is an avid gardener. She enjoys the science of everyday life and making observations about the natural world.