The AP Program at GHS

Get to Know Your GHS Advanced Placement (AP) Program

The GHS AP Program Mission

The GHS AP Program strives to produce motivated students that are self-directed problem solvers as well as critical thinkers poised and prepared for college and beyond.

HUGE GHS AP Announcement

Click of the button to view a special announcement about GHS AP exams for the 2020-21 school year!

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Click Here to Read More About Advanced Placement

Five Benefits to Taking Advanced Placement (AP) Classes

GHS AP Teachers

Mrs. Pharalynn Brown: AP Facilitator

Greetings! My name is Pharalynn Brown, and I am excited to be working with the Gainesville High School Advanced Placement (AP) Program as the AP Facilitator. This school year concludes my 25th year of teaching. As a graduate of the University of Louisiana at Lafayette (BA), the University of Louisiana at Monroe (MAT) and Kennesaw State University (Ed.S.), I constantly seek ways to advance the learning of students. Over the past 25 years, I have taught elementary, middle and high school. Currently, I am an English teacher who has a passion for all students, enjoying every moment I get to witness their academic and social growth. My primary responsibility as the AP Facilitator is to assist with organizing and administering the AP program. When I am not at school, I love to watch football and to read books. I look forward to continuing in this capacity next year.

Mrs. Sarah Claussen: AP Studio Art

Within an authentic studio arts environment, my goal is to encourage all students to find skill, inner confidence, and develop an artist's habits of mind. Curriculum focuses on exploring a variety of processes and media with a strong foundation in the study of design elements and principles. Students will learn 1) art allows multiple answers to a single problem, 2) to think critically regarding their own work and the work of others; 3) to explore and investigate through the process of making art; and 4) self determination through personal expression in a safe, positive environment.

Students in advanced levels are encouraged to participate in art experiences that extend from gallery exhibition, to original paintings and commissions. Additionally, we take several trips per year to art museums, college campuses, workshops, and inspirational fieldtrips aligned with our course standards.

For the past 7 years, I've taught within the Visual Arts Department at Gainesville High School and served as chair to the Fine Arts Department for 3years.; I'm honored each day to work with a unified, diverse group of students and professionals. My teaching ranges all areas of the Visual Arts, including Drawing and Painting, Ceramics, Photography, and Visual Art I Comprehensive. I received my Advanced Placement certification in AP Studio Art at the Savannah College of Art & Design and hold a gifted certification to teach the course. I truly enjoy engaging with our art students and facilitating growth and encouraging a lifelong artistic quest, it was not long ago that I was in my highschool art room working my way from Art I to AP Studio with a pursuit to study art, and I'll never forget the significance and role of a strong arts program has on youth.

In addition to teaching I maintain a level of professionalism and dedication by advocating for the arts in my community; serving as a board member and/or community liaison to many local art associations like Art on the Square, Bureau University, and the Quinlan Arts Center. As a visual artist, I continue to practice, study, exhibit, and commision my artwork, and as a mother of two creative young children, I am an avid supporter of arts based education and understand the importance art has on development, expression, and creativity.

My AP website is

GHS Visual Arts Website...

Mr. Warren Collier: AP Physics

AP Physics will be fun! Where else can you crash things together, make pigs fly near your teacher’s head, play with yoyos, pendulums and electrical equipment; or make loud noises and get credit for it? You will discover through inquiry how forces impact motion in linear, circular and rotational modes. You will examine electrical charges and mechanical sound waves in our everyday lives. Yes, this is a college level introductory physics class, so there is some math (basic algebra) – but it is all simple once you understand the connections between the parts of the system you are studying.

In AP Physics 1 – we will do at least 16 laboratory investigations during the semester. This guided inquiry approach will minimize the boring PowerPoint approach, and you’ll work in groups just like you would in college. There will be lots of checkpoints along the way to make sure you are ready for the summative exams and ultimately, the AP Exam for college credit.

I taught High School and Middle School Physical Science at GMS for the past 7 years. Prior to teaching, I was a Research and Development Engineer at Kimberly-Clark Corporation where I was awarded 14 patents in elastic and textile materials for baby diapers and training pants. I have a MS Chemical Engineering from Ga Tech and a BS Chemistry from UNC-Chapel Hill. I am looking forward to the opportunity to teach the AP Physics curriculum at GHS this year.

Mrs. Laura Elsarelli: AP Biology & AP Environmental Science

My name is Laura Elsarelli and I am currently in my 14th year teaching and 8th year at Gainesville High School. I graduated from the University of Georgia in 2003 with a bachelor’s degree in Kinesiology (Exercise and Sport Science) with an emphasis in Athletic Training. After working in the field of orthopedics and emergency medicine for several years, I attended Piedmont College and received my Master of Arts in Teaching in 2007. I am currently teaching the following courses: AP Biology, AP Environmental Science, ESOL biology and ESOL environmental science. I also serve as the department chair for the science department.

My mission as an educator is to instill the belief in my students that they can achieve anything while encouraging critical thinking that enables them to become powerful and thoughtful leaders for their school and community. Science education connects directly with these ideals. The nature of science itself is: make observations of the natural world, try and identify patterns, ask questions, find answers, and then ask more questions. It is problem-solving. I try to teach science through the acquisition of skills, rather than memorizing facts. If my classroom and curriculum focuses on the scientific process of discovery, my students will be more engaged in the content.

When I'm not teaching, I am busy hanging out with my family and friends. I am an avid sports fan - mainly college football (UGA all the way!) and baseball at any level. I also enjoy reading (Stephen King and Mary Kay Andrews are my go-to authors), gardening, kayaking, drinking coffee, and traveling to interesting places (if it’s near the water - even better!).

Mr. Rick Howard: AP World History, AP European History, & AP Research

My name is Rick Howard and I am a veteran teacher who has been teaching at Gainesville High School for the past 16 years. Currently I teach AP World History Modern, AP European History, and AP Capstone Research. I earned a BS degree in Secondary Education from Auburn University at Montgomery and have attended many AP Trainings and AP Readings. I also am the varsity girls coach at GHS.

What I seek to do in teaching history is to enable my students to have a better understanding of the development of human life across the span of history as well as the ability to read critically, think analytically, and to write argumentatively. To develop this in my students I seek to have them be actively involved in studying the past, using primary and secondary documents, doing research and participating in role-play to truly understand what happened in the past and why it happened. To find out more about my class, check out my class website by clicking the link below.

Mrs. Natalie Immings: AP US History

I have been an educator for more than twenty years and have taught in both rural and urban schools in five different states. I earned my B.S. in Secondary Education from Central Michigan University, an M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction from Ferris State University and am finishing my dissertation for an Ed.D. in Curriculum Studies from Georgia Southern University. I am also a National Board Certified teacher for social studies, recently renewing that certificate for another ten years. Throughout my career I have taught high school government, U.S. History, world history, psychology, current events, debate, and forensics. I have also served as an academic coach at a middle school for more than five years. I am passionate about impacting students. I firmly believe that all students can be successful if we strive to understand how each student learns and design lessons that actively engage students in thinking, questioning and solving issues. Check Out:

Mr. Chandra Karnati: AP Calculus, AP Computer Science, & AP Research

I grew up in the southern countryside of India, and I went on to teach in all parts of India. India is a multi-linguistic and multicultural country with 22 official languages and many religions and cultures. So, I became empathetic to all cultures and I value all human beings as a whole. Vijji and I moved almost seven times in the first ten years of our married life. But when we moved to GHS about 12 years ago, we fell in love with Gainesville, and my kids grew up here. Gainesville is the longest city I have ever lived in, and our current house is the longest house I’ve lived-in too. So, we call Gainesville home.

I believe in providing opportunities for students. I contributed my part to bring AP Calculus BC, AP CSP, AP CSA to GHS. We have enthusiastic participation in these courses and hope that it will continue further. I sponsor the Math club and Coding club at GHS. We try to reach new heights every year in our clubs.

-Teaching philosophy

My teaching philosophy hinges on three main ideas. The first is that people solve only the problems that they see. It is quite difficult for any one person to understand the issues faced by other groups of people. Therefore, we need to educate and provide opportunities for ALL sectors of the society by intentionally including diverse voices in STEM honors and AP classes. Solving social problems should start by providing equitable educational opportunities to all students.

Second, I believe that everyone can learn given the right opportunity. I was a struggling math student in the 8th and 9th grades, but later became the topper of the class during my Masters of Science in Mathematics. Sometimes one-click, one incident, and one person all it takes to turn a person around. It is every educator’s God-given duty to always look out for that opportunity to make that connection with a student.

Finally, I believe in the ideology, "Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid." We need to find creative ways to assess talent. Assessment is an opportunity to learn about a student, not a tool to punish. I like to push my students towards academic success rather than academic achievement. Sometimes it takes a lot of time and patience to model the enjoyment of academic success, but I strive and love to do it with my students.

If you have not already joined google classroom and my remind then please do so ASAP: 2021 AP calculus ABBC google classroom code is 6y4ebz7, and also join my remind with code @ghscalcabc.

Mrs. Lara Mallard: AP English Language & AP Seminar

Welcome to AP Language/Composition and AP Seminar. School year 20-21 will be my 30th year teaching, my 19th year teaching at Gainesville High School, 13th year teaching AP Language/Composition, and 4th year teaching AP Seminar. I also coach cross country, pole vault, and jumps for track and field. I am proud to have one son as a graduate of Gainesville High School and will soon have my youngest graduating from Gainesville High School as well.

After teaching AP Language/Composition for 9 years, I petitioned the school system to bring a new program to Gainesville High School. This program is the AP Capstone Diploma program. AP Language/Composition is a course that explores the use of rhetoric and argument in nonfiction writing (memoirs, personal essays, speeches, letters, propaganda, advertising, political cartoons, editorials, etc.). Students learn to recognize the rhetorical moves and argument techniques used as well as learning to write argument and synthesize sources for developing arguments on the college level. AP Seminar, the first course in the AP Capstone program takes the skills learned in AP Language/Composition and combines them with academic level research, collaboration, and presentation skills across disciplines in student developed capstone performance tasks. AP Seminar is an interdisciplinary course that prepares students for researching and writing across all courses that they will take in their college degree programs. I look forward to continuing our tradition of excellence in these courses as we begin the new school year.

Dr. Jason Marcero: AP Chemistry

Greetings! My name is Mr. Marcero, and I am so excited to be teaching AP Chemistry at GHS in 2020-21! I am currently finishing my doctorate at UGA in biochemistry and have been teaching an honors biology course there for several years now. Before this, I worked at a chemical plant for two years and was a teacher and coach at a public high school in upstate South Carolina for nearly a decade, during which time I established a strong AP Chemistry program. I know what it takes to develop talented young people like yourselves into skilled problem solvers, and I do so with an emphasis on collaborative and hands-on learning. My expectation for students is simple: work hard and I can help you achieve your goals. If you are already enrolled in AP Chemistry, welcome! If not and you are interested in signing up or have any questions, please feel email me ( or Mr. Scheman ( I hope you all have a nice summer!

Mr. David McConnell: AP Psychology

Dave McConnell(Coach Mac) will be starting his 23rd year at Gainesville High and his 40th year in education. Currently the Social Studies Chairperson at Gainesville High and teaches AP Psychology (5th year) and American Government.

Coach Mac enjoys teaching AP Psych because each day brings a new challenge of looking at human behavior. As John Watson claims, “all behavior is observable!” That approach leads to exciting discussion and dialogue each day!

McConnell has had the opportunity to teach Psychology in 3 different states.

McConnell is a native of Chaffee, Missouri where he lettered 2 years in football, 3 years in basketball and 4 years in baseball, winning the State championship in baseball his senior year.

After high school, he attended Southeast Missouri State University majoring in Social Studies Education. He obtained his Masters degree from National University.

McConnell is also a member of the Red Elephant Football Coaching staff. He coaches the defensive line, where he is able to observe all types of human behavior!

McConnell is married to the former Denise Williams(5th Grade Teacher at Centennial Elementary.)They have been married 36 years with the following children: Heather,David,Jacob and Ivan Toomer

Mrs. Sandy Rivera: AP Human Geography

My name is Sandy Rivera and I teach AP Human Geography. I have been teaching APHG for 4 years and have been teaching at Gainesville High School for eight years. I love AP Human Geography because students learn about relevant real-world issues while learning college skills such as study skills, analysis, and research. AP Human Geography offers freshman students the opportunity to gain experience with Advanced Placement class skills helping them become successful in future high school AP courses. Teaching this course has been a pleasure for me since I am passionate about its content. I also enjoy reading, exercise, hiking, cooking, and spending time with my family. I am originally from New York but I live in Cumming, GA for the past 25 years with my husband and three children.

Mr. Nick Scheman: Assistant Principal

Assistant Principal and lead administrator for the GHS Advanced Placement (AP) Program as well as both the Math and Science departments.

I feel that my purpose is to help students discover who they are, where they want to be in life, and how they can ignite the flames of their life’s passion. I accomplish this goal every day by engaging my student community and strengthening collegial relationships through team building, communication, and collaboration. Sometimes we forget that education is so much more than a school’s score card. People need to know that they are worth more than a number. Building strong collegial relationships sets a foundation of trust that enables conversations regarding student performance and professional learning to be more productive and purposeful.

Every decision I make focuses heavily on the notion that every child has something unique in them just waiting for the opportunity to be drawn out, exercised, and celebrated. My leadership style is collaborative in nature, utilizes data to drive instruction, and makes every attempt to build strong relationships between students, parents, faculty, and the community.

Mr. Charlie Sea: AP US Government

Mr. Sea teaches A.P. American Government and Politics at Gainesville High School. His belief in government falls somewhere between the following quotes:

“Government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth” –Abraham Lincoln, Gettysburg Address

“Mother should I trust the government?” – Pink Floyd, “Mother”

Mrs. Jasmine Taiwo: AP English Language & AP Seminar

I am looking forward to a new school year. This will be an important year for our nation, and I do not take the job of shaping young minds lightly. Traveling and teaching all over the world has taught me so much, and I can’t wait to facilitate the learning the students want and need this year. Twelve years ago when I first stepped into a classroom, I did not expect to teach the way I do today. My dream classroom experience is one in which I coach students so that they achieve their self-selected goals based on concepts rooted in the mandated curriculum.

Mrs. Amanda Toney-Velazquez: AP Literature

AP English Literature, in essence, is a course designed to prepare students not only for reading and writing at the collegiate level, but to facilitate critical thinking. In order to think critically and objectively about varying subject matters, a certain degree of growth is expected. Georgia author Flannery O’Connor mused, “[...] human nature vigorously resists grace because grace changes us and the change is painful” and yet that grace is what students can hope to achieve through the labor of love that is AP Lit.

The trajectory for AP Lit is to move beyond the stigma of the past and embrace new voices, new students, and new works with gusto.

Highlights of AP English Lit are found in the Spring 2020 highlights.

Mr. Elie Viviant: AP Statistics

I teach AP Statistics and coach Soccer and Football......

Mrs. Nancy Ware: AP Macreconomics

Seasoned AP Macro, Honors and College Prep Economics teacher with 14 years experience who cares deeply about building relationships with students and their success. Practical, real world experience in an Economic related business field. Teaches economics through connecting curriculum to current, relevant real world economic conditions. Creative lesson planner who understands incentives and excels at motivating and inspiring students.


  • Current Georgia Teaching Certificate, renewal in 2023

  • Certified Teacher in Economics, US History, World History, Government/Political Science, Psychology

  • AP Macroeconomics Certified Teacher 8th year

  • Served on School Governance Council 2 years

  • Co-sponsor for Student Council 4 years

  • Hybrid classroom in Economics via Google classroom - 8th year

  • 14 years experience in education

  • Strong written and verbal communicator

  • Relevant economic business background in accounting (5 years) and the fuel industry (7 years) prior to education

  • Current Treasurer for Gainesville Volleyphants Booster

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AP Support

You are not alone! Support for AP students

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