Math whiz. Swainsboro Tiger superfan. Constant optimist. If you know Jordyn Nail, you know all of those are spot-on descriptors of her. This 33-year-old transplant now leads a colorful life in Houston and heads a revolutionary private school in southeast Texas, but don’t be misled—she is still every bit as in love with Swainsboro as she’s ever been.
The daughter of Gordon and Michelle Nail, she graduated from Swainsboro High School in 2005. Then, she went off to Georgia Southern University and walked on with the softball team. She played four years with the Eagles, winning the Southern Conference championship as a freshman, and graduated on time in 2009 with a bachelor’s in secondary mathematics education. She continued her schooling with Southern, graduating again in 2014 with her master’s in the same field of study. All the while, she had a greater plan in mind.
“When I was in 11th grade, I knew I wanted to be a math teacher,” Nail explained,” which was funny because when I was younger, I always struggled with math. I think that’s why I chose to teach math… The feeling I had after I mastered the thing that had given me so much trouble was amazing, and I wanted to give that to others.”
And give to others she has. Nail began her career at her alma mater in 2009. As a math teacher at SHS, she also doubled as the softball coach. She spent a year on Tiger Trail, then moved across town to East Georgia State College in 2010. At EGSC, Nail taught remedial math and started the school’s softball program. Two years later, in 2012, she retired from coaching and became the director of learning support, then was promoted to director of EGSC’s Augusta campus.
That was in 2015. During that time, her parents had picked up and moved to Houston. Nail went to visit a few times and really liked what she saw, so she began to research schools in the area.
“After a year, I decided to follow my mom and dad to Texas,” Nail said. “In doing so, I found Fusion Academy, a private middle and high school where the student-teacher ratio is 1:1. Reading that, my mind was blown! What a dream come true for a teacher! I applied and had an interview where I got to teach a student. I fell in love with the model, got the job, and took it.”
That specific student-teacher balance is perhaps the best indicator of Fusion’s unique approach to education and probably best explains why Nail has excelled in her career thus far there.
More than 60 Fusion campuses are spread out across 17 different states: Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Washington, D.C, and Washington State. The Fusion Academy community empowers students to become better humans in the world through personalized connection and engaged learning. A single student and one teacher share a classroom for the duration of a class period, allowing educators like Nail to become personally acquainted with each student’s strengths, interests, and learning style. Additionally, Fusion Academy offers fully customizable learning programs for students in grades six through 12; these learners can attend either in-person, online, or a combination of the two on a full-time basis or a part-time basis to supplement their current education with options like classes for credit and tutoring. Outside the classroom, Fusion Academy supports social growth through its Homework Café program as well as clubs, student meetings, field trips, and more. All of its campuses, including the one Nail heads in The Woodlands, are regionally and nationally accredited, meaning the school as a whole meets the standards of educational quality as set by various organizations. (One of Fusion Academy’s many accreditations includes that of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. For context, both Emanuel County Schools and David Emanuel Academy are accredited by SACS.) Some of the school’s alumni have gone on to attend prestigious, rigorous institutions like Yale, Notre Dame, Johns Hopkins, Dartmouth, Duke, and Cornell, among others.
Nail has been with Fusion Academy for four years now. In 2016, she joined the school as a math teacher, of course, and was made assistant principal a year later. During September 2020, she was promoted to her current role. As head of school, she oversees daily operations, meets with potential new students’ families, hires teachers, meets with community members, and manages the other leadership team members.
Today, her heart is as content as she could wish for. “I love it because Fusion is a company committed to the growth of its employees. In a 1:1 setting, you are also able to easily see and feel your impact. It is so heartwarming and motivating! I love it here, and I definitely plan to grow with Fusion Academy.”
She feels the same about the city of Houston, although she admits it took some adjusting, given how drastic the change was.
“I love Houston! Moving from Swainsboro to a city like this is a bit overwhelming initially, especially the traffic. I found myself going to work and coming home, going to work and coming home. It took me about a year to realize there was so much more to do and see all the time! So, I started to venture into the city, and I’ve since really come to enjoy the rich culture and history of Texas.”
In her spare time, the older sister of Tara Jayde Nail and Gordon Nail Jr. and Caitlan Coleman loves to read, walk, listen to Drake, watch sports, spend time with her parents, and painting. Most of all, she loves to keep up with her hometown.
“I was very involved with Swainsboro Tiger athletics my whole life. I played softball, my dad called the football games on the radio, my sister played basketball, my brother played tennis… Then I coached for a year there my first year out of college. I also coached at EGSC for two years, so sports are my main tie back to the community,” Nail explained. If you follow her on social media, you’ll find she still goes hard for the Black and Gold, despite her living almost 1,000 miles away. Still, it’s deeper than that.
“It takes a village to raise a person, and I am thankful for the people in Swainsboro that surrounded me with love, support, and guidance growing up. Community is the key to success. As much as people think they can do it alone, true success and happiness stems from a deep, meaningful connection with others. No matter where you go or if you stay, be sure to thank those who make up your support system.”
That support system she alludes to is one of the biggest things she misses about home.
“People look out for you and take care of you without hesitation in Swainsboro! I miss that. I also miss seeing people I know at the grocery store. That has never happened here,” she said with a laugh.
Today, Nail doesn’t get to come home very often but when she does, she makes it a point to see her family… And you can bet she gets some Ware’s B-B-Q for the road!
Ambitious, hard-working, intelligent people aren’t hard to find throughout Emanuel County. From lesser-known citizens to well-known leaders, Swainsboro and other municipalities in the area are fortunate to call these folks, the ones who make a difference, “ours.” Of course, some of “our folks” have moved off and shared themselves with the world in various respects. The “Finding Our Folks” part of The Crossroads Chronicle aims to track down and catch up with our hometown people.
If you have someone you’d like The Chronicle to consider to feature in “Finding Our Folks,” call in your nominations to 478-331-7251. You can also email Halei Lamb at firstname.lastname@example.org or Trudie Kasper at email@example.com. The Crossroads Chronicle also accepts nominations by messaging its Facebook page, facebook.com/thecrossroadschronicle.