The Ron Clark Academy has assembled a faculty of award-winning educators and speakers who have different teaching styles but a shared objective: to demonstrate how to improve student engagement, increase academic rigor, and create a school climate and culture that leads to success for all learners. In other words, we strive to create an environment that exemplifies everything we believe that a school should be, and then we open our doors to share our methods with others in hopes that they, too, will do the same. Our entire staff is committed to fostering a dynamic, passionate learning environment where every child is valued, challenged, loved, and nurtured.
Michael Bonner is a graduate from the illustrious Elizabeth City State University where he received his undergraduate degree in Elementary Education with a concentration in Psychology.
Mr.Bonner started his career at South Greenville Elementary in Greenville, NC. For the past 6 years, Michael has highlighted the importance of student engagement, relationships, and developing culturally relevant content. Shortly after receiving Teacher of the Year for his school district, he was honored by Ellen Degeneres, NBC Nightly News, Flocabulary, Ashton Kutcher Foundation, and other media formats. Bonner has also served on the North Carolina Governor Teacher Advisory Board under Governor Cooper.
Additionally, over the past 2 years, Mr.Bonner has completed over 115 keynotes sessions and has published two books. He believes in creating a learning environment that instills a love for learning and character development. Michael is overjoyed to join the RCA family!
Korey Collins is the newest member of our language arts department. He hails from the northeastern part of Pennsylvania by way of New York. He received his undergraduate training in Elementary Education and Bible from Clarks Summit University and a Masters Degree in Reading Education from Edinboro University.
A former member of the Scholastic Teacher Advisory Panel, Korey is an accomplished literacy teacher who has done consulting work. He specializes in fostering a love for reading in his students. Korey’s lovely wife Stacey and his five beautiful children are thrilled to join the RCA family.
Cer’Princeton Alexander Harden is a native of Fort Worth, Texas. He is a graduate of the University of Texas at Arlington where he received his degree in biology after completing a tour in Fallujah, Iraq, with the United States Marine Corps. Mr. Harden was awarded Teacher of the Year and served as science department chair at the Leadership Academy at Forest Oak. He was a presenter for the Fort Worth Learning Model, instructing and inspiring teachers across his district with innovative pedagogical practices. Mr. Harden believes education is the acquisition of knowledge and everyone’s route is different, and his passion and calling is to find each child’s route and nurture it to the fullest extent possible.
Originally from Clarksdale, MS, Pamela Haskins moved to Atlanta to earn a Bachelor’s Degree in English from Spelman College. She went on to earn her Masters in Secondary Education from the University of Phoenix where she learned the immense benefits of technology in the educational arena. Before coming to the Ron Clark Academy, Mrs. Haskins worked for the Atlanta Public Schools for 12 years as an English Language Arts teacher in both the middle school and high school levels where she focused on developing the writing skills of her students.
While working with her own students, Mrs. Haskins offered professional development for pre-service and novice teachers in the areas of writing and using complex texts for the Common Core Standards implementation. Because of her work, she has also been recognized by several civil organizations for her service to the students of Atlanta. Mrs. Haskins desires to stay on the cutting edge of education. She believes that parents are the underdeveloped force that can change education for the better. Mrs. Haskins lives in Ellenwood with her husband and 3 beautiful children.
Dr. Valerie Camille Jones was recently honored with the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching, which is America’s highest honor in math and science for teachers.
In the fall of 2015, Dr. Jones was also recognized by Congressman John Lewis at the 114th Congress 1st Session. Georgia Trend Magazine named her to their Top 40 Under 40 List for her contributions to education, and Mental Floss magazine highlighted her for her commitment to her students. For over 16 years, Dr. Jones has served her country and the people of metropolitan Atlanta. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Mathematics at Spelman College and continued her studies by earning masters and doctoral degrees in Mathematics Education from Georgia State University and Columbia University respectively. Dr. Jones is national board certified and also a certified industry studio teacher.
Dr. Jones is greatly respected for her creative approach in making the most difficult subjects accessible and tangible to her students. Dr. Jones teaches her students how to effectively use mathematical models as communication tools. In the classroom, she develops art and video game simulations to connect students to math and coordinates field trips to provide real-life examples of the influence of math. Dr. Jones is a champion of promoting math esteem in general.
Diane Kemp hails from the Philadelphia area and comes to Atlanta via Chattanooga, TN. She received a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Tennessee and a Masters of Education from Tennessee Technological University. Since 1998, Mrs. Kemp has worked extensively in public and private elementary and middle schools as a reading specialist, learning specialist and most recently as an advanced math teacher at the Bright School in Chattanooga, TN.
Understanding that mathematical minds need to be nurtured, fed and engaged, Mrs. Kemp strives to build a passion for math in her students by providing opportunities for them to experience math in the real-world and engage them with innovative problem solving. Pushing her students to leverage their math talents towards future careers, they’ve worked with architects, robotic design teams in the auto industry, project managers at Amazon, and financial advisors from Wall Street on class projects. Her students have won multiple individual and team awards in various math competitions and have been recognized nationally. Mrs. Kemp and her husband, Troy, have three children and live in East Atlanta.
Dr. Ledford is an experienced educator whose passions lie in human connection and writing. She has a heart for children’s literacy and recently started the “Get on the Bus” project which uses a bookmobile she designed to bring literacy to low socioeconomic areas.
For over 15 years, Dr. Ledford has served children and other educators in the roles of teacher, curriculum director, and project director in the Pre-K-12 sector. She has also provided professional development and been a speaker at various conferences on the subjects of literacy and multiculturalism.
Dr. Ledford’s educational practices are rooted in love. She values developing relationships with her students, helping them discover their strengths, and using their gifts and talents as inspiration for classroom lessons.
Dr. Ledford is an alumnus of Georgia Southern University where she earned her bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education, master’s degree in Reading Education, and doctoral degree in Curriculum Studies with an emphasis on Multicultural Education. She is also a recent graduate of the Lynda Brannen Williamson Leadership Academy for Women.
Dr. Ledford is originally from Camilla, Georgia. She along with her husband and son are excited to embrace the city of Atlanta.
Mrs. Lokey is a highly accomplished, award-winning educator. She was named the Teacher of the Year (TOTY) at four different Cobb County middle schools: Dodgen, Lost Mountain, Smitha and Campbell. She was Cobb County’s TOTY in 2015, and was named a Top 5 Finalist for the Georgia TOTY. She held numerous leadership roles within the Cobb County School District, such as instructing the district’s New Teacher Institute and co-chairing the Middle Grades Committee for the Urban Education Certification Program at Kennesaw State University. She also serves as a consultant for the Department of Education, where she helps to write the Georgia Curriculum Standards. She is definitely a master teacher, and most importantly, she loves children and exudes joy.
When RCA opened in 2007, Mrs. Lokey was one of our original four teachers, and she helped to build who we are. After returning to public school to finish out her retirement, she came back to RCA to teach social studies.
Mr. Daniel Thompson is a graduate of Auburn University, where he received his undergraduate degree in Secondary Science/Biology Education. While at Auburn, Mr. Thompson was an undergraduate assistant to the Auburn Tiger football team during their 2010 national championship campaign. He has spent three years at the middle school and high school levels cultivating students’ skills in chemistry, physics, and biology. Mr. Thompson attributes his success to stern discipline, heightened rigor, deep engagement, thorough inquiry, and critical questioning within the classroom. He firmly believes in developing strong relationships with students to reach the maximum potential within each child. Additionally, Mr. Thompson utilizes a blend of whole brain teaching methods along with music and technology to push and engage his students. He also maintains a role system within his classroom to develop skills in communication, collaboration, and critical thinking amongst his students.
Carrie-Jo Wallace is the newest member of our mathematics department. She graduated with Suma Cum Laude honors from the State University of New York College at Cortland, with a Bachelors of Science Degree in Elementary Education.
Upon graduation, she was honored with the Helen E. Smith Award for Excellence in Student Teaching. She moved to Osceola County in Florida, where she has worked for the past eleven years. During her first year, she was given the honor of being named First Year Teacher of the Year at St. Cloud Elementary School.
She became a leader within the school, creating and leading professional development in the areas of technology, math, and science. CJ’s husband Bill and her three precious children are also excited about this new adventure!
Mr. Barr joined the RCA Family as a part-time employee on September 1, 2007. Mr. Barr handles the day-to-day accounting operations for the school including accounts payable, budgeting and payroll. Mr. Barr started his own firm, Barr Marketing, Inc. in 2004.
Barr Marketing is a managing agency for Ron Clark’s books and merchandise sales. Prior to Barr Marketing, Mr. Barr worked 7 years in the finance industry with Regional Acceptance Corporation – a subsidiary of BB&T. Mr. Barr graduated from East Carolina University in 1997 with a BSBA in Finance.
Mr. Junior Bernadin joined the Ron Clark Academy family in June of 2009. Originally from Miami, Florida, Junior received his bachelor’s degree from Florida State University and obtained his master’s degree from Regis University. He currently holds certifications as a Microsoft Certified Professional, Certified Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert, Promethean Certified Installer, and Mental Health First Aid USA.
In his role as the Dean of Students, he works with the cofounders in carrying out the school’s culture and climate. He serves as a positive influence and leader among students, staff, and parents to help implement the school’s mission and vision. He also serves as the Director of Information Technology where he provides all system support to the Academy as well as maintaining and managing all levels of technology support and integration within the school. In conjunction with his daily duties at RCA, Mr. Bernadin spends additional time after hours serving as a coach for the RCA award-winning First Lego Robotics team, MAD about Mattering Team, and the 3-time National Step Team Champions, the Essentials Step Team. Furthermore, he serves as a member of the Promethean Administrator Advisory
Prior to RCA, Mr. Bernadin was worked a Customer Support Specialist for Handshake Software, Systems Field Engineer at a DELL Service Center, Technology Support Specialist at Infinity Software, and a Student Partner/Brand Ambassador for Microsoft.In 2012, Mr. Bernadin was inducted into the Alpha Sigma Nu National Honors Society. He was also the 2012 Creative Research Fellowship recipient for the 7th District of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. as well as the 2012 Denver Chapter of ISACA Scholarship Recipient.
Later that year, Mr. Bernadin was selected as part of the inaugural class of Florida State University Alumni Association’s “Thirty Under Thirty” Award which recognizes the outstanding accomplishments of FSU’s young alumni.Mr. Bernadin is a proud member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc., a member of the National Society of Black Engineers as well as the Institute for Electrical and Electronics Engineering.
In the past, he has enjoyed mentoring the youth and volunteering his time with organizations including (but not limited to) Hosea Feed the Homeless, the American Red Cross, YMCA, the Boys and Girls Club, Habitat for Humanity, Ronald McDonald House, Children’s Miracle Network, Big Bend Cares, Kids Incorporated, and the Leon County Humane Society. Mr. Bernadin currently resides in Atlanta with his wife Tashinea.
Aujahuna Brown is a proud graduate of the RCA Class of 2010—the first class ever to graduate from the Academy. She and her classmates helped to create the magic that began our school, and Aujahuna was instrumental in establishing many of the traditions that still remain to this day.
A mass communications major, Aujahuna will continue to attend college at Atlanta Metropolitan State College in the evenings. She is a proud member of the house of Altruismo, and she is a three-time reigning house champion.
Mr. Kirk Brown is Chief Development & Communications Officer for the Ron Clark Academy where he leads the fundraising, partnerships, and communications strategy. Over the past 12 years of his fundraising career, Kirk has successfully raised more than $70 million dollars to support individuals, including RCA’s most recent gift of $5 million from Oprah Winfrey—the single largest gift the Academy had ever received.
Kirk is very involved in the Atlanta community, serving as an Executive Board member for the Harvard Debate Council Diversity Project and a Plywood Advisor for Plywood People. In December 2010, he cofounded the Emerging 100 of Atlanta which now has inducted more than 100 young professional men in Atlanta, spawned chapters in several U.S. cities, and has awarded nearly $245,000 in scholarships to metro Atlanta seniors and college students.
Kirk’s a member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals and a 15-year member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., where serves on the Board of Directors for the historic Eta Lambda chapter in Atlanta. In March 2015, he graduated from Leadership Atlanta’s young professional leadership development program, LEAD Atlanta, and is a founding member of the LEAD Atlanta Alumni Association.
Kirk has been recognized as a “Leader in Academia” for Who’s Who in Black Atlanta, Who’s Who 30 Under 30 by the Atlanta Business Chronicle, APEX Society’s Power 30 Under 30, and by his alma mater Georgia State University as an inaugural 40 Under 40 honoree. And in 2020, the Hyatt Regency honored Kirk with the 2020 Herald Award for community service. He lives in East Atlanta with his wife and daughter.
Renita Burns has been in Administrative Services for the past 26 years at Bellsouth and has an extensive background in Project Management, Executive Secretarial Support and Business Operations. Renita attended Arizona State University where she majored in Journalism/Public Relations. An Atlanta native, she is involved with numerous community organizations. She is a Court Appointed Special Advocate for the Fulton County Juvenile Court, she conducts a home-based adult literacy program, and she also teaches Junior Achievement classes. At the corporate level, Renita has spearheaded several programs to eradicate homelessness and teenage pregnancy, and she has developed mentorship programs to offset reading/writing deficiencies among elementary and middle school students. Renita has served as a BellSouth representative to the United Way, and she has also served as their Job Shadowing coordinator for their local high school program.
Tyrel Cooper, a native of Georgia, joined the RCA team in 2019. He is a graduate from Georgia State University where he obtained a Bachelors of Business Administration in Computer Information Systems. While there, he held numerous positions on campus including being a Presidential Ambassador and 2018 Mr. Georgia State University. Upon graduation, he worked as a Data Analyst II for a consulting firm prior to joining the RCA family. He works alongside Mr. Bernadin to provide all system support to the Academy as well as maintaining and managing all levels of technology support and integration within the school.
Originally, from Riverhead, New York, Troy received a bachelor’s degree in Mathematics from Colgate University, where he also played football. Mr. Kemp comes to RCA after spending the past 27 years at McCallie School and 2 years at the Wilmington Friends School. Troy’s 29-year career in education includes serving as an award winning math teacher, championship football and lacrosse coach, computer coordinator, dorm parent, Dean of Admission, and Associate Headmaster for Enrollment and Marketing.
In 2016, Troy became the Executive Director of the National Center for the Development of Boys, a nonprofit organization founded by McCallie to equip parents, educators, coaches and mentors with research and strategies for helping boys thrive. Troy’s work at the Center included speaking to over 22,000 people at 125 events in 41 cities, 11 states, and 3 countries. Mr. Kemp plans to share his message with the RCA community and educators who participate in professional development days.
Mr. Kemp is passionate about helping young people reach their fullest potential. He is grateful for the family members and educators who helped him overcome the challenges he faced growing up in a single parent, migrant worker’s household. Troy believes the key to success is learning how to turn obstacles into opportunities. He encourages students to, “Always dream big, but be sure to wake up and put in the work!”
Hutch makes sure the school building, its climate and the entire school campus is operating at top-notch.
Chrissi Pepitone joined RCA in 2012 after 7 years with Promethean as Head of Global Branding and Photography. Through the partnership with Promethean and RCA, Ms. Major has been connected with RCA since the school opened. She has designed the RCA newsletter, volunteered and built relationships with the staff and students over the years. Now as an RCA staff member, she continues to help with marketing the Academy.
Mrs. Pepitone has a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Appalachian State University in Graphic Design. She recently completed her second Ironman race, a long-distance triathlon that is 140.6 miles of swimming, biking, and running.
David is our Visual Media Manager, heading up our videography and photography departments. David received a BA in Drama from the University of Georgia, which led him to embark on a career as an actor in New York City. He quickly found himself behind the camera – writing, directing, and producing projects on the New York scene for almost a decade.
David returned to Georgia in 2010, excited to explore Atlanta’s booming film and television industry. Over the years, David has enjoyed producing short films, commercials, and industrial videos, as well as portrait, event, and architectural photography. David’s diverse background enables him to value all views and perspectives, a principle he applies to every video and photo he captures. David’s wife is an accomplished dancer and a teacher,and their son attends the school where she teaches Chinese.
Elektra Thompson holds Bachelor of Science degree in Operations and Information Systems Management from Northern Illinois University. Originally from Chicago, she worked in a corporate environment for five years before switching her career to follow her passion for helping students reach high levels academically while being emotionally balanced.
To pursue this passion, she earned both her Master of Education and Specialist of Education degrees in School Counseling from Georgia State University. Ms. Thompson’s counseling philosophy is rooted in understanding the story of each student and knowing that a child’s academic environment can be affected by home life and adult/peer relationships. It is necessary to understand all aspects in order to assist in a child’s growth.
Alejandro and his wife have been long supporters of the Ron Clark Academy. Alejandro is now an integral part to day-to-day operations of the Academy. In his role, he makes sure the school building and the entire school campus is in optimal condition. Known for his positive spirit and enthusiasm, Alejandro is a phenomenal role model for us all.
Kyle Walcott joined the Ron Clark Academy family in July of 2016. Originally from Connecticut, he received his Bachelor of Business Administration degree in Marketing from Georgia State University in 2013. Post-graduation, he followed his desire to serve our youth by providing in-classroom support and after-school tutoring services to students as an AmeriCorps member with City Year Washington, D.C. After fulfilling his service commitment, his role as scholar relations coordinator with the United Negro College Fund allowed him to implement leadership development programs to underrepresented college students nationwide.Upon returning to Atlanta in 2015, his entry into the world of fundraising began with United Way of Greater Atlanta as a member of the Loaned Executive program. Tasked with managing a portfolio of over 40 accounts, Kyle acquired a passion for bringing individuals and companies together in order to uplift our communities in need.Most recently, Kyle served as Georgia State’s development coordinator of annual programs, where he oversaw strategic plans concerning student philanthropy and young alumni giving.At RCA, Kyle contributes to the process of writing grant proposals and engaging both individual donors and corporate sponsors in order to maximize the fundraising potential of our school. He currently resides in Atlanta where he is an active member of the fundraising committee for the local alumni chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.
Ms. Williams graduated from Auburn University in 2001 with a B.S. in Management Information Systems and an MBA from Troy University in 2002. For over nine years she worked as an analyst in business operations and risk management before obtaining her mathematics certification.
Ms. Williams is passionate about empowering both students and adults. She worked for Kaplan as a teacher, tutor, and trainer. She was awarded Kaplan Teacher of the Year in 2009 for preparing students for pre-college testing. Most recently, she taught Advanced Algebra and PreCal/Trigonometry to high school juniors and seniors. At RCA, Ms. Williams coordinates the educator training program, The RCA Experience, and the National Educators’ Conference. She is currently pursuing her Masters of Education from Troy University.