Empowering students through a blend of arts and academics.
Chara N. Willaford, Ed.D.
Superintendent/Head of School
Dr. Chara N. Willaford is the inaugural Superintendent/Head of School for DREAM Academy Charter School. She will soon celebrate her 20th year in education spanning an array of experiences. Most recently, Dr. Willaford served four years as Proud Principal of Sims Elementary School in Rockdale County, GA.
During her tenure at Sims, Dr. Willaford led the school to rise from a “Focus” school with room for improvement to the highest performing school in the Rockdale County Public School System. The school attained several honors under her leadership such as being named a “Beating the Odds” school by the Governor’s Office of Student Achievement and being recognized by the Georgia Department of Education and the Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education as a “Success Story” at the 2017 Solutions Summit, a gathering to address the challenges faced by chronically under performing schools.
Dr. Willaford believes in mentorship and facilitates a principals’ PLC designed for principals engaged in school improvement. She also mentors current and future instructional leaders. Dr. Willaford holds NAESP National Principal Mentor Certification and most recently gained Ruby Payne’s Framework for Understanding Poverty Trainer Certification.
Prior to the principalship, Dr. Willaford served as the district K-12 coordinator of English Language Arts in Rockdale County Public Schools, the district coordinator for the Early Intervention Program (EIP) and spent five years as assistant principal at C.J. Hicks Elementary.
Prior to Rockdale County Public Schools, Dr. Willaford served as Instructional Coach in Athens-Clark County, Ga., specifically at a school taken over by the state for Needs Improvement (NI) Year 6 status. Dr. Willaford has also been a classroom teacher, reading recovery teacher/literacy specialist, early intervention teacher and literacy/instructional coach.
Dr. Willaford is recognized as an instructional leader that guides school communities in the process of rising to greatness through hard work, dedication and perseverance. She has an unwavering commitment to teaching and learning and doing everything with excellence and intention. Her personal motto states, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.”
Originally from Atlanta, Ga., Dr. Willaford graduated from the prestigious North Atlanta High School of Performing Arts and International Studies. She then obtained her BS in Education from Georgia Southern University and her doctorate in Curriculum and Instruction from Argosy University in 2006. In her spare time, Dr. Willaford enjoys going on “runcations” which allow her to combine her love of running and traveling, listening to live music, decorating, cooking, and spending time with her husband, Sherrod, family and friends.