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Learning Designers

Leadership Team

Dr. Chara Willaford, Ed.D.

Superintendent / Head of School

With nearly 20 years’ experience in education, Dr. Chara Willaford is recognized as an instructional leader that guides school communities in the process to rise to greatness through hard work, dedication and perseverance. Her extensive public school experience spans classroom instruction and school administration.  She began her career as a classroom teacher and has also served as a reading recovery teacher/literacy specialist, early intervention teacher and instructional coach. She then became the assistant principal at C.J. Hicks Elementary School in Rockdale County and has most recently served as the proud principal of Sims Elementary School in Rockdale County.  Additionally, during her tenure with Rockdale County Public Schools, Dr. Willaford was the district coordinator of the Early Intervention Program and served as the district K-12 coordinator of English Language Arts where she provided instructional and organizational leadership in curriculum development, professional development, instructional alignment, and evaluation in all areas of English Language Arts district-wide.

Originally from Atlanta, Ga., Dr. Willaford holds a doctorate in curriculum and instruction from Argosy University-Atlanta, a Bachelor of Science in education from Georgia Southern University and graduated from the prestigious North Atlanta High School of Performing Arts and International Studies. She holds NAESP National Principal Mentor Certification and most recently gained Ruby Payne’s Framework for Understanding Poverty Trainer Certification.

In her spare time, she enjoys going on ‘runcations,’ which allow her to combine her love of running and traveling, listening to live music, decorating and spending time with her husband, Sherrod. Dr. Willaford is also a proud member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. and various professional organizations.


Felicia Watson, Ed.S.

Chief Operating Officer / Assistant Principal / Principal-in-Residence

Ms. Watson began her career as an early intervention program specialist in Murray County and went to teach 3rd grade, 6th grade English Language Arts and 6th grade mathematics. During her time as a teacher, she was consistently recognized for her innovative instructional practices, commitment to excellence and high levels of student achievement. She was inducted into the Rising Starts Leadership program, recognized as a 21st Century Teacher, awarded the highest student growth percentile within the district and nominated as teacher of the year by her colleagues, principal and district superintendent. Following years of demonstrating successful teaching practices and positive student outcomes, Ms. Watson went on to serve as the Instructional Coach at Chatsworth Elementary.

She holds a Bachelor of Arts in early childhood education, a Master of Arts in instructional leadership from Tennessee Technological University, and an educational specialist’s degree with a concentration in middle grades mathematics and science from Brenau University. She holds an endorsement in gifted education as well as English to Speakers of Other Languages. She is an affiliated member of the Georgia Association of Educational Leaders, Georgia Association of Elementary School Principals, Georgia Association of Curriculum and Instructional Supervisors as well as the Georgia Association for Gifted Children.

In her free time, Ms. Watson enjoys road cycling, traveling, kayaking, hiking, attending sporting and music events, serving the Macon community and spending time with family and friends.


Paula Harris-Harvey, M.Ed.

Director of ARTScholar Support Services

Ms. Harvey comes from a long line of educators. She recognized her passion for following in those footsteps during her junior year of college and has now been in the education field for more than 10 years. With a Bachelor of Arts in English pre-law and a Master of Education in teaching students with moderate disabilities from Cambridge College in Boston, Mass., Ms. Harvey has worked with students with learning disabilities to students identified as gifted in grades K-12. And, her biggest satisfaction in her career comes from seeing her students succeed. She is a leader who is willing to share strategies, techniques and experience with others to encourage collective success.

Ms. Harvey is married to her best friend, Timothy Harvey, and they have four wonderful children, Victoria, Kennedy, Tailor and Timothy.


Toi McLaughlin, Ed. S.

Dean of Rigorous Arts Integrated Teaching and Learning / COO-in-Residence

With a strong foundation in and a love for arts education, Ms. McLaughlin understands the importance of arts integration and how it can improve student growth, skill development, self-esteem and student achievement. Ms. McLaughlin began her career more than 18 years ago as a 5th grade teacher in the Atlanta Public School System. From there she began to pursue her passion of combining arts and education and helped launch the first magnet elementary arts program in Clayton County. During her tenure with Clayton County Public Schools she also served on curriculum writing teams and was an instructional coach.

She received a Bachelor of Science in early childhood education from Georgia Southern University, a Master of Science in curriculum and instruction from Central Michigan University, a specialist’s degree in curriculum, instruction, management & administration from Nova Southeastern University. In addition, she holds a leadership certification from the University of West Georgia and an endorsement in gifted education.

Ms. McLaughlin is also a proud wife to her husband Roy and mom to her two boys, Lathan and Traeton. She enjoys spending time with her family and supporting her boys’ love of baseball. She is also a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.


Ramon Reeves, M. Ed.

Dean of Rigorous Arts Integrated Teaching and Learning / COO-in-Residence

A native of Milledgeville, Ga., Mr. Reeves boasts a more than 18-year teaching career and is a broad field certified science educator. During his time at North Atlanta High he served in various leadership roles at the school including, IB coordinator, Academy coordinator, SLC site coordinator, department chair and SST/RTI coordinator to name a few. He was also voted Teacher of the Year in 2010. In addition to roles at the school level, Mr. Reeves has also served in leadership positions at the district level including PLC facilitator and Saturday targeted enrichment program coordinator.

He holds a master’s degree in education leadership and supervision and serves as the local president and district director of the Atlanta Association of Educators and as a district director for the Georgia Association of Educators. In his personal time, he is a lead director of the media ministry at Elizabeth Baptist Church and serves as the secretary for the Clayton County Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity.


Kimberly A. Hardy, M. Ed.

Dean of ARTScholars and Community Engagement

Ms. Hardy’s career spans more than 17 years of working with children and families in social services work. Through her work as a juvenile tracker for the Hartford Choice Program as well as a case manager for the WtW program and in-home programs and program coordinator for the Girls Program and the Juvenille Review Board, she has extensive experience working with the courts, wrap around services and schools. She believes that with the right tools every child can be successful.

She relocated to Georgia in 2008 from Connecticut, where she was born and raised and began her tenure at Sims Elementary where she served as a parent liaison and developed positive relationships with parents and scholars, increasing the cohesion and partnerships with the school. She later became an interrelated special education teacher and was also invited to participate in the Reading Endorsement Cohort and completed the program in 2017.  

She is a graduate of Georgia Southern University with a bachelor’s degree in justice studies and of Cambridge College with a Master of Education in Counseling Psychology. She loves to cook, travel, read, learn new things, participate in 5Ks, line dance and spend time with friends and family.


LaQuita Mainer, M. Ed.

Director of ARTScholar Information Systems, Data Reporting & Registration

Ms. Mainer is a retired educator with more than 30 years’ experience as a classroom teacher, instructional technologist and instructional coach. She began her career as the business education teacher at Bryan County High School and then became a technology connections teacher at Richmond Hill Middle School. She later transitioned to be a technology specialist for Savannah Public Schools and an instructional technologist at Armstrong Atlantic University and Middle Georgia State College.

When she retired from education, she joined the staff at a charter school as the inaugural instructional technologist, curriculum coordinator and testing administrator. Even in retirement, Ms. Mainer remains actively involved in education as a volunteer at elementary schools and as a member of the facilitators committee with the Georgia Educational Technology Conference.

Ms. Mainer received a Bachelor of Science in business education from Georgia Southern University and a Master of Science in instructional technology from Lesley University. She enjoys reading, watching crime stories and traveling to the mountains and beaches with her husband Mike.