Steve Palmer's professional experience includes serving at every level - teacher, principal, Executive Director and Superintendent. Prior to joining The Cottage School, Steve was Superintendent in Michigan. Steve led major efforts resulting in increased student achievement and significant improvements in teaching, learning and school status. His central work focused on enhancing the educational culture with "Best Practices" and ensuring that all high school graduates were prepared for college and careers. Under his leadership, his high school received national recognition from U.S. News and World Report as One of America's Best High Schools.
Steve previously served as CEO and founder of a state-of-art aviation high school for the Dick DeVos Foundation. He has also served as Principal of three special education K-8 schools with 600 students with learning differences. In addition, Steve has been a national presenter on various special education topics and educational "Best Practices". A member of numerous national, state, and local boards, Steve has participated with national agencies and associations to reform special education.
Steve's academic background includes a Doctorate in Education, a Master of Science in Educational Leadership, a Master of Science in Counseling, a Bachelor of Science in Education and minor in Business, and Certifications from various states in Special Education and Educational Leadership.
Some of his accolades include: Dr. Landis Special Education Administrator of the Year, S.T.A.R. Administrator of the Year, Tandy Scholars Outstanding Teacher, Teacher of the Year, South Lake High School, 1 of 3 finalists for the Lake County Teacher of the Year, Educator of the Year Finalist Branch County Michigan, Disney's Teacherrific Finalist, South Lake High School Teacher of the Year, Radio Shack Outstanding Teacher, Clermont Chamber of Commerce Teacher of the Year and Leadership North Fulton.
"For myself, education provides an opportunity for continual learning and growth. One of my hopes as the Executive Director is to instill a love of learning in my students, as I share my own passion for learning with them. I feel there is a need for compassionate, strong, and dedicated individuals who are excited about working with children. In our competitive society it is important for students to not only receive a solid education, but to work with someone who is aware of and sensitive to their individual needs. I am such a person and will always strive to be the best educator that I can be."
Contact Steve at Stevenp@cottageschool.org.
Laura Finnell, M.Ed., High School Principal
Laura began her career with The Cottage School as an English teacher in 1991. She has lived in Roswell and Alpharetta most of her life, graduated from Milton High School and completed her bachelor's degree in English, Speech and Drama from the University of Georgia. She earned her Master's Degree in Educational Leadership from Georgia State University in 2000. During that time, she was initiated in Pi Lambda Theta, an honor society for graduate candidates, and was invited to present at the national convention in Boston. In the Atlanta community, she completed six years of service with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Associates young professionals organization, Bravo!, served for two years as Co-President of their board. She participates with educational organizations including: Atlanta Area Association of Independent Schools, International Dyslexia Association; Learning Disabilities Association of Georgia; Georgia Independent School Association and presents at the annual conference; National Association of Secondary School Principals; and the North Fulton Chamber of Commerce graduating from the NFCC Leadership program in 1999.
When not at TCS, you may find Laura at her daughter's basketball games, playing outside, trying to catch a few minutes of a Georgia Bulldog football game, or volunteering with her dog, Princess, through Happy Tails Pet Therapy group.
Contact Laura at LauraF@cottageschool.org
Julie Crudgington, M.Ed., MS, Middle School Principal
Julie holds a Masters Degree in Education from the University of Georgia, has an extensive background in Special Education, and is certified in all areas of middle school education. She spent ten years as a special education teacher and department head in the public school system before her tenure began at The Cottage School. From 2000-2007 she served as learning specialist, high school career counselor and middle school assistant principal. In 2007, Julie married and moved to Texas with her husband. When Julie and her husband moved back to Atlanta, she knew she belonged at TCS and, based on her credentials and prior knowledge of TCS, was appointed Middle School Assistant Principal. Eventually Julie was promoted to Middle School Principal when her predecessor took on new responsibilities at the school.
Julie has always been involved in mentoring new TCS teachers and assisting them in adapting to the students' many learning styles. She is active in facilitating the faculty's professional development programs and assists teachers with certification processes.
Besides being actively involved in her middle school students' educational and life skills development, Julie is and always has been the Georgia Bulldogs' biggest fan. When she is not here, she is on the road with her husband. Every summer, they get off the beaten path and travel the back roads of America.
Contact Julie at firstname.lastname@example.org
Richie Briggs, M.Ed., Athletic Director
Richie Briggs is in his eleventh season as head coach for The Cottage School Cougars varsity boys' basketball program. He also serves as the schools' Athletic Director, PE/Health Instructor, and is Co-Commissioner of the Atlanta Athletic Conference.
Coach Briggs has taken the Cougar basketball program to unprecedented heights. In his ten years at the helm, he has led The Cottage School to their first ever Atlanta Athletic Conference championship in 2009, then added three more rings in 2010, 2012, and 2013. In 2014, the Cougars fell just short of their fifth title finishing in 2nd place. During this time, Coach Briggs has recorded over 125 wins, including many over much larger and more skilled programs. The Cottage School is still the only AAC institution in league history to win back-to-back titles twice and to have two undefeated conference seasons in 2012-2013 (24-0).
Briggs joined The Cottage School after serving two seasons as assistant varsity girls basketball coach and PE teacher at Franklin County High School in Carnesville, Georgia, where he helped lead the Lady Lions to a region championship in 2004 and back-to-back state playoff appearances in 2004-2005. His second year as coach, earned him assistant coach of the year honors.
Prior to coaching on the high school level, Briggs served four years coaching women's college basketball for Emmanuel College and the University of West Georgia and before that as a student athlete at Emmanuel College. Briggs played a large part in the success of each of those programs as a coach and athlete. He earned a bachelor's degree in Sports Management in 1999 from Emmanuel and a master's degree in Physical Education in 2005 from West Georgia.
"I am honored and thankful to teach and coach here at The Cottage School. My vision is to continue to run a respectful physical education and health department and to help guide the athletic program to teach adolescents to succeed both in and out of the classroom. With the students' will to improve, both in skill and in self-confidence, we have been able to accomplish historic success on and off the courts and fields. I am blessed to be a part of this amazing environment and plan to continue guiding our youth to be strong, confident, open-minded, and honest hard working citizens."
Richie Briggs is married to his lovely wife Nadine and they have two children.
Contact Richie at email@example.com.
Bob Crenshaw, Chief Financial Officer
Bob's career began with working in the large IBM mainframe computer industry straight out of college. He worked for major firms including Eastern Airlines, RCA Government Systems, TRW Aerospace, IBM, and others. During his computer career, Bob was involved heavily in project management and development of several domestic and international programs including multiple installations in Beijing, China. Bob's education includes a Bachelor's degree in Banking and Finance form the University of Florida and MBA coursework through the New York Institute of Technology and National University.
Bob and his wife Bettina made the decision in the early 1990's to move to Atlanta with their three children where they opened three independent child development centers and preschools, as well as a large independent preschool through twelfth grade college preparatory school. Bob also obtained his Real Estate Broker's License and eventually opened his own brokerage firm, all the while working in the startup and operation of his other family owned businesses.
Bob joined The Cottage School in 2009 where he became the Director of Finance and Operations and works closely with the Executive Director and the Board of Directors in the day-to-day management of several areas of the school.
Bob's outside the school life revolves heavily around his family with four generations of the Crenshaw family all living together in what he refers to as "Hotel Crenshaw". You can reach
Contact Bob at firstname.lastname@example.org
Brenda Fetherston Hall, Director of Admissions and Enrollment
Brenda was born and raised in Connecticut, settling in the Atlanta area 19 years ago. After 12 years of private school education she graduated from Western New England University in Massachusetts with a BSBA in Marketing/Finance.
Brenda's entire career has been in Marketing - focused in the insurance arena. She has held many positions including Vice President of Marketing, New Business Leader, Marketing Manager and Director of Producer Management.
While in her VP role, Brenda was responsible for the US Program Division where one of the largest programs was for both Private Schools and Public School districts. During her tenure she was able to double the size of the program through her marketing efforts. She was actively involved with the NAEYC (National Association for the Education of Young Children) - a large non-profit association focused on the well-being of children with a particular emphasis on quality of education and development services available to them.
In local educational activity, Brenda held multiple roles for 6 years on the PTA Board at her children's elementary school, was in an appointed position on a Fulton County LSAC (Local School Advisory Council) and served 3 years as Co-President of the Parent Advisory Committee at The Cottage School. She was also named Emory University/Genetics Division liaison for children with genetic disorders in the State of Georgia.
Brenda's knowledge of, and passion for, The Cottage School is unrivaled. She has seen first-hand the direct impact TCS can have on a student as she continues to watch her son thrive exponentially in his 6th year at the school!
In her spare time, Brenda loves family time with her 18 year old twins and their dog, Fenway! Her passions (other than the THREE "kids"!) are travel, photography and sports (high school, college AND pro!)
You can reach Brenda at email@example.com
Kim Weber, Director of Advancement
Kim Weber is joining The Cottage School this year as Director of Advancement. She has been the Special Events Coordinator for the City of Roswell for nearly 4 years working closely with local nonprofits ensuring successful events. Just a few of the events she has been involved with: the Alive in Roswell series, the Roswell Wine Festival, the Roswell Beer Festival and the Alien ½ marathon. Her relationship with these nonprofits provided an intimate perspective on their needs and served to pique her desire to be more involved.
Kim has served as the City of Roswell employee fundraising Team Roswell/Team Captain for 10 years raising funds for the American Cancer Society/Relay For Life of Roswell and this year adopting Be The Voice as their nonprofit recipient. She also assumed the leadership of the Relay For Life of Roswell event for 3 years.
A Keep Roswell Beautiful board member for 20 years, starting when her son was in grade school at Hembree Springs Elementary, she served in every executive committee capacity over the years and as Chairperson for multiple terms. While on the board she led the annual KRB Great Duck Race, an awareness and fundraising event that has become a Roswell tradition.
Kim has a deep network of working relationships with businesses, community groups and residents. Her high energy, enthusiasm and work ethic make her a sought after addition to event teams, committees and nonprofit boards.
When she is not finding a way to raise awareness or funds, she is spending time with her family, helps in animal rescue or honing her pottery skills.
You can reach Kim at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tangela McFarlane, Events Exemplifying Excellence, Inc. - TCS Consultant
Tangela was raised in Mobile, AL with additional career moves to Chicago, Phoenix and Los Angeles. She has been a resident of Atlanta for 24 years. Her greatest accomplishments are being the mother of three adult sons, whom she adores, and a proud supporter of multiple non-profit initiatives.
As the President and CEO of Events Exemplifying Excellence, Inc., which she started in 2007, she has been privileged to provide event planning services to corporations, non-profits, brides, celebrities and individual clients, both domestically and internationally. Creatively embracing and executing a vision is where her passion resides.
With a background in accounting from Florida A&M University and past careers in accounting and auditing, she brings a wealth of real world knowledge of the budgeting, time management and physical logistics needed to execute events on all levels.
An active member of the International Special Event Society, her involvement with non-profits has spanned more than twenty years. From chairing and building a Habitat House, past chair of the Morehouse Renaissance Room Clothes Closet, executive planner for the Coretta Scott King Desert Rose Book Launch, event planner for The Galloway School Gala, Prom and After Prom, and on site DÃ©cor specialist for The Super Bowl Gospel, to name a few.
Tangela believes you never get a second chance to make a first impression and bases her life and work ethic on that primary thought. It is her pleasure to serve at The Cottage School.
You can reach Tangela at email@example.com
Lynn was born in Atlanta, Georgia, and grew up in North Carolina. Moving further north, she attended The University of Delaware and graduated with a degree in Community and Family Services. After working with children at risk and their families in the Philadelphia area, she married and moved back to Atlanta where she dedicated the next part of her life to raising three children. She enjoyed volunteering at their schools, writing an award-winning art appreciation curriculum for grades K-5, and leading a number of community and church initiatives.
She returned to professional work as a Barnes and Noble bookseller, beginning on the book floor and quickly moving into store management. In 2005, Lynn was promoted to Regional Buyer for the southern United States, and while she knew she had a great job, the pull to become a teacher proved strong.
She entered the teaching profession as a member of the 2009 class of the acclaimed Teach for America program, a diverse network of leaders who confront educational inequity through every sector of society. She was selected from more than 40,000 applicants and served in the Ben Hill community of Atlanta where she was an inclusion Special Education teacher.
Lynn considers herself fortunate to have found her way to The Cottage School, where as the Reading Specialist, she developed and implemented an eclectic reading program that addressed each student’s strengths and challenges in the classroom. In 2017, she was given the Georgia Independent School Association (GISA) Middle School Teacher of the Year Award. She was honored to represent TCS at the award ceremony held at GISA’s Annual Conference. With a firm conviction that it is The Cottage School’s program that brings out the best in its teachers and students, Lynn was proud to stand with another TCS teacher, Jennifer Sudbury, who was recognized as GISA’s High School Teacher of the Year. It was noted that one school having two Teachers of the Year was an extraordinary achievement.
As coordinator of the Elementary program, she brings a depth and breadth of experience to the role, and she anticipates that the exciting additions to the program and the move to a state-of-the-art building will offer all Elementary students, teachers, and staff outstanding opportunities to reach their greatest potentials.
You can reach Lynn at firstname.lastname@example.org.