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Faculty and Staff

Jen Owen, Executive Director and Principal

Jen spent most her life in and around the Atlanta area.  She earned a B.S. in Early Childhood Education with Minors in Spanish and Psychology from the University of Georgia. Following her studies at UGA, she moved to New Zealand where she taught for a year in a progressive public charter school.  There she was trained in student-directed and inquiry-based learning strategies, empowering students of all abilities to take ownership of their educational journeys.

In addition to teaching in New Zealand, she also has experience in HeadStart Preschool, elementary special education, 1:1 academic tutoring, and an internship at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, shadowing the Academic Coordinator to help students with brain injuries transition back into school.  She was one of Cloverleaf’s founding teachers and served as the teacher representative on the Cloverleaf Board of Directors from 2012-2015.

Jen made the transition into school leadership as she earned a M.Ed. in Urban Teacher Leadership from Georgia State University.  She is currently pursuing an Ed.S. in Educational Leadership, slated to graduate in Summer 2016.  She is passionate about student and teacher empowerment, school culture and development, and issues of equity and social justice.

At Cloverleaf, Jen has managed operations for the past two school years.  She also established a growth-oriented teacher coaching program for instructional improvement, and she led a student-centered learning and assessment initiative to improve student outcomes.  She launched a Parent Communication Task Force to design a school communication plan collaboratively with input from key stakeholders.  Jen is committed to growing Cloverleaf into one of Atlanta’s top special education schools.

Outside of Cloverleaf, Jen enjoys photography, traveling, rock climbing, yoga, crafty projects, live music, and spending time outdoors with her husband and her dog Ari (who also happens to be our Cloverleaf School Therapy Dog!).

 

Katherine McGee, Director of Admissions & Counseling

Katherine McGee brings an array of experience to her position at The Cloverleaf School. After graduating from Kennesaw State University with a BS in psychology, she began teaching in the special needs community, specializing in phonics and social skills instruction. Eager to learn as much as possible to address the needs of her students, Katherine pursued training in Orton-Gillingham, Handwriting Without Tears, The Alert Program, and Yoga Kids. In 2008, Katherine became an Educational Director, working closely with other teachers to help them develop curriculum, classroom management skills, and multisensory instruction techniques.

Being a parent of a child with special needs, Katherine has always been passionate about parent support and education and has a knack for viewing things with a “fresh eye.”  Stepping out of the classroom after having her second child in 2011, she took the opportunity to begin facilitating monthly community parent support groups and socials as a Community Outreach Coordinator. Katherine is very excited to combine her specialized education and skills set as the Administrative Director of The Cloverleaf School, where she will work with parents, teachers, and children to achieve the common goal of student success.

 

Emily Swindall, Educational Director

Emily Swindall is an Atlanta native. She received her B.S. in Early Childhood Education from Georgia State University where she was a part of the first dual certification cohort that concentrated on inclusive education. Emily graduated from GSU certified in Early Childhood and Special Education K-12. After finishing her undergraduate degree, Emily jumped right into her M.E. in Special Education which she completed from Grand Canyon University in  2010.

Emily enjoys cooking, spending time outdoors, watching documentaries, and exploring new places and cultures. Emily’s trips have taken her across Africa, to the Andes Mountains of Peru, through Scandinavia, and all around North America.  Many of her trips have been focused around serving the local people.  Some of her trips have included teaching students about AIDS, constructing clean stoves and chimneys, and teaching a preschool class to orphans displaced by civil war.  Emily says, “Often, working alongside people is the greatest way to hear their stories and share experiences.” Her passion for learning about people, places, and diverse cultures has led to a love for teaching Social Studies where she can share her experiences with her students as they try to understand the complexity of societies across the globe. She’s always planning her next adventure!

Prior to teaching full-time, Emily was a social skills therapist, a preschool facilitator and a community access coach for kids with special needs. Working with families that have children of various ages (two to twenty) has given Emily perspective on the unique challenges that families face as their children grow.

Emily is passionate about equipping students with the tools and strategies they need to have success academically and socially, as she discusses in “Kids in Charge!”  Emily loves teaching at The Cloverleaf School because she enjoys the opportunity to help students practice social skills throughout the day in a variety of settings as well as infusing movement and multi-sensory experiences into her lessons. Many of Emily’s lessons are project focused; this allows students the opportunity to explore the process, so that at the end they not only have gained knowledge but also an understanding of why “that makes sense.”

 

IMG_1841Shelley Murphy, Business Coordinator

Shelley comes to Cloverleaf after owning and operating a small family business which her husband, Joel, continues to run. Shelley is the daughter of an air force pilot and an English mother and spent her first 8 years living in Germany, followed by 6 more years in England. Since she is half English and was raised there, she has a unique perspective on our two cultures.

Shelley graduated from the University of Georgia with a major in Journalism/English. She was also a news anchor for the college radio station, WUOG, and many of her friends from the station are still in her life today. After graduating, she worked for many years at McCann Erickson Advertising where she learned the valuable skill of negotiation. Following the birth of her son, Shelley held a front office position with a small doctor’s office and found she had a penchant for understanding and helping people who were struck with very difficult diagnoses. After moving to the city of Atlanta, Shelley and her husband, who until then had been a professional musician, started their own business.

Discovering Cloverleaf can actually be credited to her son, Trevor, who is a support teacher and renaissance man there. He suggested that she apply to become a substitute teacher and the moment she did, she fell in love with the children, the school, and its mission. In her current position as Business Coordinator, it is Shelley’s goal to help support the teachers and other staff so that they can continue to do the incredible work of helping children with learning differences blossom into young adults with a vision for their future.

Shelley lives in Atlanta with her husband and two dogs. She enjoys studying Tudor history and being a back-up singer with Joel in an acoustic setting once a month. She loves all things gardening and painting, and is also trained classically on the piano, practicing when she can.

 

Elise Albrecht, Lead Middle School Teacher

Elise grew up in Columbus, Ohio, and graduated from Denison University in 2006 with majors in English Literature and Education, as well as a minor in French. For the past two years, Elise has worked at The Howard School in kindergarten, 6th and 7th grades, and summer academic enrichment programs. She is trained in Singapore Math, Habits of Mind, Positive Discipline, and Read & Write Gold. At the Howard School, Elise founded a Chess Club for middle school students and also taught summer dance enrichment classes. Prior to working at The Howard School, Elise was a Program Director for Jumpstart, a national early childhood literacy non-profit that prepares preschoolers from low-income families for kindergarten by partnering them with trained college student volunteers. At Jumpstart, Elise ran many new and developing programs, and she has extensive experience with service learning program development, community and family outreach, volunteer management, and curriculum design.  Working at Jumpstart brought Elise close to the challenges of many underserved Atlanta neighborhoods and schools, and she is committed to engaging students in projects that help them understand how to be good stewards of their communities.

Elise has also been a ballet dancer since a young age and enjoys connecting movement to learning across all subject areas. She is an avid reader and writer, and this love of literacy in and out of the classroom led her to begin her M.Ed. in Literacy this spring through Lesley University. She will also earn a concentration in arts integration, which is a foundation of her approach to lesson planning. In her spare time, Elise enjoys spending time with her family, including her dog Kinsey.

 

2013-09-18 08.29.57Renee Carmon, Lead Middle School Teacher

Renee is originally from Dalton, Massachusetts. She graduated from North Adams State College (now Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts) with her B.S. in Middle Grades Education and a minor in English. After graduating, she moved to Atlanta, Georgia and continued her education at Georgia State University where she received her M.Ed. in Special Education. She is currently certified in Language Arts, Math, Science and Social Studies with a Reading Endorsement. While in Atlanta, Renee has taught for Atlanta Public Schools for 17 years and raised her three children. Now that her children are approaching adulthood, Renee is excited to be opening a fresh chapter in her life by exploring new horizons and dedicating herself to the community of learners at The Cloverleaf School.

In her leisure time, Renee enjoys writing, cooking, hanging out with her children, and numerous outdoor activities.

 

 

2013-09-18 08.29.53 HDR

Sharonda Frazier, Lead Elementary Teacher

Sharonda Frazier is a native of Atlanta and after receiving her Bachelors in Political Science from Georgia State University, she spent some time in the corporate world of private wealth management where she was a trust advisor. After realizing her passion for education, she began pursuing her degree, receiving her Masters in Early Childhood Education in 2004. Sharonda began teaching in a private PreKindergarten program as a lead teacher and subsequently taught at Jolly Elementary, a high refugee population school, where she gained valuable instruction in the areas of English language learners, early literacy, and early intervention. She also served as Curriculum Director and Interim Director at North Decatur Parents Morning Out program. As an inclusion teacher for City Schools of Decatur, Sharonda was awarded a grant to implement NeuroNet, a brain-based program to support the Exceptional Student Services program. She is currently pursuing her Educational Leadership Degree in Brain-Based Learning which she will receive Spring 2016.

In 2012, Sharonda and her family started a gluten, dairy, nut, and soy free bakery to accommodate the needs of herself, her children, and countless other people she encountered with these dietary restrictions. She is a photography enthusiast and her passion for working with children includes volunteering at local shelters, events supporting the community of autism, and her children’s school as a member of the academic excellence committee. Sharonda lives in Avondale Estates with her husband, two children and two rambunctious dogs.

 

 

Miranda Olsen, Lead Elementary Teacher

Miranda was born and raised in Marietta, Georgia and has one sibling — an older brother. After graduating from Kennesaw State University with a B.S. in Early Childhood Education, she received her certification in special education, allowing her to live out her life’s calling.

Miranda’s passion for working with children with differences was first sparked several years ago when her family volunteered for the Special Olympics. It was there that she realized this calling was something that made her come alive.

After finishing her undergraduate studies at Kennesaw State, Miranda began working in a public school in the Cobb County School District as a K-2 Autism teacher. There, she worked with students of various cognitive and social/communication levels in a self-contained autism classroom. Miranda also volunteers at her church working with children with special needs. She has discovered the importance of combining curriculum, social skills, and building relationships with both students and parents in order to help each child succeed in the day to day.

In her free time, Miranda loves to be outdoors, at the lake, or with friends and family. She currently lives in Atlanta, Georgia with three close girlfriends. Working at Cloverleaf – a school that has the same dreams, values, and beliefs as hers – is a dream come true.

 

 

Jennifer SelzerJennifer Selzer, Lead Teacher

Jennifer was born in Seattle, Washington; however, she spent most of her childhood in the Alpharetta area of Georgia. After graduating from Kennesaw State University with a B.S. in Early Childhood Education, she received her certification in special education and is currently working on her M.Ed. in Instructional Technology.

Traveling abroad to Guatemala is what first incited Jennifer’s love for teaching. While there, she worked with a team to provide educational infrastructure and tools to teach 600 village children, while also providing clothing and housing to the local community. Through this experience, Jennifer discovered the joy of providing a learning environment, but also the vital need for children to have the necessary tools to learn.

Jennifer expanded upon her experiences by taking an opportunity to teach in Trinidad and Tobago while finishing her undergraduate degree. Shadowing local teachers at multiple schools, Jennifer was able to further develop her knowledge and experience working with diverse learners. It was here that she fell in love with teaching children with special needs.

Upon completing her undergraduate studies, Jennifer began working in the public school setting in Marietta City Schools as a K-2nd Special Education Lead Teacher. During the past five years, she conducted several school technology workshops and continues to regularly integrate technology into her classroom. Jennifer firmly believe that technology can be utilized as a tool to help diverse learners achieve success in the classroom and vastly improves how children prepare for a future in the 21st Century.

In her spare time, Jennifer enjoys nothing more than spending time with her family, technology, being outdoors or reading a good book. She just finished The One and Only Ivan and is always looking for new books she can either share with her students or her friends. She currently lives in the Marietta area with her Golden Retriever named Diesel and her husband Warren, who is a 6th grade teacher and shares her love for education.

 

Trevor GarnerTrevor Garner, Support and Enrichment Teacher

An Atlanta native, Trevor has always followed his dreams. Trevor set off to college dead set on a major in sculpture and a career in Special FX make-up for film. In 2007, he secured an internship with Toby Sells Creature Make-up FX shop as a sculptor. Hoping the knowledge of hair would aid him in his work with FX make-up, Trevor also worked as an assistant in a salon. From there, the fates intervened, and he took on an 18-month apprenticeship with Master Cosmetologist Clay Eaton, emerging a licensed cosmetologist. As luck would have it, being a new stylist he was often assigned kids’ cuts and youth clients. That was where Trevor first discovered his ability to communicate and work with children, and the rewards therein. It was also through the salon industry that Trevor was introduced to working with children with special needs. Each year, Trevor was a volunteer stylist for Day of Beauty, a non-profit charity event that provides free hair care to children with special needs and their teachers and caregivers.

Around the same time, Trevor left the Creature Shop to pursue a childhood dream: acting. Growing up, he would often dress as his favorite comic book or action hero and leap around the house “saving the day.” With a background in Martial Arts and plenty of experience in make-believe, it was only fitting that Trevor’s first on-screen appearances were as a stunt performer. To further develop his stunt work, Trevor began gymnastics training with In Flight Gymnastics in December of 2009. Two years later he stepped in as a coach, and he launched the Boys Acrobatics Program at In Flight. Through In Flight Gymnastics and the gym’s connections with Cirque Du Monde, Trevor -who is also trained in circus acrobatics- coached a summer Circus Camp at The Howard School in 2011, where he continues to work with In Flight Gymnastics to provide circus arts afterschool and summer programs. In 2013, In Flight Gymnastics hosted the City of Atlanta’s Camp Best Friends, and Trevor was one of the head coaches responsible for gymnastics education. He also has fairly extensive volunteer experience with day cares and Sunday school classes for children with special needs. Trevor holds certifications in CPR, First Aid, AED, Personal Fitness Training, and Cosmetology, and is an AAU Certified Youth Freestyle Gymnastics Coach. In addition to joining the Cloverleaf team, Trevor has recently begun working with The Welch Martial Arts Experience as a Youth Martial Arts instructor. Trevor still pursues his other dream of acting, co-owns his own independent film production company, and is the drummer and singer for a local blues-rock band.

 

 

Ari

Ari has been working with Cloverleaf kids since the school was founded in January 2012.  She trained with Ms. Jen, her handler, while attending obedience school for her first year of life.  She passed her Therapy Dog certification test shortly after her first birthday, affirming what we already knew here at Cloverleaf: Ari excels at working with kids!  Ari is a husky-shepherd mix, adopted by Ms. Jen in December 2011.  Ari’s interests include chasing sticks on the playground, listening to students read aloud in the classroom, and playing with her fellow furry friends at the dog park.

 

 

Permanent link to this article: http://cloverleafschool.org/our-approach/our-people/faculty-and-staff/

StaffHeadshots-14

Jen Owen, Executive Director & Principal

Jen spent most her life in and around the Atlanta area.  She earned a B.S. in Early Childhood Education with Minors in Spanish and Psychology from the University of Georgia. Following her studies at UGA, she moved to New Zealand where she taught for a year in a progressive public charter school.  There she was …

View page »

KatherineMcGee

Katherine McGee, Director of Admissions & Counseling

Katherine McGee brings an array of experience to her position at The Cloverleaf School. After graduating from Kennesaw State University with a BS in psychology, she began teaching in the special needs community, specializing in phonics and social skills instruction. Eager to learn as much as possible to address the needs of her students, Katherine …

View page »

CloverleafPortraitsWEB-71

Emily Swindall, Educational Director

Emily Swindall is an Atlanta native. She received her B.S. in Early Childhood Education from Georgia State University where she was a part of the first dual certification cohort that concentrated on inclusive education. Emily graduated from GSU certified in Early Childhood and Special Education K-12. After finishing her undergraduate degree, Emily jumped right into …

View page »

IMG_1841

Shelley Murphy, Business Coordinator

Shelley comes to Cloverleaf after owning and operating a small family business which her husband, Joel, continues to run. Shelley is the daughter of an air force pilot and an English mother and spent her first 8 years living in Germany, followed by 6 more years in England. Since she is half English and was …

View page »

Elise Headshot

Elise Albrecht, Lead Middle School Teacher

Elise grew up in Columbus, Ohio, and graduated from Denison University in 2006 with majors in English Literature and Education, as well as a minor in French. For the past two years, Elise has worked at The Howard School in kindergarten, 6th and 7th grades, and summer academic enrichment programs. She is trained in Singapore …

View page »

2013-09-18 08.29.57

Renee Carmon, Lead Middle School Teacher

Renee is originally from Dalton, Massachusetts. She graduated from North Adams State College (now Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts) with her B.S. in Middle Grades Education and a minor in English. After graduating, she moved to Atlanta, Georgia and continued her education at Georgia State University where she received her M.Ed. in Special Education. She …

View page »

2013-09-18 08.29.53 HDR

Sharonda Frazier, Lead Elementary Teacher

Sharonda Frazier is a native of Atlanta and after receiving her Bachelors in Political Science from Georgia State University, she spent some time in the corporate world of private wealth management where she was a trust advisor. After realizing her passion for education, she began pursuing her degree, receiving her Masters in Early Childhood Education in …

View page »

Miranda pic

Miranda Olsen, Lead Elementary Teacher

Miranda was born and raised in Marietta, Georgia and has one sibling — an older brother. After graduating from Kennesaw State University with a B.S. in Early Childhood Education, she received her certification in special education, allowing her to live out her life’s calling. Miranda’s passion for working with children with differences was first sparked several years ago when her family volunteered for the …

View page »

Jennifer Selzer

Jennifer Selzer, Lead Elementary Teacher

Jennifer was born in Seattle, Washington; however, she spent most of her childhood in the Alpharetta area of Georgia. After graduating from Kennesaw State University with a B.S. in Early Childhood Education, she received her certification in special education and is currently working on her M.Ed. in Instructional Technology. Traveling abroad to Guatemala is what …

View page »

Trevor Garner

Trevor Garner, Support and Enrichment Teacher

An Atlanta native, Trevor has always followed his dreams. Trevor set off to college dead set on a major in sculpture and a career in Special FX make-up for film. In 2007, he secured an internship with Toby Sells Creature Make-up FX shop as a sculptor. Hoping the knowledge of hair would aid him in …

View page »

AriTDI-4

Ari

  Ari has been working with Cloverleaf kids since the school was founded in January 2012.  She trained with Ms. Jen, her handler, while attending obedience school for her first year of life.  She passed her Therapy Dog certification test shortly after her first birthday, affirming what we already knew here at Cloverleaf: Ari excels at working with kids!  Ari …

View page »

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