The ClearWater Team

ClearWater Academy’s greatest assets are our exceptional teaching staff and licensed therapy professionals. To meet and exceed high standards, ClearWater Academy requires all members of the staff to complete specialized training above and beyond their formal training and specific to our student population. All of our staff are Lindamood-Bell certified and many are also trained in DIR/Floortime and special reading/decoding methods such as Orton-Gillingham/SPIRE and SRA Number Worlds. Our exclusive social-emotional development training is on-going. In addition to many other resources, we useGrab the Wheel, a curriculum centered on anger management and social thinking, to bring the latest in social/emotional development to ClearWater Academy. We are pleased to introduce our highly motivated, committed, and caring staff and licensed therapy professionals to you.

Administration

Heidi Johnson

M.Ed. – HEAD OF SCHOOL

Mrs. Johnson holds a M.Ed. in Special Education from Albany State University and a B.A. in Liberal Studies with a minor in Mathematics from San Jose State University. She has certifications in Elementary Education, Middle Grade Education in addition to a Reading and Gifted Endorsement. She has been an educator for over thirty years. Heidi is also a FranklinCovey Certified Facilitator for The Leader in Me and 7 Habits of Effective Families, and is trained in Love & Logic and MindSet Crisis Prevention Strategies. She has presented at numerous conferences on creative and innovative learning approaches utilizing differentiated instruction and multiple intelligence theory, and is a member of the Fayette Chamber of Commerce and Delta Kappa Gamma sorority. Additionally, Mrs. Johnson serves as Board Secretary for the Georgia Association of Private Schools for Exceptional Children. She is a wife and mother of three grown sons, two of which are married, and she loves being a grandmother as well. Meeting the needs of children has always been her passion. CWA provides an amazing environment that fosters discovering the strengths in students, and creating hope for families. Mrs. Johnson believes that magic happens at CWA through the love, compassion, and methods used where students grow into their potential. She feels blessed to be able to serve in such an incredible school.

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Tommy Collins

M. Ed. S. Ed. – PRINCIPAL

Mr. Collins holds a M.Ed. in Special Education from Grand Canyon University, and an Ed.S. in Curriculum and Instruction from Lincoln Memorial University, and a B.S. Ed in Special Education from the University of West Georgia. He is certified in Special Education, both Adaptive and General Curriculum (K-12) in addition to Health and Physical Education, and has been teaching in special education since 2004. Having spent ten years in Fayette County schools, he was awarded Teacher of the Year in 2015-2016 by his colleagues at Whitewater High School. Tommy, his wife Ashley, and their two children love to spend time ministering to people with special needs and their families through Young Life’s Capernaum, Club 2.0, and their own ministry which serves adults with special needs. Tommy’s passion is teaching people with special needs, and he is excited to continue doing this with the ClearWater Academy family.

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Christine Harper

OFFICE ADMINISTRATOR

Ms. Harper came to ClearWater Academy with ten years experience in the Fayette County School System. The first seven years she spent as a Front Office/Clinic paraprofessional. The last three years she was a paraprofessional in a Kindergarten classroom. She was involved with the PTO and the Fayette County High School Band Boosters while her three wonderful children attended school. She received an Associate Degree in Marketing and Management from Lake Superior College in Duluth, Minnesota. Along with volunteering for the Special Olympics and Cancer Treatment Centers of America, Christine enjoys bowling and watching comedy. Christine loves the rewarding experience of being a part of helping students at ClearWater Academy develop their strengths.

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Judi O’Haver

Financial Administrator

Ms. O’Haver joined our team as the Financial Administrator in April 2018.  She was born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland, where she developed her skills as an Administrative Specialist.  In 1993 she moved to Georgia and began her career with AT&T where she filled several positions with the printer and publisher of the telephone directory.  She retired from AT&T in 2009.  She spent a few years as a caregiver before returning to work at a local company where she continued to build her knowledge base and improve her administrative skills.  Her philosophy is “Work smarter not harder,” and she uses her skills to improve processes when possible. She is great support behind the scenes at CWA. Ms. O’Haver is an avid reader, ad she loves being able to use her skills to support and serve at ClearWater Academy.

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Lower School

Gabby Nicholson

LEAD TEACHER – LOWER SCHOOL COORDINATOR

Mrs. Nicholson graduated from Gordon State College with a Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood Education and Special Education. She is certified to teach on an Elementary Level for Preschool through Fifth Grade in a General Education and Special Education Classroom. Mrs. Nicholson has been a part of the ClearWater family since 2020, and before that she worked as a Paraprofessional in First Grade and Fifth Grade for the Fayette County School System. She had the opportunity to work with a variety of students with learning differences. Her goal as a teacher is to help the students feel included, independent, safe, and loved when they come to school. She plans to utilize her experience and education, as well as incorporate new techniques, to help further each student’s educational career and help them build confidence with their learning. Mrs. Nicholson is from Fayette County and is very excited about giving back by teaching in the beautiful community in which she grew up. She is ecstatic to be a part of ClearWater Academy and to continue growing as a teacher.

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Carrie Hayes

LEAD TEACHER

Mrs. Hayes holds an M.Ed in Special Education from Liberty University and a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from The Ohio State University. Additionally, Mrs. Hayes is certified in MindSet Crisis Prevention Strategies and the Lindamood-Bell curriculums: Visualizing and Verbalizing, Talkies, and Seeing Stars. Prior to joining the ClearWater family, she worked as an Adapted Curriculum Paraprofessional and Substitute Teacher for Fayette County Schools. Mrs. Hayes and her husband have five children: four girls, and one boy. Her passion for exceptional children began when her son was diagnosed with Autism at the age of three. Her first-hand personal experience impressed upon her the positive impact an educator can have on the lives of exceptional children and their families. She believes a successful teacher uses the power of connection and encouragement to empower students to reach their full potential. She is thrilled to be a part of the ClearWater family.

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Carly Moody

TEACHING ASSISTANT

Mrs. Moody, who prefers to be called Mrs. Carly, graduated from the University of West Georgia with her Bachelors in Speech Language Pathology. During her undergrad, she participated in the Project Wolves, a program which supports students with developmental and intellectual disabilities throughout their college experience. Mrs. Carly plans to continue her education by pursuing her Masters in Special Education. Her passion for getting involved in the special education community stemmed from her brother, who was diagnosed with Treacher Collins at birth. She believes that she can help make a difference in the students and families lives working at ClearWater Academy! She is grateful and excited to be a part of the ClearWater Academy family!

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Rebecca Niederfringer

TEACHING ASSISTANT

Ms. Rebecca (as she prefers to be called) is excited to join the Clearwater Academy family!  She has a passion for working with children and adults who are differently abled and their families. She has a Bachelor’s degree from Gordon College (in Massachusetts) in social work and a minor in special education. She has worked most recently for Fayette County Public schools as a paraprofessional in the elementary school Triad (Exceptional Children’s Services) program. She supported the learning differences of students in the classroom and around the school as they integrated with general education peers. She enjoyed the opportunity to engage with all students and encourage them to be kind and inclusive and watch friendships grow. Rebecca and her husband relocated to Atlanta from New England to pursue inner city ministry over 15 years ago and stayed.  They enjoy calling Georgia home.  They are glad to raise their two boys ages 14 and 11 in Tyrone. They are thankful for the long months of lovely weather to enjoy camping, outdoor activities and soccer. Rebecca is grateful for the opportunity to support the needs of students at Clearwater Academy!

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Martha Butler

TEACHING ASSISTANT

Ms. Butler came to ClearWater Academy in 2019 as a Teaching Assistant in the Lower School. Ms.Butler has her Bachelors Degree in Psychology, followed by ten years as an Adult Probation Supervisor in Clayton County. Upon realizing how much she enjoyed children, she returned to Graduate School at Georgia State University where she received her Masters of Education in Early Childhood Education. She then spent 20 years as a classroom teacher in Fayette County, several years in the Collaborative Model. Upon retiring from Fayette County. she was employed by Atlanta Counseling and Educational Consultants for eight years. Ms. Butler has two daughters and three granddaughters. Her daughters live locally, and Martha recently moved to Tyrone. Ms. Butler is excited and looks forward to many years supporting the students at ClearWater Academy.

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Upper School

Virginia Warrick

ASSISTANT PRINCIPAL – UPPER SCHOOL COORDINATOR - LEAD TEACHER

Mrs. Warrick came to ClearWater Academy in 2015 from Florida, where she was an Exceptional Student Educator for eleven years before relocating with her family to Fayette County. With a background in Transition Services and Life Skills Coaching for high school age students, Mrs. Warrick enjoys helping her students attain their full potential by becoming an active part of their community. She has trained and helped implement transition services within several high schools during her time teaching in Florida. After graduating with honors from Florida Atlantic University with a BA in Elementary Education, Mrs. Warrick decided that working with children with different learning styles and abilities was what she wanted to do. Mrs. Warrick is also ESOL certified and is currently pursuing a Masters in Special Education. Mrs. Warrick is excited to continue her career with CWA and expressed, “ClearWater Academy supports and fulfills a philosophy that I believe in. I knew the moment that I walked into the school that I wanted to be part of the team of wonderful educators and loving children.”

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Jenny Stuart

TEACHING ASSISTANT

Mrs. Stuart started her career in education as a kindergarten paraprofessional in Hartford Public Schools, Connecticut, where she worked for fifteen years before moving to Georgia. For eight years, she supported teachers in the Fayette County Public Schools with five years serving students as an Exceptional Children’s Services Collaborative Paraprofessional. She received an Associate of Arts in Liberal Arts from Capital Community College in Hartford, Connecticut. Her passion is growing her own vegetables! She is married and has one daughter. Mrs. Stuart is excited for another year at CWA and cannot wait to greet the students.

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Kimberly Henkel

M.Ed. – LEAD TEACHER

Mrs. Henkel holds a B.A. in Criminal Justice and a Masters in Curriculum and Instruction with a Concentration in Special Education. Through her work at the sheriff’s office, she has worked collaboratively with teachers in both the elementary and high school levels since 2011. She worked hand in hand with the special needs teachers and students. This is where she found her passion for teaching and serving students with learning differences. She is the wife of a sheriff officer; the mom of two young daughters named Ryann and Heidi, and has previously worked in law enforcement.  She is very excited to be a member of the CWA family.

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Britt Canby

TEACHING ASSISTANT

Ms. Canby joined the ClearWater Academy team in 2020, bringing her love and passion for serving students with learning disabilities. Ms. Canby holds a B.S. in History from the University of Missouri. She is also a wife and mother of two daughters named Evan and Autumn ages 15 and 9. She has been a lead teacher and teaching assistant at the pre-school level working with students with varying learning differences.  She has also spent many years volunteering in her daughter’s elementary school working collaboratively with teachers.  After having kids, she soon discovered that working with children was her passion and she too is so excited to be a part of the CWA team.

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Angie Readd-McSpadden

LEAD TEACHER – CREATIVE ARTS COORDINATOR

Mrs. McSpadden, who prefers to be called Ms. Angie, has been with ClearWater Academy from its beginnings. She holds a B.A. in Fine Arts from Augusta State University, and post Baccalaureate certification in Art (K-12) from the University of West Georgia, additionally; Ms. Angie is a Strategic Learning Coach. Ms. Angie has completed additional training geared towards identifying, developing, and utilizing targeted academic strategies for remediation and accommodation of specific learning differences for students throughout her years here at ClearWater Academy. She most recently completed course work in Child Psychotherapy and Play Therapy in addition to Trauma Treatment for Kids. She is an accomplished photographer and artist, and is also a certified personal trainer and has attended training in Yoga instruction and practical Pilates. Her most recent endeavors include the study of dance and movement as well as the dramatic art of improvisation. Ms. Angie believes art has the ability to open doors of thought, make interdisciplinary connections, and provide a forum to practice personal experience and expression. She believes art has the power to educate, unify, build tolerance, communicate, entertain, inspire, and innovate. Ms. Angie’s love of art is inspired by a passion for nature, travel, and music that she shares with her husband, son and daughter. Ms. Angie is a jack of all trades. She is a great encourager to our students and strives to meet the needs of every student at CWA not just her own class.

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Kelli Amico

TEACHING ASSISTANT

Ms.Kelli (as she prefers the students to call her) relocated to Georgia from Houston, Texas, in January 2020. After college graduation, life happened and she put her aspirations of being a YMCA Camp Director on hold. She is finally living her dream of working with children in a creative and loving atmosphere. Ms. Kelli is inspired by Ms.Angie, whom she is assisting in Upper School this year. She is married and has a daughter that lives in Charlotte, NC. She enjoys camping and walking her dog in her new neighborhood. She is grateful for the opportunity to encourage the students and be a part of the magical environment at CWA.

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Roberta Haren

MATH SUPPORT

Roberta J Haren has been an educator since 1986, starting at Bowling Green State University as a music therapy/ special education major. In 1979, she married her husband, Brian, and began the life of an active duty Army family. Her bachelor’s degree, from Methodist University in Fayetteville, North Carolina, was in early childhood education. Along the way, she taught pre-school to middle school, in private schools and in DODDEA schools. Her experiences included regular education and special needs class rooms. In 2000, they moved to Fayetteville, GA, and she started as a 5th grade teacher in August 2001, working with diverse student groups and retired from FCBOE in May, 2021. While with FCBOE, she obtained her master’s degree in mathematics education and her math and gifted endorsements. Brian and Roberta are the proud parents of two young, professional women. But best of all, they have two beautiful granddaughters, Helen (10 years old) and Margot (3 years old). In her free time, Roberta enjoys plants, crafting (especially crochet and embroidery), camping, and loving her 3 rescue dogs.

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Linda Olmstead

ORTON GILLINGHAM READING SPECIALIST

Mrs. Olmstead earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Louisiana College, and worked for several years in Fayette County schools (primarily at Fayette Middle School) as a substitute teacher, a special needs parapro, media center parapro, and front office staff. After FMS closed in 2013, she received training in the Orton-Gillingham method of reading instruction and worked as a one-on-one tutor, as well as a job coach for special needs young adults. She has a husband, an adult daughter (married with one child) and an adult son. She enjoys traveling, reading, finding ways to get kids to enjoy reading, and spoiling her grandson!

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Therapists

Annette Miller

OCCUPATIONAL THERAPIST

Mrs. Miller graduated from the College of St. Catherine with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and a Master of Arts in Occupational Therapy. Annette has been an OT since 2000 specializing in Sensory Processing Disorder and childhood development in clinic, home and school settings. Annette lives in Peachtree City with her husband and 4 children. Annette enjoys reading, travel, hiking and holistic healthy living.

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Holly Bender

SPEECH LANGUAGE PATHOLOGIST

Mrs. Bender graduated from Auburn University with a Bachelor of Science in Communication Disorders and from the University of Tennessee with a Master of Arts in Speech Language Pathology. She has over 20 years of experience and has worked in a variety of settings including a subacute care facility, private practice, and a hospital. Twenty of her years were spent working in elementary education in both private and public settings, including the Atlanta Speech School, Greenville County Public Schools, and Fayette County Public Schools where she spent the last ten years. Mrs. Bender lives in Peachtree City with her husband and their two children. She enjoys exercise, reading, spending time outdoors, and scuba diving with her family. 

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CORRAL

CORRAL was formed in the fall of 1987 to provide therapeutic horseback riding facilities and instruction for the mentally and physically challenged. Operating out of the historic Sewell barn in Roscoe, CORRAL started in the spring of 1988. There have been continuous renovations of the barn to provide better facilities for the horses and the students. They look forward to future progress with the continued support of the community. CORRAL’s mission statement is, “To provide and promote equine-assisted learning for physically and/or mentally challenged individuals in a safe, loving and Christian environment by offering participants exposure to a sense of freedom and achievement while enjoying the outdoors.” As a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, it has been CORRAL’s goal to provide its classes free of charge to all participants. They rely on funding from grants and private donations, as well their volunteer force, to achieve this goal. They are also able to receive individual designated donations through United Way. They are an Accredited PATH International riding center.

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Chris Zelski

RECREATIONAL THERAPIST

Mr. Zelski has been involved in early intervention programs for children with various cognitive learning challenges since 1992. Before co-founding Learning on the Log in 2001, he served as the classroom coordinator and lead teacher at the Walden Early Childhood Programs at Emory University’s Autism Resource Center (1992-1997). He also served as resource case manager and research assistant. His roles involved developing and supervising classroom curriculum, evaluating academic and social development of children with autism, developing language and social skills in an integrated classroom setting, one to one instruction and supervising of parents within their home environment and classroom teachers within the school setting. Chris has published and presented his work on two research projects at the national convention of the Association For Behavioral Analysis in San Francisco in 1996. Chris held the position of Program Coordinator and Summer Camp Supervisor at Speech Pathology Services (1997-2000). His role was to develop and lead group environments that promoted increased communication and interaction with peers and adults by utilizing Sensory Integration and Speech based approaches. Continued communication, training of staff and developing individual goals for the children enrolled in the program remained a major component of the position. Other position’s Chris has held includes teaching at the Lionheart School in Alpharetta, Home School Instructor, Floortime player in small group and individual instruction environments and Aquatics Instructor for children with various learning challenges. With the idea of continuing to promote productive, community based, supportive and fun programs for children and their families, Chris founded Outdoor Rec. Adventures, Inc in July of 2010. The mission of ORA is to provide exciting and challenging learning opportunities for children with various developmental constrictions such as ADD, ADHD, Sensory Integration Delay, Autism, PDD, PDD/NOS and Asperger’s Syndrome. By utilizing Dr. Stanley Greenspan’s DIR (Developmental, Individual-difference, Relationship-based) framework, recognizing the child’s individual sensory profile, various natural settings, community resources and family participation, the program strives to strengthen each child’s relationship with the world around them as well as their physical, social and emotional development and health. Chris is excited to continue working with the ClearWater Academy Family, which he joined in 2010. He shares the belief that each child‘s individual learning style and sensory diet must be respected and honored. He is thrilled to be affiliated with an organization that supports and encourages his passion for helping children develop social and emotional skills through sensory-based recreational activities.

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Becky Hall & Libby

DOG TRAINER & THERAPY DOG

Ms. Hall, along with Libby, our new therapy dog, has been working with us since 2020.  Libby is a three-year-old English Labrador Retriever. She completed her training as a therapy dog in Spring of 2019 and is certified through the Alliance of Therapy Dogs. She is also qualified in The American Kennel Club (AKC) Canine Good Citizen and the AKC Therapy Dog Novice titles. As part of her training, Libby completed obedience classes, specialized therapy dog classes and visited medical facilities, libraries, and schools. Libby loves visiting people of all ages and especially enjoys listening to children read books to her! Libby visited ClearWater Academy several times before becoming a part of the family, and was very popular with the students and staff. She now looks to continue providing encouragement and motivation to the students at ClearWater Academy on a regular basis. Becky is a lifelong animal lover and former elementary school teacher and librarian. Her involvement in dog training grew in 2012 when she became involved with the Guide Dog Foundation for the Blind (GDF) as a Puppy Raiser. Becky continued working with the GDF as a Puppy Raiser through 2015, during which time she was excited to see the positive reactions the puppies received while training in public. This led her to become interested in raising a puppy to become a therapy dog. Shortly after her last GDF puppy graduated, Becky began training her own puppy, Libby, for therapy work. Now Becky is an assistant dog trainer and sometimes brings Libby with her to help in puppy classes, private lessons and to supervise puppy play dates.  Becky is excited to have the opportunity to bring Libby to ClearWater Academy each year, and continue bringing joy and encouragement to students and staff alike.

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