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Board of Trustees

David Pierson, Chairman

Dave has a Bachelor of Arts degree from Gettysburg College in Pennsylvania. He is a career retailer spending the majority of that time in the retail optical industry.  He served as President and CEO of various optical companies including Sears Optical and Pearle Vision.  He retired in 2014 and continues to consult with companies and trade associations in the industry.

Dave and Sue have been members of the Church of the Cross since permanently relocating to the Bluffton area in 2014.  They frequently attended and grew to love the church when visiting the area for over 20 years.  Dave has previously been involved with Stephen Ministry and Sue taught Sunday School at the historic location.    

They have two married children and four grandchildren.  Their two oldest grandkids are now attending the University of South Carolina in Columbia.  They are fortunate to have both families enjoy the Low Country and spend vacations and holidays in their home.

A favorite Bible verse of Dave’s is 1 John 1:7 – “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.”


Kimberly Duke-Clark, Treasurer

Kim a native of N.C., has been in the great state of SC since 1990. She graduated from Atlantic Christian College with a Bachelor of Science in Social Work. She worked numerous years for the Dept. of Social Services in Child Protective Services, Investigations, Adoptions, and Child advocacy. In 1997 Kim founded and operated Lowcountry Day Christian Schools, until  September of 2020. She is still very active in Child Advocacy, serving on the Board of Directors for CAPA (Child Abuse Prevention Association), sitting chairperson for Open Arms Children's Shelter, and a volunteer with many childrens services in the Lowcountry.

Kim married her high school sweetheart Mike, and they have two son's. Their new granddaughter Millie Lee attends Cross Schools. Kim & Mike opened May River Pet Resorts in 2020, along with their son Duke. Their youngest son Henry is with Orlando Public Defenders Office. The family attends Church of the Cross & Kim is an active member of Daughters of the Holy Cross, & passionate about  volunteering with Cross Women & summer Bible Schools. 

Favorite Bible verse: Proverbs 22:6

"Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it."


Scott Thomas, Secretary

Scott graduated from Georgia Southern University with a B.S. in Construction Management and a minor in Business. He co-owns a construction firm in Bluffton, SC with his two brothers. Scott grew up in Savannah, GA, and moved to Bluffton with his wife Megan in 2009. They have two children, Chance, and Gracie Bea, that attend Cross Schools. They are active members of Community Bible Church in Beaufort.


A favorite Bible verse is John 16:33: “These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.”


Doug Barone, Trustee

Doug Barone, a seasoned and semi-retired executive from a national heavy industrial construction firm based in Savannah, Georgia, brings a wealth of experience and a passion for education to Cross Schools. At 66 years old, Doug, along with his beloved wife of 40 years, Laura Ann, has resided in 10 different states, with a significant portion of their time spent in Georgia and North/South Carolina. Their children and grandchildren also call the South their home. Doug is thrilled about the challenging opportunity presented by Cross Schools, as he advocates for the exceptional quality of a comprehensive private school education in comparison to the public school alternative.

Drawing inspiration from Philippians 4:4-9 (NIV), Doug encourages rejoicing in the Lord always and emphasizes the importance of demonstrating gentleness to all. With a heart free from anxiety, he encourages seeking God's guidance through prayer, petition, and gratitude in every situation.


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Mitch Brach, Trustee

After graduation from high school, I joined the US Army and attended Helicopter flight school. I served in US Army Aviation for a total of 6 years of active and reserve duty.

My business experience began with the General Electric Small Aircraft Engine Division. Ultimately, I joined ITT Specialty Valve Division as mid-west region manager.

I started my own company and left ITT. We were multi-state distributors for Dow Chemical Co., among other manufacturers. After 25 years as CEO, I sold the company and retired to Hilton Head Island. With a love for flying and aviation, I renewed my commission in the Civil Air Patrol USAFA, where I served as an Aerospace Education officer and taught Aerospace education classes as a volunteer in many of our local Schools. I have been an active member of The Church of The Cross for over 15 years, where I met my present wife, Sallie. Sallie and I are leaders in the Stephen Ministry and members of other ministries.

My favorite bible verse is Ephesians 6:7: "Serve wholeheartedly, as if you
were serving the Lord, not men."


Betsy Batten, Trustee

Betsy Batten is a physical therapist and president of Thrive Physical Therapy and Wellness, LLC. Prior to moving to Bluffton in 2008, she completed undergraduate studies in Health and Exercise Science at Furman University and a Doctor of Physical Therapy degree at Elon University.

Dr. Batten is delighted to serve on the Board of Trustees for Cross Schools. As a member of The Church of the Cross since 2012, the mission and outreach of the church and school are near and dear to her heart. Betsy is married to Lowcountry native, Wise Batten, Jr. Their sons have attended Cross Schools since preschool and are delighted to go to school every day.

She is inspired by the words of Philippians 4:8: “Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or
praiseworthy—think about such things.”


Wayne Bowerman, Trustee

Wayne Bowerman grew up on a dairy farm in western New York.  After High School, he graduated from Erie County Technical Institute with an AAS in Mechanical Technology.  He then served in the US Navy on an aircraft carrier, then spent 29 years at Xerox Corporation working in Research and Development.  After retiring in 1998, he continued working in a career of flying for a small charter company based in Rochester, New York.  

He and his wife, Phyllis (Phyl) have two sons and six grandchildren.  One son is an MD with twin boys, and the other is a private equities investor with four children.  Both sons graduated from a private, Christ-centered school, thus Mr. Bowerman's interest in promoting and assisting with a Christ and academic-centered education.  

His verse of choice is John 3:16," For God so loved the world that He gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life."  It is probably the most well-known verse and signifies the level of love God has for all of us, a level that none of us can even begin to comprehend.  


Rick Harrell, Trustee

Born and raised in Southern California, Rick Harrell graduated from Point Loma University in
San Diego with a degree in Religion/Theology, with an emphasis in Christian Education. After
graduation and spending twenty years in the consumer products industry, Rick felt God was
calling him to a career in education. For the past thirty years, he has been working in the
Technology Education field with Christian Schools specializing in providing technology training,
consulting, and curriculum.

Rick has been attending The Church of the Cross since 2020. He knew from the first day he
attended that he had found a home church. He loves studying the Bible and being involved in
church activities. He is also a volunteer at God’s Goods.

Rick is married with three grown children, seven grandchildren, and one great-grandchild.

One of his favorite Bible verses is Matthew 11:28 - “Come to Me, all you who are weary and
burdened, and I will give you rest.”


Rob Heflin, Trustee

Rob Heflin graduated with a B.S. in Business Management from Old Dominion University and later earned a Master’s degree in Management & Supervision from Central Michigan University.  After his undergraduate studies, Rob served 3 years in the Army being commissioned as a Military Personnel Officer and then spent the next 39 years in the Human Resource field retiring  as VP of Human Resources for Perdue Incorporated, a fortune 500 Food and Agricultural Company.

Rob married his high school sweetheart (Nancy) and they have been married for 53 years.  They have 3 children and 5 grandchildren.  They moved to Bluffton in the fall of 2013 and joined the Church of The Cross in the fall of 2014.

Rob has always been active in youth related activities such as coaching, Junior Achievement, and Mentoring.  Since 2015 he has been volunteering at God’s Gifts Thrift Store and is also currently a mentor with the Don Ryan Center for Innovation.  A favorite bible verse is Psalm 34:4 - “I prayed to the Lord and he answered me.  He freed me from all my fears.”


George Millard (Mill) Simmons, MD, Trustee

Mill grew up in a Christian military family mostly in the Northeast. He graduated from the University of Vermont with  

BA and MD degrees. He specialized in Obstetrics and Gynecology and sub-specialized in Maternal/Fetal Medicine at Cornell Medical Center, NYC.  He was on the Faculty of Cornel University before joining the US Army stationed at Fort Hood, TX. Subsequently, he went into an OB/GYN/High-Risk Pregnancy academic career teaching and practicing at Dartmouth College, the University of Vermont, and West Virginia University. His research interests were in the development of rural perinatal medicine and postgraduate medical education. He retired in 2003 as Emeritus Professor of OB/GYN, West Virginia University.


In Medical School Mill married his college sweetheart Rosalie. They have three children and four grandchildren. Their 59 years of marriage have been a faith journey. After moving to the Bluffton area in 2013 they joined The Church of the Cross. They have been actively participating in lay ministries since, including Senior Warden to the Pastor.


A favorite Bible verse can be found engraved in their wedding rings, Hebrews 11:10 (KJV): "For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God."