Joseph Almeida, Head of School
Joseph earned a Bachelor of Science in Childhood Development and Learning with teacher licensure from Maryville College and a Master of Science in Educational Leadership and an Educational Leadership Certificate from Buffalo State SUNY. He recently completed his EdS in Christian Educational Leadership through Gordon College. Mr. Almeida has experience as a teacher, coach, and administrator in Tennessee, Brazil, Georgia, and South Carolina. He has worked in public schools, international schools, and private Christian schools throughout his career in education.
He, his wife, Kathleen, and their five children reside in Bluffton. They are members of The Church of the Cross and they both coach at CrossFit843. Mr. Almeida loves to be outside playing with his kids, throwing a frisbee on the beach, or doing CrossFit.
John 15:12 is a verse he tries to live by every day: “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.”
Cayla Wilson, Head of Finance and Operations
Cayla Wilson leads the Business Office which includes overseeing accounting, tuition, human resources, and facilities. With over 18 years of experience as an Accounting and Human Resource professional, she ensures the smooth and efficient operation of financial and administrative functions.
Cayla received her MBA in 2017 while originally working for Cross Schools as the Business Manager. She went on to work for a large nationwide corporation in their accounting department before God brought her back home to Cross Schools. She is thrilled to be working in a God-centered environment with the wonderful staff at Cross Schools.
Stacie Greene, Head of Middle & Upper School
Ms. Greene previously taught Honors English 2 and the AP/Dual-Enrollment Teacher Cadet class at May River High School in Bluffton. She also served as a Teacher Mentor and Evaluator. Ms. Greene is in her sixteenth year of education in which she has served grades 6-12 as a teacher, Literacy Instructional Coach, English Department Chair and Team Leader. Ms. Greene is highly-qualified in Secondary English Education with a Bachelor of Arts in English from The University of Georgia (‘01) and a Masters of Arts in Teaching from Piedmont College (‘04).
Previously, she taught 6th, 7th, and 8th grade English in her hometown of Gainesville, Georgia, as well as Charlotte, North Carolina and at Bluffton’s H.E. McCracken Middle School. In her ten years at H.E. McCracken Middle School, she also served as Literacy Instructional Coach, English Department Chair, Team Leader, Teacher Mentor, ADEPT/SAFE-T Evaluator, and the School Literary & Art Magazine Advisor/Editor. In addition, Ms. Greene has served as an editor for NCATE (National Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation) and has presented at district, state, and national educational conferences.
Aside from her professional accomplishments, Ms. Greene feels “Being an educator has been one of the greatest honors in my life. As an educator, my hope has always been to empower students with finding his or her authentic voice so they can affect change in the broken systems they see around them.” Ms. Greene is excited about her new journey with Cross Schools. “I am looking forward to utilizing all of my experiences as an educator, teacher, and most importantly, a Christian as we build onto the existing K-8 program and develop a plan to continue a purpose-filled education for all students that ultimately serves our Lord and Savior.”
Ms. Greene is excited about her role as Head of Middle & Upper School and the opportunities that Cross Schools offers students and the Bluffton community in regards to academics, emotional and social support and growth, and authentic mission opportunities. She is a member of The Church of the Cross. In addition, her son, Logan Greene, is a Cross Schools Upper School student.
Kassie Sikes, Head of Lower School
Kassie Sikes earned her Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education from the University of North Florida. Additionally, she is nearing completion of her Masters in Educational Leadership from Gordon College. She taught pre-kindergarten, kindergarten, and first grade for many years where she developed a passion for teaching English Language Arts. She became a Literacy Instructional Coach and a Reading Interventionist and enjoyed working with both students and teachers. Mrs. Sikes also spent time teaching middle school and serving as an Academic Coach to support teachers in reading instruction. Prior to coming to Cross Schools, she was an Academic Development Coordinator at Calvary Day School where she focused on curriculum development and alignment. She enjoyed supporting students, teachers, and families while promoting and supporting best teaching practices.
Mrs. Sikes and her husband, Charles, have a daughter and a son who both attend Cross. They enjoy spending time outdoors and the beach is their favorite place to be.
Kassie Sikes feels very called to Christian education and believes providing students with a high-quality education through a Biblical worldview gives them a foundation to support them in all aspects of their lives. She is thrilled to be at Cross Schools and loves the wonderful community of fantastic staff and families.
Susan Hackett, Head of Early Education
Susan Hackett has been a child advocate for over 30 years, and has been the Director of the Early Education Division of Cross Schools since 2006. Believing that the preschool years for young children have been proven to be significant in laying the foundation for future learning success, Mrs. Hackett believes in age-appropriate curriculum for all students.
Mrs. Hackett feels blessed having had her entire career centered on children, and embraces the opportunity to work in a Christian environment where the impact on children's lives shows both academically and spiritually.
After teaching in the elementary school system for several years, Mrs. Hackett and her husband opened their own school in Atlanta in 1984. Following the sale of their business in 2004, she joined one of the largest childcare franchises in the country as a quality assurance specialist and continued in this role until moving to Bluffton to assume the responsibilities of Director of the Early Education Division of Cross Schools.
The Early Education Division of Cross Schools has grown from 70 students in 2006 to over 200 students today.
Les Atkinson, Director of I.T.
Leslie Atkinson has been in the telecommunications industry for the past twenty-five years. He was born and raised in York County SC. Leslie graduated with honors from Liberty University where he received a Bachelor’s Degree in Information Technology, Data Networking, and Information Systems. He is passionate about technology and ensuring that technology promotes learning for everyone that uses technology. Leslie and his wife, Amanda, live in Savannah GA with their two children, Ollie and Parker who both attend Cross Schools. Leslie values the importance of Christian education and is excited about ensuring the students at Cross Schools have the best technology in their hands to support their learning experience and growth as individuals.
His favorite verse is- "As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another." Proverbs 27:17
Tracey Cannon, Assistant Head of Middle & Upper School
Tracey Cannon earned her Bachelor’s of Science in Elementary Education from Winthrop University and is also certified in Middle School Language Arts with a Gifted and Talented Endorsement. She also holds a Masters in Education in Educational Leadership from Grand Canyon University. She began her teaching career in 2000 and taught for fourteen of those years in Beaufort County. She and her husband moved here from Columbia, South Carolina. She has three amazing children: Madeline, Calem, and Emerson.
Throughout her teaching career, she has coached middle school basketball. She is the New Mentor Teacher Coordinator and serves as the National Junior Honor Society Advisor. Mrs. Cannon's philosophy in education is that many children have different strengths and intelligences. Her goal is to help students discover their talents so they can apply them to their everyday learning experiences. She wants students to learn that with the right attitude and champion effort, they can accomplish their goals and be successful in life.
Suzie Hollings, Director of Athletics
Suzie Hollings holds a Bachelor of Science in Management from the University of Phoenix, a Master of Arts in Elementary Education, and a Gifted and Talented Certification both from the University of South Carolina.
Mrs. Hollings was born in Anderson, Indiana. She graduated high school and enlisted in the United States Marine Corps as a Military Police Officer. While serving, she developed a passion for teaching when she was selected to teach D.A.R.E. (Drug Abuse Resistance Education). As a D.A.R.E. Officer, she had the awesome responsibility of teaching elementary and middle school students drug awareness. Additionally, she served a three-year tour of duty as a recruiter. Upon completion of recruiting duty, she reported to Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island where she attended Drill Instructor School. While at Parris Island, she fulfilled the duties of a Drill Instructor, Senior Drill Instructor, Series Gunnery Sergeant, and a Company First Sergeant at the Fourth Recruit Training Battalion.
She retired from the Marine Corps to pursue a career as an Educator. She began her teaching career in 2014 and has served as a student teacher, a first-grade teacher, and a third-grade teacher at several Beaufort County schools.
Coach Hollings and her husband, Robert, have been married for almost 15 years, and have been blessed with four wonderful daughters, Alaysia, Sydney, Savannah, and Ryan, all who attend Cross Schools.
Mrs. Hollings's goal as an educator is to impact the lives of our youth in a positive and productive way. It is her belief that all children can learn and have a rewarding experience as students. With appropriate leadership and dedication, she hopes to impart the wisdom and knowledge she has obtained through years of her own experiences and education.
Kelly Kimball, Director of Student Life
Kelly Kimball, originally from England, moved to the states initially as part of an internship back in 2005 and fell in love with the Lowcountry. She graduated from Sheffield University in England with a Bachelor's Degree and was an avid Netballer. Kelly joined Cross last year as a Teaching Assistant in the TK program, her daughter Pippa, has been a student since 2018 and will be entering Kindergarten. Kelly believes that watching children learn & develop is inspirational and being a part of that growth is extremely rewarding. She is very excited to join the administrative team and to build profound relationships with children, parents & staff members in a positive and safe environment. She comes to Cross with 15+ years of experience in event planning, relationship building, and leadership skills and cannot wait to get started – Go Stingrays!
Brenda McPherson, Director of Admissions
Brenda McPherson has an extensive history of serving in Christian schools since 1987. Having graduated from a Christian school herself, she deeply understands the power and value of a faith-based college-prep education, which was a transformative experience in her own life. She is confident that when you combine faith and strong academics with a loving and mentoring environment - children thrive! Brenda received her certification from Katharine Gibbs School and attended Washington Bible College.
Having served as an admissions director since 2005, her passion for quality Christian education is infectious. She is thrilled to continue to grow the Cross Schools family!She and her husband, Josh, have recently returned to the Lowcountry from Massachusetts.
She will be delighted to hear from you and tell you more about our exceptional school!
Kayla Smoak, Assistant Director of Early Education
Kayla Smoak holds a Bachelor's Degree in Arts with an emphasis in Early Childhood Education. She has more than nine years of experience working in the preschool setting, both in the classroom and in administrative roles. Ms. Kayla and her husband, Jonathan, moved to the Bluffton area in 2012, and she began her career with Cross Schools that same year. Their son, Kroy, is a student at Cross Schools.
Ms. Kayla enjoys sharing her love, talents, and attention with the teachers, parents, and students at Cross Schools. Ms. Kayla is thrilled to be a part of such a supportive, Christian environment.
The Rev. Dr. Nathan Weaver, Director of Faith Formation
The Rev. Dr. Nathan Weaver joined The Church of the Cross clergy team in 2021. Nathan serves as the Director of Faith Formation and supervises the Faith Formation teaching team at Cross Schools and TCOTC Youth and Children’s Ministries.
Since the youngest of ages, Nathan has sensed a call to pastoral ministry. This journey led him to West Virginia Wesleyan College, where he majored in Religious Studies with an emphasis on Church Liturgy and Formation. Here he helped lead a campus ministry that transformed his understanding of God and what it means to lead others toward a relationship with Christ.
Upon graduation, he attended Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, KY, where he received a Master of Divinity. In 2023, Nathan earned a Doctor of Ministry in Spiritual Direction from Asbury. He met his wife, Lauren, while studying at Asbury Seminary. Lauren hails from Macon, Georgia. She graduated from the University of Georgia and earned a Master of Divinity from Asbury Seminary. She earned a second Master’s in Mental Health Counseling from Marshall University and is a licensed counselor working with Cross Counseling. Nathan and Lauren have two sons, Ezra and Levi.
Nathan served as a United Methodist pastor in West Virginia for three years and as an adjunct professor at West Virginia Wesleyan College before following God’s call to the Anglican Church and The Church of the Cross. Nathan was ordained a priest in 2022 by Bishop Derek Jones of the Jurisdiction of the Armed Forces and Chaplaincy. In addition to his work at The Church of the Cross, Nathan serves as a Chaplain in the United States Air Force Reserves.
Kristi Wheat, Director of Communications & Executive Assistant to the Head of School
Originally from Plano, Texas, Mrs. Wheat moved to Bluffton in 2005. She married her husband, Aaron, in 2006 in Bluffton and have two children.Past experiences for Mrs. Wheat include years of working in marketing/advertising for Fortune 500 homebuilders and various executive administrative roles for local government.Values in the Christian faith run deep throughout her family. These values were modeled for her as a young child and are why she chose not only to send her children to Cross Schools in preschool, but also to accept the position of Office Manager when it became vacant.
Her favorite Bible verse is "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths." -Proverbs 3:5-6.
Chip Welch, Director of Development
Chip Welch brings to the role of Director of Development a wealth of experience in Christian education spanning over 16 years. Holding a deep commitment to enhancing school missions, visions, and values, Welch has been instrumental in leading On-Mission Diagnostics. This venture, dedicated to providing schools with resources for data-driven diagnostics, reflects his passion for bolstering confidence in educational institutions.
Prior to joining our team, Welch served as the esteemed President and Head of School at The Habersham School, showcasing his leadership and administrative aptitude. His extensive background positions him as an invaluable asset in steering Cross Schools development initiatives.
Kelly Williamson, Director of Marketing
Kelly Williamson holds a Bachelor of Science in Design from Clemson University and a Masters of Science in Interior Design from Florida State University. In addition to architecture and interior design, her background includes event design, graphic design, marketing, and sales, along with education at the college level. She is passionate about being creative and is grateful that she can use this talent on a daily basis at Cross Schools. Inspiring kids has always been important to her, and she has volunteered in multiple youth ministries including Young Life and The Church of the Cross.
Miss Williamson enjoys spending time with her family along with her four-legged family members which include a horse, a rescue dog, and a cat. Miss Williamson is excited to be joined by her mom, Jenny Williamson, a first-grade Teacher at Cross as well as her niece Clara, a student in the Early Education Division.