At every level of leadership at Columbia Academy, we are blessed to have men and women who love the Lord and consider their individual roles as ministries in God’s service. While we are fortunate that Christian leadership governs our school, we are also blessed that our administrators and support staff are skilled professionals in their given roles.


Mack Garvin, Chairman
Brian Coggins, Vice-Chairman
Amy Greene, Secretary
Alan Thomason, Treasurer
Dr. Cason Shirley
Julie Bowling
Michelle Shrader
Seth Lasater
Joy McDonald
Mallory Haile
David Morris
Landon Loveall
Austin Simmons

Dr. James A. Thomas
Dr. James A. ThomasPresident
B.S., Bible and Psychology – Freed-Hardeman University
M.S., General Psychology – University of Memphis
Ed.D., Higher and Adult Education – University of Memphis
Courtney Hulsey
Courtney HulseyDirector of Development
B.S., Business Management – Lipscomb University
M.S., Information Security – Lipscomb University
Certifications: CISSP
Experience: 15+ years in Project Management and Service Delivery in education IT industry
Jon Bennett
Jon BennettUpper School Principal
B.S., Freed-Hardeman University
M.Ed., Educational Administration, Virginia Commonwealth University
State of TN Certification: School Administrator and Science Teacher
Experience: 8 years of administrative experience in Virginia public schools, 6 as a high school principal, and 12 years as CA’s Upper School Principal
Marty DeJarnette
Marty DeJarnetteLower School Principal
B.A – Harding University
M. Ed. – Harding University
State Certification: School Administration and Physical Education/Health and Wellness
Experience: 26 years as a classroom teacher, 4 years as Assistant Principal, 26 years as Head Boys Basketball Coach, Athletic Director, Interim Principal Upper School, Bulldogs United Coordinator
Nathan Hixson
Nathan HixsonSpring Hill Principal
23 years experience in private and public education
B.A., Liberal Studies – California State University, Stanislaus
M.Ed., Instructional Leadership – Freed-Hardeman University
State Certification: Administration and Teaching in CA/TN
April Davis
April DavisPreschool Director
B.S. Elementary Education – Middle Tennessee State University
20+ years experience in teaching in preschool and elementary
2 years CA Preschool Assistant Director
Pernell Knox
Pernell KnoxAthletic Director
B.S., Biology – Freed-Hardeman University
B.S., Chemistry – Freed-Hardeman University
M.P.T., Physical Therapy – University of Tennessee, Memphis
Certifications: Certified Athletic Trainer (CAA)
Experience: 17 years in sports medicine, 5 years of coaching, Athletic Hall of Fame Inductee at both Freed-Hardeman University and Columbia Academy’s Dr. Bill Thrasher Athletic Hall of Fame, Tennessee Athletic Trainers Society (TATS) 2013 Trainer of the Year
Andrew Williams
Andrew WilliamsChief Financial Officer
B.B.A., Public Accounting – Freed-Hardeman University
M.B.A., Accounting.- Freed-Hardeman University
State Licensing: CPA
Experience: Public Accounting
Eric Karkau
Eric KarkauChief Technology Officer
B.S.B.A, Business Administration, Management Information Systems – Tennessee Technological University
MBA, Masters in Business Administration – University of the People
Certifications: CISA, MCSA, CISSP, CSSA, MCP, MCP+I
Experience: 10+ years as CTO, 5+ years as vCISO, 5+ years IT Audit and Control & Internal Audit, 30+ years Network & Systems Administration
Dr. Clint Pulse
Dr. Clint PulseDirector of Academics
B.A., History and Political Science – Freed-Hardeman University
M.Ed., Curriculum and Instruction – Freed-Hardeman University
Ed.S., Educational Leadership – Freed-Hardeman University
Ed.D., Instructional Leadership – Freed-Hardeman University
State Certifications: History 7-12, ILL Administrator
Experience: 20 years as teacher, asst. principal, and instructional facilitator
Cindy Zientak
Cindy ZientakDirector of Admissions
A.S., Economics – Motlow State Community College
B.S., Management and Economics – University of Memphis
Experience: 10+ years Accounting & Management, 5+ years Preschool Director, 6 years Admissions
Ashley Gilles
Ashley GillesDirector of Marketing and Communications
B.S., Business Marketing – Middle Tennessee State University
Experience: 5+ years Community Relations, Public Relations, Social Media Management
Ben Jones
Ben JonesDirector of Security
B.A., Management and Human Relations – Trevecca Nazarene University
Experience: 15+ years of Law Enforcement and Private Security experience
Ben Diles
Ben DilesDirector of Spiritual Development
B.A., Social Science – Harding University
M.Ed., Secondary Administration – Harding University
M.A., Bible – New Testament – Amridge University
State Certifications: History, Bible, Administration
Experience: 22 years of teaching (Bible and History), 6 years of preaching, 4 years campus minister