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.


President – Dr. James Thomas

  • B.S., Bible and Psychology – Freed-Hardeman University
  • M.S., General Psychology – University of Memphis
  • Ed.D., Higher and Adult Education – University of Memphis

President’s office – 931.380.8509

Director of Development – Courtney Hulsey

  • B.S., Business Management – Lipscomb University
  • M.S., Information Security – Lipscomb University
  • Certifications: CISSP
  • Work Experience: 15+ years in Project Management and Service Delivery in education IT industry

Upper School Principal – Jon Bennett

  • B.S., Freed-Hardeman University
  • M.Ed., Educational Administration, Virginia Commonwealth University
  • State of TN Certification: School Administrator and Science Teacher
  • Relevant Work 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

Lower School Principal – Marty DeJarnette

  • 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

Spring Hill Campus Principal – Nathan Hixson

  • 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

Preschool Director – April Davis

  • B.S. Elementary Education – Middle Tennessee State University
  • 20+ years experience in teaching in preschool and elementary settings
  • 2 years CA Preschool Assistant Director

Athletic Director – Pernell Knox

  • 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)
  • Relevant work 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

Chief Financial Officer – Andrew Williams

  • B.B.A., Public Accounting – Freed-Hardeman University
  • M.B.A., Accounting.- Freed-Hardeman University
  • State Licensing: CPA
  • Work Experience: Public Accounting

Chief Technology Officer – Eric Karkau

  • 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
  • Work Experience: 10+ years as CTO, 5+ years as vCISO, 5+ years IT Audit and Control & Internal Audit, 30+ years Network & Systems Administration

Director of Academics – Dr. Clint Pulse

  • 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
  • Work Experience: 20 years as teacher, asst. principal, and instructional facilitator

Director of Admissions – Cindy Zientak

  • A.S., Economics – Motlow State Community College
  • B.S., Management and Economics – University of Memphis
  • Work Experience: 10+ years Accounting & Management, 5+ years Preschool Director, 6 years Admissions

Admissions office – 931.490.4302

Director of Marketing and Communications – Ashley Gilles

  • B.S., Business Marketing – Middle Tennessee State University
  • Work Experience: 5+ years Community Relations, Public Relations, Social Media Management

Director of Security – Ben Jones

  • B.A., Management and Human Relations – Trevecca Nazarene University
  • 15+ years of Law Enforcement and Private Security experience

Director of Spiritual Development – Ben Diles

  • B.A., Social Science – Harding University
  • M.Ed., Secondary Administration – Harding University
  • M.A., Bible – New Testament – Amridge University
  • State Certifications: History, Bible, Administration
  • Relevant Work Experience: 22 years of teaching (Bible and History), 6 years of preaching, 4 years campus minister


Columbia Academy Board of Directors

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