Co-Founder and CEO, Learning Matters Educational Group
Timothy is the president and CEO of Learning Matters Educational Group, a leading charter school organization in Arizona and California. Dr. Smith is the co-founder of ThrivePoint High School (Formerly E-Institute Charter Schools, Inc.) an online school with satellite campus locations in the west valley of Phoenix, Buckeye, Avondale, and Surprise, Arizona. Dr. Smith also the co-founder of Calibre Academy of Surprise, an “A” rated and high performing K-8 school in Surprise, Arizona. Dr. Smith also founded Taylion High Desert Academy, a charter school in San Bernardino County California serving students with independent study and blended learning.
Dr. Smith is an advocate for both the educational needs of traditional and nontraditional students and has been a leader in the Arizona charter school movement since 1996 and the California charter school movement since 2008.
Dr. Smith earned a Global Executive Doctorate of Education from the University of Southern California, a Global MBA from the Thunderbird School of Global Management and bachelor of Arts degrees in both Korean Language and Asian Studies from Brigham Young University.
Co-Founder and Vice President, Learning Matters Educational Group
Shannon Smith started as the co-founder of LMEG’s first charter school, International Studies Academy in 1996. Shannon sensed the need for the school to expand and researched effective elementary school philosophies in the country. It was at this point that she found out about the Carden Philosphy and Method originally developed by the educator, Mae Carden. Shannon cooperated with Timothy Smith to apply for the charter school Carden Traditional School in 2000.
Shannon Smith has an international educational background starting as an English as a Second Language (ESL) teacher and a radio disc jockey for a peopular radio station in Korea. Shannon has a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Ottawa University. Shannon also received specialized training in reading methodologies including the Carden Method, the LindaMood Bell Method, Open Court Reading and PhonoGraphix. Shannon is passionate about reading intervention and is a strong advocate for research-based reading instructional strategies and processes. Her work in developing the Response to Intervention and MTSS programs at Calibre Academy is a major reason that Calibre Academy has been a high performing school for many years.
Chief Operating Officer
Aaron began his career as an educator in 2001, working as a special education teacher and then a high school English teacher and baseball coach. In 2006, transitioned to leadership roles within the district as a district grant coordinator and then an administrative intern. These leadership experiences led to opportunities to lead and serve students, staff, and the local community and quickly became a passion for Aaron. Aaron has worked in various leadership roles such as Vice Principal, Assistant Principal, Principal, Executive Director, Director of Schools, and most recently, the Chief Operating Officer for Learning Matters Educational Group. Aaron has had the privilege of leading and working alongside educational leaders in the Learning Matters Educational Group, as their schools experience significant year-over-year enrollment, attendance, and academic growth. Aaron has contributed nationally at various educational conferences hosted by organizations such as iNACOL and the National Charter School Association as a breakout speaker, sharing his experiences, challenges, and successes leading charter schools. Aaron holds a California Administrative Services Credential and Single Subject Teaching Credential in English. He earned his Bachelors of Arts from Oklahoma Baptist University and his Masters of Education from California State University, Bakersfield.
Chief Alternative Education Officer, ThrivePoint High Schools
Amy Schlessman, PhD, has dedicated her professional and much of her personal life to education and human services in both the public and private sectors. Dr. Schlessman’s research and professional interests include alternative school accountability, organizational development, and the development of creative and innovative intelligence in learners of all ages from diverse cultural backgrounds and socio-economic levels. Fortune 500 companies, as well as not-for-profit organizations including schools and community collaboratives, have benefitted from her contributions to their programs. Her publications and presentations illustrate a range of contributions from theory to practice.
Amy’s recent research, policy analysis, and advocacy focus on alternative education. She serves as Chief Alternative Education Officer for ThrivePoint High Schools, a network of alternative charter schools in partnership with Learning Matters Educational Group.
Dr. Schlessman’s peers have elected her to leadership positions internationally, nationally, and at the state level. She has served as President of an international education association, Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL); Chair of Research and Evaluation with the American Educational Research Association; and founding President, Arizona Alternative Education Consortium. She is honored to now serve as the elected Secretary of the National Alternative Education Association. Amy Schlessman, PhD, has dedicated her professional and much of her personal life to education and human services in both the public and private sectors. Dr. Schlessman’s research and professional interests include alternative school accountability, organizational development, and the development of creative and innovative intelligence in learners of all ages from diverse cultural backgrounds and socio-economic levels. Fortune 500 companies, as well as not-for-profit organizations including schools and community collaboratives, have benefitted from her contributions to their programs. Her publications and presentations illustrate a range of contributions from theory to practice.
Director of Schools, ThrivePoint High Schools
Eric Clapeck, Principal Mr. Clapeck began his educational career in 2012 teaching high school Civics, Economics, Logic and Law, where he was recognized as a Distinguished Educator by the Flinn Foundation and a Presidential Distinguished Teacher in 2018. While serving in various teacher-leader capacities, Mr. Clapeck realized that his true passion is leadership and he spent three years as an Academic Coach, College Counselor and Assistant Principal at a college prep high school in Surprise, Arizona. Throughout these leadership experiences, Mr. Clapeck has concentrated his efforts on building meaningful relationships with his students, teachers and community in an effort to encourage the pursuit of student achievement and excellence.
Mr. Clapeck joins ThrivePoint with a diverse educational and professional background that will prove valuable in pursuing our vision of fostering tomorrow’s innovators and leaders. Mr. Clapeck holds his Arizona State Principal certification and earned his Bachelors of Arts in Political Science and Philosophy from the University of Arizona, a Juris Doctorate from Arizona Summit Law School and a Masters in Educational Leadership from Lamar University.
Director of Student Engagement, ThrivePoint High Schools
Jason Elliott is the Director of Student Engagement at ThrivePoint High School. This is his second year in this role and currently leads a team of twenty Student Success Coaches. Jason’s team thrive’s under his leadership and ability to support, equip, and motivate them as they support students holistically. Jason understands that all students have unique backgrounds, stories and challenges they are working through, but have big goals of what they want to do for their next big step of life.
Under his leadership, Jason’s team gets to walk alongside students as they grow and prepare for their next big step. With 14+ years experience in online education systems, Jason loves providing support to people in order to make them the best version of themselves.
Chief of Staff/Director of Human Resources, Learning Matters Educational Group
Mrs. Kelly Marble has worked with LMEG and their associated schools since 2013. Mrs. Marble first worked as HR Assistant and SAIS Coordinator for E-Institute Charter School. In this role Mrs. Marble process SAIS attendance submittals and assured that attendance was submitted to the Arizona attendance system without errors. Mrs. Marble also conducted employee background checks and verified employee fingerprint clearance cards.
In 2018 Mrs. Marble was promoted to her current position of submitting and supervising the payroll process for all five of the companies associated with LMEG.
Mrs. Marble also coordinates all HR budget components with CBO group, LMEG’s back office provider. Mrs. Marble works with the executive team in all aspects of hiring and onboarding new employees. Mrs. Marble also assists with coordinating all employee pay and benefit programs as well as coordinating employee separations. Additionally, Mrs. Marble coordinates the agendas for LMEG’s executive team meetings and for each school’s non-profit board meetings assuring compliance with open meeting law.
Business Manager, Learning Matters Educational Group
Mrs. Donna Penberthy has been with LMEG since June of 2022. Donna works closely with CBO to process and manage employee and vendor requisitions and to monitor the budgets of each of the schools. Donna works with the executive team to get purchases procured and approved and is in charge of monitoring each campus to stay in compliance with school safety and other regulations. Donna also coordinates schoolwide events and meetings for the executive team and for each of the campuses.
Vince has been an educator for over fifteen years and is excited to extend the ThrivePoint mission in Nevada. He earned his undergraduate degree in Secondary Education in Social Studies from The University of Nevada, Reno in 2008, and his graduate degree in School Administration from Touro University Nevada in 2012. He began his career as an educator in 2009, working first as a Social Studies teacher in the Clark County School District. While teaching, he served as Department Chair and as an Onboarding Coach for first year teachers in the District. His favorite accomplishment was founding and hosting Western High School’s annual Alumni College Panel. This event connected current first generation college students, who were also alumni of the school, to speak to the school’s seniors about their first year experience at local colleges.
In 2015, Vince’s aspiration for leadership led him into school administration as a Dean of Students, where he developed a behavior intervention program that focused on teaching students successful behavior practices. Implementation of the program directly reduced the number of suspensions in the school and minimized the number of repeated referral incidents by students. He was promoted to Assistant Principal in 2019 and also served as Director of Clubs and Activities.
Vince’s passion for developing more consistent mentoring relationships with students and serving at-risk youth specifically, has called him to alternative education where he has been an administrator in this setting since 2021. Vince leads with a focus on providing support for students to help them overcome obstacles that may hinder their path towards graduation, and believes every student deserves a personalized support system. He considers himself to be a champion for teachers and is committed to developing our staff in being champions for our students.