Dr. Laurie Kimbrel
Dr. Laurie Kimbrel

Brookhaven Innovation Academy announced March 16 it has hired Dr. Laurie Kimbrel as the school’s first head of school. She was selected from more than 60 applicants from around the world.

Kimbrel is the former superintendent of the Tamalpais Union High School District in Larkspur, Calif., where she led approximately 435 staff members and 4,200 students.

“We’re fortunate to find such an incredible head of school. She’s a perfect fit for our curriculum,” BIA Executive Director Bates Mattison said. “I think she’s found her passion to innovate education.”

In a statement, BIA’s board chair Jennifer Langley said the public charter school will benefit from Kimbrel’s vast experience in education.

“BIA is fortunate to find someone with Laurie’s vast experience, passion for education, and deep understanding of our blended-learning and STEM-project based learning curriculum. We look forward to a long and successful relationship with Dr. Kimbrel,” Langley said.

BIA is hosting a meet and greet with Kimbrel today from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the 57th Fighter Group Restaurant.

BIA is on target to open in August, but the location could not be revealed by press time March 16 because a lease had not been signed. Mattison said the site is a temporary location as the search for a permanent site continues.

The school will open with 420 students registered in grades k-6. The 420 students were selected in a random lottery system after more than 770 students registered.

“The enrollment is a great testament to the demand for this type of school,” Mattison said.

After the lottery was completed, parents were notified by email and will pick enrollment packets at the Brookhaven Kroger customer service counter through March 22.

Potential future partnership with Doraville charter school

BIA is a state-wide public charter school approved last year by the Georgia Charter Schools Commission with plans to open a k-12 campus.  The board has been asked by a Doraville citizens group for assistance in opening a similar charter school in that city.

At a March 3 BIA board meeting, member Edward Lindsey gave a presentation to board members about the potential of a joint venture with Doraville with the “goal … to provide residents of north DeKalb County additional high-quality education options, k-12, through state authorized and state-fund charter schools,” according to minutes posted on the school’s website

The joint venture would also include a name change to Georgia Innovation Academy. But that presentation was only a proposal to consider in the future, Mattison said.

“There was a discussion of a partnership … but the board said there is no capacity to do this this year. There is a lot of interest to partner with Doraville, but we are singularly focused” on BIA this year, he said.

“The GIA concept is for down the road idea that combines the two entities into one. The board chose for the time being to assist Doraville in any way with its charter petition,” Mattison explained.

Lindsey added the idea of a GIA is something to be placed in the “theoretical future category.”

“Some people have asked us what we did and how someday we could work closely together. But we are heavily into starting our own school,” Lindsey said. “Our exclusive focus and our immediate concern is getting opened on time.”

Dyana Bagby is a staff writer for Reporter Newspapers and Atlanta Intown.