Debbi Scarborough – Headmaster

Debbi and her husband Matthew founded Cumberland Academy of Georgia after a frustrating battle of searching for the right school for their son Steven who has Asperger’s. From 2007 to present, Mrs. Scarborough has been the Headmaster and served on the Board of Directors for this non-profit, special needs school that focuses on children with high functioning Autism, ADD, and ADHD. She has built the academy from one student to now over 100, and continues to run the day to day operations. Cumberland has received full accreditations from Southern Association of Colleges & Schools / Council on Accreditation & School Improvement (SACS / CASI) and Georgia Accrediting Commission (GAC). Prior to beginning Cumberland Academy of Georgia, Mrs. Scarborough started a national executive search firm over thirty years ago. Kreisler & Associates, LLC has been listed as one of the top ten Executive Search firms in Atlanta for the past ten years. In 2009 she decided to sell her business and focus on building Cumberland. 

Happily married over 20 years, Matthew and Debbi are the proud parents of two boys, Steven and Sam.  With a strong sense of civic pride, they have been involved in numerous charities throughout Georgia.  Mrs. Scarborough has been on the Board of Directors for the March of Dimes for over 15 years. She has published articles about autism and has been a guest speaker as an authority on Asperger’s.

Doug Long – Principal

Doug Long graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University (Richmond, Va.) in 1986 with a Bachelor of Music Education degree. He began his teaching career in 1988 at Dean Rusk Middle School (Canton, Ga.), as a band director. During his tenure in Cherokee County he taught band and general music at the high school and elementary levels. During this time he earned a Masters of Music Education from VanderCook College of Music (Chicago, Ill.) and Specialist in Education in Administration from Northwestern State University (Natchitoches, La.). In 2000, Mr. Long took an administrative position as Assistant Principal at Cass Middle School (Cartersville, Ga.). He was the administrator for Special Education while at Cass. After six years, he then became Principal of Southeast Elementary School (Rome, Ga.). Southeast Elementary served the Rome City Schools elementary autistic population, as well as mildly and moderately impaired elementary students. In 2011,  Mr. Long was at Dallas Elementary as the music specialist until 2017.

Mr. Long is married to Lisa Long and they have two children, Nigel and Josie. He enjoys playing tennis year round in the ALTA leagues. He has been a soccer and football referee for 10 years and is a trustee of the Etowah Valley Soccer Officials Association.

Floyd Bushey – Director of Operations

Floyd Bushey has a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Political Science and International Relations from Elmira College, as well as a Master’s of Science Degree in Education from Alfred University in Alfred, New York.   Mr. Bushey worked for 20 years at Emory University working in both Student Life Development and University Relations. He brings both his business experience and academic acumen to Cumberland. Mr. Bushey started with Cumberland when it began in 2007 and manages all aspects of the day-to-day operations. He will ensure the quality of excellence is maintained at Cumberland, as well as research innovative ways to keep Cumberland on the cutting edge of education and technology.  Mr. Bushey is married and has two children.

Kelli Ritter, Ph.D., LPC, NCC – Advisor/Counseling Services

The Founder and President of Effective Parenting, LLC in Atlanta, Dr. Ritter earned her Ph.D. in counseling from Georgia State University where she specialized in child and family counseling.  Dr. Ritter is trained as a play therapist with many years of experience and research in child and family therapy.  She possesses a unique approach to helping families by utilizing concepts and skills from both Play Therapy, Individual Psychology, and Positive Psychology.

Dr. Ritter inspires parents to make the most of play with their children. Through her classes, workshops and products, Dr. Ritter’s FEEL Method helps parents by engendering confidence in, and control over, their own parenting style.  Dr. Ritter’s parenting book & DVD, Come Play with Me!, illustrates her true passion for working with parents, caregivers, and teachers to enhance relationships with children.  Dr. Ritter is also an inspiring public speaker and presenter.

Valerie Laura – CFO

Valerie Laura grew up just north of Nashville, Tennessee in the small town of Hendersonville. She attended Western Kentucky University where she received her Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting. After graduating, Ms. Laura traveled all over Europe with her best friend for just over a year. Upon returning to the States she started her accounting/finance career working for Ingram Entertainment Inc. located just outside of Nashville. Ms. Laura worked for Ingram for six years as Accountant, Financial Analyst to Senior Financial Analyst.

In 2004 Ms. Laura left Nashville and moved to Atlanta to be closer to her sister and nephews. In Atlanta, she worked as a Financial Analyst in the Planning, Strategy, and Finance Group for the North American headquarters of Randstad. She worked for Randstad North America for two years before joining Debbi’s team at Kreisler & Associates, LLC as the Director of Accounting & Finance.

In 2007, Ms. Laura assisted Debbi in starting Cumberland Academy of Georgia. She has been with the school since the beginning and has seen it grown by leaps and bounds. As CFO of Cumberland, Ms. Laura is responsible for all financial and fiscal aspects. She provides leadership and coordination in the administrative, business planning, accounting, and budgeting efforts.

Jane Paoletta – Director of Admissions 

Jane Paoletta joined Cumberland Academy of Georgia in May 2019.  Jane was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio and recently moved to Atlanta, GA in November 2017.  While in Cleveland, Jane worked at an all-boys Jesuit High School as the Executive Assistant to the President for 17 years.
Jane is married with 3 grown sons.   
Jane’s passion is yoga and she is a certified yoga instructor and when not on her mat, she can be found at the beach, on the back of her husband’s motorcycle or on a hiking trail.

Cathi Arora  – Director of Advancement 

Cathi Arora joined the Cumberland Advancement Team after 11 years as a volunteer. While her son Shale, a 2018 Graduate was a student, she helped with fundraising, teacher appreciation, and strategic planning.

She has over 25 years of experience in communications, public affairs, and fundraising. Originally from Cleveland, Ohio, Ms. Arora moved to Charleston, S.C., after college where she worked for the Medical University of South Carolina and the Charleston County School District. She has been in the Atlanta area for the past two decades. During that time, she worked for Heery International and IPG. She left the corporate world to spend more time with her family but still remained an active volunteer as PTA president, Huntcliff Swim and Tennis Club President, freelance writer, and potter. Ms. Arora holds a BS in journalism from Ohio University and an MPA from the College of Charleston.

Ms. Arora is also the Executive Director of the Sandy Springs Tennis Association, which runs the after-school program Kids-Luv-Tennis. She and her husband Manny live in Sandy Springs with their dogs Bisky and Rafa. Their son Shale attends Beacon College and daughter Avani attends Washington University. They have traveled extensively including England, France, Korea, China, Singapore, India, Vietnam, and Cambodia.

Jeff Twomley – Director of Finance

Jeff grew up in southwestern Michigan and attended Indiana Academy, a boarding high school, where he met his future wife, Kim.  He earned a Finance degree from Michigan State University and soon moved to Atlanta, working as the controller for a die manufacturer.  After 17 years, he accepted the Treasurer position at Bass Memorial Academy in Mississippi, working there 7 years while earning an MBA from the University of Southern Mississippi.  He then moved to Virginia and worked as VP of Finance at Shenandoah Valley Academy for 5-1/2 years. Needing to be closer to family (3 children and 3 grandchildren), Jeff & Kim relocated back to Atlanta in 2015.

An avid sports enthusiast, Mr. Twomley enjoys golfing and playing softball. Music plays a major role in his life. Since high school, he has sung in various groups and choirs, and currently plays trombone in Zephyr Instrumental…a 21st century orchestra.

Haley Scarborough – CFGO Emeritus, Canine Therapy

Sweet Haley was the founder for our canine therapy program.  She began working when Cumberland was one student and watched as the school grew to 100 students. Students loved working with Haley and she was tremendously successful in her work with the special needs student population. She will always be remembered and Cumberland students are awaiting her successor in the canine therapy program. 


Lucky Scarborough – CFGO, Canine Therapy

Lucky is a rescue dog that was adopted by the Scarborough family in the summer of 2017. He is currently in the process of being trained, yet has already proved to be an enormous emotional support for our students. We welcome Lucky as the newest member of our school.

Shari Wright – Director of Student Advancement

Shari Wright graduated from Furman University with a B.S in Business and a minor in French.  After college, Ms. Wright began her career in sales and marketing with Turner Broadcasting.  She spent several years selling CNN, Headline News, TNT and Cartoon Network to cable systems across the country.  From Turner, Ms. Wright accepted a position at a regional sports network in Detroit.  She spent several years working for various broadcasting entities before moving to Manhattan Beach, California and raising a family.

Ms. Wright began to volunteer in various education fields.  Using her French background, she began working in a public school French immersion program in Salt Lake City.  From there she was asked to help students in a reading retentive program for Canyons School District through an AmeriCorps program.  Ms. Wright moved her family to Atlanta then began working at Cumberland.

Rodney Carlock- Athletic & Project Coordinator

Rodney Carlock came to Cumberland in 2014 from Shreiner Academy in Marietta.   Rodney majored in Audio Production at the Art Institute of Atlanta and uses his skills in many ways at Cumberland. Rodney works in IT support, building maintenance, coaching, and teaching.  Mr. “C”, as the students call him, works with students in Audio & Film Production and is a gifted basketball coach. Rodney also developed Cumberland basketball clinics and a summer camp sports week.  In his spare time, he enjoys competing in independent film festivals and has won multiple awards in film.  Rodney grew up In St. Louis, MO and Hiram, GA.  He is married to Heather, and they have a son and a daughter.

Mihkel Allpere – Assistant Principal and Science Teacher 

Mihkel Allpere joined Cumberland for the 2013/14 academic year.  He was raised in Austria and then spent his adolescence in the Atlanta area. He is a graduate of the Atlanta International School and attended Denison University where he graduated with a Bachelor’s of Arts in Environmental Studies with an interdisciplinary concentration in Education. He then began teaching at outdoor schools in California and the Great Smoky Mountains. In 2005, Mr. Allpere returned to Atlanta to become one of the first members of the Georgia Aquarium’s education team building the curriculum for visiting school students from K-12. While working at the Aquarium, Mr. Allpere developed curriculum for special needs students in the summer camp program and field trips and decided to move back into the classroom to be able to work with students on a longer term basis. More recently, he has served as a Math and Science teacher for students with ADD and on the Autism Spectrum. Since joining Cumberland Academy of Georgia, he spearheaded the Science department and other experiential learning projects like the trout hatchery and learning garden program which was launched through a grant with the Captain Planet Foundation.

Tiffany Atkinson – Art Teacher

Tiffany Atkinson is joining the Cumberland team this year as the Art Teacher, and she excited to share her passion for visual art with our exceptional students. She looks forward to working with students on problem-solving, collaboration, and creative expression through the process of creating artwork. Tiffany holds a Bachelors degree in English Literature from Georgia State University and is currently pursuing a Masters degree in Art Education. She has 4 years of experience in early childhood education. She is trained in the “Conscious Discipline Approach” and is a certified life coach, which makes her passionate about helping students curve behavior and achieve their goals by nurturing emotional regulation and offering positive reinforcement. She is an active participant in the Atlanta visual arts community; she has volunteered for local galleries and curated art shows. When not teaching, Tiffany enjoys drawing, cooking, performance art and seeing movies. 

Nadine Beaupierre – Teacher

Nadine Beaupierre was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York with her mom, dad and 2 siblings. In 2013, she graduated from Bates College with a Bachelors in Sociology. Passionate and committed to enriching the lives of unique learners, Ms. Beaupierre relocated to Atlanta, Georgia where she began her work as a special education teacher through a non-profit organization – Teach for America. Ms. Beaupierre has been teaching for a total of 5 years now. In her 6th year of teaching, she will be joining the Cumberland team this year as the middle school science teacher. In her spare time Ms. Beaupierre enjoys writing, yoga, taking long nature walks and listening to music.

Mary Bishop – Teacher

Mary Bishop has eight years of teaching experience, all at Cumberland.  Mrs. Bishop graduated with an art history degree from Berry College, where she met her husband of three years.  Mrs. Bishop completed her master’s degree in special education from Valdosta State University in May of 2014.  A voracious reader, Mrs. Bishop enjoys sharing her passion for young adult literature with her students.  In her free time Mrs. Bishop enjoys hiking trips, cheering for the Pittsburgh Steelers, reading young adult fiction, and spending time with her son, Augustus, who was born in February.

Susan Bloom – Teacher

Susan Bloom was born and reared in Dunwoody, Georgia. She graduated from Georgia College and State University with her Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology and a minor in Dance and holds a Georgia Teaching Certificate in Special Education. She has been researching Autism and dedicating her life towards students with special needs since she was twelve years old. In her free time, Susan likes to take her dog Cooper to the park, go on road trips with her High School sweetheart, Wes, and cheer on the Atlanta Hawks. 

Greg Bodeep – Social Studies Teacher

Gregory Bodeep will be joining the Cumberland team this year as a Social Studies teacher and Coach. He is thrilled to share his passion and wisdom for history and sports with the students. Mr. Bodeep holds a bachelor’s degree in Sociology from Georgia State University and a master’s degree in Special Education from the University of Phoenix. Mr. Bodeep has 15 years of teaching, coaching, Social Studies Department Head, and transportation coordinator experience.  He works with students to help them understand their full potential in education as well as in sports.  Mr. Bodeep believes everyone has the ability to learn and enjoy the opportunities of education. If someone has the heart, the child has the path to education. The other belief that he has is studying Smarter Not Harder, understanding the way the student learns is the key. Mr. Bodeep has assisted several student transitioning from High School to College and look forward to assisting more students reach their full potential.

Mr.  Bodeep was born in New Jersey and moved to Georgia in 1995 and has been in Georgia for nearly 25 years. Where he lives now in the Canton area with his wife Amy, teenage son Bryson, and pug Moose. When not in the classroom or out on the field he is very involved in the Knights of Columbus organization doing multiple types of community service projects, hiking, camping, fishing.

Renee Carmon – Pioneer Coordinator 

Renee Carmon was born and raised in Western Massachusetts. She moved to Atlanta shortly after she earned her Bachelor’s of Science in Education from North Adams State College. Renee went on to receive her Masters in Special Education from Georgia State University and has been teaching in the Atlanta area for over 20 years in both the public and private setting. Renee is certified in all content areas in grades 4-8 as well as Special Education Adaptive Curriculum.

In her spare time, she enjoys family activities with her three children and cheering for Boston sports teams.

Stuart Downs – Explorer Lead Teacher

Stuart graduated from Dartmouth College with a degree in Mathematics. He has been teaching math in the Atlanta area for over 10 years. When not in the classroom, Mr. Downs works with students in a private tutor setting to assist them in preparing for the SAT, ACT and various track classes. Although Math is his first passion, he enjoys playing music and has also coached ultimate frisbee extensively.   Of note, in 2006 he coached the UGA Bulldogs to the National semifinals!  Stuart is also an active volunteer with an organization promoting peace and conflict resolution through ultimate frisbee play.

Suzanne Ferrone – Teacher

Suzanne Ferrone graduated from Kennesaw State University with a B.S. in Secondary English Education. In 2012 she received a M.Ed. from Georgia State University in Reading/ESOL. 

Ms. Ferrone joins us this year from Furtah Preparatory School in Acworth, Georgia where she taught grades 3-12 in Math, Science, ELA, Construction, and Business. Before teaching at Furtah Prep School, Ms. Ferrone taught Math, Social Studies, Remedial Reading, and English to intensive ESOL students at Marietta High School. Ms. Ferrone began her teaching career at Devereux, Ackerman Academy, where she taught high school Science, English, and Business Education as well as middle school Math. Before becoming a teacher, Ms. Ferrone worked as a catering manager at Marriott, as a manager at Home Depot, and currently owns a remodeling company. Ms. Ferrone believes that in order for students to be successful, teachers must identify learning styles, recognize student ability, and meet each student at their level. When not working as a teacher, Suzanne can be found hiking, kayaking, playing guitar or beating on a drum.

Lori Fineman – Career Prep Coordinator 

Lori St. Germain Fineman hails from New England.  She graduated from Wheaton College in Massachusetts with an undergraduate degree in French.  After fifteen years in business in sales at Xerox, including running her own business with her husband, she shifted careers toward education; she taught French in Maine, during which time she earned her master’s degree in French at the University of Maine.  Lori taught French in a full inclusion setting; in the most recent years, she worked half of her school day in the resource room, one-on-one with special needs students with varied abilities.

In 2017, she and her husband Norman relocated to Gwinnett County where she taught at Collins Hill High School. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her family, cooking, and reading.  She also enjoys being outside with her dog, Sherry.

Paul Fineman – Teacher

Paul and his wife Tvon have lived in Atlanta for a couple years. He is extremely passionate about sports and exercise, and cannot wait to teach important concepts such as teamwork and overcoming adversity to the students of Cumberland.

Paul’s experience teaching children with special needs started in a work-study while attending Wheaton College in Norton, MA.  His teaching experience has been primarily in the public school systems of Massachusetts and Georgia, and his patience and persistence with his students are what enabled him to connect exceptionally well with students of special needs. Paul always had a gift for working with students with special needs, which provided the motivation for him to expand his teaching certification to included certification in special education. An avid Boston sports fan, Paul looks forward to engaging and encouraging students in health and physical activity. 

Gloria Gomez –  Spanish Teacher

Ms. Gomez has many years as a teaching professional. She earned her Bachelor of Education degree at University of Toledo (specialization in Special Education) and Masters degree from Central Michigan University. In addition to formal training, Ms. Gomez spent over 15 years teaching in the Cobb and DeKalb County school systems. She is fluent in both English and Spanish and has coached competitive gymnastics. At Cumberland, look for her to assist with the cheerleading team in addition to teaching in the high school.
Ms. Gomez has three children, one son-in-law and one beautiful grandson.

Shannon Heath – Teacher

Shannon Heath comes to Cumberland as a graduate from Liberty University with a Bachelors and a Masters in Special education. She also has a Tesol/Tefl Certificate and for the last few years has taught English to online Chinese students. Shannon spent 7 years at Hayden’s way /Westwood Academy, which was a school very similar to Cumberland, in working with students who are unique and learn in different ways. There she worked with Middle and High school students, in writing and math, as well as dual enrollment coordinator.

Family were career military, so Shannon spent most of her life mainly in California, and also in different parts of the world, before settling in Georgia.  She has one son who is on the Autism Spectrum, and is currently enrolled in Georgia Gwinnett College Part time.

Nick Koltochnik – Teacher

Nick Koltochnik has over 20 years of experience teaching at a high school and college level. He graduated from Kennesaw State University with a B.A. in International Affairs and a Master of Science in Conflict Management. Mr. Koltochnik is fluent in Russian and is conversational in German. He has taught a variety of subjects such as English, American and British Literature, Social Studies, mathematics and a variety of History and Business classes at a college level. He has taught at several private schools in Atlanta and is also currently an adjust professor at Strayer University. He enjoys the private school setting where he feels that smaller teacher to student ration is greatly beneficial to students. His philosophy is that everyone can excel and learn and really enjoys imparting his knowledge to his students.
In his free time, Nick enjoys traveling and spending time with his twin brother, wife and 9-year-old son.

Jennifer Liang – Teacher/Instructional Technology Specialist

Jennifer Liang graduated from Georgia State University in 2005 with her bachelor’s in middle childhood education and has completed coursework towards a master’s degree in special education. She has taught Language Arts, Reading, Science and Social Studies at Amana Academy, The Cottage School and The Orion School. She also used Expeditionary Learning methods while at these schools. A lifelong fan of science fiction and fantasy, Jennifer is the Chair of JordanCon and the current President of the Southern Fandom Confederation, the South’s oldest regional science fiction fan club.  Ms. Liang has been a featured presenter at WorldCon, MiniCon, LibertyCon and the North American Science Fiction Convention and served as a volunteer programming Director at Dragon*Con for over a decade. Ms. Liang has also been featured as a presenter for the Georgia Independent School Association on the topics of “Multi-Media in the Social Studies Classroom” and “Board Games, Role-playing and Simulations for the Social Studies Classroom.” She blogs about local restaurants, recipes, and sustainable living as “Northside Food”.

Laurie Mensing – Navigator Lead Teacher/Curriculum and Scheduling Coordinator

Autism Spectrum Disorders became Ms. Mensing’s passion after spending a summer as a camp counselor at a specials needs camp.  Ms. Mensing returned to the University of Georgia that fall and changed her major to Special Education.  Since then Ms. Mensing has earned both her Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Special Education from UGA and her Specialist Degree in Curriculum and Instruction from Piedmont College. Ms. Mensing has completed TEACCH, ABA, and Orton-Gillingham workshops and training.  Most recently, she has accepted the challenge of teaching middle school mathematics while reducing math anxiety and increasing independence.  As Ms. Mensing starts her 19th year of teaching and 8th year at Cumberland, she remains excited by the challenges that each individual must overcome to reach their true potential.  Ms. Mensing strives to teach her students academic, social, and behavioral skills that will allow them to experience success in all future endeavors.

April Taylor – Teacher 

Ms. April D. Taylor holds an A.S. in Literal Arts, a B.A. in Elementary Education, a M.S. in Curriculum Instruction and a M.A. in Teaching Science 6-12.  She is currently working on my certification in Special Education, she has many certificates and accredited hours in working in the special needs field.  April was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; she is a mom of three. April is a diehard STEELERS FAN! And also a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc, OO-OOP! When April is not at school she plays sports, take her son to practices and spend time with her loved ones.  She enjoys flowers, cooking, reading, writing, music, dancing and all things related to FAMILY. Ms. Taylor has been teaching for over 20+ years and on an administration team for the past 6 years.  She promises to begin her new year with passion, dedication and commitment. This year she wants to become a partner with you and your child’s educational adventure.  She admits she’ll only have your child for a short time and wants to make a CONTRIBUTION to be with them for a LIFETIME.  Ms. Taylor knows teaching begins with making your child feel comfortable and welcomed, so she promises to develop a rapport with your child and focus on their individual needs.

Kathryn Telford – Drama Teacher 

Kathryn Telford is thrilled to be joining the Cumberland team this year as the new drama teacher! She is passionate about both theater/film-making and teaching, particularly students with special needs. This will be Kathryn’s sixth year as a special education teacher. Kathryn is a local actress and producer who has appeared in over 20 different television shows and movies including The Walking DeadPassengersDevious Maids, and The Originals. She’s also produced several short films shot in and around the Atlanta area.  She cannot wait to work with her students on stress management, emotion recognition, and social skill improvement. Kathryn assists students with problem solving , and reaching their dreams all through the magic of theater arts! Kathryn graduated with honors from Georgia College and State University with a degree in Middle Grades Education in 2009. She graduated Summa Cum Laude from Georgia State University with a master’s degree in Educational leadership.  When not teaching or acting, Kathryn enjoys spending time with her fiancé, family, friends, and her dog, Red.